Author Success Stories

Highlighting some of the many author success stories and keeping readers in-the-know about what their fellow writers are up to.

Author Success Story: The Walk-On by Matt Stewart

Matt Stewart knows what it feels like to be the underdog. As a freshman at Northwestern he walked on to the school’s football field and earned a position as the fifth-string free safety. But that didn’t deter him: through hard work and dedication he rose to second-string his sophomore year and in the process earned a full-ride scholarship. Stewart’s rise to success mirrored the team’s. In 1995, after 20-plus years of losing seasons, Northwestern’s footballers won 10 games as well as the Big Ten, and even played in the Rose Bowl.

Life changing for Stewart and his teammates, the school’s breakthrough season was a story he felt he had to tell, and after years of research based on his coach’s own book, the games Stewart’s mother taped, and the programs he saved, he finally finished. The Walk-On was released in May.

“I wrote this book to inspire others, to let them know that no matter what the odds, no matter what the obstacles, anything is possible as long as you work hard, believe in your abilities and approach your goals with a good attitude.”

From the get-go Stewart knew that publishing the book was only one of his goals. Making sure it got into the hands of the right readers was another—and to date his approach has worked. The Walk-On is sold on Lulu, Amazon,, the iBookstore and a number of brick-and-mortar stores. He secured indie placement by visiting the stores in person and asking them to consign his book — a deal that gives the retailer 40% of the profits and the author guaranteed shelf placement for at least three months.

Author Success Story: Ruth Anne Kocour

Trek to K2 and Pakistan’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, Kashmir, Tajikistan, and China. See topography that has led to isolation–physical and cultural–of tribes blocked for centuries by natural barriers, lack of infrastructure and communication. Ruth Anne Kocour’s tale of travel and adversity lends a face to today’s news and a glimpse into what we all have in common–our humanity.

When it came time to publish her new book, Walking the War Zones of Pakistan: One Woman’s Journey Into the Shadow of the Taliban, Ruth Anne Kocour planned to bypass traditional publishers because she wanted to “enjoy more control over the final product.”

Despite having had an “excellent” experience working with St. Martin’s Press on her first book, Facing the Extreme, Kocour didn’t want to go through extensive re-writes and wait years to see Walking the War Zones of Pakistan in the hands of readers especially since Kocour believes independent publishing is the future of the industry:

“I believe traditional publishing will focus more on subjects with broad market appeal, sensational subjects, timely events, and/or celebrity-type bios, and I see self-publishing as an excellent option for subjects with niche markets or those of regional interest, that wouldn’t capture the attention of a mainstream publisher.”

So Kocour turned to Lulu who evaluated her manuscript as part of the Editorial Quality Review package. Together they worked on a mechanical edit that improved grammar and punctuation, and which she called “the most technical and comprehensive edit I’ve ever had.” For the cover Kocour provided Lulu with photos she thought would “lend to a good design” and received two mock-ups back, both “top notch.” Overall Kocour is quick to praise Lulu, which she says “exceeded her expectations.” Even the process itself was “fun.”

Having a successful media tour for Facing the Extreme already under her belt, Kocour was at an advantage in terms of marketing. She drew from her network of journalists and bloggers, among others, and was even contacted by new media via her website, through referrals, or from her talks. Additionally the timeliness of her story helped — and now hardly a week goes by when she’s not asked to speak or do a TV interview. Still, she learned a lot about publicity this time around:

“Media loves media.  Once you have a successful track record with the media, you become a known entity–one they can count on. We have several of my TV interviews posted on my website where media people and others can access them.”

Now Kocour is an independent publishing convert, and sees the route as not only viable, but preferable for new and veteran authors. Currently conceptualizing a new story, Kocour plans to once again publish through Lulu. She also intends to bring Facing the Extreme back in print—in hardcover, paperback, and as an eBook. This, too, will be through Lulu.

Her advice to new authors is very simple.

“If you think you have a book in you, and you want to get it out there, then do it! And definitely take advantage of the vast array of services Lulu has to offer, and its great staff who are more than willing to walk you through the process.”

Author Success Story: Valerie Baadh Garrett

While working as a movement specialist at the San Francisco Waldorf School, Valerie Baadh Garrett decided she wanted to write a book that would “support the movements of a kind of modern ‘circus’ for 200 children.” So she and her husband created a character that readers young and old would love: Uffe the Gnome. Nestled deep in the woods, his tall tales are designed to get kids’ minds and bodies moving in The Adventures of Uffe the Gnome.

Once Valerie landed an illustrator she approached traditional publishers but was rejected. No one was interested in a children’s story about gnomes and fairies in rhythm and rhyme. Valerie was not deterred. As she explains:

“Although that was disappointing, we knew there was an audience for our Uffe stories because we saw it every time I did a class or circus program.  Parents and children would clamor for a copy of the story.”

So she turned to, a decision she is very happy with—calling the company and its services “easy to use.”

“We were thrilled to see our little book look so professional so fast.”

Already the book has sold well. Outside of being sold on Lulu’s site, The Adventures of Uffe the Gnome is available as an iBook, through iTunes, and can be found on the website Valerie and her husband own and manage, The Movement Academy Project.

Recently, Valerie took copies to China on a trip that grew out of her movement work. There to lead a workshop, she knew she’d be working closely with teachers and parents and that Uffe would be a great resource for them. So to better serve that market, she updated her book by adding the title in Mandarin and changing it a bit to The Adventures of Uffe the Earth Fairy since gnomes aren’t part of Chinese culture. Additionally, Valerie included a CD she and her husband created narrating the stories in English so that her overseas customers would find added value in this bilingual package. These efforts paid off: By the end of the trip she’d secured a Chinese publisher for Uffe’s current and future books.

“One of my hosts set up a meeting for me with a local publishing house, and right away they loved Uffe. We are still working out the details, but it looks like they will publish six different books, to start, with six individual stories, bilingual in Mandarin and English, in a larger-scale format so the illustrations can be colored like a coloring book.”

Stateside, Valerie mainly promotes the book by hand and on Twitter, through her account that is tied into her movement work, as well as her website. Outside of her online efforts she ordered postcards offered by Lulu after Uffe was published and sent them to select bookstores. A few ordered copies right away!

Her advice to new authors is simple: “Give a try, but try not to rush.” Valerie admits she made a costly mistake by ordering copies with a typo in the title. Although funny now, it was a frustrating lesson that required a reprint and more money.

There are a lot more adventures on the horizon for Valerie, who has several projects in production., she insists, will be “a vital part of the process.”

Author Success Story: Timber Hawkeye

A longtime student of world religion, Buddhism, and psychology, Timber Hawkeye yearned for a less complicated depiction of the Buddha’s teachings than what the Tibetan temple had to offer, so when the Lama suggested he try Zen instead, Timber took off his maroon robes and moved to a Zen monastery far from home. While he liked the simpler message, he still felt the teachings were full of the same dogma that sent him running from religion in the first place. Believing that people are more interested in positive inspiration and motivation than in ceremonies and rituals, he conceived of a book that would empower readers to not necessarily be a Buddhist, but a Buddha, through gratitude and the consistent message to “be kind.”

“There are many incredible books out there that cover all aspects of religion, philosophy, psychology, and physics, ” he explains, “but I was looking for something less ‘academic’, so to speak. I was looking for something inspirational that people today would not only have the attention span to read all the way through, but actually understand and also implement in their daily lives.”

Thus, Buddhist Boot Camp came to be.

Author Success Story: Lucia Cascioli

When Lucia Cascioli first finished her novella, Struck, she thought she’d try her hand at traditional publishing, an experience that didn’t pan out as she’d hoped.

“It was frustrating to say the least, especially after one publishing house lost my manuscript,” explains Lucia. The long wait to hear back, coupled with the less-than-stellar royalty and advance rates typically given to authors without a track record, didn’t exactly make Lucia want to continue struggling down the big publisher road.

Then she discovered Lulu, which changed the way she thought about getting her book into the hands of readers.

“Lulu is my one-stop-shop that meets all my needs: professional staff, great editors and cover designers, and the ability to have my books sold in print and online. My project manager explained the process to me and coordinated the services in each of my packages, hassle free.”

To publish Struck, as well as

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.

Book Expo America 2012: Three Authors and 36 Million Reasons to Meet Them

Lulu is headed to Book Expo America (BEA), one of the largest publishing events in the world, next week, but we’re not going alone.  Three of our very own authors will be on site June 5th – 7th signing free copies of their bestsellers and, more importantly, sharing tips on how to make it in this lucrative new world of open-publishing.

The line-up of bestselling authors at BEA includes New York Times Bestseller David Thorne, former congressional candidate and political author Kevin Powell, and marketing/tech guru Scott Steinberg. This is a can’t miss for everyone attending BEA, so stop by to see us at book #3476!

Lulu Founder and CEO, Bob Young, will also be there presenting on two panels Sunday, June 3rd.  Bob will be calling on his years of salesmanship and expertise to share valuable tips and insights for publishing success.  Both panels take place this Sunday at the Javits Convention Center in New York.  Bob’s speaking schedule below:

  • 9:00AM – 9:50AM – Room 1E14 – Break Through & Publish You
  • 1:30PM – 2:20PM – Room 1E13 – Publishing Partners That Put Unknown Authors on the Bookshelf
Lulu’s presence at BEA comes hot on the heels of our 10-year anniversary, which had us celebrating our authors making over $36 million in revenue in our decade-long history.  At over 677,000 published eBooks and over 618,000 published print titles, we’re more excited than ever to show the folks at BEA just how easy it is to publish works in all sorts of markets and formats more profitably than ever before.  See you at the show!