Monthly Archives: December 2010

What to Do with All Those Holiday Photos

This year, my grandmother turned 75 and before Christmas, my whole family was exchanging emails back and forth trying to think of a gift we could give her that would really show her how special she has been to us all these years.

My mom suggested we make a list of my grandmother’s sayings and print them out for her. My aunt suggested we take a family photo and put it in a nice frame. My uncle suggested we write a card that tells her what she’s taught us.

These were all nice thoughts, but I wanted to go big. I suggested we take everyone’s ideas and combine them into a Lulu photo book to present to her at Christmas.

At first, my family was a little hesitant because not all of them are super tech savvy or organized. But I set up a Lulu account that we could all share, picked a theme I thought my grandma would like, I made the cover and the first few pages. I even added in captions of my grandma’s sayings like “lord love a duck” (no I don’t know what that means either).

Once my family saw how quick I was able to do this, they gave it a shot. They were amazed that they could just drag and drop pictures into the book from their Facebook accounts and easily write a heart felt message right on the page. After no time, the book was done and we had our special gift for Christmas. My grandmother absolutely loved it, but the best part was we all made it together.

It was great to see and read all those memories that my family had saved all these years, many of which I had forgotten. Hopefully this post has given you some ideas that are sure to spread joy to your loved ones for next year. And we’d love to hear about any remarkable holiday gifts that you’ve made in the comments below. Happy holidays!

Winner of the Bedtime Stories Contest

Back in October, we announced the Bedtime Stories contest that the folks over at Nature Made Sleep® were holding. The contest was open to anyone unafraid to let loose their imaginations and offered the perfect opportunity to show some creativity and share it with others.

Over the course of three months, 382 aspiring authors submitted their sleep-inducing stories and gave the judges some tough decisions to make. It was inspiring to see so many people take a chance on putting their ideas out there. And I bet many authors were surprised to learn how talented they are.

After tallying 5,162 votes, and reading each story cover-to-cover, the judges narrowed the results down to one grand prize winner: Tracey-Jane Smith for her story, Addie and Ollie, which teaches the importance of friendship even when someone is different from you.

As the grand prize winner, Tracey-Jane Smith will receive:

  • A $7500 cash prize
  • A publishing prize pack, sponsored by Lulu.com, where her story will be professionally illustrated
  • 10 printed copies of her book
  • 1-year supply of Nature Made Sleep

Please help me in congratulating Smith and all of the participants of the Bedtime Stories contest in the comments below. You can check out Smith’s story and the two runners-up on the Nature Made blog. Also be sure to keep checking the Lulu blog and our Facebook and Twitter pages for more contests to spark your creativity in the future.

Cubicle Kitsch

If you can say anything about the folks at Lulu, it’s that we all let our personalities shine – so much so that our personalities often spill over onto our desks…and sometimes other people’s desks. I thought it would be fun to share some of the unique tchotchkes I’ve found around the office and the stories behind them in the infographic below (click for a bigger image). Enjoy. 

Improving Your Experience

It’s fair to assume you’re reading this blog on a computer, but have you ever stopped to think about the steps you took to get here, or if it was easy or not? As the head of User Interface & Experience at Lulu, it’s my job to think about these kinds of processes and design an experience incorporating myriad requirements and constraints while improving the way you interact with Lulu. The only good way to do this is to focus on you, our customers, and how you use Lulu everyday.

For example, when a car manufacturer wants to design a better dashboard, they need to watch people drive. When a cookware manufacturer wants to design a better saucepan, they watch people cook. And when Lulu wants to design a better interface, we need to watch how you interact with our site. If I pull design decisions out of thin air, then I’ve done a poor job – design is driven by data. To get that data, we need your participation. In the UX business, we call this “User Testing,” but I’ve never liked that phrase – you are not the ones being tested, you are the testers and the results of your testing drives the design of new features, new products, and improvements on Lulu.com.

With that in mind, we’ve designed a simple activity to give us some fundamental data we’ll use to enhance the publishing experience for you and other creators just like you. It’ll only take a few minutes and the information you provide will help us to help you become even more successful.

Participate in our study: https://lulu.optimalworkshop.com/optimalsort/wr_ut_ia_1a?i=lb

Services, The Perfect Gift for an Author

Lulu offers a wide variety of services to help you, and your loved ones, sell more books.  For the creator who has everything, give the gift that keeps on giving! Our professional services team is here to help you give a memorable and meaningful gift.

For a new author

A good book starts with a strong foundation, and a strong foundation means a professional edit. With our editorial quality review service, you’ll be able to get your loved one the opinion of a professional editor.

For the kids in your life

Use our children’s imagination pack to publish a customized book for the little ones. Write a story for them about the day they were born, give them life advice, or publish a collection of their favorite artwork.

You can also work with them to write a story that you can publish using the pack.

It will be a treasured memory and a beloved book that they’ll hold on to forever.

For  a published Lulu author

Our ePub conversion service will help your loved one get his or her book in more places.  The ePub service will guarantee a ePub file that passes validation requirements.  With an ePub, your loved one’s book can be read on a large variety of eBook readers and may be eligible to be sent to the Apple iBookstore.


Great Gifts for Your Frenemy

You might be asking yourself “what the heck is a frenemy?” Basically, it’s one of your closest friends, who also happens to be one of your fiercest rivals. You know, someone you may have an unspoken competition with – like your exercise partner, or maybe even a relative that attended a rival school.

Frenemies are great. They keep you honest, keep you on your toes, and above all make you want to be better. Isn’t competition great?

So, what exactly do you get the frenemies on your gift list? Books of course! Here are few quick suggestions, all under 20 bucks…

Let’s start off with the exercise partner example. In this case, let’s talk about your golf buddy. Sure at the end of the round you compare scores, but there are so many side games played throughout the day. Next time your frenemy golf buddy declares the next tee a longest drive challenge, make them think about images in this book.

Of course there’s “your know-it-all” frenemy. You know, the one that seems to have an answer to everything from the future of the US space program, to the origins of the plastic things on the end of shoelaces. They have the world around them completely figured out. Or do they?

Here’s kind of a mean one – but remember the spirit of this is meant to be fun. Maybe you have a single frenemy. Someone who makes fun of your white picket fence life, complete with 2.5 kids and a practical, but awesome mini van. They brag about late nights out, and all the freedom a person could ask for. They’re single and loving it. But can they cook for one?

Not sure if some of your friends are really frenemies? We’ve got a book about that too. Buy a copy for yourself and start off 2011 with the upper hand!

Be the Favorite Child This Holiday Season

Becoming the favorite child this holiday is easy!  Here are five great gift ideas that show how much you care, or at least how much more thoughtful you are than your siblings.

Calendar:

Create a family calendar with pictures from the last year.  You can even include special dates, like birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, to keep the focus on what’s most important throughout the whole year.

Family Cookbook:

Compiling a cookbook of all your family’s favorite recipes is a sure way to make mom and grandma proud.  Plus, you get the benefit of having that amazing pumpkin pie recipe right at your fingertips year-round.

Photobook:

One of the easiest ways to thrill the whole family is making a photobook.  It can have pictures from the whole year, or just from a specific vacation or event.  Either way, it will be a great memento for years, and an excellent conversation starter for the family after you have already discussed the food and weather.

Family Yearbook:

Think yearbooks are just for school?  Not with the power of personalization that Lulu offers!  You can make a family yearbook and include pictures from every major event, dedicate a page to each family member, and include fun facts or stats.

Family History:

Writing a family history is the ultimate in “favorite child” gifts!  Published as a book on Lulu, you can capture the generations of your family by writing your family tree, favorite family stories, pictures, and special memories.

How To Use Customer Support & Our Online Community Part 2

Back in November, I wrote part one in this series. My objective in writing these posts is to help users better understand the Customer Service process, the Community tools available to you, and how to get the most out of both. In part one, I highlighted creating a case with Customer Service. In part two, I would like to cover some of best ways to use our Knowledge Base.

With hundreds of articles on almost every aspect of Lulu from helping new users to after you publish using our Knowledge Base can be daunting to say the least. There are at least two ways to approach it, by searching or browsing. I will discuss both options as well as suggesting a few tips & tricks for using them to find your answers.

Searching

Typically, I recommend searching our database to find the information you’re looking for. It’s probably the quickest way to find what you’re looking for. That said, you want to make sure you are finding the right information.

For example, if I am trying to find out how long I should expect the Mail shipping option to take, what should I enter into the search box? To begin with, I went to the Support home page, and entered “Mail Shipping Option” into the text box. This returned 155 Knowledge Base Articles, 729 Questions, 1029 Discussions, and 59 Ideas. A lot to go through.

Luckily, our search shows the top five results for each category, so all I have to do is look at Articles and try to find the one that matches what I’m looking for. The first option is “Shipping To Prisons” which isn’t exactly what I want. The second option though, “Shipping Times and Options” is exactly what I want.

In short, to get the most out of searching, you want to make sure you choose search terms that most accurately reflect the topic you’re looking for, and focus on the results that are most likely to give you the response you want. It may take a little trial and error, but you should get there.

Browsing

The second method for locating a particular article is browsing. This method is most effective if you know the general stage of publishing you are in, but you aren’t sure exactly what you need to know. Using the same example as above, I will demonstrate how to find the same article by browsing.

To begin, you’ll want to click on the Knowledge Base link from the Support page. From there, you should see a list of categories for articles. By reviewing the descriptions of the categories, I can narrow down what I’m looking for. While none of the categories themselves are titled “Shipping” the category Shopping on Lulu is described as “Learn how to browse, buy, download, or ship on Lulu”. That sounds about right!

Inside this category, I see a new category for “Shipping FAQ“. I’m clearly on the right track. Clicking into that category takes me to a list of articles, and the first one is Shipping Times and Options. Success!

Summary

  • Get a good idea of what you’re searching or browsing for before you begin looking
  • Try to use as accurate phrasing as you can
  • Don’t be afraid to browse around for the right answer

Great Gift Ideas for “That Guy ”

At one time or another, we’ve all come across “that guy.”  You know, the guy who tries to check out in the 15 items or less lane with at least 30 things in his cart.  Or the guy who tries to beat the read light, only to clog up the intersection – leaving you stuck at a green light.

Of course if you’re anything like me, you may have been “that guy” more times than you care to admit.  You may also be in the position of having “that guy” on your holiday shopping list this year.

You really like “that guy.”  After all, he’s most likely family or a very close friend.  You want to see him shed his misguided ways in time for the New Year.  So this begs the question:  what do you get “that guy” for the holidays?

Here are a few gift ideas I came up with, right here on lulu.com:

eBook Distribution Guidelines

It is an exciting time to be an author. Everyday customers find new ways to discover and purchase your remarkable works and Lulu has been proud to offer authors the ability to reach more readers and sell more books through our growing network of retail partners.

For us, the formula is simple: more channels equal more opportunities for your work to be discovered.

For authors selecting distribution, it is important to remember that many retail channels maintain strict policies on acceptable content. In an effort to ensure a lasting relationship with existing retail channels and to continue to cultivate even more options and opportunities for our authors, Lulu must uphold these policies and validation procedures. Lulu reviews all content marked for distribution and reserves the right to re- categorize and/or decline to submit books, which violate a retailer’s content policies.

One of the most popular retail channels is the iBookstore. Authors selecting this particular distribution method will need to keep these basic guidelines in mind:

  • To ensure an author’s work appears for sale, in the quality it deserves, iBookstore distribution takes at least 30 days.
  • Adult and/or sexually explicit content is de-prioritized and may be rejected if inappropriately categorized by the author.
  • eBooks in non-English languages and/or offered for free will be listed on lulu.com, but will not be distributed to the iBookstore or other retail channels.
  • Public domain content will only be submitted to the U.S. version of the iBookstore.

We know how eager you are to see your books out in the world and we want to assure you that Lulu processes your works with the utmost care. All authors are still able to publish and sell their eBooks immediately to the 2.5 million unique monthly visitors in the Lulu Marketplace for free. Lulu continues to strive to bring you the best service possible to empower you to sell more content to more readers more profitably than ever before and we look forward to your continued success on Lulu and all of our retail partners.