Articles tagged "marketing"

From Blank Page to the Big Screen

The Man on the Grassy Knoll coverI’ve sold a book to a movie studio!

I can’t believe both my good fortune and sheer luck; although, it must be said that LULU played an awfully big role in the serendipitous events leading to this moment.

A long time ago, (last century to be exact — late 1990) I sold a novel to a major New York publisher. Got a check. Put it in the bank and sat back with a Kentucky bourbon in hand and thought, “I’ve got it made.” Then the editor called and wanted me to make significant changes to the manuscript. Changes I did not agree with. Changes that would take my novel in a totally different direction. I fought. They fought back and finally I returned their check and got my letter of rights back.

I was crushed.

At about the same time a friend of mine was getting a book of poetry published and she had met the powers that be at a company from North Carolina called, LULU.com. I had never heard of them, but I went on line, read about how the author can keep control of his or her book and how easy it is to publish. I was sold.

Fifteen novels later, I am still running strong with my team at LULU.

The other day my phone rang and a voice on the other end asked if I, ”…would sell his partner and him the movie rights to my novel, The Man on the Grassy Knoll?” I couldn’t say yes fast enough. They saw my book at a book fair where self-published authors were being featured. And, as they say, the rest is history.

My books have won awards, been featured on radio talk shows and in college courses (how not to write, more than likely) and now the basis for a motion picture; all because I found a company who knew how to publish a book without all the mystery and hidden agendas of the huge, conglomerate publishing houses. Of course, I speak of LULU. The more I work with them, the more I like them and the more we succeed.

Now I can’t promise you a movie deal or even a best seller. But, if you follow LULU’s lead, if you get on board with their author programs, they are going to help you put out a professional book that you will be proud of and that people should want to buy.

See ya’ at the movies.

JCrawley HeadshotAbout the author:
John Crawley is a writer living in Dallas, Texas who has published 15 novels. His latest, The End, deals with the death with dignity movement. John is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, is married and has two dogs and a cat. Oh yeah, and three grown children, too. John’s 2013 novel, Letters From Paris, was named Notable Book of the Year by Shelf Unbound Magazine. You can see his work at johncrawleybooks.com

 

Do you have an author success story you would like to share with the world?  If so, send us an email at blog@lulu.com.

Horrified Press: We Are Legion!

Horror Press BioMy name is Nathan J.D.L. Rowark, and I am the editor-in-chief of Horrified Press, a small indie press. Our press is only a few years old, but it has quickly grown attracting thousands of authors, artists, and of course horror fans.

I returned to writing after a 20 year absence and had to work hard to regain my skills and push myself back into the ranks of ‘Published Author’. It was tough and I was astounded at the lack of industry support for experienced authors like myself. Online I found very few literary groups that could offer me the help I needed and small specialty presses seemed to open one year and close the next.

After years of dedication and struggle, I decided to devote myself to smoothing the path to publication for emerging authors. I wanted to create something lasting and self-sustaining – a place for writers to submit their work, where artists could contribute cover art, and editors could work within the horror genre. It would be a place where everyone could explore and share their visions.We-are-legion-GRH_odt_-_OpenOffice_Writer

The result was Horrified Press. The idea was to create an anthology that allowed first time authors to submit content alongside publishing pros. This format would provide support to those authors who needed it and encourage writers unfamiliar with horror to jump on board. My dream was to create a book that would put the bite back into horror! There would be no teenagers and sparkly vamps here, just good old fashioned gore, chills and unending terror.

The response from writers was so good that we ended up publishing two anthologies: Tales of the Undead – Hell Whore and Tales of the Undead – Suffer Eternal.

We created our first books to shock and to innovate. They did both and I am now pleased to say we have 2,000+ authors who regularly submit content, 10 editors who mentor new writers, seven specialty imprints (Rogue Planet Press – science-fiction, Thirteen O’Clock Press – dark tales, Sinister Saints Press – YA horror, Barbwire Butterfly Books – fantasy, sword & sorcery… to name a few), and over 60 books published!

We-are-legion-GRH_odt_-_OpenOffice_WriterIn the early days, the choice for our print-on-demand supplier was very much a trial and error process. We wanted quality and affordability for our fan base. We also wanted reliable global delivery as well as quick and friendly customer service to handle any problems that emerged. We didn’t want much did we? Lulu.com proved to be best in the areas we felt were important to grow our business and to represent our authors properly. The Lulu platform and its ability to reach other markets has been a major part of our small (now not so small) press and its success. Keep up the great work Lulu.com! You’re inspiring many people and helping them create a smart, more entertained (and scared) world.

It’s been a wild ride and I feel that it is just beginning for us. We’ve now published Bram Stoker award winners, and have inspired and nurtured new authors who have gone on to win accolades (P & E Readers Award winners – anthology category 2014, 2015). Beyond representing new and known voices, Horrified Press serves a great calling. We are carrying the torch for the genre itself, for those who love creating horror and those who love to read our terrifying tales.

For great Halloween reading, please visit: www.horrifiedpress.com
Author site: www.horrifiedpress.wordpress.com

You’ll be frightfully welcome!

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Maximize Your Lulu Customer Support Experience

Writing is no easy task, but once it’s done the book creation process begins. That’s where Lulu comes in. While our tools are designed to be accessible and user friendly, undoubtedly, questions and technical issue will arise. Lucky for you, dear author, Lulu’s Customer Support Team is here to help you overcome any obstacles you encounter.

To ensure a quick and efficient response, follow the instructions below when submitting your support request. These tips will help our support team better understand your problem and remove those obstacles preventing you from completing your project.

To get started, click on the Support link at the top of the page. Then choose the correct support category. Helpful articles are listed below each category that may answer your question. If not, click the I Still Need Help button to open a support request form. 

 

1) Project title, Content ID, ISBN, Order # –

These are the most important bits of information to be included when creating a support case. You will also notice three lines that aren’t required, but are helpful: Item ID; Item Name; ISBN. Including this information allows us to more quickly and accurately provide a solution. Remember, the more information you include in your original request, the fewer follow-up questions we will need to ask and the faster we can resolve your problem.

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The Content ID, ISBN, and Title information are displayed on the My Projects page:

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If your question involves an order that you are waiting to receive or one you have received, but have questions about, it is very important you include the order number in your support request.

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The order number is listed on the order confirmation email we send, on the packing slip inside the package, and from within your Lulu.com account (My Orders)

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2) Include all important information in your request

Describe the Problem as clearly as possible. A simple description such as “My EPUB won’t convert” or “My order didn’t go through” is often sufficient.

If you are having a specific issue, try to give as much detail as possible such as the step on which you encountered the problem or the error message you received. Screen shots are also very helpful to include.

 

3) Support Team responses

Emails are sent to you and routed back to us through a single email address (existing_ticket@lulu.com). Since this is a generic email account used by our entire support team, responses may get routed to your spam or junk folder. If you haven’t seen a response to your query, it’s possible our response is in one of those folders!

IMPORTANT: When you respond to an email from our support team, DO NOT change the subject line. The subject will look like this, but with a different case number:

 

[ ref:_00D406zP6._50070flt3l:ref ] Case 01234567

 

The information in the subject line ensures your response is filed with your original support request and routed to the correct Customer Support team member. If you add or change anything in the subject line, we may not receive or respond to your email in a timely fashion!

 

4) Where to find the answers – Knowledge Base and Author Forums

Lulu is a self-publishing company. We want our authors to grow and thrive. As such, we provide several support options.

  • Self Help: In our Knowledge Base you can find the answers to many of the “how do I…?” questions that come along with self-publishing, like formatting a Word file for EPUB conversion or How to Revise a Completed Project
  • Author Community: Post your question in the forums and other self-published authors will share their know-how, 24/7.
  • Support Team: We are happy to provide support for technical issues M-F from 8-5 Eastern US Time.

Believe me, if you can dedicate hours, weeks, and months of your life to telling your story, you can get through the steps of our creation process and make your book a reality. And, when you hit roadblocks, the Customer Support team is here to help!

How Authors Can Build Their Marketing Presence Online

Want to be a successful author in the 21st century? You have to be online. It goes beyond a suggestion into the territory of necessity.

But how do you strengthen your online presence so you can be sure the greatest number of people see you and know to buy your work? Being visible, engaging with your readers, and having the right attitude online all go a long way in making sure you’re getting the most out of your digital efforts.

Be visible

In order to have a strong online presence, you need to make yourself available online. Seems obvious, right? Basically, you don’t want to make it hard for people to find you. We’ve talked before about the importance of having your own website, and that’s a great place to start. Free or cheap hosting services, premade templates, and easy-to-use software have made making your own website a snap. If you have a central hub, readers will know where to go for the latest news, writing, and where to buy your work.

It’s also important to look outside your own website. Take advantage of social media; it’s a great place to build a community because of the built-in audiences of these sites. No need to start from scratch when you can find readers already sharing their comments on Facebook and Twitter!

Finally, don’t be afraid of interacting with other authors, publishers, and thought-leaders on their own sites. After all, your goal is to be visible. See if there are any blogs looking for guest contributors. Sharing your own tips, insights, and experiences is a great way to engage potential customers, and if you’re writing for another site you can tap into the audience they’ve already built.

The key is being in as many places as possible. Different platforms have different audiences, so just because you have your own site doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on Twitter, and just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t mean you’re reaching the same audience you would if you were also on Facebook. Experiment and find out what works for you, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Speak with readers

What’s the best way to grow an audience? Build relationships with your readers (and potential readers). Readers don’t want to feel like they’re just customers – someone you’re only trying to get a buck from. Make them feel like they’re partners in your writing and they’ll be a lot more likely to support you. Speak with them, not just to them.

Social media makes it incredibly easy to keep in touch with readers. Have conversations with them, but don’t always keep it just about your next book. Share your thoughts and interesting articles with them; respond to their posts, even if they aren’t directed at you, to show that you’re just as invested in them as they are in you.

In short, make yourself look human. One of the benefits of independent publishing is that you aren’t beholden to a giant publishing conglomerate that’s just looking for the next best seller. You have the chance to try new things and work on a smaller scale. Being a friendly face, and not just another cog in a marketing machine, is endearing to readers and likely to help you stand out from the crowd.

Choose Your Words Carefully!

You’ve heard the old saying: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s a good rule of thumb in general, but it’s never been more important than in the digital age. Why? Because as a newer old saying goes, the Internet never forgets. Comments on social media can be shared in an instant, screenshots and backups can be taken be complete strangers, and before you know it that one little snarky comment you said before you had your morning coffee is living in infamy.

So how do you say nice things, even when other people aren’t willing to? Sometimes it just means taking the high road. Ignoring negative comments is a good start; if you don’t engage the haters, they can’t gain any traction.

Of course, it’s not always a case of people being mean. A bad review of your book can sting. You might be tempted to shoot off a tweet about how the reviewer is a hack and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But what if you decided to look at it constructively instead? Take what the review says to heart, look at it as objectively as possible, and see what merit the comments have.

If you have to engage the reviewer, thank them for taking the time to read your book and give their thoughts. It probably won’t change the review, but the reviewer – and every potential reader out there – will see that you’re willing to take criticism gracefully and are trying to improve your craft. They might be more willing to check out your next book to see how you’ve grown.

Independent publishing means putting in a lot of legwork to get some great rewards, and marketing is no different. Making sure you have a strong online presence is a great way to market yourself and your work for relatively little money. Growing your audience organically by putting a real human behind that author name

Why Authors Need Their Own Website

If you're an author, a website is crucial for marketing your writing career.

You’ve written your book. You’ve published it. Congratulations! So…what’s next?

If you’re like many authors, you want to start selling it. But it’s not enough to just make it available for sale and cross your fingers. After all, you have a lot of competition out there. And while you have a lot of control when you independently publish, that comes with a lot of responsibilities, too. You have to do a lot of the heavy lifting for marketing on your own. It may seem daunting, and you might not even know where to begin.

Why not start with a website?

While selling your book in bookstores is great, let’s face it: you need to be found online. Your job in marketing yourself is to remove as many barriers as possible for potential readers. You want it to be easy to find you, easy to learn about you, and easy to buy your book.

Part of this is building your personal brand. That’s right, brands aren’t just for multinational corporations to slap on packaging and billboards. Building your personal brand lets readers know you outside of your book and helps you connect with them and build relationships. This will make them more likely to want to buy what you’re selling.

Websites and social media have made this easier than ever, because it allows you to directly share your thoughts with people. If you have a marketing strategy that doesn’t involve a website, you’re missing out on a lot. Plus, having a site just might make you a better writer.

Here are four ways having your own website will boost your writing career.

Engage Readers

How do you stand out in a world full of millions of people selling their books? By making it personal. Build relationships with readers by sharing your thoughts, responding to comments and questions, and entertaining them – in other words, by being a real person and not just a name on a book cover.

Building close connections to a group of fans can add up quickly; in fact, it’s the whole idea behind Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans premise. If you can give people a place to find you and you have a conversation with them, showing that you care about them and not just about their money, you’ll be well on your way to building your fanbase.

Sell Your Book

Hopefully your book is available in every place that will carry it, from Lulu to Amazon to brick-and-mortar stores. But there are a lot of benefits to selling your book on your own. Setting up a storefront on your website – allowing readers to find out about you and buy right away, without needing to go to another site – removes a barrier for purchase and makes them that much more likely to click that “Buy” button.

Network

Readers aren’t the only ones you’ll be able to reach with your website. Fellow authors, publishers, and booksellers are also online, and your website will allow you to network with them. Guest blog posts, for example, let you share tips and tricks and, even better, let you tap into someone else’s audience to build your own. Writing collaborations, workshops, author events – the bigger you grow your network, the more inroads you’ll have to great marketing and writing opportunities.

Practice Writing

Sure you’ve published a book, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement! Even the best authors are always striving to get better. If you’re updating your website regularly, you’ll get a ton of practice writing, whether it’s responding to visitors, posting writing exercises, or learning how to write concisely with your author bio. When you’re an author there’s no such thing as writing too much, and when you’re writing for your site – contributing to your marketing efforts – you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Getting Started

Making your own site has never been easier. Using a blogging platform like WordPress is a great place to start; you can create static pages that will remain relatively unchanged – for example, your bio or contact information pages – and have a built-in blog for regular updates. Or you can choose a platform like Squarespace and use their templates to make creating your own page a snap.

Some platforms are free, only charging you for extras, while some will run you a small subscription fee. And even purchasing your own domain name only comes out to a few bucks a month. No matter what route you go, look at the time and money you’re putting into it as an investment: a little work now will pay dividends as you continue to grow.

Do you have your own website? Tell us about it in the comments! Share your insights with your fellow authors about what works for you (and what doesn’t).

10 Things You Want to Know About Self-Publishing

The author of this article, Laura Shabott, and I were panelists at last year’s Self-Publishing Book Expo in New York City where we discussed and answered questions about book formats and formatting. Her advice is thoughtful and her tell-it-like-it-is approach is both refreshing and informative.

We all know this is a golden age for writing and publishing. Counterpoint?  The competition has never been more ferocious. With over 5,000 new book releases everyday on Amazon, today’s self-publishing author needs to be shrewd, savvy and prepared. Here are ten empowering things you need to know before entering the playing field.

1) You may write for yourself, but you publish for a defined audience.

Writing is all about you. Publishing is not. It’s about them, your future readers. Who are these people? If your quick answer is, “Well, it’s anyone who can read,” stop right there. Listen to me. You need to know who is going to read your book. Is it a professional network, your yoga students or your blog followers? Will you go to every bookstore within a hundred miles of your home and ask them to carry your book? Will you bite the bullet and plunk down 10,000 dollars for a publicist? Tough, tough question; who is my audience? Answer it and you have a book that sells.

2) Pick a book title that works with Internet algorithms.

Your title is organized by its exact words in search engines. Using the name “Confessions of an eBook Virgin” for my self-publishing guide groups it with “Confessions of a Virgin Sacrifice.” If the focus of your book (yoga, diet, novel, anthology, divorce) isn’t somewhere in your title or subtitle, it will drift aimlessly in the vast oceans of digital content.

3) Editing is EVERYTHING!

People often balk at paying for a seasoned developmental book editor or writing coach, copy editor and proofreader. So WHAT if it costs a couple of grand? Anyone can get a part-time job, but no one can reverse a sloppy book launch.  You, a David against the Goliath marketplace, have a shot at rising to the crème de la crème of books if it’s tight. Use pros to ready your manuscript for market. Skip this part and be relegated to the miles-high heap of self-published typo-filled slush.

4) Choose the formats that work for your readers.

My readers? Every last one wants a book in the hand; digital natives, baby boomers, artists, writers and actors all want that. Once I produced a paperback edition of “Confessions,” sales took off at speaking engagements and local stores. This is ironic, since the book is about publishing eBooks. But, hey, audience is King. Give them what they want.

5) Manage your time wisely.

I manage my 168 hours a week like a dragon guarding a priceless treasure. If I am going have to be my own writer/designer/producer/promoter and financier, the case for any self-publisher, I need to get the most out of every minute – and so do you.

6) Don’t rush the publication of your book.

“Oh, I don’t have to line up 25 to 100 post-launch online reviewers,” thinks the new author/publisher. Or, “I don’t have to have a blog tour or get a professional review service. People will find my book because I am amazing!” No, they won’t and you will cry bitter tears of anguish.

You have to have a marketing plan. The checklist in the back of my book is a good place to start.

7) Beware heat-seeking sharks in the water.

Do your research before hiring or trusting anyone. Get at least three referrals from people like you when going with a vanity press or any publisher who will have control of your edition. Protect your asset; that book you spent months or years on is your intellectual property. But don’t shy away from a collaborative publishing arrangement with a small or mid-size press, a growing option instead of going it alone.

8) People will say bad things about your book.

Amazon trolls, your neighbors, reviewers and friends will say idiotic things about your book. Unless they are in the writing business, in which case you will think that they are cruel. Lighten up or it will crush you.  If you keep hearing the same thing over and over (I don’t like your protagonist), then it’s a real problem that you, the author, need to fix.

9) Self-publishing gives you total control. Use it.

If, after all this work, there is a fatal flaw in your first effort, yank it. Start over. Put the title back out fixed. That is power. You are the boss of your book and anyone on your team.

10) Go Local

Take a carton of your print-on-demand edition or short run and sell directly. Canvas your own region through library talks, independent bookstores, fairs, flea markets; anywhere you can grow an audience. Going local is organic, affirming and actively engages your community in your work.

 

Takeaway: Self-publishing a good, if not great, book is a rite of passage. The experience can lead to a career in writing more books, providing support services like editing, reviewing or designing – or something totally unexpected!

Laura Shabott

Laura Shabott

Laura Shabott is a Provincetown based writer, a dynamic speaker and an empowering self-publishing consultant. She is the author of Confessions of an eBook Virgin: What Everyone Should Know Before They Publish on the Interneta five star rated primer for anyone curious about online publishing. Go to http://www.laurashabott.com, tweet @laurashabott or email laurashabott@gmail.com.

The Business of Self-Publishing: ISBNs

ISBN Gold

With publishing open to everyone, authors are now the CEOs of their own publishing companies. Self-publishing requires authors to make all product decisions including paper color, font, book layout, cover design, distribution and marketing strategy. As such, you must be not only a creative genius, but also a savvy business person. Otherwise, the siren song of literary success will cloud your business judgment. After all, who isn’t tempted by the prospect of seeing their book listed for sale in every online bookstore?

Publishing with an ISBN*

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the holy grail of book distribution and Lulu provides them for free if your book meets certain requirements. The ISBN is a bit like your book’s fingerprint; it is used to both identify your book and track its sales. An ISBN paired with Lulu’s free GlobalREACH distribution makes your print and eBook available for purchase in online bookstores such as Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, iBookstore, Kindle, and Kobo stores among others. Your book will also be listed in global bibliographic databases from which any number of institutions, bookstores, and online retailers can discover it and offer it for sale.  For authors seeking a broad audience, publishing with an ISBN is indeed a requirement.

ISBN ExplainedISBNs, however, directly affect pricing. Applying an ISBN to a print book results in an automatic retail markup being added to your book’s price. This markup is the amount a retailer can potentially earn from selling your book on their site. Retailers may choose to sell your book at its full price or offer it at a discount with “free” shipping – all of which is paid from the retail markup or retailer’s portion of the book’s price.

Regardless of the price your book sells for, you will always be paid the revenue you set when publishing the book. Unfortunately, retail markups often force authors to greatly reduce earnings per book in order to remain competitively priced. This revenue tradeoff is offset by the possibility of more sales being generated when a book is widely available for purchase and is a sacrifice most authors are happy to make.

*At this time, only Premium format books may be assigned an ISBN.

Publishing without an ISBN**

Depending on your ultimate goal and target audience, publishing without an ISBN may make more sense. Forgoing an ISBN allows more formatting choices and greater pricing freedom in the Lulu bookstore. These are advantages if you are publishing a book for sentimental reasons, for a limited audience, or to promote your business. For example, if you are a teacher publishing educational books, an ISBN is not required to reach your students who are your target audience. The same applies when publishing your family history or grandmother’s favorite recipes – your intended audience will be aware of your work and be happy to purchase it directly from you or from the Lulu bookstore thereby cutting out the middleman.

**Authors may choose Premium, Standard, or Photo Quality formats when publishing without an ISBN.

Publishing with AND without an ISBN

If your dream is to one day strike it rich as an author, you may wish to publish a Premium Paperback version of your book with an ISBN for wide distribution and publish another version without an ISBN using Lulu’s Standard Paperback format. This strategy allows you to maximize book exposure through online retailers while maximizing revenue through direct sales of a Standard Paperback. Sales from your web site, the Lulu bookstore, local bookstores, and events such as book signings do not require an ISBN. The Standard Paperback formats are printed using state of the air ink jet technology that significantly reduces manufacturing costs. Additionally, with no middlemen to pay, you have greater pricing flexibility that translates into higher earnings. The Standard Paperback format is also perfect for proofing, review copies, and giveaways.

ISBN bigstock-Barcodes-Seamless-vector-wall-25203968As you consider the future of your writing think about your goals, your audience, and the options described above. The manuscript and cover files you created for the book you sent into distribution are the same files you will upload to create your Standard Paperback, or “personal stock” copies. With a few minutes of effort, you can be on your way to increased sales and higher revenues.