Monthly Archives: February 2012

Top 5 Things To Do on Leap Day

Bob tells NBC17 the secrets to innovation

In a recent interview with NBC17, Lulu CEO Bob Young explains the secrets of his success:

  • out-innovate your competitors by offering something that doesn’t already exist
  • offer something that customers value more than price
  • distinguish your customers’ wants from their needs and deliver what they need

These are the points we keep in mind when we make business decisions, like updating our platform so that we’ll be able to move faster, consider more options and adapt more easily.

Lulu.com – Number 1 in eBooks

2011 was an exciting year for independent publishing – new technology, devices and formats are changing the way people create and consume content. By far the stand out this year happened in the eBooks space. Creators published a stunning 115,517 new eBooks on Lulu.com in 2011, up 22% over 2010.

The surge in eBooks published has helped make Lulu the #1 source of independent content on the iBookstore(SM) and Nook Bookstore with 60,000+ titles available in these channels right now. This number is growing rapidly every day thanks to Lulu’s continued commitment to developing the best eBook publishing tools available.

With 10 years of experience helping over 1.1 million creators in 200+ countries and territories bring their content to the world, we have grown our eBook catalogue to a whopping 620,000 titles.  Your content is making a difference in the world of publishing and Lulu is proud to be your partner.

While eBooks are clearly gaining strength in numbers, the future of eBooks is still being defined, with Lulu investing heavily in that future. For instance right now we are hard at work paving the way for the next generation of eBooks. Please stay tuned for exciting updates as we embark on this next chapter in independent publishing. And next week, we’ll take a look at where print books fit into the mix.

How to use Pinterest to Market your Book

Pinterest is a new social media networking site that lets you pin up images to a virtual cork board that you can share with your friends. The site has gained popularity in record time and can be a great tool to help you sell more books.

What makes the site addictive is that it makes it so easy to find images that are inspirational, beautiful, funny, touching, awe-inspiring and creative. This makes it the perfect place for photographers to come for inspiration and also to share their own sources of inspiration. Note: I said find and share sources of inspiration – NOT use this as another place to plaster your own content. Like with any social network, the relationships are founded on two-way interactions and the sharing of valuable resources and knowledge. Ensure you have this foundation before you start to market your own products. Once you’ve established a loyal and engaged network, then you can begin to promote your own products here, but do so sparingly. These efforts will have a much more significant impact on sales if they do not overwhelm and bombard your audience.

In an article called How To Market Your Consumer-Based Business On Pinterest, author Kelsey Jones provides impressive stats about the growth of Pinterest. She also links to several brands that are using the site well for marketing purposes.

Get creative and give the site a try. It has great potential for all creators, but we wanted to specifically call out the obvious fit for people who create their own photo books. For example, I just did a quick search on Lulu for books on photography and came across Photography by Virginia Perry-Unger, which has beautiful images that I would definitely pause to examine if I saw them posted on Pinterest.

Photo Books make great Pinterest posts

 

If you’ve got other helpful tips for using Pinterest, we’d love to see them in the comment section here. We’d also love to connect with you on our Lulu Pinterest Page.

Tackling Twitter, Part 1

(Click here for Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!)

It’s hard for some writers to express a thought in 140 characters, but in today’s world of Pinterest, Facebook, and blogging it’s necessary. As The New York Times recently noted, “With the digital age comes new conceptions of authorship.” This is especially true for authors who don’t have the marketing muscle of a publishing house at their disposal.

Not everyone has been quick to jump into the “Twittersphere.” Explains author Lucas Klauss, “I was — like a lot of writers, I imagine — initially pretty suspicious of Twitter and its supposed benefits. I thought it would end up being just a big time-suck. And sometimes it is! But I’ve been happily surprised at how fun it can be.”

He used the social media platform to promote his book trailer (more on these at a later date). “By far most of the views I got were from Twitter — people retweeting it and saying they thought it was funny. And it connected me to other authors I hadn’t yet met.”

Wanting to be on Twitter and actually getting the mojo to join and keep on top of it are very different. It can also be intimidating and, take it from me, just plain weird at first.

Don’t let it be.

Remember how you tackled the blank page and completed a book? Well, trust me, Twitter has nothing on that. However before you start crying from the Twitterverse’s rooftops, remember the following:

Define your online persona: Being on Twitter means others will come to “know” you so think about which part(s) of yourself you want to put out there. What interests and hobbies will you promote? Your writing and reading, sure, but maybe you also love old Nintendo games, tulips, or your Subaru? Whatever it is take note and once you join, seek out similar folks with whom you’ll want to have a dialog.

Contribute to the conversation: Someone you follow is looking for a book recommendation? Answer him or her. Another person posts a link to a blog post you loved? Say so. The point of Twitter is not to tirelessly promote your own work but build your own community of online “tweeps” who will answer your questions and hopefully support you

Stay committed: The most popular people on Twitter tend to update their feeds often so plan on tweeting at least twice a day. If you’re worried about making such a big commitment, strategize. Keep a running log of future tweets as far out as you can handle. This can help reduce the pressure to always be by your phone or computer

Cross-pollinate: I’m not normally a big fan of corporate buzz words, but in this case it makes sense. Basically, you want to make sure that all of your various social media platforms are interconnected, meaning that your Twitter profile points to your blog and vice versa. This helps people become aware of your entire body of work. Thankfully, this linking process isn’t usually very difficult!

Be patient: Building followers takes time. It’s unlikely you’ll acquire 5,000 followers overnight but that’s okay. You want quality — as in people with similar interests who you can have a dialog with — over quantity.

Check out next week’s column for tips on using the hashtag (see below), the difference between replying and retweeting, as well as a whole host of general do’s and don’ts!

(Click here for Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!)

The Week in Self-Publishing and eBooks

Another week spent staring at that one perfect sentence you’ve written, dreading the fact that this one incredible sentence needs to eventually become part of a paragraph, then part of a chapter, and eventually just an almost insignificant part of a brilliant book. But you can do it! We promise.

Another week means another week in self-publishing and eBook news, so here we go:

  • The Association of Independent Authors (AiA) will be releasing a comprehensive guide to self-publishing in a few months. We’re assuming they will be self-publishing it.
  • Ebook revolution? Sure seems like it. A self-published author in Britain has sold more books than Stieg Larsson and James Patterson.
  • Could it be time for a single format for ebooks? This article weighs the pros and cons of ending the use of digital rights management (DRM).
  • Nicholas Carr discusses the idea of writers changing their ebooks after they’ve published them. Would The Great Gatsby be even better had Fitzgerald the ability to continue to edit it? Will your novel continue to change years after you publish it?
  • Big Surprise! Jonathan Franzen hates ebooks. But he’s sold thousands of them.
  • Activist and award-winning writer Kevin Powell will self-publish his next book.
  • Is “bundling” eBooks with print books a good idea? A small publisher shares his ideas.
  • A pretty comprehensive look at how drastically the rise of self-publishing and eBooks have changed the publishing industry (and the Internet).
  • Want to lend eBooks? Want to make your ebook available to be lent? Here’s how.
  • A great piece about why award-winning chef John Sundstrom is choosing to self-publish a new cookbook, despite offers from major publishers.
  • Digital textbooks are the future. what’s to stop professors from self-publishing their own?

Happy writing and publishing!

 

From the Vault: More Social Networking Sites for Authors

There are number of other websites and tools besides Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+ that are ideal for establishing relationships online. Many of these sites allow writers to find a highly targeted segment of Internet users to share ideas and get feedback. The sites can also be used to reach people who might be interested in purchasing your books, photobooks and other Lulu.com content.

Plurk is a great site to find people with similar interests. The service is similar to Twitter, but enables conversations to be followed much more easily.

Tumblr is another micro-blogging site to share text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, or email.

Pinterest is a digital bulletin board that you can post likes and interests to for seamless sharing with others.  This is a great place to recommend titles you like yourself, and casually mention your work.

StumbleUpon is a perfect site to find sites that match your exact interests. You can surf sites on any topic and easily add your own favorites and your own Lulu content easily. It is not uncommon for StumbleUpon to generate thousands of views of a single web page.

These are just a few of the many sites and tools available to promote your Lulu.com projects. Feel free to add any other ones you like to use, or links to your pages, in the comments section.

Better Education Through Self-Publishing

Lulu Education

 

Apple obviously thinks that teachers could benefit from more self-publishing tools – and they’re right. Educators like Dr. Tony Kemerly, professor of biomechanics at High Point University and Lulu author, often find themselves spending countless hours every semester stapling worksheets together for students – a common problem for the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s recorded 1.7 million post-secondary teachers in the country.

More and more though, better choices are becoming available that give these teachers and professors greater control over the learning experiences they share with their students. The tools now exist to empower educators to publish their own content for free and ensure their students are receiving the most up-to-date classroom materials at an affordable price they set.  Teachers can publish a print book or eBook, offer supplementary materials, or make free revisions at anytime.  They’re then able to sell their works through retailers like the iBookstore(SM), Amazon.com, and the NOOK(TM) Bookstore – not just through student bookstores.  It is by removing the limitations that we’re better able to move knowledge from one generation to the next, so we can all benefit from these works.

Dr. Marianne Bradford, professor for the College of Management at North Carolina State University puts it best:

“Bookstore prices can be so high, and the textbooks used for my classes were so outdated,” says Dr. Bradford.  “I needed content geared towards my students.  Big publishers were interested, but did not seem to understand the market or the content.  The flexibility and control over my work I found when self-publishing let me create materials that suited my personality and style.”

Dr. Bradford’s book, Modern ERP:  Select, Implement & Use Today’s Advanced Business Systems, has gone on to rank in the top 100 of Lulu’s 1.1 million titles and is currently being translated for Korean audiences.  “I feel confident about my decision to go with Lulu and plan on a long working relationship,” Bradford adds.

For more information on academic publishing opportunities, visit Lulu’s education portal at www.lulu.com/education. And sound off in the comments below on clever ways you’ve used self-publishing to teach others.

 

SXSW Interactive 2012 Recommendations for Authors & Publishers

South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) 2012 is right around the corner, scheduled to take place in Austin, Texas March 9-13.  If you’re an author and have never heard of “South by,” you may want to check out the following blog post by Evo Terra entitled “7 tips for authors attending SXSW 2012.”  Evo manages to give a great overview of the festival with tips catering specifically to authors.  Even though SXSW is not a publishing conference, Evo correctly points out that our “world is changing faster than you imagine,” and SXSW is a great way to “forward your knowledge and expertise in the interactive world.”

As we all know, electronic marketing tools such as social media are very important to authors looking to promote their work.  Among other things, SXSW offers you the ability to learn from interactive industry leaders who work on the cutting edge of digital technology.

So whether you’re planning to attend this year of not, to add to Evo’s blog post, I have outlined below some of 2012’s SXSW Interactive panel discussions that are geared specifically to authors and publishers.  The list below may help you save time as you plan your schedule.  If you are not planning on going, hopefully these panels will inspire you to get your late registration in … at the very least, these can help get you excited for next year.

Discoverability and the New World of Book PR
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP13632

Publishing Models Transforming the Book
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP10347

Libros digitales para todos/eBooks for Everybody
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP13728

Rhapsody to Year 0: Music & Publishing Go Digital
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9680

Take a Look It’s in a Book or Now Tablet Devices
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP12327

Self-Publishing: A Revolution for Midlist Authors?
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9146

Social Role-Playing: Brands and Publishers
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9024

Knitting a Long Tail in Niche Publishing
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9356

Making eBooks Smarter: Responsive Page Design
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9737

Books Win the Attention Economy
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9275

Next Stage: Tear It Up: How to Write a Digital Novel
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_OE00939

Update from Lulu Chief Operation Officer – Tom Bright

Hello Lulu fanatics and creators,

My name is Tom Bright, and I am the President and Chief Operating Officer at Lulu.  Today, I’m writing my first blog post and what better time than now, when so many new and exciting opportunities are becoming available for authors every day.  In my posts, I’ll speak to these opportunities, like Apple’s newly announced iBooks® Author app, what they mean for you, and how Lulu’s tools give you the ultimate control over your publishing experience.  This will empower you to go even further with your works in more markets including not only the iBookstore℠, but also Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and the NOOK Book Store, as an eBook or in print.

Our mission here at Lulu is to make sure you, our remarkable content creators, are able to take full advantage of these opportunities.  We want to help you reach more readers and sell more books – no matter your background or goals – all while maximizing your visibility and your profits.  We do this through our retail partnerships with companies like Apple, which already has over 60,000 Lulu eBooks for sale on iBookstore shelves.

Speaking of Apple, we think what they’re offering aspiring authors is great.  It is just one more way to share knowledge and ideas with each other – an endeavor that is becoming more and more important. I’ve read the concerns of bloggers and journalists around iBooks Author.  I believe that especially in a self-publishing world, the author has a responsibility to market their book and distribute it as widely as possible.  After all, isn’t this the goal – the transfer of ideas to as many people as possible?  When the publishers and bookstores controlled which books were available for sale, marketing could be left to the publisher.  Today, the barrier to publishing is lower than it has ever been.  No author can afford to restrict their work to a single channel.  Lulu’s tools make it easier than ever to distribute to the widest array of physical and digital bookstores.

Indeed, it is through the power of options that we give authors what matters most:  control.  We’ve found that authors don’t want to choose between formats, channels, or mediums, and we don’t believe you, or your readers, should have to.  Through Lulu’s distribution partnerships, print-on-demand, and eBook technologies, authors are able to best meet the needs of all their customers in the ways that make the most sense for them.  Because an author today can never really be sure how someone might discover and read their titles, Lulu is here to ensure your titles are accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Feel free to click the following links to learn more about Lulu’s publishing and distribution options and how they can work for you.

Cheers,

Tom

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