Distracted and Unmotivated Authors Never Win the Race

I freely admit to being a ninja-level procrastinator who can think of 100 reasons not to sit down to write. When I finally get in front of a keyboard, I first check Facebook to see what my friends are doing, which leads to viewing a few YouTube videos, reading some news articles, checking my bank account balance, responding to email, putting together a song playlist for inspiration… then I realize an hour has passed. I have not written a single word and, even worse, my mind is now completely distracted.

I don’t think I am alone here, so how do we overcome the daily challenge of simply finding the time and motivation to put fingers to keyboard while balancing work, home and family with sleep and the sweet siren song of the internet?

I posed this question in a LinkedIn self-published author’s group.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 9.27.12 AMJerry X. Shea, Author / Speaker / Consultant, responded with two suggestions. The first is just to write. If writer’s block strikes, take a break from the manuscript and write something completely unrelated: send an email, write a blog post or article. This will ease the pressure and before you know it, the perfect segue or plot twist will be flowing from your fingers. For serious production, he suggests finding or creating a quiet space away from the distractions of television, radio and internet.

Jerry found his quiet place on a four month escape to Alaska, but most of us are not so fortunate in our quest for a quiet place in which to write. It is more likely that a majority of us are writing in fits and starts resulting in unfocused narratives. To prevent the dreaded meandering plot line, Danielle Fetherson, Editor / Ghostwriter / Publishing Assistant, suggests beginning with a single sentence to clearly articulate the book’s message – like a thesis statement. Use this statement to build a working outline of your plot. (I just flashed back to high school English class.) You may think that an outline is too restrictive, but she anticipates your objection, “The outline may adapt over time and I may even revise the wording of the thesis by the time the book is finished, but having that outline as a starting point can be liberating because it offers context for information and gives me a starting point to let the creativity flow.”

What about those times when the will to struggle through another paragraph has simply abandoned you. When you find yourself hopelessly staring at the screen, Jennifer Mason, Author / Flow Writer, encourages us to re-motivate ourselves by having “a conversation with a friend or client about what you do and why you do it.” Who better to remind us of our passion than we ourselves?

So, now that you have made it to the end of this paean on procrastination, go find a quiet place, review your outline and remember why you do what you do.

Happy writing!

The State of Self-Publishing

Recently, Bowker issued a report on the state of self-publishing, analyzing ISBN data year over year to identify changes in the number of print and eBooks published by the top self-publishing platforms. And guess what? Self-publishing isn’t going anywhere.

“Our general conclusion is that self-publishing is beginning to mature. While it continues to be a force to reckon with, it is evolving from a frantic, wild-west style space to a more serious business,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services. “The market is stabilizing as the trend of self-publisher as business-owner, rather than writer only, continues.”

A few key takeaways from the report:

  • Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.09.33 AM

    Bowker Report

    Self-published titles jumped to more than 458,564 in 2013, increasing by 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008.

  • Printed titles were up, as well. Specifically, increasing by 29 percent over 2012, indicating the format remains popular amongst authors and readers, alike.
  • The industry continues to be led by a handful of self-publishing service companies, with over 75 percent of self-published titles being brought to market with support from just three companies: Lulu.com, Smashwords and CreateSpace.

Plus, not to toot our own horn, but Lulu.com was the only self-publishing company to remain ranked in the top three when you compare ISBN output from 2008-2013 across total print and eBooks, just print books and just eBooks. Alright, maybe we’re tooting our own horn just a little bit.

The picture this data paints is very exciting for the future of the self-publishing industry and the team at Lulu.com is thrilled to be on the leading edge of the direction the industry is moving.

Expand Your Distribution and Reach More Readers

At Lulu.com, we want to give every author the tools they need to have a chance at success. After all, there’s a lot to do with your self-published book between editing it, formatting it and designing the perfect cover. That doesn’t even include writing it! But there’s one aspect you might not have given a lot of thought to yet: how exactly are you going to sell your book?

Selling on Lulu.com is a great start, but to reach the largest pool of potential readers you need to be in the most stores possible – that means Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and more. Luckily, Lulu.com’s globalREACH distribution service lists your book on websites around the world in a few quick steps.

So why should your book have globalREACH? Well, there’s no reason not to get it! Worried that it’ll take too much time and effort on your part to get everything set-up? Think again – it couldn’t be any easier.

5 Apps Every Writer Should Check Out

We all know that writing comes with its own set of challenges. Whether you’re a professional full-time author or just writing for pleasure, we want to make your life a little easier. Our team has done some digging on the top five apps that every writer should try. Here’s the list to make your literary endeavors simpler. Drumroll please…

1. iA Writer

Need a little more focus in your writing life? iA Writer for iOS offers an extremely clean interface to cut down on annoying distractions. This app takes overs your screen and fades out the surrounding text so you aren’t easily distracted with the desire to edit. Basic formatting and editing options are available and you have the ability to import and export Word files. Additionally, you can effortlessly sync documents with iCloud and Dropbox.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Mac.

2. Hanx Writer

Hugely popular upon its release in August, Tom Hanks’ app pays homage to that pivotal piece of writing technology… the typewriter. Hanks, who is an avid typewriter collector, decided to translate his love of the mechanical device into a digital world.  This app replicates the noises of a traditional typewriter, including the unmistakeable chime at the end of a line. While you may not want to write your next 500 page novel on it, you can definitely have some fun here. It’s a great app for anyone looking for the experience of a manual typewriter with the ease and speed of an iPad.

Available on iPad.

3. Pocket

The Pocket app allows users to save content from all over the web in a convenient and accessible reader format. Save articles, videos, pictures, etc. in Pocket and you will immediately have access to it across any and all of your devices. This is a great app for the research phase of the writing process, when you are still gathering and organizing ideas.

Available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Kobo and various web browsers.

4. Byword 2

Byword 2 bills itself as, “Simple and efficient text editing for Mac, iPhone and iPad.”

Byword 2 supports rich text and Markdown. You can sync all of your documents on all of your devices, along with iCloud and Dropbox. It also includes complete Markdown support, allows you to preview your documents in the app, export to HTML, PDF, rich text or publish directly to a plethora of web platforms.

Available on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

5. PaperHelper

Does the constant flipping back and forth between browsers and screens drive you nuts? As screens become smaller, space becomes more of a premium. This app allows you do keep your research and writing all within view by splitting your writing and your research into either side of your screen.

Available on iPad.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Kicks Off: Tips for Success

It’s late. Your heart-rate is elevated. The coffee is still percolating. Your hair, unwashed, is now reaching skyward as you tug on it almost every minute. You look over at your wall calendar, but you don’t need to be told what month it is: it is November. It is National Novel Writing Month. 

Started in 1999 by Chris Baty and “20 other overcaffeinated yahoos,” the write-50,000-words-of-a-novel-in-a-month challenge started with 21 participants and 6 winners. In 15 years it’s grown exponentially. Last year, over 310,000 writers attempted the feat.

The word count threshold, 50,000 words, means that a writer must commit to writing just a little under 2,000 words a day, or, to us writers, A LOT OF STINKIN’ WORDS. While some established authors take months or years to craft a narrative, writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), have just one month to commit to a draft. Several best-sellers have emerged from NaNoWriMo including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

We could not be more excited to be sponsoring NaNoWriMo again this year and hope everyone will take advantage of our 2014 Wrimo offerings. We also totally understand that finding the time and creative energy for this 30-day challenge is a huge feat, so here are a few ways to make the words flow!

Happy National Book Month!

October is here and we know that with the changing season, many of your thoughts have turned to fall leaves, pumpkin-spiced lattes and well… anything and everything pumpkin-spiced. But here at Lulu, we can’t stop thinking about BOOKS! October is actually National Book Month. It’s a time to celebrate the joy that paper, binding and the written word can bring us. In honor of National Book Month, we wanted to share a myriad of fun facts that may change how you look at your favorite books and authors forever!

1. We all know the smell of old books is glorious, but there’s some interesting science behind it too! Over time the gradual breakdown of the cellulose and lignin contained in paper leads to the production of large amounts of various organic compounds. The odor these compounds produce varies depending on where the book was printed, the paper and ink types and how long the book has been degrading. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 2.25.52 PM

2. The Alnarp Library in Sweden has a 217 volume collection of wooden books called The Tree Library. Each book describes a specific tree—its binding is bark, moss and lichens found on that species and the book interiors hold more natural surprises. The books were made in Germany during the 19th century.

3. Of Mice and Men was originally titled Something that Happened.

4. Abibliophobia – the fear of running out of reading material.

5. The Neverending Story not only ends, but is estimated to be only around 96,000 words. It was also written by Michael Ende.

6. William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury includes a 600 word section that has no punctuation!

7. Avid reading over the course of a lifetime may reduce the rate of memory decline by as much as 32%.

8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the first book written with a typewriter.

9. The Harvard University library has four law books bound in human skin.

10. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before.

11. People in Iceland read more books per capita than any other country in the world.

12. Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in six weeks.

13. Teeny Ted from Turnip Town is the world’s smallest book.Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 2.40.50 PM

14. The largest bound book in the world is The Klencke Atlas. A 1.75 meter tall by 1.9 meter wide tome that is so heavy six people are necessary to lift it. It was presented as a gift to Charles II of England by Johannes Klencke in 1660. The atlas contains 37 printed wall maps.

15. Ernest Hemingway survive, d through anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery, skin cancer, hepatitis, anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, two plane crashes, a ruptured kidney, a rupture spleen, a ruptured liver, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull, and more. He ultimately died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

16. 33% of high school graduates in the U.S. never read another book the rest of their lives.

17. The Harry Potter books are the most banned books in America.

18. J.R.R. Tolkien typed the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with two fingers.

19. J.M. Barried gave the rights of Peter Pan to the Children’s Hospital on Great Ormond Street, London so they could always collect royalties and fund the hospital.
20. It is rumored that Teddy Roosevelt read, on average, one book a day even when juggling the responsibilities of his presidential office.

Lulu.com’s Fall Conference Line-up

We’re hitting the road this fall! Dan Dillon, our resident product marketing extraordinaire, and Glenn Hunt, self-publishing guru and Lulu forum moderator, will be speaking on three panels at the upcoming Self-Publishing Book Expo. Additionally, Lulu’s founder and chairman, Bob Young, who works to keep Lulu and the industry at the front of digital disruption and innovative, will be speaking at three key digital conferences this fall.

The upcoming events include:

  • All Things Open – October 22, 2014 in Raleigh, NC
    • Speaker: Bob Young
    • Topic: So You Want to Start an Open Source Company?
  • Free Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS) @Seneca College – October 23, 2014 in Toronto, Canada
    • Keynote: Bob Young
  • Internet Summit – November 12, 2014 in Raleigh, NC
    • Featured Speaker: Bob Young
  • Self-Publishing Book Expo – November 15, 2014 in New York, NY
    • Speakers: Dan Dillon and Glenn Hunt
    • Session: Team Building – With a wealth of new resources at your disposal, deciding if you need a team (and who should be on it) has become a much simpler process. In this session you’ll learn from the pros and from fellow authors, where you can go it alone, when and where you might need help and how you can find it.
    • Advanced Marketing – More experienced authors will gain even greater knowledge of marketing techniques that will help boost sales. Topics covered in this session will include, how and where to advertise, targeted bookstore promotions, blog ads, reading groups, how to reach libraries and librarians and how to create and upload a book trailer.
    • Formatting: One of the many advantages of self-publishing is having the power to choose which format to present your work. Hardcovers, paperbacks, eBooks, audiobooks are all viable options depending on your audience and your level of expertise. Join this informative session to learn all you need to produce a book in the right format for you.

Come check us out!