Articles tagged "ebooks"

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

 

Lulu.com – Number 1 in eBooks

2011 was an exciting year for independent publishing – new technology, devices and formats are changing the way people create and consume content. By far the stand out this year happened in the eBooks space. Creators published a stunning 115,517 new eBooks on Lulu.com in 2011, up 22% over 2010.

The surge in eBooks published has helped make Lulu the #1 source of independent content on the iBookstore(SM) and Nook Bookstore with 60,000+ titles available in these channels right now. This number is growing rapidly every day thanks to Lulu’s continued commitment to developing the best eBook publishing tools available.

With 10 years of experience helping over 1.1 million creators in 200+ countries and territories bring their content to the world, we have grown our eBook catalogue to a whopping 620,000 titles.  Your content is making a difference in the world of publishing and Lulu is proud to be your partner.

While eBooks are clearly gaining strength in numbers, the future of eBooks is still being defined, with Lulu investing heavily in that future. For instance right now we are hard at work paving the way for the next generation of eBooks. Please stay tuned for exciting updates as we embark on this next chapter in independent publishing. And next week, we’ll take a look at where print books fit into the mix.

SXSW Interactive 2012 Recommendations for Authors & Publishers

South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) 2012 is right around the corner, scheduled to take place in Austin, Texas March 9-13.  If you’re an author and have never heard of “South by,” you may want to check out the following blog post by Evo Terra entitled “7 tips for authors attending SXSW 2012.”  Evo manages to give a great overview of the festival with tips catering specifically to authors.  Even though SXSW is not a publishing conference, Evo correctly points out that our “world is changing faster than you imagine,” and SXSW is a great way to “forward your knowledge and expertise in the interactive world.”

As we all know, electronic marketing tools such as social media are very important to authors looking to promote their work.  Among other things, SXSW offers you the ability to learn from interactive industry leaders who work on the cutting edge of digital technology.

So whether you’re planning to attend this year of not, to add to Evo’s blog post, I have outlined below some of 2012’s SXSW Interactive panel discussions that are geared specifically to authors and publishers.  The list below may help you save time as you plan your schedule.  If you are not planning on going, hopefully these panels will inspire you to get your late registration in … at the very least, these can help get you excited for next year.

Discoverability and the New World of Book PR
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP13632

Publishing Models Transforming the Book
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP10347

Libros digitales para todos/eBooks for Everybody
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP13728

Rhapsody to Year 0: Music & Publishing Go Digital
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9680

Take a Look It’s in a Book or Now Tablet Devices
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP12327

Self-Publishing: A Revolution for Midlist Authors?
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9146

Social Role-Playing: Brands and Publishers
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9024

Knitting a Long Tail in Niche Publishing
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9356

Making eBooks Smarter: Responsive Page Design
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9737

Books Win the Attention Economy
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP9275

Next Stage: Tear It Up: How to Write a Digital Novel
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_OE00939

Update from Lulu Chief Operation Officer – Tom Bright

Hello Lulu fanatics and creators,

My name is Tom Bright, and I am the President and Chief Operating Officer at Lulu.  Today, I’m writing my first blog post and what better time than now, when so many new and exciting opportunities are becoming available for authors every day.  In my posts, I’ll speak to these opportunities, like Apple’s newly announced iBooks® Author app, what they mean for you, and how Lulu’s tools give you the ultimate control over your publishing experience.  This will empower you to go even further with your works in more markets including not only the iBookstore℠, but also Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and the NOOK Book Store, as an eBook or in print.

Our mission here at Lulu is to make sure you, our remarkable content creators, are able to take full advantage of these opportunities.  We want to help you reach more readers and sell more books – no matter your background or goals – all while maximizing your visibility and your profits.  We do this through our retail partnerships with companies like Apple, which already has over 60,000 Lulu eBooks for sale on iBookstore shelves.

Speaking of Apple, we think what they’re offering aspiring authors is great.  It is just one more way to share knowledge and ideas with each other – an endeavor that is becoming more and more important. I’ve read the concerns of bloggers and journalists around iBooks Author.  I believe that especially in a self-publishing world, the author has a responsibility to market their book and distribute it as widely as possible.  After all, isn’t this the goal – the transfer of ideas to as many people as possible?  When the publishers and bookstores controlled which books were available for sale, marketing could be left to the publisher.  Today, the barrier to publishing is lower than it has ever been.  No author can afford to restrict their work to a single channel.  Lulu’s tools make it easier than ever to distribute to the widest array of physical and digital bookstores.

Indeed, it is through the power of options that we give authors what matters most:  control.  We’ve found that authors don’t want to choose between formats, channels, or mediums, and we don’t believe you, or your readers, should have to.  Through Lulu’s distribution partnerships, print-on-demand, and eBook technologies, authors are able to best meet the needs of all their customers in the ways that make the most sense for them.  Because an author today can never really be sure how someone might discover and read their titles, Lulu is here to ensure your titles are accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Feel free to click the following links to learn more about Lulu’s publishing and distribution options and how they can work for you.

Cheers,

Tom

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The iBookstore is a service mark of Apple Inc. iBook is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

Lulu Expands International Reach for eBook Authors

Lulu is excited to announce today greater reach for eBook content by adding distribution support to 26 new countries including Italy, Belgium, and Spain for eBook authors selling through the the iBookstore℠.

This announcement comes along with Lulu’s distribution of French-language content to the iBookstore as well, which officially makes Lulu the first self-publishing company to offer eBook distribution for both English and non-English content.

Our goal is to help you, our remarkable authors, sell more books no matter where you live or what language you speak.  And we’re planning to continue to enhance all of our eBook offerings and services to help you sell more books and reach even more readers.

Start your eBook today by visiting our eBook landing page.

 

 

The Short Story Contest is Coming…

Throughout the month of November, contestants will have a fabulous chance to publish a short story and win all sorts of remarkable prizes (some that are super top secret…shhhhh).

Details to come Nov. 1st.

Don’t miss it.

 

Opinion: Is there an eBook “eZone?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other day, I was encouraged via Twitter to view the following video of New York Times bestselling author Seth Godin. The video is a sneak peak for the documentary PressPausePlay in which Godin describes his reasoning for self-publishing an eBook that took him 10-12 days to write. Godin raises a lot of interesting questions about modern publishing in this short video. An interesting question he raises is one that all self-published authors have to address at one time or another, namely: “I finished the book … ‘now what am I going to do with it?’”

As Authors today, we have many choices for delivering our content. We can try our luck and go the traditional route; we can self-publish it as a paperback; we can upload it to a blog; we can publish it as an eBook and distribute it to places like the iBookstore℠ or NOOK Bookstore™, etc, etc, etc. With all these choices, it can be hard to decide where and how to distribute your work.

Having published in different formats, I recently asked the question: is there an eBook “eZone?” Inspired by the “Goldilocks Zone” in planetary astronomy, the eBook eZone represents the length of written content that is too long for a blog post but too short for a printed book. It is the length of content that seems “just right” to be published electronically and made available for download at a minimal fee (or even made available for free). Keep in mind that any length of content can be made into an eBook (with at times unwieldy long books being easier to read electronically, as described here). When I talk about the eZone, I mean college papers, short stories, poetry, magazine articles – content that you’re proud of that didn’t really take you that long to write (relatively speaking) and when you see it sitting idle on your hard-drive you ask: “what am I going to do with it?” From a reader standpoint, eZone eBooks are those titles on your eReader that you can finish on a short train ride, regional flight, or in the time it takes to fall asleep.

Besides content length, the eZone also represents a sort of “sweet spot” between timeliness of content (how current the topic may be) and the time you have invested in writing and researching the content. The above infographic is what I believe the eBook eZone may look like. This infographic is by no means scientific nor does it take into account variables like genre, type of content, etc. The infographic exists to help visualize a point, namely that there may be a confluence of content length, content timeliness, and the amount of time one can devote to writing a title that makes eBooks the ideal vehicle for distributing content.

I figured it would also be helpful to point out some of my reasoning behind this infographic. Problogger.com reports that a typical reader “spends 96 seconds reading the average blog” – giving writers a “96 window of opportunity” to capture a reader’s attention. If the average American Adult has a reading speed of 300 words per minute, then it is reasonable to assume that a typical reader will focus his/her attention, on average, to around 450 words on a typical blog (I have just pasted that threshold, so congratulations loyal reader for being above average). The page length I selected for printed books was less about attention span and had more to do with printing requirements. A U.S. Trade perfect bound paperback book can have a page length of between 32 and 740 pages – anything above that would require a different format. Timeliness of content and the time invested in writing a book are very subjective criteria and are hard to measure. Everyone writes and researches at different rates. Some people like Seth Godin who are content machines can hammer out five best-sellers in the time it would take me to write one sub-par manuscript. So the intersection where timeliness of content and time invested is subjective – but a reality worth addressing nonetheless.

In short, the eBook eZone is a theory. If may turn out to be completely wrong. I just hope that authors test it out, find their writing comfort zones, and publish their content in as many formats as possible. You have many choices, make sure to find the format that’s “just right” for you!

“Christmas Has Begun Already” – What’s Your Q4 Book Marketing Strategy?

This morning, I read a great article in The Telegraph entitled “Book discount frenzy as Super Thursday arrives.” Within the article, a quote that resonated with me comes from Mike Jones, the non-fiction director at Simon & Schuster, who states “Christmas has begun already.” In an effort to capture the attention of the “constantly connected consumer,” the holiday sale season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. For major publishers looking to promote titles within “a declining market, a tough economy and [a market with] structural changes – such as ebooks,” the holiday marketing season has to start early. As self-published authors, we are not immune to the same market realities that major publishers are currently facing. As such, we too need to start our holiday marketing efforts now too. Thus, I have to ask “what’s your Q4 book marketing strategy?

Given the diversity of our author base, many of us will have different strategies. However, I’ve outlined some holiday book marketing tips below that should help many of us. I would also encourage you to post your own tips and ideas on this blog or on our Facebook page to help your fellow authors gear up for Q4 and sell as many books as possible.

Discounting your book – when and by how much?
You don’t need a PhD to know that discounting is a major part of the holiday shopping season. The real challenge is figuring out when to discount and by how much. Prior to the 2010 holiday season,
Forrester Research forecasted that “deep discounts will also be in play, but key dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be of utmost importance … [r]etailers must expect heavy price-based competition this season and be prepared to play.” I would encourage Lulu authors to plan on offering deep discounts of their books, at the very least, during the pillars of the holiday season – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To do so, use our Discount Manager that lets you set your book’s list price as you always have and then set a discount to that list price to be shown alongside your regular price. To find out more about our Discount Manager, please click the following link. Please note that, due to distribution requirements, you cannot discount eBooks.

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.