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You generally should not pay anything up-front for ePublishing a story or book. There are enough good choices now where the ePublishing companies rely on percentage of sales to pay their way.

The one exception is if the company offers services such as formatting, designing covers, or editing, and you specifically hire them for this, in which case the costs should be clearly stated on their websites and in any contract.

Lulu offers these services, Amazon and Smashwords do not, but can refer you to outside sources.

If you have ever published a traditional book, you know that you get pennies, maybe a dime, from each dollar your readers pay for your book, because of the multitude of costs of paper book publishing.

With ePublishing, you get a much higher rate–but you have to do most of the work traditionally done by book publishers.

Check with the companies to see what their royalty/author payment rates are currently. These are changing–for example, Amazon will offer a new royalty rate  at the end of  June 2010.

So you will not have up-front costs unless you hire someone for tasks like editing or book cover creation.

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