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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.”
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.