Articles tagged "Lulu"

Using Facebook Timeline to Better Market Your Books

Whether you’re ready to click the “Like” button or you’re secretly wishing for a new “Hate” button to be added over the new Facebook changes, the popular social networking site is getting ready to update…again. On February 2nd, everyone’s profiles will be switched to the new Facebook Timeline layout – like it or not.  It’s ok though, with change comes opportunity and in your case, oh faithful Lulu author, you’ll have new tools to play around with to help market your works.  This post will help you set up your Timeline and give you some ideas on how to best use it to reach your audience.

What is Facebook Timeline?

Facebook Timeline is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Timeline is the story of your life…in a new way to express who you are.”  Your posts (literally all of them) are divided in two and appear on a timeline in chronological order below your profile picture and basic information.  The super cool feature about your Timeline and the most obvious change is the new cover option, which lets you save an image as a banner at the very top of your page. This is your place to shine Lulu author.  I’ve already seen some really fun and innovative uses for this space.  Just check out these cool personal Timelines and these company Timelines for some inspiration.

From Mashable - Note the use of a QR code as the profile pic. You can do this to link to your book's product page on Lulu.

 

As you can see in the links and images above, the more creative you get with your new cover image, the more likely a potential reader might stop and consider reading your works.  Consider placing illustrations from your books in this space if you’re a children’s book author, or perhaps even a passage from your work if you’re a novelist.  Make it fun and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.  This is a great chance to brand yourself and your work in an interesting and unique way.  To start setting up your Timeline, check out this handy slideshow from our friends at Mashable for step-by-step instructions.

Lifespan of a Post:

Right now, Facebook posts have an average lifespan of about three hours according to research recently done by Bitly. This is likely to decrease with Timeline, but you can ensure the right people are seeing your posts by trying different times throughout the day to pinpoint your highest traffic hours. It’s a good idea to set up your own personal Facebook page for your works too so you can have access to all of Facebook’s great insight tools, which show you which of your posts trend most and to what demographics. The more virality (the amount it will be shared) your posts have increase the likeliness that your fans will like it or share it, which will extend your posts’ lifespan.

Post more and post often:

Given the ever-decreasing life-span above, what you have to say has more potential to be lost in the sea of other frequent posters in your fans’ news feeds.  I still wouldn’t post things back to back, but once every hour to two hours certainly couldn’t hurt. The vast majority of readers are constantly plugged in now, and are always interested in discovering fresh, easy to digest content. But make sure that content is of quality and value or fans will flag you for spam.

Life Events:

You’ll notice you now have a new option next to your status updates on Facebook Timeline called “Life Event.” This is a great new feature specifically for authors because you can include your books, publications, and blog-type posts here and instantly share it with your readers.  You can include cover-photos along with your posts to really help them stand out – like so:

So there you go, you should be well-equipped to brave the new Facebook Timeline and be a cut-above the rest for marketing your titles through this channel.  Sound off on what you think about the new Facebook in the comments below and feel free to offer your own tips for how you’ve used it too.

 

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.


Self-Publishing: A New “Direct Democracy” with Stephen Stark

Stephen Stark is a master composer.

Instead of musical notes or instruments, Stark uses words and their natural rhythm to write award winning works that read as smoothly as listening to a classical concerto.

Author Stephen Stark

You may recognize Stark’s name from his previous, traditionally published works The Outskirts and Second Son – a New York Times Book Review “Notable Book of the Year.” With such success already, it’s natural to think Stark would stick to what has worked, but part of being a great and lasting author – especially in today’s rapidly changing industry – is paying attention to new trends, exploring all your options, and being a little adventurous.  That’s why Stark is publishing his new work The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door exclusively as an eBook, to be released by Shelf Media Group through Lulu.com December 6th.

“eBooks are not the future of publishing,” says Stark.  “They are the present and they are an unsettling present for many.  I want to do an eBook because being able to go from a PDF to having a fully published eBook in minutes is just incredible.”

Stark and Shelf Media are experimenting with a new paradigm in indie publishing. The tools that Lulu offers to the self-published are, Stark says, “creating new opportunities for small presses like Shelf,” which also publishes the indie-book ezine, Shelf Unbound. According to Stark, the convenience and speed-to-market enabled by the tools Lulu provides for self-publishing make it possible for a small, savvy publisher like Shelf to “plant its flag in an industry niche that the small publisher has the flexibility and agility to exploit in a way that ‘legacy’ publishers can’t.”

Stark calls this new paradigm “direct publishing.” ”Indeed,” Stark says, “in theory, anyone could become a publisher – not that they should.” Including Stark, who is using Lulu’s tools and resources to back his own imprint, GeekVoodoo Books, and republish Second Son electronically.

“Things are happening right now [in publishing] that are pointing in a clear direction that is very different,” says Stark.  “The idea that there is a company like Lulu that tears down the barriers to entry – no matter what you’re trying to publish – fundamentally changes the industry dynamic.”

Suffice it to say, Stark has been watching the industry very closely and is confident in the new direction he is taking with his works.  He notes that the potential inherent in eBooks hasn’t been particularly well understood or appreciated by bigger publishers – a phenomenon that he and Shelf are looking forward to capitalizing on by filling the gap with the eBook version of Final Appearance.

Available Dec. 6th

“Suddenly all these people are publishing their content on their own because they don’t feel they’ll get the same money or value elsewhere and they are right,” says Stark. “We’ve reached a point where authors can make a much higher royalty by self-publishing and are free to experiment in ways a big publisher can’t.  Lulu enables this and self-publishing or direct-publishing is in some ways analogous to direct democracy in that it bypasses an entrenched bureaucracy that is easily as beholden to its ‘shareholders’ as it is to its constituents – readers.”

Stark wanted to be a photographer growing up, but began writing when he realized he was better “creating pictures” with words than a camera.  As a teenager, he spent a lot of time trying to imitate his favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and J.D. Salinger.  He admits that his imitations were “pretty awful.” And he never came close to his dream of publishing a novel before he turned 20. He sold his first novel at 29, and notes that he didn’t really learn how to write until he learned to seek out and absorb constructive criticism.

“I went through seven or eight years of rejection letters,” says Stark. “But I found the comments from editors helpful.  You learn not to trust the opinions that just tell you what you want to hear. A statement like:  ‘Oh, I love your book,’ isn’t useful. You have to be open to good criticism to become a better writer.”

If you’ve ever read one of Stark’s books, you’ll instantly be drawn to how organic and real his characters feel.  Stark likens his method for character development to having a bunch of imaginary friends or people he has just met.  Even more important is knowing what the ending will be for both his characters and the overall narrative ahead of time.

“I’m always getting ideas or running through ‘what if‘ scenarios,” Stark says.  “You have to play your story through in your mind and really think about the most natural outcome.  I often know the destination of my story or where a character will need to go organically, but I don’t always understand why or what the in-between looks like.  Sometimes the characters will take on a life of their own and make for an even better story.”

Stark’s new book, The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door, will be available as an eBook on Lulu.com, the iBookstore, Nook BookstoreAmazon Kindle December 6th.  Stark’s latest is a smart, sexy, and thrilling tale of America’s “it girl” Ellen Gregory and her escape from the bright lights of Hollywood and a harrowing encounter with a stalker. Final Appearance is a fast-moving page-turner that you shouldn’t miss.

Stark is already working on his next work, The Bob Delusion, and has ambitions for the future that, while lofty, are certainly grounded on solid industry trends.

“I want Final Appearance to be the first book that’s only available electronically to be reviewed in the New York Times,” Stark says.

Based on his works so far, he shouldn’t have too much trouble. Check out The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door tomorrow, December 6th, on your favorite e-reader of choice.

 

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 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.

 

 

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.

 

Lulu on Lifetime’s The Balancing Act

Check out Lulu’s appearance on The Balancing Act:

 

Make More Off Your eBook by Selling it for Free

In recent weeks, we’ve made some pretty big announcements about eBooks: an industry best 90/10 revenue split, distribution to Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, a handy new Word to EPUB Converter, and a new Manage Distribution page that lets you opt-in and opt-out of retail channels with the click of a button.

We’re on such a roll, why stop now?  The opportunities eBooks bring to reach new readers is so great, we just keep looking for ways to enhance our e-offerings even more.

Today, we’re happy to announce another eBook feature to give you more selling flexibility over your digital works:  Free pricing.  eBook authors can now distribute and sell their eBooks in the iBookstore with a price tag of $0.00.

Right about now I’m sure you’re asking: “How will being able to sell my eBooks for free get me more sales?”  Well, the answer is simple:  Everyone loves free.  Heck, we’ve built a business off the principle with our free publishing solutions.

So far we’ve seen authors use free pricing in a number of clever ways to better market their works:

  • Free eBook Previews: Letting your readers sample the first chapter or two of your eBook is a great way to get them hooked on your story and more likely to but the complete work.
  • Supplements to Your Print Version: This is a great way to keep your fans interested in your work, even after they’ve finished reading it.  A free supplement could include character bios, background details on how you started your story, etc.  Think of it almost like your own creator’s commentary for your book.
  • Word of mouth: In an article in the Guardian, best-selling author Cory Doctorow says nothing sells books better than word of mouth. “Personal recommendations…enabled by freely copyable eBooks act as a force-multiplier…by letting readers make informed guesses about who else will like it, and giving those readers a persuasive tool for closing the sale.” Most readers buy a book because someone recommended it to them.
  • Impulse buying: Doctorow goes on to say that “the Internet’s attention span is about five minutes, so unless the reader can do something affirmative to acquire the book within five minutes of being enticed by the eBook, there is a good chance they never will.”
  • Best-seller Lists: Remember, most e-readers count and display best-sellers on actual units sold, not how much money the author has made. According to the New York Times, currently more than half of the best-selling eBooks on some of the most popular e-readers are available at no charge.   Getting to the top of the best-seller list guarantees better visibility.

So there you have it, you’re now free to play around with your pricing however you want to better reach your readers.  To learn more, or to start your own eBook with just a few clicks of a button, visit our eBook publishing page.

 

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.



 

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!