Articles by Gavin

(Not) Getting Your Book on a Retail Shelf

I believe that one of the biggest mistakes in any marketing endeavor is not defining a clear goal. It’s easy to get caught up in a clever idea while losing sight of what you wish to accomplish. As authors, we are all trying to market our books. The way in which you promote your work will depend greatly on what you’re trying to achieve. I have read a number of blog posts by self-published authors describing ways to get one’s book on retail shelves. Most of these articles, however, don’t answer that fundamental question … why? Why bother trying to get your title on a retail shelf?

There’s no doubt that walking into a bookstore and seeing your work on the shelves is a wonderful feeling and a worthwhile goal for any author. But that is a personal goal, not a marketing goal. If your marketing goal it is to have as many people as possible read your work, you may be better off first focusing your efforts elsewhere – not just on your local bookstore.

Self-published author and book designer Joel Friedlander echoes my sentiment about trying to get one’s book on retail shelves when he writes:

“My own opinion, after watching many self-publishers try to break through into this market, is that it’s rarely worth the effort unless the book has a really wide appeal and is produced from the beginning with retail sales as the ultimate goal.

Most self-publishers of nonfiction will be far better off building an online community, learning keyword research and how to market their book online, using print on demand for fulfillment.”

Marketing Your Book with Promotional Materials

Looking for a way to keep excitement of your book going after a speaking event? Bringing along printed marketing collateral is a great (and inexpensive) way to reinforce your message, and promote your book.

Here are a few ideas to include for your printed collateral:

  • Your book cover should be prevalent
  • Mention your book title several times throughout the page
  • Point out where your book can be purchased
  • Highlight a short review or quote made about the book
  • Consider a special offer
    • Example: Link to a free chapter eBook preview
  • Encourage readers to visit your site, sign up for your newsletters and your Facebook and Twitter pages

If you’ve collected contact information from your audience, be sure to write them a note of thanks. A little follow up can go a long way in keeping the momentum of your great event going!

Need extra help? Lulu now offers a paid service where you can purchase promotional materials including: posters, bookmarks, postcards, and business cards.

Lulu Promotional Material

How does the process work? Once this service is purchased, you will provide us with the front cover image of the book as a high resolution JPEG or PDF. We’ll also need additional information about your book, such as a back cover description or a quote from the book which can be placed on the print piece. This should be enticing and give your reader a glimpse into the book. Be sure to provide enough information to catch their attention and leave them wanting more.

Click here to read more about Lulu’s new promotional materials service.

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.

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.

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’s your passion? Pt. 2

Sketchnotes 2009 & 2010
By Eva-Lotta Lamm

This book contains 2 years worth of illustrated notes (also called sketchnotes) that Eva-Lotta took at dozens of UX / Design events and conferences, featuring talks from over 100 speakers and panelists. Some of the events covered in the book are UXweek 2009, d.construct 2010, Flash on the Beach 2010, etc.

1) What came first, the idea for the book or the sketches?

The sketches came first. For the last few years, I’ve been attending quite a few design talks and conferences and as I have a really bad memory, I need to take notes to not forget everything within days. I’ve always been drawing, sketching and playing around with my handwriting, so it came naturally to include little sketches and some nicely drawn type in my notes. Over time (and with the discovery of others doing these kinds of notes as well and giving them a name: ‘sketchnotes’) my style slowly became more and more visual. Since 2008, I’ve shared my notes online on flickr, but at some point I wanted to make the notes available to people in their original format as well: on paper. So the idea for the book was born. As the sketches are quite detailed, the format of a book is ideal: you can sit down and take the time to discover and let the eye and mind explore.

2) I love the concept, but I have to ask … with the explosive growth of online video and conferences like TED where talks are recorded and posted online, what advantage does one gain by consuming content via a format like sketchnotes?

First and foremost the sketchnotes are a personal tool for me to remember the parts of the talk I was interested in. They are my interpretation of what was said rather than a complete summary. I don’t see them in competition with the video recordings or as an alternative to actually attending a talk. They are an addition, an interpretation, a sort of digest and maybe an intriguing way of getting someone interested in actually watching the video or going to see a talk of the speaker. I leave it up to my ‘readers’ to decide if and why they are interested in looking at my notes.

What’s Your Passion? Pt. 1

As authors, we are all passionate about something.  For many of us, it’s our dedication to a specific topic that motivates us to sidestep life’s daily distractions (TV, Internet, etc.) and sit down and write.  From an author who has skateboarded across America THREE TIMES to a designer whose love of illustration compelled her to publish over 100 conference talks as elaborate sketchnotes, these two Lulu authors are a testament to true passion.

The Skateboarder's Journal - Lives on Board 1949-2009

The Skateboarder’s Journal – Lives on Board 1949-2009
By Jack Smith

This book was written by those for whom the ride is never-ending: by the 15-year-old grom who falls asleep dreaming of skateboarding; by the 40-something “pad dad” you see at the local skatepark; by the women whose stories have never been told; and by the 73-year-old architect who didn’t begin skateboarding until the age of 65. Over 170 stories and 200+ photographs.

1) What made you decide to self-publish instead of going through a traditional publisher?

Since it was my first attempt at putting together a book of my own and really don’t know how the traditional publishing system worked, I decided to give Lulu a try. Previously I had done the layout for a friend’s book that he published on Lulu.  I found Lulu very easy to work with.  I also thought that by self-publishing, I would have greater control over the content.

2) Where does your passion come from to both skateboard across America (three times) and write a book?

The passion for skateboarding across America came from three very different places during three very different times in my life. In 1976, I was 19 years old, living in Morro Bay, California where pretty much the only job for a teenager was working in restaurants, which I had my fill of! 1976 was at the beginning of the urethane era of skateboarding, and I was looking for a way to make a name for myself. One night a group of us were hanging out and someone jokingly threw out the idea of skateboarding across America, within a few minutes the talk turned serious and we decided to give it a shot. I sent a letter to Roller Sports, a wheel manufacturer in Florida asking for sponsorship. A couple of weeks later they responded with a yes and a month later we were underway. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Heck, we even took a .22 rifle with us, after all we would be skating across the wild west. This was during a time when a long distance phone call was still a big deal; we would call home every few days, with one set of parents relaying our progress to the others. We might as well have been on the moon. We made the crossing in 32 days.

The second trek came about through the urging of some younger friends who had heard all the stories about the first crossing. We decided to do the trip as a fund raiser for Multiple Sclerosis. We had great sponsorship, including a van from Chrysler that we scored when one of the team members, Paul Dunn, wrote a letter to Lee Iacocca. The equipment was quite a bit better than the first time, allowing us to finish in 26 days.  (Thrasher Magazine wrote an article on the 1984 trip, click the following links for shots from the magazine: part 1, part 2, part 3).

Are You Ready For The Royal Wedding … Book?

Royal Wedding Book

As you know, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton is this Friday and excitement is reaching fever pitch. I just Googled “Royal Wedding” and there are over 48 million results. With all this anticipation, it may be hard to figure out how and where to get involved, but Lulu and one of our global API developers can help.

Ben Barnett, founder of before I grew up, recently launched the website Royal Wedding Book which utilizes Lulu’s Publication API. Everyone is free to commemorate the historical event by creating their own customizable Royal Wedding Book through the website http://royalweddingbook.co.uk. Users can also purchase a high quality hardcover album of the best user summited photos sent in via email, Facebook® and Twitter®.

Ben was also kind enough to chat with us over email to give Lulu authors and readers a sense of what things are like right now in London. From Champaign breakfasts, to neighbourhood street parties, to “bunting,” Ben gives us a preview of what we can expect of this highly anticipated event.

What is the atmosphere in London like right now? Do people have to work on Friday?

London is currently experiencing an early onset of Summer. I’m writing this in 75 degree heat which is already filling the parks around the Royal Wedding route with sunbathers, sightseers and some rather impressive amateur photographers already. This, combined with a just gone four day weekend for Easter, and an official bank holiday for the Royal Wedding in a couple of days has already set the mood for what looks to be an incredible day. All of us Londoners are off work on the day and will be celebrating with everything we’ve got.

I am sure that security is pretty tight. Can you get around the city easily?

The authorities are out in big numbers, which is great to see. We’re expecting at least 600,000 visitors from outside the UK alone, so it’s going to be busy. We are however experiencing a piece of history that most of us will only ever see once in our lifetime, and so the local councils in London have gone the extra mile to ensure public transport runs overtime, and there’ll also be tons of big screens all around the city so everyone gets to see what’s going on. I figure once you find a spot that gets you a good view, stay there, finding another good view won’t be easy.

Were you able to score an invite or do you know anyone personally who is going?

Personally I’m not going to be at the actual Wedding, but I’m friends with some of the officials and will be getting in to some of the areas close to all the action to get some up-close shots. I also figure that there’ll be more than enough press with access to more areas than even some of the guests will, so the idea isn’t to compete with that. What I’m trying to do is turn the camera the other way; let’s document the atmosphere, the crowds, the street parties and all the other things going on around the World to make a piece of history.

Where did you get the idea for Royal Wedding Book?

Being a Londoner and a Royalist myself, and having had some exciting discussions with you guys at Lulu, the very concept of being able to produce a stunning hardcover book with the People’s view of The Royal Wedding seemed truly unique and a fantastic way to celebrate, and more importantly, remember this momentous occasion.

Tell us a bit more about Royal neighbourhood street parties. Is that an ideal venue for collecting photos of the Royal Wedding atmosphere?

I’ve learn so much about this from speaking to people from all over the country. For those of us living in London, we’re all heading over to Green Park, near the top of The Mall to have a Champagne Breakfast and find a good spot to watch the events unfold. From reading the local newspapers, quite a few have already pitched their tents and settled in for the long haul since Monday morning. For people outside of London, I’ve heard about literally thousands of Royal Street Parties going on right up and down the country. People get dressed up and fly the flags (bunting), and follow the schedule of the day to the second … when Kate and William finally tie the knot, we throw the flowers!

What is the best way for Americans to get involved with the Royal Wedding celebrations?

I think this is one of the most exciting parts of the whole event. There’s never been a Royal Wedding with so much potential to reach such wide audiences, with so much information about what’s going on at that very moment. I want to soak up as much of that information as possible by us asking everyone out there for their photos and memories of the day. I’m pretty sure the Royal Family themselves would love to see the joy people are having right across America. I’ve also heard you guys are putting up big screens around several of the cities too and would love to see how you guys celebrate this historic “Royal British knee’s up!”

Click here for instructions on how to submit your photos to the Royal Wedding Book.

Lulu API voted a favorite at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin

Mashery’s Circus Mashimus lounge

Partnering with Mashery, the leading provider of API management services, Lulu demoed its Publication API at South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, Texas this past weekend.  Mashery’s Circus Mashimus lounge was billed as a magnet for Web application developers and designers looking to attract buzz and networking around API platforms.  Lulu used the opportunity to showcase our Publication API, which allows individuals and publishers to create web applications, powered by Lulu’s backend tools, and marketed under their own brand names. They are then free to upload and publish books in any format (paperback, hardcover, eBook) to sell on Lulu.com and other leading retail channels.

Before I Grew Up’s Ben Barnett came from the London, England to show how his site is using the Lulu API to easily publish community generated Baby photo books.  Hundreds of show attendees came through the lounge each day, enjoying free food and beverages of course, and were very impressed with the tools available and how the Lulu Publication API is further enhancing the open-publishing model.  Through Twitter, users were also able to vote for their favorite API at Circus Mashimus. We’d like to thank everyone for helping make Lulu the second highest voted API out of the 14 companies represented in the contest.

Lulu also ran its own contest for developers at SXSWi.  Developers were encouraged to publish a short eBook through our Publication API.  Despite packed conference schedules and late-night networking events, numerous developers still found the time to successfully publish through our API.  Congratulations to Samuel Yu from Austin for winning our contest, which earned him an Apple TV®.

Lulu at SXSWi in Austin, Texas

Keeping true to the light-hearted and festive atmosphere of the Circus Mashimus lounge, Lulu provided pocket mustaches for show attendees. “Pocket staches” as they were commonly referred to, quickly became a must-have item for Circus Mashimus attendees, with people trying to collect as many different varieties as possible.

Finally, Lulu would like to give a big thank you to Mashery and to all the folks who stopped by our booth. We really enjoyed meeting the Lulu authors at SXSWi who took the time to come find us and all of the developers who have taken an interest in our Publication API. It was great to meet so many interesting and remarkable people … all of which are now sporting Lulu mustaches.

Lulu at SXSW Interactive - Austin, Texas

Apple TV is the trademark of Apple, registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Lulu at Internet Summit 2010

The 2010 Internet Summit in Raleigh, North Carolina wrapped up yesterday, with Internet professionals and entrepreneurs from across the United States coming together to discuss topics such as mobile marketing and social ecommerce. Our very own Bob Young was a keynote panelist and featured speaker discussing the future of both the web and books – no doubt two very broad and engaging topics.

Bob’s featured talk was entitled “There is No Such Thing as a Book” – claiming that “whatever replaces the book on the Internet is not going to look like a book.” During Bob’s talk and as a fan of René Magritte, I couldn’t help but imagine someone somewhere in the world wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a Kindle or an iPad and the sentence “Ceci n’est pas une livre” (I’ll wait while you go Google Translate that).  Traditionally, we have all come to know and love books in their physical form, but now, “books” are hyper-mobile strings of binary code easily accessible and translatable on multiple devices. A modern-day book’s physical properties are seemingly confined only by the Wi-Fi signals that transmit them.

Bob argued that, “the device you are reading on is going to become more pleasurable,” as a plethora of textual enhancements like video and hypertext accompany the written word. The question for some, however, is whether all you need is a good story? Things like video, hyperlinks and an Internet connect may actually detract from a book’s narrative – diminishing the pleasure derived from an uninterrupted read. Personally, I think that in the future, some readers may intentionally choose to remain on one side of the digital divide, opting to read stories on books – not devices. But of course, that will remain a question of preference and choice, and if there is one thing the future of the web will include – it is choice.

For those of you who were unable to attend the event and enjoy all the interactivity that digital media has to offer, be sure to check out a recap of the lively discussions on Twitter #isum10.

We’d like to thank the organizers of the Internet Summit for putting on such an informative and well-organized event, and we look forward to seeing you again next year.