So You Think You Can Write a Book

Anthony S. Policastro is not just the Senior Business Analyst at Lulu.com, he is also an author. He was kind enough to take the time out of his day to write a great post on how to write and market your book using Lulu.com and other great tools.

The Jenkins Group , an independent publishing services company, says four out of five people they surveyed said they believe they have a book to write. Even fewer actually sit down and write a book and even fewer get published. Many established literary agencies in New York and elsewhere get upwards of 500 email and snail mail book queries a week and less than one percent of them are considered for representation.

So how do you get published with those odds?

It is easier than ever to get into print with the magic of print on demand and do-it-yourself publishing web sites like Lulu.com. Lulu is one of the few sites where it is free to upload your manuscript, design your cover or pick a pre-designed one and publish your book complete with an ISBN number and distribution on Amazon.com. There is no minimum number of copies to purchase, no hidden, we gotcha fees, and no secrets about how much you will make on each sale, what Lulu makes and what print and distribution costs amount to for your book. You keep all your rights and you set the price and the royalty.

So what are you waiting for? Change your odds of getting in print today. Go to Lulu.com, register, and start publishing! What? You’ve done that already? Okay, now comes the hard part made easier by Lulu – the marketing and promotion of your work.

If you wanted to sell homemade jewelry on the web, you would put up a web site complete with a storefront and check out cart and sit back and hope one hundred or more orders a day came your way. Now, would they? Most likely not. You have to promote your site, its market advantages like price, quality, brand, and ensure you are reaching people who are interested in buying homemade jewelry.

It’s the same when publishing a book. If you write a romance novel or a technical manual on how to tune the engine of a 737 you have to reach the right market with your message. One of the great advantages to using Lulu is that you can choose between doing everything yourself or buying the marketing services of publishing professionals from Lulu.

Here a few cool tricks I use to market my Lulu books . And they are free. Go to Google Blog Search and search for blogs pertaining to the subject area of your book. When you find some, read a few posts and leave a comment with a link to your book on Lulu or to your web site. This takes time and you must leave a comment with some substance for it to work. But if you hit the right blog with the right audience, it’s like winning on a slot machine in Atlantic City. One post increased traffic to my site by six times in one day! You can also do a search on Google, but you will get mostly web sites and often you cannot leave a comment.

Offer a free download of your book for a limited time. After all, if someone is willing to read your entire book on a computer screen they must be pretty interested in your work. What usually happens is if they like your book enough, they will purchase the print copy out of convenience since it is easier to read a book in print than on a computer display. This is also helpful when you send out press releases – you can direct the media to download your book for review. This is the preferred method of distributing your electronic version to the press and reviewers. If you attach a copy to an email, press people most likely will not open it for fear it may contain a computer virus or Trojan horse.

By the same token, send emails with links to your book to people involved in your book’s subject matter and ask them to review your work and write a short review. Mention that you can include their comments in your book if they want.

If you have never written a press release, Lulu offers an excellent template that walks you through the process so you can produce a professional release that the press will read and hopefully follow up with you. I used to be a journalist and it was nearly impossible to read every piece of mail that came into the office. But a professionally written press release always managed to get read.

And if you want to write your next book rather than market your current one, you can easily purchase Lulu’s many marketing and distribution services created and offered by professionals in the publishing business.

Just keep in mind you are the best sales person for your work – you are closest to the content and you are passionate about what you wrote or you would not have made the effort to create a book.

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18 Comments

  1. Would be interested in your opinion of this discussion on self-publishing and the resulting comments

  2. And plan a blog book tour to market your book! It’s a natural for eBooks and the “investment” of a complementary book to your host blogs is peanuts compared to real travel. More information here http://quickest.blogbooktourguide.ever.com

    This information as well as peer support group are complementary, too. ;)

    Dani
    http://twitter.com/blogbooktours

  3. I am the author of The Unspoken(What The World Don’t Talk About). I wish i would of noing about Lulu before i publish my book. Send me more info about helping me market my book. Also a price list. thanks

  4. Thank you for your encouragement. I have heard a lot about Lulu and this is my first visit. Yes I have the book writen. Yes I know my market, age ten to forteen youth fiction. Now I need to wonder through the rest. Most important services right now, final editing for press. Time line, November 7. So, I is this a workable time frame on Lulu?

    Mick Wells

  5. I am going to follow the advice of putting my download up for free. Thank you!

  6. Dani,
    Thanks for the link. I will read the post. I know book tour blogs are very effective in generating interest.

    John I,
    Take a look at Lulu’s Service page at http://www.lulu.com/en/services/?cid=en_tab_services
    You will find many wonderful free and paid marketing and distribution services for your book. Lots of luck.

  7. Mick,
    The second you complete the publishing process on Lulu your book will be featured in the Lulu Marketplace. If you go with a free ISBN, your book may take about a month or so to be listed on Amazon and other book selling channels. You create the time line on Lulu. You are in complete control of your book.

    John M.,
    Let me know if you see a spike in sales after you offer the electronic version of your book for free.

  8. Hi Andrea,
    Yes, I would be honored to visit your site and leave my thoughts. Thanks for the invite.

  9. kangarool

    HI Anthony, thanks for the information and guidance.

    If you have a minute, would you mind elaborating on your thoughts with regard to the merit, and peril, of offering your book for free as a download, even for a limited time? Actually, the question has more to do with publishing an e-book at all, whether it’s free or not.

    My fear, and I’d expect many other 0-time or 1st-time publishers, is that the Free/E- version makes its way into the great unknown, and then all control is lost … we think our ideas will be so attractive to the wider market that the e-version will simply be passed around the Net, resulting in no one ‘needing’ to buy the actual book, which obviously is the whole point.

    I am well aware of the counter argument (which you address in your original post), which is: put your thoughts out there, even in a limited form, and despite the few freebies you may have to contend with, the larger market will be exposed to, and subsequently purchase, your book… which they wouldn’t have been introduced to otherwise.

    I see the point, and rationally agree with it (probably!), but the emotional side of me is worried that we’re giving away our product free to the few people who we stood a chance of actually selling it to…

    Thanks for any insight you can provide/kangarool

  10. I have two books that I had put out by a publisher who I am really dissatisfied with. I switched to Lulu for my newest book, Kelly’s Way, and I couldn’t be happier. Lulu staff has really taken an interest in my success and have given me all the tools I need to get my wonderful book out there to potential customers.
    Thank you, Lulu.
    Rick Huffman

  11. Dear Kangarool,
    I think every author has a fear that if they put their work out there for free someone will steal it and claim it as their own. The possibility is real, but I think you might have a better chance at getting struck with lightening.
    With 200,000 new book titles published every year and only 100,000 of them getting into bookstores, and roughly 3,000 titles getting reviews in the media, your work is like a grain a sand on the coast of California.
    So you have to get it out there in any and all channels possible. The people who will download your book and read it are a very small minority since most people do not like to read a book on a computer or a phone or even an eBook reader like the Kindle or Sony eBook Reader. Most people want to read a book in printed form. Getting your book out there for free as an eBook is similar to a buyer looking at a printed version in a bookstore and reading the first few chapters. That introduction will determine if they want to buy the book.
    Lots of luck on your book.
    Anthony

  12. I strumble upon this website and glad I did. I’m in the process of writing my book now. Didn’t had any ideal how to find a publisher. I think this may be the way I will go. But must read all your info first.

  13. Great interview. Very informative… and… Proactive. I am a bit biased but for those of us who are academicians in higher ed. I believe that Lulu is the answer…

  14. Stephanie Mitchell

    Great information and thank you Dan for that. I have a book in mind that is a true story on a murder that took place in Louisianna twenty years ago. I just don’t know where to start. LuLu seems great to do a practice book per say while I’m writing my masterpiece. I had the thoughts of someone stealing my work which kept me from writing my book for a while, yet I am the only one who can tell it the way it happened from my point of view. I graduated in film and took creative writing, but its been a while and I have procrastinated way too much. Its time to write my book. Could you tell me the best way to refresh my creativity to get my mind focused on this book?

  15. Anthony S. Policastro

    Hi Stephanie,
    I suggest pretending that your book is published and sitting on a shelf in a bookstore and a customer picks it up and starts leafing through. Then the customer asks you, “This book looks interesting. Do you know what it is about?” You then explain the book’s highlights in a few sentences with a beginning, middle, and end to the story. Use this description to guide you as you write the book. Then make sure you put some time into your writing each day whether it is just reading the last passage you wrote or sitting for an hour thinking of what to write.
    To me, writing is like reading a book. If you pick up the book you’re reading everyday the plot, characters, and voice of the writing is fresh in your mind. You don’t have to backtrack to a previous chapter to figure out what is going on. If you stay away from the book too long, then it is very hard to get back into the story. You have to read previous chapters and hope you remember enough to get back into it. Writing is the same.

    Lots of luck and keep writing.

    Anthony

  16. this blog is so interseting the only thing that making me stop reading this blog well is stop reading it.I have never seen a bolg so convincing so encouraging that it seems to me that this can really work for anyone who wants to be a future writer who ever wrote this blog is so real so not fake i am jaha 11 year old happy to say that i love this bolg

  17. Great tips on how to start writing a book.

    Thanks again for the tip. The questions I have is how do you know if anyone is actually interested in reading your book beside you.

    Thanks
    Mobile app developers
    Pinoqio Group
    http://www.pinoqio.com

  18. Greetings,
    This will be my first attempt to write about this dream that has come to me many times throughout my life and now hopefully with your help my dream on paper can become reality as a Book. I thank you for your blog which can encourage me to share
    this fictional character that could possibly bring comfort to this wild and crazy world we live in.

    Aloha from Hawaii

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