Articles tagged "Community"

Help us with a home(page) remodel

We like to keep things fresh here at Lulu. But lately, we feel like our home page is getting a little stale.

So we’re ripping up the floors and bringing out the paint … or at least the wire frames and graphics. Our goal is to make Lulu.com a better experience for both of our customer groups: content creators and buyers. We want to highlight the diverse selection of content available on Lulu.com, help our creators sell more and make sure we remain a first stop for anyone publishing or buying books.  As with any remodel, we need some ideas. So help us out!

What should we keep on the Lulu.com homepage?
What should we take away?
What should we add?

If there are sites that you think are particularly well designed, let us know that, too.

We love the creativity of our community, so give us your thoughts. And stay tuned. We expect to have an updated look this spring.

Lulu Takes Manhattan! – Sponsors Self Publishing Book Expo

November 7th Lulu sponsored and attended the first annual Self-Publishing Book Expo (SPBE) at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers.  While the event drew a modest crowd, SPBE offered a great chance for Lulu to speak with the community both one on one and through our various workshops and executive-led panels.  All of the Lulu staff involved were proud to be a part of something that inspires creativity while informing authors of all their options.  Even our CEO Bob Young made it out to the event to discuss Lulu’s exciting transition into open-publishing!

Lulu had a great presence at SPBE.  We had a sizable booth space, and passed out reusable tote bags.  At one point, people in the hotel lobby asked where they could get one of the “cool orange bags”.  We had a contest and gave away some bose in-ear headphones and a Primer Publishing Pack.  From 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, Lulu staff manned the booth to field questions, educate people on the Lulu process, and offer demonstrations.  Nick and Harish gave a well-attended panel on how social networking will change self-publishing.  I think everyone learned a lot from the experience on both ends.

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For me, the event reinforced why I work at Lulu.  At its core, Lulu is about sharing ideas and spreading knowledge.  We understand that you’ve worked really hard to get your content out there and you want to get it in front of as many people as possible.  Things like Lulu’s non-exclusivity and extensive distribution options are things that should go hand-in-hand with self-publishing.  When I explained all the things we currently do and plan on doing to help make an author’s self-published book more visible, people’s jaws honestly dropped! It was a great feeling, and I look forward to more opportunities to interact with customers face-to-face.

We got some great ideas in New York while introducing people to the idea of open-publishing.  Lulu hopes to continue to be a part of events like SPBE that give us the opportunity to just talk with people.  If you have suggestions of events or community gatherings you think Lulu should be a part of, please don’t hesitate to send them in!

A couple recent happenings here at Lulu…

  • Free ISBNS and Expanded eligibility – Did I stutter? No, seriously! For a limited time only we are offering our PBL (Published By Lulu) ISBN service w/ retail distribution, free of charge! Click here for more details.

In addition, we’ve also just recently introduced a new expanded eligibility plan for distribution which should allow more published content into our distribution programs than ever before. Check to see if your book is eligible and sign up today!

  • Lulu users in the UK will be pleased to learn that we’ve expanded our payment options to allow payments using the Visa Electron in £ (GBP). In the coming months, we hope to offer even more payment options in both £ Pounds Sterling as well as the € Euro.
  • For Photo book creators we’ve expanded on some image editing features in the Lulu Studio™ allowing users to rotate the angle of their images within a photo book. If your digital photos were taken at an angle that prevents them from displaying right side up, simply hover your mouse over the image to display a “rotate” icon which will allow you to rotate your image 90 degrees at a time.

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Lulu Studio now allows you to rotate imageswithin your photo book.

 

  • Flash Previews are now available for Lulu Studio™. We’re happy to announce that we are able to offer the same Flash-based previews for Lulu Studio photo books that we offer for our full line of book products.

 

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  • Lulu’s Community Homepage has had a bit of a makeover. While aside from appearance, not a whole lot has changed, we think you’ll find the new layout much more appealing and user-friendly.

 

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Additional release notes and other fixes have also been posted here in the forums.

-Adam

 

Giving It Away – How Previews May Help You Sell

I tend to come across a lot of material on the site because of my job. Sometimes, it’s because I’m looking for something to buy, other times I am checking out whether it’s in violation of our membership agreement, and still others I am looking for content to highlight. Regardless of the reason, I am often surprised by how much of it lacks a preview. According to Chris Anderson, author of the “Long Tail”, on average, 500 copies of a book are sold per year. For a self-published author, selling 500 copies in a year is considered a huge success, but how do you get 500 people to buy your book when most of them haven’t ever heard of you? The simple answer is to let them read it.

If I have never heard of a writer before, and I’m in a bookstore, three things that make me decide to take a chance on a book. First, does the summary grab me? If a book has a good description and it sounds interesting, I will take a closer look at it. I can’t tell you how many books I come across with descriptions that don’t tell me enough about what it’s about, because it’s a lot. So, that’s step 1, think about your description, and try to tell people what your book (or CD or whatever) is about, and why they should give it a shot. Show it to people you trust to give you constructive criticism, and get their advice. Remember, if you don’t draw people in, they probably won’t take a risk and pay for your book.

The second thing I look for is who is recommending the book to me. If I see an author I recognize (and like) telling me they like the book, then I am more likely to pick it up. Since self-published authors can’t always get someone well known in their genre of choice to recommend their book, it helps to have people who are willing to give thoughtful and honest reviews of your work regardless. If it looks like your mom is the only person who reviewed it and loved it, I hate to say it, but I’m probably not going to buy it (unless your mother is Haven Kimmel or another woman whose writing I enjoy).

The final thing that will convince me to purchase a copy of a book I’ve never heard of before is being able to read the book, or at least part of it. I cannot stress how important this is. Barnes & Noble will let me sit in their cafe, read a book while drinking some Starbucks and never blink. They do this because they know that A) I will buy their overpriced snacks (and I will), and B) because they know I am more likely to buy something if I can read some of it first. They also know, I am unlikely to read an entire book in the store and then put it back on the shelf. So, they let me sit down, get comfortable and read, hoping I will like what it and buy it. The same thing applies to selling books, cds, and anything else online. People are unlikely to read an entire book online, and even if they do, if they like the book, they are probably willing to pay $15 to own a copy. On the other hand, if you don’t have a preview, no one knows how good your book is, and they aren’t as likely to give it a try.

This is why we advocate offering a preview. You don’t have to put the whole book or album up for people to read/listen to, just put up what you are comfortable with, and you think will help convince strangers and loved ones that they want to read, and/or listen to the whole thing. I can’t guarantee that you’ll sell 500 copies, but I can guarantee you’re more likely to sell copies if you let people try it first.

Nick Popio

Meet the Lulu Mini-Storefront Widgets

Ever wanted to put your Lulu storefront on your own website? Well, the community development team here at Lulu has been hard at work on some tools that let you do just that. We’re calling them the Lulu Mini-Storefronts and we’ve got three great options to choose from:

Javascript/HTML

Pros: Easy to add to your site, very customizable
Cons: Helps if you know CSS and HTML

Best For: Personal websites, personal weblogs, sidebars

  1. Go to the Lulu Mini-Storefront Wizard
  2. Click on HTML/Javascript Widget
  3. Copy and paste the widget code on your site
  4. Use CSS to style the widget any way you want

Flash

Pros: Easy to add to your site, works well on profiles pages
Cons: A little too big for a blog sidebar

Best For: MySpace, other profile pages

  1. Go to the Lulu Mini-Storefront Wizard
  2. Click on Flash Widget or MySpace Widget
  3. Customize your widget
  4. Copy and paste the widget code on your site

Facebook

Pros: It works on Facebook!
Cons: It only works on Facebook!

Best For: Facebook!

  1. Go to the Lulu Mini-Storefront application on Facebook
  2. Click on Add Application

Jackson Fox, Community UX Engineer

Welcome To "Adventures in Self-Publishing"

Hi, I’m Nick Popio. A long time Lulu, I have previously been involved in such community-related activities as the Lulu forums, the Lulu newsletter and Lulu’s previous blog, “Adventures In On Demand Publishing.” I’m really excited to be introducing you to our sparkling new blog “Adventures In Self-Publishing”. Aside from a new (though admittedly similar) name, we’re livening things up – covering not only Lulu but self-publishing in general.

Some of the thrilling new topics we will be covering: how to market your work, advice from successful community members, the self-publishing industry, and an inside look into Lulu’s development process. We’ll also ask you for your feedback, so we can make this blog and the Lulu site in general as useful to you as possible. We’re excited about our new “Adventure in Self-Publishing” and hope you’ll stay tuned for some exciting new posts such as Public Relations: How and Why Should I Relate to the Public to Sell my Book?” in the coming days.