Articles by Glenn@Lulu

The Price of Success: Not as High as You Think

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We now know that devoting as little as five hours a week to your marketing plan can result in much higher sales. That seems like a minimal investment in time, but how much will it cost? We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how much they spent marketing their books.

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Not as much as you thought, right? 65% spent less than $500. If you add the authors who spent nothing (7%), the total number of authors who spent less than $500 in marketing is 72%. In other words, nearly three out of four best-selling authors spent less than $500 promoting their book.

How best-selling authors spent their marketing budgets

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As you can see, authors spent the most on advertising. Website and purchasing promotional copies of their book come in second and third, respectively. Below is a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets.

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Key Takeaways

$500 or less is enough to promote a book. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.

Most authors spent 28% of their overall budget on advertising, 15% on their websites and 14% on buying promotional copies as well as copies they sell direct to readers.

Action Items

Determine a marketing budget for promoting your book based on how many copies you think you will sell. Take into consideration annual fluctuations in sells as well as any upcoming holidays.

Examine previous promotional spending and determine what worked and what didn’t. Adjust your marketing plan to more accurately target your intended audience.

Additional Information

What Authors Say Is Most Important for Sales

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

Need Some Help Marketing? Ask a Friend

5-Star Reviews Are Actually Better

Need Some Help with Marketing? Ask a Friend

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The last question we asked our authors was where they turned for marketing assistance. While it’s easy to imagine bestselling authors employing a team of marketing experts, the truth is,  most of them did it alone.

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It’s refreshing to see that 58% of authors had no help and an additional 21% had only unpaid help from friends and family. Only 21% – about one in five – paid for marketing support with just 2% hiring a marketing team. That’s one in fifty authors with a marketing team, versus six in ten doing marketing all on their own.

If you need help, phone a friend

While most authors did their own marketing, don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Whether it’s hiring a designer to make a new cover (something many of our authors recommend) or recruiting a family member to stuff envelopes for a promotional mailing, there are plenty of ways to get the support you need. Here are a few ideas that we heard from the authors who responded to our survey:

  1. If you don’t have a big budget, offer to trade services. For example, write something for the graphic designer who you want to redo your book cover or website.
  2. Engage your fans, followers and subscribers. One of the best ways to get noticed on social media is to ask for your readers feedback or suggestions. Ask your audience which new book cover they like best or which email service provider they recommend.
  3. Hold a contest and give away signed copies of your book to the winners.
  4. Check out Fiverr.com. You can get a lot of marketing tasks done for cheap on this website. Be sure to select someone with at least ten reviews of 4.5 stars or better and test them out with something small before dedicating a large portion of your marketing budget to them.

Action Item

If you could get help with just two tasks on your book marketing plan, what would they be? Identify and reach out to people with those skills.

Key Takeaway

58% of best-selling authors had no help with marketing. Only one in five paid for marketing help.

B Better Than Yesterday: Lulu Achieves B Corporation Certification

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Lulu is proud to announce we recently received certification as a B Corporation, making Lulu the first online publishing company to achieve B Corp status. This prestigious designation is awarded to companies that harness the power of business by observing higher standards of performance, transparency and accountability to solve social and environmental problems.

Lulu pioneered the sharing economy when it introduced free online publishing to the world. “Lulu’s original intent was to remove barriers to publishing so that all authors could tell their story and profit from their knowledge. Little did we know, the print-on-demand business model we developed would eventually save millions and millions of trees from being turned into books no one wanted,” said Lulu founder, Bob Young.

Young refers to recently released statistics stating that approximately 40% of all books printed by traditional publishers will not be sold. Instead they will be returned by retailers and pulped. This means that hundreds of millions of books are being printed, shipped, shelved, returned and pulped each year. About 13% of the paper in every book you buy is composed of recycled paper generated by this pulping process. The remainder comes from our forests.

Lulu’s business model prevents this horrendous waste of natural resources through use of print-on-demand technology. Books ordered from the Lulu bookstore are printed when they are purchased, using certified sustainable paper products and are shipped directly from the printer to the buyer – further reducing Lulu’s, as well as our authors’ and their readers’ carbon footprint.Lulu Loves Trees header

“We always knew that Lulu was environmentally friendly, but as we worked through the B Corp certification process, we learned of the additional impact we can make each day through fair business practices and community involvement,” said Nigel Lee, Lulu CEO.

To encourage greater community involvement, all Lulu employees are granted three paid volunteer days per year to help others in their communities. Employees can participate in Lulu sponsored group activities or share their skills with organizations close to their hearts.

“Lulu is committed to improving our B-Corp scores,” Lee continues. “By trying a little harder each day to achieve this goal, we will make the world better today than it was yesterday. We do that one story, one tree, one classroom, one community, and one paid volunteer day at a time. It’s part of our story. What’s yours?”

View Lulu’s Impact Report

 

About B Corp

Certified B Corporations meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance; legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests; and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization serving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. Learn more bout B Lab.

 

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

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You will spends months, maybe years writing, editing, and rewriting your book. When all of that is done, you can release your work into the world with just a few clicks on Lulu.com.  For some authors the work stops there, but successful authors know that’s when the real work begins. How will you make your book visible in a marketplace full of books? How will you get your book onto the bestseller lists? Where will you find the time and the money to market your book to your audience?

For most authors, marketing a new book will likely be more challenging than writing it.  To help you focus your efforts, we asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how many hours a week they spend marketing their books.

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The majority of best selling authors (61%) dedicated five hours or less to book marketing each week. 16% — about one out of every six — said they spent 5-10 hours a week on marketing tasks. Only 25% of these authors said they spend more than ten hours a week marketing their book to their audience.

How much time can you invest?

Let’s face it, authors would rather be writing than marketing. It’s what you are good at, but without a marketing plan, your book will simply gather digital dust on some online bookshelf.

By breaking marketing tasks into small steps, you can make them more manageable, regardless of your time constraints. If you only have five hours a week, work in blocks of one to two hours. Keep plugging away until every item on the list below has been researched and completed:

  1. Define your audience
    • If you aren’t familiar with your audience and their shopping habits, research them to gain that understanding
    • Write a one-paragraph description of your target audience – what they like, where they shop, etc.
    • Find those people and get your book in front of them
  2. Write your book’s elevator pitch
  3. Create a website
    • Write a detailed author biography page and include a head shot
    • Set up an email opt-in to create a mailing list (see below)
    • Add a page for editors and bloggers to request review copies of your book
    • Add new articles, transcripts of recent interviews, and reprints of book reviews
    • Add a blog to your site. Update it at least weekly. Twice a week is even better
    • Add a page with contact information for interviews, events and public speaking opportunities
    • Add a page for your coaching or consulting services (if that makes sense for your business and market)
  4. Get a Facebook business page for your book
    • Update your page at least weekly
    • Add a way to sign up for your email list (see below)
    • Like and follow other Facebook pages in your niche and comment on their pages to expand your audience
    • Use Shopify to sell your books directly from your Facebook page.
  5. Set up an email list with a free email service provider such as mailchimp.com
    • Send an email update at least every two weeks
    • Use content from your blog or update your readers on your marketing efforts or how your next book is coming along
    • Include Lulu coupon codes for reader discounts in your email messaging to encourage shopping
  6. Identify 20 influential people to whom you can send your book
    • Create a promotion package
    • Mail the promotion package to those 20 people
  7. Secure 3-5 speaking gigs
    • Bring copies of your book to speaking events for audience members to purchase
    • Be on the lookout for other authors targeting the same audience. You can build a relationship with them and cross-promote each other’s books to build audiences and drive sales
  8. Research 1-2 conferences or book fairs to attend or to sponsor for a booth
  9. Find 3-5 niche websites where you could advertise or write a guest blog post
  10. Make your printed book look as good as possible. Does it need a new cover? Better typesetting?
  11. List your book on eBay
  12. List your book on Goodreads
  13. List your book in “Shameless Promotions” in the Lulu forums
  14. On an ongoing basis, spend one hour on each major bookselling site polishing up your book’s description and appearance
  15. Reach out to potential reviewers on the big bookselling sites. Aim for at least 20-30 reviews for your book
  16. Don’t give up. As one author said about marketing, “It’s hard work! But it’s also essential for the author to relentlessly promote a new book for at least 18 months after publication.”

 

phew giphyPhew! … Sounds like a lot or work, right? Well, put in just five hours a week and you’ll be further along than you’d think. And – here’s the best part – you’ll also be closer to making enough sales to brag about on your Facebook page.

 

Action item

Schedule one hour every weekday to promote your book.

Key takeaway

Once you have everything set up, marketing shouldn’t require as much of your time. The majority of successful independent authors spend 5 hours or less per week on marketing.

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

In previous articles we have discussed the two the key components of marketing your book (knowing your audience and knowing your book). Now we can talk about how to drive sales through the use of marketing tactics, which is a fancy way of saying that people need to be able to find you and your book on the internet.

We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors about their most effective methods of reaching their audience and encouraging book purchases.

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These authors credited their website with the lion’s share of their sales. When you combine the website-related responses with “email list” and “search engines,” you see that almost half of an author’s traffic and sells can be credited to their website(s).

To further highlight this finding, think about your own behavior. What’s the first thing you do online when you want to learn, do, or purchase something? You search for it. Then you browse the websites listed on the search results page. If you’ve ever searched for a company, person or event online and been unable to find any information, you probably gave up or got distracted by other things. From your own experience it is easy to see that the harder you are to find, the less likely you are to sell your books. Hence the importance of having a website to market your books.

In addition to websites, authors also mentioned social media as a tool for generating sales. Of all the available social media marketing techniques, having a Facebook page was overwhelmingly the most often cited way to sell books. We saw similar results earlier in our discussion of distribution strategies.

Action items

  1. Create a website for your book using a simple tool like WordPress.com.
  2. Make it easy for people to sign up for your mailing list with a free service like Mailchimp.com.
  3. Create a Facebook page dedicated to your books: https://www.facebook.com/about/pages.
  4. Write regular blog posts for your website and when possible on other sites as a guest poster.
  5. Find events where you can speak or share your knowledge with an audience interested in your topic.
  6. Improve the visibility of your website, either through advertising or search engine optimization.
  7. Send free promotional copies of your book to influential people, such as bloggers in your niche or book reviewers.

Key takeaway

Bestselling independent authors employ a mix of tactics to promote themselves and their work.

Make More Money: Include Lulu Discounts in Your Email Marketing

Summer Reading

What’s missing from this picture? Your book, of course.

Sizzling Summer Savings!
The Hottest Deals of the Season!
Best Book Ever Written, Get It Now and Save!

The words you choose to promote your books and new releases are all yours, but you should also be taking advantage of Lulu.com’s weekly sales and special offers. To help you with your marketing, our site discounts are now being offered for up to one week making it easier than ever to share them with your readers.

Why should you be using email promotion? For starters, email marketing works. Social media may seem like the savvier approach, but email is roughly six times more effective at bringing in new buyers than Facebook and Twitter. Email also gives you a great platform for sharing special offers and introducing new books, without your carefully crafted message getting lost in the endless scroll of tweets, status updates, and ever-changing social media display algorithms.

 

Here’s a sample email template you can adapt for your use:

Email Subject Line:
Save XX% on the Summer’s Hottest Book: <insert book title>

Email Body:
Be the first of your friends to read the book everyone will soon be talking about. <Placeholder for title and one line / elevator pitch book description>

Order today from Lulu.com and save <discount> with coupon code <insert Code here> thru <expiration date>.

To place your order, simply click this link: <Placeholder for link to book>, then click Add to Cart and apply the code at checkout.

This discount is for a limited time, so don’t wait.

Order today and save!

<Link to book>
<Author name>

**Don’t forget, coupon codes are case-sensitive.

 

See? Simple. You highlight the current savings, briefly describe the book, and provide easy instructions. It’s low-pressure, informative and brief. You can even provide a link right to your book’s product page and save your readers from searching. If you have multiple titles, include a link to your Author Spotlight page to encourage shoppers to browse your catalog. Everyone wins when your readers shop in the Lulu bookstore. They save money and you earn higher revenues.

Though we are currently in the middle of the summer reading season, this strategy works year-round. At Lulu.com, we’re always looking for ways to help you promote and sell your books. Whenever we have a sale — seasonal or otherwise — send out an email blast letting everyone know. After all, it’s always the season for reading!

Current discounts, coupon codes, and expiration dates are always listed on the Lulu home page: www.lulu.com/home

Additional References:

Make More Money by Selling on Lulu

Publish More, Sell More

The Art of the Short Description

Developing Your Distribution Strategy

 

Lulu Poet wonders, “What took me so long?”

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I have loved poetry for so long and I have loved wordplay perhaps since I learned to read. I should never have stopped writing when I did, but life happens, often when you are making other plans. My career in the banking industry has been exciting and rewarding, but my life has been surprisingly enriched by the satisfaction of being a published author. Nothing is as heart-warming as getting positive feedback from readers, and perhaps the best part of this experience for me is seeing people who connect with a poem or two from my book go out of their way to recommend the book and my poems to their friends. That is the equivalent of a generous performance bonus in the banking industry. No kidding!

Author: Yemi Adesanya

Lulu Poet: Yemi Adesanya

I cannot remember now precisely when I stopped writing or why. It must have been laziness or a dressed-up variant of it – telling myself I did not have enough time to read, to think, and to settle down and write. Those were during the days of my aborted attempt at learning Spanish, while writing professional accounting and IT certifications, getting married and thereafter settling down to family life.

How then did I find extra time to write close to hundred poems? Especially as time has remained adamantly stuck on only two dozen hours per day, one’s workload never stopped growing, and children have claimed some of the time as being rightfully theirs. I was pleasantly surprised at how much one could do with seemingly little time. I had a lot of fun writing and found that reaching for my phone and writing came more easily and naturally than I had expected. Once an idea gripped me like runner’s cramp, words started to line up one after another like soldier ants and there was no stopping the flow until a poem was born.

Technology helped too. Bits and pieces of time spent before meetings, waiting in the car for hubby, waiting for pizza at Dominos or lying down and praying for sleep, were spent writing or thinking of how to pen an idea that wouldn’t let go.

One by one, poems found company among their peers, and the rest of the journey was only a matter of following up with the next logical step.

For anyone aspiring to write, the first step is to start writing. Anything. A poem, a story, a newspaper article, anything to get your thoughts flowing. Then get others to read your work. I have a few reliable friends and my dependable brother, who read whatever I send them and provide thoughtful, useful and candid feedback. It is also very important to read a lot. Read extensively, read every day and write just as often. This will help your imagination, improve your lexicon and knowledge of various styles of storytelling.

I am particularly thankful for online self-publishing platforms, like Lulu.com. They made the final part of the journey smooth and almost effortless. Now that I know I can do this without putting life on hold, I don’t intend to stop, ever!


Musings of a Tangled Tongue

Musings of a Tangled Tongue

About the Author

Yemi Adesanya is the author of Musings of a Tangled Tongue, a collection of poems; an accountant and risk manager in Lagos, Nigeria where she lives with her husband and children.

She loves reading, writing computer programs, and playing Sudoku.


Calling All Lulu Authors

Do you have a story to tell about realizing your dream as a writer? Do you have self-publishing knowledge or expertise to share with other authors? Want to expand your digital reach?

If so, we are looking for authors like you to share your story with our blog audience. Email your story pitch to PR@lulu.com. Include a brief biography and a link to your published work. We will do the rest.

Guidelines for guest posting.

 

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