How to Self Publish a Hardcover Book on Amazon
Have you ever wondered how self-published authors get a hardcover version of their book on their book’s sales page?
I know I did.
As you may already know, Createspace and KDP are print-on-demand distribution services that can hanldle making your paperback books.
But there's no option for print-on-demand hardcover books within Createspace or KDP, which forces us to look elsewhere.
In this article, you will learn
- How to format your hardcover manuscript
- How to get your hardcover PDF cover designed
- Approving your book for mass distribution
- How to leverage Lulu’s bookstore to earn more royalties
Let’s get started.
Publishing a Hardcover on Lulu vs IngramSpark
If you’ve ever researched hardcover self-publishing, you’ll conclude that two of the main hardcover options for self-published authors are Lulu and IngramSpark.
The nitty gritty of these platforms is that they both have basic costs associated with them–additional costs if you choose to go with IngramSpark.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the costs involved with publishing on each platform:
Hardcover Lulu vs IngramSpark
|Interior PDF||~ $30||~ $30||Varies by freelancer + number of pages|
|Cover PDF||$50-$100||$50-$100||Varies by freelancer + number of pages|
|Revision Cost||$0||$49||IngramSpark has revision fee for each change.|
|ISBN Cost||$0||$125||Lulu includes. IngramSpark requires purchase.|
|Setup Cost||$0||$49||IngramSpark has setup fee for each book.|
Let's dive into the common costs between these two: formatting and cover design.
Formatting & Cover Design: Both platforms require proper PDF manuscript formatting and a proper PDF cover design according to their file requirements. Your costs for these steps will vary depending on if you DIY or who you hire to outsource these tasks.
ISBN: When it comes to the hardcover ISBN barcodes, Lulu is similar to CreateSpace as they provide one for you. IngramSpark, however, requires you to purchase your ISBN, which will cost $125 at www.myidentifiers.com.
Setup Costs: Additionally, Lulu has no setup or revision costs. You can update your files as many times as you want. IngramSpark, the diva of the two, has a $49 setup fee PLUS a $49 fee any time you need to update your book files (like if you add more books to your series or create a new lead magnet.)
While trying to figure out why IngramSpark is more strict and expensive, I’ve concluded that IngramSpark has better physical book quality. They offer more features compared to Lulu, such as more trim sizes and different laminate types for hardcovers. (Full disclosure: I’ve only published Lulu hardcovers.)Don't leave your hardcover readers hanging...Make a Hardcover version of your book with these easy steps #SelfPubClick To Tweet
In summary, IngramSpark has a deeper learning curve and is pricier, but the hardcover quality is known to be better than Lulu.
Alternatively, Lulu gets the job done more easily and for less money. It's also similar enough to Createspace, which many authors are familiar with, that it's the perfect option for self-publishing your first hardcover book.
Therefore, the steps below are specifically for self-publishing your first hardcover book on Lulu!
A Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing A Hardcover Book On Lulu
Lulu gives you the “Six easy steps to publishing your hardcover book”…
But these steps only give you a birdseye view of the process. There are many intermediate steps, which I’ll break down for you in this guide.
STEP 1) Dust Jacket vs Casewrap Hardcover
First, you get to choose between a:
- Option 1 = Dust Jacket Hardcover
- Option 2 = Casewrap Hardcover
After selecting option 1 or 2, scroll down to the second half of the page.
(I’ve only ever done the casewrap hardcover version – Option 2. My reasoning behind this, as a self-publisher, is that the manufacturing costs for a dust jacket will take a good portion of my hardcover royalties.)
Once you scroll down, you'll see this:
This is Lulu’s calculator that gives you an idea of the manufacturing cost of your hardcover book based on the page count of your hardcover PDF manuscript.
More importantly, once you input your page count (where I input 120), Lulu will let you click the “Download Template” button.
This template comes in the form of a zip folder once downloaded. This is the zip folder your freelance hardcover designer needs to make sure it passes Lulu’s hardcover guidelines.
However, to know your hardcover page count, we need to have your hardcover PDF manuscript ready.
We’ll circle back to this Lulu template in step 3.
Step 2) Format Your Hardcover Manuscript
Lulu's standard hardcover book size is 6×9″.
So if you already have a 6×9″ paperback PDF for your book, you might be in luck and can skip this step!
If your paperback manuscript meets this criterion and you’re satisfied with how your paperback came out, then you can use it as your hardcover PDF manuscript as well.
However, if your current paperback manuscript isn’t the 6×9” dimension, then you’ll need to make one.
You can hire a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr to format your book’s manuscript to Lulu’s 6×9” dimension.
I recommend that you choose a formatting gig where the freelancer has experience formatting hardcover manuscripts. You can find plenty on Fiverr by searching “Lulu hardcover format.”
Lulu PDF Manuscript Resource: PDF Creation Settings (How can I be sure my PDF will print correctly?)
Step 3) Cover Design for Your Hardcover Book
Let’s pretend our PDF manuscript is 120 pages.
Next, we use Lulu’s calculator to download our template.
You’ll also need the spine measurements of your book as you can see in the box below:
I've had the best success getting my hardcover book covers designed by Upwork.com freelancers.
They’re experienced with Lulu's standards and other hardcover platform standards like IngramSpark.
You can post a job on your Upwork client account to find an experienced designer.
If you're not planning to hire a freelancer for this step, scroll down to step 4.
How to Find a Hardcover Designer on Upwork
Here’s what I put on my hardcover design job heading:
Casewrap Hardcover (Lulu), PDF File Needed
The rest of the job post details should be details about your book.
When you get down to the “How would you like to pay section,” I usually go with a fixed price.
Note: I’ve always put $50 and received applicants. The $50 price point is to get your foot in the door. Some freelancers will ask for a little more.
Creating a casewrap hardcover PDF file takes more skill than a traditional paperback PDF file because it’s not just a front and back cover–there's a spine too. And not to mention, the hardcover casewrap interior folds (these guys have mad skills).
Since some freelancers on Upwork specialize in this, they can command a higher price tag.
The range is usually between $50-100 per hardcover PDF file. Thus, this will be your most expensive cost in the hardcover creation process.
Choose the best applicant for the job by screening them. Do your due diligence and check their Upwork profile to see if they’ve done hardcover design projects in their review section.
Once you have a deal worked out with your freelancer, you'll need to give him or her 4 things:
1) Lulu template zip file folder
2) Spine measurements and which elements you want your spine to have (title, subtitle, author name, etc.).
3) Your front and back book cover image files (make sure your back book cover blurb sells!). These images should be 300 DPI (dots per inch).
4) Your Lulu provided ISBN barcode (more on this in the next step).
As with any other outsourcing gig, you want to give the freelancer as many details as possible to get the most successful hardcover PDF file in return.
Details such as:
- What do you want on the spine (title, subtitles, author name, etc.)
- What color fonts do you want for the spine text (be specific)
- What background color should your back cover design be (or what background image)
Once you have this step completed things get a lot easier!
Here's a YouTube video on How to Send An Offer and Start Your Project on Upwork.
Step 4) Uploading Your Book to Lulu
Each of the next 7 steps is rather straightforward, so I will briefly cover each step in order.
Title: There’s only a title box, so to get both your book title and subtitle to show up, I recommend using this format: Title: Subtitle. Next to Author, type your name or pen name and select “Sell on Lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more.”
ISBN: Just like Createspace, Lulu provides you with the option to get a free ISBN.
On this step, you’ll see an ISBN page – one with your specific ISBN. Here you can download your ISBN barcode file.
IMPORTANT: You’ll need to provide this ISBN file to your freelancer cover designer so he or she can insert it on the back of your hardcover file.
Files: Next, you’ll upload your hardcover PDF manuscript from Step 1. If for whatever reason Lulu says your manuscript isn’t approved because it’s not following Lulu guidelines, ask your freelancer to revise your manuscript to the specifications Lulu wants (Lulu will display the specific error).
Cover: Now you'll upload your hardcover PDF file from Step 3. On this page, click Lulu’s “advanced one-piece cover designer” option:
I pixelated the hardcover file here, but you’d see your hardcover PDF within the green border.
If you used a seasoned freelancer, you shouldn’t have a problem here.
But if something like your author name is being folded at the bottom of your front cover area, then have your designer revise the file. Show them where the error is and have them fix it.
I recommend testing your hardcover PDF file while your designer is online so you can quickly communicate back and forth in case there need to be adjustments.
Once you’re satisfied with the look, click “Save & Continue” for the next step.
Description: This next step is very similar to what you’d fill out in Createspace or KDP for your paperback.
Remember that this information is for your Lulu sales page and will eventually carry over to your Amazon sales page when they click on the hardcover version of your book.
Price: Let’s talk numbers. This step is about pricing your hardcover book on Lulu and Amazon (“Everywhere Else”).
You'll earn more royalties for sales on Lulu than “Everywhere Else” (aka Amazon).
The above image explains everything in a nutshell: The higher your price, the more you earn on Amazon. The royalties may seem low, but this can add up to a nice little income stream over time.
Once you’ve decided on a price, I like clicking the “Set Discount” button. This feature is where your book can be discounted up to 60% in the Lulu store.
With this feature, Lulu customers will get a better deal than Amazon customers for your hardcover book, and you’ll get more royalties too.
In the image below, I set a 20% discount for our example book.
Note: We’ll talk more about how to sell this discounted Lulu hardcover books near the end of this article.
Review: Here, you’re just making sure you crossed your t's and dotted your i's to ensure everything looks ready to publish.
Step 5) Approving Your Book For Distribution Beyond Lulu
After reviewing your project, the final step is to order a proof copy of your book.
You’ll need to do this for your book to show up on Amazon.
Order a proof copy and once you’re satisfied with how your hardcover proof copy looks, you can approve your book in your Lulu account (under “My Projects”).
When you approve your book, Lulu will state “your book will be available to order from leading online and retail book outlets within the next 6-8 weeks…” In my experience, the time frame is actually much shorter.
Unfortunately, neither Lulu nor KDP will notify you when your hardcover has been added to your Kindle book’s sales page. So make sure to check your Kindle book's sales page in 5-7 days or until you know your hardcover is live.
If your book doesn’t appear on your Kindle book page, but it does appear in Amazon as a standalone product, contact KDP and ask them to link these by adding your hardcover book to your Kindle book’s sales. You should also make sure this version of your book is linked to your Author Page in Author Central.
Note: The “Contact Us” is in the footer of every KDP account and here’s the direct link: https://kdp.amazon.com/contact-us. You'll need to be logged into your KDP account to use it.
Sell and Promote Your Hardcover Book
If you’re already building your author email list, you can promote your hardcover book in a strategic way that will bump up your hardcover royalties.
Ideally, when you send out a book promotion email (whether it be in a sequence or single broadcast message), you’ll want the email call-to-action link to send your subscribers to a landing page where they can choose their preferred book format.
The hardcover option will direct your readers to your Lulu book’s sales page where you’ll get more royalties when they buy because of the discount we set up in the “Price” section of step 3. At the same time, your reader gets a discount on your book – it’s a win-win.
Imagine this: if we set a Lulu discount of 25% on a book priced at $31.99 (on Amazon), it’ll cost your hardcover readers just $23.99. And as an author, you'll get $7.47 via Lulu royalties instead of $2-3 from Amazon!Authors deserve more royalties. Using Lulu can help you earn more with your books and be a win for your readers too! #BookMarket #SelfPubClick To Tweet
Just make sure to use your Lulu book sales page URL.
You can get your Lulu sales page URL (and change the discounted price) in your Lulu account (under “My Projects”).
The “View/Buy” link will take you to your Lulu book’s sales page.
Alternatively, you could include a call-to-action link in the email that's specifically for hardcover readers.
There is your blueprint for self-publishing hardcover books on Amazon.
Basically, in order to self-publish a hardcover book on Amazon, you'll need to first write an awesome book, then:
- Decide dust jacket or casewrap cover
- Format your hardcover manuscript
- Design a cover for your hardcover book
- Upload your book to Lulu and set things like your description, price, and optional discount
- Approve your book for expanded distribution (Amazon)
Then start implementing your book marketing tactics to sell your hardcover version and earn more royalties.
I hope this guide cleared up any confusion about how to self-publish hardcovers in the self-published author community.
Let me know if you have any questions and happy hardcover publishing!
About The Author: John Pinedo
John is an online marketer and self-publisher who helps online entrepreneurs grow their business. You can find him on his Freedom Bound Business blog or Twitter where he talks about the nerdy deets of online marketing, self-publishing, and his latest online ventures.
Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.