I had an interesting conversation with an up and coming author recently who has a very specific vision. She wants to cut out any potential for a “middle-man” to distract her readers from finding and buying her works. She eventually even wants to run her own publishing business directly from her website starting with her own titles. This would enable her to maximize her profits and directly tap into her fan-base while helping other aspiring authors share their works too. The problem is she didn’t have an easy means of distribution, eBook creation, or order fulfillment. She needed someone to help her do all the heavy lifting on the backend, so she could focus on creating a successful business. That’s where Lulu and our Open Publishing APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) come in.
An API is kind of like a Lego® block that makes a website or application work. All the “blocks” that make Lulu’s great self-publishing site function are available to the public so that anyone can use them no matter their needs or their market. With Lulu APIs, authors, publishers, businesses, and developers alike can take whatever pieces they need from Lulu and use them on their own websites to instantly produce, manage, and sell content. The best part? They are absolutely free.
Suddenly this up and coming author has a completely customized publishing solution to start that business she dreams about. She can sign up other authors but can relax while she uses Lulu’s global print-on-demand network to cut on shipping costs. She gets to offer her authors distribution through Lulu’s retail partners like Amazon, iBookstore(SM), and NOOK Bookstore – where many readers already shop. It’s all under her own imprint and designed for her to be more profitable than ever before possible.
Lulu is constantly rolling out new APIs too. Coming soon Lulu’s eCommerce APIs will be released for general availability, enabling customers to buy directly through an author or business’s own website. Also be on the look out for general availability of our Creator Revenue APIs which allow a business or imprint to easily keep track of an author’s earnings.
Indeed, the Lulu APIs are empowering people and organizations – like our friends at campus bookstores across the nation – to grow and monetize content in exciting new ways while diversifying revenue and expanding their businesses – all under one roof. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for some more exciting news about how our APIs are helping to break down even more barriers for authors, for businesses, and for everyone in between.
Lulu was at the Campus Market Expo (CAMEX) March 2-6th this week and boy did we have a great time. It was our first year at the event and since we were partnered with the National Association of College Stores (NACS), the guys responsible for CAMEX, attendees were anxious to see what we had to offer. We did not disappoint.
Lulu got to show off our fancy new beta platform for college stores. What the heck does that mean? Well, we’re providing stores with the tools they need to effectively become their own publishing hubs. This is great for everyone including faculty and staff, students, and the stores themselves. The platform puts the power back in the hands of the community. Educators are able to create customized course materials and text books at prices they set. Students get more up-to-date and affordable content, and can publish works of their own. Stores get to diversify their revenue, take advantage of Lulu’s distribution partners, and look like the good guys they are to their customers – all while Lulu does all the heavy lifting on the backend. Cool huh? So far, the pilot program has sign-ups from Montezuma Publishing at San Diego State University, Jayhawk Ink at the University of Kansas, and Odin Ink at Portland State University.
You can learn more about Lulu’s partnership with NACS on the Lulu Press Center. In the meantime, check out these fun pictures from the show.
Success in publishing happens everyday, but what about for small to medium publishers? Even they are empowered to expand their brands and imprints with the new tools and innovations self-publishing brings. Why just this morning Fifty Shades of Grey was featured on the Today Show. Check out the full segment below:
2011 was an exciting year for independent publishing – new technology, devices and formats are changing the way people create and consume content. By far the stand out this year happened in the eBooks space. Creators published a stunning 115,517 new eBooks on Lulu.com in 2011, up 22% over 2010.
The surge in eBooks published has helped make Lulu the #1 source of independent content on the iBookstore(SM) and Nook Bookstore with 60,000+ titles available in these channels right now. This number is growing rapidly every day thanks to Lulu’s continued commitment to developing the best eBook publishing tools available.
With 10 years of experience helping over 1.1 million creators in 200+ countries and territories bring their content to the world, we have grown our eBook catalogue to a whopping 620,000 titles. Your content is making a difference in the world of publishing and Lulu is proud to be your partner.
While eBooks are clearly gaining strength in numbers, the future of eBooks is still being defined, with Lulu investing heavily in that future. For instance right now we are hard at work paving the way for the next generation of eBooks. Please stay tuned for exciting updates as we embark on this next chapter in independent publishing. And next week, we’ll take a look at where print books fit into the mix.
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.
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.
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.
“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 Bookstore, Amazon 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.