I received the Lulu.com proof really quickly - it was shipped from France, so I wonder if it was published there? I do know that they have European printing sources in addition to the ones in Pennsylvania. In any case, it felt great to hold a paper version of my book, with the cover I created. It's a real book, something I've been waiting for all my life. I may have been more excited if someone else had done all the work and made it perfect, but then I would have had to wait two years or so for it, or so I understand. There was some ink bleen on the interior, but the print quality was otherwise clear and professional. The problem with Lulu is that it's very expensive, otherwise I'd have gone with them exclusively because of the ease of use of their website and interface.
The CreateSpace (company owned by Amazon) proof finally arrived yesterday. It took about 2 weeks to get here. I somehow expected it to be perfect. Why would it be perfect on the first try? It was definitely wishful thinking. If it had been perfect, I could have approved the proof and then distribute it on Amazon. I could start my marketing campaign. I could make my book known to the world! But it was not to be, not this week. The formatting of the CreateSpace version was wrong, and after thinking about it for a while, I realized that that problem is likely that I didn't embed the fonts into the PDF. You see, Lulu had allowed me to submit a .doc, but CreateSpace requires a .pdf with embedded fonts. I submitted a .pdf, but I didn't embed the fonts (because I don't have Adobe Acrobat X). Bad idea. Now I understand why they tell you to do it. If you don't, it can default to another font, which is a slightly different size and has different spacing. This can throw off your formatting big-time. Of course, indents and so forth will be the same, but different fonts produce different wordcounts on a page. What this means is that my carefully-formatted document (I had gone through all 300-some-odd pages to make sure I didn't have pages with just one line on them, etc...) looked like a wreck. Completely unacceptable.
Another thing that became clear when I reviewed the copies is that books look really silly without copyright pages. My book is automatically copyrighted without my having to sign any papers or register it anywhere, but books need copyright pages or they feel wrong. So I added one into the new versions.
Thinking impatiently, I thought I'd forfeit the copyright page on the Lulu version in order to have a copy on the market. After all, the formatting and printing of the Lulu version were excellent. I went onto the website to buy the global distribution package (which makes it available on Amazon.com, BN.com, Amazon.co.uk, etc...), and it wasn't an option. What could be wrong? Fine print, that's what. Somehow, I had neglected to ask for an ISBN number from Lulu, which is (of course) necessary to sell the book anywhere other than on the Lulu website. And once you get an ISBN number, they tell you the other requirements for market distribution - there must be certain margins, the text on the cover has to be x centimeters from the edge, and you need a copyright page.
I have my work cut out for me. It's been an excellent learning experience, but I think I'm ready to move on to the marketing step!