How To

Charlie Minds His Manners: Lulu Thank You Notes

Charlie is an indie author who recently self-published his book on Lulu.com. 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

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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.
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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?

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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.

 

Learn with Charlie: Make More Money

After publishing his book on Lulu, Charlie learns a very “valuable” lesson.

For more author tips, visit the Lulu.com Learn with Charlie channel on Vimeo.

Helpful Hints for eBook Distribution: Revise!

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“Distribution Henry”

There are a lot of issues that can keep eBook submissions out of retail distribution channels. We regularly see a multitude of issues with capitalization, metadata, NCX files, and so forth. But the number one reason for rejection is The Dreaded Repeat Offender: A title is rejected for X. A day later it shows up with X still an issue. It’s rejected again. A day later it shows up again with X still an issue… you get the idea.

To be honest, we’re not always sure what’s happening with these submissions. Have the users tried to resolve the issue and missed the mark? Are they unsure what to do, so they’re just resubmitting and hoping the error fixes itself? It’s frustrating for everyone involved.

In hopes of reigning in the Repeat Offender, Lulu.com has a ridiculously robust Knowledge Base to walk you through virtually any problem you might have. And rejections—at least 99% of them—come with explanations of what’s wrong and links to an associated Knowledge Base article. These lined articles are a good place to start in resolving a problem, but if you’re still puzzled, contact our support team.

Many years ago, I taught creative writing. On the first day of class, I’d scrawl on the whiteboard in ginormous letters: REVISION IS NOT FAILURE. The same is true here. Revising your submission and giving it another go is the best—in fact, the only—way to get your book into distribution and in front of readers eager for your work.

Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. A hiccup in your metadata or formatting is easily fixed. You’ve written a book! That’s the hard part. Everything else is easy—and we’re always here to help.

AbThe Dead Are Risingout 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.

Pitch Perfect: Pitching a Guest Post

Have I got a Story for youFor authors and writers who are just beginning to build an audience, guest posting an article on an established, related blog is an excellent means to expand your reach. Your post will be seen by a completely new audience who may then decide to follow your blog or maybe even purchase a book or two. The challenge for new writers is in finding sites with a dedicated readership related to your area of expertise that are also willing to accept unsolicited articles from an unknown writer. Therefore your pitch letter must be near perfect to catch the editor’s attention.

 

What is a Pitch?

In its purest form, a pitch includes:

  • An introduction: Who are you?
  • Relevance: How does your proposal fit with the existing audience?
  • Topics: What do you propose to write about?
  • Value: What benefit will readers get from the article?

Your pitch should not be a bulleted list, nor should it be an epic love poem in long form. Keep it brief, to the point, and grammatically correct. This is the one piece of your writing an editor is guaranteed to read. A convoluted, poorly composed, error-filled pitch does not make a good first impression.

Do Your Research

Spend some time reading, yes actually reading, the blog to which you intend to pitch your article. Look for existing topics you think can be expanded upon by your expertise or fresh outlook. While researching, take note of not only the subjects, but also the typical article length, their structure, tone, and use of imagery.

Also, a little investigative work on your part goes a long way in making sure your pitch is welcomed. Addressing an editor by the wrong name, wrong gender, or the generic “to whom it may concern” makes a terrible first impression. Find out as much as you can about the editor and their interests, then incorporate that information into your introduction to make a connection.

Get Their Attention

Based on these subject lines, which email would you open first?

Posting Inquiry

E-Reader Covers: What They Say About What You Read

Enough said.

Show Them What You’ve Got

Nothing gets a reader’s attention like effective imagery. You will get more notice with original work than from stock photos.

Be Patient

Depending on the blog’s popularity and posting scheduled, there may be a publishing calendar that is planned out for the next 10 days to two months. There is no need to follow up every day to see if the editor received the follow up you sent yesterday. If your article was accepted, the editor will let you know when it will go live.

While You Wait

It’s acceptable to write articles ahead of time while you wait for responses, but we recommend you do not publish them. If you plan to submit an article as a guest post, it should be an original post.

Don’t forget to compose an author bio that is accurate, succinct, and relevant to the audience. Include a link back to your blog or a link to your book page so that your potential new fans can find you.

share share shareCongratulations!

If your article is accepted, tell all your friends, post about it on your blog and link to it from your social media sites – all of which boost your article’s search results and your online reputation. And, don’t forget to send a thank you note.

 

Spread Happiness: Create Your Own Coloring Book

Coloring books have always been a simple, calming way to entertain children. Recently, a new kind of coloring book has found a place in the book world—adult coloring books. The simple act of selecting colors and turning a line drawing into a rich, colorful piece of art, has the ability to soothe our overwrought minds, to help us relax and disconnect from our busy lives.

Here at Lulu we are keenly aware of the growing market for coloring books for all ages. Glenn detailed some of the reasons why coloring books are so popular in this post. Today we will show you how you can make the world a happier place by making your own coloring book on Lulu.com!

Start by creating a Lulu account then go to the Lulu Book Builder. We don’t offer a specific coloring book format, but we strongly recommend selecting the Premium Paperback option > Black & White printing  >  White paper. The paper weight for this option is heavy enough to prevent color bleed. It’s also uncoated, so you don’t have to worry about colors smudging or running.

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Premium paperbacks come in a variety of sizes. For a coloring book, something larger like 8.5” x 11” is usually best, as you want to have a large, detailed image to color. Other sizes will work too—that’s the beauty of self-publishing; it’s up to you!

Premium paperbacks can be bound using any of our three methods (Perfect, Coil, or Saddle Stitch), but for any book that you’d like to sell in online bookstores, you’ll want to use Perfect binding. Coil and Saddle-Stitch work for coloring books meant for personal use or to be sold only in the Lulu.com bookstore.

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Now that you’ve selected the style and binding, you’re going to need to format your file to make a beautiful book. It’s important to be aware that, even with the thicker white paper, some of the color may show through the page. Therefore, you may want to place only one image per sheet of paper rather than printing images back to back. Also, don’t forget the first page of the file will print on the right side of the book, as will all odd numbered pages. Keep this in mind if you have any images that span two pages.

And lastly, to ensure none of your artwork is lost during trimming and binding, make sure your image is at least .25 inches from the edge of the page.

 

            Let’s recap. The recommended specs for a coloring book are:

            Premium Paperback, Perfect Bound, 8.5 x 11

            Black & White ink on White Paper

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By following the guidelines above and creating your own coloring books, you can help the world be a happier place.  Really!