Articles tagged "self-publish"

PR Part I: Ready, Set, Press Release!


RALEIGH, NC – September 13, 2016 – Lulu, the pioneer and world leader in independent publishing, announced today that all authors should launch their new books with a well-crafted press release. “It’s your story and you should be the person telling it,” said Glenn@Lulu, Content Marketing Manager at Lulu Press.



That’s the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day!

That’s a pretty standard (and frankly boring) opening for a press release: Announce something, follow it by an authoritative, quotable quote, then tell the story. It’s really like writing a one-page essay. All you need to do is write a release that answers who, what, when, where, why and how. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

You may be surprised to learn there are people out there who make hundreds of dollars per press release. That’s right, all that money for writing five paragraphs announcing something someone thinks is newsworthy. In reality, this is something you can do yourself. All you need is a bit of practice and an ear for what will attract the attention of local, national, and global news outlets.

Let’s get started.

One second to fame

Books are published everyday. Another one being published is not news. Therefore, your headline has to jump off the screen and make a reporter want to read more of your story. Since your headline is the first impression you will make, avoid clichés, puns, and gimmicky subject lines. Otherwise your headline may be the last impression you make before a journalist hits the delete key.

Sell the hook, not the book


Sell the hook first. Then sell the book.

What makes your book relevant? Does it solve a problem? How does it relate to other books in the genre? Does your book explain or fit neatly into a current news story? Does the action in your book revolve around an upcoming holiday? Are you a coroner writing a crime novel? A mother writing a conspiracy thriller? A life-long city dweller celebrating life off the grid? Your press release is the means to tell your story. The book is almost an afterthought, “If you want to know more, you can find <insert title here> on Lulu and all major online bookstores.”


Don’t promote, inform

An effective press release is based on facts, not opinion. Of course you, your mom and your best friend think your book is the best book ever published, but that is only an opinion. A journalist needs facts and when possible quotes. If your book solves a problem, state the problem and the solution it provides. If your characters or plot happen to coincide with something happening in the news, explain why your book will help people better understand the situation. When possible, provide quotes from experts in your field or snippets from reputable reviewers.

The best book in the world – Really?

hyperboleYou want your headline and body text to be original, snappy, and attention grabbing; however, avoid using clichés and hyperbole. Unless you have proof your book will transform lives, leave readers breathless or on their knees begging for more, don’t include these overused tropes in your press release. They show a lack of thought and imagination (see above – facts not opinions).


Do your research

Your best bet for getting early publicity for your book will be from local newspapers, libraries, radio programs, and independent bookstores. With that said, make sure you do your homework and address your press release email to a person (name spelled correctly).   No one wants to receive a generic email blast sent to every Sir, Madame, or Whom it May Concern in the business. Make it personal. I spell my name Glenn with two Ns – you should too!

Everybody is busy (and lazy)


Content, I need good content!

All journalists are on tight deadlines, so the easier you make it for them to write the story, the more likely it is your story will get their attention. When you send your press release email, include links to your author press kit (About the Author), your book’s retail page, and book excerpts. It is not recommended you send a free copy of your book with the initial contact. Instead, explain that free electronic copies will be provided upon request.


Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to getting the publicity your book deserves. Remember, start local, be personal, and try different angles until you have perfected your press release. Then go national.


Up nextPR Part II: Write the Best Press Release – EVER!

Tips for composing the best book launch press release in the history of the written word in the format of a standard press release.

Additional Resources

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

Crafting an Elevator Pitch for Your Book

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

How to Publish a Paperback Book on



Summer Success Summit: Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

Tell_Your_Story_NarrowJuly’s Summer Success Summit at Shady Oak included the subtitle “formula for a happy, motivated child.” I have frequently taught high school students a similar program on the secrets of achievement, but this year I thought, “Why make kids wait until high school to learn principles they would need all through life?” So this summer I brought the training to late-elementary and middle-school students.

Cool Kids_the gang

2016 Summer Success Summit Attendees

I also wanted to incorporate a hands-on project to instill the principles through practical application, while providing an opportunity for fun learning. Since the love of stories knows no minimum age—and kids this age are highly vulnerable to “everyone knows more than I do” anxieties—I decided to have them create a book as a group project, a book that would give them the opportunity to share their knowledge with others.

The students loved the idea. We started with two questions:

  1. What do successful people think?
  2. What do successful people do?

I wrote down every answer the kids gave. Each day thereafter, I taught a new concept and had everyone share more ideas to incorporate into the book. The students quickly took charge and came up with fifteen success strategies:

  1. Practice, practice, practice to achieve your dreams
  2. Be open-minded and think outside the box
  3. Believe in your own ideas
  4. Be patient, stay focused, and use your time wisely
  5. Stay healthy
  6. Surround yourself with positive people
  7. Set clear goals and make clear plans for moving toward them
  8. Let your mind wander and appreciate where it takes you
  9. Take risks—that’s the only way you’ll find opportunities
  10. What you think about, you bring about
  11. Know your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses
  12. Ask for help when you need it
  13. Remember, enthusiasm and passion are the keys to success
  14. Work smarter, not harder. Whatever you do well, do lots of it
  15. Help others get what they want, which is also the best way to ensure you get what you need. Always be a team player

With the outline complete, students divided into four teams based on individual strengths: Writers, illustrators, layout editors, and final editors / publishers.

Cool Kids_group challenge

Authors, illustrators, and editors hard at work

Meanwhile, I researched professional self-publishing services to find one that would meet our needs. got the job after the CEO sent a personal response to my LinkedIn inquiry. From the beginning, Lulu was 100 percent behind the project and always ready to support us.

Back at Success Summit, our writers put each concept into an 18 to 36-word summary. One example:

Be enthusiastic and passionate, they are the keys to success. Focus on your goal. You have to want it more than anything because success doesn’t just happen.

After that stage was finished, the whole group reviewed the content and brainstormed illustration ideas for each concept. The illustration team then planned and sketched pictures for each concept and the title page. The resulting pages were distributed among the entire group for coloring.

The completed illustrations and text for the pages were passed to the layout-editing team, who created mock-ups for the final pages by sizing and arranging pictures and wording. They ordered the pages and prepared a collection of contributor bios that were entered into a computer along with the page images.

Lastly, the final editors reviewed the manuscript and wrote up a publishing plan including desired book size, paper type, and cover designs; and uploaded it to our “end publishers” at Lulu.

All the kids whWhat Every Cool Kido completed Success Summit are convinced they are great writers and are ready to continue authoring books. Who knows how many of their names will appear on bookstore shelves over the next twenty years?

What books could your students write as they develop new ideas from your curriculum?

Our book, What Every Cool Kid Deserves to Know!, may be ordered directly from Lulu. Please post a review and watch for our book on Amazon and other online bookstores.


About the Author

Debbie Elder co-authored the 2013 best seller Against the Grain. She followed this in 2014 with the bestselling Share Your Message with the World. Over the course of her career she has developed courses for teaching behavior management techniques for classrooms and corporate employees as well as courses to teach life skills students need for success. Upon urging from her student’s parents she opened a school for 6th to 12th graders which eventually lead to the opening of 15 additional schools nationwide. Debbie recently returned to her passion and is now working with elementary students at her school Shady Oak Primary, located in Richmond, Texas. For more information about her after school program, see Set Them Up for Success – The Homework Hangout.

More About Project-based Learning

Student Publishing with Lulu

Students Publish Guide for All Cool Kids

YSHS Students Turn Cookbooks into Scholarships

Lulu Academy: Enroll Today

Video Tutorial: How to Publish a Paperback Book

Author Press Kit: How You Market You


Example from an author we all know.

Who is your favorite living author? Have you ever visited their website? If you wanted to know more about them, where would you click? What would you expect to see on that page?

Now think about your website or blog. If a journalist, blogger, production manager, or agent wanted to know more about you, where would they find the information? How are you selling yourself as a writer or subject matter expert? How are you telling the story of you?

If you are new to publishing, you may not have even thought about needing an “About” page on your website. If you have one, it probably has a few fun facts about you, some pictures of your family and maybe an homage to your faithful pet. This information may be meaningful to you, but will it get you an interview or a speaking engagement? If not, perhaps it’s time to re-work your “About the Author” page to serve as an author press kit.

“Who has the time for that?” you may ask. In truth, it’s likely you already have most of the information needed to create an effective press kit. You just didn’t know you needed one. An effective press kit includes:

Author Biography and Contact Information

Lulu recommends authors have multiple versions of their bios for use in article submissions, guest posts, and interviews. Your press kit bio should be about 200 words focusing on what makes you interesting and your areas of expertise. Don’t forget to include a head shot and your (or your publicist’s) email, phone, and social media contact info.


In addition to contact information, always include a clear, professional head shot with your bio.


Specific information about your book(s)
List the title, topic, genre and intended audience for your book as well as a succinct summary (no spoilers).  If you are writing nonfiction include your credentials or personal experience relevant to the topic.

Press Coverage
Show your press-worthiness. Include excerpts from reviews, transcripts from interviews, links to press releases, blogs and articles written about your work. List awards, nominations, and recognitions your work has received. Your press kit is not the place for humility.

Press Kit Newsroom1

Busy reporters are always looking for compelling local stories. A well-written press kit makes it easier for them to meet their deadline.


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
If your goal is to schedule newspaper, radio, or television interviews, include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about you and your book. The more upfront information you provide, the easier it is for a journalist to prepare a story. Your answers should be personal, conversational, and quotable. FAQs and answers also provide jumping off points for further questions:

  • What lead you to writing?
  • How does your early (or current) life influence your writing?
  • What is your inspiration for developing these characters / writing on this topic?
  • How does the story mirror your own experiences?
  • Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
  • What are you working on now?

    Press Kit Radio Interview

    “You’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but I just have to ask….”


Fiction authors should include a few meaningful sections that artfully demonstrate their writing style or provide character insight. Nonfiction writers should include a PDF of the first few chapters of their book.

Upcoming Events
Do you have a book signing event scheduled? Are you attending or speaking at a conference? Are you appearing on TV or radio? Let the world know where you will be and how to contact you during the event. If you choose to include an “events” section on your press kit page, it is imperative you keep it up to date. You may also choose to update this section with pictures from the events or links to print articles and interviews (audio / video).

Press Kit Reporter

“I saw you were going to be in town. Will you have time for an interview?”


Sell Sheet
If you are selling books directly from your website or through social media, you should also include your product and price lists for hardcover and paperback versions as well as wholesale bulk pricing for bookstores.

Remember, your author press kit does not have to be fancy. Keep the format, font and layout simple and easy to read. Start with material you already have and add to the page as you build your reputation online, in print, and through broadcast media. Remember this content is how you sell yourself and your work, so proofread, proofread, and proofread again to make sure it is error-free. A professional looking press kit page will help get you the publicity you need for publishing success.

Press Kit paparrazi

The publicity you deserve!

Additional Resources

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Guest Blogging: How to Build Your Online Reputation

Five Hours to Success


Introducing Lulu Academy: Enroll Today


At Lulu, we believe education is crucial to successful publishing. Self-publishing is more than just sending your manuscript and cover files to a printer. If a self-published author wants to be in control of their work (rather than ceding control to a big company) they must learn about the process to make informed decisions on publishing and selling their work.

Publishing can be complicated for beginners. From file layout, to cover design, to making your product available on retail sites; there are many lessons to learn and hazards to navigate. To aid authors, Lulu works diligently to produce useful knowledge base articles and instructional videos.

We recently introduced a new series of videos we’ve called Lulu Academy. These short videos focus on a single aspect of the publishing process. Created by Lulu employees, the videos are designed to provide short, easy to understand instructions, including screenshots of the steps in the publishing process.

Lulu firmly believes that knowledge is power and we want to help you not only get your book printed, but also to help you be the best self-published author you can be. We know that publishing can be complex and daunting, but we aim to help you make sense of it all.

You can find these and other video tutorials in the Lulu Knowledge Base, under Video Tutorials. Stay tuned for additional videos in the near future.

Examples of Lulu Academy Videos:

Why Choose Lulu?

Distribution and Your Book

Human Trafficking Survivor: Marketing a Personal Journey



Marketing your story can be daunting if you are a survivor. You might have been telling your story in a big or small group – to an audience at various conferences where the crowd is moved with compassion to take action to fight human trafficking or domestic violence, but never have thought that that was marketing. You are selling a product or service without realizing it.

This was the case for me when I decided to put my face to my story seven years ago as a victim of human trafficking and domestic violence. According to the Polaris Project, a U.S. based nonprofit operating the National human trafficking hotline, over 20 million people are trafficked around the world. The International Labor Organization (ILO) also states that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry. As a survivor, fighting the crime by helping other survivors is paramount to me because nobody should suffer such an ordeal. Safe Horizon, a nonprofit organization in New York states that one in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence.

Bukola Oriola-1500p-13I published my first memoir, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim on Lulu to shed light on a personal experience with the help of a professor at St. Olaf University in Minnesota. He had read my interview in the newspaper and found that I had written a book and was looking for a publisher. Now, seven years after, I am working on another memoir, a sequel to the first book. This book is entitled A Living Label. The goal of the book is to empower survivors, educate the public, and provide practical solutions to government agencies and nonprofit organizations, on how to effectively work with survivors in a way that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

However, I wanted to make this book reach a large audience of up to one million people. So, I decided to put a marketing plan together. I thought about timing and events around the issue of human trafficking and domestic violence, in addition to my own life’s events. First, I realized that my birthday falls during domestic violence awareness month and that I could use the book launch as my birthday party.

I created a marketing plan for a 13-week launch starting from August 1 until October 30, my birthday. Every week for the next 13 weeks, I will be discussing the book and the issue on my social media pages. While discussing each chapter, I will be asking people to subscribe to my mailing list. I call them my Insiders. They get to read more from the book, including full chapters before it is available to the public. They also get to critique the book. Their critique gives me clarity on what I should include or take out of the book. It also helps me to expatiate on certain segments of the book. To expand the number of subscribers, I ask those who want to publish their books to join so that they can learn the tips that I am using to launch my book successfully. This technique has been rewarding. I get questions. And, some of them have started taking steps to writing their books or implementing some of the tips that I shared.

In addition to using the online platform, I have also been tapping into offline contacts and resources to promote the upcoming book. I am sending emails to the contacts who have work related to the issue or are willing to promote the issue. I have also created three hashtags in addition to using the book title as a hashtag to help the launch have more visibility on social media platforms.


About the Author

Bukola Oriola is a speaker, author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, consultant, and member, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, Oriola is also an award winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking and domestic violence. She has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story, and offering practical solutions to service providers, clinics, community members, and law enforcement on how to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.

She was awarded Change Maker 2009 by the Minnesota Women’s Press for her courage. Oriola is the founder of The Enitan Story, a nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. She is also the owner of Bukola Braiding and Beauty Supply, LLC.

Honorable Bukola Love Oriola

Secretary, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking

I am here to inform, educate, and inspire positive change.

Bukola Oriola: Recipient, 2009 Minnesota Women’s Press Change Maker Award

Author, Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim

Calling All Lulu Authors

Do you have a story to tell about realizing your dream as a writer? Do you have self-publishing knowledge or expertise to share with other authors? Want to expand your digital reach?

If so, we are looking for authors like you to share your story with our blog audience. Email your story pitch to Include a brief biography and a link to your published work. We will do the rest.

Guidelines for guest posting.


Need Some Help with Marketing? Ask a Friend


The last question we asked our authors was where they turned for marketing assistance. While it’s easy to imagine bestselling authors employing a team of marketing experts, the truth is,  most of them did it alone.


It’s refreshing to see that 58% of authors had no help and an additional 21% had only unpaid help from friends and family. Only 21% – about one in five – paid for marketing support with just 2% hiring a marketing team. That’s one in fifty authors with a marketing team, versus six in ten doing marketing all on their own.

If you need help, phone a friend

While most authors did their own marketing, don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Whether it’s hiring a designer to make a new cover (something many of our authors recommend) or recruiting a family member to stuff envelopes for a promotional mailing, there are plenty of ways to get the support you need. Here are a few ideas that we heard from the authors who responded to our survey:

  1. If you don’t have a big budget, offer to trade services. For example, write something for the graphic designer who you want to redo your book cover or website.
  2. Engage your fans, followers and subscribers. One of the best ways to get noticed on social media is to ask for your readers feedback or suggestions. Ask your audience which new book cover they like best or which email service provider they recommend.
  3. Hold a contest and give away signed copies of your book to the winners.
  4. Check out You can get a lot of marketing tasks done for cheap on this website. Be sure to select someone with at least ten reviews of 4.5 stars or better and test them out with something small before dedicating a large portion of your marketing budget to them.

Action Item

If you could get help with just two tasks on your book marketing plan, what would they be? Identify and reach out to people with those skills.

Key Takeaway

58% of best-selling authors had no help with marketing. Only one in five paid for marketing help.

Driving Online Traffic and Book Sales

In previous articles we have discussed the two the key components of marketing your book (knowing your audience and knowing your book). Now we can talk about how to drive sales through the use of marketing tactics, which is a fancy way of saying that people need to be able to find you and your book on the internet.

We asked 4000 of our bestselling authors about their most effective methods of reaching their audience and encouraging book purchases.


These authors credited their website with the lion’s share of their sales. When you combine the website-related responses with “email list” and “search engines,” you see that almost half of an author’s traffic and sells can be credited to their website(s).

To further highlight this finding, think about your own behavior. What’s the first thing you do online when you want to learn, do, or purchase something? You search for it. Then you browse the websites listed on the search results page. If you’ve ever searched for a company, person or event online and been unable to find any information, you probably gave up or got distracted by other things. From your own experience it is easy to see that the harder you are to find, the less likely you are to sell your books. Hence the importance of having a website to market your books.

In addition to websites, authors also mentioned social media as a tool for generating sales. Of all the available social media marketing techniques, having a Facebook page was overwhelmingly the most often cited way to sell books. We saw similar results earlier in our discussion of distribution strategies.

Action items

  1. Create a website for your book using a simple tool like
  2. Make it easy for people to sign up for your mailing list with a free service like
  3. Create a Facebook page dedicated to your books:
  4. Write regular blog posts for your website and when possible on other sites as a guest poster.
  5. Find events where you can speak or share your knowledge with an audience interested in your topic.
  6. Improve the visibility of your website, either through advertising or search engine optimization.
  7. Send free promotional copies of your book to influential people, such as bloggers in your niche or book reviewers.

Key takeaway

Bestselling independent authors employ a mix of tactics to promote themselves and their work.