Articles tagged "Lulu"

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

Best Gift 2016

Be a winner.

This year, Lulu wants you to win the trophy for best holiday gift.

I know, I know. I hear you wailing, “One holiday at a time. it’s not even Halloween yet.” I’m with you. Nothing ruins September like walking into a store that is already decked out for Christmas. But, if you want to win that trophy and make everyone green with envy, you need to prepare now.

Let’s start by thinking about what makes a winning holiday gift. Maybe your Christmas morning is like a day on the Oprah set, “You get a new car. You get a new car. Everybody gets a new car!” If so, you have already won.

If not, think about the gifts you have received in the past. Which gifts were most memorable? You would probably remember a free car, but you are also likely to remember gifts that were personal, showed a level of thoughtfulness, effort, and originality.

Here are a few gift ideas that are sure to win you the best gift trophy:

  • Create a personalized friends and family calendar featuring pictures from the past year.
  • Print a cookbook featuring your family’s favorite recipes. Include some stories about where the recipes come from and why they are favorites.
  • Help grandpa publish his memoir. Print copies and ask him to sign them for family members.
  • Download your family history from and print copies for the family.
  • Ask your children to write and illustrate a story.  Then scan the pages and create a book to give as gifts for grandparents, aunts and uncles.
  • Remember those old love letters in the back of your closet? Create a photo book pairing the letters with pictures from your relationship.
  • Create a travel log from this year’s adventures.

The winner is….. You!

These will all make treasured gifts, unlike the ugly sweater you will only wear when Aunt Martha visits.  These ideas will all take a bit of planning and effort; however, it will all be worth it when you take home the best gift trophy for 2016.

Over the next several weeks we will discuss how to create these winning gifts. If you have additional ideas, share them in the comments below.

Now get back to enjoying your September.

For More Information

Custom Calendars: Daily Reminders of Your Best Memories

Tutorial: Create a Calendar

Tutorial: Create a Coloring Book

Tutorial: Create a Personalized Journal


PR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!


You wrote a book! Yay for you! Take a moment and celebrate the accomplishment. Savor the giddy happiness of creating something from just an idea (and months and months of toil). Actually, take a few moments to really appreciate this feeling. You deserve it.


Now get back to work. First, buy a few copies to sign for family and close friends. Also, share your great news on Facebook, Twitter and all the places your friends hang out. If you are like many newly published authors you will stop here and and devote the coming weeks to hoping someone will stumble upon your book among all the books available to purchase online.


It could happen, but to be honest, without a savvy media campaign it is unlikely. I hear you gnashing your teeth and wailing, “Nobody has money for that!” I get it, really I do, but come on, you just wrote a book.  You can surely write a one-page press release about it.

Remember those five-paragraph essays you wrote in high school and college? Writing a press release is pretty much the same thing and like those high school essays, they follow a standard format. Let’s get started.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (all caps – you can also enter a future release date here)

Press Release Title (bold font, up to 80 characters, should be catchy, not cutesy!)

Write a three sentence summary of your news angle or book pitch here. Your angle is what makes your book special. Your pitch is how you generate interest in your book.

CITY, STATE – DATE (all caps, bold font)The body of your press release starts here, on the same line as your dateline. An effective release will be written around the pitch idea you’ve perfected for your book. The first paragraph briefly answers the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how.

Use the body paragraphs to expand on the five Ws and an H above. Why is your book timely or relevant. Who will care? What problem does it solve? How will people benefit by reading it?

The writing style for your press release should imitate a news story or book review you would find in the publications to which you are submitting your release. This approach makes it easier for journalists in search of content to see your news as something ready for publication through their outlets.

It is always good to incorporate quotes from the author, an authority in the field, or a reputable reviewer, throughout the body of your release. Keep in mind that quotes cannot be changed if your press release is picked up by a journalist, so choose them carefully. Include the names and credentials of the people you quote. DO NOT quote family or friends unless they are an expert in the field in which you write.

Add any remaining details such as the release date, where the book can be purchased (, the formats in which it is available, the retail price, etc.

About <Your Name>

Include a short author bio ( approximately 100 words). Include your qualifications to write the book – i.e. local connection, profession, life-long interest, etc. This paragraph is referred to as a boilerplate and usually remains the same from one press release to another.

For more information about <YOUR BOOK TITLE>, visit <Link to WEBSITE>. Additional author information and promotional images are available at <Link to AUTHOR PRESS KIT> or contact <PUBLICIST’S NAME> at <PHONE NUMBER>. Free review copies are provided on request.

(Indicates the end of the press release)


Experts recommend a press release be about one page in length, so use your words wisely. Most importantly, your press release will be the first impression you make on a journalist, editor, or reviewer so proofread, proofread, and proofread again before you send it.

When complete, copy and paste your attention grabbing headline into the email subject line. Then copy the entire press release (including the headline) into the body of the email. Include links to your website and author press kit. Be sure to include your contact information. Do not attach files to the email or include a free electronic copy of your book unless requested by a journalist.

Up next – PR Part III: Release the Press Release! Now that you have written the best press release ever, put it to work.

Additional Information

PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!

PR Part III: Release the Press Release!

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Author Press Kit: How You Market You


PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!


RALEIGH, NC – September 13, 2016 – Lulu, the pioneer and world leader in independent publishing, announced today that all authors should launch their new books with a well-crafted press release. “It’s your story and you should be the person telling it,” said Glenn@Lulu, Content Marketing Manager at Lulu Press.



That’s the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day!

That’s a pretty standard (and frankly boring) opening for a press release: Announce something, follow it by an authoritative, quotable quote, then tell the story. It’s really like writing a one-page essay. All you need to do is write a release that answers who, what, when, where, why and how. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

You may be surprised to learn there are people out there who make hundreds of dollars per press release. That’s right, all that money for writing five paragraphs announcing something someone thinks is newsworthy. In reality, this is something you can do yourself. All you need is a bit of practice and an ear for what will attract the attention of local, national, and global news outlets.

Let’s get started.

One second to fame

Books are published everyday. Another one being published is not news. Therefore, your headline has to jump off the screen and make a reporter want to read more of your story. Since your headline is the first impression you will make, avoid clichés, puns, and gimmicky subject lines. Otherwise your headline may be the last impression you make before a journalist hits the delete key.

Sell the hook, not the book


Sell the hook first. Then sell the book.

What makes your book relevant? Does it solve a problem? How does it relate to other books in the genre? Does your book explain or fit neatly into a current news story? Does the action in your book revolve around an upcoming holiday? Are you a coroner writing a crime novel? A mother writing a conspiracy thriller? A life-long city dweller celebrating life off the grid? Your press release is the means to tell your story. The book is almost an afterthought, “If you want to know more, you can find <insert title here> on Lulu and all major online bookstores.”


Don’t promote, inform

An effective press release is based on facts, not opinion. Of course you, your mom and your best friend think your book is the best book ever published, but that is only an opinion. A journalist needs facts and when possible quotes. If your book solves a problem, state the problem and the solution it provides. If your characters or plot happen to coincide with something happening in the news, explain why your book will help people better understand the situation. When possible, provide quotes from experts in your field or snippets from reputable reviewers.

The best book in the world – Really?

hyperboleYou want your headline and body text to be original, snappy, and attention grabbing; however, avoid using clichés and hyperbole. Unless you have proof your book will transform lives, leave readers breathless or on their knees begging for more, don’t include these overused tropes in your press release. They show a lack of thought and imagination (see above – facts not opinions).


Do your research

Your best bet for getting early publicity for your book will be from local newspapers, libraries, radio programs, and independent bookstores. With that said, make sure you do your homework and address your press release email to a person (name spelled correctly).   No one wants to receive a generic email blast sent to every Sir, Madame, or Whom it May Concern in the business. Make it personal. I spell my name Glenn with two Ns – you should too!

Everybody is busy (and lazy)


Content, I need good content!

All journalists are on tight deadlines, so the easier you make it for them to write the story, the more likely it is your story will get their attention. When you send your press release email, include links to your author press kit (About the Author), your book’s retail page, and book excerpts. It is not recommended you send a free copy of your book with the initial contact. Instead, explain that free electronic copies will be provided upon request.


Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to getting the publicity your book deserves. Remember, start local, be personal, and try different angles until you have perfected your press release. Then go national.


Up nextPR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

Tips for composing the best book launch press release in the history of the written word in the format of a standard press release.

Additional Resources

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

How to Publish a Paperback Book on



Getting to Know Lulu CEO Nigel Lee


“This is a truly amazing team and a truly amazing company. When I look at Lulu, I believe that it’s time to stop referring to what we do as self-publishing. It’s really independent publishing for independent authors and creators. The real difference is in who reaps the reward for creating. At Lulu, creators benefit, not the corporation. We are on the right side of history and we are setting out to prove it.” – Nigel Lee

Nigel Head ShotNigel Lee, Lulu CEO recently spoke at the Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI) Management Conference in Wild Dunes, South Carolina. These excerpts are from a follow-up interview that appeared in ShelfLife, the Book Manufacturers’ Institute newsletter (Vol 11, Issue 2).

BMI:  Your team wants to make content creation and consumption a simpler and more rewarding experience for people around the world. is available in six languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch. How did you so successfully get the word out about how could help writers and authors?

Nigel Lee: The key to the success of any business idea is that it has to solve a problem. solved a problem and was the first to bring the solution to a global audience. The problem was a simple one. It was traditionally very difficult to get a book published. Most publishers operated (and still do!) based on a profit censorship model. They  would only show interest in titles they felt would make them money. This resulted in millions of voices not being heard, millions of books not being published. Given the inherent costs of publishing, traditionally publishers would then take the lion’s share of all profits generated by a title. reversed this model entirely. accepts all titles, within the boundaries of the law. The author retains all ownership and control and keeps up to 90% of all profits. proliferated this model via the Internet. Given the disruptive and much needed model offered and the fact that Lulu was first to market allowing authors to engage directly and simply with just a web browser, grew very quickly. Lulu continues to be successful based on the core principles of the original business idea.

Key to’s success is the continued ability to understand its customers and react accordingly. The launch of Glasstree Academic Publishing later this year is a clear example of listening to our customers and developing a business to serve their needs directly.

BMI: What role has your comfort with technology played in your professional success?

Lee: Technology is simply a tool, like a shovel or a fork. Using the latest tools available has been a constant in the evolution of our species and I’m born of a generation that is perfectly comfortable with the increased pace of such developments. My personal success has come from an ability to articulate the value of a technology to the audience who can benefit from it.

BMI: You are known for welcoming disruption and challenging the status quo. Why do you think this is necessary and important for businesses seeking transformation?

Lee: I prefer the term ‘breaking orthodoxy’ rather than disruption. Breaking orthodoxy is critical to building businesses that solve problems. You have to think about doing things in a different way, a better way. The bigger the problem, or the more exploitative the existing model, the greater your likelihood of being disruptive will be when breaking that orthodoxy

BMI: We very much admire Lulu Jr., the program that allows children to become published authors, encouraging creativity, strengthening literacy and building self-esteem. Tell us more about this initiative.

Lee: Lulu Junior is based on a simple premise that children learn most while writing and not while reading. Fostering creativity and writing in young children is a powerful way of growing their cognitive abilities across all disciplines. That we are able to provide ways in which to stimulate child development is just a very worthwhile thing to do.

BMI: Why is Lulu’s sponsorship and involvement in the Lulu eGames at North Carolina State University so important to you and your team? How do they promote entrepreneurship and innovation?

Lee: Lulu is an entrepreneurial company. Entrepreneurship is the life source of any economy and therefore society; however, the development of these skills is often overlooked in higher education. NC State is a very forward thinking university that recognized the value of developing entrepreneurial skills. Being part of this initiative gives Lulu the opportunity to contribute to society and promote entrepreneurship beyond the walls of its own organization. As a certified B-Corp company, we are deeply committed to doing everything we can to make the world a better place and this is a key part of that endeavor.

BMI: Speaking of innovation, if time and money were no object, what “invention” or change do you think could make the most difference for two of your passions – children and their opportunities for a quality education?

Lee: We need to see ourselves as a single society. To understand that the key to addressing all of our challenges and inequalities is the ability to act in unison. Technology is accelerating this evolution. The internet is making the world a smaller place everyday. We are no longer blind to the inequities of our society and the damage caused by tribal instincts for power and control and the fight over regional scarcity of resources. Every child has a right to basic human necessities; health, clean water, food, shelter, education and love. At a certain moment in time we will recognize that this is the key to our future as a race. The day we recognize it isn’t acceptable for more than 60 million children to have no schooling will be the day my dream starts to come true. This number has halved in the last 16 years, but will take an estimated 70 more years before the number is even close to zero. Technology has an incredibly important role to play, if companies are willing to play their part in making the world a better place.

Want to know more?

Follow Nigel on LinkedIn and Twitter (@blindfoldzebra)

Have a question for Nigel?

Is there something you would like to know about Lulu or Glasstree Academic Publishing?  Submit your questions to Enter Question for Nigel in the subject line. Your question could be answered in a future article.

Lulu Custom Calendars: Daily Reminders of Your Best Memories


The kids have returned to school, which means Summer vacation season is quickly receding into your bank of fond memories. If you are like me, you captured all the best (and most embarrassing) moments on your phone. You probably even shared a few of them with your friends on Facebook where they competed for likes, but were quickly lost in a never ending stream of Summer status updates.


Disco Dance Party: Officially embarrassing, but a happy memory.


Whether you spent time together at home, your favorite vacation spot, traveled someplace new or celebrated a special event, these memories deserve more than just being uploaded to the cloud to gather digital dust.

What if you could transform your pictures into a daily reminder of your adventures? Something that would last a whole year or longer? Perhaps you could create something both sentimental and useful with your photos – like a calendar?


The most memorable moments


Lulu’s calendars not only allow you to choose from a selection of cool themes (I like the Modern theme), but you can also import holidays and personalize the calendar with family events, birthdays, and anniversaries. You may think, ‘Oh, I’m not very creative” or “I’m not very good with the computer,” but we’ve got you covered. Our calendar builder walks you through the steps.

All you have to do is:

When you think about it, for the next year wouldn’t you rather look at a calendar that includes you, your family, friends, cat, dog or pony rather than someone else’s pictures?

Birthday and Holidays

Add holidays, birthdays and special events.


Just a reminder: Calendars make great DIY gifts. With gift-giving season just around the corner, you can create gifts your family and friends will treasure everyday. I gave copies of this calendar to all my friends who traveled with me to Greece last year. They loved it.

You can find answers to all your Calendar & Photo Book questions in the Lulu knowledge base.

Make your memories last. Create a Lulu custom calendar today.

Summer Success Summit: Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

Tell_Your_Story_NarrowJuly’s Summer Success Summit at Shady Oak included the subtitle “formula for a happy, motivated child.” I have frequently taught high school students a similar program on the secrets of achievement, but this year I thought, “Why make kids wait until high school to learn principles they would need all through life?” So this summer I brought the training to late-elementary and middle-school students.

Cool Kids_the gang

2016 Summer Success Summit Attendees

I also wanted to incorporate a hands-on project to instill the principles through practical application, while providing an opportunity for fun learning. Since the love of stories knows no minimum age—and kids this age are highly vulnerable to “everyone knows more than I do” anxieties—I decided to have them create a book as a group project, a book that would give them the opportunity to share their knowledge with others.

The students loved the idea. We started with two questions:

  1. What do successful people think?
  2. What do successful people do?

I wrote down every answer the kids gave. Each day thereafter, I taught a new concept and had everyone share more ideas to incorporate into the book. The students quickly took charge and came up with fifteen success strategies:

  1. Practice, practice, practice to achieve your dreams
  2. Be open-minded and think outside the box
  3. Believe in your own ideas
  4. Be patient, stay focused, and use your time wisely
  5. Stay healthy
  6. Surround yourself with positive people
  7. Set clear goals and make clear plans for moving toward them
  8. Let your mind wander and appreciate where it takes you
  9. Take risks—that’s the only way you’ll find opportunities
  10. What you think about, you bring about
  11. Know your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses
  12. Ask for help when you need it
  13. Remember, enthusiasm and passion are the keys to success
  14. Work smarter, not harder. Whatever you do well, do lots of it
  15. Help others get what they want, which is also the best way to ensure you get what you need. Always be a team player

With the outline complete, students divided into four teams based on individual strengths: Writers, illustrators, layout editors, and final editors / publishers.

Cool Kids_group challenge

Authors, illustrators, and editors hard at work

Meanwhile, I researched professional self-publishing services to find one that would meet our needs. got the job after the CEO sent a personal response to my LinkedIn inquiry. From the beginning, Lulu was 100 percent behind the project and always ready to support us.

Back at Success Summit, our writers put each concept into an 18 to 36-word summary. One example:

Be enthusiastic and passionate, they are the keys to success. Focus on your goal. You have to want it more than anything because success doesn’t just happen.

After that stage was finished, the whole group reviewed the content and brainstormed illustration ideas for each concept. The illustration team then planned and sketched pictures for each concept and the title page. The resulting pages were distributed among the entire group for coloring.

The completed illustrations and text for the pages were passed to the layout-editing team, who created mock-ups for the final pages by sizing and arranging pictures and wording. They ordered the pages and prepared a collection of contributor bios that were entered into a computer along with the page images.

Lastly, the final editors reviewed the manuscript and wrote up a publishing plan including desired book size, paper type, and cover designs; and uploaded it to our “end publishers” at Lulu.

All the kids whWhat Every Cool Kido completed Success Summit are convinced they are great writers and are ready to continue authoring books. Who knows how many of their names will appear on bookstore shelves over the next twenty years?

What books could your students write as they develop new ideas from your curriculum?

Our book, What Every Cool Kid Deserves to Know!, may be ordered directly from Lulu. Please post a review and watch for our book on Amazon and other online bookstores.


About the Author

Debbie Elder co-authored the 2013 best seller Against the Grain. She followed this in 2014 with the bestselling Share Your Message with the World. Over the course of her career she has developed courses for teaching behavior management techniques for classrooms and corporate employees as well as courses to teach life skills students need for success. Upon urging from her student’s parents she opened a school for 6th to 12th graders which eventually lead to the opening of 15 additional schools nationwide. Debbie recently returned to her passion and is now working with elementary students at her school Shady Oak Primary, located in Richmond, Texas. For more information about her after school program, see Set Them Up for Success – The Homework Hangout.

More About Project-based Learning

Student Publishing with Lulu

Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

YSHS Students Turn Cookbooks into Scholarships

Lulu Academy: Enroll Today

Video Tutorial: How to Publish a Paperback Book

Author Press Kit: How You Market You


Example from an author we all know.

Who is your favorite living author? Have you ever visited their website? If you wanted to know more about them, where would you click? What would you expect to see on that page?

Now think about your website or blog. If a journalist, blogger, production manager, or agent wanted to know more about you, where would they find the information? How are you selling yourself as a writer or subject matter expert? How are you telling the story of you?

If you are new to publishing, you may not have even thought about needing an “About” page on your website. If you have one, it probably has a few fun facts about you, some pictures of your family and maybe an homage to your faithful pet. This information may be meaningful to you, but will it get you an interview or a speaking engagement? If not, perhaps it’s time to re-work your “About the Author” page to serve as an author press kit.

“Who has the time for that?” you may ask. In truth, it’s likely you already have most of the information needed to create an effective press kit. You just didn’t know you needed one. An effective press kit includes:

Author Biography and Contact Information

Lulu recommends authors have multiple versions of their bios for use in article submissions, guest posts, and interviews. Your press kit bio should be about 200 words focusing on what makes you interesting and your areas of expertise. Don’t forget to include a head shot and your (or your publicist’s) email, phone, and social media contact info.


In addition to contact information, always include a clear, professional head shot with your bio.


Specific information about your book(s)
List the title, topic, genre and intended audience for your book as well as a succinct summary (no spoilers).  If you are writing nonfiction include your credentials or personal experience relevant to the topic.

Press Coverage
Show your press-worthiness. Include excerpts from reviews, transcripts from interviews, links to press releases, blogs and articles written about your work. List awards, nominations, and recognitions your work has received. Your press kit is not the place for humility.

Press Kit Newsroom1

Busy reporters are always looking for compelling local stories. A well-written press kit makes it easier for them to meet their deadline.


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
If your goal is to schedule newspaper, radio, or television interviews, include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about you and your book. The more upfront information you provide, the easier it is for a journalist to prepare a story. Your answers should be personal, conversational, and quotable. FAQs and answers also provide jumping off points for further questions:

  • What lead you to writing?
  • How does your early (or current) life influence your writing?
  • What is your inspiration for developing these characters / writing on this topic?
  • How does the story mirror your own experiences?
  • Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
  • What are you working on now?

    Press Kit Radio Interview

    “You’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but I just have to ask….”


Fiction authors should include a few meaningful sections that artfully demonstrate their writing style or provide character insight. Nonfiction writers should include a PDF of the first few chapters of their book.

Upcoming Events
Do you have a book signing event scheduled? Are you attending or speaking at a conference? Are you appearing on TV or radio? Let the world know where you will be and how to contact you during the event. If you choose to include an “events” section on your press kit page, it is imperative you keep it up to date. You may also choose to update this section with pictures from the events or links to print articles and interviews (audio / video).

Press Kit Reporter

“I saw you were going to be in town. Will you have time for an interview?”


Sell Sheet
If you are selling books directly from your website or through social media, you should also include your product and price lists for hardcover and paperback versions as well as wholesale bulk pricing for bookstores.

Remember, your author press kit does not have to be fancy. Keep the format, font and layout simple and easy to read. Start with material you already have and add to the page as you build your reputation online, in print, and through broadcast media. Remember this content is how you sell yourself and your work, so proofread, proofread, and proofread again to make sure it is error-free. A professional looking press kit page will help get you the publicity you need for publishing success.

Press Kit paparrazi

The publicity you deserve!

Additional Resources

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Guest Blogging: How to Build Your Online Reputation

Five Hours to Success