#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.

Marketing your book for success: an interview with Dr. Alwin Lewis

Contributed by Dan Dillon, Lulu’s amazingly fantastic Product Marketing Director.

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The authors who use Lulu.com to share their books with the world are really good at writing. It just so happens that they’re really good at marketing their books as well. Case in point: Dr. Al Lewis, author of “Why Weight Around?” was recently featured on The Dr. Oz Show, where he was interviewed by Dr. Oz himself. You can watch the two-part segment: Part 1  and Part 2. We recently caught up with Dr. Lewis and him to share some of his secrets for effective book marketing. Here’s what he told us:

Lulu.com: How did you land the “Why Wait Around?” segment on the Dr. Oz Show?
Dr. Lewis: The producers from the Dr. Oz Show called my office out of the blue one day. Within a month, I had taped the show. The word is getting around.

Lulu.com: Why do you think your book has been successful?
Dr. Lewis: It provides the most consistent, powerful weight loss strategy available on the market today.

Lulu.com: How did you first go about finding an audience for your book?
Dr. Lewis: The audience for whom I was writing are my patients. They drove me to write it, and in many ways they supplied the content. Because of the success I was having with my patients who did the program I decided to publish it, and Lulu.com was a perfect fit for me and my needs.

Lulu.com: What are the essential parts of your book marketing plan?
Dr. Lewis: I rely on word-of-mouth publicity to market my book.

Lulu.com: What tactics work best for reaching your audience and getting them to buy your book?
Dr. Lewis: My reader has to really want to get thin. If they do, they are already 95% sold on the book. I also use testimonials and before/after pictures on my author web site, theslimmingstation.com, to help motivate people. Last, but not least, I stress the importance of maximizing their health and living exceptionally.

Lulu.com: Let’s say you have only $500 to spend on book marketing. How do you spend it?
Dr. Lewis: I would probably spend it on business card-sized print ads that I can leave around town to spread the word within my area. I rely on word-of-mouth and my web site to carry the marketing of my book outside my city’s borders.

Lulu.com: Thanks, Dr. Lewis. Congrats on the great exposure on the Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Lewis: Thanks. Stay tuned. I’m mulling over my next big book!

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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Tearing down the wall! Lulu now offers new print packages to fit everyone

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When Bob Young, Lulu’s founder, tore down the barriers to bringing a book to market, he knew millions of people would benefit. Since Lulu.com made its debut more than ten years ago, people from every corner of the globe have created works for every reader in every genre.

  • Fiction writers have found and delighted new audiences.
  • Memoirists have left important legacies.
  • Educators have removed obstacles to knowledge.
  • Physicians have shared life-saving research and information.
  • Biographers have celebrated fascinating lives.
  • Entrepreneurs have launched and grown new businesses.

That’s just a fraction of the list. Here at Lulu.com, we’ve satisfied just about every possible reason a person can make a book.

And now we’re tearing down another wall: the final barrier to flexibility and control. Today, Lulu.com is offering new, lower priced print book options. You can now choose from Premium, Standard and Value to fit your every book-making need.

Premium books are hard cover with an optional dust jacket. These books can have image wrap or linen wrap covers, offering you the choice of six linen colors as well as foil stamping for the spine (three color options there, too). You can also choose white or cream paper options. Our Premium line also includes books with photo quality color or black & white interiors. These books provide the highest quality possible and options that have never been available in a print on demand offering until now.

Standard books are soft cover, available as perfect bound, coil stitched or saddle stitched. These books have bookstore quality color or black & white interiors. Many of our Standard book options are eligible for distribution, and all of them can have bulk discounts applied.

Value books are soft cover available as perfect bound only. They are available with color or black & white interiors. These books are not currently eligible for distribution or for bulk discounts. As the name suggests, the main advantage of our Value line is lower cost. The Value line books are comparable to what you’ll find if you shop around before deciding to use Lulu.com.

All of these product lines come with lower pricing, so you can increase your earning potential or pass the savings on to your readers. And not to worry: We’ve preserved the high quality you love in all of our books.

To make choosing the right print book option as easy as possible, we’ve created a free Book Builder tool to guide you through the book creation process. Go to the Book Builder, try it out, and let us know what you think! Also, from now until April 24th save 15% on your order when you publish a Standard or Premium print book with Lulu.com (use discount code: SAVE15 at checkout).

Top 3 Ways to Ensure Self-Publishing Success

Yes you canContributed by Dan Dillon, Lulu Director of Product Marketing

I recently had the pleasure to co-present a webinar with Bowker on Self-Publishing: Your Path to Success. Ralph Coviello, publisher relations manager at Bowker, shared copious insights into how the self-publishing landscape has taken shape over the past few years, as well as how it may continue to evolve. From all the great observations and advice, I’ve distilled the three most important lessons to be gleaned for your success in self-publishing.

1. Publish in multiple formats
It stands to reason that the more products you have to sell, the more money you’re able to make. Books are no exception. Authors who offer multiple formats of their books sell up to four times more than authors who offer their readers only a single format. To capitalize on this, make your titles available as a softcover, hardcover and an ebook. Readers across all age groups are reading print, so there’s no predicting what format individual book buyers may prefer. have ready whatever they may want.

2. Channel surf
Just as it stands to reason that the more products you have to offer, the more you’re likely to sell – the more places you make them available, the more you’ll be able to sell. Get your books into as many online retail channels as possible. The ones that will likely have the greatest impact on your print book sales are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For ebooks, you’ll want to make your titles available on the Kindle, iBookstore, NOOK and Kobo, at a minimum. Happily, you can get all of your books into these channels — and many more — with Lulu.com. For free.

3. Press releases are very popular
This is a double-edged sword. Yes, press releases are a valuable tool for building awareness about your book, and you can reach the same journalists who the Big 6 publishers talk to. Yes, there is a ton of news out in the world and it takes a lot to get your story heard. The lesson here? Targeting the information in your press release is critical, and targeting the people you send it to is also key.

View the complete webinar, and let us know in the comments what’s worked for you to drive book sales. You can also page through the webinar deck on Slideshare.

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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New and Improved: Lulu now offers Kindle, Kobo and More

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Alright, we’re just going to cut to the chase: Lulu authors may now distribute their Lulu eBooks to both the Kindle and Kobo eBookstores. That’s right, upload it once and sell it everywhere – and, by the way since we’re talking about awesome news, our print book distribution service is Free!

Now with Lulu, authors have a single, free and simple method for getting all of your books into as many distribution channels as possible. No more need to publish your books in multiple places. With Lulu, you can sell what you love everywhere.

To make this even better, when you choose the Kobo and Everything Else distribution option, your eBook will be made available for purchase on eBook retailer sites in the Ingram network includinhttp://www.lulu.com/blog/wp-admin/post-new.phpg Kalahari, Booktopia, Baker & Taylor, Gardners, Oyster Books, Sainsbury’s and others – not to mention a long list specialty eBook retailers from around the world.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We are not yet able to offer Kindle and Kobo distribution options to authors residing in Australia.

New eBook Pricing and Manage Distribution Pages

mediumAs part of this release, we have redesigned the Manage Distribution page and the pricing step in the eBook publishing wizard. Authors may now enter a retail price and then choose the retail sites (distribution channels) on which they want to sell their books. The retail price, distribution fees, Lulu commission, and creator revenue are clearly displayed for each channel.

How do I get my previously published eBook in the Kindle and Kobo Stores?

If your eBook is already in distribution, simply click the Manage button next to the project title, add the Kindle and Kobo options, and save your changes. Since your eBook previously passed the Lulu QA Review, we will pass it directly to Ingram for distribution into their network. You eBook will, however, be subject to each retailer’s review procedure before being made available for purchase on those sites.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If your eBook is already published through Kindle Direct or available for purchase on Amazon.com, you may not distribute a duplicate copy to the Kindle Bookstore. Doing so will violate both the Lulu eBook distribution terms and your Amazon agreement.

New Sell Page Design

Intensive studies and user feedback indicate that people really like the Lulu site, but the most important question of all “How much money will I make?” is not readily apparent. To help answer this most important of questions, we have redesigned the Sell page to provide an at-a-glance summary of Lulu’s distribution options, services, tools, and retail pricing examples for both print and eBooks in distribution. It’s glorious!

Other Improvements

  • eBook Title Capitalization Validation. 

One of the most common causes for our QA team rejecting an eBook is that the author did not follow proper capitalization rules for their title. This new feature alerts a creator a title does not meet these capitalization rules, so that it can be fixed on the very first step.

  • Select Between Previously Used Publisher Names.

When an author brings their own ISBN, they must also provide the publisher name that they tied to that ISBN when they bought it. This name is then sent to all of our distribution and metadata partners. To help reduce the number of almost-the-same duplicate publisher names, we have replaced the text entry field with a dropdown that allows a creator to choose a previously used publisher name or enter a brand new one. This list is account-based, and an account without any publisher names will see a blank entry field.

  • eBook Approval Email.

We now send an email to an author when our QA team approves their eBook for distribution to retailers. Previously, they were only notified if we had rejected their eBook. This keeps our authors informed on their eBook’s status, and will help prevent support cases from authors asking for a status update.

  • Edit Price on Manage Distribution Page.

When we gave the eBook Manage Distribution page the same interface as the Price step in the Wizard, we also opened up the ability for creators to edit their eBook’s price on the Manage Distro page. This allows them to manage all aspects of how their book is sold in one place.

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.