Articles tagged "books"

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?

How to make a great science eBook

Science journalism has always been at the forefront of innovation — the first to utilize diagrams in reporting, the first to experiment with the advantages of digital books. But what makes a great science eBook? Download the Universe, a wonderful new website devoted to reviewing science eBooks, has highlighted the best eBooks of the past year, and shared some of what makes them so great.

One of the things that they point out is something we take for granted in a lot of science books: get your facts right and include a lot of them! A lot of the books they disliked this year were thin on backing up their argument, and left a lot unexplained. As readers of science books know, they can sniff out a weak argument from a mile away. One of the advantages of publishing an eBook and not an article online, is that you’re working with a little more of a deadline — make sure you’re taking advantage by backing up your facts. Once it’s out there, it’s tough to edit your eBook.

Another tip they give is to take full advantage of the medium of eBooks (this might depend on your ability to code, however). If you’re writing about the body, interactive features help a lot, while if you’re writing about geography, maps are obviously the way to go. As the famed theorist Marshall McLuhan noted, the medium is as much the message as the book itself. Take advantage of the eBook’s ability to complement your science writing with some truly exciting animations, images, or audios.

Download the Universe gives high marks to book publisher The Atavist, which published a series of eBooks that took full advantage of the eBook medium, including some wonderful illustrations, audio features, and diagrams. Look for more, smaller publishers in the future to offer software that will allow independent authors (like yourselves) to put together simple interactive features that will not only enhance your eBook, but allow readers a much better understanding of what can be, at times, very difficult content.

The future of science writing is as bright as a supernova! Just make sure you’re using eBooks to their full extent with a wonderful assortment of features.

What have you used to enhance your eBook to better explain an idea or discovery? What do you wish you knew how to do with your eBook?

Early Age, Early Adopters: How Kids’ Aptitudes for Tech Change the Face of Reading

Photo Credit: http://ar.gy/38fP

Children interact with technology in a different way than we do. Their brains are like sponges, which means they are able to intuitively use any new technology without reference to older ones.

Give a child an iPad and watch what happens — within minutes he’ll be more proficient than you. When it comes to eBooks, the demographic difference between young and old readers is just as stark: according to a new study on digitalbookworld.com, more than half of U.S. kids are reading eBooks, which is more than double the proportion of adults who are e-reading.

Consider what this means as these young readers mature to become the dominant consumer block. These readers will be mostly digital-natives, their cherished childhood reading memories formed in the glow of an iPad and not the heft of a book.

While sales for eBooks have slowed their pace recently, all signs point to them becoming the dominant form of book within the next few years. Young readers will take the surge of eBook reading from the Children’s genre to Young Adult, and eventually to Contemporary Fiction. The study also found that young e-readers are reading a lot: 85% of young e-readers are reading at least one book a week, which, if you’ve worked with children, is a pretty outstanding figure.

Still, some impediments remain for young e-readers. Only 54% of children have access to tablets, where most young readers find eBooks. Once tablets and handheld computing become more popular and less expensive, we can expect the number of young e-readers to rise even more.

School programs that utilize tablets, as well as the popularity of smartphones with larger screens, will make eBooks soon indispensable to the learning environment, eventually turning an entire generation into e- readers.

And while we aren’t saying goodbye to print just yet, it does seem like there are going to be swaths of the population in a few short years who simply have never read a print book. For print books, its not the pricing that may be their downfall, it’s the speed at which children can adapt to new technologies.

Collaborative Storytelling with Kids

When I was little, I took stories my parents told me and added to them as I drifted to sleep. My mind would take a story and turn it into something very different. Bedtime stories becomes so much more than just stories in the imaginative minds of children — they become worlds.

Thanks to independent publishing, children and parents are using teamwork to create polished novels that can be shared with other young readers. A profile in Wired details how a father and his two young sons were able to collaborate on a successful fantasy book for children. Nimpentoad, which the family published independently, has been a success as well as a learning experience for the two young authors, Josh and Harrison. The boys have been selling their book at farmers’ markets, participating in public speaking engagements and agreeing to interviews for profiles in Young Entrepreneur Magazine. They are learning at an early age that publishing is just one step in the process of becoming a successful author.

Josh, Harrison and their father, Henry, are part of a long history of intergenerational writers who have used writing as both a teaching experience and a way to bring generations together by changing storytelling into a more participatory process. Writing groups around the country use intergenerational writing practices to keep seniors and young people interacting with one another.

Intergenerational writing can also help children with learning disabilities by encouraging them to continue to write outside of the classroom setting. Hal and Alex Malchow wrote their fantasy novel, The Sword of Darrow, when Alex, who is dyslexic, needed encouragement to continue his uphill climb toward reading at his own grade level. Alex was able to use the confidence from writing the book to tackle his own disability.

What intergenerational writing have you done? What have you learned from young storytellers, and what is your best advice for them?

Related Services: Children’s Formatting Service

How to Market Your Book During the Holiday Season

November and December are the most lucrative months of the year for retailers because people are in a crunch to find and buy the perfect holiday gifts for their loved ones. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the season and show off your written wares.

Publicize your ultimate holiday gift list. At this time of year, people looking for the perfect gift often need help in the form of suggestions and ideas. Offer up your suggestions on your blog, on a contact’s blog, or perhaps even for a local magazine or newspaper. Whatever you suggest should be in line with what your book is about. For example, if you’ve written a cookbook, then come up with a list of the best bake ware — and no matter where you publish your gift tips, make sure you provide a bio with a link to your book.

Make a donation. Giving during the holiday season means more than handing out shiny new presents to friends and family, it means giving back to your community. Pick a charitable organization that inspires you and offer to partner with them. Offer signed copies of your book as perks for donors who contribute at a certain level (perhaps the charity will even name that level after you or your book!) You can also vow to donate a percentage of your profits to a charity that you support. This is a great way to boost holiday spirit and to get a charity to help promote your book to their audience. You can also donate books to families, libraries and schools that are in need. There are countless ways to give back. Which will you choose?

Drop the eBook price. Between the iPad, the Kindle, the Kobo Reader, and the Nexus 7, among many others, e-readers are becoming more and more hot, and with every new user comes the potential for many more eBook libraries. So entice potential customers by dropping the price of your book for a limited time.

Give away copies to friends, family, and social media followers/fans. Perhaps the most obvious tip but not to be overlooked since the best way for people to learn about your book is to hear about it from others. So order extra copies and stuff them in stockings or offer signed giveaways to fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter.

Strategize for 2013. There are another 365 days coming up… soon. This means you have holidays to capitalize on, anniversaries to plan, promotions to fund, and even new books to promote. Spend the last few weeks of this year thinking about how you want to handle the next 52 weeks and come up with a marketing and social media plan that will get you to your new year’s goals. This may help: Pre-Publication Marketing Timeline for Authors.

Tell us, what are you doing to prepare for the holiday season? Are you buffing up your marketing efforts?

 

Lulu is Saving Your Sanity this Black Friday

The cure for Mall Madness and Cyber Psychosis: Shop the place where imagination is never out of stock… with up to 51% Off*, Nov. 23-27.

If there’s anything more frustrating than endlessly circling a mall for parking, it’s surfing the Web, clicking ‘buy now’ and then discovering that your prize present is ‘out of stock.’ It’ll drive you jingle-bell-bonkers as sure as treacly ‘big box’ muzak.

Avoid mall madness and cyber psychosis by spending Black Friday and Cyber Monday with us. At Lulu, you ALWAYS get what you want because imagination is NEVER out of stock.

Starting on Black Friday and running right through Cyber Monday and into Tuesday (Nov. 23-27), Lulu offers 51% off Calendars and 30% off everything else site-wide* including print books, eBooks, photo books and professional publishing services.

When you create a calendar or photo book, you’re not hoping and praying that another shopper didn’t get to it first. No, you’re creating something beautiful and unique. Something you KNOW will spark smiles year round. And something you can create from the comfort of your own home.

It’s easy, it’s high quality and you can be done in less time than it takes to drive to the mall and back. You know you’ve got photos that’ll make someone’s day, week, month and year. Studies tell us that people are snapping more pictures than ever. Now’s the time to liberate them from your computer hard drive. If you can post a pic on Facebook or include an attachment in an email, you can create a Lulu calendar or photo book — it’s that simple.

So, skip mall madness. Spare yourself the frustration of the dreaded ‘out of stock’ cyber deadstop. Let us help you celebrate he holidays by celebrating your experiences and imagination. They’re never out of stock.

*Offer available in the US Only

Independent eBookstores

Malaprops Independent Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina

Malaprops Independent Bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina

It was only a matter of time: eBooks have gone indie. New, smaller websites are capitalizing on the success of eBooks by offering a boutique, curated experience which allows independent booksellers to promote less mainstream eBooks, including ones that have been self-published. By creating a culture around selected titles, indie eBookstores are acting like independent bookstores used to back in their heyday. With “staff picks,” events, and author interviews, these indie eBookstores are the future of a mediated and targeted book-buying experience.

One eBookstore, Emily Books, which bills itself as “An Indi(e) Bookstore,” has a subscription plan. It mails out recommended eBooks as well as entitles the subscriber “to exclusive events and priceless feelings of satisfaction, sophistication, and intellectual superiority.”

In an interview with The Billfold, co-founder Emily Gould  tells readers why they should look for eBooks from these emerging websites:

“If you buy a book from Emily Books, two genius ladies with great taste have not only okayed it, they’ve worked really hard to share it with you.”

Another indie ebookshop, OnlyIndie, allows independent authors to competitively price their works, as well as increase their returns as the book gains popularity.

So the personal touch has begun to be given to eBooks. As a writer, this is an incredibly good thing. It means the book culture that fawns over smaller books, ones without a large publisher behind them, can now begin to do the same with eBooks.

Booksellers don’t only play a role in making sure you get a book into your hands, they make sure you get the right book. That’s why independent bookstores have long fostered a community that prizes great books over ones with mass appeal.

As a Lulu author, it makes sense to reach out to these emerging indie ebookshops to see if they’re interested in offering your eBook. By not only having a bookseller, but a champion of your work, selling your book, you instantly expand your appeal and visibility. It’s apparent that in the coming years, more and more of these indie ebookstores will enter the market, and the author that knows how to tap into their energy will be one who not only finds a broader audience, but also an energized bookseller.

How To Market Children’s Books

Marketing is usually pretty cut-and-dry. You have an audience you’re trying to reach, and you do what you can to reach them. But what if you have a whole segment of people whose attention you want but that don’t have any buying power? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame.

Marketing to kids is made more difficult by the fact that you have to appease not one but two people: the child and the parent. Because of this two-pronged approach, marketing kid’s books can be tricky. So here are some handy tips to consider:

Mind the law: The laws around Internet marketing toward children under the age of 13 are very clear and very strict. Make sure you familiarize yourself well with the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) laws before you do any contests, giveaways, or other promotions targeting children online.

Build a Robust Website: All authors could benefit from a good website, and children’s book authors are no exception. Make it easy for parents and educators to know if your book is appropriate for a child by outlining the book’s story and themes, providing your bio, and surfacing any quotes from other authors, teachers, or librarians. Additionally, consider putting up downloadable activities, or a reading group guide, that teachers can use in their classroom. Here is a great example: TraceyJaneSmith.com.