Articles tagged "self-publish"

Rise of the Self-Publishing Author – Infographic

Download the Infographic here.

The Great American Novel. It’s a classic concept, one that endures because of the human instinct to share our stories.  Stories are a part of history, of art, of culture and, in some cases, one can actually achieve greatness through the sharing of those stories. So, if you have a story to tell or knowledge that can benefit others, the sharing of it shouldn’t be the hard part.

But it so often is. Aspiring writers have a less than 2 percent chance of being picked up by an agent or publishing house, and those that do often see sadly little return in terms of visibility, distribution or actual income. There’s struggling for one’s art, but constantly hitting walls when it comes to making it a reality is another thing entirely.

Fortunately, technology has made it so aspiring authors don’t have to be discouraged by rejection letters and cost prohibitive distribution. Though the Great American Novel trope includes the fantasy of wowing a publisher, getting a huge advance, shooting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, getting a movie deal and retiring in Tuscany, the fact is, to be a successful writer, you don’t have to run the gamut of submissions and rejections, expensive production and distribution costs and constant second-guessing of your ability to succeed.

The proliferation of e-readers like Kindle, Nook and Kobo has driven the massive growth of the e-book market and, for authors looking to get published, opens up a wealth of opportunity for distribution and income without the obstacles that come with traditional publishing. Self-publishing and digital distribution enables authors to make their work widely discoverable and accessible with much less upfront investment and much higher potential to make money without a publisher taking the lion’s share of royalties.

The stats speak for themselves. Check out Lulu.com’s new infographic on the Rise of the Self-Publishing Author.

ebook-infographic

How To Write A Great Book Title

Choosing a clever title can be as hard as writing the book itself. Some writers say their title comes to them first, and the story develops from there, while other writers have folders of documents like, “Untitled, fantasy time travel book, name TBD.”

Your title should do three things: Attract readers you want, distinguish your book from others in its genre, and leave a lasting impression on the reader. Here are Lulu’s tips for giving your masterpiece a great name.

  1. Avoid clichéd nouns like “chronicles,” “tale” and “adventure.” Sure, some of the great classics use them – The Chronicles of Narnia, The Handmaid’s Tale and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn come immediately to mind – but usually these descriptors are unnecessary and over-used. Distinguish your book with an original title, even if it is a chronicle, a tale, or an adventure. John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War could easily be described as a chronicle, but doesn’t rely on that descriptor to be memorable and powerful.
  2. How to choose a clever title? Consider an important object, character or idea from the book and start brainstorming. Perhaps a line from the book during a critical scene would make a good title. Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, for example, takes its title from a character’s description of time travel to a child – creating a “wrinkle” in the fabric of time to get to and fro easily. The relevancy of the title may not be immediately apparent, but when the reader finally figures it out within the text, the realization can be just as satisfying as finishing the book.
  3. If your book is non-fiction, consider a subtitle to clarify your clever main title. Readers of non-fiction want to know up-front what they’re going to get from your book. Before it becomes a nationally-known best-seller, a vague title like What Color is Your Parachute? needs a descriptive subtitle (A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers) to appeal to the job-hunters who might need the help this book can provide. The combination of title and subtitle of Deborah Frye and Tracy Mercier’s Our Father Who Aren’t In Heaven: A True Story of a Career Criminal does a great job of telling the reader the subject and tone of the book. (Don’t worry; if you’re using Lulu’s cover design services, we can handle a subtitle, a sub-subtitle and all the authors, illustrators, editors and contributors you want to include on the cover!)
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Book Expo America 2012: Three Authors and 36 Million Reasons to Meet Them

Lulu is headed to Book Expo America (BEA), one of the largest publishing events in the world, next week, but we’re not going alone.  Three of our very own authors will be on site June 5th – 7th signing free copies of their bestsellers and, more importantly, sharing tips on how to make it in this lucrative new world of open-publishing.

The line-up of bestselling authors at BEA includes New York Times Bestseller David Thorne, former congressional candidate and political author Kevin Powell, and marketing/tech guru Scott Steinberg. This is a can’t miss for everyone attending BEA, so stop by to see us at book #3476!

Lulu Founder and CEO, Bob Young, will also be there presenting on two panels Sunday, June 3rd.  Bob will be calling on his years of salesmanship and expertise to share valuable tips and insights for publishing success.  Both panels take place this Sunday at the Javits Convention Center in New York.  Bob’s speaking schedule below:

  • 9:00AM – 9:50AM – Room 1E14 – Break Through & Publish You
  • 1:30PM – 2:20PM – Room 1E13 – Publishing Partners That Put Unknown Authors on the Bookshelf
Lulu’s presence at BEA comes hot on the heels of our 10-year anniversary, which had us celebrating our authors making over $36 million in revenue in our decade-long history.  At over 677,000 published eBooks and over 618,000 published print titles, we’re more excited than ever to show the folks at BEA just how easy it is to publish works in all sorts of markets and formats more profitably than ever before.  See you at the show!

Lulu eBooks Just Got Even Better

Tables and columns have been around for so long that we don’t give them much thought – even though our daily lives often rely on them.  One supports our dinner plates, silverware, fruit bowls, lamps, and books while the other literally supports the roof over our heads.  In recognition of all that tables and columns have contributed to civilization, we are returning the favor by supporting their use in document-to-EPUB conversions.

What are the benefits? 

For authors, uploaded Word documents that include tables and columns will now pass conversion.  This is especially good news for educators publishing text books, developers publishing tech manuals, or businesses publishing data-heavy intellectual property – all of which make excellent design use of tables and columns.

For consumers, simply clicking on the table image in an eBook will provide access to the original, raw table data.  This allows readers to interact with the data in various ways such as accessing embedded links or copy and pasting information directly from the table.

The really big news is that Lulu is currently the only platform providing this type of document support – all absolutely free.  Compare this with other services that can cost upwards of $400 per conversion.

What’s Next? 

We’re always looking for ways to make our great self-publishing tools even better and more accessible to everyone.  We love hearing your feedback, and work continues to provide support for all the items that matter to our authors and our readers.  Check back for more Lulu news in the coming weeks.

Expand Your Business with Custom Publishing Solutions

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 organizationslike 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.

 

Print is Dead; Long Live Print – Print Sales Stronger than Ever Thanks to eBooks

Everyone is talking about eBooks these days.  I was just on a flight where it seemed like everyone had either an iPad, Nook, Kindle, or some other device they were using to read their books.  So where does that leave print?

Well at Lulu, print is going as strong as ever.  Creators on Lulu published over 50,000 new print book titles in 2011, up nearly 9% over 2010.  What’s perhaps more interesting however is that print titles accounted for an incredible 68% of Lulu’s total sales last year, which really says something about the buying and sharing patterns of readers.

Undoubtedly eBooks are on the rise, but we’ve noticed a trend where readers with an eBook might tell a friend without an e-reader about a title and that friend then goes and buys a print copy.  Time and again, we’ve seen examples of authors publishing both a print and eBook version of their works and going on to sell more than double the amount of total copies over authors who only sell one or the other.

One clever tactic we’ve seen authors use to drive print sales too is to offer free eBook previews of their titles. Several authors used this method over the holidays last year. We saw eBook sales double the day after Christmas and just a few days later, on the 28th, print sales tripled!

Today’s author can’t predict where their next fan might come from and readers don’t want to have to choose between formats.  They just want it to be easy.  Lulu’s mission in all of this is to ensure that we’re providing creators and buyers with the most options for selling their works – be they print or electronic – through more and more partnerships with premier retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.  And while eBooks are certainly gaining momentum, our print catalogue sits at 618,687 titles – almost exactly even with our eBook catalogue.  Clearly, print is still alive.

Cheers,

Tom

 

CAMEX Recap – Bringing the Power of One-Stop Publishing to College Communities

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.

Better Education Through Self-Publishing

Lulu Education

 

Apple obviously thinks that teachers could benefit from more self-publishing tools – and they’re right. Educators like Dr. Tony Kemerly, professor of biomechanics at High Point University and Lulu author, often find themselves spending countless hours every semester stapling worksheets together for students – a common problem for the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s recorded 1.7 million post-secondary teachers in the country.

More and more though, better choices are becoming available that give these teachers and professors greater control over the learning experiences they share with their students. The tools now exist to empower educators to publish their own content for free and ensure their students are receiving the most up-to-date classroom materials at an affordable price they set.  Teachers can publish a print book or eBook, offer supplementary materials, or make free revisions at anytime.  They’re then able to sell their works through retailers like the iBookstore(SM), Amazon.com, and the NOOK(TM) Bookstore – not just through student bookstores.  It is by removing the limitations that we’re better able to move knowledge from one generation to the next, so we can all benefit from these works.

Dr. Marianne Bradford, professor for the College of Management at North Carolina State University puts it best:

“Bookstore prices can be so high, and the textbooks used for my classes were so outdated,” says Dr. Bradford.  “I needed content geared towards my students.  Big publishers were interested, but did not seem to understand the market or the content.  The flexibility and control over my work I found when self-publishing let me create materials that suited my personality and style.”

Dr. Bradford’s book, Modern ERP:  Select, Implement & Use Today’s Advanced Business Systems, has gone on to rank in the top 100 of Lulu’s 1.1 million titles and is currently being translated for Korean audiences.  “I feel confident about my decision to go with Lulu and plan on a long working relationship,” Bradford adds.

For more information on academic publishing opportunities, visit Lulu’s education portal at www.lulu.com/education. And sound off in the comments below on clever ways you’ve used self-publishing to teach others.

 

Winners of the Lulu Short Story Contest Announced!


Wow.

We just can’t get over how many truly remarkable stories we received for the first ever Lulu Short Story Contest.

Our panel of 25 judges carefully read through the 2000+ submissions, picked their favorite, then read it out loud to the rest of the judges. From there, judges voted on which stories they liked the best from the readings and tallied the results until there were three clear winners with the most votes.  Your stories made us laugh, made us tear up, and some of the judges even got into literary debates over their favorites that lasted for days on end (no, really).

It was amazing to see everyone take such a passionate interest in our authors’ work. I can’t express enough how hard it was to pick just three finalists. But, we had to…SO! Without further ado (and because the suspense is killing me)…here are the winners of the Lulu Short Story Contest:

1ST PLACE WINNER:

The Red Boots by Poornima Ram Kiram

$1,000 Cash
Barnes and Noble NOOK
A review in Shelf-Unbound Magazine
Free Lulu Publicity


2ND PLACE WINNER:

Grass by Charles D. Shell
$250 and a Barnes and Noble NOOK™:


3RD PLACE WINNER:

Revenge by Gail Kavanagh
$100 Gift Card to Barnes and Noble


Honorable Mention:

Persona Quietus by Jesse Lee
Lovely Stranger by Jennifer Porter-Kennard

If you didn’t win, don’t let it get you down.  So many of the stories were so excellent and hey, now you have an eBook version of your story and your name out in the world for millions of readers to see. All just because you believed in yourself. Neat huh?!?

You can take that shiny new eBook of yours and promote it this holiday too for what we’re calling Download Day.  We did some research and figured out that December 26th is the highest traffic shopping day for eBook sales – much like “Black Friday” in November. So, we’re throwing a good old-fashioned author sales contest for Download Day and the author who sells the most copies of their eBook on December 26th, 2011 – even if you sell your eBook for free – will win a Barnes and Noble NOOK and $100 off coupon good for anything on Lulu.

Learn more about Download Day, the highest traffic buying day for digital content on the Lulu blog here. And thank you again so very much for helping make the Lulu Short Story Contest such a success.  Due to popular demand, we’ll soon be posting a full list of all 2,000+ submissions to the contest for everyone to read and we plan to publish an anthology featuring all the semi-finalists and three winners for all to enjoy.  More details on that to come soon.

All the best this holiday from Lulu.

Be Bigger Than Your Book: Author Spotlight with Jeff Taylor

Author Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor is a marketing genius with a heart of gold.

Having worked as a channel marketer for several top-tier companies such as Nortel and iContact over the years – Taylor started noticing a lot of common trends across all industries.

“Customers today want more than a product,” says Taylor.  “They need an experience or a  personal tie to a product and companies need to bigger than what they’re selling to build meaningful, lasting customer relationships.”

Taylor highlights exactly what he means in his new book Bigger than the Widget, available on Lulu.com.  And he has even taken his own advice in marketing his work by attaching it to a recognized brand and a good cause:  The V Foundation for Cancer Research.  All proceeds from Taylor’s book will be donated to the organization.

“If you want to have any success, if you truly want your product or service to be bigger and do bigger things, you have to be aware of the present trends and work to create an emotional connection with your customers,” says Taylor. “My family has been touched by cancer and the V Foundation was the most logical choice to associate with my book.”

Available Now on Lulu.com

When coming up with the idea of his book, Taylor was surprised by how many people tried to tell him it wouldn’t work.  But Jeff knew what his true motivation was:  this book was for his grandfather and he couldn’t be stopped.  He even considered going the traditional route first but couldn’t ignore the speed and customization self-publishing offers authors.

“The world of publishing is changing very quickly,” says Taylor.  “Companies like Lulu are so clearly the gatekeepers of the this new era of publishing.  I was honestly shocked at how easy it was to get to the right people and get my work done – even when it came to approaching organizations for sponsorships.  People are willing to help, you just have to know how to position yourself and be committed to your ideas. Then, you can accomplish anything.”

For more great marketing tips from a true professional, be sure to pick up a copy Bigger than the Widget by Jeff Taylor on Lulu.com and help support important cancer research today.