Articles by Meg @ Lulu

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 3.55.19 PMWell gang, it’s that time of year again, where we gather around with friends and family and celebrate what we are thankful for. Here at Lulu, we are thankful for all of you, our amazing authors, who continue to support us and inspire us to help you share your works of art with the world. So, in the spirit of the holiday, Lulu would love to know what you are thankful for this year. Below are some thoughts on thankfulness this holiday from our employees. We want to hear from you too!

  • Bob Young, Founder of Lulu.com (and a native of Canada) is thankful for having TWO Thanksgivings. Thanksgiving in Canada is the second Monday of October.
  • Rachel B., Sr. Manager of Customer Voice is thankful for working with a talented team that she can trust to do the best job possible, and water. Water is used to make her two favorite beverages, coffee and beer.
  • Sarah B., Distribution Services Advocate, says she thankful for being an omnivore apex predator.
  • Christian S., Customer Voice Advocate, said I’m thankful for being able to be around my family this Thanksgiving. After spending 6 Thanksgiving holidays deployed in the Middle East, one learns to appreciate even the smallest of things. My family and the memories we create is what means the most to me this Thanksgiving.

Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 4 – Beyond the Lulu Author Experience

Distribution channels for authors, both traditionally published and self-published, are changing. With the closing of many large brick-and-mortar booksellers, the most notable of which was the exit of Borders, all publishers are reevaluating their distribution strategy. In August 2013, Bowker released study findings citing a 5% increase in online book sales in the U.S., up to 44% of total book sales compared to 39% in 2011.

What does this mean for you? Focus on your audience and the best distribution strategy for them. If you can reach them via your own existing channels or easy-to-find networks and communities, selling to them on Lulu.com’s marketplace can be a strong component of your distribution strategy. If you need to target a broader audience that seeks content all over the Internet and in stores, you may want to expand to additional distribution channels.

Another more recent survey of book buyers’ perceptions may be helpful. The eBook formatting fairies did a survey of readers in August 2013 ( http://e-bookformattingfairies.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_ archive.html ) that revealed fantastic insights into how readers perceive books and authors. We’ve compiled a few highlights of their findings below.

To view larger image or download the entire guide, click here

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12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 3 – Know Where Your Audience Shops

In the book business, figuring out where people shop and how to get books to those places is called a distribution strategy.

There’s more to a distribution strategy than just bookstores. Some authors leverage their professional connections to make sales. Others teach classes and sell their books to students. And still others sell their books through churches or partner with niche websites.

There are numerous ways to distribute your book, and it takes some trial and error to find the right distribution channels. Every book is different, but we wanted to see if there was a pattern in where authors sold their books. Here’s where our best-selling authors sold their books:

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Helix Review Author Round Up

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 10.13.03 AMBack in early August, we began featuring authors that have used the Helix Review to gain insight into their writing style and how to better market their books, so we could share what they learned with you. The Helix Review analyzes your book’s content and writing style and compares it to the most successful literary works of all-time, giving authors a valuable insight into their manuscript.

From my own perspective this has been a learning experience. Not only did authors share with us what they had learned from Helix, they also shared how they were implementing these insights into their work.

We’ve spoken to over 20 authors and I want to share some of the most valuable feedback my team and I heard:

1. Helix is instrumental in defining a direction and audience for your book.

  • “By comparing my book to another text that I have a great deal of respect for, and receiving a favorable review, I can proceed with confidence as I work on my next book.” – Read the interview with John Locke, author of Stuff I’ve Written So Far

2. Understand how your book fits in your genre and compares to similar books.

  • “I gained a sense of confidence in seeing that my writing is comparable to other works and measured favorably when compared to other books in the field. – Read the interview with B.D. Salerno, author of Forensics by the Stars: Astrology Investigates

3. Using Helix to narrow down your target publishers based on genre and style.

  • “The information provided in the 21 page report helped me target specific publishers, it has provided me with 10 other best selling books that I can compare and use when discussing books that are rated as similar in writing style.” – Read the interview with Gregory L. Truman, author of Hitting the Wall

Authors continue to inform and educate us on how they are finding the review valuable and how they are using it to identify new audiences for their book. If you are an author that has used the Helix Review for your book, we’d still love to hear from you. You can submit your feedback here.

For the complete list of Helix Review interviews, click here.

 

3 Marketing Must-Do’s to Sell Your Book

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From L to R: Glenn Hunt, Lulu’s community manager; Kelli and Daniel Segars, the powerhouse couple behind FitnessBlender.com; and Dan Dillon, Lulu’s director of product marketing at the 2013 Self-Publishing Book Expo

It’s actually not so lonely at the top. Not if you’re a rock star author who has published through Lulu. At the recent Self-Publishing Book Expo, author, activist and cultural icon Kevin Powell was joined by Daniel and Kelli Segars, the power couple behind the Fitness Blender craze, on a panel featuring rock star authors. They shared copious insights and advice about how to reach as large an audience as possible and how to successfully market a self-published book. Here are the three must-do pieces of advice they shared:

1. Content is king
It’s easy to market a great product. It’s not so easy to market a bad one. The quality of your book — from the story to the format to the cover — is critical to its reception in the market. Make sure your book is ready for the audience you’re aiming to win over. If you’ve done all of the work that you can to make your book as remarkable as it can possibly be, your readers will market it for you. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising, and you can’t buy it with money. You earn it with an awesome book.

2. Whet people’s appetites
There’s a trend in the book market where authors are releasing small pieces of a larger story to build an audience. Think of this as the contemporary version of serialization. The best ways to make sure your readers are satisfying their appetite for your work is by creating blog posts or podcasts to issue a chapter at a time, or do a reading of your book and provide commentary about how an aspect of the book was conceived — a key character, a plot device, the setting or some other interesting dimension of your work.

3. Dedicate time
Just as you set aside time to write your book, you need to set aside time to market your book. It’s a discipline, one that requires focus and resolve. In the free guide to marketing your book to maximize holiday sales, more than 60% of Lulu’s most successful authors spent fewer than 5 hours per week marketing their book. But the key here is that they spent time doing it. Set aside one hour each day to actively market your work and you’ll gain traction. For ideas on where to start and how to make the most of your one hour per week, download the free ebook, “How to Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales”.

Follow this advice from our rock star authors, and perhaps you’ll be on Lulu’s successful author panel at next year’s Self-Publishing Book Expo.

12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 2 – Finding and Building Your Audience

Now that you know the importance of identifying your target audience, it’s time to go out and get them. We asked successful authors how they found the audience for their book.

Here’s what they said:

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Most authors wrote for audiences they either consider themselves to be a part of or whose needs and shopping behaviors they were already familiar with. This may have made the process of determining how to reach their audience easier because they had an idea of which marketing channels would effectively grow their reader base. Is this also true for you? For example, if your book is on health and fitness and you have identified your audience as other like-minded fitness enthusiasts, you may already know several websites they may regularly visit to learn about fitness and make related purchases.

If you’re writing for an audience you don’t know that well, you’re not alone! Nearly a third of authors conducted research to find out what made their audience tick and how to find them. They used pre-existing professional networks, organizations or online communities to reach readers that would respond to their content.

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12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 1 – Know Your Audience

Spoiler alert.
The most important step towards effectively marketing your product – whether it’s a book or a business or a lemonade stand – is understanding your audience.

We knew this was true for Lulu.com as a business, and wanted to see if this basic principle was also true for successful authors. So we posed a question to a large group of our most successful authors: “Why do you think your book was so successful?” Here’s what they said:

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Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 9.57.11 AMThe top 3 answers that authors credited for their book’s success are all representative of understanding and providing content for a very specific audience. Again and again the words “niche,” “audience,” and “filled a need” came up in answers to this question.

As one author said, “Make it your overriding passion to learn as much as you can about your audience and then give them what they crave.”

For now, take note of two related answers “Only book of its kind” and “Subject matter / topic.” Many authors stress that successful books require a fresh perspective on a popular topic or that they cover a subject that’s never been written about. One author said their book was successful because “it fills a niche with no competition either for content or quality and clarity of presentation.”

Also, take a second look at the votes for “Author platform.” Later on in the book we’ll look at the different elements of an author platform, and which parts of the platform our best-selling authors think helped them the most.
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Richard Coady’s “The Maya Papyrus” Wins 2013 Global Ebook Award

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 1.18.31 PMOn August 19th, Richard “Ric” Coady’s book, “The Maya Papyrus,” was awarded top honors by the 2013 Global Ebook Awards for the category of Historical Literature Fiction – Ancient, set before 500 AD. The result of 13 years of writing and research, including collaborating with an Egyptologist to confirm the accuracy of the story, “The Maya Papyrus” is a political thriller detailing war and adventure as the protagonist Aye rises to power. Coady spoke with us recently about the Global Ebook Awards and he shared a glowing review of the process.

“The accuracy of the book was critical to its success as it directly impacts the readability of the text,” said Coady. “I was pleased to see that the judges of the Global Ebook Awards are experts in the area and would appreciate my dedication to keeping the story as true to life as possible across the lifespans of several kings. I am excited to see the positive reviews from readers online and was ecstatic to hear that I had won the Gold Award.”

Registration for the 2014 Global Ebook Awards is now open! If you are interested in learning more about the award and submitting your work for consideration, please visit http://globalebookawards.com/registration/.

Authors using Helix Review: Lisa Van Allen

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 5.11.02 PMDr. Lisa Van Allen, author the self-help book, Your Belief Quotient: 7 Beliefs that Sabotage or Support Your Success recently submitted her work to the Helix Review.  Dr. Van Allen is a clinical psychologist, business coach and heart-centered entrepreneur. She is passionate about helping others find and fulfill the purpose for which they were designed. In Your Belief Quotient, she shares the latest research illustrated by the stories of her own experience and those of many of her clients to show what happens when we build better beliefs.

Tell us a bit about your book:

Our beliefs are the lens through which we filter everything we see, learn, and know. These unconscious beliefs drive every thought, feeling and action we take. By identifying and shifting self limiting beliefs, we become free to create and live the successful, purposeful lives we were designed to lead.

Why did you decide to try Helix:

Helix Review offered the opportunity to get an independent look at Your Belief Quotient’s content and style.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

I discovered that my book is content rich, and similar to Awakening the Giant by Tony Robbins, the Success Principles by Jack Canfield and several other popular authors.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

I’ve been sharing information from the Helix Review in promoting Your Belief Quotient, giving people a better idea of what they can expect.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

Helix Review provided objective information about my book on its style and content. It made comparisons to similar texts confirming we were marketing to the right audience. Buying Helix was a good decision for us.

About the Helix Review
Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book. – See more at: http://www.lulu.com/blog/category/helix-review/#sthash.RIG4o0bN.dpuf
Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

What Lulu Readers Buy as Holiday Gifts

What you’ll learn:

  • Why hardcover books priced below $30 are the most desirable for holiday gift purchases
  • How readers find the books they buy as gifts and what influences their decision-making process
  • Where shoppers go to find the books that help them spread holiday cheer

The holidays are here! Parties are being planned. Stores are decking their halls. And people everywhere are scratching their heads as they try to find the perfect gift for everyone on those ever-growing holiday shopping lists. The question to you—independent authors – is how do you get your book in front of the shoppers interested in your book’s topic?

In order to help with this perplexing question, we’ve asked Lulu readers about their shopping habits and decisions, and there’s great news! For starters, over 70% of the nearly 1,200 respondents give more than 3 books as gifts over the holidays. Secondly, and an important consideration for you as you work through the steps in our free eBook, Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales, most of the gifted books will be hardcovers.

So, what are these shoppers buying and how do they decide what to purchase? There are many factors that go into the decision-making process for Lulu readers. Let’s start by looking at one of the more fundamental pieces of the gift-giving puzzle — the price. According the Lulu readers, $30 is the magic number when they’re considering a book to give for the holidays with nearly 90% of respondents saying they’ll pay between $5 and $30. Only a small percentage of gift-givers, 8.4%, will pay more than $30.

How much, on average, are people spending on a book for a holiday gift:

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Now that we know Lulu readers are most likely to purchase and give hardcover books that fall below the $30 price point as they share their holiday cheer, let’s take a closer look at how gift-givers decide which books to give as gifts. When we asked the respondents about how they decided which books to give, an overwhelming majority of Lulu readers indicated that they rely most heavily on online research. This means that an online presence that effectively markets your book to the desired audience is critical to your success gaining holiday sales. Notably, the second most common way gift-givers found books to give as gifts was by giving books that they have already enjoyed and believe their friends and family will love, too.

Decision about which book to give:

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We also wanted to know what other factors contribute to holiday book purchase decisions, like delivery speed and media reviews. While 22% of respondents do, in fact, judge a book by it’s cover, we also learned that the familiarity of the author’s name and customer reviews contributed heavily to the decision to purchase a book.

Factors that play in to online purchases:

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Finally, we asked folks where they shop and make book purchases, both online and brick-and-mortar. Unsurprisingly, Amazon.com was overwhelmingly the most popular retailer, with independent booksellers, Lulu.com, Kindle and other eReaders, and Barnes & Noble stores following, respectively.

Where are people most likely to make their book purchases:

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What does this mean for you?

Simply put, we hope this information helps you sell more books. By asking buyers what they typically buy and how they find these books for the holiday season, we learned not only how the book should look and feel (hardcover), but also the most desirable price point (less than $30) and the importance of having a strong online presence and distribution strategy.

To help each of you achieve your goal of creating the perfect hardcover for the holiday season shopper, we’ve introduced new premium options to make your book stand out. This includes new linen covers, foils stamping, dust jackets and archival paper to ensure your book is a gift your readers can cherish for years.

Be sure to check out the free eBook, Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales, and sign up for your free First Edition Hardcover.

Happy Holiday Sales!

Your Friends at Lulu