Articles tagged "books"

Overcoming Adversity: Publishing to Succeed

How do you do it?

This is the most common question I’m asked when people learn my story for the first time.  How do you juggle being an international author and self-promoter, all while traveling for book signings, raising four children; two with disabilities, running a cake business, and homeschooling?

How do you find the time to do it all, they ask. What’s your secret?

No-matter how many times I answer, my response always seems to deliver a certain sense of inadequacy.  The truth somehow falls short of exposing a hidden potion behind my innate ability to fill multiple roles at once.  The illusion is that I am actually a real person with realistic goals.  I just run beside passion and persistence and I never let them win.  I’m not the best writer and I will never proclaim to be.  I simply and wholeheartedly believe in myself enough that my ability to stay focused on achieving never wavers through adversity.  Some might say that being a mother is the hardest job on earth, so the idea of adding other roles seems like straining energy on borrowed time.  But there’s nothing wrong with borrowing as long as you give back; so long as you offer up results.  I simply manage my life one second at a time; one word, one hug, one errand, one interview at a time.

For those who are unsure that it can be done, believe me, it can.  Despite appearances, my path hasn’t always been easy, but writing has constantly remained central to my survival.  When I was younger, I suffered through being raped by four military men, who also videotaped the ordeal, but I bravely made a decision to use what happened to me to help others.  Through the drama novel, The Day it Rained Forever, I have been able to heal, help, and move on.  When my son was suddenly diagnosed with Autism, I felt like he was taken from me and I had to find a way of bringing him back.  I did it through the publication of the children’s book, I Will Always Love You No Matter What.  And from the back seat of a car, at twelve years of age, I recall watching my father grasp his chest with both hands, struggling for air.  I watched as he fought to live for me and, in that moment, I vividly remember thinking to myself; I’m going to lose my dad.  I had to find a way of saying goodbye, and I did that through the novel released last year, entitled, The Night Birds.

Through my adversity, I have come to realize that the struggle is a misconception.  It all just takes time.  Success and dreams are within reach if you just keep writing, while remaining true to yourself.  Good things will eventually come.  Writing is my lifeline and the process of self-publishing has been made all the more enjoyable by Lulu Publishing’s online publishing tool and their tireless support team.

And speaking of good things, I am proud to announce that my novel, The Day It Rained Forever, has been picked up by the talented screenwriter Shaun Jooste.  Shaun and I recently signed a contract allowing Shaun to adapt my novel into film!  Shaun is also managing a Guinness World Record attempt that I am taking part in, to break the world record for the most amount of authors in an anthology.

I also, recently, had the incredible privilege of attending the 2017 Book Expo America in New York City.  While there, I had a chance to thank fans for their dedicated support and encouragement throughout the many years I have been writing.  It was truly the highlight of my year.  So I am elated to also announce that I will be doing it all again in 2018 when I attend the BEA in New York City for another book signing and meet and greet.  You can hear more about my experience at the BEA and all about my journey as a self-publisher, in an author interview I did last week with Paperback Radio.

No matter what happens in my life, I will never stop striving to better my craft, to deliver passionate, exciting stories, to my audience.  My fans have always stood behind me and I refuse to let them down.  I’m exactly where I know I need to be and the view is incredible.  Here, I look up and hope that my father is looking down on me knowing, if nothing else, at least I gave it my all.

 


Lynette Greenfield was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up in both Brisbane and Melbourne.  Her love of writing came when tragically, her father passed away at the age of twelve.  It was then that she discovered an intensely personal love for poetry, never once writing for an audience, quickly appreciating the healing qualities words had on her life.  She went on to study creative Arts at the Brian Chandler’s School of Art and Design and creative writing and photography at the University of Technology in Queensland.  Her first publication was a poetry book entitled, Moments with Me.  She has since published many more poetry books and has also gone on to write romance novels, mystery, and children’s books.  Lynette attended to Book Expo America in 2016 in Chicago, signing her debut novel, An Ounce of ExpectationAnd attended the BEA again in 2017 in New York to show her novel, The Night BirdsShe will also be attending the 2018 BEA in New York City to showcase her latest drama novel, The Day it Rained Forever.  ​With 25 years of writing behind her, Lynette is now an established Author, but is always seeking out new challenges in her writing career, enjoying working with other artists including musicians, songwriters and illustrators. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching children with disabilities, specializing in Autism and one of her children’s books entitled, I’ll Always Love You No Matter What, was written for a child with Autism.

Selling Your Brand: Author Website

Independent publishing demands an effort on the author’s part to self-promote. The task may seem daunting, as many of the tasks involved in self-publishing can, but thanks to the power of the Internet, you can promote yourself online with minimal effort. One of the most potent is the author website.

Creating and maintaining a website dedicated to your work can have a multitude of benefits and uses. Get your name out there on the web, and provide interested and potential readers a location to learn more about you and your work with an author website. The following list provides some basics about creating a website, the content you should include, and the benefits.

1. Hosting and Domain

The first step in creating an author website is actually locating the site on the web. There are a variety of low cost services like WordPress or Wix that can be used to create a simple website. These services, among many others on across the web, offer template and layout tools to help you design the page and keep it looking fresh and up to date. Remember, fashion and standards on the web are always evolving, so keep up to date on the latest trends in web layout and adjust your site accordingly. You don’t want your site to look like something from 2002. You’ll want to purchase a domain, preferably something using your name (like www.firstnamelastname.com) or something including the word “author” alongside your name. This is key for discover-ability and indexing in Google searches and will help potential readers find you.With your site domain ready and a service selected, the next step will be actually building your author website.

One very interesting new tool currently available to authors is TitlePager. The service is low cost ($12/month) and provides software to directly import your book’s information into a website template. For authors less interested in learning the ins and outs of website design, TitlePager is a good alternative to consider.

2. Design and Layout

Your website should have a few “pages” to segment information and help your readers find the information they need quickly and easily. Most websites will use a navigation bar along the top of the page to guide visitors. For an example, look at the navigation bar at the top of the Lulu Blog:


You’ll see Home, About Lulu Self-Publishing, Commentary, and Guidelines for Guest Posting. Each of these links lead to a unique page on the blog website. For your author site, you’ll want a home page, a page listing your books with sale information, a page with personal information about you,  and possibly a separate page for posting blog style articles.

Think about your audience when designing the site. Starting out, you won’t likely have the following of the world’s most well known authors, so you may want to avoid a site that is packed and busy like this one. A good example of a modern, clean layout that still has a lot of content like this site, shows how you can uses distinct pages for specific information, while keeping the front page interesting and inviting. Again, these are highly successful authors, who likely have a rather large budget for creating and maintaining their author pages. Look to these examples for ways you might pick and choose elements to emulate that fit your particular needs.

As the owner of your site, you have a tremendous amount of flexibility, and you should do some research to see how other authors build their sites for inspiration. The key elements will be the attractive home page, the succinct book’s page, and the about page. Consider your genre, the quantity of books you have or will be publishing, and the target audience when you are planning your website. For example, if you have accompanying video content, you might want a “videos” page to house this material. Or if your work is non-fiction and uses a number of references, you may want to make reference links and citation information available on a page of your website.

Another good idea for your author website is to include a subscription option and social media links. You want anyone who lands on your page to share on Facebook and Twitter, and capturing emails through a subscription box provides a way into their inbox, allowing for some direct email marketing and building a mailing list to promote events and new publications. Don’t underestimate the power of a mailing list. The ability to directly connect with potential customers is a tremendous asset.

3. Content

We touched on this above, but the most important piece of an author website will be the content. Is the layout appealing? Are the images relevant? Can visitor’s easily find and buy your books? Keep those questions in mind when working on the layout of your website. You’ll want the pages to be simple but appealing, and avoid cluttered or “busy” pages in favor of simplicity. Readers are coming to your site because they followed a link you provided or because they came across you while searching. Either way, they will likely already be interested in your content, and your site’s goal is to assure them that they should buy your book.

It’s not a bad idea to include a link to your Lulu Author Spotlight, along with direct links to your books. Many author websites will also include some publishing industry news or a feed of news from their favorite publishing industry sites. This kind of content will reward users for returning to your site, which can eventually lead to purchases of your back list. And it helps ensure they notice new works as they come available.

Another activity to consider is blogging. Keeping a blog and updating it regularly (as in, at least once a week) will provide a flow of content to drive readers back to your site, and gives you a great reason to make use of that mailing list you’re building. The goal is to give anyone who comes to the site, or follows you on social media, a reason to keep coming back.

4. Benefits

Your website will be the primary tool in developing yourself as a brand. It will serve as a location for your various marketing efforts to point to, a destination for those finding you on social media to learn more (and hopefully make a purchase), and yet another way for you to show your authoring skills. Think about the website as a project, similar to writing a book.

An author website gives you a means to connect with readers and potential readers, a way to display your skills and work (maybe you offer excerpts free or teasers for a new book), and a central location for your brand. As a self-published author, the key to success will be branding yourself. Highly acclaimed authors are read as much because of their brand as their quality. Your website allows you to promote your own brand, and when coupled with high quality writing, is the best way to grow your readership.

Marketing and promoting your book can be an arduous job. Take the first step to promoting yourself and building your author brand. Create an author website and start selling your book today!

 


 

 

Keep Coloring – Self-publishing your own Coloring Book

Summer may be upon us, but we can’t spend every day this summer frolicking on the beach! If you need a great way to stay entertained (or keep some little ones entertained), why not a custom coloring book? We posted some time ago about the many therapeutic benefits of coloring. Nothing has changed, and coloring books are as popular as ever among kids and adults.

Lulu’s self-publishing tool makes it particularly easy to make your own coloring books!

Start by creating a Lulu account then go to the Lulu Book Builder. We don’t offer a specific coloring book format, but we strongly recommend selecting the Premium Paperback option > Black & White printing  >  White paper. The paper weight for this option is heavy enough to prevent color bleed. It’s also uncoated, so you don’t have to worry about colors smudging or running.

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Premium paperbacks come in a variety of sizes. For a coloring book, something larger like 8.5” x 11” is usually best, as you want to have a large, detailed image to color. Other sizes will work too—that’s the beauty of self-publishing; it’s up to you!

Premium paperbacks can be bound using any of our three methods (Perfect, Coil, or Saddle Stitch), but for any book that you’d like to sell in online bookstores, you’ll want to use Perfect binding. Coil and Saddle-Stitch work for coloring books meant for personal use or to be sold only in the Lulu.com bookstore.

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Now that you’ve selected the style and binding, you’re going to need to format your file to make a beautiful book. It’s important to be aware that, even with the thicker white paper, some of the color may show through the page. Therefore, you may want to place only one image per sheet of paper rather than printing images back to back. Also, don’t forget the first page of the file will print on the right side of the book, as will all odd numbered pages. Keep this in mind if you have any images that span two pages.

And lastly, to ensure none of your artwork is lost during trimming and binding, make sure your image is at least .25 inches from the edge of the page.

 

Let’s recap. The recommended specs for a coloring book are:

            Premium Paperback, Perfect Bound, 8.5 x 11

            Black & White ink on White Paper

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By following the guidelines above and creating your own coloring books, you can help the world be a happier place.  Really!


 

Writing Toolbox: Microsoft Word

Microsoft Office is a widely-used tool for creation, design, editing, and formatting. And Microsoft Word in particular is powerful, and being the most common word processor on the market, it is the software the majority of writers will employ. At least at some point during the writing and editing process.

MS Word is a hefty tool, and has a variety of uses for authors, from word processing, to format, to layout, to review and editing. Some authors even use Word to layout their book’s cover! With the huge variety of applications Word has, we’ll focus today on how to best use Word as a self-publishing author, the benefits and challenges of Word, and some important publishing specific tips.

To begin with, the basics. If you are completely new to Word, I encourage you to use Microsoft’s vast support literature to learn about the software. With a rudimentary understanding the tool, you can create a manuscript entirely from scratch, and prep that same file for publishing.

The first phase (writing the manuscript) is the area Word struggles the most. It’s easy to get sidetracked in layout, or to tinker with design, rather than focusing on the project. And with no stripped down focus mode, the risk of distraction is ever present. [Note – Microsoft is introducing a Focus View, and some may already have access to it, depending on their version and updates]

Where Word really shines is after you’ve written the content.

First, you’ll be editing and proofing the book. Word has a function called ‘Track Changes’ under the Review menu.

Track Changes creates a column on the right side of the document, listing any edits performed. This includes deleting or adding text, updating any existing text, new formatting, and provides the opportunity for in document notation. The notes (called ‘Comments’) allow you and your editors/proofreaders to make changes and have a conversation within the document, without making anything permanent. The file will be a true living document, and the flow of ideas can run back and forth until you settle on phrasing, organization, and other elements of the manuscripts design. If you like a change, or have acted on a comment, they can be ‘Accepted’ to remove them from the running list of Track Changes and keep the interface nice and clean.

Once you’ve got the editing done and you’re happy with the text, you’ll move on to the layout and design of the pages. This is the second piece of MS Word that brings a great deal of control and flexibility to your document.

The layout and design options are so vast, we don’t have the time to go over all of them. But really, I could write a book about all the ways you can utilize MS Word to customize and tweak your manuscript. For now, we’ll focus on a couple of necessities for printing.

The first being page size. Your file needs to be sized to match your book size. Use the ‘Layout’ menu in Word to set the page size for the entire document. I recommend doing a Select All (Command/Control + A) prior to resizing. It’s key to note that the standard US Trade size 6 x 9 is not built into Word’s page size presets, so you’ll need to add it as a custom size.

The second piece to be closely aware of are the margins. Word can automatically build in a Gutter margin for you, and align this to the correct side of the page. These controls live under the ‘Layout’ menu. MS Word has a great help section about how to set up and manage Margins.

Along with the critical layout and design tools, Word can be used to manipulate the content on the page. Breaks (both Page and Section) give you control over the positioning of content, and images can be placed in line with text, behind text, or nested with the text through Word’s ‘Picture’ menu.

Here’s a quick list of the elements most relevant to self-publishing you should familiarize yourself with:

  • Page Size
  • Margins/Gutter
  • Styles
  • Font and Line Spacing
  • Header/Footer Control
  • Breaks (Page and Section)
  • Page Numbering and Table of Contents
  • Inserting and Positioning Images

Using the variety of tools within Word, you can control the line spacing, fonts, sizing, space between paragraphs, and so much more!

 

Share Your Sound

Independent publishing is so easy to do, and the costs are so low, that a wide variety of artists and professionals can take advantage of Lulu’s free publishing tools online. All manner of individuals and groups you might not think of as “authors” have found uses for Lulu’s publishing tools.

For example, musicians. One does not commonly associate musicians with publishers. Self-publishing can help musicians monetize their work in alternative forms, to offer products for their fans, and to share their musical creations.

Create custom songbooks for your fans. Publish tabs, chords, sheet music, lyrics, and more. Expand your audience by reaching a new group of potential listeners, earn extra income at the best rate in the publishing industry, and offer your fans more of what they want.

Visit publishmymusic.lulu.com to learn more!

 

Opening the Writing Toolbox

We’ve come a long way from pen and paper. A long way. In fact, with modern technology we have more options for writing than any one person can easily process. With this excess of choice, it’s wise to take some time to consider the different tools available to you and make informed decisions about how to spend your writing budget.

Today, we’ll look over a few of the ‘standards’ in terms of writing software.

Microsoft Word

MS Word is one of the most accepted and versatile writing tools in the world. Despite Word’s perfectly adequate word processing, it is the tool you’ll want primarily after you’ve written. Word, at its core, is a formatting and layout tool.

Because the word processing is relatively easy, many writers will use Word exclusively as their writing tool. And for most this will be just fine. But for some, the tools and style controls will be cumbersome, and the sheer volume of options overwhelming. For the writer who demands a simple, versatile writing tool focused on just getting the text typed up, Word may be too much.

The best way to use Microsoft Word is as an editing and design tool. You can take a completed manuscript and give it the final touches it needs prior to publishing, as well as export a PDF in a variety of formats to accommodate your printing needs.

It is also worth noting that Word, as part of the Microsoft Office Suite, is one of the more expensive writing tools on the market. Thanks to all the editing and design tools built in, along with the utility of the entire Office Suite, Microsoft’s product is important for any serious writer, and is generally considered the standard for word processing tools.

Libre Office

A free, what you see is what you get, Microsoft Office replacement. Libre Office offers much the same functionality as Microsoft. For those who want the editing and design power of Word without the price tag, you’ll get that same functionality with Libre Office. The controls and navigation will differ, so a user familiar with MS Word may be put off by the learning curve when using Libre Office’s word processor. If you’re very comfortable with Word, the transition to Libre Office may be jarring. But as a completely free to use, open source alternative, Libre Office is a powerful tool.

Another difference to note is that Libre, being free and open source, doesn’t have any dedicated support in the way MS Word or other commercial software d0es. If a problem arises, you’ll have a fairly thorough wiki page and a community forum to rely on, but nothing more.

Scrivener

While Microsoft and Libre Office offer tools for writing alongside layout and design, Scrivener is a writing focused tool with a multitude of functions to assist in the creation process. This includes storyboard layout, utilizing a ‘Binder’ to contain all elements in one easily navigable location. Focused Mode puts all other tabs and programs in the background, allowing you to avoid distraction while writing.

Scrivener is a complete writing tool, though it should not be relied upon for formatting or layout details. Many common features (page sizing, margins, font control) are present, and allow you to play with some of the layout, but the real power of Scrivener is in organizing your ideas and generating the initial content. The utility Scrivener offers, coupled with the clean, no nonsense writer will appeal to writers of all sorts.

As an added benefit, the software stores your files through a Dropbox link, meaning you can work on your content across multiple machines, and even with an iOS app on your iPhone or iPad. What Scrivener lacks in versatility, it makes up for in utility.

Sigil

Sigil is a unique program designed specifically for working with EPUB files. It is also a fully functioning word processor and if you plan to release your book primarily as an EPUB, the option is there to work solely in Sigil.

For most writers, I would not recommend using Sigil as your Word Processor. The tool will be too foreign, and the output can only be an EPUB file, so working in Sigil alone will not produce anything appropriate for print ready use.

But, for a more advanced user interested in fine tuning a book for EPUB use, Sigil is a powerful, easy to use tool with all the options you’ll need to create a high quality EPUB. Unfortunately, Sigil does not have an option to import a text file from other word processing tools like Word or Libre Office, but text can be copied into Sigil. More often than not, users will find Sigil most beneficial for editing and fine tuning an existing EPUB file.

If you are planning to only create an ebook (no print files necessary), you might find Sigil a nice tool for writing and editing, as the simplified text tools will limit you to only the options an EPUB can support. And once you’ve completed your ebook, Sigil can be used to generate the necessary metadata and table of contents for your work.

Evernote

Evernote is a handy note-taking and organizational tool. You probably won’t be composing a complete piece within Evernote, but you can easily write on the go and export to standard file types. You’ll have the security of cloud storage, so your Evernote files will be secure and accessible.

The real power of Evernote is in its versatility. If you are already an Evernote user, you’ll know how handy it can be to have an App capable of organizing your calendar, holding your notes, reminding you to go to the grocery store after work, and so much more. Evernote is a one stop, cross platform, multi-purpose productivity tool.

With an array of features, Evernote is really a very powerful tool to have available. But it is not the best when it comes to being a useful writing program. Yes, it’s helpful for catching notes on the run (using mobile) and syncing to your devices. Organizing and writing up anything more than a few hundreds words is going to be tedious, and probably beyond the purpose of Evernote. Same thing goes for formatting. Evernote is a not a formatting tool.

The bottom line? Evernote is a great tool for note taking and organizing, but not ideal for layout or story boarding.

FocusWriter

FocusWriter is less well known than the other software we looked at today, but it boasts a couple of useful and unique features worth mentioning. FocusWriter, like Scrivener, stores your files in the cloud, allowing for easy cross platform use and the security of knowing your files are safe. FocusWriter also features a focus mode like Scrivener, allowing you to push all other functions on your device to the background and focus on just writing.

The biggest upside of FocusWriter is that it is a free text editor and word processor. You can download the tool and begin writing immediately without paying a cent. Formatting and design will need to be handled elsewhere, but for a cost effective, clean, and efficient first draft tool, FocusWriter is well worth a look.


These are just a handful of the more commonly used word processing tools out there. For a more in depth look at some of these programs, check out our complete series:

Writer’s Toolbox: Microsoft Word

Writer’s Toolbox: Scrivener

Writer’s Toolbox: Evernote

 

 

Getting Global with your Book

Self-publishing is a tremendous boon to the general writing public. From printing and binding a family history, to crafting a lavish work of fiction, to a manual or text book companion to your work or teaching career–print on demand and self-publishing have opened up a new world of possibilities.

Lulu employees, at book fairs and conferences, over the phone with our customers, and even just talking with our friends, are greeted roundly with astonishment when we reveal that anyone can not only publish for free, but can also put their book online for sale for free as well. You could publish a book today, and in less than two months time that book would be available for sale on retail sites around the world.

“Really? Free?”

You would not believe how many times I’ve heard those two words. They’re most often followed by ‘What’s the catch?’ or something similar.

There is no catch. Lulu publishing is completely free. And accessing our distribution network is completely free.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

I’m not going to lie to you; it is a bit more complicated than it sounds. It’s still free! But you will have to comply with distribution requirements, format your files to specification, and take the reins for editing and designing your book. This is self-publishing after all.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge and want to get your book out there to the world, Lulu’s GlobalReach distribution service is the perfect tool for you. Free listing on major book retail sites, free publishing tools, a free ISBN. And you’ll be able to take advantage of Lulu’s high quality print on demand network to earn the best returns in the industry.

 

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