What Lulu Readers Buy as Holiday Gifts

What you’ll learn:

  • Why hardcover books priced below $30 are the most desirable for holiday gift purchases
  • How readers find the books they buy as gifts and what influences their decision-making process
  • Where shoppers go to find the books that help them spread holiday cheer

The holidays are here! Parties are being planned. Stores are decking their halls. And people everywhere are scratching their heads as they try to find the perfect gift for everyone on those ever-growing holiday shopping lists. The question to you—independent authors – is how do you get your book in front of the shoppers interested in your book’s topic?

In order to help with this perplexing question, we’ve asked Lulu readers about their shopping habits and decisions, and there’s great news! For starters, over 70% of the nearly 1,200 respondents give more than 3 books as gifts over the holidays. Secondly, and an important consideration for you as you work through the steps in our free eBook, Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales, most of the gifted books will be hardcovers.

So, what are these shoppers buying and how do they decide what to purchase? There are many factors that go into the decision-making process for Lulu readers. Let’s start by looking at one of the more fundamental pieces of the gift-giving puzzle — the price. According the Lulu readers, $30 is the magic number when they’re considering a book to give for the holidays with nearly 90% of respondents saying they’ll pay between $5 and $30. Only a small percentage of gift-givers, 8.4%, will pay more than $30.

How much, on average, are people spending on a book for a holiday gift:

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Now that we know Lulu readers are most likely to purchase and give hardcover books that fall below the $30 price point as they share their holiday cheer, let’s take a closer look at how gift-givers decide which books to give as gifts. When we asked the respondents about how they decided which books to give, an overwhelming majority of Lulu readers indicated that they rely most heavily on online research. This means that an online presence that effectively markets your book to the desired audience is critical to your success gaining holiday sales. Notably, the second most common way gift-givers found books to give as gifts was by giving books that they have already enjoyed and believe their friends and family will love, too.

Decision about which book to give:

Image1-HowDecided

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We also wanted to know what other factors contribute to holiday book purchase decisions, like delivery speed and media reviews. While 22% of respondents do, in fact, judge a book by it’s cover, we also learned that the familiarity of the author’s name and customer reviews contributed heavily to the decision to purchase a book.

Factors that play in to online purchases:

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Finally, we asked folks where they shop and make book purchases, both online and brick-and-mortar. Unsurprisingly, Amazon.com was overwhelmingly the most popular retailer, with independent booksellers, Lulu.com, Kindle and other eReaders, and Barnes & Noble stores following, respectively.

Where are people most likely to make their book purchases:

WherePurchased

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What does this mean for you?

Simply put, we hope this information helps you sell more books. By asking buyers what they typically buy and how they find these books for the holiday season, we learned not only how the book should look and feel (hardcover), but also the most desirable price point (less than $30) and the importance of having a strong online presence and distribution strategy.

To help each of you achieve your goal of creating the perfect hardcover for the holiday season shopper, we’ve introduced new premium options to make your book stand out. This includes new linen covers, foils stamping, dust jackets and archival paper to ensure your book is a gift your readers can cherish for years.

Be sure to check out the free eBook, Marketing Your Book for Holiday Sales, and sign up for your free First Edition Hardcover.

Happy Holiday Sales!

Your Friends at Lulu

Who has the lowest prices on professional photo books and calendars? Lulu Studio does!

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.46.21 AMLet it be known that we are here to serve the people! We receive a lot of very helpful feedback, both positive and negative, from our wonderful authors and customers, and we strive every day to improve how we operate in response to the feedback.

Recently, we’ve been speaking with a lot of photographers and authors of photo-rich content about the pricing for photo books and calendars on Lulu Studio. Based on these conversations and the follow up research we conducted, we are excited to share some pretty big changes with you.

Today, we introduced new wholesale and volume discount pricing for professional photo books and calendars created using Lulu Studio. With photo books starting at $12.99 and calendars starting at $9.99, the newly introduced pricing allows photographers and other creators of photo-rich products to pass savings on to their customers, thereby increasing both your audience reach and resulting sales opportunities.

Authors using the Helix Review: William J. Smith

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 12.45.04 AMWilliam J. Smith, author of the science fiction novel, Straight from Heaven; Delivered from Hell recently submitted his work for a Helix Review.  This is what he had to say about his experience.

Tell us a bit about your book:
The Smith family was a normal,middle-class family living happily in the suburbs of New York,with three gorgeous children,and a fourth on the way,but almost as soon as that child is born,a group calling themselves The Apocalypse Watchers,shows up at their house, preaching that the Anti-Christ has been born,and they come to believe that this new member of the family is the Anti-Christ and that they must rid the world of her by any means necessary to avoid Armageddon.Can the Smiths protect their little girl,Carol Anne,from these crazy cultists,or will The Apocalypse Watchers succeed in putting an end to the Anti-Christ’s reign once and for all?

How would you describe your writing style:

I usually like to write in the third person in which I’m the narrator telling the reader about events that happened to me, my fictional family, fictional children, and set these books 5-10 years into the future (which,right now,is 2020-2025).

Why did you decide to try Helix:

To give me some advice and constructive criticism of my writing style.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

That my writing style, in some areas matches those of other, more notable and well-known authors.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

To tweak my writing style to make it more professional and appealing to readers.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

Helix is a useful tool to help you evaluate your writing style.

About the Helix Review
Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book. – See more at: http://www.lulu.com/blog/category/helix-review/#sthash.RIG4o0bN.dpuf
Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Self Publishing Momentum Continues!

The independent publishing industry has taken great strides since Lulu first made the option to self-publish books widely available in 2002. On October 9, Bowker released new data highlighting the strong adoption of self-publishing as the industry continues to build momentum.

Most notably, Bowker cites a 59% jump in self-published titles in 2012 from 2011. That’s huge! Similarly, eBooks continue to gain popularity among self-published authors with 40% of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012 being eBooks compared to 11% the year prior.

Recently, there has been yet another groundswell of enthusiasm and participation in the movement. There is ever-increasing credibility and success among self-published authors, even those that have been traditionally published before. Writers everywhere continue to embrace the opportunities and control afforded by making their books directly and immediately available to readers everywhere.

Highlights from Bowker’s 2011 annual findings included the addition of over 148,000 new self-published titles, which translates to 43% of all print books released in the U.S. that year. Also, self-published books represented 12% of all e-book sales and as much as 20% of specific genres like romance and fantasy.

You can read more about these trends and Bowker by visiting these sites:

Authors using the Helix Review: B.D. Salerno

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 12.33.19 AMNext up in our ongoing series on Helix Review authors is B.D. Salerno, author of Forensics by the Stars: Astrology Investigates.  Here’s what he had to say about the Helix experience:

Tell us a bit about your book:
The author, an avid reader of true crime as well as an accomplished astrologer, delves into the use of astrology as a means of gaining more insight into famous crimes, world events and missing persons cases.  Examples of well known crimes include a discussion of the murder of Marilyn Monroe, the peculiar crash of TWA Flight 800 — whose investigation has been recently reopened — and the Haiti earthquake.  The book includes a useful appendix of astrological information for the beginner and lay person alike.

How would you describe your writing style:

My writing requires the careful research and retelling of famous crimes and events, as seen through the lens of the astrology horoscope cast for the moment of those events.   The horoscope is analyzed in clear and concise terms and the astrological symbolism is explained.  While the writing is journalistic in scope, it is also explanatory and educational for the reader, citing news sources as well as classic astrological references.

Why did you decide to try Helix:

There are very few books on the market related to my topic so I wanted to se how my book stacked up against other current works in the field.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

I gained a sense of confidence in seeing that my writing is comparable to other works and measured favorably when compared to other books in the field.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

In an effort to keep my work as educational and concise as possible I will strive to keep sentence length a little shorter than its current ranking, which was slightly longer than average.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

I would tell them it is a very worthwhile investment which can provide helpful guidelines for future writing endeavors.

For more information about B.D. Salerno and  Forensics by the Stars:  Astrology Investigates:

Author Website
Author TwitterAuthor Facebook

About the Helix Review

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

Authors using Helix Review: Geoffrey Lloyd Vough

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 11.18.26 AMFor the next installment of our series on the Helix Review, Geoffrey Lloyd Vough, author of the historical fiction novel “Multnomah,” spoke with us about his experiences with the Helix Review.

Tell us a bit about your book:

Multnomah is the story of the events leading up to Boadicea’s revolt against the Roman occupation of Britain. The story is told to two modern-day brothers (in Oregon, at Multnomah Falls) by Yhenna, the eldest of Queen Boadicea’s two daughters.  Those were recorded to have lived, but no historian names them.  Set in the middle of the 1st century AD, and modern-day Oregon, there are three interwoven stories in Multnomah. Using her powers, Yhenna projects a sending of herself to those two brothers in order to tell at last the real history of what happened in Celtic-Britain; because history is always written by the victors. The Earth is coming up to the foretold “Shift of the Ages” and Yhenna is connected to one of the two brothers; he the one she will tell her story to because he has dreamed of writing it.  Those parts of the story are heavily driven by dialogue and are metaphysical/philosophically-oriented.  Yhenna’s own story is two-fold, part of it her discovery that at the roots of druidry is a dark secret, and that leads her to her half-brother she’s never before known or met. A gifted druid, also a wyrdcrafter, Yhenna learns that an alien power in/from Otherworld (what druidry calls Faerie) is the wellspring of the wyrdcraft which is druidry’s “magic” — a secret only those druids capable of wyrdcraft ever learn.  It a buried secret.

How would you describe your writing style?

I prefer to write realistic fiction, what’s commonly called Speculative Fiction, but I also appreciate clever fantasy elements. I think melding those, realism and history with fantasy and fiction, makes for an exciting plot. I try to write simply but complex, making for a fast paced but “packed” read.

Why did you decide to submit your book for a Helix Review?

I wanted to see the various components Helix measures for use in comparisons and the like. I felt it offered a perspective one couldn’t get from live reviewers.

What did you learn from Helix?

I felt the way I write to be “validated” some, though that’s kind of a pompous statement. I felt seeing my work in such a light gave me a unique perspective though.

How are you going to use what you learned?

I use it mostly for comparing my writing style and such to other authors/books in the genre, and out.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix?

I liked the service and would recommend it.

For more information about Geoffrey Lloyd Vough and “Multnomah,” please visit:

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Authors using Helix Review: Jack Gunthridge

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 11.02.07 AMFor the next installment of our series on the Helix Review, we spoke with Jack Gunthridge, author of the romance novel “Broken Hearts Damaged Goods,” about his experiences with the Helix Review.

Tell us a bit about your book:

When Jack and Liselle find themselves having been cheated on, they decide to use each other to get over the heartache.  They would be each others rebound so that nobody else would get hurt.

How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style is very natural and conversational.  I want the readers to feel the experiences of the people in the book.  With a romance, I want the women to identify with the female lead and to fall in love with the male lead.

Why did you decide to submit your book for a Helix Review?

Since I am a male author writing romance novels, I wanted to see how I compared to the more traditionally published female authors.  I wanted to see how I was similar and how I could set myself apart.

What did you learn from Helix?

The Helix Review allowed me to see the normal range of the pacing of the genre I am working in.  Given this information, I can better determine if I am on track with other authors, or if I might want to increase my pacing.

How are you going to use what you learned?

I plan on looking at my books more and dissecting it differently than I would with normal editing where I look at spelling, grammar, punctuation, and making sure the ideas are presented clearly.  I can now look at making my works fit more into the genre.  I can also balance this with what makes me unique as a writer.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix?

It is definitely worth the money.  It lets you know where you are as an author.  Are your sentences too long?  Are they too short?  Where do you fit in with other authors?  How are you different?  It helped to answer a lot of these questions.

For more information about Jack Gunthridge and “Broken Hearts Damaged Goods,” please visit:

About the Helix Review:

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Authors using the Helix Review: Martin Wolt, Jr.

Next in our ongoing sScreen Shot 2013-10-07 at 11.17.49 AMeries looking at self-published writers who have used Helix Review, we speak with Martin Wolt, Jr., author of the fantasy fiction novel: Daughters of Darkwana.

Tell us a bit about Daughters of Darkwana:

Trapped in a fantasy world laden with Japanese mythology, Wally Cook must avoid super natural assassins, befriend a clan of kitsunes, and save the world of Darkwana. If he cannot save their world, he cannot save ours. If he cannot face his inner demons, he cannot defeat Darkwana’s own.

How would you describe your writing style:

While most fantasy writers use a long-winded style that builds upon their worlds via rich histories and character backgrounds, I use a minimalist’s style rarely seen in fantasy. As a result, my plot moves like greased lightning.

Why did you decide to try Helix:

I felt curious to see what information it could share with me.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

That my fantasy novel moves at a significantly faster pace than most.

About the Helix Review

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

Entrepreneurs are often challenged to come up with an “elevator pitch” for their business – it’s a short, interesting way to explain what value their business offers to the world. For you as author, the elevator pitch for your book may sound a lot different from that of a start-up, but it can help you successfully position your book just the same.

Popular books and their elevator pitch

Below we’ve presented some elevator pitches for popular books, as if the author was trying to pitch them to readers today. We’ve hidden the books from these pitches, to see the answers, go here. [Hint: All of these classic books have been turned into blockbuster films]

Western meets suspense meets a Tarantino-esque hit man. A cowboy stumbles on a drug deal gone bad, takes the money, only to find that he’s being hunted by a relentless killer. 

Hearts will race for lovers of fan fiction. For the tween girl that would risk her soul for the everlasting love of the vampire version of James Dean. 

If you love puzzles, religious symbolism and a great crime mystery, you’ll hang on every action-packed moment as our hero decodes his way across Europe to uncover an ancient secret, zealously guarded by a clandestine society that will stop at nothing to protect it.

What if dinosaurs could be cloned? For the child in all of us that still marvels at T-Rex in the natural history museum, this sci-fi adventure novel set in the modern age, tells the story of an adventure theme park whose proprietors have done just that. 

Crafting your elevator pitch

The formula for an elevator pitch is simple:

1. Explain in your pitch who will like your book

2. Share one simple hook that will draw the reader in

3. Provide a proof point that your book is good. In our case, it was sharing that all of them are blockbuster films. You can use things like reviews from readers or the press, or your own expertise and credibility in the topical area.

Practice!

Share your elevator pitch in the comments and see how it feels to lay it all out.

 

Authors using the Helix Review: Gary Briley

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 11.00.43 AMAs a part of our ongoing series looking at self-published writers who have used Helix Review, we interviewed Lulu author Gary Briley, who wrote the mystery novel: Stalemate. Helix, powered by The Book Genome project, allows authors to upload a manuscript and receive an incredibly in depth analysis of the book.

Tell us a bit about Stalemate:
After artist Julia Storey is murdered by a hit and run, her journals reveal a secret life that her husband Nick realizes puts him, his son, sister and parents—away on one of their “trips to nowhere”—in the crosshairs of a vicious killer.  Police Detective Sam Oliphant focuses on Nick as the prime suspect. Nick pairs up with Oliphant’s reluctant partner, Olivia Barton, Nick’s first love, to rescue his parents, now held hostage by cohorts of Lupo, an organized crime boss. Their search leads them through a maze of betrayal and murder, and ultimately to revelations that rattle through the Storey family and their construction business.

How would you describe your writing style:

I like to present characters that are real, but not perfect, and involve them in authentic life situations, challenges they struggle to overcome; characters that the reader can identify with through their interactions and dialogue. I like to create a story with intrigue, and suspense that could happen to any of us.

Why did you decide to try Helix:

To compare my story and its development with others.

What were you able to learn from the Helix Review:

That my book falls well within the parameters of the genre, that my dialogue is probably better than most.

How do you plan to use the Helix information:

To achieve a better story structure.

What would you tell someone considering trying Helix:

It is well worth the money to see how your story compares to best sellers, and what is special about your book.

For more information about Gary Briley and Stalemate:

Lulu Author Spotlight
Facebook

About the Helix Review

Back in May we launched an experimental new offering called Helix, and dubbed it The Personality Test for Your Book. Helix is powered by The Book Genome Project, a massive database of over 100,000 of the world’s best-known books. And basically, it gives you a way to upload your manuscript and get back an incredibly rich and unbiased perspective on your book.

Lulu authors are currently using Helix to gain a better understanding of their book for marketing purposes, and in some cases to gain insight into their writing style. For the first time, we’ve caught up with some of the earliest Helix Review customers to hear more about their book and writing style and what they hoped to learn from Helix.

If you are an author that has used Helix and would like to be featured in the future, please tell us about your experience here.