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.

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New York Times Bestselling Author, signed copies of his new book “I’ll Go Home Then, It’s Warm and Has Chairs: The Unpublished Emails” during the second day of the show.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!

Tom Clements on Marketing His Successful Book: How to Write a Killer SAT Essay

By the time The College Board unveiled a new essay component to the SAT in 2005, Tom Clements, a former college English instructor, had already been teaching prep classes for 15-plus years. He understood the components of good writing but wanted to develop a way for students to write well and fast, since test-takers are only allotted 25 minutes to complete the written portion of the test. Thus How to Write a Killer SAT Essay was conceived.

“Using my students as a ‘focus group’ I presented strategies and techniques for prefabricating their essays with content examples varied enough to apply to any topic (called prompts) The College Board might throw at them during the SAT. My students did so well — average scores for their essays were in the 92nd percentile range — that I decided to incorporate both my methodology and my students’ actual essays in a book that would teach kids not able to take my class in person to nonetheless dominate the SAT essay.”

Despite the innovative strategies and proven success of Tom’s technique, How to Write a Killer SAT Essay faced challenges on its road to publication — at first.

Lulu Author Discusses His Successful Marketing Tips

The Lulu community forums are a place for authors to ask questions, share experiences, and meet people with similar interests. Occasionally, a community forum member has expertise in a specific area or an author shares a success story that piques our interest. When this occurs, we invite the writer to contribute an article for the Lulu blog.

Following the announcement in the forums that his cookbook Beyond Soul Food: Modern American Heritage Cuisine was under consideration for an Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award for excellence, I asked the author to share some of his self-publishing experiences with the Lulu community. We hope you enjoy this author-to-author advice.

-Glenn, Lulu Community Forum Manager

How I Rediscovered Myself through Self-Publishing by Richard Petty

Writing a good cookbook can be a daunting endeavor, even for a seasoned pro. My name is Richard Petty. I am a successful chef and now the author of Beyond Soul Food: Modern American Heritage Cuisine, which was recently awarded an honorable mention as a finalist for the 2012 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award for excellence in publishing. This recognition is a high distinction for first-time authors and publishers.

Like most people, writing a book was always a dream of mine. Since I was between jobs I had the time, but the challenge was how to do it. For my book, I chose some of my favorite recipes

Lulu Author & Illustrator Win Gold Mom’s Choice Award

A few years ago, after being introduced through a mutual friend, author Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino and illustrator Sandra Waugh decided to team up on a picture book that celebrates all art forms, cooperation, and the idea that anyone, young or old, should “let their dreams fly.” Lucky for us, their dream became a reality known as Pinky Doodle Bug, which was released in December.

After completing the book they were cautious about pitching the big children’s publishing houses, which are often hesitant to take on debut authors in the picture book genre. Elizabeth and Sandra also had reservations about traditional publishing’s strict storybook arcs and long-lead printing times.

“In the world of children’s publishing, which often feels like a secret club, we felt our book may or may not ever come to life,” Elizabeth says. “We didn’t want to risk it… We wanted to really remain positive and put all of our positive energy and life into the project.”

So the duo decided on Lulu.com for the paperback, hardcover, and eBook — a decision they’re extremely happy with.

The relationship between the two women and Lulu has been strong from the start — which isn’t a surprise given the collaborative message of Pinky Doodle Bug. In addition to purchasing Lulu’s Global Distribution Package, which puts the book in every bookstore (on order) as well as on multiple online retailers, Elizabeth and Sandra also worked closely with Lulu to market their book.

“Lulu.com has been a critical part of our success. They have had on-the-spot customer service, featured our book, tweeted about us and really help us market the book also, which is probably the biggest boost needed,” Elizabeth says.

Elizabeth and Sandra’s marketing efforts didn’t stop there. They have a robust website that launched before the book released so that they could showcase their ideas and bring the characters to life. By using snappages.com, they have full control over the design and content of their site though the company’s easy drag-and-drop system. This allows them to update pinkydoodlebug.com at least once a week so that everything showcased is current and relevant. Their site has also been a place for Sandra to post coloring pages that have proved so popular a Pinky Doodle Bug activity book will be out soon!

Recognizing that having a website is only the first step toward successful marketing — and that getting people there is the second — both women used social media to boost traffic to their website. Elizabeth leveraged her business’ Twitter account (30,000 followers) and also created a Pinky-specific Facebook page and Twitter account (700 followers) to give away the book and raise brand awareness — within reason. Both women abide by “Twitter 4 Business Specialist” Keith Keller’s assertion that tweeters should abide by the 1 to 10 ratio, meaning 1 tweet about you and 10 about something or someone else.

Although scheduling (they’re moms!) and cost constraints have prohibited Elizabeth and Sandra from working with a PR agency, they’ve both done school and/or library visits, which paid off. Pinky Doodle Bug recently received the prestigious GOLD Mom’s Choice Award, which honors excellence in family-friendly media products. Elizabeth advises that authors seize the opportunities they can: “Sometimes the reason for being there [a book festival, for instance] might not be to sell books, but rather to meet someone or to learn something about someone or yourself.”

In the future Elizabeth and Sandra plan to let their own Pinky dreams fly. Outside of an upcoming activity book and new picture book, Pinky Doodle Dance, the author and illustrator team are hoping to create Pinky dolls, media, and more.

Bestselling Author Kevin Powell Comes to Lulu

Author your vision, Live your purpose with Kevin Powell

Author Kevin Powell stepped off the stage into a packed room of over 700 people after finishing his keynote speech in Raleigh, North Carolina last February.  He didn’t leave until he had personally spoken to every single attendee who had come to hear him speak.

Powell knows how to command a room, but will leave you feeling like the star.  That’s because to Powell, you are the star. We all are.

Former MTV reality show personality, turned journalist, turned activist, turned congressional candidate, turned riveting political author, Powell has lived a life not unlike a real-life Forrest Gump (or so his friends say). His uncanny ambition, open-mind, and big heart have taken him all over the world and allowed him to experience diverse people and perspectives – uniting them all under the simple concept of helping your fellow man.

“Life isn’t a straight line,” Powell says. “It is an all over adventure.”

Powell remains grounded through it all, though – truthful to his humble beginnings in New Jersey and Brooklyn and the life lessons his southern single mother provided him as a boy. It is this amazing balance between where Powell came from and where he is today that makes him more personable and more real than anyone else you could encounter – even while standing up on a stage in front of hundreds of people.

“There was a point in my life when I needed to step back and figure out what was important to me. It wasn’t fame or attention; it was making the world better – helping people. I love people. If you can remember where you came from – be proud of where you came from – and love yourself, then you can start to love others, too.”

Powell’s 11th book, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King is available today on Lulu.com. It echoes many of these fundamental concepts and how they fit into a rapidly changing American society and culture in the modern day.

Powell’s love for writing started when he was just a child.  He remembers his mother taking him to the library every Saturday and Sunday and being fascinated by books and their authors.

“At 11 years old I was reading For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway,” Powell recalls.  “I didn’t necessarily understand it all, but I was hooked. I researched Hemingway, learned he ran with the bulls in Europe, lived in Key West, and thought:  ‘Wow, this is what you get to do as a writer.’ Reading had a profound impact on me. It took me places and filled my imagination.”

One of the first things Powell did once he found his stride as a writer was travel to Hemingway’s home in Key West as a “thank you” to his idol and to just be in the same place as where Hemingway had worked and lived.

Growing up, Powell’s mother didn’t exactly see his artistic vision quite as clearly as he did, however.

“My mom came from farm life,” Powell says. “That was working to her – not writing. At first, my mom thought I was out of my mind.”

Powell went to college at Rutgers in New Jersey where he fell in love with journalism and discovered activism. A nearby friend happened to have started an indie newspaper and hired Powell to write for 20 bucks an article.

“I was just happy to have a byline,” Powell says. “I started to find my voice. It was the most liberating time of my life.  I spent the entire summer of 1987 sitting on the steps of the New York Public Library writing in my journal. I couldn’t stop.”

Powell continued writing, oddly found himself on a popular MTV reality show, then landed a spot writing articles for Vibe Magazine working for another childhood idol Quincy Jones.

“Now my mom started to come around,” Powell laughs.  “People in the neighborhood started talking about me. Now my mom is the first person to tell people about my book. Whenever I release one, she’ll call and say: ‘Did you say anything about me?’”

So how, then, does a successful author and speaker who has run for congress find self-publishing?

“If you’re ever in the world of media, you inevitably think to yourself: ‘There has got to be a better way,’” Powell says. “I’ve had agents and publishers turn to me and simply say:  ‘We’re not gonna represent you anymore.’ They try to force you to make choices like ‘are you an artist or an activist?’ A person can be both. The people at Lulu have been some of the coolest to work with, and there is something to be said for feeling like you’re dealing with real people, where the CEO will actually reach out to you if you need him. Lulu really practices what I personally believe in how you should treat people.”

Be sure to check out Kevin Powell’s new book Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King on Lulu.com today. To learn more about Powell and his upcoming speaking engagements visit www.kevinpowell.net.

How Free Books Build Your Brand as an Author and Authority

Scott Steinberg wants to help parents navigate the weird world of gaming and technology as they raise their kids. He wants to help them so bad, that he’s literally giving this advice away for free. If they want it for free, that is.

In an interview with Portfolio, Steinberg describes how his new book, The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games will not only be released in different formats, but at vastly different prices as well (ranging from $17.99 to zilch.) On his website, he offers a paperback version of the book (available through Lulu), and a digital version, available free for the Sony reader.

But how effective a business model is offering both a version that costs money and one that is absolutely free? Is that even a business model?

As Steinberg explained, “Free giveaways facilitate brand-building, cement subject matter expertise, and foster huge publicity wins. These opportunities not only allow you to do something positive that benefits readers, they can also potentially lead to new relationships, fruitful speaking engagements and heightened goodwill.”

By offering a free version, Steinberg sees the tradeoff between profit and publicity as being completely equal. It doesn’t mean completely giving up on the idea of turning a profit on your self-published book, but by giving digital copies (or excerpts) away, an author can help promote their name and foster goodwill (resulting in even greater exposure and sales).

In the traditional publishing model, authors have to promote their books. But in self-publishing, we’re finding more and more that authors are using their books to promote themselves — especially when it comes to how-to guides or areas of specialized knowledge. For Steinberg, who is established in the field of advising parents about technology, his book aims to help build his flourishing brand.

Sometimes, the best way to establish that you’re a qualified source of information, is to literally have written the book on it. If you’re pursuing a career in consultancy, self-help, or expert analysis, self-publishing is a great way to build your brand and establish you as a bona fide source of knowledge.

Put succinctly by Steinberg, “Many authors consider books the best form of business card available.”

For additional reading on the topic, check out our blog post Make More Off Your eBook by Selling it for Free.

Thoughts? What examples do you know of authors selling their eBooks for free? Did it incentivize you to download the book?