If you’ve been paying attention to any tech news since yesterday, you probably heard about the Apple announcement of their new iBook® Author app – geared towards educators looking to publish textbooks for customized classroom solutions. Here’s what some of the top tech-media outlets have to say about the new program:
Hands On: Apple’s iBooks Author App
iBooks Author: You Work For Apple Now
iBooks Author: Apple doesn’t want to own your book
Hands on: iBooks Author review
So what do you guys think about Apple’s new initiative? Sound off in the comments below.
Having worked as a channel marketer for several top-tier companies such as Nortel and iContact over the years – Taylor started noticing a lot of common trends across all industries.
“Customers today want more than a product,” says Taylor. “They need an experience or a personal tie to a product and companies need to bigger than what they’re selling to build meaningful, lasting customer relationships.”
Taylor highlights exactly what he means in his new book Bigger than the Widget, available on Lulu.com. And he has even taken his own advice in marketing his work by attaching it to a recognized brand and a good cause: The V Foundation for Cancer Research. All proceeds from Taylor’s book will be donated to the organization.
“If you want to have any success, if you truly want your product or service to be bigger and do bigger things, you have to be aware of the present trends and work to create an emotional connection with your customers,” says Taylor. “My family has been touched by cancer and the V Foundation was the most logical choice to associate with my book.”
When coming up with the idea of his book, Taylor was surprised by how many people tried to tell him it wouldn’t work. But Jeff knew what his true motivation was: this book was for his grandfather and he couldn’t be stopped. He even considered going the traditional route first but couldn’t ignore the speed and customization self-publishing offers authors.
“The world of publishing is changing very quickly,” says Taylor. “Companies like Lulu are so clearly the gatekeepers of the this new era of publishing. I was honestly shocked at how easy it was to get to the right people and get my work done – even when it came to approaching organizations for sponsorships. People are willing to help, you just have to know how to position yourself and be committed to your ideas. Then, you can accomplish anything.”
For more great marketing tips from a true professional, be sure to pick up a copy Bigger than the Widget by Jeff Taylor on Lulu.com and help support important cancer research today.
Blog Update: Before you read, check out our handy new eBook landing page for the latest tips to help you publish your eBook today.
In a recent post I talked about how all of you would-be eBook authors should know your file formats, or at least be somewhat familiar with the most commonly used ones. As an author, you want to make your work as accessible as possible, which means making your content able to be read on as many devices as you can. Since it is Read an eBook Week, and Lulu is giving away three Apple iPads, I thought it might be useful to provide a how-to tutorial for the most universal eBook format: ePub.
Many new authors might make the mistake of thinking that if they have a portable document format (PDF) of their book it means that it can be read on an e-reader or other mobile device. While in many cases the PDF can be opened, the text is far too small because it is a static or unchangeable image. ePub makes it so your text is resized to fit the screen of any given device. Since the text in ePub format can be changed in terms of size, font and color, reading an ePub book becomes a much more personal experience for the reader. Sounds great right? But how do you make an ePub book?
You really have three options: let Lulu do the work for you with our conversion services, use a conversion program like (Adobe InDesign, eCub, Calibre, Google ePub Toolkit, etc.), or you can do-it-yourself. If you decide to do-it-yourself, I’ve added some great directions I found over at jedisaber.com.
What You’ll Need:
* A text editor (like Text Edit or Notepad) that can edit text files, HTML, and XML.
* A program that can create .zip files (which should be built into OS X or Windows).
Writing a book is no small feat and you should be proud of yourself for all the hard work you’ve done. The next step is to let the world know about your story and where they can find it. A good press release can be just the thing to spread the word quickly and generate some buzz around your work. But what makes for a great press release? These 10 tips should help.
Know Your Audience and Stick to the Facts: Most press releases will be read by a journalist. They aren’t interested in being sold something or helping you drive visitors to your product page. The best way to increase the likelihood that your release will be picked up is to do as much of the work for the journalist as possible. Provide interesting facts, numbers, statistics from analysts, or quotes from yourself or your readers. Do your research and include it in the release – anything you can do to provide unique, interesting information will increase your release’s credibility and its chances of being picked up.
Write in Third-Person: A press release is always written in third person because you are announcing news to a fresh audience and need to make the subject of your release as clear as possible.
Say Who or What in the First Line: Journalists are very very busy and receive tons of releases everyday. A good release should be able to get your point across within the first paragraph because most journalists only have time to read that far. It isn’t always possible, but if you can mention the subject of your story within the first sentence, better yet, the first word of your press release, you can immediately set an expectation for what the release is about and if it is relevant to the reader.
Keep It Simple: Try to focus on one main point throughout your release – otherwise you risk confusing your reader. A great press release should make the journalist want to call you to learn more, not scratch their heads halfway through. A good rule of thumb to help is to keep your release down to one page and around 300 – 500 words.
Call to Action: Every release needs to finish with a call to action. In many cases, with a book release, the call to action would be along the lines of: “Jim Brown’s book, The Greatest Book Ever, is available at www.lulu.com.” Or, “To learn more, visit www.lulu.com.” Without a call to action, readers will finish your release and say: “Ok, now what?”
Avoid Buzzwords: A journalist is interested in finding the story in your release so they can write their own. Buzzwords like “innovative,” “breakthrough,” “revolutionary,” are all an immediate turn-off to a journalist. They are more interested in the facts that can back claims like this up.
Boilerplate: Every press release has a short, two to five sentence paragraph at the bottom called a “boilerplate.” This is a high-level summary about the press release’s subject material. For an author, think of it as a brief bio about yourself to give a journalist more information if they need it. Items like how long you’ve been writing, where you’ve been featured, where readers can find your work, awards and accolades, etc. are all good things to mention in a boilerplate and establish yourself as a reputable source.
Think of a Catchy, Thought Provoking Title and Subheading: I list this close to the bottom because a great press release title should summarize the content of the release in one line. A clever title can often be just the thing to catch a reader’s eye. If you can’t think of anything catchy, then try to highlight the most interesting, exciting news from the body of the release. You don’t have to use subheadings, but they can be a great way to give just a little more detail about your release upfront. This should be complimentary to your title, and aim to further hook the journalist into reading further.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Think of keywords associated with your work and the audience you want to reach. Good SEO can help drive your release up further in search results on sites like Google and Yahoo!. Simply including keywords relevant to your subject will increase your release’s visibility.
Sending It Out: There are many ways to send out a press release. I recommend a wire service like PRWeb, PRNewswire, or GlobeNewswire. Services like this typically charge a one-time fee that lets you use their distribution lists and will let you optimize your release in multiple formats such as a PDF, HTML, or plain text to ensure you reach the most readers. However, you may have your own list of contacts too. Emailing a release to a journalist is fine, but remember, you don’t like to be spammed and they certainly don’t. Emailing a journalist multiple times, addressing them by the wrong name, or sending them content that isn’t relevant to their field of coverage is a sure way to get yourself blacklisted from ever getting coverage from them.
Now that you’re ready to tell the world your story, feel free to use the handy press release template below. Just copy and paste the layout into a document and plug in your own information. Note the “###” at the bottom. This indicates the end of the release. Also, if you mention Lulu, please be sure to include this line at the end of your boilerplate: “The views and opinions expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Lulu.com or its affiliates.” For more examples, also check out the Lulu press center.
In the 10 days since we launched the Lulu Short Story Contest, we’ve received hundreds upon hundreds of submissions, authors are helping each other out more than ever on our social networks, and authors are finding just how easy it is to publish an eBook of their very own.
Based on the whopping 150+ comments on the original contest announcement blog – we’ve noticed that a lot of you have some of the same questions about the contest, so here are some helpful tips to consider as you get closer to submitting your own story.
600 Word Max: We know it might be a challenge, but it is definitely possible to submit a short story that is 600 words or less. Facebook fan Jason Johnson puts it best: “I agree that 600 words is short, but I also think that’s the point. What can you tell in 600 words that still makes it interesting to your readers.” Oh, and the 600 word count does not include the title and copyright material.
Use the Template: I love that people are looking for ways to spice up their entry – be it with pictures, a table of contents, etc. But avoid straying from the template we’ve provided. We’ve done most of the work for you formatting-wise and designed the template to pass through eBook validation as smoothly as possible so you can be sure your story can be distributed to places like the iBookstore.
Multiple Submissions: Yes please! You are certainly allowed to submit more than one short story, so keep em coming. 600 words not enough to contain all that remarkable creativity? Then write and submit as many new short stories as you want. Several people have submitted more than one already. We’ve even had one guy ask if he could send in 400 separate stories. No matter how many you give us, submitting more than one will increase your chances at winning.
Submitting Your Story: Submitting your story is just a matter of visiting this link to Survey Monkey and filling in the 5 questions. The most important part is providing us with a link to your work. Once you finish publishing, you can click the “My Lulu” tab. Here you’ll see a list of your projects, including your new eBook short story. Click the “view/buy” button next to your work’s title. Copy the web address of your story’s product page and paste it into question 4 on Survey Monkey. This will help us track submissions and is how you get your 20% off coupon for participating.
Pricing: Once you get to the pricing step in the publishing wizard. You will be able to set your price to anything you want – even free. The default price is set at $1.24, which is the minimum for making revenue off your story. If you’d like to give your eBook Short Story away, simply enter $0.00 as your price.
We’re excited to see so much activity going on with this contest and definitely plan to do more in the future. There is still plenty of time left in the month though, so send us your short story today. Good luck and thanks for playing.
Want even more short story writing tips? Check out this handy article from Fiction Factor.
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!