October is the first month that Lightning Source has been knocked off the top spot. A surge in titles being published through CreateSpace and continued strong email feedback has led to their jump from the number 4 spot on the index. Other notable surprise mover on the up is Xlibris, up ten places, again based on some strong author feedback over the past four to six weeks. Book Republic, Maverick House Publishers’ new service imprint is listed, but will received an index value and service review this month before proper flotation.

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The POD INDEX for author solutions services is something we have been working on for the past couple of months and June 2010 marked the first month of flotation. Here is the latest index for October.

The most asked question we get at POD, Self-Publishing & Independent Publishing is often along the lines of; ‘What self-publishing service should I go with?‘; ‘Is so and so a good service to go with?‘; or ‘Is so and so a scam?

In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company’s name, nor are we here to endorse a company’s services. If we were only to review author solutions services according to every point in our ideal list of what an author should get from a company offering publishing services; we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10. In the autumn of 2010 we will be posting all our reviews with a rating, and any new reviews since February 2010 have automatically had a posted rating at the bottom of the review.
The reality is that some author solutions services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably  at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and yet, they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable services for authors. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.
We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day – good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.
So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?
We believe the POD INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we are proposing is effectively, a kind of stock exchange for author solutions services.
The POD INDEX was first launched in June 2010. 
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  1. Mike Perry said:

    Yeah, but this is like comparing apples to oranges.

    Lightning Source isn’t a self-publishing firm. It’s a highly professional POD printer and distributor. It’s where real publishers (i.e. Oxford University Press) go to publish genuine books, books that have run the gauntlet of editors and been judged to be something a significant portion of the population might want to read.

    CreateSpace is where those who fancy themselves writers go to indulge themselves and sell a few books to friends and family. There’s no screening to eliminate losers, no editor insisting on quality, and often nothing worth reading. I know. Despite a ‘no submissions’ policy, I get contacted by would-be writers who can’t even compose a coherent cover letter.

    In short, Amazon affiliate CreateSpace is for those who think that for a writer ‘being sold by Amazon’ is second only to winning the Nobel Prize in literature.

  2. Editor said:

    Hi Mike,

    Welcome along.

    “Lightning Source isn’t a self-publishing firm.”

    You’re absolutely correct! It’s a printer and fulfillment service for publishers who use POD, and also digital printing.

    Mike, there is no such thing as a ‘self-publishing firm’ That’s an oxymoron. If you self-publish, you contract out all the services that go with publishing a book. I’m not really sure how you prescribe your definitions of ‘real’ and ‘genuine’ publishing. You should check those definitions in the Oxford University Press’ last edition.

    No, Mike, books published by ‘real’ publishers as you describe them don’t ‘run the gauntlet of editors’, most books in a publishing house are assigned to one editor below the commissioning editor once acquired, and that editor works closely with the author. There may be a second editor, later on, who will work with the final proofs before the book is finally signed off and pushed out to the printer.

    Yes, Mike, Createspace, and other services like Lulu, and many others are places authors use simply to create a book for family and friends, but there are also many authors who turn their books over to professional editors before they load their books to Createspace and the like.

    I don’t believe anyone who wants to print a book through Createspace for family and friends is ‘a loser’ as you describe them, and neither do I believe they do it because they ‘fancy themselves’.

    You’re right as well, no writer should contemplate contacting a publisher if they cannot even string a coherent letter of submission together. Clearly, they haven’t read your ‘no submissions’ policy.

    Tell me, Mike, does your publishing house sell many of your author’s books through Amazon? How much of a percentage increase have you had on sales through Amazon this quarter – against the quarter last year?

    In the POD Index, I’m ranking author solutions services – that is all the companies who offer print/publishing services and more to authors. Yes, at times it can be apples and oranges when it comes to the difference in quality of service.

    Do I believe self-publishing is the first and best option for authors? No. Do I consider myself an advocate for self-publishing? No.

    But then, Mike, if you were familiar with this site – you’ already know all that.

    You started with a fair and reasonable point – on the difficulty of publishing comparisons, but Mike, you’ve only proved one thing to me – if you can’t grasp the changes outside your own horizon – then it is you who is ultimately losing out here.