Monthly Archives: July 2011

Author Success Story: “If I Write It, They Will Come.”

Newly published author Rick Burton has built a career around sports.  Right out of college, he took a job with the Syracuse Post Standard as their sports writer.  He’s worked at the Miller Brewing Company managing public relations for sporting events.  While at ad agency DMB&B, Burton worked with clients such as the NFL and Reebok, and is currently the Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University.  So Burton is about the last person you’d expect to write a World War II based thriller centered around the exploits of the B-17 100th Bomber Group, much less a great one.

Author Richard H. Burton

“Imagine this unknown sports guy pitching a WWII novel.” Burton says.  “Not only was I 20 years behind the curve of writers like Jack Higgins and Alistair Maclean, but I was entering the publishing industry at a time when the decision to publish an author virtually has to go to the CEO of a publishing company.”

Burton got the idea for his book, The Darkest Mission, while working at Miller Brewing Company after a life-changing chance encounter.  An actual bomber group, wanted Miller Brewing Company’s help staging a 40th anniversary reunion for those serving aboard the bomber appropriately named “High Life.” After meeting the crew, and hearing stories of the supposed “curse” placed on the group, Burton was hooked.

“I started doing a lot of research about World War II bombers and started the process of getting an agent and a publisher,” says Burton. “It became a nice distraction from my day job.  Regular guys golfed – I worked on my book.”

Burton soon realized how quickly the book industry is changing and that if he wanted to go the traditional route, he’d have his work cut out for him.

“If I was writing about vampires, I’d have done fine,” jokes Burton. “Agents and publishers kept telling me:  ‘This is fantastic, but not for us,’ or ‘this is really good, I wish you’d brought it to us 10 years ago.’”

Not to be discouraged, Burton thought back to sports for inspiration, thinking about Michael Jordan and how he got cut from his high school basketball team, only to go on to become one of the greatest players in history.  Burton knew he couldn’t just give up.

“I understand the need for rejection,” Burton says.  “You take the criticism, you make revisions, you get better.  But there comes a point when being rejected doesn’t move you forward anymore.”

So Burton turned to Lulu’s open publishing platform for help and after a year of putting the finishing touches on his work, The Darkest Mission is available to the pubic and is selling quite well – there’s even a production company looking to turn Burton’s work into a movie.  Burton stresses that a large part of his success has come from setting realistic expectations and goals.

“At first I felt kind of like I was selling insurance to family and friends,” Burton laughs.  “But I thought conservatively and set thresholds for myself.  Can I sell 100 copies to people other than family and friends?  200? 500? By meeting these goals a step at at time, you can really feel validated.”

Burton also believes it is important for authors to step away from the “lottery mentality” of publishing, where an author writes a book and just instantly finds a publisher and becomes an overnight sensation.

“The myth surrounding publishers has historically been:  If I write it, they will come,” says Burton. “Great writing will always get picked up, regardless of genre eventually. Luckily places like Lulu exist to make the process easier, and I can move onto book two.”

Be sure to check out Burton’s new book, The Darkest Mission, available on Lulu.com today.

 

Marketing your Book with “Buy Now” Buttons.

Keep your potential readers focused. Simplify book purchases by adding these free “Buy Now” buttons on your website or blog.

Reel in more readers with just four quick steps:

STEP 1: Log onto “My Lulu”

STEP 2: Click the star icon next to your published book

Buy Now Buttons

STEP 3: Choose the buy now button you like

Buy Now Buttons

STEP 4: Copy and paste the code to your website or blog

Buy Now Buttons

When your buyers click on these buttons, they will be taken to a Lulu shopping cart, which will include your book. It really is just that simple – so try it out today!

Take me to My Lulu.

5 Things to Avoid When Creating an eBook

UPDATE:  Learn More About eBook Publishing at Our New eBook Page

A little known fact about eBook distribution is that each retail channel has their very own set of requirements for accepting content that your eBook must meet before it can be sold. These requirements may sound scary at first, but they are actually pretty great.  By following the requirements set by each retailer, you can be sure your customers get the most robust experience from reading your work.  To help, here are the top five reasons we’ve seen eBooks bounce back from distribution.

  • No description or description too short – Describing your work might be the most important step of all.  Not only does a book description double as a great marketing tool to get readers interested, it’s also used to catalogue your work in retail channels all over the world. For this step, you’ll be asked to provide details including category and genre, keywords, description, language, licensing and edition number. It’s crucial you provide consistent information here that matches any details you have already provided or stated in your book and on your cover. Many retailers require this information to be accurate in order to list your content and make sure it gets in front of the right readers.
  • Metadata” mismatch - Simply put, metadata is the who, what, when, and where of your eBook.  Much like your eBook’s description, metadata includes items like your title, author name, volume number, price, etc. and are what most retailers use to appropriately list and categorize your content.  Metadata must perfectly match so that customers searching for your eBook in a catalogue can find it.
  • Up-selling or listing a price on your cover – You can adjust the price of your eBook at anytime and we encourage you to experiment with different prices that are competitive with other books in the same genre.  With that in mind, avoid listing the price of your eBook anywhere on the cover, in the description, or in the eBook itself so you can be flexible to change the price later if you need to.
  • Inappropriate or illegal content (erotic, malicious, or plagarized content) – This one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Non-English content – Unfortunately, we’re unable to distribute non-English eBooks at this time.
  • Poor image quality (borders, pixels) – You’ve probably come across a picture on the Internet that was hard to see no matter how much you zoomed in or reloaded the page.  Pixelated or blurry images won’t show up on today’s high resolution computers, tablets, phones and eReading devices. This means they can’t go in your eBooks either.  If you decide to include images in your eBook, we can only accept high-resolution, three color, RGB (red, green, blue) formatted pictures.  Four color, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key black) images will not translate properly.


 

Author Tips: Avoiding Digital Distractions

As an author trying to complete a third book, I have to admit that one of the hardest things this time around has been avoiding digital distractions like: Facebook, Twitter, IM, Email, Angry Birds, DVR’d Shows, Skype, etc, etc, etc.

Chances are you may have seen the following cartoon image of a man sitting in front of a typewriter trying to finish a research paper. A short distance away from him is THE INTERNET with its bright lights, a girl in a bikini, dinosaur, two fighter jets and a birthday cake.  The image highlights an experience many of us have felt at one time or the other when trying to write – namely, the Internet’s ability to be highly distracting and totally awesome!

There is currently a great deal of debate on the impact the Internet has on our ability to focus, with authors like Nicholas Carr and Cathy N. Davidson offering different perspectives on the issue.  Whether the Internet is truly making it harder for us to concentrate on a single task is arguable.  I can say, however, that I’ve wasted plenty of hours on the Internet while trying to “write.”

So what is an author to do when the multitude of distractions constantly “lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor?”  Blogger, journalist, and Lulu author Cory Doctorow addresses this question in a column for LOCUS online entitled “Writing in the Age of Distraction.”  As a prolific writer whose job dictates almost constant access to the web, Doctorow outlines techniques he’s used for years to help manage one’s need to access the Internet while having to write.  I highly recommend Doctorow’s column to anyone who has felt distracted while trying to write.

Doctorow’s full column can be viewed here.

Winners of the HP Mini Laptops Announced!

As some of you may know, Lulu has an ongoing relationship with HP and we want you to reap the benefits of that relationship just as much as we do.  So, back in June, we announced two easy ways customers could win one of two brand-new HP 5103 Mini Laptops – by either creating and publishing a photo book, or by using one of Lulu’s handy services to publish one of your remarkable works.

We also got the chance to surprise one lucky Book Expo America attendee with a third HP Mini Laptop,  just for visiting our booth back at the conference in May.

Without further ado, the winners are:

  • Ronald Libertus – for his photo book wonderfully titled: Cupcakes and Lollipops
  • John Hurly – A long time customer of Lulu’s services.  John purchased a Best Seller package for his upcoming work.
  • Austin Reale (pictured) – Good old Mr. Reale, blogger for Reading Teen, stopped by the Lulu booth several times a day throughout BEA and was about as excited as I’ve seen anyone to receive a brand new computer.  Yes, I asked him to blog about it.

Help us in congratulating our winners on their new technological prowess in the comments.  Now, they’ve each got a shiny new computer to help them start on their next remarkable works.  As for the rest of you faithful Lulu blog readers, keep your eyes peeled for other contests in the coming months and for your chance to win from a selection of great prizes to help kickstart your publishing career. And most of all, thank you to HP.

Marketing Your Book at Book Fairs

This past May, Lulu team members, along with numerous works by our remarkable authors, attended Book Expo America 2011 in New York City, the largest book convention in the United States.  Book Expos such as BEA offer great opportunities for authors to display their content, meet fellow authors, and hear insights from industry professionals.  Check out the video above of the action from this year’s BEA and see why Lulu’s booth was the talk of the show – drawing such great crowds.  If you are thinking about attending or displaying your book at a book fair, here is a list of up-coming events.  Hopefully this video will get you excited for BEA next year, as we’d love to see both you and your book(s) at the show.

What is Metadata?: How to Save Yourself Some eBook Distribution Headaches

As eBook sales continue to rise, Lulu wants to be sure you have access to all the latest and greatest tools and resources to help you sell more books in this exciting new market. In order to reach the millions of customers who own e-Reading devices, it is important to stay up to speed on best practices for making an electronic book quickly and easily.

One term you’re likely to come across when publishing your eBook is “metadata.” It also happens to be one of the main causes eBooks get bounced back from distribution.  In many cases, a quick revision of your eBook’s metadata is all it takes to push your content out onto digital shelves and increases your work’s marketability.

Simply put, metadata is the who, what, when, and where of your eBook.  Items such as your title, author name, volume number, etc. are all types of metadata and are what most retailers use to appropriately list and categorize your content.  When your eBook is listed on an online store, customers will see an image of your cover, which they can click on for more information about your work and to access the actual content of your work.  Many retailers treat the cover image and the actual eBook’s content as two separate pieces and it is vital that the metadata for both match (including upper and lower case letters) so your customers are linked to the correct book interior.

For example, lets say your book title is The Greatest Book Ever: A Tale of Suspense and Intrigue by Samantha Thomas. If the metadata for your cover is only listed as The Greatest Book Ever, by Sam Thomas, without the subtitle and a different author name, then the retailers can’t be sure if it’s the same work.  With the thousands of new eBooks being submitted everyday, it becomes too difficult to try to match the cover to the content.

Luckily, on Lulu it is pretty simple to ensure all your metadata matches. When you start a new project and name it, whatever you enter into the title and author fields will autofill the empty fields in the cover step. Whenever a colon is used in the project title, the system automatically treats any text after it as a subtitle. Once you get to the cover step, you can still edit your title, author name, etc. just be sure if you do make changes, you also go back and change the project information you started with too. For authors uploading a one-piece cover, again, just be sure all the text matches the project information you enter.

Be sure to check out our knowledge base for more eBook metadata tips to help you reach more readers in more markets all over the globe.