Monthly Archives: August 2009

Lulu Lens: What Features Do You Need To Make Your eBook a Success?

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Today on Lulu we let our authors sell downloadable, unprotected PDFs, but we don’t offer a true eBook publishing option.  Many of you have told us you want your books available in as many marketable digital formats as possible. As a result, we’re investigating developing a better eBook publishing and distribution solution.

This week, we want to know: What features you need to make your eBook a success? Some examples include: licensing/copyright protection; publishing in popular eBook formats like ePub; support for downloading your book to popular devices like Sony Reader, iPhone, and Kindle.  Tell us more!

ISBN, Distribution Changes Intended to Add Flexibility, Efficiency

Here at Lulu, we are united by a common purpose: Your success.

We want to hear from you as much and as often as possible to improve our services to ensure you create the best products, have the most sales or achieve whatever goal drives you. That effort prompted us recently to announce changes to our ISBN and distribution offerings. Unfortunately, we unintentionally caused some confusion. To clear things up, I talked with Ben, our Distribution Product Manager, and wanted to share what I learned.

Lulu Lens: What Can We Do To Improve Our Calendar Experience?

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This month marks the beginning of calendar season, and so this week we want to know – what we can do to improve our calendar experience? One of the ideas we’re brainstorming is allowing buyers to add custom events, but what do you want to see us do?

We also want to remind you that if you already have a calendar it’s easy to update it to 2010. Simply log into your account, click revise, select the Properties tab, and change the start date to whenever you like. If you haven’t created a calendar before, then try it out and give us your feedback!

Understanding Lulu: "Can I talk to someone?"

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Update:  Our specialists are happy to help you find the best solutions to all your publishing needs via email or LiveChat.  Feel free to contact them by visiting our customer support page.

For this month’s post, I’d like to address one of the most frequently asked questions:  “Is there a number I can call to talk to someone at Lulu?”  As a web-based company, our services are offered through the Lulu.com website and our customer support issues are handled through emailed electronic tickets.  These tickets are useful because they provide something for the customer voice team to reference as a customer’s relationship with Lulu grows.  Customers can send in photos of what they are referencing along with their order and content ID numbers, allowing everything to be consolidated in one place.

We recently upgraded our system and moved all tickets to a more streamlined database in an effort to improve organization and efficiency in our response time.  We also doubled our customer voice team in just a four-week period!  All this hard work is to get Lulu’s support back to the standard of a two business-day turnaround.

That said, a recent addition to Lulu’s masterpiece publishing package is phone support.  A Lulu specialist will be assigned to a project and will work with an author by email and phone.  This specialist is dedicated to helping an author’s publication reach its full potential.  While there is a price for this, a dedicated specialist might be a good investment for an author depending on how much help they think they might need.  Lulu offers several professional publishing packs for anyone that wants help through their publishing experience.  These packages continue to evolve as the needs of the customer change.

Self-publishing is an industry that empowers authors to realize their dreams and ambitions, and Lulu is always growing and improving to keep up with your needs.  Presently, there are a number of help options for an aspiring Lulu author to seek out, such as excellent video tutorials, an extensive FAQ page, an in-depth help knowledge base, and customer voice team members that are just an email away!

Published By You and Distribution Announcements

At Lulu, we know that getting your book into distribution channels outside of the Lulu Marketplace is important to many of you. We also know that the current process can be confusing. As a result, we have taken steps to simplify getting your book set up with an ISBN, extending the reach of your book and enabling you to sell more. To facilitate this, we have removed Published By You (PBY) as a distribution package. Don’t worry if you already have a PBY package, nothing will change for you as we will continue to support you and your book(s).

If you do not have a PBY package but were thinking about getting one you can still purchase your own ISBN and apply it to your Lulu book. To purchase your own ISBN visit www.myidentifiers.com and create an account. You can then fill out the form and purchase an ISBN. We are aware that Published by You was a popular service, therefore we’ll be closely monitoring the response to this change. We are considering launching a service similar to Published by You that will still facilitate the purchase of an ISBN on your behalf, so if you would prefer something like that, then let us know.

In a few weeks, all books will have the option to assign either a Lulu owned ISBN or your own ISBN to your Lulu books in the publishing wizard. This means you won’t have to create your book, wait for approval, and then create a new revision to add the ISBN information. Like the Published By Lulu (PBL) package we used to offer, if you assign a free Lulu owned ISBN, Lulu will act as the publisher on your behalf to retailers and wholesalers. If you assign your own ISBN, then the publisher listed with your ISBN will be used.

Once you’ve assigned an ISBN to your project, you will still need to choose a distribution package for your ISBN to be listed in major bibliographic databases. If you choose Lulu’s new, free ExtendedReach service your title will be made available on Amazon.com, or you can purchase our GlobalReach service which lists your book on even more major online retailers worldwide and allows brick & mortar stores to order your book.

This is only the beginning. In the coming months, we will be helping you expand your reach more and more. We want to help you get your work in the hands of your readers, and the easiest way to do that is to make sure they can find your book on the sites they are already browsing. If there are particular online retailers you are interested in being listed on, then please let us know!

Lulu Lens: Would you pay a flat fee per year for 2 Day shipping on all orders?

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Yesterday we announced our plans to improve shipping costs and simplify our existing shipping options. We also know that shipping is something we need to constantly improve on in order to ensure that you have the best experience possible. With that in mind, I want to get your feedback on a new idea we have been considering. Would you pay a flat fee per year if you received Express (2 Day) shipping on all of your orders? If so, what do you think a reasonable price for such a service would be?

As always, we appreciate your feedback, and it will help us decide if this is a program we should consider or not. Please let us know what you think!

Announcing Fast-track Printing and Shipping Improvements

Your opinion matters to us here at Lulu and we strive to improve based on your feedback. As a result, we are taking an important step toward improving your shipping experience as we launch new simplified and standardized shipping options. Effective August 18, you will see four standard options for shipping: Mail (Priority Mail in the case of APO/FPO), Ground, Expedited (typically 2 days in US), and Express (typically 1 day in US). These will be the same options in every country – everywhere, and will help simplify shipping for everyone. If we cannot offer all of the options in your specific location, then you will only see the options that are available to you. Ultimately, this will lead to our launch of better shipping prices across the world on September 1st.

To effectively make this change we need to suspend our Fast-Track Printing options beginning August 18th  while we make the necessary changes to provide you with our newly simplified and better shipping options.  As a result, you will not see options for Super Fast or Super Mega Fast shipping during checkout. For those of you unfamiliar with our Fast-Track Printing, choosing one of these options allows a book to be printed the next business day (Super Fast) or the same business day (Super Mega Fast), and immediately shipped out using overnight delivery. It is more expensive, but can be a lifesaver when you need your books quickly. If you’re facing a time crunch, and you need books printed via our Super Fast or Super Mega Fast options, then please place your order before August 18th.

Fast-Track Printing will return as soon as possible, but in order to streamline shipping the options will be temporarily unavailable.  You can expect its quick return and a reduction in shipping costs very soon!

New Schedule For Our Interactive Author Q&A!

Every week in our forums we highlight one Lulu Author and invite you to ask the burning questions you have on your mind. Feel free to ask your favorite Lulu Authors things like “What inspired you to write your latest book,” “Do you have any marketing tips,” or even “How did you choose the names of your characters?”

Previous Author Q&As:

Check out all the wonderful Authors we have scheduled for upcoming Q&As:

This week, Stardust Penny is answering your questions in the forums! Be sure to stop by and get to know her!

Remember, if you want to be one on the highlighted authors, drop me a line at chousel@lulu.com and let me know you’re interested. Be sure to include a brief summary as a way to introduce you to the community, highlighting any accomplishments, accolades, or even personality quirks! I will also need a link to your Lulu Storefront and any personal websites that you want included.

Lulu Lens: How Can We Improve Our Distribution Process?

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First, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been participating in our Lulu Lens discussions. You’ve all given us incredibly valuable feedback, and I have been recording all of it and sharing it with our Product Development team. They are looking at which ones we can implement and I will be keeping you all up-to-date on our progress. So thank you for contributing, and keep it up!

This week we want to focus a little more on our distribution. We are looking at ways we can improve the process overall, and so any insight you can give us would be very valuable. Specifically, we want to know what aspects of our existing process have been confusing or frustrating for you? Hopefully, we can use your feedback to streamline the process and help you get your book into the distribution channels that are most beneficial to you.

August Author Sales Contest Is Underway

Looking to make a little extra cash this month? Then check out this month’s Author Sales Contest where Lulu will be giving away $2,750 in cash prizes to the top three authors who sell the most books throughout the month of August.

Winners and runners-up will also receive:

  • Recognition and books highlighted on the contest results page
  • Highlighted in e-mail blast to Lulu authors, and in our newsletter
  • Interview highlighted in Lulu blog

Don’t think you have a chance at winning? Think again!!!

Most of our previous winners weren’t listed  in our Monthly Top 100 before registering.

Since sales are counted throughout the month of August, it’s a fresh start for everyone, so get over to the August sales contest  homepage and register now.

Regards,

Adam