Monthly Archives: April 2012

NC Amendment One Impacts Businesses Like Lulu

I believe that Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers makes a good statement about North Carolina Amendment One, up for vote on May 8:

“You’re sending a message to the world that we’re not inclusive… North Carolina is competing with the world for business, and we have to be inclusive and open.”

This amendment has an economic impact. As a business owner, it impacts my ability to attract the talented, highly educated, open minded people that Lulu needs. It further impacts my ability to offer competitive health benefits to my employees and their families.

This is not about supporting or opposing gay marriage, it’s about taking the conversation off the table completely. It’s about North Carolina, via its constitution, sending a message that everyone in the state isn’t even willing to have the conversation.

Help: Vote for Lulu!

What’s your M.O.? Our very own Sarah Gilbert was featured on M.O. this week. She talks about some of the most meaningful books she’s worked on during her time here at Lulu. She also talks about seeing the rise of eBooks firsthand and what “a day in the life” of a Lulu is like. Help us vote Sarah’s interview up to the top. Just click on the badge above to read the interview and vote for Sarah!

Expand Your Business with Custom Publishing Solutions

I had an interesting conversation with an up and coming author recently who has a very specific vision.  She wants to cut out any potential for a “middle-man” to distract her readers from finding and buying her works.  She eventually even wants to run her own publishing business directly from her website starting with her own titles.  This would enable her to maximize her profits and directly tap into her fan-base while helping other aspiring authors share their works too.  The problem is she didn’t have an easy means of distribution, eBook creation, or order fulfillment.  She needed someone to help her do all the heavy lifting on the backend, so she could focus on creating a successful business.  That’s where Lulu and our Open Publishing APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) come in.

An API is kind of like a Lego® block that makes a website or application work.  All the “blocks” that make Lulu’s great self-publishing site function are available to the public so that anyone can use them no matter their needs or their market.  With Lulu APIs, authors, publishers, businesses, and developers alike can take whatever pieces they need from Lulu and use them on their own websites to instantly produce, manage, and sell content.  The best part? They are absolutely free.

Suddenly this up and coming author has a completely customized publishing solution to start that business she dreams about.  She can sign up other authors but can relax while she uses Lulu’s global print-on-demand network to cut on shipping costs.  She gets to offer her authors distribution through Lulu’s retail partners like Amazon, iBookstore(SM), and NOOK Bookstore – where many readers already shop. It’s all under her own imprint and designed for her to be more profitable than ever before possible.

Lulu is constantly rolling out new APIs too.  Coming soon Lulu’s eCommerce APIs will be released for general availability, enabling customers to buy directly through an author or business’s own website. Also be on the look out for general availability of our Creator Revenue APIs which allow a business or imprint to easily keep track of an author’s earnings.

Indeed, the Lulu APIs are empowering people and organizationslike our friends at campus bookstores across the nation – to grow and monetize content in exciting new ways while diversifying revenue and expanding their businesses – all under one roof.  Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for some more exciting news about how our APIs are helping to break down even more barriers for authors, for businesses, and for everyone in between.

 

Famous Historical Figures Who Self-Published

In 1640, Stephen Day self-published the Bay Psalm Book, only 20 years after the pilgrims arrived in North America. Consider the self-publisher as the ultimate American underdog. Our history is pretty much filled with individuals who started publishing on their own, in somewhat obscure conditions, to become cultural and political leaders.

Ben Franklin self-published Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1732, well before he became known for his politics and diplomacy. Thomas Paine self-published “Common Sense,” a pamphlet that inspired the American revolution.

It makes sense that self-publishing would be a hotbed of interesting, radical ideas. If your ideas are truly radical and pushing the envelope, there’s a good chance they’ll scare off traditional publishers. We think this means you’re doing something right.

Mark Twain self-published Huckleberry Finn in 1885,  one of the first books to seriously tackle racism in America. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a seminal collection of poetry that has inspired countless American writers, was also self-published.

What is it about self-publishing that attracts some of the best and most influential talent America has to offer? Hemingway self-published his first work, Three Stories and Ten Poems, in 1923. Perhaps it has something to do with the vanguard-status of writers who self-publish. Because they are often ahead of their time, traditional publishers may not feel ready to take a gamble on them. Perhaps because they consider what they have to say more important than definite material reward, they self-publish with an urgency and passion that they wouldn’t find at a publisher.

Thoreau, Stein, Crane… the list goes on. To consider self-publishing a new “trend” would be to ignore the very foundation of publishing and writing in America. In the Internet age, we’re given even more of an opportunity to put our writing out there, to publish it ourselves, be it digitally or physically, to connect with our readers and to make a difference in our world without a publisher, without an advance, without a care in the world.

The history of the American writer is really always the story of an underdog. No one is born a best-seller. Everyone starts as an underdog. There’s no bigger underdog than the self-publishing writer. And pretty consistently in America, the underdog makes a big difference.

How to write a successful author bio

Quick, look at your back cover. If there’s a big blank space there, you probably need to write your author biography.  This is not the time to be shy; your author biography, while only a few sentences long, can have a huge impact on the success of your book and you as an author.

CONTENT:

Consider your audience; what do your readers want to know? Keep your information relevant to the book’s subject and your audience.  If you’re writing children’s books, leave out the fact that you started your own tax firm at age 19, and vice versa; if your books are about preparing your own small-business taxes, don’t mention that your two Shih-tzus are named Jingles and Meriwether.

Elements to include:

  • Education. Where did you get your advanced degree(s)? If you don’t have a lot of other career or writing experience, name-dropping your university helps show qualification.
  • Experience with the subject. Tell us how you became an expert, or how you’ve recently used your expertise.
  • Previous publications/writing experience. Were you published in the New York Times? Fantastic! If this is your first book, you might mention it briefly, but only if you have room after all of your more important information. Otherwise, you can simply state what you are in vague terms: novelist, writer, poet, etc.
  • Other ways to find you. Do you blog? Have a podcast? Write regular articles for a popular site? Include other ways for readers to find your work or contact you directly, if you wish.
  • Continue Reading »

Easter Egg Hunt Contest

We invite you to have a bit of fun with us this Easter by joining us on a virtual Easter Egg Hunt. Throughout the day on Easter Sunday we are hiding “eggs” around the Web. Collect as many as you can to earn savings at Lulu.com. The more eggs you find, the more you save!

How to Play

Hunt around on the Web for Lulu’s hidden Easter eggs (clue: our Lulu Easter bunny really likes social media). Some are much trickier to find than others.They will be posted throughout the day on Easter Sunday.

Each “egg” is a word or name. For example, on Twitter we might say:

“What’s the name of the author who….? #LuluEasterEggHunt”

When you figure out that author’s name, you will have one egg. Enjoy collecting as many eggs as you can throughout the course of the day.

When you are finished, email a list of the eggs you found to EasterEggHunt@lulu.com. Please include your country in the email. The deadline for sending the email is 5pm EST, Mon., April 9, 2012.

Lulu will email you back with your reward by 5pm EST, Friday, April 13, 2012.

Prizes:

5% off, 10% off or 15% off. Every 5 eggs earns you another 5% off, so 1-5 eggs earns you 5% off, 6-10 eggs earns you 10% off and 11-15 eggs earns you 15% off. Coupons are valid for 60 days, one-time use.

What do writers have in common with indie rock stars?

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) culture is everywhere these days. What started as a punk rock ethos of spurning the system and making your own clothing, albums and films has become an essential part of our economy (it even has its own cable channel). Self-publishing, one of the oldest forms of DIY (I doubt Gutenberg had a corporate publisher before there was such a thing as mass-produced books), is a brazen statement of independence and resiliency, no different from someone making their own shoes or outdoor shower.

Then why don’t we associate self-publishing with something as radical and cool as someone selling cassettes from the trunk of their beat-up Volkswagen? Possibly, it’s the very nature of writers to be reclusive — not trumpeting their works from behind a microphone and sweating all over the front row of screaming teenagers. And yet almost each week we see a new author who chose to self-publish, to go DIY, become a media force, able to connect with thousands of fans through Facebook, YouTube and public events.

Self-Publishing is as DIY as it gets, it just looks a little different. A writer decides not only to brave perhaps the most solitary experience in the world (the writing of a book), but to also to try to market and help that book find an audience with little help from (or interference by) a publisher. They’re able to rely on friends, other authors and even strangers to help edit their book, to spread the word, to create an underground sensation. That’s why it’s always a shock to everyone whenever a self-published book finds its way to the best-seller list — because it was done through a network of loose acquaintances. It’s just like when an independent band suddenly explodes onto the scene — a slow, underground, DIY product has taken the world by surprise.

So, while we do admit that there are some key distinctions between indie rock stars and writers, we like to point out their similarities: they both now participate in a great tradition of creating your own work, controlling your own work and building community around that work. When you self-publish, you aren’t handing off your book to someone else and saying, “now this is your problem.” Instead, you’re looking at what you’ve created, recognizing you’ve done something outstanding, something that not many do and inviting people to help your project grow. You’re ready to Do It Yourself, with the help of others. And that’s what DIY is really all about.

Print is Dead; Long Live Print – Print Sales Stronger than Ever Thanks to eBooks

Everyone is talking about eBooks these days.  I was just on a flight where it seemed like everyone had either an iPad, Nook, Kindle, or some other device they were using to read their books.  So where does that leave print?

Well at Lulu, print is going as strong as ever.  Creators on Lulu published over 50,000 new print book titles in 2011, up nearly 9% over 2010.  What’s perhaps more interesting however is that print titles accounted for an incredible 68% of Lulu’s total sales last year, which really says something about the buying and sharing patterns of readers.

Undoubtedly eBooks are on the rise, but we’ve noticed a trend where readers with an eBook might tell a friend without an e-reader about a title and that friend then goes and buys a print copy.  Time and again, we’ve seen examples of authors publishing both a print and eBook version of their works and going on to sell more than double the amount of total copies over authors who only sell one or the other.

One clever tactic we’ve seen authors use to drive print sales too is to offer free eBook previews of their titles. Several authors used this method over the holidays last year. We saw eBook sales double the day after Christmas and just a few days later, on the 28th, print sales tripled!

Today’s author can’t predict where their next fan might come from and readers don’t want to have to choose between formats.  They just want it to be easy.  Lulu’s mission in all of this is to ensure that we’re providing creators and buyers with the most options for selling their works – be they print or electronic – through more and more partnerships with premier retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.  And while eBooks are certainly gaining momentum, our print catalogue sits at 618,687 titles – almost exactly even with our eBook catalogue.  Clearly, print is still alive.

Cheers,

Tom

 

Lulu’s First-Ever MYSTERY SALE!

Lulu’s first-ever MYSTERY SALE! No coupon required. A mystery discount automatically applies to your cart.

We Hereby Proclaim…