Remarkable Finds

CritterKin, National Teacher Appreciation Week, and Saying Thank You

As the school year comes to a close, it’s time to pause and thank the people that have some of the biggest impact on our lives…teachers.

This week marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, a time for all of us to express gratitude to those who have not only molded our minds, but provided us with inspiration, direction, guidance, and confidence.

Today, we want to shine the spotlight on the amazing work of Lulu.com author and illustrator, Jena Ball. Jena, a consummate animal lover and former teacher, wanted to develop a series that taught children the importance of kindness and compassion. The result: CritterKin Book Series. Her books are designed to teach children that animals (critters) are family (kin).

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 11.51.24 AMThe CritterKin books have been especially inspirational for young students and teachers have been reaching out to Jena, asking her to present to their classes. Momentum for this movement has grown. Jena now collaborates with teachers all over the county on project-based learning campaigns (check out the video on the right to see highlights). Entire schools are now getting involved and working on projects to teach kids the importance of emotional intelligence while incorporating core-based learning skills.

Our never-ending gratitude goes out to people like Jena, and teachers all over the world who work hard to ensure a brighter future for today’s younger generation.

Take some time this week, remember the key teachers in your life that went the extra mile, took elevated interest, and generally worked to see you succeed not only in your studies, but in your life. And say thank you.

 

 

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Join the conversation

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 1.06.37 PMRecently a group of authors launched a social media campaign to raise awareness around the significant lack of diversity in children’s literature. These authors, including Ellen Oh, Aisha Saeed and Chelsea Pitcher, hope to bring this issue to the forefront of people’s minds.

To put it plainly, we couldn’t agree more. There is a true need for diversity in the books we read to our children. As they learn and grow, exposing young minds to the vast and varied cultures across the world will help foster respect and recognition in the value each of our beliefs and customs offers. It is up to all of us as independent authors and storytellers to share our experiences with the world as a way of exposing others to our cultures.

So far, we have fallen short of achieving this goal. A 2012 report conducted by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that only 3.3 percent of children’s books published in the previous year were about African-Americans, 2.1 percent were about Asian-Pacific Americans, 1.5 percent were about Latinos and a mere 0.6 percent were about American Indians.

Clearly, there is a true call for us to take action and write. As Johannes Neur perfectly captured in her blog post for the NY Public Library, “literature has the power to instantiate universal human truths through stories told around the globe, across gender lines, and from varying religious perspectives.” Think of Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and – one of my personal favorites – Zora Neale Hurston. They all had beautiful and powerful stories to tell and with each one, they opened our eyes to a world we may have otherwise never known. At times their books would make us smile, while at others we’d share the pain and emotions of the characters they created.

The We Need Diverse Books Campaign began last week with a plea to the public to visit the project website where they are asking readers to take a photo holding a sign that says “We need diverse books because …”. Check out the submissions so far, and we encourage you to join the conversation and use your networks to bring awareness to this movement. Simply tweet your support using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. You can also follow @diversebooks for ongoing updates.

It is our duty to celebrate this diversity so that the next generation can see themselves in their books and develop their own self worth and love of literature. Share your stories however you are able. If you need a platform for your voice or a little help along the way, we are here to support you.

Start writing and share your experiences and culture. Tweet us to let us know you’re helping us make a difference or post a picture of yourself with your book (or your favorite) to show the rich diversity among independent authors.

Print-on-Demand, saving the Earth one tree at a time

EarthDay_Social_600x315(1)Original post provided by Morgan Siem

In honor of Earth Day, here are some important, “did-you-know?” facts about why Print-On-Demand (the Lulu-way) is a sustainable alternative to Traditional Offset Printing:

  1. No book is printed before it is bought and paid for. This differs from the traditional method in which thousands of copies are printed before ANY of them are bought and paid for by the consumer. This “print & pray” approach involves unnecessary risk due to the large capital expenditure involved in offset print runs for publishers.
  2. Zero material waste in the manufacturing process, which only uses what is necessary to produce sell-able product. This differs from the traditional method in which additional paper is automatically ordered and used to compensate for the material wasted in “make-ready” in both the printing and binding processes. It’s typically 3-8% paper waste depending on the manufacturer. This adds up to considerable waste for a publisher. The printer passes on the cost of spoilage to the publisher.
  3. Zero risk on the returns of unsold inventory. Compare this to the return rate on traditionally printed books, which can range from 20-35% of the units produced. These overruns are pure waste and sunk costs. Publishers measure these costs in the millions of dollars.
  4. There is no unsold inventory. Using the traditional method, unsold inventory has to be warehoused for a period of time. This is costly.  It burns time, money and energy.
  5. There is no unsold inventory. Using the traditional method, unsold inventory has to be shipped back to the recycling center. In addition, unsold inventory has to be processed at a recycling center. These processes burn time, money and fuel.
  6. Each order is printed and shipped locally, which is good for the local economy and minimizes time in transit and transit costs. Traditionally, orders are printed at large manufacturing facilities for the lowest unit cost.  Traditional Offset runs are done in large manufacturing facilities, shipped in bulk (on many pallets) to warehouses.  These shipments travel long distances by tractor-trailer, or are shipped in containers from overseas.
  7. Maximum author control of content means authors can make edits and publish new editions at any time without negative consequences. Traditionally, the author and publisher are stuck with the inventory of books produced. Content changes can only be made if the author and publisher are willing to swallow the loss on any remaining unsold inventory of the earlier edition.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Introducing the Wrimo Accelerator Authors

Last November Lulu launched LetsGoWrimos.com, an initiative aimed at helping National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) participants reach their author goals. As part of this initiative, Lulu started the Wrimo Accelerator Program to identify the most promising authors and books from all of the NaNoWriMo submissions. After weeks of combing through thousands of manuscripts using a specific criteria, we identified nine individuals as Wrimo Accelerator Authors.

As a prize, these authors were awarded the royal publishing treatment. Their prize package included everything from book cover design to marketing campaigns provided by Pubslush.  After months of hard work and dedication we would like to introduce these amazing writers to the world!

Heyworth_FINAL_v2_pdfAfter June by Thomasin Heyworth. A recently widowed, sixty-seven-year-old Ben Willows finds himself reluctantly involved in the life of a young pregnant woman. Together, they discover they have more in common than either could have imagined and that sometimes, the things we‘re looking for are right in front of us.


Schwarz_FINAL_pdfShades by Brian Schwarz. A scientist creates a chip that turns the brain into a wireless device, until a husband keeps talking after death.

 

ZbasnikThe King’s Blood by S. E. Zbasnik. Can two teens survive an Empire crashing down upon them while a shambling army of corpses waits patiently in the shadows? Will the religious fight for and against magic rip apart the world they all became rather fond of? And just how can a fifteen year old take over a throne dangling precariously over the edge of war?

Harris_FINALv2_pdfKindling Ashes by Laura Harris. Sixteen years ago, the strongest of the dragons who once flew free over the kingdom of Auland escaped extinction the only way they knew how; releasing their souls to reside in unaware humans. With a debilitating sickness now spreading through their hosts, time is running out for them once more.

Fisher_FINAL_pdfToo Far Gone by Alyssa Fisher. A story about three teens who are destined to stop the apocalypse and save the world.

 

 
Stinson_New_Cover_pdfThe Ballad of the Broken Soldier by Ashley Stinson. Rebellion is fermenting in a far off land. Spies, treason, assassins, dark gods, centaurs and dead men that walk await.

 

Covington_FINAL_eBookSilver Follows by Emily Covington. Silver Follows is an adventure about a young girl who combats the world on an epic journey to save love.

 


Sherry_FINAL_ebookTo Free the Fox by Marquel Sherry. Alitha Helgren a college student, whose life so far has been rocky, but ordinary, goes to spend the summer at her deceased grandmother’s cottage. While there she begins to experience some unusual things. Alitha decides to investigate. What she finds she never could have expected. Alitha is lead by a wild fox to a cave deep in the forests neighboring the cottage. 
What do you do when you release a trickster god and all the chaos that comes with him? 
If you play with fire, you get burned.

Pratt_FINAL_pdfThe Imposter by Sarah Pratt. When journalist Chris Verlorne stumbles upon the trail of a serial killer, his life begins to spiral out of control.

 

 

Some of these authors will be taking part in Book Expo America and UpublishU as part of Lulu’s guests and will be showcased on Lulu.com throughout the summer. You can help support these up-and-coming authors at Lulu’s new Pubslush Community page.

Announcing our first “Ask Lulu’s Experts” live tweet chat!

Hey Lulus,

Next Wednesday, April 23rd, Lulu will be hosting our first live tweet chat from 1:30 – 2:30 PM EST. We will have all of our experts answering all of your questions, from “how do I distribute my book globally?” to “what is the best way to market my eBook?” and everything in between.

Interested in participating? Simply follow and tweet us using hashtag #LuluExperts between 1:30 and 2:30 PM and we’ll have one of our experts respond in real time. In the meantime, check out our newly launched eBook – Author’s Guide to success: A Complete Plan for Publishing and Selling Your Book

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Rise of the Self-Publishing Author – Infographic

Download the Infographic here.

The Great American Novel. It’s a classic concept, one that endures because of the human instinct to share our stories.  Stories are a part of history, of art, of culture and, in some cases, one can actually achieve greatness through the sharing of those stories. So, if you have a story to tell or knowledge that can benefit others, the sharing of it shouldn’t be the hard part.

But it so often is. Aspiring writers have a less than 2 percent chance of being picked up by an agent or publishing house, and those that do often see sadly little return in terms of visibility, distribution or actual income. There’s struggling for one’s art, but constantly hitting walls when it comes to making it a reality is another thing entirely.

Fortunately, technology has made it so aspiring authors don’t have to be discouraged by rejection letters and cost prohibitive distribution. Though the Great American Novel trope includes the fantasy of wowing a publisher, getting a huge advance, shooting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, getting a movie deal and retiring in Tuscany, the fact is, to be a successful writer, you don’t have to run the gamut of submissions and rejections, expensive production and distribution costs and constant second-guessing of your ability to succeed.

The proliferation of e-readers like Kindle, Nook and Kobo has driven the massive growth of the e-book market and, for authors looking to get published, opens up a wealth of opportunity for distribution and income without the obstacles that come with traditional publishing. Self-publishing and digital distribution enables authors to make their work widely discoverable and accessible with much less upfront investment and much higher potential to make money without a publisher taking the lion’s share of royalties.

The stats speak for themselves. Check out Lulu.com’s new infographic on the Rise of the Self-Publishing Author.

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Announcing Lulu’s new kid-focused brand, Lulu Jr.

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So, we’ve been working really hard in the new year and are very excited to announce a new venture for Lulu with the launch of Lulu Jr. This new brand encompasses children’s books, custom wall art and the award-winning book-making kits now exclusively offered by Lulu – Illustory® and My Comic Book®.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 11.35.17 AMThe other awesome news? Lulu will be showcasing Illustory, My Comic Book and independent children’s books at the 111th annual American International Toy Fair® in New York City this weekend, February 16-19, 2014. New York Times best-selling children’s author Peter H. Reynolds, who illustrated the new boxes for Illustory and My Comic Book, will be signing these Lulu Jr. book-making kits at the Lulu Jr. booth on Monday, February 17 from 2 – 3 pm ET and Tuesday, February 18 from 12 pm – 1 pm ET.

Lulu Jr. offers children an easy way to create their own wall art, showcasing a child’s artistic creations of art, words and photos by displaying them on high quality canvas. With these options, parents can cherish their child’s works and proudly share their accomplishments with friends and family.

For more information, please visit www.lulujr.com and www.lulujr.com/toyfair2014.

12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 7 – The More Books the Merrier

There is another secret to selling lots of books: writing lots of books. We asked best-selling authors how many books they had written. Here’s what they said:

Nine out of ten best-selling authors have published more than one book. More than half have published ten or more books.

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Writing lots of books in one niche has many benefits. For starters, you don’t have to relearn your audience. And if you write non-fiction, you’ll also be able to re-use a lot of the research you did for your first book.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 3.55.19 PMWell gang, it’s that time of year again, where we gather around with friends and family and celebrate what we are thankful for. Here at Lulu, we are thankful for all of you, our amazing authors, who continue to support us and inspire us to help you share your works of art with the world. So, in the spirit of the holiday, Lulu would love to know what you are thankful for this year. Below are some thoughts on thankfulness this holiday from our employees. We want to hear from you too!

  • Bob Young, Founder of Lulu.com (and a native of Canada) is thankful for having TWO Thanksgivings. Thanksgiving in Canada is the second Monday of October.
  • Rachel B., Sr. Manager of Customer Voice is thankful for working with a talented team that she can trust to do the best job possible, and water. Water is used to make her two favorite beverages, coffee and beer.
  • Sarah B., Distribution Services Advocate, says she thankful for being an omnivore apex predator.
  • Christian S., Customer Voice Advocate, said I’m thankful for being able to be around my family this Thanksgiving. After spending 6 Thanksgiving holidays deployed in the Middle East, one learns to appreciate even the smallest of things. My family and the memories we create is what means the most to me this Thanksgiving.

Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

12 Tips for Marketing and Sales Success: Tip 4 – Beyond the Lulu Author Experience

Distribution channels for authors, both traditionally published and self-published, are changing. With the closing of many large brick-and-mortar booksellers, the most notable of which was the exit of Borders, all publishers are reevaluating their distribution strategy. In August 2013, Bowker released study findings citing a 5% increase in online book sales in the U.S., up to 44% of total book sales compared to 39% in 2011.

What does this mean for you? Focus on your audience and the best distribution strategy for them. If you can reach them via your own existing channels or easy-to-find networks and communities, selling to them on Lulu.com’s marketplace can be a strong component of your distribution strategy. If you need to target a broader audience that seeks content all over the Internet and in stores, you may want to expand to additional distribution channels.

Another more recent survey of book buyers’ perceptions may be helpful. The eBook formatting fairies did a survey of readers in August 2013 ( http://e-bookformattingfairies.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_ archive.html ) that revealed fantastic insights into how readers perceive books and authors. We’ve compiled a few highlights of their findings below.

To view larger image or download the entire guide, click here

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