Articles by Gavin

Lulu Exhibits 102 New Titles & Hosts NYT Bestseller at Book Expo America

Book Expo America (BEA), the largest book convention in the nation, just finished in New York City. As attendees entered the show, they were greeted with 102 Lulu books that were exhibited as part of the BEA New Title Showcase.

To celebrate our ten year anniversary as a leader in Open-Publishing, Lulu also invited three bestselling authors to attend the show, sign free signed copies of their latest titles and explain why they picked Lulu over other publishing options.

On the first day of the show, congressional candidate turned bestselling political author, Kevin Powell, signed copies of his 11th book “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King,” which explores modern politics and pop culture through recent events such as the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin.

Lines wrapped around the corner as numerous show attendees recognized Kevin from his appearance on MTV’s “The Real World.” Being a very charismatic and charming personality, Kevin was a big hit at the show and made a point of engaging with each person who waited in line to meet him.


David Thorne, New York Times Bestselling Author, signed copies of his new book “I’ll Go Home Then, It’s Warm and Has Chairs: The Unpublished Emails” during the second day of the show. With a very strong following, Thorne quickly signed over 250 copies of his book.

Joining other well-known blogging celebrities, Thorne also sat on the closing keynote panel for Blogworld & New Media Expo which took place in conjunction with BEA.

Publishing Your Thesis with Lulu

graduation studentsMay marks graduation for many college students, a time of celebration after years of dedication and hard work. It also prompts this eternal question: “Now what?”

It’s time to make your way in the world, earn a living and impress the world with your education. If you wrote an undergraduate thesis, master’s project or doctoral dissertation, Lulu can help on two fronts: earning cash and spreading knowledge.

It’s free and easy to upload your thesis onto Lulu. And getting a professional-quality bound copy of it delivered to your doorstep is quick. Moreover, we offer services that can create a professionally designed cover specifically for your work. To get your research out there, we can assign your work an ISBN and even get it listed on the iBookstore (SM) and NOOK™ book store. Most importantly, by publishing on Lulu you retain control of all copyright and permission settings. You determine who can view your work, and when. If you feel that publishing your thesis, final project or dissertation on Lulu sounds like a viable option for you, then please read the steps below for more information on how to get started.

Before you start
First and foremost, check with your department, committee chairs or advisor on any rules you must follow for publishing your academic work. Requirements vary across departments and schools.

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

Office Holiday Decorations … Lulu-Style.

Lulu is truly a remarkable and exciting place to work.  Don’t believe me … check out these photos and videos of our recent office holiday decoration contest.

Eleven Lulu departments participated in the contest with decoration themes such as: a Charlie Brown Christmas, Tacky Holidays, and Winter Wonderland to name a few.  With points awarded for creativity, theme and craftsmanship, Lulu’s Marketing Team won with “Cyber Santa’s Workshop,” a fully interactive space where people can get their photos taken with Cyber Santa – a talking robot whose aim it is to take over Christmas after the success of Cyber Monday.




Veterans Day Author Spotlight. An inside look at the life of a military family.

If my story can help overwhelmed military spouses gain a new perspective, I want to make it available to them.– Krista Graham, Author of Deployment Diaries.

In honor of both Veterans Day and Remembrance Day, we at Lulu want to take a moment, not only to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of our Veterans, but also to acknowledge military families – those who have loved ones currently serving. For some, today can be a very emotional day, particularly if a parent or spouse is deployed overseas.

Krista Graham is an Army Wife and a Marine Mom who recently published an account of her husband’s year of service in Kuwait. Krista was kind enough to share her perspective on Veterans Day, writing and being an Army Wife tasked with “holding down the fort” during her husband’s deployment.

How many family members do you currently have serving in the military?

My husband is a Warrant Officer in the Army National Guard and one of my sons is serving in the Marine Corps. He is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in 2012.

Tell us about your motivation for writing a book.

I didn’t set out to write a book.

Opinion: Is there an eBook “eZone?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other day, I was encouraged via Twitter to view the following video of New York Times bestselling author Seth Godin. The video is a sneak peak for the documentary PressPausePlay in which Godin describes his reasoning for self-publishing an eBook that took him 10-12 days to write. Godin raises a lot of interesting questions about modern publishing in this short video. An interesting question he raises is one that all self-published authors have to address at one time or another, namely: “I finished the book … ‘now what am I going to do with it?’”

As Authors today, we have many choices for delivering our content. We can try our luck and go the traditional route; we can self-publish it as a paperback; we can upload it to a blog; we can publish it as an eBook and distribute it to places like the iBookstore℠ or NOOK Bookstore™, etc, etc, etc. With all these choices, it can be hard to decide where and how to distribute your work.

Having published in different formats, I recently asked the question: is there an eBook “eZone?” Inspired by the “Goldilocks Zone” in planetary astronomy, the eBook eZone represents the length of written content that is too long for a blog post but too short for a printed book. It is the length of content that seems “just right” to be published electronically and made available for download at a minimal fee (or even made available for free). Keep in mind that any length of content can be made into an eBook (with at times unwieldy long books being easier to read electronically, as described here). When I talk about the eZone, I mean college papers, short stories, poetry, magazine articles – content that you’re proud of that didn’t really take you that long to write (relatively speaking) and when you see it sitting idle on your hard-drive you ask: “what am I going to do with it?” From a reader standpoint, eZone eBooks are those titles on your eReader that you can finish on a short train ride, regional flight, or in the time it takes to fall asleep.

Besides content length, the eZone also represents a sort of “sweet spot” between timeliness of content (how current the topic may be) and the time you have invested in writing and researching the content. The above infographic is what I believe the eBook eZone may look like. This infographic is by no means scientific nor does it take into account variables like genre, type of content, etc. The infographic exists to help visualize a point, namely that there may be a confluence of content length, content timeliness, and the amount of time one can devote to writing a title that makes eBooks the ideal vehicle for distributing content.

I figured it would also be helpful to point out some of my reasoning behind this infographic. Problogger.com reports that a typical reader “spends 96 seconds reading the average blog” – giving writers a “96 window of opportunity” to capture a reader’s attention. If the average American Adult has a reading speed of 300 words per minute, then it is reasonable to assume that a typical reader will focus his/her attention, on average, to around 450 words on a typical blog (I have just pasted that threshold, so congratulations loyal reader for being above average). The page length I selected for printed books was less about attention span and had more to do with printing requirements. A U.S. Trade perfect bound paperback book can have a page length of between 32 and 740 pages – anything above that would require a different format. Timeliness of content and the time invested in writing a book are very subjective criteria and are hard to measure. Everyone writes and researches at different rates. Some people like Seth Godin who are content machines can hammer out five best-sellers in the time it would take me to write one sub-par manuscript. So the intersection where timeliness of content and time invested is subjective – but a reality worth addressing nonetheless.

In short, the eBook eZone is a theory. If may turn out to be completely wrong. I just hope that authors test it out, find their writing comfort zones, and publish their content in as many formats as possible. You have many choices, make sure to find the format that’s “just right” for you!

“Christmas Has Begun Already” – What’s Your Q4 Book Marketing Strategy?

This morning, I read a great article in The Telegraph entitled “Book discount frenzy as Super Thursday arrives.” Within the article, a quote that resonated with me comes from Mike Jones, the non-fiction director at Simon & Schuster, who states “Christmas has begun already.” In an effort to capture the attention of the “constantly connected consumer,” the holiday sale season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. For major publishers looking to promote titles within “a declining market, a tough economy and [a market with] structural changes – such as ebooks,” the holiday marketing season has to start early. As self-published authors, we are not immune to the same market realities that major publishers are currently facing. As such, we too need to start our holiday marketing efforts now too. Thus, I have to ask “what’s your Q4 book marketing strategy?

Given the diversity of our author base, many of us will have different strategies. However, I’ve outlined some holiday book marketing tips below that should help many of us. I would also encourage you to post your own tips and ideas on this blog or on our Facebook page to help your fellow authors gear up for Q4 and sell as many books as possible.

Discounting your book – when and by how much?
You don’t need a PhD to know that discounting is a major part of the holiday shopping season. The real challenge is figuring out when to discount and by how much. Prior to the 2010 holiday season,
Forrester Research forecasted that “deep discounts will also be in play, but key dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be of utmost importance … [r]etailers must expect heavy price-based competition this season and be prepared to play.” I would encourage Lulu authors to plan on offering deep discounts of their books, at the very least, during the pillars of the holiday season – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To do so, use our Discount Manager that lets you set your book’s list price as you always have and then set a discount to that list price to be shown alongside your regular price. To find out more about our Discount Manager, please click the following link. Please note that, due to distribution requirements, you cannot discount eBooks.

Remembering Michael Hart, ebook pioneer and founder of Project Gutenberg.

Electronic book pioneer and founder of Project Gutenberg, Michael Hart, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Urbana Ill.  Long before eReaders became a prevalent part of our society, Hart, who is described as “an ardent technologist and futurist,” sought ways of making electronic versions of books available to the masses.

In an obituary posted on the Project Gutenberg website, Dr. Gregory B. Newby writes:

Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and distribution of literature was to be Hart’s life’s work, spanning over 40 years.

In 1998, Mark Frauenfelder wrote a profile of Hart for Wired in which Hart is quoted as saying, “there’s going to be some gizmo that kids carry around in their back pocket that has everything in it – including our books, if they want.”  Early pioneers like Vannevar Bush envisioned electronic devices as far back as 1945 that would store massive volumes of books electronically.  Hart, however, possessed that rare mix of both foresight and gumption to help make this vision a reality.

As expressed in his obituary, making literature “available to all people” was something Hart wished to help others strive towards.  Perhaps the truest expression of Hart’s wish is a commitment to the distribution of ideas across countless platforms, i.e., eBooks, print, blogs, spoken word, etc.  Personally, I feel that in order to make literature available to all people the distribution mechanisms should work in concert with one another and never be limited to one source.  Learning, I believe, should remain impartial to any one file format or distribution mechanism – eBook or otherwise.

With that said, I think that as we enter a new age marked by the proliferation of electronic books and a growing host of eBook reading “gizmo[s],” let’s not forget to take a few moments to honor pioneers like Michael Hart who have remained steadfast in their commitment to the distribution of literature and ideas.

Reading for Sport?

What is it with turning regular every day activities into contests?  The simple joy of eating a hot dog is now a sanctioned event governed by the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE). Ironing is now an extreme sport as is growing a beard.  Don’t get me wrong … as both a competitive person and a male (age 18 to 35) I can appreciate a ridiculous challenge, and while I am skeptical about challenging people to read, I feel that if you’re going to do so there needs to be rules.

This morning, I came across the following blog post on Flavorwire.com entitled “10 Novels That We Dare You to Finish.”  In the post, “foolhardy readers” are encouraged to go through the list and comment on which titles, if any, were finished with ease.  In a related blog post, GallyCat editor Jason Boog has included links to “free eBook copies of five massive novels.”  Boog who enjoys reading electronic versions of long novels feels this approach “seems like the perfect way to interact with these unwieldy titles.”

Boog does raise an interesting point in that downloading a free version of something like War and Peace may certainly be more convenient than borrowing it from the local library or finding a cheap copy of the title at a used book store.  But if one is being challenged (or in the case of Flavorwire  … “dared”) to read these titles, then I would argue that downloading the “e” version is cheating.

If you are going to challenge someone to read titles that “also function as doorstops,” then I feel you should only read the print-versions.  It wouldn’t be the same experience otherwise.  The most cumbersome book I own is Carl Jung’s The Red Book (Liber Novus).   The book is a whopping 15 by 12 inches and almost 10 pounds.  When I read it, my wife thinks I look like a Benedictine Monk studying some ancient text.  The content of Jung’s book is fascinating, and I can’t imagine one having the same experience with an eBook-version of it (I don’t even know if an electronic version exists to be honest).  Moreover, what little remains of the book’s original simulacrum would be further diminished, I feel, when converted and displayed in electronic form.

For most readers, the simple joy of reading is motivation enough to tackle titles like War and Peace or The Red Book.  But if you’re going to challenge people who would not normally read “long, long books,” then I would force these folks to stick to print-versions only.  I feel you should have to lug them around with you in all their unwieldy glory.  In doing so, it will make for a richer experience.  At the very least, when the challenge is over, you’ll still have a physical version of the book.  Like a trophy on a bookshelf from some sporting challenge, it will stand as proof of your prior conquest.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Google+ & Authors (do I really have to join this?)

I read an article on Mashable.com a few weeks back where writer Nova Spivack states “welcome to ‘Sharepocalypse,’ a new era of social network insanity.” According to Spivack, Sharepocalypse takes place when “hundreds (if not thousands) of online friends share content with us across various social networks, culminating in massive information overload.” It can seem extremely daunting trying to keep up to speed with all these social sharing sites. But as self-published authors looking to market our books, we rely on them. The problem is … as writers, we are busy people. We don’t always have the time to just start a new online profile, or a second, or a third, etc …

Chances are, you’ve heard of The Google+ project – Google’s cloud-based tool to help “make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life.” If you’re like me, you may have received an invite from a friend but your indifference has yet to give way to the societal pressures to join. In reality, you probably just want someone to tell you if it’s worth it or not. The good news is … I am here to be that somebody. Let me give you some cliff notes on Google+.

NO NEED TO RUSH
First and foremost, there is not a huge rush to join.  Unlike Domain names and Twitter handles where you have the potential for “
name squatting,” Google+ profiles consist of unique 21 character numbers that then need to be put into a URL shortner – http://www.gplus.to/.  So unless you crave being an early adopter of these types of things or have a certain affinity to a 21 digit number, there is no need to rush in to secure your spot on Google+.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
If you have time, I recommend reading the following article “
How Authors, Bloggers and Journalists can use Google Plus?”  In it, the author rightfully points out that “most of the early adopters of the site have been techies, social media marketers, and bloggers.”  If you are a tech writer, then chances are you are already on Google+.  For the rest of us, it may still be a while before many of our readers set-up a profile (if ever).

GOT GMAIL?
Currently, I think Google+ is only worth it to Authors that already have
GMail accounts and lots of readers in their contacts.  Because your Google+ profile is tied to your GMail account, the minute you log-in, you have access to your contacts in ways once only restricted to email.   The only caveat is that many of your contacts will not have Google+ accounts, so you’ll need to send them invites to join.

WRITING WORKSHOPS AND BOOK GROUPS
Google+ has two features that could be very helpful to Authors: “Circles” and “Hangouts.”  When you join Google+, you can create customized circles of your contacts.   You could easily create one for your readers and provide them with updates, savings coupons, and preview chapters of your book.  The second feature that is pretty cool is Hangouts.  Hangouts is a video conference tool similar to
WebEx or GoToMeeting® — that’s free!  You are limited to 10 participants and can’t use it with mobile devices.  With that said, you could easily use the tool for web-based writing workshops, book readings, or just a good old book group. DukeReads has been doing something similar to this for 5 years now which you may want to check out.  In short, Google+ Hangouts allows you to do cheap, but small, virtual book clubs.

CONCLUSION
I intentionally kept the above list very short.  We live in an era of information overload and you probably just skimmed over this post anyways, which is fine.  When bombarded with information, our time and attention are our most important assets.  If you need more information on Google+, check out
Chris Brogan’s list of 50 points you should know about the tool.

My summary of Google+ is as follows.  As self-published authors, we should be promoting our work using as many different free services as possible.  Google+ has some tools that can be beneficial to authors with strong followings, but you may want to wait until more people join.  For now, there is no immediate need to rush in.  Don’t feel you need to subcome to the pressures of social sharing.  Join Google+ if and when you think you need to …