Articles tagged "how-to"

How to Write a Great Press Release

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.

Press Release Template

Lulu Short Story Contest Tips

Wow.

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.

 

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!

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.

eBooks Made Easy with New Lulu Free EPUB Converter and eBook Publishing Tools

Today is a big day.

Today, Lulu officially launched the Lulu EPUB Converter and eBook Creator Guide – thus helping to simplify the complex process of turning your brilliant work from popular word processing formats, such as a Word document, into sellable EPUBs, the most widely adopted format used by eReaders – absolutely free.

So how is it different?

The Lulu EPUB Converter is unique in that it not only converts but also automatically fixes many pesky errors including accepted fonts and extra spacing. This is the highest level of automation available anywhere.

What does this mean for you?

For you, oh faithful Lulu creator, this means getting your work into popular eBook retail channels is easier and just in time to give you an edge this holiday season and sell your remarkable works electronically while earning more on eBooks than anywhere else with our new industry-best 90/10 revenue split (limited time offer through January 31, 2012).

As part of this initiative, Lulu has secured partnerships with Apple and Barnes and Noble so you can sell your works to millions of readers on devices like the iPad® and NOOK, not to mention in print on Amazon.com and the Lulu Marketplace.  We’ve even added a new Manage Distribution page that lets you opt-in and opt-out of retail channels for all your titles with the click of a button.

With our step-by-step eBook Creator Guide, you can be sure your customers are getting the most robust experience reading your work too.  All of these new tools, resources, and features can be found on Lulu’s new eBook Landing page – your source for all things eBooks.

Don’t forget to explore all your print book options too, and publish the way you, and your readers, want this holiday.

Earn More. 90% Revenue for a Limited Time.

If this holiday season is anything like last year’s, then a lot of people can expect to find an e-reader or tablet from Santa under their trees – 17 million to be exact.  That’s a ho-ho-whole lot of new readers who’ll be itching to fill their digital shelves with new books, so why not make your eBook one of them?

Still on the fence? Well, we’re decking the halls early at Lulu this year and slashing our industry-best 80/20 revenue split on eBooks so you can reach more readers, sell more books,
and earn even more revenue this holiday than
ever before – tis the season right?

For a limited time, all creators publishing new eBook projects will receive 90 percent of the revenue from those projects through January 31st, 2012.

In an industry where most companies work off a 70/30 split or more, we take pride in being a publishing solution built entirely towards author success and freedom.  We want you to be able to share your stories and ideas with the world and, more importantly, make money while you do it.  You pick the price.  You keep the profit.  Just like it should be.

So spread some joy this holiday season by publishing an eBook.  You can sell it to all those folks who got a shiny new iPad® or Barnes & Noble’s NOOK and your tree won’t be the only green you see.

FAQs:

Q: What is a new Publication?

A: New publications are defined as a new project in your “My Lulu” account with a new ISBN.  This also applies to any conversion of an existing print title into an eBook.

Fun Ways to Improve Your Next Book Pt. 2

Last week, we posted some new ways to help you make your next work even more remarkable. Below are two more tips to help inspire you to put pen to paper or start hammering away on your keyboard.

3. Challenge your vocabulary at Knoword.org.

If you’re a word nerd like I am, you will quickly find yourself addicted to this vocabulary game. Unlike some games that have you match words and their meanings, this one gives you the definition and first letter, and you just fill in the word. It’s harder and faster paced than some others I’ve played. You can choose your level, and either Canadian or US dialect. This is really valuable for those studying for SAT and GRE exams, too.

4. Follow your favorite authors on Twitter.
If you’re a Twitter user, you’re probably following a number of celebrities–why not authors? Here are some of our favorite tweeting writers from a variety of genres. (Of course, the opinions expressed by these authors do not necessarily reflect those of Lulu, so tweet at your own risk!)

Science Fiction author Cory Doctorow @doctorow
Young Adult writer Adam Selzer
@adamselzer
Fiction writer Chuck Palahniuk
@chuckpalahniuk
Novelist and poet Margaret Atwood
@margaretatwood
Jon Winokour gives daily quotes from famous writers, as well as goings-on from the writing and publishing world.
@AdviceToWriters

If you’re not on Twitter, it’s free to sign up! Check out InkyGirl’s Writer’s Guide to Twitter.

Be sure to check back next week for even more tips.