Articles tagged "books"

Holiday Inventory: If You Don’t Have It, You Can’t Sell It

inventory-giftsIndependently published writers are more than just authors. At trade shows and panel discussions I have often described these writers as being self-employed entrepreneurs – heading a business with only one employee – themselves. As such the author must be adept at both writing and the business of publishing. All decisions are the author’s from developing the concept to publicizing and marketing the finished product to making sure there is product to sell.

The holidays provide more opportunities than any other time of the year to get your product in front of people who are actively seeking to spend their money. Whether you are planning a social media marketing push, have scheduled book signing and speaking events, have booked space at your local winter market, or meet someone on the bus, you need to be ready to make the sell.

Inventory Preparedness Questionnaire:

  • How many events do you have planned for the holidays?
  • How many books do you anticipate selling at each event?
  • Is there enough time between events to order and restock?
  • Will you be selling signed or personalized books from your website or social media pages?
  • How many books do you need as gifts for friends and family?
  • Do you have bookmarks or postcards advertising your book to hand out in the event you sell out of books or someone wishes to purchase an eBook?
  • Do you have a high-quality pen for signing and personalizing books?

One of the benefits of print-on-demand publishing is that there is no costly inventory to maintain. However, this also means that when you or your customers place an order, the books must be printed before they ship. Regardless of the number of books ordered, printing will take from 3-5 business days. This time of year, average printing times are on the shorter side of that range; however, as Christmas approaches, printing times will push towards five days. Add shipping time to that and you can see why it is more important than ever to ensure you have the stock on hand to make the sell.

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To help ensure you have a successful holiday sales season, Lulu is running author-only discounts in November so you can save now on the inventory you need for the Christmas holiday season.

You can be among the first to know about these discounts. Simply sign up for Lulu promotional emails on your Lulu Account > Preferences page. Discounts are also listed on the Lulu home page.

We wish you great success, today and everyday.

More Holiday Readiness

Holiday Publishing Checklist for Authors

Sell More Books: Easy Christmas Marketing Ideas

Holiday Success: The Magic of Drop Shipping

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

 

6 Ways Reading Will Improve Your Life

Students Youth Adult Reading Education Knowledge Concept

Did you know it’s #WorldSmileDay? To celebrate, why not pick up your favorite book and immerse yourself in a story that makes you beam. Reading can definitely improve your mood and make you happy, but we have 6 solid ways it can also impact your life and make every aspect of it happy and healthy.

  1. Reading improves your memory
    Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. One of the major health benefits is that your memory is strengthened by reading. People who read consistently over their lifetime have healthier and more active brains in old age. The Alzheimer’s Research Foundation found that reading significantly slowed cognitive decline and individuals who read more preserved valuable memory and thinking skills.
  2. Reading reduces stress (and anxiety!)
    A group of researchers at Mindlab International, University of Sussex discovered that reading worked best to reduce stress — better than exercise or a cup of tea or coffee — lowering stress levels by 68 per cent. They described losing yourself in a book as the “ultimate relaxation.”
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  3. Reading helps you live longer
    Even a half-hour of reading a day can add to your lifespan, a study in Social Science & Medicine shows. Simply put, reading more can help you live longer (and learn more!). Compared to those who didn’t read at all, the study showed that readers live an average of 2 years longer. That’s a lot of extra time to read more books!
  4. Reading increases your attention span
    Humans currently have an attention span that is one second shorter than that of a goldfish. Even so, millions of people still read — and it increases their attention span by leaps and bounds, well beyond the goldfish. Simply reading regularly has shown to be beneficial to increasing attention span, but the University of Leicester lists a number of ways to get the most out of a text and how to process what you’ve read.
  5. Reading increases your emotional intelligence
    Emotional intelligence? That’s a fancy way of describing how reading can broaden your emotions and understanding of them — as well as the world around you. Readers have been found to be more empathetic, and social skills are developed and improved by reading. Reading, particularly fiction, allows a reader to step into the shoes of different people and also stimulates the brain. Researchers in Spain found that metaphors and texture-based word imagery had a profound impact on participants’ brains and stimulated the mind in a positive way.
    emotions
  6. Reading helps you understand other cultures better
    Increasing empathy and understanding (see #5) also leads to better understanding of other cultures. Even if you can’t travel far or often, reading a book is an incredible way to learn more about the unknown. Writer Ann Morgan challenged herself to read one book from every country and she mentions that instead of just armchair travel, her experience took her so far as to “inhabit the mental space of the storytellers.” She was also struck by the power of diverse stories: “More powerful than a thousand news reports, these stories not only opened my mind to the nuts and bolts of life in other places, but opened my heart to the way people there might feel.”

From strengthening your mind to opening yourself up to different cultures, the positive benefits of reading are limitless.

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Bring on the Reviews!

Thank you, Internet for connecting all of us, all the time. I can’t make any decision without consulting the web for reviews. Need new tires? Find some affordable options and compare reviews. A new computer? Same. Dinner out? More of the same.

Books are different. I’m not going to pick a handful of books and make a choice based on the reviews. Buying books is more subjective. I actually decide whether or not to consider buying based on reviews. Those little stars can be the difference between trying out a new author, or passing them over for someone I know and trust.

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In this way, getting reviews for your book may well be the most important factor in hooking new readers (a good cover and well crafted description being the other elements). The question becomes: how do I get reviews for my book?

The first thing to do would be to tap resources you have on hand, such as friends, family, coworkers, or fellow writers. These are the folks who are willing to read your book and give reviews initially. It’s a great place to get started, particularly if you have a network of authors and fellow writers who can provide honest feedback.

Remember, not all reviews are going to be glowing. But a specific criticism or suggestion can be more valuable than simple praise. This is self-publishing, so a well crafted critical review could be the impetus to revise the work, in the end landing you an even stronger book!

Once you’ve reached out to your friends, family, and fellow writers for reviews, you might consider sources like Publishers Weekly or Kirkus, who offer paid reviewing services. This is a good way to get a “professional” review, but this may not be the most important element in increasing sales and visibility.

In fact, what might matter the most, are the stars. Invesp is a site dedicated to the commerce of opinion, and they present a nice little info graphic (see below) that highlights how important it is to have stars on those reviews. The main takeaway here is that getting 4+ stars can be as important, if not more important, than having a written review from a paid service like Publisher Weekly. Another crucial point this information brings up is review quantity. Most buyers feel confident with 4 to 6 good reviews. What this means is that you don’t actually need a lot of great reviews to get your book that extra attention. Just a few reviews with 4+ stars can be all it takes to start pulling in new readers!

bookheartEither way, as a self-published author, if you hope to have your worked noticed and picked up by new readers, you’ll want as many stars and reviews as you can get. These reviews are the “word of mouth” you’ll need to help find new readers and get them excited for your book.

 

It’s a lot of work, arguably more work than writing the book, but in the highly competitive self-publishing world, getting attention is the cornerstone of growing your book’s readership.

Bonus – Lulu has a section in our Forums called “Shameless Promotion” for, well, shamelessly promoting your book. It’s a great way to get the attention of the Lulu community and test the waters for reviews.

The importance of online customer reviews - editable

 

Infographic by- Invesp

Additional Resources:

Need Some Help Marketing? Ask a Friend

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

Free Access to Author Learning Center

 

5 More Apps Every Writer Needs

5 Apps For Every Writer

Your writing time is precious. Last year we gave you five apps that every writer needs to check out. We’re back with five more apps to help you stay organized, stay on track, and make writing that much easier. Or maybe they’ll help make your life easier. Either way, you’ll thank us.

1. Evernote

We’ve talked before about the importance of using the cloud in your writing, and we called out Evernote in particular. Whether you’re using it for writing, note-taking, or research, Evernote is great at pulling everything together. You can save websites for quick reference, snap photos, and even chat with someone if you’re collaborating.

Best of all, Evernote syncs between every device it’s installed on. So type on your phone while you’re on the go and take a quick picture, and it’ll be at you laptop when you get back home. When you don’t have to worry about where you’re writing, it makes it a lot easier to actually get to writing!

Available on Android, iOS, and desktop.

2. Simple Pomodoro

The Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980s as a time management system, named after the Italian word for “tomato.” The basic idea is that you focus for 25 minutes at a time, punctuated by 3-5 minute breaks.

The good news is that you don’t need a tomato-shaped kitchen timer (after which the method is named), because you can time yourself from your phone or tablet. One of the best is Simple Pomodoro; like the name implies, it’s simple and straightforward. Tap to start the countdown, and when time’s up your break will start automatically count down, too. You’ll be amazed at how your time management improves once you get into a rhythm.

Available on Android.

3. Trello

Sometimes getting things done isn’t the problem – it’s keeping track of everything that gives you a headache! A little management can go a long way in keeping tasks straight. Trello is a project management system, but it works just as well for writers.

At its most basic, Trello works like this: you have boards for big projects, lists for groups or related tasks, and cards for individual tasks. This will let you break up your writing process however you wish: by chapter, by theme, by characters, and so on.  Once you get organized and don’t have to worry about figuring out where you left off, you can get past the planning and onto the writing.

Available on Android, iOS, and browsers.

4. Coffitivity

You have an issue: you have trouble working when things are too quiet, but turning on music or the television distracts you. What you really need is the perfect amount of background noise to keep you grounded. After all, studies have shown that ambient noise can spur creativity. Try Coffitivity as an easy way to keep those creative juices flowing.

Coffitivity lets you use the mild hustle and bustle of a coffee shop to keep you on track. Choose from ‘Morning Murmur,’ ‘Lunchtime Lounge,’ or ‘University Undertones’ and start listening. It’s that easy! Give it a try and see if it helps you get over that bout of writer’s block.

Available on Android, iOS, and web browsers.

5. IF

Ever wish you could automate the little things in your life? IF, the app from IFTTT (If This Then That), lets you connect the other apps in your life to try to make things a little easier.

The way it works is all in the name: “if something happens, then do something else.” You define the “somethings.” For example, if you favorite a tweet, then save it to Evernote. Or if you miss a call, then respond with an automated text. There are tons of supported apps and devices, from Facebook to Fitbit, and crossing even a few things off of your to-do list with automation will save you a lot of time in the end.

Available on Android and iOS.

Have you used any of these apps? What do you think of them? Do you have any favorites of your own that you think help make your life and writing a bit easier? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Summer is not quite over…get in a good read before it ends!

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Summer is perfect for tackling your reading list. Whether you’re an avid reader that keeps an ongoing list of books on your phone or tablet, or a more casual reader who picks up a book from time to time, nothing beats the heat like laying in a hammock or by the pool with a great book.

But what if the unspeakable happens. What if one of the books you’ve chosen for this favored reading time is not what you expected? What if halfway through the book you realize that the book is just plain not for you?

There are studies that map the ability of a person to stop reading a book they’ve started to specific personality traits. Specifically, if you can’t put down a book you take your reading time less seriously compared to a reader that evaluates the intrinsic worth of the book at about halfway through and makes a conscious decision to continue reading the book to the end. Of course there are also those that believe that a book is never really “finished.”

Regardless of what kind of reader you are, choosing your next book can be both exciting and overwhelming. We’ve compiled some of our favorite books on shop.lulu.com as a casual list of good reads, and are constantly learning about more books that are gaining popularity. And, of course, there’s always Lulu.com’s bookstore, which is packed with hundreds of thousands of titles, including tomorrow’s next big hit.

Happy Summer reading. We hope you have a blast.

Helix Review webinar opportunity

It’s really hard to get an objective, unbiased perspective on your book. Actually, it can be really hard just to get someone to read your book. Picture this — your book read and analyzed to reveal insights you never thought you’d be able to get from anyone. Ever. Meet Helix.

Helix is the brain behind the Helix Review, “the ultimate unbiased perspective on your book,” as one knowledgeable author put it. The Helix Review tells you not whether your book is good or bad, but reveals the innermost workings of your prose and how it compares to other works in your genre. The Helix Review allows you to uncover who your readers are by comparing you book to well known titles and authors.

Up until now, this kind of analysis has involved some pretty sophisticated tools, including a magic eight ball, your editor’s best guess, the psychic network, or your mom’s opinion.

Lulu is providing a free look into the Helix Review: A Personality Test for Your Book. Join us for the webinar on April 26 at 1:00 p.m. ET to get an in-depth look at this tool that compares your writing to more than 100,000 classics. You’ll also have the opportunity to provide input into shaping the future direction of the Helix Review. Register now.

Social media for book lovers

Social networking meets your reading addiction.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent profile of Goodreads, a super popular book-centric social media platform. The site launched in 2006, and as the Times notes, has over the last 7 years become “the largest source of independent reviews on the Web, with 21 million and counting.” Like all successful social media sites, its popularity springs from the relationships and communities it fosters, and if this article is any indication, these ties are booming.

I was also happy to note that the piece paid special attention to Goodreads’ relationship to independent publishing. It notes the wild success of “Wool,” a series self-published sci-fi books by Hugh Howey that received serious attention after being featured by one of Goodreads’ most popular book clubs (later it mentions that Howey’s series was optioned by 20th Century Fox!).

The Times attributes the particular advertising power of sites like Goodreads to the “membership model.” In short, recommendations or reviews written by friends (be they online or off) tend to be more effective motivators because they’re understood to be trustworthy and personal. Could literature-focused social media platforms provide the non-traditional advertising avenue self-publishing authors need to break through to a wide audience?

Though the Readmill’s iPad app has been around for a while, in early February the company launched an (even more mobile) app for the iPhone. Readmill is a digital reading platform with a built-in social media interface. One part digital marketplace, one part bookworm Facebook, the application – now available for both iPhones and iPads – allows users to purchase eBooks from vendors online and read them via a slick, minimalist interface on their mobile devices. It also lets readers share favorite quotes, track reading stats, and get recommendations from friends and followers.

Competitor apps like Wattpad and BookShout point to a growing market (and hopefully a growing demand). We’ll see if apps like this catch the public interest, but I think they could provide excellent opportunities for self-publishers trying to get the word out as well as serious readers looking for their next page-turner.

Are you a part of any of these book-centric social media platforms?  What has been your experience?

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