Articles tagged "Create"

Proofreading: What Makes a Great Reader?

Taking an idea and turning it into a written work is no easy task. The process is long, arduous, and riddled with interconnected steps. It can be easy to overlook proofreading. You’ve written a book after all! The excitement to get it into print and out there for the world to see is tremendous.

But don’t put the cart before the chicken!

Or something like that. Anyway, don’t get ahead of yourself.

Its vital that you get some eyes on your work before you publish. Proofreaders serve a variety of critical purposes:

  1. Spelling and gramatical errors
    This one might seem obvious, but you shouldn’t let anything go without notice. Get as many trusted readers as you can to give feedback regarding spelling, grammar, word choice, and syntax.
  2. Plot, pacing, and organizational feedback
    A topic or story you’re passionate about might hold your interest indefinitely, but if the pace is crawling, the plot languishing, or the content organized in a counter-intuitive way, readers are not encouraged to stick with the book.
  3. Overall opinions about the work
    Presumably, you had a goal in mind when you started the book. An endpoint for your characters. A piece of information you want to convey to readers. A bit of historical data you want to commit to writing. Whatever the content’s purpose, you need a holistic opinion about how what you’ve created works as a book.

With the above roles in mind, you’ll want to seek out individuals you can trust to give honest opinions. I cannot stress enough how important diversity is here. As an example, my ideal proofreading group would include:

  • 2 or 3 people familiar with you and your writing
  • 2 or 3 people unfamiliar with your writing (friend of a friend, member of a local writing group, etc.)
  • Someone with a strong editorial and/or publishing background (this might require paying someone)

Local writing groups are a great place to start. You’ll find like minded writers, and in most cases eager proofreaders. Family and friends work too, though there is a good chance they’ll be more supportive and less critical than you need. But you should absolutely get the opinions of BOTH. You need a variety of voices, with all the associated motivations, to truly get the most from your book.

There’s a few specific attributes to look for in your proofreader:

  1. Patience
    Reading a rough draft, no matter how well written, is a lot of work. Your proofreader needs to have the patience to stick with your work from start to finish, without wavering or losing interest.
  2. Avid reader
    It is not necessary, but is quite beneficial, if your proofreader is familiar with the type of writing your are doing. If you’ve written a fictional tale, you might not want to engage someone who primarily reads non-fiction to proofread.
  3. Thorough
    Alongside patience, your ideal proofreader will be thorough and detail oriented. Someone who always seeings a thing through to the end, and puts in the same effort from start to finish. Proofreading a book is no easy task, and your proofreader is going to be a critical player in helping you  create a book readers will want to pick up.

Proofreaders are crucial to perfecting your manuscript prior to publishing. Don’t overlook the value of unbiased observes.

 

Expand Your Business with Custom Publishing Solutions

I had an interesting conversation with an up and coming author recently who has a very specific vision.  She wants to cut out any potential for a “middle-man” to distract her readers from finding and buying her works.  She eventually even wants to run her own publishing business directly from her website starting with her own titles.  This would enable her to maximize her profits and directly tap into her fan-base while helping other aspiring authors share their works too.  The problem is she didn’t have an easy means of distribution, eBook creation, or order fulfillment.  She needed someone to help her do all the heavy lifting on the backend, so she could focus on creating a successful business.  That’s where Lulu and our Open Publishing APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) come in.

An API is kind of like a Lego® block that makes a website or application work.  All the “blocks” that make Lulu’s great self-publishing site function are available to the public so that anyone can use them no matter their needs or their market.  With Lulu APIs, authors, publishers, businesses, and developers alike can take whatever pieces they need from Lulu and use them on their own websites to instantly produce, manage, and sell content.  The best part? They are absolutely free.

Suddenly this up and coming author has a completely customized publishing solution to start that business she dreams about.  She can sign up other authors but can relax while she uses Lulu’s global print-on-demand network to cut on shipping costs.  She gets to offer her authors distribution through Lulu’s retail partners like Amazon, iBookstore(SM), and NOOK Bookstore – where many readers already shop. It’s all under her own imprint and designed for her to be more profitable than ever before possible.

Lulu is constantly rolling out new APIs too.  Coming soon Lulu’s eCommerce APIs will be released for general availability, enabling customers to buy directly through an author or business’s own website. Also be on the look out for general availability of our Creator Revenue APIs which allow a business or imprint to easily keep track of an author’s earnings.

Indeed, the Lulu APIs are empowering people and organizationslike our friends at campus bookstores across the nation – to grow and monetize content in exciting new ways while diversifying revenue and expanding their businesses – all under one roof.  Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for some more exciting news about how our APIs are helping to break down even more barriers for authors, for businesses, and for everyone in between.

 

Print is Dead; Long Live Print – Print Sales Stronger than Ever Thanks to eBooks

Everyone is talking about eBooks these days.  I was just on a flight where it seemed like everyone had either an iPad, Nook, Kindle, or some other device they were using to read their books.  So where does that leave print?

Well at Lulu, print is going as strong as ever.  Creators on Lulu published over 50,000 new print book titles in 2011, up nearly 9% over 2010.  What’s perhaps more interesting however is that print titles accounted for an incredible 68% of Lulu’s total sales last year, which really says something about the buying and sharing patterns of readers.

Undoubtedly eBooks are on the rise, but we’ve noticed a trend where readers with an eBook might tell a friend without an e-reader about a title and that friend then goes and buys a print copy.  Time and again, we’ve seen examples of authors publishing both a print and eBook version of their works and going on to sell more than double the amount of total copies over authors who only sell one or the other.

One clever tactic we’ve seen authors use to drive print sales too is to offer free eBook previews of their titles. Several authors used this method over the holidays last year. We saw eBook sales double the day after Christmas and just a few days later, on the 28th, print sales tripled!

Today’s author can’t predict where their next fan might come from and readers don’t want to have to choose between formats.  They just want it to be easy.  Lulu’s mission in all of this is to ensure that we’re providing creators and buyers with the most options for selling their works – be they print or electronic – through more and more partnerships with premier retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.  And while eBooks are certainly gaining momentum, our print catalogue sits at 618,687 titles – almost exactly even with our eBook catalogue.  Clearly, print is still alive.

Cheers,

Tom

 

Download Day Winner Announced!

In a recent blog post, we predicted that Dec. 26th would be one of the highest traffic days for new readers buying eBooks.  We crunched the numbers and are happy to report that indeed, the day after Christmas – when millions of folks were playing with their shiny new e-readers and tablets – eBook downloads doubled, then spiked again Dec. 29th. Take a look:

With that, we’re pleased to announce the winner of Download Day and $100 off their new Lulu purchase :

 

Buddy World Books
by Paul Woodward
Paul used the free sample method for generating buzz for his works and climb to the top of the bestseller list.  You can learn how to use this method for your own works by checking out our recent post on Making More Off Your eBooks by Selling Them for Free.

 

Runner-up with their Lulu Short Story Contest submission:

 

The Littlest Ninja
by Criscelle Henderson and Micah Bonnell
These two authors submitted this work back in November for the Lulu Short Story Contest.  It just goes to show you how some promotion can help spike your visibility, no matter how recently you’ve published.  Way to go you two.


Lulu Short Story Contest Homestretch

What a month it has been.

As NaNoWriMo and the Lulu Short Story Contest come to a close – we’ve been thrilled by the hundreds and hundreds of responses we’ve gotten from authors of all ages and genres who couldn’t resist the chance to share their creativity and who found out just how easy it can be to publish an eBook.

We’re not done yet though.  The official cutoff date for the contest is Dec. 1st, so there is still time to submit a story of your own and enter to win $1000, a NOOK™, free publicity, and a professional review of your story in Shelf Unbound Magazine.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions too.  Mainly from authors who just want to be sure they have entered their story correctly.  Remember, once you’ve published your short story as an eBook with our EPUB Converter, to copy and paste your story’s web address on our Survey Monkey form.  Once you click submit on Survey Monkey, you’ll be taken to a “thank you” page with a 20% off coupon on it – good for your next purchase on Lulu.  We may need to tweak your submission too in order to get it to pass the validation requirements set by retailers like the iBookstoreSM. You still keep the copyright though and we will only change the formatting – not the content itself.

Once Dec. 1st hits, we’ll gather all contest submissions and our panel of judges will fire up the coffee pots, pull out the reading glasses, and get to work reading all your remarkable entries.  We’ll announce the first, second, and third place winners mid-December.

So keep that creativity coming – you still have till Thursday.  You can do 600 words in no time!

 

Lulu Short Story Contest

The Lulu Short Story Contest is here and starts right now!

As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – a great time to put your nose to the grindstone and try to complete a 50,000 word novel in under 30 days.

But we got to thinking: over 200,000 authors participated in NaNoWriMo last year and only 30,000 actually made the deadline.  That leaves 170,000 dedicated and talented folks high and dry.  That’s a whole lot of creativity to waste.  So why not make things easier?  After all, creativity is about quality, not quantity.

Thus, the Lulu Short Story Contest was born…

Throughout the month of November – all the way to December 1st – anyone can participate in our Short Story Contest and take the pressure off the creative process.  Better yet, we want to help folks see their creativity available to the public as quickly as possible too, so we’re gonna help you create an eBook out of your short story that’ll go live in the iBookstore and on Barnes & Noble’s NOOK.

How to play:

  • Write a 600 word short story using our handy eBook template.  Download the template here.
  • Follow the list of things you don’t need to worry about available here.
  • Upload your work to Lulu.com and send it through the Lulu ePub Converter
  • Make sure to set your work to public availability and set to “sell on Lulu, the iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, and more.”
  • Once published, submit a link to your eBook’s product page, along with your name and registered Lulu email address to SurveyMonkey to help us track submissions and claim your 20% off coupon.  Once submitted, you’ll receive a notice within Survey Monkey confirming your entry.
  • Feel free to promote your contest submission on our Facebook and Twitter (#nanowrimo) pages too

What about prizes?!?!

This is the best part.

First place:

  • $500 cash
  • Barnes & Noble NOOK
  • Feature in Lulu Staff Picks and Lulu Blog
  • Free mentions in upcoming Lulu publicity
  • Professional review of your work

Second place:

  • Barnes & Noble NOOK

Third place:

  • $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble

All participants:

  • 20% off coupon for next purchase on Lulu.com

Winners will be selected by a panel of Lulu judges and announced mid-December after review of all submissions.  Bring on your remarkable stories for a chance to win some amazing prizes!



No purchase necessary.  U.S. only.  Prize packages for the Lulu Short Story Contest include:  First place prize of $500, a Barnes and Noble NOOK, publicity in upcoming Lulu materials.  Second place prize of a Barnes and Noble NOOK.  Third place prize of a $100 gift card to a Barnes and Noble retail store location.  All participants will receive a 20% coupon good for their next purchase at Lulu.com.  The maximum savings for this offer is $100. Sorry, but this offer cannot be applied to previous orders. You can only use this code once, and unfortunately you can’t use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer expires on December 31, 2011 at 11:59 PM, so don’t miss out! We can only accept English-language content.  While very unlikely, we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so.  Lulu also reserves the right to make any short story submitted publicly available and to make small edits to content to aid in distribution to third-party retail stores.



 

eBook Distribution 101: Table of Contents

If you haven’t discovered it yet, check out our new Word to EPUB Converter on the eBook publishing page. This is our fastest, most streamlined way yet for you to create an eBook from your manuscript and send it out into the world. Go ahead and play around with it– you can have an eBook for sale in an hour!

The EPUB Converter is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility– so we’ve written an eBook Creator Guide to help you format your Word DOC into the best shape for conversion. Why should you bother? Think of it as getting your book ready for a race. Sometimes a runner can win after barely training. But most times even the greatest athletes will collapse on the track unless they’ve prepared for the event. (Or, in your case, create an eBook that can’t be sent to distribution channels.) While our wizard isn’t as demanding as a race, a little preparation never hurt anyone, or any book.

One essential retail distribution requirement (which takes little prep work) is to have a working Table of Contents. This Table of Contents is not the same as a print book, but a file inside your EPUB called the NCX. (That’s the Navigation Control file for XML, for technical folks.) The NCX contains links to the sections or chapters of your eBook, which makes for easy navigation between one part to another. It appears on e-readers as a vertical list of links.

A very common problem is an NCX that has only one link named “untitled”. When this happens, your eBook needs to be styled with headings that point out its sections or chapters. Letting the wizard know you need an NCX link isn’t hard: just format the name of each section in your Word DOC as style “Heading 1”. (You can do this through the “Styles” options, listed in the Word tab “Home”.) Then, you can change this style’s settings (font, size, etc.) to reflect the styling of your book. If you want to create subsections, use “Heading 2” and “Heading 3”.

NCX links that aren’t correct are another problem; for example, a phrase in your manuscript becomes a link in your eBook. This means that parts of your book other than chapter headings are styled as “Heading 1”, etc. Weeding these out is as easy as styling them back to “Normal”. And if you’d like more information on NCXs, our Connect page can help you out.

Of course, always check your EPUB in an e-reader like Adobe Digital Editions to make sure it appears the way you want it to, and it follows the retail distribution guidelines.

Keep playing with the tool, and don’t forget to consult our handy eBook Creator Guide for all things eBooks. Happy e-publishing.

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