I certainly can’t speak for everyone in the company, but I can answer for myself with a resounding “yes!” In fact, I was a Lulu customer long before I was an employee.
I first heard about Lulu in 2003 through a promotion with the National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) competition. Lulu was offering a promotion for a free copy of your book to anyone who finished the competition, so when I finished my novel I decided to publish it on Lulu. Once that very rough draft was sitting on my book shelf with my name on the spine I was hooked, both to writing and to Lulu.
I followed that up with a children’s fantasy book in 2004, and printed copies through Lulu to give my nieces and nephews for Christmas. Don’t worry, I also gave them real presents, so they didn’t ask to exchange the books.
I next used Lulu to publish a book of my mother’s paintings for a Mother’s Day present in 2005. Seeing how much joy it brought her to share the book with her friends showed me just how much personal creations can mean to a family, and inspired me to get even more involved with Lulu.
I used Lulu’s extensive forums for guidance in these endeavors, and soon began to assist others with their publishing questions. As my participation increased, I became a Power Poster, with all the glory and honor of a cool icon next to my posts. That was good enough for another year, before I decided to answer a job posting on the site to further my involvement with Lulu and stay off of welfare.
I started taking Live Help chats soon after being hired in August of 2006. Over the next year and a half, I had the opportunity to participate in literally thousands of chats, and came to know just how varied the Lulu creators and their needs are.
I’m out of the Live Help loop now, but you can still find me in the forums quite a bit. I do a lot of testing on the site and hope to continue to be involved with the creative community. I do my best to be an advocate for our creators, and try to make sure the company understands how changes may impact the Lulu community.
While Lulu is my primary source of income, writing is still my passion. On my off days I have managed to polish up that first novel and published the new version through Lulu, along with three other novels. I’ve written two screen plays and have had a couple short stories published in paying markets.
Despite these experiences, I still face the same struggles as many self-published authors in trying to get my books noticed. I’ve had successful and not-so-successful book signings at libraries and bookstores, favorable (gushing, lots of stars) and not-so-favorable (harsh, low end of the scale) reviews, and am going to my first book festival later this year (Tri-State Book Fest in Evansville, Indiana on September 27, 2008). I’m not threatening The New York Times Best Seller list or Lulu’s own rankings, but almost every month there are more of my books out there, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my stories.
It’s been an enjoyable and symbiotic relationship with Lulu, and I hope you feel the same way.