Summer Success Summit: Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

Tell_Your_Story_NarrowJuly’s Summer Success Summit at Shady Oak included the subtitle “formula for a happy, motivated child.” I have frequently taught high school students a similar program on the secrets of achievement, but this year I thought, “Why make kids wait until high school to learn principles they would need all through life?” So this summer I brought the training to late-elementary and middle-school students.

Cool Kids_the gang

2016 Summer Success Summit Attendees

I also wanted to incorporate a hands-on project to instill the principles through practical application, while providing an opportunity for fun learning. Since the love of stories knows no minimum age—and kids this age are highly vulnerable to “everyone knows more than I do” anxieties—I decided to have them create a book as a group project, a book that would give them the opportunity to share their knowledge with others.

The students loved the idea. We started with two questions:

  1. What do successful people think?
  2. What do successful people do?

I wrote down every answer the kids gave. Each day thereafter, I taught a new concept and had everyone share more ideas to incorporate into the book. The students quickly took charge and came up with fifteen success strategies:

  1. Practice, practice, practice to achieve your dreams
  2. Be open-minded and think outside the box
  3. Believe in your own ideas
  4. Be patient, stay focused, and use your time wisely
  5. Stay healthy
  6. Surround yourself with positive people
  7. Set clear goals and make clear plans for moving toward them
  8. Let your mind wander and appreciate where it takes you
  9. Take risks—that’s the only way you’ll find opportunities
  10. What you think about, you bring about
  11. Know your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses
  12. Ask for help when you need it
  13. Remember, enthusiasm and passion are the keys to success
  14. Work smarter, not harder. Whatever you do well, do lots of it
  15. Help others get what they want, which is also the best way to ensure you get what you need. Always be a team player

With the outline complete, students divided into four teams based on individual strengths: Writers, illustrators, layout editors, and final editors / publishers.

Cool Kids_group challenge

Authors, illustrators, and editors hard at work

Meanwhile, I researched professional self-publishing services to find one that would meet our needs. got the job after the CEO sent a personal response to my LinkedIn inquiry. From the beginning, Lulu was 100 percent behind the project and always ready to support us.

Back at Success Summit, our writers put each concept into an 18 to 36-word summary. One example:

Be enthusiastic and passionate, they are the keys to success. Focus on your goal. You have to want it more than anything because success doesn’t just happen.

After that stage was finished, the whole group reviewed the content and brainstormed illustration ideas for each concept. The illustration team then planned and sketched pictures for each concept and the title page. The resulting pages were distributed among the entire group for coloring.

The completed illustrations and text for the pages were passed to the layout-editing team, who created mock-ups for the final pages by sizing and arranging pictures and wording. They ordered the pages and prepared a collection of contributor bios that were entered into a computer along with the page images.

Lastly, the final editors reviewed the manuscript and wrote up a publishing plan including desired book size, paper type, and cover designs; and uploaded it to our “end publishers” at Lulu.

All the kids whWhat Every Cool Kido completed Success Summit are convinced they are great writers and are ready to continue authoring books. Who knows how many of their names will appear on bookstore shelves over the next twenty years?

What books could your students write as they develop new ideas from your curriculum?

Our book, What Every Cool Kid Deserves to Know!, may be ordered directly from Lulu. Please post a review and watch for our book on Amazon and other online bookstores.


About the Author

Debbie Elder co-authored the 2013 best seller Against the Grain. She followed this in 2014 with the bestselling Share Your Message with the World. Over the course of her career she has developed courses for teaching behavior management techniques for classrooms and corporate employees as well as courses to teach life skills students need for success. Upon urging from her student’s parents she opened a school for 6th to 12th graders which eventually lead to the opening of 15 additional schools nationwide. Debbie recently returned to her passion and is now working with elementary students at her school Shady Oak Primary, located in Richmond, Texas. For more information about her after school program, see Set Them Up for Success – The Homework Hangout.

More About Project-based Learning

Student Publishing with Lulu

Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

YSHS Students Turn Cookbooks into Scholarships

Lulu Academy: Enroll Today

Video Tutorial: How to Publish a Paperback Book

Author Press Kit: How You Market You


Example from an author we all know.

Who is your favorite living author? Have you ever visited their website? If you wanted to know more about them, where would you click? What would you expect to see on that page?

Now think about your website or blog. If a journalist, blogger, production manager, or agent wanted to know more about you, where would they find the information? How are you selling yourself as a writer or subject matter expert? How are you telling the story of you?

If you are new to publishing, you may not have even thought about needing an “About” page on your website. If you have one, it probably has a few fun facts about you, some pictures of your family and maybe an homage to your faithful pet. This information may be meaningful to you, but will it get you an interview or a speaking engagement? If not, perhaps it’s time to re-work your “About the Author” page to serve as an author press kit.

“Who has the time for that?” you may ask. In truth, it’s likely you already have most of the information needed to create an effective press kit. You just didn’t know you needed one. An effective press kit includes:

Author Biography and Contact Information

Lulu recommends authors have multiple versions of their bios for use in article submissions, guest posts, and interviews. Your press kit bio should be about 200 words focusing on what makes you interesting and your areas of expertise. Don’t forget to include a head shot and your (or your publicist’s) email, phone, and social media contact info.


In addition to contact information, always include a clear, professional head shot with your bio.


Specific information about your book(s)
List the title, topic, genre and intended audience for your book as well as a succinct summary (no spoilers).  If you are writing nonfiction include your credentials or personal experience relevant to the topic.

Press Coverage
Show your press-worthiness. Include excerpts from reviews, transcripts from interviews, links to press releases, blogs and articles written about your work. List awards, nominations, and recognitions your work has received. Your press kit is not the place for humility.

Press Kit Newsroom1

Busy reporters are always looking for compelling local stories. A well-written press kit makes it easier for them to meet their deadline.


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
If your goal is to schedule newspaper, radio, or television interviews, include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about you and your book. The more upfront information you provide, the easier it is for a journalist to prepare a story. Your answers should be personal, conversational, and quotable. FAQs and answers also provide jumping off points for further questions:

  • What lead you to writing?
  • How does your early (or current) life influence your writing?
  • What is your inspiration for developing these characters / writing on this topic?
  • How does the story mirror your own experiences?
  • Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
  • What are you working on now?

    Press Kit Radio Interview

    “You’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but I just have to ask….”


Fiction authors should include a few meaningful sections that artfully demonstrate their writing style or provide character insight. Nonfiction writers should include a PDF of the first few chapters of their book.

Upcoming Events
Do you have a book signing event scheduled? Are you attending or speaking at a conference? Are you appearing on TV or radio? Let the world know where you will be and how to contact you during the event. If you choose to include an “events” section on your press kit page, it is imperative you keep it up to date. You may also choose to update this section with pictures from the events or links to print articles and interviews (audio / video).

Press Kit Reporter

“I saw you were going to be in town. Will you have time for an interview?”


Sell Sheet
If you are selling books directly from your website or through social media, you should also include your product and price lists for hardcover and paperback versions as well as wholesale bulk pricing for bookstores.

Remember, your author press kit does not have to be fancy. Keep the format, font and layout simple and easy to read. Start with material you already have and add to the page as you build your reputation online, in print, and through broadcast media. Remember this content is how you sell yourself and your work, so proofread, proofread, and proofread again to make sure it is error-free. A professional looking press kit page will help get you the publicity you need for publishing success.

Press Kit paparrazi

The publicity you deserve!

Additional Resources

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Guest Blogging: How to Build Your Online Reputation

Five Hours to Success


Introducing Lulu Academy: Enroll Today


At Lulu, we believe education is crucial to successful publishing. Self-publishing is more than just sending your manuscript and cover files to a printer. If a self-published author wants to be in control of their work (rather than ceding control to a big company) they must learn about the process to make informed decisions on publishing and selling their work.

Publishing can be complicated for beginners. From file layout, to cover design, to making your product available on retail sites; there are many lessons to learn and hazards to navigate. To aid authors, Lulu works diligently to produce useful knowledge base articles and instructional videos.

We recently introduced a new series of videos we’ve called Lulu Academy. These short videos focus on a single aspect of the publishing process. Created by Lulu employees, the videos are designed to provide short, easy to understand instructions, including screenshots of the steps in the publishing process.

Lulu firmly believes that knowledge is power and we want to help you not only get your book printed, but also to help you be the best self-published author you can be. We know that publishing can be complex and daunting, but we aim to help you make sense of it all.

You can find these and other video tutorials in the Lulu Knowledge Base, under Video Tutorials. Stay tuned for additional videos in the near future.

Examples of Lulu Academy Videos:

Why Choose Lulu?

Distribution and Your Book

The Price of Success: Not as High as You Think


We now know that devoting as little as five hours a week to your marketing plan can result in much higher sales. That seems like a minimal investment in time, but how much will it cost? We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how much they spent marketing their books.


Not as much as you thought, right? 65% spent less than $500. If you add the authors who spent nothing (7%), the total number of authors who spent less than $500 in marketing is 72%. In other words, nearly three out of four best-selling authors spent less than $500 promoting their book.

How best-selling authors spent their marketing budgets


As you can see, authors spent the most on advertising. Website and purchasing promotional copies of their book come in second and third, respectively. Below is a detailed breakout of how authors spent their advertising budgets.


Key Takeaways

$500 or less is enough to promote a book. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.

Most authors spent 28% of their overall budget on advertising, 15% on their websites and 14% on buying promotional copies as well as copies they sell direct to readers.

Action Items

Determine a marketing budget for promoting your book based on how many copies you think you will sell. Take into consideration annual fluctuations in sells as well as any upcoming holidays.

Examine previous promotional spending and determine what worked and what didn’t. Adjust your marketing plan to more accurately target your intended audience.

Additional Information

What Authors Say Is Most Important for Sales

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

Need Some Help Marketing? Ask a Friend

5-Star Reviews Are Actually Better

Human Trafficking Survivor: Marketing a Personal Journey



Marketing your story can be daunting if you are a survivor. You might have been telling your story in a big or small group – to an audience at various conferences where the crowd is moved with compassion to take action to fight human trafficking or domestic violence, but never have thought that that was marketing. You are selling a product or service without realizing it.

This was the case for me when I decided to put my face to my story seven years ago as a victim of human trafficking and domestic violence. According to the Polaris Project, a U.S. based nonprofit operating the National human trafficking hotline, over 20 million people are trafficked around the world. The International Labor Organization (ILO) also states that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry. As a survivor, fighting the crime by helping other survivors is paramount to me because nobody should suffer such an ordeal. Safe Horizon, a nonprofit organization in New York states that one in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence.

Bukola Oriola-1500p-13I published my first memoir, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim on Lulu to shed light on a personal experience with the help of a professor at St. Olaf University in Minnesota. He had read my interview in the newspaper and found that I had written a book and was looking for a publisher. Now, seven years after, I am working on another memoir, a sequel to the first book. This book is entitled A Living Label. The goal of the book is to empower survivors, educate the public, and provide practical solutions to government agencies and nonprofit organizations, on how to effectively work with survivors in a way that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

However, I wanted to make this book reach a large audience of up to one million people. So, I decided to put a marketing plan together. I thought about timing and events around the issue of human trafficking and domestic violence, in addition to my own life’s events. First, I realized that my birthday falls during domestic violence awareness month and that I could use the book launch as my birthday party.

I created a marketing plan for a 13-week launch starting from August 1 until October 30, my birthday. Every week for the next 13 weeks, I will be discussing the book and the issue on my social media pages. While discussing each chapter, I will be asking people to subscribe to my mailing list. I call them my Insiders. They get to read more from the book, including full chapters before it is available to the public. They also get to critique the book. Their critique gives me clarity on what I should include or take out of the book. It also helps me to expatiate on certain segments of the book. To expand the number of subscribers, I ask those who want to publish their books to join so that they can learn the tips that I am using to launch my book successfully. This technique has been rewarding. I get questions. And, some of them have started taking steps to writing their books or implementing some of the tips that I shared.

In addition to using the online platform, I have also been tapping into offline contacts and resources to promote the upcoming book. I am sending emails to the contacts who have work related to the issue or are willing to promote the issue. I have also created three hashtags in addition to using the book title as a hashtag to help the launch have more visibility on social media platforms.


About the Author

Bukola Oriola is a speaker, author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, consultant, and member, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, Oriola is also an award winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking and domestic violence. She has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story, and offering practical solutions to service providers, clinics, community members, and law enforcement on how to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

She was awarded Change Maker 2009 by the Minnesota Women’s Press for her courage. Oriola is the founder of The Enitan Story, a nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. She is also the owner of Bukola Braiding and Beauty Supply, LLC.

Honorable Bukola Love Oriola

Secretary, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking

I am here to inform, educate, and inspire positive change.

Bukola Oriola: Recipient, 2009 Minnesota Women’s Press Change Maker Award

Author, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim

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 story pitch to Include a brief biography and a link to your published work. We will do the rest.

Guidelines for guest posting.


Need Some Help with Marketing? Ask a Friend


The last question we asked our authors was where they turned for marketing assistance. While it’s easy to imagine bestselling authors employing a team of marketing experts, the truth is,  most of them did it alone.


It’s refreshing to see that 58% of authors had no help and an additional 21% had only unpaid help from friends and family. Only 21% – about one in five – paid for marketing support with just 2% hiring a marketing team. That’s one in fifty authors with a marketing team, versus six in ten doing marketing all on their own.

If you need help, phone a friend

While most authors did their own marketing, don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Whether it’s hiring a designer to make a new cover (something many of our authors recommend) or recruiting a family member to stuff envelopes for a promotional mailing, there are plenty of ways to get the support you need. Here are a few ideas that we heard from the authors who responded to our survey:

  1. If you don’t have a big budget, offer to trade services. For example, write something for the graphic designer who you want to redo your book cover or website.
  2. Engage your fans, followers and subscribers. One of the best ways to get noticed on social media is to ask for your readers feedback or suggestions. Ask your audience which new book cover they like best or which email service provider they recommend.
  3. Hold a contest and give away signed copies of your book to the winners.
  4. Check out You can get a lot of marketing tasks done for cheap on this website. Be sure to select someone with at least ten reviews of 4.5 stars or better and test them out with something small before dedicating a large portion of your marketing budget to them.

Action Item

If you could get help with just two tasks on your book marketing plan, what would they be? Identify and reach out to people with those skills.

Key Takeaway

58% of best-selling authors had no help with marketing. Only one in five paid for marketing help.

B Better Than Yesterday: Lulu Achieves B Corporation Certification


Lulu is proud to announce we recently received certification as a B Corporation, making Lulu the first online publishing company to achieve B Corp status. This prestigious designation is awarded to companies that harness the power of business by observing higher standards of performance, transparency and accountability to solve social and environmental problems.

Lulu pioneered the sharing economy when it introduced free online publishing to the world. “Lulu’s original intent was to remove barriers to publishing so that all authors could tell their story and profit from their knowledge. Little did we know, the print-on-demand business model we developed would eventually save millions and millions of trees from being turned into books no one wanted,” said Lulu founder, Bob Young.

Young refers to recently released statistics stating that approximately 40% of all books printed by traditional publishers will not be sold. Instead they will be returned by retailers and pulped. This means that hundreds of millions of books are being printed, shipped, shelved, returned and pulped each year. About 13% of the paper in every book you buy is composed of recycled paper generated by this pulping process. The remainder comes from our forests.

Lulu’s business model prevents this horrendous waste of natural resources through use of print-on-demand technology. Books ordered from the Lulu bookstore are printed when they are purchased, using certified sustainable paper products and are shipped directly from the printer to the buyer – further reducing Lulu’s, as well as our authors’ and their readers’ carbon footprint.Lulu Loves Trees header

“We always knew that Lulu was environmentally friendly, but as we worked through the B Corp certification process, we learned of the additional impact we can make each day through fair business practices and community involvement,” said Nigel Lee, Lulu CEO.

To encourage greater community involvement, all Lulu employees are granted three paid volunteer days per year to help others in their communities. Employees can participate in Lulu sponsored group activities or share their skills with organizations close to their hearts.

“Lulu is committed to improving our B-Corp scores,” Lee continues. “By trying a little harder each day to achieve this goal, we will make the world better today than it was yesterday. We do that one story, one tree, one classroom, one community, and one paid volunteer day at a time. It’s part of our story. What’s yours?”

View Lulu’s Impact Report


About B Corp

Certified B Corporations meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance; legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests; and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization serving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World® and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity. Learn more bout B Lab.