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.

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19 Comments

  1. Sorry to butt in here, but all these inquiries mean nothing when support is a dead zone for authors. I mean, my issue is REVENUE related and still dead in the water. I’m looking at competitors for a revision and another book because frankly, if sales on lulu.com are not showing up in my revenue, it’s like taking a part-time job and at the end being told you were a volunteer. It should be ‘all hands on deck’ for support till it’s back to 1-2 days.

  2. Being on Amazon with a similar name to an established author, has yet to yield me any sales. I put the middle name, so there is a distinction, and no lawsuit from the namesake. My funds are incredibly limited, I’ve been submitting works into competitions
    like Stephen Leacock Humour Award (www.leacock.ca) for exposure, but despite having copies my book in Canadian Universities as well, that has yielded no potential sales either. Cancelled Visa is really playing havoc with my writing, as I cannot order my books to review either. If 10,000 people bought any of my 5 my books, it’d be awesome. 2 is less awesome.

  3. Nick Popio

    Mario,
    I am sorry you haven’t received an answer. Can you email me at npopio@lulu.com with a summary of the issue and the reference id you were given by customer support? I will try to get you some answers as quickly as possible.

  4. I haven’t had extensive experience with the distribution system since I’ve only had one of my books set for general distribution for a few months now, but one thing I’d like to see improved would be the communication between my Lulu listing and my Amazon listing.

    I’ve recently updated my cover art but I know to get it updated on Amazon.com I’ll need to take the issue up with customer service. It took me about a month (possibly longer) to get my description up initially.

    I also believe that the benefits of having an ISBN could be clarified, as well as the negatives. The retail markup can play havoc on book prices, if I understand it correctly. It is already difficult to get a Lulu book to a price that is acceptable to the general public.

    While an ISBN opens many more doors, as far as distribution is concerned, the markup for retail closes the minds of the readers we’re trying to reach. Of course, I do not have an ISBN myself, and maybe I don’t precisely understand the terms and conditions. That, though, may be exactly the problem.

  5. YOu need to come up with new type of book listing for those of us who write small 35-50 pages books. We have a following but the price you set for lulu and retail make them unappealing to public. i thinkme wanting 4.00 a books in fare. But selling for $16.90 is not worthwild to the public for small books. You need to get them in the price are of 6.95 or so. So if i have to take say 2.75 or 3.oo for each i woiuld do it for a listing of 6.95

  6. Much like Micheal says, our costs are related to printing, being on-demand is costly to produce, everthing else getting here is reasonable, but I’d prefer my $17 books to be $11, and my $11 books to be $6, its just not possible with the printing charges. Yes they are reduced with multiple order, understandably, but they prevent our product from being a fair market value. We’re in essense selling apartments for the price of a wide lot 2 storey home, with a landscaped garden. On paper, it looks too high. Yes my prices could go higher if my royalty was bigger, but I’ve kept those under $5. I have more books to submit, in finishing stages, I’d love for them to be more reasonable. Logistically it may be tough to do, but I think Lulu can try, you sponsor Ticats football, you’re not short of funds to cover such costs.

  7. I haven’t tried Lulu for real yet, but I’ve seen some people on blogs complaining that the packaging used by you is too heavy for, say, a single book. Big strong cardboard boxes are great if you ordered a lot of books or magazines, but if a writer only needs a single proof copy for revision, it would be nice to have a simpler package that would cost less to go through the mail.

  8. I am an author who is based in Australia and I have several issues with your system.

    (1) I too have been unable to get revenue issues resolved and have essentially been ignored by someone that I corresponded with last week. My final note to her received NO response whatsoever.

    (2) I am aware of another source, also based in the USA, who will print the book for MUCH less than you do and they offer the exact same distribution services. So your ‘that’s the cost of printing’ line really doesn’t ring true.

    (3) Your shipping costs are APPALLING and I sell very few books here in my own country of residence compared to my following in the USA. It is plainly ridiculous for a buyer here to order a $19 book and then pay an additional $19 in shipping!!!

    Trust me — word IS getting around about how you treat your authors.

    Deborah

  9. I’ve had Lulu’s basic PBL distro service but chose to retire those because after the books went retail the prices were just out of sight. It’s cheaper to go with the other POD service to get on Amazon because the price, while still more than I like, is better than what I had with Lulu. If Lulu could manage to get a lower retail markup it would help with people choosing distro and actually selling because no one is going to buy a paperback for $20 or more. Hardcovers I can see, depending on the pagecount but never a paperback. Also, maybe offering the expanded package at a lower rate for a short time will draw people in who want more exposure and also to have the books in more than Amazon. I mean, the expanded package is $50 which may seem reasonable but for another $50 they could have the same deal only they would be listed as publisher with the PBY option. I enjoyed your distro service except for that markup.

  10. Diane Grayson

    I’m extremely upset. I purchased a publish by you distribution package and tried to publish. Now I can’t change the size to the one they want because it is not appearing. The help center is simply not helping me and i’m really concerned this is going to turn into a part time job. How do i get it so the size appears and I can turn my book into a 6 by 9 if that option doesn’t appear???

  11. Ron G Baars

    I have been a member for 3 plus years and have had zero revenue. I know that I could be more aggressive on marketting but it seams like there are just too many offerings in certain categories. Maybe some more advanced search techniques for the site or some lower price marketing plans would be helpful. As a positive comment though I really enjoy the site and think that you folks are on the right track. This site is great.

  12. The most frequently complaint I hear from my potential readers (hence, “buyers”) pertains to the requirement to sign up for Lulu when they want to make a purchase. This literally scares off the impulse buyers, who don’t know what they’re getting in for.
    Why is this necessary? Why can’t a buyer just add my book to a cart and proceed to checkout? You gather their information at that stage of the game anyway, so why scare them off before?

  13. I purchased an expanded distribution on 5th June 2009 for my children’s book The Alien Who Came To Tea and approved a copy and got a reply from distro saying it would go into circulation. It never appeared and when I emailed support and FINALLY got a reply they told me the last page wasn’t blank, which is WAS and I had to order yet another copy which with postage came to over £10. So far with the copies I have to buy because of lulu’s inefficency it would have been cheaper to buy a publishing package and got it all done for me elsewhere.

  14. Like Deborah, I am based in Australia. The shipping costs are appallingly large. When we published The Age of Conversation 2 last year, the base shipping costs for a hardcover version were >$100. For a $30 book!

    A couple of years ago you seemed to be able to print in Australia and bring the shipping price down (at least for soft cover books). This no longer seems to be the case. What’s going on?

  15. dangarbusa

    Being on Amazon with a similar name to an established author, has yet to yield me any sales. I put the middle name, so there is a distinction, and no lawsuit from the namesake. My funds are incredibly limited, I’ve been submitting works into competitions
    like Stephen Leacock Humour Award (www.leacock.ca) for exposure, but despite having copies my book in Canadian Universities as well, that has yielded no potential sales either. Cancelled Visa is really playing havoc with my writing, as I cannot order my books to review either. If 10,000 people bought any of my 5 my books, it’d be awesome. 2 is less awesome.

  16. I purchased the expanded dist pck..for my book A Divine Poet’s Journal may exactly three months ago, i have ordered several copies they keep telling me the last page is not blank and the page numbering is correst keep sending the same email, yes I’m a little dissapointed that i paid for this service three months ago, maybe they should consider communicting over the phone..

  17. Nick Popio

    Shameeca,
    I’m sorry you are having trouble. What is your reference id from customer service? I will try to help you get some answers.

  18. I believe you need to get your printing costs under control. Looking at some competitors who have much lower printing costs, I can’t find a reason to stay with lulu. I like lulu’s ease of use and getting set up but I need to look at long term costs.

    Also I search for my book on the Lulu search and have been unsuccessful in finding my own book. I believe other potential customers will have even more trouble since they don’t know it exists. Any help?

  19. Michele

    1. Don’t make people sign up to Lulu just to purchase a book. Not everyone wants to join Lulu.

    2. In your comparison between the distribution/ISBN packages available, it would be really helpful if you would also list the *prices* as well. At this point, there is no way to find them and plan for them!

    3. Shipping costs are over the top. Folks won’t pay to have a book shipped when shipping costs more than the book.

    4. Mark up at other retailers is astronomical. Some people don’t want to purchase from Lulu directly because of having to join the site just to buy a book, so they look elsewhere–only to find the mark-up is ridiculously high. Result? No sale for the author at all.

    5. Your competitors are catching up and over-taking you in several areas–especially cost and customer service.

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