Do people really care where their stuff comes from?

Members of the Lulu team recently attended the 12th annual Sustainable Business and Social Impact Conference (SBSI) sponsored by Duke University.  Lulu COO, Kathy Hensgen participated in a panel discussion titled “Responsible Consumption and Production – Do People Really Care Where Their Stuff Comes From?”

Katie Kross, the Managing Director of Duke University’s Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE), led the conversation with representatives from Walmart, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Burt’s Bees, and Lulu. Each participant provided a unique perspective on their social and environmental impacts.

As part of the discussion, Hensgen explained that Lulu’s path to sustainability began in 2002 following Bob Young’s experience publishing traditionally. When all was said and done, he did all the work, got paid the least, and ended up with a garage full of books his contract required him to purchase as stock. In response, Young launched Lulu, a DIY print-on-demand publisher. The print-on-demand model removes the burden of maintaining a book inventory allowing authors and institutions to print only the books they need at any given time. He later learned that nearly 40% of all traditionally published print books do not sell and are eventually returned for pulping and recycling.  So not only did his print-on-demand model benefit authors, it also benefited the environment by preserving our natural resources.

Contributing to Lulu’s sustainability initiative, our global print partners are contractually obligated to manufacture books with a 0.5% defect rate or lower. This not only ensures high quality books, but also reduces waste by eliminating rework and reprints. Lulu books are printed on paper that is Forest Stewardship Council certified meaning suppliers must follow good harvesting practices.

Panel participants. Kathy Hensgen is seated on the far right.

 

Following the completion of our B Corp certification, Lulu remains committed to a path of continuous improvement with a strong focus on the environment. In addition to our sustainable business practices, Lulu recently relocated to an energy-efficient building, uses eco-friendly office products, has implemented robust recycling programs (including composting). We are now also purchasing renewable energy credits and working with our supply chain to improve their environmental impact.

We think people do actually care where their products come from. Sustainability is not always easy, but we believe that even small steps and improvements make a big impact over time. In all we do, our goal is to be better than yesterday, everyday.

Lulu Speaker Series: Marketing Specialist Diana M. Needham

In February we introduced a new web series featuring publishing and marketing experts. We kicked off the series by welcoming Diana M. Needham, a local book marketing consultant, to the Lulu office to share her journey on becoming an author. She also shared some great tips on “Getting Started Writing a Book.”

As a book marketing consultant, Needham first asks her clients five questions. “It all starts with your big why. Why are you writing this book? What is it that is inside of you that is compelling you to get this message out? When you can be really clear about your ‘big why,’ you can continue the momentum and actually get the book finished.”

Learn more by clicking below for excerpts from the live interview.


About Diana M. Needham

Needham is the author of The Authority Mindset: Proven Principles For Establishing Yourself as an Expert in Any Industry and chairs the local chapter of the Non Fiction Authors Association in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill NC area


Follow us on Facebook and watch interviews as they happen on Facebook Live.

Please share your feedback in the comments below.  Would you like to see us feature more of these types of videos? Are they helpful and inspirational with your own book project? What topics would you like for us to include in upcoming interviews?

 

Meet Prolific Lulu Author: Linda Taylor

Prolific Lulu Author: Linda Taylor

What do you think served to inspire your writing?

My father was in the Eighth Army – conscripted. My mother was Belgian and lived there during the German occupation in WWII. They met in Belgium and their stories were my first inspiration. My father ran a small guest house, here in this same Sussex seaside town where I have lived all my life. The stories I heard told by our guests have also been an inspiration. I think being brought up among so many elderly people gave me an early insight into human nature, an awareness of time and the fragility of life.

Have you always considered yourself a writer?

I have always been a writer. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was in my troubled teens and wrote my first novel by hand. Then I lost it! I have never found it nor attempted to replicate that first one.

How do you transform an idea into a book?

When I have a novel or an idea in mind, it is like a mental itch.  From whence it comes I do not know… but it comes and goes… and when it itches, I tend to write about 500/1000 words at a time. When I get the “itch” in bed at night, I sit up and make a note, usually a few words that will prompt me the next day to write some more.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

When writing my two thrillers, I found the plots difficult and they taunted me some nights and I would then realise “hey! I left this out”, or “no, she can’t say that because she said this…” – these two novels are absolutely  NOT autobiographical, although when I completed the first one, Dangerous Dolls,  I realized one of the characters was drawn from someone I knew from my working life (I am now retired).

However, of these last two, I knew how I was to end them from the very beginning. (No, I cannot explain why or how, sorry!) Some of the more autobiographical novels are based on truth, or what I believed to be true. I do not read thrillers so my inspiration can only have come from cinema, theatre or the telly.

What’s in the works?

I have not yet felt an urge to write a children’s novel- although I have a few stories about and for them.  Nor, so far, have I wanted to try to write science fiction. But who knows?


About the Author

Linda Taylor is the youngest of six surviving children- there were eight children and Taylor was actually the seventh child of the seventh child.

Psychic phenomena have always been of interest. Although she cannot claim to have had any particularly strange experiences, except for three presentiments of deaths.

 

 

Holiday Help: What I Learned at Lulu

Chelsea, Temp, Ninja, Blogger

Ah, the temp. The transient ninja of the business world. Slip in, get the job done, slip out. Leaving behind nothing more than a 95% customer satisfaction score and a legend. Not an easy job, but somebody’s got to do it.

I found myself faced with this task during the holiday season at Lulu. No big deal. I have done customer service before. Phones, emails, chats. I get it. Just show me to my desk so I can do this thing. But at some point – and I’m not sure if it was the multiple puppies I saw around the office or the incredible snacks – I knew Lulu would be different.

I was right. Everyday was pretty awesome. One day I came across a calendar called Peanut Butter Dogs in Lulu’s bookstore, and I don’t think I need to explain that any further. Another perk is everyone at Lulu has a nerf gun, but it’s cool because everyone’s aim is bad, you don’t really have to worry about losing an eye. All that said, what made my experience really awesome was Lulu’s authors, readers and creators.

The support team at Lulu is called Customer Voice, because we hear you and work with you to solve your problem. Prior to this assignment, I had no idea how educational customer service could be. It was an unrivaled opportunity to learn new things. For example, I can now tell you with certainty that male and female Sasquatch smell differently, as well as the best places to visit in Upstate New York during the fall.

On any given day my responsibilities included: recommending a format for a children’s book about rescued Greyhounds; helping a beekeeper find a how-to book on building a top bar hive; or assisting a holocaust survivor in placing another order for his memoir – all published through Lulu. Every day was different. You never knew who would be on the other end of the phone, chat box, or email. But, what you did know, was that you were talking to someone who was doing something that they could not have done without Lulu. And that was pretty neat.

Alas, as is the nature of the temp (and ninja), I eventually had to say goodbye. But, not before getting my very own nerf gun! And all the snacks I could fit in my bag (that was cool, right?).

Thank you to Lulu, the authors, readers and creators.

It was great getting to know you!

Happy Publishing!


Update: We invited Chelsea for a return engagement to help us coordinate upcoming events in the US and Europe. We are delighted she accepted. We wonder what she will learn from this experience?

Stranded by Tate Publishing? We’re Here to Help

Kathy Hensgen, Lulu COO

To all authors formerly affiliated with Tate Publishing, please allow me to introduce myself: I’m Kathy Hensgen, COO of Lulu Press, the world’s first online, independent publishing company.  I consider it a sad day when an outlet for free expression closes or “suspends operations” as Tate Publishing recently announced. Based on what I’m reading online, I understand why many of you are upset and feel your trust has been betrayed.

I implore you, not to give up. We are here to support you through this transition. Lulu was founded in 2002 on the belief that authors and society benefit when the barriers to publishing are removed allowing information and ideas to flow freely. We truly care about our authors and their readers. We have the industry’s best, US-based customer support team. You don’t have to take my word for it, our Facebook reviews speak for themselves.

Also, I have some good news for you: publishing with Lulu is free! We are print-on-demand, so you only pay for the books you choose to purchase. We have a do-it-yourself platform allowing you to publish and distribute your books and ebooks to a worldwide audience. There are no hidden fees, no upfront costs and no need to purchase books for inventory. – everything is transparent and totally up-front.

In the coming days and weeks, we hope you will take a moment and visit us at Lulu.com.  With Lulu you can upload the files and cover designs you already have and distribute your books and ebooks to online bookstores stores around the world including the Amazon bookstore.

If you have any questions about how we can help, send us an email, chat with us online, or give us a call at (844) 212-0689.

We recently read that Tate was charging authors $50 for the return of their files. We will foot half of that bill by giving you $25 off your first order of $50 or more. Just give us a call at the number above to speak to someone on our support team. We are here to help.

Sincerely,

Kathy Hensgen,
Lulu COO

 

Author CL Bennett: Why Choose Indie Publishing?

Today we welcome back CL Bennett, Author of Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key to discuss her choice to self-publish.

Why did you choose self-publishing over a traditional publisher?

It took me six months to write the first book and when I got to the end of my scribbled pages, I sat there with an enormous pile of papers and wondered what do I do next? I still had a long way to go developing the characters, bringing them to life through illustrations and putting the series together from hundreds of muddled up pages, so I decided to work with an indie-publishing company to bring the Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key to life.

Did you enjoy the process?

Publishing a book is very hard work and I now hold great respect for traditional publishing houses and the process a book goes through from manuscript to finished book on a shop’s shelf. I naively thought it would be easy – not! To create twenty-four illustrations for the book I had to go into exquisite detail to animate the Bugglepuff characters. My husband and I managed to miss out on this fun, but my children very kindly dressed up as the Bugglepuff children – with their own pets from the book and acted out Bugglepuff poses until I got the right photos for the first illustrations!

There was a lot of chaos, chasing chickens around the garden and getting our pig to carry a basket without eating it, but it was tremendously entertaining. I sketched out some basic illustrations and sent them off to the illustrators. When I got the first email saying the first few illustrations were ready to view I was so deliriously excited I nearly cried, in fact I think I did. The illustrator at Lulu captured my family and their personalities. I chose black and white sketches for the interior because I love the simplicity of them and they’re so deliciously crisp and timeless.

The editing process was long, complicated and sometimes frustrating, but I was well supported throughout by Lulu Publishing. It took eight months from August 2013 to April 2014 to complete, but I knew it was all worth it when I finally got to hold the first copy of ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ on the 10th April 2014 – my animated family was in print – yippee!

As an author is your job done when you finish writing the book?

Goodness me no. There is a slight breather when you feel complete holding the first copy of your first book. A sparkle of pride and something inside shouts, “YES!”, but then the hard work starts. Some writers write for the sheer personal pleasure, but if you want to reach a wide audience you must look at the age and interests of the readers you’re targeting. Make sure you’re up to speed with your social media and marketing skills or have an indie-publisher like Lulu on hand to give you guidance. Share the book in the local community and shops. I have found there is now less bias in the retail world against self-published books. Also, online booksellers, including Lulu’s own online shop, are very fast to deliver your books whether you live in China, Europe or the US.

To be a successful and happy writer you must have a passion for writing, marketing and understand that it takes time and patience to get people to turn the pages of your books. But if you believe in your book’s worth, then so may many other readers – good luck!


The newest Bugglepuff adventure

About the Author

CL Bennett has sold 1000’s of books online, been on UK book tours, started Bugglepuff ‘fun days’ in 100’s of schools and libraries around the country, made audio recordings of her books with actor Brian Blessed OBE and won children’s books awards in both the USA and Europe. Her books are available for purchase in the Lulu bookstore.

Over the coming weeks, Bennet will share insights and tips on writing and self-publishing. If you have specific questions for her, please post them in the comments section.


Calling All Lulu Authors

Do you have a story to tell about realizing your dream as a writer? Do you have self-publishing knowledge or expertise to share with other authors? Want to expand your digital reach?

If so, we are looking for authors like you to share your story with our blog audience. Email your story pitch to blog@lulu.com. Include a brief biography and a link to your published work. We will do the rest.

Guidelines for guest posting.

Express Yourself

Since 2002, Lulu has been holding the doors of free expression open for writers, thinkers, storytellers, activists, educators and even political theorists. Whether you celebrated the peaceful transition of power or took to the streets to make sure your voice was heard, Lulu has the tools you need to communicate and engage with your audience – no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

Three US Presidents later, we are 1 million authors strong.

Add your voice. Be heard. Express yourself. It’s your right.

 

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