In May, I was working on the print version of Healing Stones, book 4 in the Castle Keepers series, and encountered issues at both Lulu and KDP Print. Here are the details of the challenge of getting a print copy in my hand. I had already ordered a single proof from Lulu in March, examined it and made corrections/changes to the file and sought to get a second proof.
Changes at Lulu
Lulu did a major overhaul of their website in April. They claimed it was more user friendly and much easier to publish and print books using their new tools and design.
I first learned about these changes in early May from the writer friend who had introduced me to Lulu a few years ago. She has used the company as her printer for several years and loved working with them.
However, on the day she called, the honeymoon was over, and she was having a heck of a time getting her current project uploaded and accepted for printing. We tried several options, then she decided it was time to give KDP Print a try because she could sell her books directly from this vendor to readers at Amazon and cut out the middleman (Lulu).
I was on the final stages of production for Healing Stones and planned to order the 2nd proof that week. Needless to say, the more user-friendly set up at Lulu had me scratching my head, tweaking the files multiple times and cursing the changes. Under normal circumstances, the process took a few hours, the most. If everything worked the first time, time spent was only 20 minutes, and that included completing the data (ISBN, title, etc.) and description and ordering copies.
Issues with KDP Print
Frustrated and at the end of my rope, I switched to KDP Print and uploaded the eBook for Healing Stones, then went to work creating a paperback. I got as far as ordering the proof when a message appeared stating books couldn’t be sent to my address in Canada (where I live). This was after a lame message appeared about shipping being delayed because of Influenza. I say lame because KDP Print is notorious for being slow; they didn’t need an excuse.
For Example: In the fall of 2018, I ordered copies of a book on October 16th. The order was shipped October 26th but didn’t arrive until November 13th, a whole 29 days after ordering and three days after the craft show I needed them for. From then on, KDP Print became my back-up printer and Lulu (because they’re fast) became my primary printer.
Rechecking a few things on KDP Print’s website, I found that Canadians were permitted to order copies of their book, so I tried again and received the same message in the final step of placing the order about their inability to ship to me.
Giving Up and Sleeping On It
At this point, it was late, and I had to work the next day, so I gave up, frustrated with the whole matter and wondering how I was going to get paperback copies of my book.
As usual, my mind sought possible solutions to my dilemma while I drifted off to sleep and by the time I rose the next day, I had a plan.
But first, before I left for work, I again tried to order a proof from KDP Print and failed. I sent them a message, then left for work. During the day, they must have tinkered with something because by the time I got home, the evening chores done and settled at the computer, I was able to order two copies. This was May 12th.
Back to Lulu
My alternative plan with Lulu, which I’ll discuss further in the next post in case others encounter the same problem, was a success, and my uploaded files were approved. I ordered two copies on May 13th.
Which Books Arrived First?
Lulu’s by a large margin.
I ordered two books from KDP Print on May 12th. They were shipped June 13th with an estimated arrival time of between June 8th to June 15th (Yes, you’re reading those dates correctly. The email stated the books were shipped on June 13th and could arrive as early as June 8th – don’t ask questions; just play along). They arrived June 17th by courier.
I ordered two books from Lulu on May 13th. They were shipped May 20th and arrived May 29th, 16 days before the books from KDP were SHIPPED.
Time Between Ordering and Arriving
KDP Print: 36 days
Lulu: 16 days
(420 pages; soft cover; matte finish; cream paper; black and white interior; 6 x 9 inches)
$5.89 x 2 copies + $8.99 (shipping) = $20.77 USD
$9.94 x 2 copies – $2.98 (15% coupon) + $7.79 (shipping) + $3.71 (tax) = 28.40 USD
While KDP Print clearly wins in pricing, if I need a book fast or need it guaranteed to be at my door within a month, I’ll pay the extra and get my book(s) printed at Lulu. Lulu has volume discounts and weekly coupons to bring down the price. KDP Print doesn’t.
However, if I was ordering dozens of copies and time was no issue, I’d order from KDP Print. The print quality is the same with only slight variations.
However (there’s always one more thing), as a Canadian selling my books in local markets, there is one vital concern I have with KDP Print. I’ll write about it in a future post because this one is already long enough.
My First Review for Healing Stones (Amazon): 5 Stars – I couldn’t put it down. This book was whimsical, adventurous and unique! It’s not my usual read but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT endorse nor recommend the publishing services at Lulu. I have never used them, and I’ve heard naughty things about them. I do, however, highly recommend them as a printer ONLY. I’ve used them for more than two years. I’m extremely happy with the quality of the printed books.