Remarkable Finds

Tell Your Story: Three Minutes of Awesome

A few months ago, we asked Lulu authors to send us a video about themselves and their books.

From the submissions we received, we created a short film.

This is the extended version – or director’s cut as I like to call it. We hope these authors will inspire you to tell your own story.

 

 

Tell Your Story: My Last Birthday Wish

On January 9, 2016, a doctor told me: “This will be your last Birthday”

You see, I Vortexwoke up January 5, 2016 and I was totally blind. I called another doctor when the first told me I was diabetic. He said, “I have been around a long time and I know Diabetic retinopathy when I see it.” A blood test was ordered. They found I had High cholesterol, high blood pressure, the starting of kidney disease, and blood sugar of 183. “I told you so” said the doctor.

My brother and Uncle died just two weeks earlier so I advised my family and began getting my affairs in order. While doing so, I stumbled over something I wrote in high school. Forty years earlier, when I graduated high school, my father told me to put childish things aside, but now seemed like the time to resurrect that long forgotten story. A friend staked his journalistic career to help me out.

I began working on my book. As it neared completion, I contacted Lulu and spoke with Thomas. During our conversation, it came out that I wasn’t in good shape and would not likely see my book published. Friends set up a book signing event and funded an order of my books. Time was short, and I worried I might not get the books in time for the signing. Once again, I contacted Lulu to see when they would arrive, and if any accommodations could be made for shipping them more quickly. Thomas agreed to look into it and do what he could.

On my birthday, March 8, 2016, I called for his supervisor (her name is Rachel), and told her how exceptional he was over the last few days. Just to hear his voice lifted my spirits. I was afraid that I might have been a pain and wanted her to know what he did for a stranger and I didn’t want to get him trouble for looking into upgrading my shipping. I needed her to know that he was one hell of a representative for Lulu.

I got the books at 10:00 AM the next day!

I planned this to be my last Hurrah. And because of Lulu and Thomas’ personal assistance, I could achieve it.

That’s not even the end of the story; I told Thomas that someone else would probably complete the series, now it seems he may have to put up with me from time to time; at least for a while! I met with my Doctor this past Monday, she began by saying that on my first visit she needed me to know how serious the problems were and she needed to “scare the hell” out of me if I did not take action.

She sat with me and went through all the frightening signs the initial round of blood tests reveals; my weight, my blood sugar, my blood pressure. And after a month and a half, the improvements were tremendous. I told her that I did what she and the nutritionist told me to do. Cut out sodas, eat fruits and vegetables, cut starch, and eat appropriate servings.

I went through the scariest part of my life in the past month and half, not knowing if I would even see tomorrow, much less see the book published. Now it may be the first of many!

I am very happy to have worked with Lulu to achieve my dream.

Michael DeFranco

The Vortex at Thompson Park

Calling All Lulu Authors

Do you have a story to tell about realizing your dream as a writer?
Do you have self-publishing knowledge or expertise to share with other authors?
Want to expand your digital reach?

If so, we are looking for authors like you to share your story with our blog audience. Email your 250-500 word story to PR@lulu.com. Include a brief biography and a link to your published work. We will do the rest.

Coloring with Chakras: Does Your Mood Affect the Colors You Choose?

It seems adult coloring books are everywhere this year!  Did you know that 10 out of 20 books on the bestseller list are currently coloring books?  Who would have thought we could find such bliss in such a simple, yet unique form of expression.

Due to coloring’s health and happiness benefits, it’s no surprise the trend is taking over.  In our recent blog post: Scientists Discover The Secret To Happiness: Adult Coloring Books, Glenn gave us a glimpse into the positive psychological elements of the art.

Now that we know the act of coloring has capabilities to reduce stress, let’s take a  deeper look.  The field, color psychology, is devoted to analyzing the emotional and behavioral effects produced by colors and color combinations.   How does each color make you feel? Do you connect with certain colors?

Yoga and meditation enthusiasts are probably already familiar with Chakras.  For those who aren’t, the study of chakras is traced back to ancient Hindu studies. Chakras are associated with the seven centers of the human body where each center is associated with a color related to the general function or characteristics of the center.

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The choice of color is a reflection of our emotions, and possibly the language expressed in adult coloring.  Do you emotionally connect with certain colors?  Most adults may not realize the subconscious connection between emotion and color.  The act of coloring provides a mirror of our emotions.  Pick up an adult coloring book today and connect the colors of your world.

Entwined: A Coloring Book to Help You Unwind and Relax

Color is a universal language – it is simple and at the same time very profound.

Revising Your Fiction: Question Everything!

It’s a big day. You’ve finished the first draft of your book. You share the news on Facebook and get so many Likes—which will surely translate into book sales. But the ghosts of English teachers past remind you that a first draft is not a finished piece of writing.

“Fine,” you tell them. “I’ll edit.”

To appease the red pen-wielding apparitions, you add a semicolon here, take out a comma there, do a spellcheck, and now you’re done! Really done!

“Nope,” say the ghosts. “Revise.”

“But I spellchecked! I replaced two commas with em dashes! I even undangled a participle!”

“That’s editing,” they say. “Not revision.”

A lot of us consider these concepts synonymous, but they’re not quite the same thing. Revision is something a little more comprehensive.

The ugly truth is that lots of us don’t quite know where our stories are going until we get there. Sure, you might know the broad strokes, but good writing is all about the details. You discover things about your characters along the way—their motivations, likes, dislikes, loyalties, and more. Going back to make sure you’re as true to these details in your first sentence as you are in your last will make your stories better, your characters more well-rounded, and your readers more satisfied.

Ask yourself the following as you revise:

  • Who are your characters?

Do their actions make sense? Does your meek protagonist suddenly get loud and violent for no reason? Characters can—and arguably should—undergo change, but not on a dime, and not without cause.

  • What’s your setting?

Does the setting fit the story? What does it reinforce about the mood of your story or your characters—or how does it create contrast between your characters and their location? Properly setting your stage also sets the tone of your story.

  • What’s happening?

What happens? Are events properly set-up or do they occur randomly? Sure, life is random; but, in the same way that truth is stranger than fiction, truth is also less orderly. Fiction needs structure to feel believable.

  • Where’s the conflict?

This is the evil twin of plot. Both drive your narrative. What’s happening that generates interest, drama, or change? It can be external (like a ticking time bomb or a tough new boss) or it can be internal (like facing a debilitating fear or the acceptance of a breakup). Even better, include internal and external conflict. Good fiction is like life—complex.

  • Whose point of view is this?

Who’s telling the story? If your narrative is dependent on knowing lots of intimate thoughts and details about your main character, consider writing it in first-person. If the story works better with the reader kept at more of a distance—especially if there are lots of characters to touch on—try third. There’s no right choice, but be consistent—and be true to the voice you create.

In short, question everything about your story or book. It’s no easy task, but if you can’t answer the questions above, your readers will be left with lots of questions of their own—including why they should bother reading anything else you write.

Give your manuscript to a trusted (but picky) reader or two. Ask the above questions to them. The ones that stump them will show you where to start providing answers with a thorough revision. Your work will be better for it—and the ghosts of your English teachers will finally find some rest.

Getting Noticed: The Art of the Description

You wrote a book – congratulations! You’ve achieved something incredible. You wrote it, formatted it, reviewed the copy, self-published it and you are thoroughly satisfied, now all that is left is to put it up for sale and rejoice as readers the world over enjoy your work.

pexels-photoBut – selling a book is no easy task. Particularly in a literary world where self-published books are plentiful. By some UNESCO estimates, more than 800 books are published in the U.S. alone each day.

So, how do you make your book stand out?

Aside from writing a terrific book, the most important thing to do is to write an even better description. In fact, it’s arguably more important to write a great description.

The description is the front line for your book, the entryway to your literary world. It is the most important piece of writing you’ll do in terms of marketing your book and getting it noticed. And getting noticed is key! No one will know how good your book is if they aren’t enticed by the description to pick it up in the first place!

As both a consumer and a writer, there are a few things I’ve noticed that separate a good description from a poor one (and often these items mean the difference between someone buying your book or passing it over):

 

  • Brevity – The word count should be in the 150 to 250 range. This is a brief description meant to sell a reader on the book, it should not serve as a summary of the book. You are advertising your book, presenting a teaser that will make the reader want to pick up your book and find out what happens.
  • Introductions – Introduce your protagonist, the inciting incident, the setting/place/time – all the basics. Use strong, emotional language, in the third-person (even if the book is first-person). Writing in the third-person is a particularly effective way of removing yourself (the author) from the description.
  • Hook – Some suggest beginning with a hook, some ending with it. Either way, you need to “hook” the reader by evoking the genre and speaking to your intended audience. If your book is a crime thriller, make that clear with language that builds suspense or implies the unknown. If it’s a fantasy, let the reader know that they will be transported to strange new worlds with unique creatures and characters.
  • Raise the Stakes – Once the reader knows your protagonist, the inciting incident and has been hooked by the language, the stakes need to be cranked up to instill tension and motivate them to know more. A good story is steeped in conflict; tell your potential reader, either subtly or flat out, what the conflict is.
  • Write It as the Publisher – You wrote your book as the author—telling a story. An author is not a salesperson. You should write the description as the publisher, the person who wants to sell this book. Or better yet, have someone read the book and write the description for you! Whatever you do, stepping out of the author role is critical to writing an effective description.

 

While these aren’t the only rules, nor are they hard and fast, they will serve as guidelines when creating your description. The description is your only opportunity to grab your reader and make them want to read your book. Don’t waste this chance—use it to get as many people reading your book as you can!

Q&A with Award-Winning Lulu Jr. Author

This summer, Rainbow Resource Center, which is based in Illinois, held a Super Summer Book Writing Contest for children ages 5-17. Using Lulu Jr.’s My Awesome Book, children wrote and illustrated their stories and submitted them for the competition. Avery B. was the grand prize winner and she won $250. We sat down with Avery to learn what inspired her…

Question – Congratulations! How does it feel to be a published author at 13?

Avery B. – Really great! I feel like I’ve grabbed the key that opens a door for future possibilities.

Question – What was the best part of writing your own book?

Avery B. – I had a lot of fun thinking of the silly challenges that Ego and his friends would overcome.

Question – How did your friends in Beep Patrol help inspire you to write the story?

Avery B. – I always liked it when everyone on Beep Patrol, my FLL Robotics team, worked together to come up with great concepts. Core Values are some ideas that guide the teams to gracious gamesmanship. Since I was Core Values leader, I wanted to write a story about how Core Values changed someone’s life for the better.

Question – What was the hardest part of writing Ego?

Avery B. – The hardest thing for me to do was seeing something through. It was super hard for me to keep working at Ego. I was happy after my first draft – that is usually how I leave my work. However, I kept polishing Ego until it was ‘purrrrfect’. I’m really glad I spent a lot of effort in Ego!

Question – What have you learned from this experience?

Avery B. – I learned that if I follow my plans through, great things can happen.

Question – Do you have any plans to continue writing?

Avery B. – I will definitely keep writing. I am writing a novel about superhero kids called Scarlet Eyes and I think it is going to be a super neat story. I also thought of another story called More Than Gold. I’m going to keep working on that too.

Question – Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

Avery B. – This is some advice for aspiring writers: NEVER GIVE UP! Plan a story from the beginning to the end, and then follow it through. That is what I found makes writing a good story possible. And for my fellow Whovians: Don’t blink!”

The team at Lulu Jr. would like to congratulate Avery on the wonderful book that she created and we look forward to seeing the next one!

If you want your child to be a successful author like Avery, then head over to Lulu Jr. to find the perfect kit to turn your child into a published author too. Happy creating!

Maximize Your Lulu Customer Support Experience

Writing is no easy task, but once it’s done the book creation process begins. That’s where Lulu comes in. While our tools are designed to be accessible and user friendly, undoubtedly, questions and technical issue will arise. Lucky for you, dear author, Lulu’s Customer Support Team is here to help you overcome any obstacles you encounter.

To ensure a quick and efficient response, follow the instructions below when submitting your support request. These tips will help our support team better understand your problem and remove those obstacles preventing you from completing your project.

To get started, click on the Support link at the top of the page. Then choose the correct support category. Helpful articles are listed below each category that may answer your question. If not, click the I Still Need Help button to open a support request form. 

 

1) Project title, Content ID, ISBN, Order # –

These are the most important bits of information to be included when creating a support case. You will also notice three lines that aren’t required, but are helpful: Item ID; Item Name; ISBN. Including this information allows us to more quickly and accurately provide a solution. Remember, the more information you include in your original request, the fewer follow-up questions we will need to ask and the faster we can resolve your problem.

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The Content ID, ISBN, and Title information are displayed on the My Projects page:

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If your question involves an order that you are waiting to receive or one you have received, but have questions about, it is very important you include the order number in your support request.

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The order number is listed on the order confirmation email we send, on the packing slip inside the package, and from within your Lulu.com account (My Orders)

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2) Include all important information in your request

Describe the Problem as clearly as possible. A simple description such as “My EPUB won’t convert” or “My order didn’t go through” is often sufficient.

If you are having a specific issue, try to give as much detail as possible such as the step on which you encountered the problem or the error message you received. Screen shots are also very helpful to include.

 

3) Support Team responses

Emails are sent to you and routed back to us through a single email address (existing_ticket@lulu.com). Since this is a generic email account used by our entire support team, responses may get routed to your spam or junk folder. If you haven’t seen a response to your query, it’s possible our response is in one of those folders!

IMPORTANT: When you respond to an email from our support team, DO NOT change the subject line. The subject will look like this, but with a different case number:

 

[ ref:_00D406zP6._50070flt3l:ref ] Case 01234567

 

The information in the subject line ensures your response is filed with your original support request and routed to the correct Customer Support team member. If you add or change anything in the subject line, we may not receive or respond to your email in a timely fashion!

 

4) Where to find the answers – Knowledge Base and Author Forums

Lulu is a self-publishing company. We want our authors to grow and thrive. As such, we provide several support options.

  • Self Help: In our Knowledge Base you can find the answers to many of the “how do I…?” questions that come along with self-publishing, like formatting a Word file for EPUB conversion or How to Revise a Completed Project
  • Author Community: Post your question in the forums and other self-published authors will share their know-how, 24/7.
  • Support Team: We are happy to provide support for technical issues M-F from 8-5 Eastern US Time.

Believe me, if you can dedicate hours, weeks, and months of your life to telling your story, you can get through the steps of our creation process and make your book a reality. And, when you hit roadblocks, the Customer Support team is here to help!

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