Monthly Archives: February 2008

TCCTA Welcomes Lulu!

The Texas Community College Teacher’s Association (TCCTA) had its 61st annual convention and Lulu was one of the show’s main attractions. With over 80 colleges participating, teachers from all backgrounds were interested to see what Lulu could do for them.

As most of you know Lulu’s services not only attract individual authors/creators but can appeal to many others; like teachers. So here’s the scenario, you’re a teacher and you use the same old tired textbook every year. You’re not only tired of it, but your students are too. So why not create your own? Lulu enables teachers to be able to compile course materials and any other relevant matter in one central piece versus using the same irrelevant materials over and over again.

With this being our first time at TCCTA, teachers were surprised to see us there but understood the perfect placement we have at such an educational show. With over 6,000 members it was a great opportunity for Lulu to continue to reach out to the educational world full of potential Lulus! We want to make sure that at each conference Lulu attends we continue to stress our free services and easy applications. TCCTA has now been added to the list of successful educational conferences that we’ve attended and we’re excited to see what the next one brings.

If you know of any educational shows (or any other shows for that matter) feel free to let us know where you’d like to see us. Respond to this blog with your ideas.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/e6FSv9OqkFg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Kenia Caze

Leap Year Fun

So leap year doesn’t come around but every four years and for many of us it’s just another year with an extra day. Until I wrote this blog I never really paid attention to all the stories behind the year. So, I figured since I had no clue maybe you’ll like to share in my findings!

What’s obvious is that a leap year contains one or more extra days in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the seasonal year. But did you know that February used to be the last month of the year? And every four years there was an extra 22 day month? Back in the days of Julius Caesar, he ruled that in order to keep all time the same every year he’d just throw an extra month in! Well, as we all know that didn’t last and it was found that the best solution is to add an extra day every four years instead; giving us the format we follow today.

Are you a leap day baby? Apparently the odds of being born on leap day are 1/1,146! With numbers like that be sure that you’re not the only one! If you’re looking for other leap day babies you might want to look into the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club and the Annual Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Festival. (From what I hear, membership includes a free t-shirt!)

So, this is for the ladies. Ever thought of asking your sweetie to marry you? Well, leap year rules say that this is the only time you’re allowed to propose. Leap year traditions in Scotland in 1288 stated that a woman was allowed to propose to the man of her choice. Though, if the fellow declined he would have to pay a hefty fine­­—of a kiss! (Or the woman’s choice of affectionate punishment)

Have any other interesting leap year facts? Feel free to add your findings to the comments section. Have fun and Happy Leap Year!

Kenia Caze

Celebrate Black History Month with Lulu

As February is Black History Month, we would like to highlight some of our Lulu users and encourage others to create and share cultural content to celebrate the holiday.

Many African Americans use Lulu to celebrate their culture through a variety of forms such as art, personal accounts, cookbooks, poetry, music and more. Here are just a few examples of popular Lulu creations made by African American authors:

  • LeSean Thomas created a compilation of his animated artwork highlighting hip-hop-inspired characters that has been featured on “The Boondocks” on Cartoon Network (http://books.lulu.com/content/189605). Daytime Award Winning Producer Jeff Matsuda recognizes Thomas’ work as some of the most dynamic, unique and prolific hip-hop driven visions of today.

  • The Soumas Heritage Creole Cookbook (http://www.lulu.com/content/60871) by Panderina Soumas offers a how-to for a number of tantalizing treats that have been passed down through generations of Creole cooks. With recipes like “African Rhythm Drumettes” and “Who-Do-You-Wanna-Voodoo-Dip,” the Soumas Heritage Creole Cookbook celebrates culture through the sharing of delicious family dishes.

 

  • Another publication, The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook (http://www.lulu.com/content/656880) by Marcella Runell and Martha Diaz provides advice on how to harness the enthusiasm and energy found in hip-hop music and introduce it to the classroom. Calling for innovation in schools and engaging teaching styles to ensure the success of all American students, this guidebook has been used in numerous schools throughout New York.

There are many more cultural creations that can be found by simply browsing the Lulu marketplace (http://www.lulu.com/en/browse/).

One final way that I would like to encourage you to commemorate Black History Month is to write your own chapter of history. Lulu has all the tools you need to share your story with others and add to your already-rich traditions. Use this month to create a living history of your own experiences while paying tribute to great African American leaders of the past and present.

Shannon Connell

Lulu in the News

The past few weeks have been busy for us. Between getting out our first release of the year and adding a new partnership, Lulu’s been getting some time in the spotlight. Recently, your very own Lulu.com has been featured in stories from Reuters and the Associated Press about the trend of self-publishing. Gina Keating from Reuters says that Lulu “connects small fan bases with works they couldn’t find in bookstores.”

Candice Choi from the Associated Press also showed Lulu and self-publishing was a nation-wide trend with her piece, ‘Got a manuscript? Publishing now a snap’ got picked up by several other media outlets.

On top of these two features, we received a nice post from Mashable’s Kristen Nicole where she compares the café offerings to the new offering from Borders Digital Kiosk.

“Yes, I’m one of those people that sits in bookstores all day and flips through magazines and occasionally books, and only purchases stuff about half the time. That’s the beauty of having a cafe in the bookstore, right? For folks like me. Well, just like Borders teamed up with Seattle’s Best for luring solicitors into buying the premium stuff while they sit and read all day, Borders is now teaming up with self-publishing tool Lulu to extend its services to customers that would like to create their own book.”

Read the full story here. Keep your eyes open for more Lulu News.

Lulu Offers Sweet Surprises for Valentine’s Day

Hi, my name is Shannon. A recent Lulu addition, I’m serving as an intern in the area of Public Relations. Part of my job here at Lulu is to find some of the really interesting and unique creators on Lulu. As you can imagine, I spend a good bit of time perusing our site checking out the hottest new items on our marketplace.

With that in mind, I would like to pass along some of these finds to those of you still searching for that perfect gift for your special someone this Valentine’s Day. Lulu’s marketplace is a wealth of great gift possibilities that you can purchase or use as a model to get your creative juices flowing. For example, 50 Reasons Why You Should Marry Me and 51 Reasons Why I Should Marry You is a photo book created by Lulu user Cameron Kelly to propose to his girlfriend. Photo books, which are like scrapbooks minus the glue and the time-consuming process, are very quick and easy to make so that your gift doesn’t appear last minute.

Another way to surprise your sweetie this 14th is to compile a collection of your favorite recipes to cook together. Your personalized “couple’s cookbook” is sure to make your Valentine swoon. Seal the deal by cooking an entree or two from your new publication.

A final gift suggestion is to publish the story of how you and your significant other met. Use illustrations, clip art or photos to add special details such as what color they were wearing on the first date. This sweet gift can be a meaningful keepsake that will last much longer than any flowers or candy.

Still stumped? Take a look at Beyond the Roses and Chocolates: How to WOW Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day by Buffy Johannsen for more gift ideas.

Also, be sure to check out some of our other fun Valentine’s-themed goodies to get in (or out) of the holiday spirit this week!

  • Spread love while giving hope to others by purchasing Love Is What We Do, a compilation of poetry on love. All proceeds are donated to the American Red Cross.
  • Sarah Meadow’s I Shot the Cherub is a single woman’s survival guide for Valentine’s Day that offers craft ideas, delicious recipes and theme-party ideas to help non-attached females get through that often dreaded day of the year.

Feel free to post any other fun Valentine’s Day items you find on our site in the comments section.

Shannon

New Barcodes on CDs and DVDs

In an effort to streamline our DVD and CD creation process, Lulu has recently implemented the use of barcodes. These barcodes are very small (1.5” x 0.5” or 3.81 x 1.27 cm) and will appear on various sections of the CD and DVD finished product. The implementation of these barcodes is strictly for the purpose of keeping the various pieces of your project together during production, and is not for the purpose of assisting in retail sales.

The location of the barcode varies.

For DVDs:
* the barcode appears on the back of the case in the upper right-hand corner, 0.125” (or .32 cm) from the spine and 0.25” (or 0.64 cm) from the top.
DVD Case

For CDs:
* the barcode appears on the back of the insert in the upper right-hand corner, 0.125” (or .32 cm) from the top and side.

CD Insert

* the barcode also appears on the tray card (back of the case) aligned to the bottom right-hand corner.

CD Tray Card

On all discs:
* The barcode will appear horizontally, 0.375” (or .95 cm) from the edge of the disc, 1.48” (or 3.68 cm) from the center.
Disc Template

You can find templates with the proper dimensions in our help section here: http://www.lulu.com/en/help/disc_faq#disc_art_dimensions

Thanks!
Carol

Giving It Away – How Previews May Help You Sell

I tend to come across a lot of material on the site because of my job. Sometimes, it’s because I’m looking for something to buy, other times I am checking out whether it’s in violation of our membership agreement, and still others I am looking for content to highlight. Regardless of the reason, I am often surprised by how much of it lacks a preview. According to Chris Anderson, author of the “Long Tail”, on average, 500 copies of a book are sold per year. For a self-published author, selling 500 copies in a year is considered a huge success, but how do you get 500 people to buy your book when most of them haven’t ever heard of you? The simple answer is to let them read it.

If I have never heard of a writer before, and I’m in a bookstore, three things that make me decide to take a chance on a book. First, does the summary grab me? If a book has a good description and it sounds interesting, I will take a closer look at it. I can’t tell you how many books I come across with descriptions that don’t tell me enough about what it’s about, because it’s a lot. So, that’s step 1, think about your description, and try to tell people what your book (or CD or whatever) is about, and why they should give it a shot. Show it to people you trust to give you constructive criticism, and get their advice. Remember, if you don’t draw people in, they probably won’t take a risk and pay for your book.

The second thing I look for is who is recommending the book to me. If I see an author I recognize (and like) telling me they like the book, then I am more likely to pick it up. Since self-published authors can’t always get someone well known in their genre of choice to recommend their book, it helps to have people who are willing to give thoughtful and honest reviews of your work regardless. If it looks like your mom is the only person who reviewed it and loved it, I hate to say it, but I’m probably not going to buy it (unless your mother is Haven Kimmel or another woman whose writing I enjoy).

The final thing that will convince me to purchase a copy of a book I’ve never heard of before is being able to read the book, or at least part of it. I cannot stress how important this is. Barnes & Noble will let me sit in their cafe, read a book while drinking some Starbucks and never blink. They do this because they know that A) I will buy their overpriced snacks (and I will), and B) because they know I am more likely to buy something if I can read some of it first. They also know, I am unlikely to read an entire book in the store and then put it back on the shelf. So, they let me sit down, get comfortable and read, hoping I will like what it and buy it. The same thing applies to selling books, cds, and anything else online. People are unlikely to read an entire book online, and even if they do, if they like the book, they are probably willing to pay $15 to own a copy. On the other hand, if you don’t have a preview, no one knows how good your book is, and they aren’t as likely to give it a try.

This is why we advocate offering a preview. You don’t have to put the whole book or album up for people to read/listen to, just put up what you are comfortable with, and you think will help convince strangers and loved ones that they want to read, and/or listen to the whole thing. I can’t guarantee that you’ll sell 500 copies, but I can guarantee you’re more likely to sell copies if you let people try it first.

Nick Popio

Tips and Tricks: Cover Design

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but most people do

How many times have you picked up a book because it looked interesting?

Make sure your creation makes a lasting impression with an attractive, well-designed cover. It’s a great way to attract and pique the viewer’s interest and make your book stand out from the crowd.

With these helpfl guidelines, design the cover that will showcase your book in an extraordinary way.

Before designing you cover you should:

  • Identify the target audience: Consider their interests, reading levels, background.
  • Determine the purpose of your message you want to present and plan your cover layout around it.
  • Select appropriate typefaces and organize the text and graphics.

::Audience::

Remember that you are not designing for yourself; you are designing to communicate to others. Take the audiences needs, skills, and abilities, into account when developing your design.

::Layout::

Decide what you want the reader to see or read first and position it accordingly, then decide what you want the reader to read or see next.

Make the most important element you want your readers to see the largest and the least important element the smallest. A few ways to do that is to:

  • Establish a hierarchy of type sizes for headlines, subheads, etc.
  • Be consistent with formatting.
  • Use lines to organize information.
  • Outline a photo or separate it from other elements. The use of space (negative space), is very important as it gives the eye a visual rest, makes a layout easy to follow and can drown attention.

Color on a book-cover can convey moods, create images, attract attention, and identify objects, among other things. When you choose colors – think about the following:

  • Highlighting important elements such as headlines and subheads.
  • Attracting the eye.
  • Creating a mood.
  • Provoking thought or emotion.

Red – Energy, Passion, Power, Excitement Orange – Happy, Confident, Creative, Adventurous

Yellow – Wisdom, Playful, Satisfying, Optimistic Green – Health, Contentment, Harmony

Blue – Honesty, Integrity, Trustworthiness Violet – Mystic, Beauty, Inspiration

Brown – Easiness, Passivity Black - Finality, Transitional Color

:: Typography::

Key tips: Choose a font that embodies the personality of your book or theme. Aggressive, Violent, Peaceful, Confusion……..You should use two typefaces but make sure they are very different. If you decide to use only one font, choose one that has different variations.

::Images and Graphics::

Your Cover: the first impression on your readers. Once you have decided what type of feeling you want to create, choose an image. Don’t forget, unusual shapes can be used to attract attention. There are basically three types of shapes: Geometric shapes (a triangle), natural shapes (a being, plant, pet etc.) and abstract shapes (an illustration)

If you don’t have your own image and you are looking for one, check out public domain, royalty free graphics web sites or subscription graphics online services that charge a membership fee for unlimited graphics downloads….

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

http://www.freefoto.com/browse/04-00-0?ffid=04-00-0

http://www.pdphoto.org/

http://search.creativecommons.org/

http://www.clipart.com/en/

Lulu’s Services Marketplace:

If you would like the help of an expert, visit Lulu At Your Service: a Services Marketplace and find a designer near you.

Meet the Lulu Mini-Storefront Widgets

Ever wanted to put your Lulu storefront on your own website? Well, the community development team here at Lulu has been hard at work on some tools that let you do just that. We’re calling them the Lulu Mini-Storefronts and we’ve got three great options to choose from:

Javascript/HTML

Pros: Easy to add to your site, very customizable
Cons: Helps if you know CSS and HTML

Best For: Personal websites, personal weblogs, sidebars

  1. Go to the Lulu Mini-Storefront Wizard
  2. Click on HTML/Javascript Widget
  3. Copy and paste the widget code on your site
  4. Use CSS to style the widget any way you want

Flash

Pros: Easy to add to your site, works well on profiles pages
Cons: A little too big for a blog sidebar

Best For: MySpace, other profile pages

  1. Go to the Lulu Mini-Storefront Wizard
  2. Click on Flash Widget or MySpace Widget
  3. Customize your widget
  4. Copy and paste the widget code on your site

Facebook

Pros: It works on Facebook!
Cons: It only works on Facebook!

Best For: Facebook!

  1. Go to the Lulu Mini-Storefront application on Facebook
  2. Click on Add Application

Jackson Fox, Community UX Engineer