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Q&A with Award-Winning Lulu Jr. Author

This summer, Rainbow Resource Center, which is based in Illinois, held a Super Summer Book Writing Contest for children ages 5-17. Using Lulu Jr.’s My Awesome Book, children wrote and illustrated their stories and submitted them for the competition. Avery B. was the grand prize winner and she won $250. We sat down with Avery to learn what inspired her…

Question – Congratulations! How does it feel to be a published author at 13?

Avery B. – Really great! I feel like I’ve grabbed the key that opens a door for future possibilities.

Question – What was the best part of writing your own book?

Avery B. – I had a lot of fun thinking of the silly challenges that Ego and his friends would overcome.

Question – How did your friends in Beep Patrol help inspire you to write the story?

Avery B. – I always liked it when everyone on Beep Patrol, my FLL Robotics team, worked together to come up with great concepts. Core Values are some ideas that guide the teams to gracious gamesmanship. Since I was Core Values leader, I wanted to write a story about how Core Values changed someone’s life for the better.

Question – What was the hardest part of writing Ego?

Avery B. – The hardest thing for me to do was seeing something through. It was super hard for me to keep working at Ego. I was happy after my first draft – that is usually how I leave my work. However, I kept polishing Ego until it was ‘purrrrfect’. I’m really glad I spent a lot of effort in Ego!

Question – What have you learned from this experience?

Avery B. – I learned that if I follow my plans through, great things can happen.

Question – Do you have any plans to continue writing?

Avery B. – I will definitely keep writing. I am writing a novel about superhero kids called Scarlet Eyes and I think it is going to be a super neat story. I also thought of another story called More Than Gold. I’m going to keep working on that too.

Question – Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

Avery B. – This is some advice for aspiring writers: NEVER GIVE UP! Plan a story from the beginning to the end, and then follow it through. That is what I found makes writing a good story possible. And for my fellow Whovians: Don’t blink!”

The team at Lulu Jr. would like to congratulate Avery on the wonderful book that she created and we look forward to seeing the next one!

If you want your child to be a successful author like Avery, then head over to Lulu Jr. to find the perfect kit to turn your child into a published author too. Happy creating!

Okay, I Can Write…How Do I Get Published?

Introductory note: We don’t love to boast, but when one of our authors is wonderful enough to do it for us, well, we have to share it. Today’s guest post is from Jeffrey Strickland – follow him on LinkedIn for the fantastic articles and advice he shares!

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

Who Are the Potential Authors?

In the past year, I have encountered many talented writers on LinkedIn, including Michael Spencer, Shashi Dhungel, Ivette Caballero, Brigette Hyacinth, Terry A Maiers, Steve Ater, Steve Cartwright and many others. All of these are potential authors and some have projects already in the works. So, what about you?

 
Who is Lulu?

I have published a book or two, and I do this as a self-published author. I am proud to be a Lulu author. Lulu.com is known for its remarkable books that Lulu authors create. Their support and author loyalty is unmatched. In recognition of their quality published products, Lulu was named the 2015 Best Online Book Publishing Company by TopTenLists.

 
“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” ― Barbara Kingsolver

 
What is a Lulu Author?

As a Lulu author, I have complete control over the content, layout, cover design, book size and binding. More importantly, I control the price, at least that portion beyond the cost to produce a bound and printed book. Many of my books would cost in excess of $100 and some as much as $200 from a traditional publishing company. Distraught by the outrageous profiteering by the big publishing houses and their disregard for the size of the wallet of a college student parent, I made a vow to keep my book prices under $50. Of course, there are trade-offs to achieve this.

 
Lulu for Any Budget

I do not have an editor, I do not have a marketing vehicle, I do not have a graphic designer. I only have my computer. I produce my own typeset, graphics and cover design. I do the layout, indexing and final document. I do it with an ounce of budget and a passion to write, coupled with a desire to transmit information at an affordable price. All this was doable, when I found Lulu.com. I have sold hundreds of books and the only complaints I have had are related to my inability to use the English language properly and failure to dot my t’s and cross my i’s. When Lulu ships you a book, the print is on quality paper, covered with quality and bound the same.

 
Lulu Makes It Easy

Lulu makes it easy to publish with various templates and cover design tools, as well as PDF settings for a final product. If you happen to be someone who has received one of my PDF versions, you are getting the product that is printed. Moreover, you can find all my books on my Lulu Author Spotlight page and pay less than you would for the same book on Amazon (I set the discounts). But if you are a loyal Amazon consumer, you can find most of my books on my author page there.

 
I Ain’t Mark Twain

My wife tells me not to say “ain’t,” but that’s another story. I have said before that I had wanted to author a book for at least 10 years before I had the courage to do so. What if my grammar is not great (and it isn’t)? What if my content knowledge is not the very best (and it isn’t)? What if people do not like my writing (and I have found a couple that don’t)? But, I imagine that Mark Twain had doubts about Tom Sawyer, and J.R.R. Tolkien probably had second thoughts about a story of elves, dwarves, wizards, dragons and a hobbit.

 
“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” ― Somerset Maugham

 
You Just Need an Idea

Many of you have ideas in you – gray matter that is waiting to be unleashed on a wider audience than your bathroom mirror. You can write for yourself, your family and friends, or for the world. And Lulu can help you do it. If you are like me, once you start you will not want to stop. You can produce your work in hardcover, paperback or e-book with a variety of binding and cover options. You can also produce in color (I do not, because it costs more).

 
Lulu Fits Your Wallet

If your budget is bigger than mine, Lulu also offers editing and review services, as well as marketing packages, all at reasonable prices. I still have two kids that I have to put through college, so I save a dollar or two by not using these services. Maybe I will write all of their college textbooks, except for the one on grammar…

 
I Cannot Write!

Well, neither could I until I did…and I am not really that good now. So, you can write, even if it is just for you.

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway

 
Who Wrote This?
Jeffrey Strickland, Ph.D. is the author of “Predictive Analytics Using R” and a senior analytics scientist with Clarity Solution Group. He has performed predictive modeling, simulation and analysis for the Department of Defense, NASA, the Missile Defense Agency and the Financial and Insurance industries for over 20 years. Jeff is a Certified Modeling and Simulation Professional (CMSP) and an Associate Systems Engineering Professional. He has published over 200 blogs on LinkedIn, is a frequently invited guest speaker and the author of 20 books including:

  • Operations Research using Open-Source Tools
  • Discrete Event simulation using ExtendSim
  • Crime Analysis and Mapping
  • Missile Flight Simulation
  • Mathematical Modeling of Warfare and Combat Phenomenon
  • Predictive Modeling and Analytics
  • Using Math to Defeat the Enemy
  • Verification and Validation for Modeling and Simulation
  • Simulation Conceptual Modeling
  • System Engineering Process and Practices
  • Weird Scientist: the Creators of Quantum Physics
  • Albert Einstein: No one expected me to lay a golden eggs
  • The Men of Manhattan: the Creators of the Nuclear Era
  • Fundamentals of Combat Modeling
  • Quantum Phaith
  • Dear Mister President
  • LinkedIn Memoirs
  • Knights of the Cross: the True Story of the Knights Templar

Bud Loftus: A Story. A Book. A Legacy.

At 85, Bud Loftus added one more accomplishment — published author — to a life that has been defined by them.

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Bud Loftus lived a story that was almost never told.

He suffered the sting of poverty as a child. Experienced the pain of war as a young man. And found success in business as an adult. He wanted his children and grandchildren to learn from his journey, to take the lessons of his life with them. But at 85, the goal seemed out of reach for Bud — until he found Lulu.

“Dad was able to make something for the family he once thought impossible,” said Cecilia Lahiff, the middle of Bud’s seven children. “Lulu offered the professional experience of a traditional publisher, if not better.”

Bud’s has been an extraordinary journey. The son of Irish immigrants, he grew up on welfare in Philadelphia. The day after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, he went to a Marine Corps. office to enlist. He was only 17 and had to wait until he finished high school, but he went on to fight in the Pacific theater of World War II.

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After the war, Bud took the government’s offer of a free college education and attended LaSalle University, where he received top marks in the pre-med program. He became the first Director of the Division of Drug Manufacturing at the Food and Drug Administration, and, after retiring from the agency, built a 17-year career in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a story that Cecilia encouraged her dad to publish.

“The Lulu experience has been terrific,” said Bud, who released his 315-page memoir, “Bud Loftus: An Irish-American’s Journey” in late 2009. “I got a tremendous amount of help from the staff going above and beyond.”

And the book has taken the story of Bud’s life to a whole new audience. In November 2009 he was featured in a story by The Washington Post.

7,473 Volumes at 700 Pages Each: Meet Print Wikipedia

Wikipedia contributor appendices; check out the full gallery of images on Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wikipedia contributor appendices; check out the full gallery of images on Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

“Addition: To watch the artist speak about this project, you can view a video here: https://vimeo.com/133172929.”

After six years of work, a residency in the Canadian Rockies, endless debugging, and more than a little help from my friends, I have made Print Wikipedia: a new artwork in which custom software transforms the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia into 7,473 volumes and uploads them for print-on-demand. I’m excited to have this project in a solo exhibition, From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!, at Denny Gallery in the Lower East Side of New York City, on view now through July 2nd.

The two-week exhibition at Denny Gallery is structured around the upload process of Print Wikipedia to Lulu.com and the display of a selection of volumes from the project. The upload process will take between eleven and fourteen days, starting at ! and ending at ℧. There will be two channels for watching this process: a projection of Lulu.com in a web browser that is automated by the software, and a computer monitor with the command line updates showing the dialogue between the code and the site. If you aren’t able to visit the gallery in person, you can follow the process on Twitter; we will post to the @PrintWikipedia Twitter account after it finishes each volume.

Individual volumes and the entirety of Print Wikipedia, Wikipedia Table of Contents, and Wikipedia Contributor Appendix will be available for sale. All of the volumes will be available on Lulu.com as they are uploaded, so by the end of the upload/exhibition all of the volumes will be available on for individual purchase. Each of the 7,473 volumes is made up of 700 pages, for a total of 5,244,11 pages. The Wikipedia Table of Contents is comprised of 63,372 pages in 91 volumes. The Wikipedia Contributor Appendix contains all 7,488,091 contributors to the English-language Wikipedia (nearly 7.5 Million).

It is important to note that I have not printed out all of the books for this exhibition, nor do I personally have any intention of doing so—unless someone paid the $500,000 to fabricate a full set. There are 106 volumes in the exhibition, which are really helpful for visualizing the scope of the work. It isn’t necessary to print them all out: our imaginations can complete what’s missing.

Wikipedia has been printed. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wikipedia has been printed. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Books are microcosms of the world. To make an intervention into an encyclopedia is to intervene in the ordering systems of the world. If books are a reduced version of the universe, this is the most expanded version we as humans have ever seen. For better or for worse, it reflects ourselves and our societies, with 7,473 volumes about life, the universe, and everything. An entry for an film or music album will pop up every few pages, and the entry for humanism will be located in a volume that begins with “Hulk (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)” and ends with “Humanitarianism in Africa” and the names of battles will fill the 28 volumes with entries that start with “BAT.” It’s big data that’s small enough that we can understand it, but big enough that no human will know all of it. It is small enough that I can process it on a desktop computer, though big enough that each round of calculations, such as unpacking the database into a MySQL database, takes up to two weeks to complete, and the whole build cycle takes over a month. As we become increasingly dependent on information what does this relative accessibility of its vastness mean.

Print Wikipedia is a both a utilitarian visualization of the largest accumulation of human knowledge and a poetic gesture towards the futility of the scale of big data. Built on what is likely the largest appropriation ever made, it is also a work of found poetry that draws attention to the sheer size of the encyclopedia’s content and the impossibility of rendering Wikipedia as a material object in fixed form: once a volume is printed, it is already out of date.

My practice as an artist is focused around online interventions, working inside of existing technical or logical systems and turning them inside out. I make poetic yet functional meditations that provoke an examination of art in a non-art space and a deeper consideration of the Internet as a tool for radically re-defining communication systems. For example, I sold all of my possessions online in the year-long performance and e-commerce website Shop Mandiberg (2001), and made perfect copies of copies on AfterSherrieLevine.com (2001), complete with certificates of authenticity to be signed by the user themselves. I made the first works to use the web browser plug-in as a platform for creating artworks: The Real Costs (2007), a browser plug-in that inserts carbon footprints into airplane travel websites, and Oil Standard (2006), a browser plug-in that converts all prices on any web page in their equivalent value in barrels of oil.

Mandiberg (left) with assistant Jonathan Kiritharan. Photo by Tilman Bayer, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Mandiberg (left) with assistant Jonathan Kiritharan. Photo by Tilman Bayer, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

This was not a solitary endeavor. I was grateful to work with several programmers and designers, including Denis Lunev, Jonathan Kiritharan, Kenny Lozowski, Patrick Davison, and Colin Elliot. I was also supported by a great group of people at Lulu.com who went above and beyond to support this wild and quite unwieldy project.

If you’re in New York, I hope can come see the show. For those of you far away, you can follow the upload process at PrintWikipedia.com and on Twitter.

Wikipedia contributor appendix, volume 1. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Wikipedia contributor appendix, volume 1. Photo by Victor Grigas, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

About the Artist

Michael Mandiberg is an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. He received his M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts and his B.A. from Brown University. His work traces the lines of political and symbolic power online, working on the Internet in order to comment on and intercede in the real flows of information. He sold all of his possessions online on Shop Mandiberg, made perfect copies of copies on AfterSherrieLevine.com, and created Firefox plugins that highlight the real environmental costs of a global economy on TheRealCosts.com. He is co-author of Digital Foundations and Collaborative Futures and the editor of The Social Media Reader. A recipient of residencies and commissions from Eyebeam, Rhizome.org, and Turbulence.org, his work has been exhibited at the New Museum, Ars Electronica, ZKM, and Transmediale. A former Senior Fellow at Eyebeam, he is currently Director of the New York Arts Practicum, a co-founder of the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Associate Professor at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, and a member of the Doctoral Faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. His work has previously been exhibited at Denny Gallery in the exhibition Share This! Appropriation After Cynicism. He has also exhibited at Postmasters Gallery, The New Museum for Contemporary Art, the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Jen Beckman Gallery, Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, and the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center. His work has been written about in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Berliner Zeitung, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Hyperallergic, ARTNews, MOMUS, Flash Art and Artforum.

Infographic: The Value of a Book

In honor of World Book Day, we have created an infographic that shows the value of a book when you go through the traditional publishing process vs. the self-publishing route.

Blog-Infographic

UNC MBA’s in the House!

Last week, we had the pleasure of welcoming three MBA students from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to Lulu for a day of hands-on, out of the classroom learning. Elisa Lin, Caspar Xu and Zach Shapiro spent the day with us learning all about Lulu, how we’re structured and how the company is run day in and day out.UNC_KFBS_stacked_RGB

 

At Lulu, we’re passionate about serving the local community and helping to inspire the budding entrepreneurs in the area. So when UNC Kenan-Flagler asked us to participate in their program and open our doors for their students, we were thrilled to join in. UNC Kenan-Flagler has a reputation for knowing exactly what defines true business success and helping their students learn and put that understanding into practice. Elisa, Caspar and Zach will be a few of the exceptional leaders the school has shaped, that will go on to make a positive impact on the companies they lead and the communities they serve.

 
We sat Elisa, Caspar and Zach down with various members of our executive team and other key team members throughout the day to give them varying perspectives on Lulu, self-publishing and how we stay innovative in an ever-changing industry. At the end of the day, they shared their impressions of what they learned from us and identified opportunities they saw for the company based on the information they had.

In their own words:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to show us around. We really appreciated the exposure to so many different aspects of the company and the ability to meet everyone. We are impressed by Lulu’s driven culture and innovative business model. We have spoken with many nimble people, influenced by their persistence for customers and quality. Our biggest take away is always keep curiosity to serve customers better. The other lesson we have learned is to find a company which culture is a great fit is extremely important, because it can put you with others and achieve the goal together.”

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Lulu looks forward to seeing what these three bright young minds will do once they graduate!

Help Us Say #NOMORE to Domestic Violence

We’re joining the effort to make this Sunday’s big game about more than just football. To raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence, we’re donating a portion of all our profits through Monday to InterAct, our local nonprofit agency that provides safety and support to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We’re setting out to raise $20,000 and you can help us get there!

We’ve been inspired by the recent efforts of the Joyful Heart Foundation’s NO MORE campaign and an existing relationship with InterAct— and we hope to leverage a growing national conversation into greater local awareness and promote the stories of independent authors who have survived and written about their experiences of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

With as little as 25% of domestic abuse and 32% of sexual assaults reported in the U.S., encouraging open dialogue and embracing the voices of victims and survivors is crucial to bringing about positive change. Lulu.com is privileged to serve as a platform for courageous independent voices and hopes to transform the energy around Sunday’s big game into positive action off the field.

To discover brave and powerful voices speaking out about domestic violence and sexual assault around the world, visit Lulu.com.

You can help say #NOMORE to domestic abuse when you get a print book through Monday, February 2 with code NOMORE. Be sure to share the deal with your friends so we can reach our goal donation.

Grab a book to help say NO MORE

Thank you for your support!

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