Monthly Archives: October 2010

Trick or Treat? Why Not Both…

Hulkmania!

It’s Halloween in the Lulu office and I thought it’d be fun to share some of the great costumes people have been wearing all day.

Each year, Lulu team members break out their biggest wigs, their goofiest glasses and their scariest masks in an attempt to out do each other in the fierce competition to win the “Best

Right to Left: A Musketeer, Dr. Who, Captain Planet, Barista

Costume Award.” No Lulu holds back and there were some pretty remarkable costumes this year. Some of my favorites were Hulk Hogan and Uncle Fester (with a real light up bulb in his mouth).

But we don’t want to be the only ones having fun, so as a treat for All Hallows’ Eve, we’re offering a couple special deals to all our customers and creators this weekend.

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Uncle Fester

Through November 1st, you can take 20% off any order with coupon code TRICK. And you can take 25% off any order of $500 or more with coupon code TREAT.

While coupons aren’t as tasty as candy, they are better for you and your wallet this Halloween season.

Have a happy and safe holiday everyone.

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The Skeleton Goes Next to the Table: An Author Success Story

This post is one in a series featuring Lulu author success. To share your own story, email us at pr@lulu.com.

Lynne and Shawn Mitchell turned their passion into a book — and profit.

For most, purchasing a dream house is a once in a lifetime moment. Picking out the right colors, furniture and garden help make a new house a home.

For others, how to arrange the coffin and cobwebs so they match the skeletons strategically placed throughout the foyer is an equally important choice. Thankfully for those ghoul enthusiasts, the husband and wife duo of Lynne and Shawn Mitchell have scared up the definitive guide for haunting your own house.

How to Haunt Your House is the essential guide for Halloween enthusiasts, home haunters and anyone who loves to create handmade props or special effects,” says Lynne. “We got the idea for this illustrated step-by-step decorating guide from putting together our own home haunt we like to call ‘The Mitchell Cemetery’…Oh, and we both grew up in real haunted houses!”

An encyclopedic knowledge of horror films, a love of creating movie quality decorations and an overwhelming desire to scare led these novice writers to create How to Haunt Your House.

In the first year of publication, they sold more than 1,000 copies. Demand has been so strong, in fact, this year they followed up with How to Haunt Your House, Book Two. Lynne reports that sales are off to a stellar start.

Celebrating Book Birthdays

Publishing your first book is a very special occasion. What once may have been nothing more than a faint idea, something quietly lingering in the recesses of one’s mind, becomes a physical reality upon publication. Holding the first printed copy of your book is truly a wonderful experience — one that I’m sure even the most established authors never grow tired of having. That is why I think it is time we start celebrating these special occasions. It’s time that we start recognizing our books’ birthdays.

The idea of celebrating a book’s publication date is not new. This past summer, for instance, events took place all across the country, from Santa Cruz, California to Monroeville, Alabama, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Re-enactments of the famous courtroom scenes, readings by celebrities, and even the release of a fiftieth anniversary special hardcover edition by the book’s publisher HarperCollins, marked the occasion this classic rightfully deserves.

Even if your book never wins a Pulitzer or is not adapted into an Oscar-winning film, its very existence as a published work, even if only to a small group of readers, marks an occasion worthy of note. As such, I wish to highlight the four following books – all of which are currently celebrating their first birthdays. Each author was also kind enough to offer their thoughts on the publishing process and indicated whether they choose to publish further titles.


The Mundane (2004-2009)

‘The Mundane (2004-2009)’ is the first book I have ever published but is actually the second book I have written.

I was extremely elated to receive the first copy of the book in the mail and was amazed at the overall print quality of the final product. It is a ‘dream come true’ to see one’s efforts finally manifest themselves into a physical reality.

I have plans to publish two more books in the very near future. The first is an edited version of the book I wrote prior to ‘The Mundane (2004-2009)’ and is a compilation of my genealogical research conducted over the course of the last ten years. The second book will be another portfolio compilation containing works from my current floral-based watercolor painting series. – Ken Powers



Ask Dr. Eldritch Volume #1 Are Aliens Eating My Crackers?

Receiving my first copy of my book filled me with a heady, laugh-out-loud joy. I didn’t want to put it down; I kept looking at it, and picking it up to feel that it was real. Perhaps this term is overused in the vernacular of Young People, but it was, in a word, awesome.

I am preparing my manuscript now for ‘Ask Dr. Eldritch Volume #2 Why Does My Monster Hate Me?’ – Evan Nichols







Pylon

‘Pylon’ is my first published novel. The core of the story is based on events that happened in Cheshire in late 1965. As I was only a child of seven the characters depicted are based more on people I worked with rather than the actual participants in the events of that day. Still experience has pointed out to me that these same parallels exist throughout all working walks of life.

In truth I haven’t received a hard copy myself yet but the feeling when the first person to buy it calls you up and says ‘well done not bad for a first attempt’ is second to none.

I have another two projects that I have been working on over the years. They are larger and will take a while yet. – Ronnie Smart



Geothermal Heat Pumps

This is my first attempt at publishing a book.

It is amazing to see a physical product, the ‘book’ after spending so much time researching and writing the material.

At this stage I’m not considering another book, but you never know! – Stephen Ewings








What’s in a Name?: Picking Your Book’s Title

Now that you have poured your heart and soul onto every page of your Lulu book, here comes the real dilemma…what about the title? Yes, the title. It’s hard to imagine that those couple of words will be the first to introduce a potential reader to your book and will help them decide whether to pick it up or pass it by. In an effort to provide some aid to this rather daunting task, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Take the Short Road

Take a look at The New York Times Best Seller List and you will notice that, most often than not, today’s most popular titles are 3 words or less. If that isn’t enough to convince you, think of some of the books that you have read in the past. Here are a few of mine – The Help, The Scarlet Letter, What Remains, Pride and Prejudice, etc. Do you see a pattern? If you’re afraid that a couple of words or a short phrase won’t sum up your book, consider using a subtitle to provide further explanation.

Be Original

Since titles aren’t copyrighted, there could be a chance that the title you choose may already be spoken for. In the case that your title (or one very similar) is in use, it may be best to reevaluate what you have chosen to avoid confusion. Not sure if your book title has a twin? Try checking out an online book database or catalog like Project Gutenberg.

Share Your Ideas

Once you have had the chance to brainstorm a few title possibilities, bounce them off of your friends, family, and coworkers. Make sure to provide several ideas and poll them for which ones they better. Like your potential readers, they won’t know much about your book and can only judge it based on the title.

How to Market Your Book:Blog #2

Get Your Book Into Influential Hands

We recently asked 1,000 of our bestselling authors to share their secrets to success. While the responses covered everything from taking out radio spots, to promoting at family reunions, there was one universal theme to marketing a book: Build relationships with influential people in your market.

A great way to get your new relationship off on the right foot is to send out complimentary copies of your book.  Target anyone you could think of that might be able to help create a buzz around your book.

  • School administrators
  • Local newspapers & radio stations
  • Community & church leaders
  • Scouting organizations
  • Bloggers

Be sure to include something personal, like a hand written thank you note, or a short memo describing how and why you wrote your book – anything you think will help you connect more strongly with your new audience.

Before you know it, more recommendations for your work will come from good old word of mouth. Happy publishing.

How To Get Your Book Into Libraries

A question that keeps popping up around the Lulu community is “How do I get my book(s) into a library?” Libraries can provide a great way to reach new readers that, otherwise, may not find out about your books. There are a lot of perks to getting your work into the library system. You don’t really have to worry about maintaining inventory or making a huge sales pitch because libraries are in it to share knowledge and help educate people. Many libraries even highlight local authors or will host regular book events like fundraisers that accept donated books. That doesn’t mean that some of the same marketing rules don’t apply when approaching a library however. And there are a lot of misconceptions about the best ways to go about getting a library’s attention.

Quality – Give Them Something to Work With:

A quickly diminishing stereotype of self-published books is that they are of poor quality. Lulu works to erase all of the preconceptions about self-published titles and helps authors create quality products that can sit on a shelf next to any best-seller. As long as an author takes his or her time to create a professional book that is formatted and edited well, then there is no reason a Lulu book can’t make it into a library.

It is important to note that some libraries do prefer certain bindings and can be reluctant to stock others like comb bound and saddle stitched (stapled) books. If you’re thinking about pursuing library distribution, it might be a good idea to call ahead to see what their requirements for submittal are.

New Feature: Basic Cover Design Service

The Lulu Services team has recently launched a new basic cover service designed to help you get a professionally designed cover at an affordable price.

We now offer 11 templates, inspired by the designs of best selling books, to give you an idea of what visual aesthetic you like.  Though the designs are template based, the elements are changeable enough so that every cover will look different. We can use one image from our extensive image library or you can provide one to us.  Colors, images, fonts, and line sizes can be changed easily. You’ll even get two rounds of revisions at no cost.

Why did we make the switch to template-based covers?

We realized the previous service description wasn’t clear and we didn’t like telling you we couldn’t fulfill your request without giving you a reason why. We also realized a lot of authors aren’t sure what they want, but know what they like. With our new basic cover service, your expectations will be set correctly and met accordingly. We might even surprise and delight you.

The basic cover service is different from the Wizard Cover Designer. The Wizard offers great options for designing your own cover, but the basic cover service is a professional design created outside of the Wizard.  You’ll be provided two .jpg files to approve before publishing. If you have a services pack, we’ll even upload it to your project and publish your book for you.

There are so many decisions to be made in writing, editing and publishing your book.  By providing you with our professionally designed templates, our service will help streamline one more part of the process.

Lulu Lens: How Do You Define A Successful Project?

One of the big projects we’re currently working on is reviewing how effective our publishing wizard is. It’s purpose is to help you get your book ready for publishing, and so we’re looking at ways we can improve on that core principle. We also recognize that there are a lot of different standards for what you’re looking to do with your book once you’re done with the publishing process, and we want to better understand your needs. To that end, how do you define a successful project?

Is it the number of books you sell? The reaction on your mom’s face when she sees her recipes in a printed cookbook? Holding the first copy in your hand? Tell us your stories, and help us understand how you define success for yourself.

Marketing Tip of the Week: Get the Word Out

Email your friends and colleagues:

Email is a great way to get the word out on your book, and who better to support you than those you already know. Explain why you wrote the book and what it is about. Be sure to include a link to your book on Lulu so they can click through and make a purchase. You can use your personal email provider or use the handy email button included on every Lulu product page.


Lastly, ask the people on your list to forward the email on to their friends and colleagues. Think of it this way – if you send an email to 100 friends, family and colleagues, and half of them send it on to another 10 people, you will reach 600 people – quick and cheap. Just take care to be respectful and don’t spam people with your book with too many emails. That can be a pretty quick turn off.

Contact your local newspaper:

Local journalists are always looking for new and interesting things to report on, so help them out by approaching them with your story. Onlinenewspapers.com serves as a directory for newspapers worldwide. Just select your state or country to find local newspapers in your area. Here are some tips on how to increases the odds of being featured:

  • Research the newspaper’s staff and identify the editor who would be most interested in the subject matter of your book based on their field of coverage (don’t send your book on murder mysteries to the international affairs journalist).
  • Have an angle: Pick one or two ideas that could be the lead-in for the story and why you think readers will find this interesting.
  • Have family, friends or coworkers read your pitch and make tweaks based on their questions and feedback.
  • Email the editor and follow up with a phone call.

Outreach like this can go a long way in gaining important exposure for your book. So, don’t be shy – get the word out!

Bedtime Stories Contest

Bedtime stories are the best. They take you to magical kingdoms in faraway lands where, once upon a time, princes and princesses lived fairy tales lives.

If you’ve ever dreamed of writing your own, now is a perfect time to do it.

The folks over at Nature Made Sleep® are holding a Bedtime Stories contest that’s a great chance to show your creativity. The Grand Prize Winner will receive a professional illustration of their story, along with 10 professionally printed copies of their book courtesy of Lulu. In addition, they’ll take home $7,500 in cash, plus a year’s supply of Nature Made Sleep.

It’s easy to enter. Just visit the Bedtime Stories site, where you’ll be led through the simple process of creating and illustrating your bedtime story. Enter your text and drag-and-drop in some colorful illustrations before submitting your story to be entered in our contest. Contest winners will be decided by a combination of number of votes and selections by a panel of judges, so have your friends and family visit the site often to vote for your bedtime story, or visit the site yourself to vote for your favorite story (everyone can vote once a day).

So let your imagination run wild. And don’t let the bedbugs bite.