Remarkable Finds

YSHS Students Turn Cookbooks into Scholarships

Students at Byimana Lycee des Sciences

In addition to memorizing vocabulary words, conjugating irregular verbs, and learning the subtle differences in pronouncing è and é, the French students at Yellow Springs High School (YSHS) in Ohio also plan and execute an annual French Café fundraiser. Proceeds from this dining and entertainment experience fund scholarships at the Byimana Lycee des Sciences in Gitarama, Rwanda.

The Byimana School of Science houses and educates 900 of the best and brightest Rwandan students in six grade levels (learn more). Each year since 2009, the YSHS French Café event has raised enough money to fully fund two high school scholarships for Rwandan students.

This year, as part of a project based learning initiative, students were tasked with developing a new product to sell at the French Café event. After a bit of brainstorming, students decided to create and print a French/English cookbook. Over the coarse of the year, students selected recipes, divided into teams, prepared the food, photographed their dishes, and designed the page layouts for the cookbook. They even shot and edited cooking videos for each dish and created a website.

This Spring, French teacher David Smith emailed us when he received the proof copy of his students’ work.

Cookbook cover

The finished product

“We really dug in back in the fall to find the best option for printing our cookbook. The students considered them all and decided lulu.com was the best choice. But we just didn’t know, until our proof copy came this weekend, how it would really look. You should have seen the faces of my students this morning! The comment was invariably: ‘Wow! Oh my gosh, it doesn’t look like it was made by students! It looks like a real cookbook!’ I can’t tell you how happy I am with how this is turning out.”

We contacted Mr. Smith following this year’s fundraiser for an update. We were delighted to hear this project was a success:

“The cookbook has been a real hit and raised lots of money. Our French Café has typically raised enough for two full scholarships, but the addition of the cookbook sales raised that to three. In fact, we raised enough to provide a student with a full scholarship all the way through high school. Now, not only will high school be possible for this student, but there is a near 100% college placement rate from the Byimana school, with a great chance of a partial or full college scholarship. Someone’s future has really been changed for the better.”

We were excited to hear about the success of a project combining self-publishing and project based learning. The YSHS French students came up with a creative solution to a real world problem and, in this case, changed a student’s life. Bravo!

 

To share your PBL self-publishing experience, email us at pr@lulu.com.
To view the recipes and cooking videos produced by the YSHS French classes, go to ysfrenchcookbook.weebly.com.
Learn more about project based learning.

Future Authors Tour Lulu

Become-a-Published-Author-with-LuluOn April 17th we welcomed a group of students who wanted to learn about Lulu and self-publishing.

After sharing a snack of donuts and juice in the Pulitzer meeting room, we talked about how books get from computer to publisher to bookstore. We then provided a brief history of Lulu.com, how it was conceived, and how print on demand self-publishing differs from traditional publishing.

The students were really well prepared with questions about content, editing, formats, revenue, distribution and top selling categories. With all the questions answered, we began the tour stopping in the Information Technology, Engineering, Accounting, Fulfillment, Customer Support, and Marketing areas. At each stop, a team member explained how their group helps authors print, publish and sell their books all over the world.

The last stop on the tour included a demonstration of how our LuluJr bookmaking kits are received, scanned, typeset and prepared for binding. Then each student receiving a book making kit along with a tutorial on developing a good plot, story boarding, character creation, and instructions for returning the kits for printing.

LuluTour-BA few days after the tour, we received the following message from the group’s leader.

“I’ve heard nothing but fantastic comments about our time spent with Lulu, and there are many children hard at work on their LuluJr kits.  I can’t wait to see the finished products! Thank you for your time and generosity and for sharing your expertise in the publishing world.  These opportunities give our children not only great writing information, but also information about jobs, careers, and helps them steer their higher-level education in knowledgeable ways.  Thank you very much.”

We are also grateful for the opportunity to share our daily tasks with this group of students. Their visit served as a welcome reminder that 100 people working in an office in Raleigh, NC can have a positive effect on the lives of authors, educators and readers around the world – as well as a local group of future authors.

LuluTour-C

 

 

How Self-Published Textbooks Bring Down the Cost of College Education

Dollars in the books, isolated on white background, business traAt Lulu.com, we’ve noticed a trend in publications from educational field leaders. In fact, 9 out of our top 20 authors for the past year published textbooks. This movement to self-publishing isn’t necessarily a big surprise when you consider the exorbitant prices of textbooks that continue to rise. USA Today reports an 82% increase in textbook prices between 2002 and 2013. The Economist also recently reported the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen-fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation.

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 students from more than 150 college campuses across the United States this price trend is having an increasingly negative effect:

  • 65% or respondents said that in the past they have decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.
  • Nearly half (48%) said the cost of textbooks has an impact on how many or which classes they take.
  • 94% of the students who had skipped buying a required book said they were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in that course.

Professors and schools are paying attention. Rather than requiring students to pay for a textbook that contains only a few chapters of relevant information, members of the academic community are writing their own textbooks and self-publishing them. This allows instructors to publish what they teach and teach what they publish.

Self-publishing and print-on-demand technology keeps costs down. Since there is no inventory to maintain, only the books that are ordered are printed and there are fewer middlemen getting paid. Additionally, eBooks are an increasingly affordable and popular solution, since the eBook format allows professors to publish individual chapters or supplements that students can purchase as needed.

The biggest advantage with self-publishing is that textbooks can be revised and made available for purchase in real time ensuring the content is always current. This is especially important in medical, technology and other rapidly expanding fields.

Health InformaticsIf you would like to learn more, see this article in Publisher’s Weekly: Indie Authors on Campus. In it, Lulu authors Bob Hoyt and Ann Yoshihashi share their experiences self-publishing a textbook in the ever-changing field of health care and information technology.

Infographic: The Value of a Book

In honor of World Book Day, we have created an infographic that shows the value of a book when you go through the traditional publishing process vs. the self-publishing route.

Blog-Infographic

UNC MBA’s in the House!

Last week, we had the pleasure of welcoming three MBA students from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School to Lulu for a day of hands-on, out of the classroom learning. Elisa Lin, Caspar Xu and Zach Shapiro spent the day with us learning all about Lulu, how we’re structured and how the company is run day in and day out.UNC_KFBS_stacked_RGB

 

At Lulu, we’re passionate about serving the local community and helping to inspire the budding entrepreneurs in the area. So when UNC Kenan-Flagler asked us to participate in their program and open our doors for their students, we were thrilled to join in. UNC Kenan-Flagler has a reputation for knowing exactly what defines true business success and helping their students learn and put that understanding into practice. Elisa, Caspar and Zach will be a few of the exceptional leaders the school has shaped, that will go on to make a positive impact on the companies they lead and the communities they serve.

 
We sat Elisa, Caspar and Zach down with various members of our executive team and other key team members throughout the day to give them varying perspectives on Lulu, self-publishing and how we stay innovative in an ever-changing industry. At the end of the day, they shared their impressions of what they learned from us and identified opportunities they saw for the company based on the information they had.

In their own words:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to show us around. We really appreciated the exposure to so many different aspects of the company and the ability to meet everyone. We are impressed by Lulu’s driven culture and innovative business model. We have spoken with many nimble people, influenced by their persistence for customers and quality. Our biggest take away is always keep curiosity to serve customers better. The other lesson we have learned is to find a company which culture is a great fit is extremely important, because it can put you with others and achieve the goal together.”

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Lulu looks forward to seeing what these three bright young minds will do once they graduate!

2015 Writing Resolutions: 7 Tips for Staying on Track

new-years-resolutionsBy now, most people have realized their 2015 resolutions are in serious danger of falling to the wayside. You are not alone. On average, only 8% of New Year’s resolutionists are successful in reaching their proclaimed goals. But, with resolve and a little encouragement, you may count yourself among the determined 8% at year’s end.

Here are seven tips to help get your writing resolutions back on the road to success.

#1 – Define your why

You say you want to lose weight, quit smoking, start / finish writing your novel, devote more time to marketing your book, or find more happiness. But do you know why you want to do those things? Your “why” is your motivation. If you don’t know why, you are more likely to lose your resolve upon encountering the first setback.

#2 – Consider the why-nots

This is the flip side of your whys. As Noah St. Joan explains in his book, The Secret Code of Success, everything you do is caused by your why-tos weighed against your why-not-tos. Your brain is like an infinite weighing machine: It’s always comparing your perceived benefits (why-tos) against the perceived cost (why-not-tos).

Whenever you’re considering an activity — like spending time editing your novel, answering emails, writing press releases, or reading this article — your brain is going, “Why should I do this? How will it benefit me? What’s it going to cost me? I’d rather be watching TV.” Because our brains are always negotiating with us, our why must be a greater motivator than the alternative.

#3 – Enlist the help of friends

The easiest way to fail is to try to do something alone. There are not many examples of people who did great things completely alone. Bill Gates had Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Michael Jordan had his dad. Paul McCartney had John Lennon.

The way to overcome this mistake is simple: tell your friends what you want and why you want it, and ask them to support you in making positive changes.

#4 – Use positive peer pressure

This is the continuation of #3. Ask your friends to tell you when they see you straying from your goal.

Many people will feel uncomfortable about this one, but what they don’t realize is that your friends already know when you are not making an effort; they are just too nice to say anything. That’s why you must give them permission to tell you when you mess up or fall short of what you said you wanted to do. Just resolve to not get mad or be defensive when they tell you.

#5 – Recruit an accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone you communicate with at regular intervals (monthly, once a week, even daily) to check on your progress. The beautiful thing is, you can also be that person’s accountability partner and help THEM make positive changes, too.

#6 – Ask experts for advice

No matter what you’re trying to do – write a poem, sell your book, schedule an interview, be nicer — without a solid plan of action, your good intentions will probably fall short. That’s why it’s good to find other people who have succeeded at the thing you’re trying to do and ask how they did it.

There is always someone who likes to talk about him/herself who will share their experience with you if asked politely. Even if you don’t know anyone personally, there are numerous blogs on all subjects that you can peruse. If you can make use of others’ advice, you can avoid the most common pitfalls thereby increasing your chances of success.

#7 – Don’t set yourself up to fail

This is the worst mistake of all. The truth is, everyone knows how to write a book, quit smoking, or be nicer. Most people simply don’t believe they can do it — either because they’ve tried in the past and failed, or they just don’t believe they’re capable of doing it.

Most importantly, don’t’ give up. It’s still early in the year and there is plenty of time to get your writing and marketing resolutions back on track.

Your friends at Lulu.com

7 Questions to Ask When Converting Your Blog to a Print Book

After writing a teblog to bookchnology blog for a UK-based magazine for about three years and notching up hundreds of blog entries, I approached the magazine editor and suggested this interesting collection of articles was worthy of a book.

He immediately began asking questions, including, “Why on earth might anyone be interested in a series of blog posts collected together into a book?” He was also concerned about the complexities of publishing, but having already published with Lulu, I knew this was the least of our worries – I published the book in 2009.

Can anyone turn his or her blog into a book?

In theory yes, but there are some questions worth considering before you initiate that big WordPress download.

Is there an audience for the book?

You don’t need to do a lot of market research on this. You can publish with Lulu even if you anticipate a limited or specialized audience.

How much effort is required?

If you are doing this because you want to see your name on the spine of a book, you should consider that selecting your best posts and formatting them for the printed page will be quite a bit of work.

Will your blog work as a book?

The blog I converted to book format was mainly journalism and commentary, so I could easily imagine it on the printed page. On the other hand, turning your years of Tumblr posts into a book may be a futile exercise – and may even infringe copyright unless you personally own every image you shared. Remember, your posts may work well in the context of a blog where you might feature video clips, Instagram photos and other media that looks great when viewed on an iPad, but is not going to translate to the printed page.

Are the blog posts relevant now and in the future?

Blog content almost always features a date-stamp, which can translate to book content in an epistolary format – dated blogs in sequence – but there is an important time distinction between blogs and books.

Blogs are written and published in the now, usually referencing the exact time they were written. As time goes on, new posts may update or supersede earlier ones. As such, some of your blog entries will be completely unsuitable for use in a book because they are comments on a moment, rather than less time-bound thoughts or comments.

A book needs to be planned with a much longer shelf life than an individual blog post. When you publish a book, it is published at a moment in time and cannot be quickly updated except through new editions. In general, book content needs to be planned so that it will not become quickly dated.

Will the structure of my blog translate to a book?

It is worth viewing your blog in the round. You may have a hundred thousand words of great content, but you may end up stripping away half of that content to preserve your best posts. It is worth thinking about whether you want a literal version of your blogs in book format or whether you can do more with the text when planning how it might be read on the page. For example, you may be able to connect several blogs together and present them as longer essays.

Why should I do it?

If you are already blogging then you are a writer. Many writers have used short publications that were eventually collected together into a longer book format – The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens is one of the most famous examples. In fact, there is little to distinguish the way Dickens wrote then from a blogger today who releases short articles then collects them together into a longer book.

Posterity is as good a reason as any to take a close look at your blog to see if it might be worth publishing as a book. Even if your blog posts are individual and cannot be collected together into a coherent story, there may still be value in collecting them together. In my case, my articles from 2006-2009 that went into my “book-of-the-blog” have now been deleted from the magazine website. Now my book is the only place where they continue to live!

Mark Hillary

Author BIO

Mark Hillary is a British author, blogger and advisor on technology and globalization based in São Paulo, Brazil. He is a regular contributor to journals including The Huffington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, and Computer Weekly.

Mark live-blogged the 2010 UK General Election for Reuters. He was an official blogger at the 2012 London Olympics. He was shortlisted as blogger of the year in 2009 and 2011 by Computer Weekly magazine.

Contact Mark: www.markhillary.com (@markhillary)

Mark on Lulu: http://j.mp/lulumarkhillary