Best Gifts 2016: Create a Custom Coloring Book. It’s Easy

Coloring books are among this year’s hottest quirky trends. When I first wrote about them in January, I truly thought adult coloring would be a quickly passing fad. Boy was I wrong. Apparently the relaxing pastime is just what we all need to take our minds off the everyday stresses of our adult lives.

Adult coloring book themes trend towards imagery such as mandalas, stained glass windows and other complex patterns. They are, in themselves, works of art.

I hear you thinking, “The title says it’s easy. With the holidays quickly approaching, who has time to plan, draw, and publish a coloring book? I’m not an artist.”

Well, my darling, you do and you are – with a little help from technology.

A search of the app store returns several free and inexpensive apps that will convert your photos to line drawings. There are also several tutorials on YouTube for converting images into line drawings using Photo Shop. Check out these examples created with the free version of QuickSketch.

Image converted using the free version of the QuickSketch App.

Image converted using the free version of the QuickSketch App.

 

Myanmar 2015

Myanmar 2015

Myanmar 2015

Myanmar 2015

To Create Custom Coloring Books:

  • For best results, convert pictures to line drawings at their original sizes.
  • If you are using an app, save the converted images to your phone, email them to yourself and save them to your computer.
  • Insert the images into an MS Word file.
  • Resize the images to fit the page.
  • Insert captions if desired.
  • Save the manuscript.

Here’s a quick tutorial for creating, uploading and printing your custom coloring book.

With these apps and the free online tools at Lulu, you can create coloring books using the images from your summer vacation, weddings, baby’s first year, your favorite dining out adventures, local sights, nights out with your friends, or any other theme. Can you imagine a better gift than a coloring book starring you, your friends, and the things you love best?

Color me surprised! QuickSketch also allows to you take photos as line drawings.

Color me surprised! QuickSketch also allows to you take photos as line drawings.

Additional Information

The Secret to Happiness: Adult Coloring Books

Spread Happiness: Create Your Own Coloring Book

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Gift: Personalized Hardcover Editions

hardcover-books-giftwrappedCome a little closer. I have a confession to make.

I may appear to have it all together during the holidays, but as a “people pleaser” from way back, I stress over every single holiday gift purchase. Do I really know what this person likes? Will it be the right size, style, color, or design? What if they already have one? What if I under spend or worse yet, over spend?

One thing I have found, however, is that everyone loves a gift featuring people they love, a shared experience or delicious consumables, hence the seasonal popularity of custom photo books, calendars and baked goods. People also like to receive unique items and collectable things like signed hardcover editions from their favorite author – who happens to be you.

If you published a paperback book this year, with very little effort, you can create custom hardcover editions to give as gifts this holiday season.

  • If you published in US Trade (6”x9)” or US Letter (8.5”x11”) paperback format, you can simply upload your print-ready PDF file to create a hardcover edition in the same size.
  • If you published in other formats, you will need to resize your manuscript file. Take a moment to review you formatting and page layout before uploading the resized manuscript for conversion.
  • Use our cover designer to create a beautiful dust jacket design. In many cases you can use much of the same imagery from your paperback book.
  • Our selection of colored linens and foil stamping will make your book stand out from all the other books on the shelf.
hardcover-books-bow

Guess what I got you! No, go ahead. Take a guess.

When your books arrive, personalize them for each recipient with a handwritten note. If you want someone to feel extra special, edit your manuscript file to include a special dedication.

Let’s face it, a personalized, collectible edition of your book is a much better gift than an ill-fitting sweater, new socks, or burnt cookies – and they are easy to wrap.

 

Author-preneurs:

With the holidays just around the corner, consider offering signed hardcover editions on your website and social media accounts. Your biggest fans will love them. By taking advantage of Lulu’s pre-holiday sales, you can save big on the stock you need for the best holiday season – ever.

More Tips for Holiday Success

Sell More Books: Easy Christmas Marketing Ideas

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors

Holiday Success: The Magic of Drop Shipping

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

And the Winner is….. “The 45 Presidents”

45_pres_lulu_cover_trump_isbn0_fixed_pdfWe have a winner. The 45th President of the United States of America is Donald J. Trump.

Within hours of the announcement, Blue Socks Media LLC published a new workbook “The 45 Presidents” using Lulu’s free online publishing tools. The workbook’s cover design features each president’s full color caricature – with the new president-elect’s front and center.

The 84 page, large format workbook not only includes facts and line drawings of each president, but also 39 additional fun learning activities such as fill-in-the blanks, First Lady matching, letter to the president and pages for coloring iconic images associated with the president such as the White House, Air Force One and Mt. Rushmore.

The book, written by Raggs creator Toni Steedman, is available exclusively in the Lulu bookstore thru Nov. 15. The book is targeted at elementary through middle school age children and will be the first learning resource to present all US presidents in one fun book.

By using Lulu’s free online publishing tools, authors have all they need to publish topically relevant books like The 45 Presidents and make them immediately available for purchase through the Lulu Bookstore, social media and personal websites.

Publish with Lulu and be ahead the wave – not chasing it.

 

ABOUT TONI STEEDMAN

A marketing and media entrepreneur for 25 years, Toni Steedman Zelickson heads Blue Socks Media LLC, which owns and controls the worldwide rights to the Emmy award-winning children’s musical TV series Raggs. Toni is also the creator of Raggs, named after her daughter’s imaginary dog. She      is available for appearances and interviews.                          

raggsABOUT RAGGS

Raggs  is the star of the Emmy award-winning Raggs TV series and is the lead singer of the “Raggs Band,” which includes his friends, Trilby, Pido, B.Max, and Razzles. Raggs is available for appearances, meet-and-greets, and dance-offs.

For more information on Raggs, please visit www.raggs.com.

 

Best Gifts 2016: Memory Books

untitled_-_13404748_cover_pdf

I won Christmas with this memory book.

I know, I hear you.

“One holiday at a time please.”

“Christmas is still 6 weeks away.”

But, you better start now if you want to win Christmas.

You know what I’m talking about. Everyone wants to be the person who gives the gift someone goes back to after all the other gifts are unwrapped. The one they take with them to parties and dinners later in the day to show their friends. The one that doesn’t get put away and forgotten in the back of a drawer or closet.

You’ve heard me say it a few times now, but the best gifts are the ones created from your best memories. So what could be better this year than creating a memory book for the people you love?

“What’s a memory book?”

It’s like a photo book, but better. A memory book not only collects your pictures, but also your words about a particular time or event such as a vacation, wedding, baby’s first year, 50th anniversary party, etc.

With the Lulu Studio, you can choose from our selection of beautiful hardcover photo books, choose a theme, and upload your images. With our text box and captioning tools, you can also record your thoughts about the event or write about favorite or humorous memories.

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I created this book using Lulu Studio. It’s about two foodies and their dad eating their way across Asia.

 

It’s a bit like creating an adult picture book – but all the characters in it are people and places you love and the words are yours.

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Three years later, it’s still prominently displayed on Dad’s coffee table.

 

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Hope you win!

 

Other ideas for winning Christmas

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

Custom Calendars: Daily Reminders of Your Best Memories

Lulu’s 2016 Best Gift Guide

Holiday Inventory: If You Don’t Have It, You Can’t Sell It

inventory-giftsIndependently published writers are more than just authors. At trade shows and panel discussions I have often described these writers as being self-employed entrepreneurs – heading a business with only one employee – themselves. As such the author must be adept at both writing and the business of publishing. All decisions are the author’s from developing the concept to publicizing and marketing the finished product to making sure there is product to sell.

The holidays provide more opportunities than any other time of the year to get your product in front of people who are actively seeking to spend their money. Whether you are planning a social media marketing push, have scheduled book signing and speaking events, have booked space at your local winter market, or meet someone on the bus, you need to be ready to make the sell.

Inventory Preparedness Questionnaire:

  • How many events do you have planned for the holidays?
  • How many books do you anticipate selling at each event?
  • Is there enough time between events to order and restock?
  • Will you be selling signed or personalized books from your website or social media pages?
  • How many books do you need as gifts for friends and family?
  • Do you have bookmarks or postcards advertising your book to hand out in the event you sell out of books or someone wishes to purchase an eBook?
  • Do you have a high-quality pen for signing and personalizing books?

One of the benefits of print-on-demand publishing is that there is no costly inventory to maintain. However, this also means that when you or your customers place an order, the books must be printed before they ship. Regardless of the number of books ordered, printing will take from 3-5 business days. This time of year, average printing times are on the shorter side of that range; however, as Christmas approaches, printing times will push towards five days. Add shipping time to that and you can see why it is more important than ever to ensure you have the stock on hand to make the sell.

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To help ensure you have a successful holiday sales season, Lulu is running author-only discounts in November so you can save now on the inventory you need for the Christmas holiday season.

You can be among the first to know about these discounts. Simply sign up for Lulu promotional emails on your Lulu Account > Preferences page. Discounts are also listed on the Lulu home page.

We wish you great success, today and everyday.

More Holiday Readiness

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors

Sell More Books: Easy Christmas Marketing Ideas

Holiday Success: The Magic of Drop Shipping

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

 

2016 B Corp Champions Retreat: Working Towards an Inclusive Economy

2016 B Corp Champions Retreat

2016 B Corp Champions Retreat

By: SheridanH@Lulu

Earlier this year, when we learned the 2016 B Corp Champions Retreat was scheduled to take place just down the road in Durham, North Carolina, the Lulu team went into overdrive, feverishly working to earn the 80 points required for certification. We were determined to attend the event and this past Summer we received our certification. Unfortunately for us, the planning committee decided to relocate the retreat in protest of North Carolina’s discriminatory law HB2.

So, instead of a 20 minute drive to Durham, we packed our bags for Philadelphia. Kathy Hensgen, Lulu SVP of Operations, and I flew to Philly to represent Team Lulu and the state of North Carolina as we know it – a community that may be imperfect, but is full of innovation, love, and determined to heal the hurt of HB2 and grow towards a more accepting society.

We made it. Sheridan and Kathy on retreat.

We made it. Sheridan and Kathy on retreat.

 

Because of HB2, I was worried Lulu would be treated like the embarrassing cousin nobody wants to sit next to at Thanksgiving. Instead, we were greeted with open arms and words of encouragement from other B Corps – exemplifying this year’s theme “Towards an Inclusive Economy.”

Here are some lessons we learned during the Retreat:

Business Can be Compassionate

We are not robots. Lulu is a business run by humans to help other humans create and share their content. We can use the humanity of our business to influence communities using a platform that reaches thousands of people each day.

Lulu may not directly cure diseases or end world hunger, but we can amplify the voices of our authors who take on these difficult issues. Whether it’s talking about issues of social justice or raising awareness about problems faced by our stakeholders, businesses should take a stance.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

So far, Lulu has scored 80 out of 200 points on the B Corp Impact Assessment.  That means there are at least 120 points of improvement remaining to tackle. We learned from other B Corporations the best way to guarantee continuous improvement is to create an internal team that holds members accountable.

This is not only a better way to get stuff done, but it also encourages employee engagement. Who doesn’t get fired up about their work when they know they are making the world a little better day by day?

Teamwork - How do we achiever our goals?

Teamwork – How do we achieve our goals?

Inclu$ivty & Diver$ity

We’d all like to say our work environments are inclusive and accepting.

However, if the workforce isn’t diverse, the business may be falling short of proactively reaching out to diverse candidates and using hiring practices like removing names from resumes and posting on a variety of job search engines.

If we wish to better serve our communities, businesses should seek diversity by recruiting employee from groups who are chronically under-employed such as domestic abuse survivors, veterans, returning citizens, and anyone who has been out of the workforce for a substantial period of time. The more perspectives available, the greater the chance we’ll have to resolve business questions and effectively serve our customers.

The best solutions come when everyone contributes.

The best solutions come when everyone contributes.

Telling the B Corp Story

At Lulu we haven’t been shy about our B Corp certification, but we haven’t climbed to the rooftop and shouted for the world to hear.

Authors and readers, we need your help. You are some of our most important stakeholders. The books you create and read with Lulu and our sustainable print-on-demand technology are crucial to our B Corp certification.  Choosing Lulu means that you are an advocate for environmental and social change. You believe in the power of for-profit businesses to do good.

So spread the word that you are part of this great B Corp family! You hang out with the likes of Lulu, Etsy, Dr. Bronner’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and many more. In fact, you probably have some awesome B Corps in your area.

We encourage you to reach out to those businesses and show that you’re in it to win it. The more momentum the B Corp movement gets, the faster we will achieve an inclusive economy.

 

Learn More About Our B Corp Journey

Lulu: Good for Authors, Good for the World

B Corp Update: Sooooo Close!

B Better Than Yesterday: Lulu Achieves B Corporation Certification

 

Better for Authors. Better for the World.

Better for Authors. Better for the World.

Update: The Big Move

Welcome!

Welcome!

The best laid plans of mice and Lulus…

On Thursday, October 20th, we (mostly) vacated our office building near North Carolina State University; however,  our return to the Research Triangle Park hit a few snags.  As a result, our customer support team has been roughing it in an office without HVAC diligently answering the phones while the rest of us have been working from home.

However, we will all be back together soon.  Our internet provider will be reconnecting us to world Monday, October 31st. As we transition into the new office, US phone support will be unavailable Oct 31 – Nov 4.

During this time:

  • The Lulu.com website will be up and running.
  • Email support cases will be answered by the customer support team.
  • Chat support will be made available during business hours in all English stores.
  • As always, the author forums are available 24/7 for peer-to-peer publishing support.

We are all looking forward to reassembling our teams. Here are a few pictures I took of the new office while I was there today.

Our new lobby. Come on in!

Our new lobby. Come on in!

 

Lots of unpacking remains to be done.

Lots of unpacking remains to be done.

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