How To

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors


Repeat after me. “Christmas is coming. Christmas is coming. It’s just around the corner.”

finish-line-aheadNow that we have accepted the inevitable, let’s take a few minutes to think about what we need to do to make this year your most successful sales year yet. Lucky for authors, book sales are up in 2016 with printed books making a huge comeback, so this could be the best year ever for holiday book sales, but only if you are ready.

If you are in the final stages of completing, editing or revising your book and wish to have it ready for holiday gift giving, there is no time for procrastination – particularly if you wish to have your book available for purchase in all online bookstores for the holidays.

As you race to the finish, keep these things in mind:

  • Your print book must meet all distribution requirements before it can be approved for online distribution. To prevent it from being rejected by retailers, take a few minutes to carefully review the requirements and make edits prior to publishing.
  • Before your book can be submitted for distribution, you must first purchase and approve a proof copy. Once you review and approve your proof, Lulu will release it into distribution.
  • Retailers will review your book to ensure it meets distribution requirements. If your book is rejected, you must edit it, then purchase and approve another proof copy before it can be resubmitted to distributors.
  • Once your book is sent to retailers, it will usually be available for purchase from online bookstores in about three weeks. However, due to retailer processing, workloads, and holiday volume it could take 6-8 weeks for your book to be added to all online booksellers.
  • Each retailer has their own process and schedule for reviewing books and updating their online catalogs. There is no means for Lulu to expedite this process for you.

If you are running out of time and think there is no way you will finish in time, don’t worry. You can forego distribution (for now) and publish directly to the Lulu bookstore.


When you publish to the Lulu bookstore:

  • Your book will be available for purchase within minutes of publication.
  • You can publish without an ISBN, which means there is no required retail markup resulting in higher profits for you and no US income tax withholding.
  • You can take advantage of Lulu discounts to boost holiday sales.
  • You can purchase your book at manufacturing cost.
  • You can even publish a hardcover special edition to sign and give to family and friends as Christmas gifts.

And, don’t forget, you are not alone. The Lulu support team is here to help Monday-Friday during regular office hours. You can also get author-to-author support 24/7 in the Lulu forums.

So get back to work!

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

Best Gift 2016

Be a winner.

This year, Lulu wants you to win the trophy for best holiday gift.

I know, I know. I hear you wailing, “One holiday at a time. it’s not even Halloween yet.” I’m with you. Nothing ruins September like walking into a store that is already decked out for Christmas. But, if you want to win that trophy and make everyone green with envy, you need to prepare now.

Let’s start by thinking about what makes a winning holiday gift. Maybe your Christmas morning is like a day on the Oprah set, “You get a new car. You get a new car. Everybody gets a new car!” If so, you have already won.

If not, think about the gifts you have received in the past. Which gifts were most memorable? You would probably remember a free car, but you are also likely to remember gifts that were personal, showed a level of thoughtfulness, effort, and originality.

Here are a few gift ideas that are sure to win you the best gift trophy:

  • Create a personalized friends and family calendar featuring pictures from the past year.
  • Print a cookbook featuring your family’s favorite recipes. Include some stories about where the recipes come from and why they are favorites.
  • Help grandpa publish his memoir. Print copies and ask him to sign them for family members.
  • Download your family history from and print copies for the family.
  • Ask your children to write and illustrate a story.  Then scan the pages and create a book to give as gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
  • Remember those old love letters in the back of your closet? Create a photo book pairing the letters with pictures from your relationship.
  • Create a travel log from this year’s adventures.

The winner is….. You!

These will all make treasured gifts, unlike the ugly sweater you will only wear when Aunt Martha visits.  These ideas will all take a bit of planning and effort; however, it will all be worth it when you take home the best gift trophy for 2016.

Over the next several weeks we will discuss how to create these winning gifts. If you have additional ideas, share them in the comments below.

Now get back to enjoying your September.

Lulu Custom Calendars: Daily Reminders of Your Best Memories


The kids have returned to school, which means Summer vacation season is quickly receding into your bank of fond memories. If you are like me, you captured all the best (and most embarrassing) moments on your phone. You probably even shared a few of them with your friends on Facebook where they competed for likes, but were quickly lost in a never ending stream of Summer status updates.


Disco Dance Party: Officially embarrassing, but a happy memory.


Whether you spent time together at home, your favorite vacation spot, traveled someplace new or celebrated a special event, these memories deserve more than just being uploaded to the cloud to gather digital dust.

What if you could transform your pictures into a daily reminder of your adventures? Something that would last a whole year or longer? Perhaps you could create something both sentimental and useful with your photos – like a calendar?


The most memorable moments


Lulu’s calendars not only allow you to choose from a selection of cool themes (I like the Modern theme), but you can also import holidays and personalize the calendar with family events, birthdays, and anniversaries. You may think, ‘Oh, I’m not very creative” or “I’m not very good with the computer,” but we’ve got you covered. Our calendar builder walks you through the steps.

All you have to do is:

When you think about it, for the next year wouldn’t you rather look at a calendar that includes you, your family, friends, cat, dog or pony rather than someone else’s pictures?

Birthday and Holidays

Add holidays, birthdays and special events.


Just a reminder: Calendars make great DIY gifts. With gift-giving season just around the corner, you can create gifts your family and friends will treasure everyday. I gave copies of this calendar to all my friends who traveled with me to Greece last year. They loved it.

You can find answers to all your Calendar & Photo Book questions in the Lulu knowledge base.

Make your memories last. Create a Lulu custom calendar today.

Introducing Lulu Academy: Enroll Today


At Lulu, we believe education is crucial to successful publishing. Self-publishing is more than just sending your manuscript and cover files to a printer. If a self-published author wants to be in control of their work (rather than ceding control to a big company) they must learn about the process to make informed decisions on publishing and selling their work.

Publishing can be complicated for beginners. From file layout, to cover design, to making your product available on retail sites; there are many lessons to learn and hazards to navigate. To aid authors, Lulu works diligently to produce useful knowledge base articles and instructional videos.

We recently introduced a new series of videos we’ve called Lulu Academy. These short videos focus on a single aspect of the publishing process. Created by Lulu employees, the videos are designed to provide short, easy to understand instructions, including screenshots of the steps in the publishing process.

Lulu firmly believes that knowledge is power and we want to help you not only get your book printed, but also to help you be the best self-published author you can be. We know that publishing can be complex and daunting, but we aim to help you make sense of it all.

You can find these and other video tutorials in the Lulu Knowledge Base, under Video Tutorials. Stay tuned for additional videos in the near future.

Examples of Lulu Academy Videos:

Why Choose Lulu?

Distribution and Your Book

Charlie Minds His Manners: Lulu Thank You Notes

Charlie is an indie author who recently self-published his book on He wants to expand his marketing options by building a mailing list to communicate with his readers. He discovers Lulu Thank You Notes and puts them to good use.

For more information on developing your author platform, See:

Building Your Online Marketing Presence

Guest Blogging: Building Your Online Reputation


eBook Distribution: Understanding Your NCX or eBook Table of Contents



Distribution Henry

As I perused  the Lulu mailbag this morning I was struck by the number of queries regarding NCX errors in eBook submissions. Some excerpts:

My eBook was recently rejected from retail distribution due to an NCX error. What does that mean? What do I do?

I Googled NCX and was directed to articles on sodium-calcium exchangers? Do I have to know chemistry to make an eBook?

Great questions that unfortunately come as no surprise. NCX errors are among the top three reasons independent eBook authors are rejected from retail distribution. Setting up a fully functional NCX requires some working knowledge of heading styles in MS Word—a feature that a lot of otherwise savvy writers ignore. But never fear, it’s not difficult. And once you’ve applied the proper styles to your document, Lulu’s Epub Converter will convert them into a fully functional NCX for you.

It’s exactly this simple:

  1. Apply Heading 1 style to the Title and to each line containing a Section name (copyright, prologue, etc.) or section (Part 1, Section II, etc.). Heading 1 style will always appear at the top of the next page.
  2. Apply Heading 2 style to each line containing a Chapter name or number
  3. Apply Heading 3 style to each line containing a sub chapter or subsection.

Create an eBook from your MS Word document.


Still confused? Click here to dip into Lulu’s Knowledge Base and learn more about formatting these headings.

One more thing. I foresee tomorrow’s mailbag asking:

But why?

Do I really need an NCX?

What purpose does it serve?



So. In a nutshell:

NCX is short for Navigation Control file for XML. (XML is a set of rules for formatting that both humans and computers can read.) It’s that first word in NCX—Navigation—that reveals its purpose. Like a table of contents in a printed book, an NCX helps your readers navigate your work.

But unlike a traditional table of contents, an NCX can’t simply list page numbers. The text in your eBook is scalable (meaning, the size can be changed), and just tilting an iPad 90 degrees can completely change the layout of eBook pages and how many words fit on them. So the number of pages in your eBook is variable from one reader—and even one moment—to the next. A table of contents built on static page numbers is useless, even a little misleading. Navigation has to be connected to something other than page numbers.

Enter the NCX. It contains links to your chapters, sections, and subsections. It lets readers jump from place to place in your eBook without thumbing or scrolling endlessly. You want your readers to have a good experience. So do we, and so do our retail distribution partners. It’s why we collectively urge you to have a fully functional, fully-enjoyable eBook.

Need help with something else? No worries — here’s a link to our insanely thorough Knowledge Base.

Go forth and learn, then publish.

The Dead Are Rising

About the Author

Distribution Henry is a member of the Lulu eBook Quality Review team.

He is also a Lulu author.

You can view his work here: It’s Going to Be Okay. I Promise.

Memoirs: If You Don’t Tell Your Story, Who Will?


Memoirs of WWII

Memoirs of WWII

Here in the USA, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. This day is a national holiday dedicated to the remembrance of our soldiers who died in war. It should also be a day in which we take a moment to remember the events and people who shaped our lives. We may enjoy or dread looking back on these memories, but when we reminisce, we should consider whether our story is one that will be helpful to others and if so, how it will be shared and preserved.

It’s likely that 99% of us think we lead exceedingly boring lives and that our story would be of little interest to others. But, we all have one thing in common, we are all trying to make sense of and find meaning in our lives. Hence the value in writing your memoir. Not only is writing often therapeutic for the writer, but it also preserves your story as you remember it.

All on Account of You

All on Account of You

“Memoir is about handing over a portion of your life to someone and saying, This is what I went through, this is who I am, and maybe you can learn something from it,” says Jeannette Walls, author of the bestseller The Glass Castle. “It’s honestly sharing what you think, feel, and have gone through. If you can do that effectively, then somebody gets the wisdom and benefit of your experience without having to live it.”

So, how do you get started?

10 Tips for Writing a Memoir

  1. A memoir is not an autobiography: An autobiography is a book-length depiction of your life from birth to present time. A memoir depicts a specific period or event from your life.
  2. Detail, detail, detail: Your readers want to know how you felt, what you saw, the color of the umbrella, the smell of the ocean, the taste of the wine, how the wine glass got chipped.
  3. You be you: Your readers want to know about you, how you think, speak, and feel. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.
  4. Write like your Grandmother tells a story: We don’t know how people are connected or related. We don’t know the color of your hair. Include the backstory that makes the person relevant to your story.
  5. Believe it or not, your memoir is not about you.: A good book is built around a theme – survival, redemption, personal journey, reunion, coming of age, etc. You and your story serve to illustrate the theme.
  6. Don’t lie: Someone will know the truth and they will be more than happy to share it. Remember James Frey?
  7. What is memoir be about? How something happened is not nearly as important as why it happened, how it made you feel and what you learned from it.
  8. Your memoir is not a collection of your best stories: A memoir is about a specific event or time. If you have had an exceedingly interesting life, you probably have enough material for several memoirs so be selective.
  9. Check your facts. Who was the King of Spain when you moved there in 1983? Don’t guess, be accurate (See #6 above).
  10. Beginning is half done. Write your first draft. Then re-write, and re-write, and re-write until your theme is clear and you are ready to share your story with your family, friends, and the world.
Pressure Cooker

Pressure Cooker


Isn’t it time you told your story? If you don’t, who will tell it for you?

To further inspire you, we have selected a few memoirs specifically for Memorial Day reading.