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.

Holiday Success: The Magic of Drop Shipping

christmas-is-comingOver the last several months we have discussed marketing strategies, expanding your internet presence, and promoting your books. To help you better prepare for the holidays, we have also discussed taking advantage of Lulu’s weekly discounts to not only restock your inventory for direct sales and events, but also as a means to promote your books on your website and social media outlets.

What if there was another way you could take advantage of these sales to increase your profits? A way that doesn’t require you to make a huge upfront investment on inventory, but allows you to take advantage of your author discount in addition to the Lulu discount?

“What is this magic of which you speak?”
“Drop shipping,” I respond.

 Drop shipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer.

Let’s imagine you have a storefront set up on your website. From the storefront, you can sell your book at retail price or even at a slight discount. You collect all the buyer’s information and the funds including shipping costs. You then log into your Lulu account, place the order at your author discount plus the Lulu discount. You enter the buyer’s email and shipping address and Lulu prints and ships the book. You pocket bigger profits.

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How does it work?
Let’s do the math:

Assume you are selling a 250 page, 6×9, paperback.

 

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What if Lulu is offering a 25% discount and you drop ship the book?

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You may think it’s not worth the effort to earn a few more $ € or £ per sale, but if you are taking orders for 5, 10 or 50 books, drop shipping the orders can significantly increase your profits per book – particularly if your book includes an ISBN and your revenue is subject to US tax withholding.

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Besides earning higher profits on book sales, drop shipping allows you to get paid immediately. It also allows you to collect buyer contact information for future marketing campaigns. Win, win, win.

Lulu wishes you great success this holiday season. Together, we will it make the most profitable ever.

 

What’s Nouveau at Lulu? Le Blog

do-you-speak-french

After four years in hibernation (!), our French team has updated and resuscitated the Lulu blog in French. Like its English cousin, Le Blog will keep authors and independent publishers informed about what’s happening at Lulu as well as providing advice and help on self-publishing.

Whether you wish to brush up on your French or discover a new French author, Le Blog has it all.

 

What’s New at Lulu? Our Address

In 2009 Lulu moved from the Research Triangle Park into a newly renovated building on Hillsborough Street.

 

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Lulu Grand Opening: 2009

 

As a child, I remember driving by this building on our way to the North Carolina State Fair every year. We knew we were getting close to the fairgrounds when we drove past the building that had the bulldozer on the roof. Back then, the bulldozer’s treads and gear shifts were lit by neon and appeared to move. The treads going round and round; the gears shifting backwards and forwards. Who knew that many (many) years later I would find myself working in this very same building?

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The neon sign lighting up Hillsborough St. (1940)

On Thursday, October 20th, we are moving out of our home near North Carolina State University and returning to the Research Triangle Park where Lulu got its start. We have carefully planned to minimize disruptions over the next several days as we move everybody and everything to our new location.

While we are in transition October 20-27:

  • The Lulu.com website will be up and running.
  • Email support cases will be answered by the support team.
  • Chat support will be available during business hours in all English stores.
  • US phone support will be unavailable, but will return October 25th.
  • As always, the author forums are available 24/7 for peer-to-peer publishing support.

We are sad to be leaving our historical building and neighbors, but we are excited about our new modern space and the new things we have in store for Lulu authors. Stay tuned.

 

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Hillsborough St. side of the building (2016)

Sell More Books: Christmas Marketing Ideas

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Know what would look good on this shelf? Your book!

Being a self-published author is a bit like being Santa, but without any elves. In some ways this is great; you get to make all the decisions and things get done the way you want them to be done. On the other hand, you have to make all the decisions and things don’t get done until you do them.

Take a deep breath and reinvigorate yourself by reflecting on what you have already accomplished. You are a published author. You are among the select few who had an idea, struggled through all the drafts and rewrites, and published a book. As a result, people around the world can now enjoy and benefit from your work. You changed lives. You made a difference.

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time for you to profit from your effort, and there’s no time to waste. Books make great gifts, everyone (including Santa) knows this, but how are you planning to sell your book this Christmas? If your plan is to simply get it into the Amazon bookstore and hope for the best, you are likely to be disappointed. It’s time to take things into your own hands.

Here are few easy ideas to help you spread the word and generate holiday sales:

  • Create an “About the Author” page on your website to act as your press kit.  Share this page on all your social media pages.
  • Write a press release about your book and send it to all local newspapers and radio stations. Include a link to your media kit with your press release.
  • Contact your public library and offer to conduct a seminar on self-publishing or lead a discussion about your author experience.
  • Contact your local bookstores and schedule a reading and book signing.
  • Team up with other writers and sponsor a booth at local Christmas festivals in your area.
  • Add a “buy-now” button to your website and advertise Lulu’s weekly discounts to encourage holiday sales. Remember, your revenues are much higher from sales made in the Lulu bookstore.
  • Offer personalized, signed copies of your book on your website and social media pages.
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Take advantage of Lulu’s weekly discounts when stocking up for holiday sales.

Business-savvy authors have learned that by taking advantage of Lulu’s weekly discounts – on top of their author discount – they can earn more revenue per book by selling to readers during events or directly from their website. This strategy requires you to dedicate time for packing and shipping orders, but it also allows you to sign and personalize books and add bonus items such as bookmarks and thank you notes to orders. These small personal touches create a connection between you and your readers, making them more likely to recommend your books to their friends.

xmas-tree-bookshelfAn added bonus to events and direct sales is that you can collect buyers’ email addresses to add to your mailing list allowing you to market directly to fans when your next book is published.

So, make a plan now to market your book locally and online, stock up*, and get ready for the best Christmas season yet.

*If you are planning to purchase more than 100 books, please contact our bulk sales desk for a custom quote.  We may be able to help you save even more on your planned purchases.

 

More Marketing Tips

Make More Money: Include Lulu Discount Codes in your Marketing Emails

Make the Most of Seasonal Sales

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

 

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors

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Repeat after me. “Christmas is coming. Christmas is coming. It’s just around the corner.”

finish-line-aheadNow that we have accepted the inevitable, let’s take a few minutes to think about what we need to do to make this year your most successful sales year yet. Lucky for authors, book sales are up in 2016 with printed books making a huge comeback, so this could be the best year ever for holiday book sales, but only if you are ready.

If you are in the final stages of completing, editing or revising your book and wish to have it ready for holiday gift giving, there is no time for procrastination – particularly if you wish to have your book available for purchase in all online bookstores for the holidays.

As you race to the finish, keep these things in mind:

  • Your print book must meet all distribution requirements before it can be approved for online distribution. To prevent it from being rejected by retailers, take a few minutes to carefully review the requirements and make edits prior to publishing.
  • Before your book can be submitted for distribution, you must first purchase and approve a proof copy. Once you review and approve your proof, Lulu will release it into distribution.
  • Retailers will review your book to ensure it meets distribution requirements. If your book is rejected, you must edit it, then purchase and approve another proof copy before it can be resubmitted to distributors.
  • Once your book is sent to retailers, it will usually be available for purchase from online bookstores in about three weeks. However, due to retailer processing, workloads, and holiday volume it could take 6-8 weeks for your book to be added to all online booksellers.
  • Each retailer has their own process and schedule for reviewing books and updating their online catalogs. There is no means for Lulu to expedite this process for you.

If you are running out of time and think there is no way you will finish in time, don’t worry. You can forego distribution (for now) and publish directly to the Lulu bookstore.

finishline

When you publish to the Lulu bookstore:

  • Your book will be available for purchase within minutes of publication.
  • You can publish without an ISBN, which means there is no required retail markup resulting in higher profits for you and no US income tax withholding.
  • You can take advantage of Lulu discounts to boost holiday sales.
  • You can purchase your book at manufacturing cost.
  • You can even publish a hardcover special edition to sign and give to family and friends as Christmas gifts.

And, don’t forget, you are not alone. The Lulu support team is here to help Monday-Friday during regular office hours. You can also get author-to-author support 24/7 in the Lulu forums.

So get back to work!

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