Articles tagged "Self-Publishing"

Tearing down the wall! Lulu now offers new print packages to fit everyone

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When Bob Young, Lulu’s founder, tore down the barriers to bringing a book to market, he knew millions of people would benefit. Since Lulu.com made its debut more than ten years ago, people from every corner of the globe have created works for every reader in every genre.

  • Fiction writers have found and delighted new audiences.
  • Memoirists have left important legacies.
  • Educators have removed obstacles to knowledge.
  • Physicians have shared life-saving research and information.
  • Biographers have celebrated fascinating lives.
  • Entrepreneurs have launched and grown new businesses.

That’s just a fraction of the list. Here at Lulu.com, we’ve satisfied just about every possible reason a person can make a book.

And now we’re tearing down another wall: the final barrier to flexibility and control. Today, Lulu.com is offering new, lower priced print book options. You can now choose from Premium, Standard and Value to fit your every book-making need.

Premium books are hard cover with an optional dust jacket. These books can have image wrap or linen wrap covers, offering you the choice of six linen colors as well as foil stamping for the spine (three color options there, too). You can also choose white or cream paper options. Our Premium line also includes books with photo quality color or black & white interiors. These books provide the highest quality possible and options that have never been available in a print on demand offering until now.

Standard books are soft cover, available as perfect bound, coil stitched or saddle stitched. These books have bookstore quality color or black & white interiors. Many of our Standard book options are eligible for distribution, and all of them can have bulk discounts applied.

Value books are soft cover available as perfect bound only. They are available with color or black & white interiors. These books are not currently eligible for distribution or for bulk discounts. As the name suggests, the main advantage of our Value line is lower cost. The Value line books are comparable to what you’ll find if you shop around before deciding to use Lulu.com.

All of these product lines come with lower pricing, so you can increase your earning potential or pass the savings on to your readers. And not to worry: We’ve preserved the high quality you love in all of our books.

To make choosing the right print book option as easy as possible, we’ve created a free Book Builder tool to guide you through the book creation process. Go to the Book Builder, try it out, and let us know what you think!

Top 3 Ways to Ensure Self-Publishing Success

Yes you canContributed by Dan Dillon, Lulu Director of Product Marketing

I recently had the pleasure to co-present a webinar with Bowker on Self-Publishing: Your Path to Success. Ralph Coviello, publisher relations manager at Bowker, shared copious insights into how the self-publishing landscape has taken shape over the past few years, as well as how it may continue to evolve. From all the great observations and advice, I’ve distilled the three most important lessons to be gleaned for your success in self-publishing.

1. Publish in multiple formats
It stands to reason that the more products you have to sell, the more money you’re able to make. Books are no exception. Authors who offer multiple formats of their books sell up to four times more than authors who offer their readers only a single format. To capitalize on this, make your titles available as a softcover, hardcover and an ebook. Readers across all age groups are reading print, so there’s no predicting what format individual book buyers may prefer. have ready whatever they may want.

2. Channel surf
Just as it stands to reason that the more products you have to offer, the more you’re likely to sell – the more places you make them available, the more you’ll be able to sell. Get your books into as many online retail channels as possible. The ones that will likely have the greatest impact on your print book sales are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For ebooks, you’ll want to make your titles available on the Kindle, iBookstore, NOOK and Kobo, at a minimum. Happily, you can get all of your books into these channels — and many more — with Lulu.com. For free.

3. Press releases are very popular
This is a double-edged sword. Yes, press releases are a valuable tool for building awareness about your book, and you can reach the same journalists who the Big 6 publishers talk to. Yes, there is a ton of news out in the world and it takes a lot to get your story heard. The lesson here? Targeting the information in your press release is critical, and targeting the people you send it to is also key.

View the complete webinar, and let us know in the comments what’s worked for you to drive book sales. You can also page through the webinar deck on Slideshare.

Self Publishing Momentum Continues!

The independent publishing industry has taken great strides since Lulu first made the option to self-publish books widely available in 2002. On October 9, Bowker released new data highlighting the strong adoption of self-publishing as the industry continues to build momentum.

Most notably, Bowker cites a 59% jump in self-published titles in 2012 from 2011. That’s huge! Similarly, eBooks continue to gain popularity among self-published authors with 40% of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012 being eBooks compared to 11% the year prior.

Recently, there has been yet another groundswell of enthusiasm and participation in the movement. There is ever-increasing credibility and success among self-published authors, even those that have been traditionally published before. Writers everywhere continue to embrace the opportunities and control afforded by making their books directly and immediately available to readers everywhere.

Highlights from Bowker’s 2011 annual findings included the addition of over 148,000 new self-published titles, which translates to 43% of all print books released in the U.S. that year. Also, self-published books represented 12% of all e-book sales and as much as 20% of specific genres like romance and fantasy.

You can read more about these trends and Bowker by visiting these sites:

The artistic possibilities of self-publishing span far and wide

Two articles concerned with the question of the artistic possibilities of self-publishing a book caught my attention this week.

Courtesy of Redux.com

The first was a testimonial by Mark Bastable published in The Telegraph and titled “How I overcame snobbery to self-publish an e-book.” In it, Bastable gives a variably convincing account of his decision to self-publish his fourth book, after having gone the “proper” route for the last three (ie. the traditional publishing model). What I found most interesting, however, was the paragraph where he rattles off all of the decisions he had to make when he went DIY:

“So, this month I launched a novel into the e-market,” he writes, “the culmination of several months’ slog, proofing the text, writing the blurb, doing the cover design (or, actually, paying someone to), getting the internal text layout right (or, actually, paying someone to), developing and launching a website (or, actually – yeah, that too). All the stuff that a publisher used to do, the e-author has to do for himself. Or pay someone to.”

Whew. It’s always sobering to see a list like that in print and be reminded of the immense amount of work self-publishing requires. But Bastable makes the case for the silver lining: message control. From the writing, to the editing, to the marketing, you’re in the driver’s seat, and you get to call the shots.

I found an inspiring echo to this book talk in a piece by Jason Boogon Galleycat extolling the virtues of Shane Carruth’s excellent 2013 indie sci-fi film Upstream Color. Produced entirely outside of the Hollywood system and released on a wide range of streaming platforms at about the same time it hit theaters, Upstream Color received widespread acclaim, cementing Carruth’s position as an indie auteur. But is this a stepping stone for blockbuster success? Probably not. Boog nails it, I think, when he goes on to write about how films like this can only exist outside the normal system of production:

“Writers spend too much time arguing about the goldmine potential of self-publishing. When we talk about indie books, why does money dominate the conversation? Instead, we should worry about the artistic freedom that creators like Shane Carruth have found by taking the DIY route.”

I like what Bastable was saying about having total (anxiety inducing) control over your book and it’s presentation, but what about the artistic space that emerges without the confines of the publishing industry? That’s what I’m looking forward seeing discussed. So, hat tip to Jason Boog and Simon Carruth for getting us going.

 

Self-publishing gaining ground in the academics

[Graphic: Michael Morgenstern for The Chronicle of Higher Education]

While I don’t typically pay a lot of attention to academic publishing, I recently ran across a very interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on (mostly) young academics taking advantage of the new opportunities afforded to them by recent developments in self-publishing.The piece focuses on Clay Spinuzzi, a professor of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas at Austin, who decided to self-publish his third book Topsight: A Guide to Studying, Diagnosing, and Fixing Information Flow in Organizations. The article goes on to point out that there are a lot of common sense  reasons for the decision. By spending just “a couple of thousand dollars in freelance graphic design and copy-editing Spinuzzi will make back his financial investment after 300 copies are sold” due to the super high rate of royalties Amazon guarantees (about $7 a digital copy). Selling 1,500 copies will net Spinuzzi $10,000, the article points out. If he sold 15,000, a rare, but not entirely inconceivable number, he could walk away with more than$100,000.

These numbers are interesting, and Amazon’s royalty arrangement could pay off big given the right product, and this is where I think the story is really interesting. Spinuzzi says he doesn’t consider independent publishing a replacement for the traditional academic press. In fact, his next book will be published by one. Instead, he sees digital self-publication as “part of a larger ecosystem” and “a natural outgrowth of other unvetted work,” such as scholarly blogging and social media.In other words, digital publishing allows him a level of freedom (and a margin of profit) traditional academic publishing can’t, but it is also helping to create a new and, finally, viable type of writing. It’s allowing authors like Spinuzzi to write rigorous, researched books that have a popular appeal but carry academia’s mark of approval.

As we’ve seen with high profile Kickstarter campaigns over the last few months, studios and publisher’s are often conservative in their appraisal of a work’s appeal, and it’s probably just a matter of time before an author sees similar success (David Mamet is giving it an early shot according to The New York Times). Third-way options like self-publishing could be just the ticket to help  promote and distribute this type of new and refreshing work.

Independent Publishing at SXSW

SXSW, the Austin-based conference that features events base around technology, education and music took place last week and I’ve now finally recovered from all the excitement of having all of these insanely talented minds congregating in one place. While I did not attend the interactive presentations on independent publishing (they were packed!), from outside the convention center, I can tell you that independent publishing and eBooks had a huge presence, as the technology continues to evolve and become even more intertwined with other digital platforms like phones, tablets, and videogames.

In the Publisher’s Weekly roundup of events, you can see how the energy around independent publishing has freed up authors t make more interesting publishing decisions:

“Originally published by small press, Hugh Howey quickly decided to go the self-publishing route generating an enormous word of mouth following that turned his books into e-book bestsellers on Amazon. Indeed Howey said at one point he was generating $30,000 to $40,000 a month in sales and selling hundreds of thousands of e-books.”

The move by established authors to selling books on their own was a huge topic of conversation. For established authors to then use their reputation and leverage a successful independent publishing campaign from it has been a huge development, and lent a lot of credibility to independent publishing.

Another new development has been the discussions over whether you should give away content for free to build your credibility. David Carr, of the New York Times, had some choice words at his presentation,

“Don’t give your shit away for free,” he declared to the hall—emphasizing that “exposure” doesn’t work and free doesn’t lead to paying customers. But he also seemed so focused on the newspaper world—unsurprisingly— that his vision for the future of digital content kind of stops at the New York Times website, now revitalized with an innovative pay wall generating a sustainable and growing level of income. 

It seems like the argument over pricing will go on for some time. However, walking along the convention hall, it was easy to see that the rise of eBooks will continue at its staggering pace. New electronics, like Google Glass, will make reading even more accessible. eBooks will continue to grow and the fact that the leaders in technology are even talking about books, unthinkable only a few years ago, is a testament to this wonderful phenomenon.

Any writers out there make it down to SXSW this year? What did you learn? Any plans to go next year?

How to make a great science eBook

Science journalism has always been at the forefront of innovation — the first to utilize diagrams in reporting, the first to experiment with the advantages of digital books. But what makes a great science eBook? Download the Universe, a wonderful new website devoted to reviewing science eBooks, has highlighted the best eBooks of the past year, and shared some of what makes them so great.

One of the things that they point out is something we take for granted in a lot of science books: get your facts right and include a lot of them! A lot of the books they disliked this year were thin on backing up their argument, and left a lot unexplained. As readers of science books know, they can sniff out a weak argument from a mile away. One of the advantages of publishing an eBook and not an article online, is that you’re working with a little more of a deadline — make sure you’re taking advantage by backing up your facts. Once it’s out there, it’s tough to edit your eBook.

Another tip they give is to take full advantage of the medium of eBooks (this might depend on your ability to code, however). If you’re writing about the body, interactive features help a lot, while if you’re writing about geography, maps are obviously the way to go. As the famed theorist Marshall McLuhan noted, the medium is as much the message as the book itself. Take advantage of the eBook’s ability to complement your science writing with some truly exciting animations, images, or audios.

Download the Universe gives high marks to book publisher The Atavist, which published a series of eBooks that took full advantage of the eBook medium, including some wonderful illustrations, audio features, and diagrams. Look for more, smaller publishers in the future to offer software that will allow independent authors (like yourselves) to put together simple interactive features that will not only enhance your eBook, but allow readers a much better understanding of what can be, at times, very difficult content.

The future of science writing is as bright as a supernova! Just make sure you’re using eBooks to their full extent with a wonderful assortment of features.

What have you used to enhance your eBook to better explain an idea or discovery? What do you wish you knew how to do with your eBook?

Should you just give it away?

What’s better than free?

It might seem irrational, but one of the best ways that authors have found to gain popularity and profitability for their eBooks has been to, well, give them away. Authors have found that dropping the price of their books to $0, at least for a short time, leads to dramatically better sales when they do raise the price.

[Recommended Reading: How Free Books Build Your Brand as an Author and Authority]

Speaking on The Self Publishing Podcast, independent author David Wright found that this type of promotion works, especially with writers who work in genre fiction. “Free downloads drive sales,” he said. “Especially with the serialized fiction model, where if our readers get our first episode for free, they want to read on, so they buy the next episode or the full season.”

[Recommended Reading: How To Serialize with Lulu]

Dropping the price of your eBook can help raise your sales rank and visibility, while, at the same time, promoting other books you’ve written. Of course, the lost revenue can sting a bit, but who knows if readers would have taken the plunge on your book if you hadn’t taken the cost-free promotional plunge?

But is a free promotion right for you? For serialized fiction, the answer is yes. Get readers hooked, and then get them to buy the rest of your series or your other titles. For experts and speakers, the answer is also yes. You want to spread your brand and name, and an eBook is even better than just giving out your card. Use your eBook mainly as a promotional tool — not a revenue stream.

Here’s who this promotion might not work for: writers of long, literary fiction who depend on sales to make up for some of the painstaking work that went into their novel. It might also not work for historians, who also put in a tremendous amount of time and energy and whose specialized knowledge has a place in the marketplace and should be able to find a readership despite its cost.

Either way — it always helpful to experiment with different marketing tools. Dropping your price to zero might feel weird, but the eventual reward could be huge. If it doesn’t work out anyway, it’s just as easy to start charging more for your book, and go back to the drawing (or writing) board.

Have you tried this technique? What was your experience?

Print Books Bounce Back

The reports of the death of the printed book have been greatly exaggerated.

Sales figures from the end of last year show that while they don’t dominate the marketplace as they once did, print books are showing a good amount of resiliency during the precipitous rise of eBooks and the shifting of content from the printed word to a digital sphere. According to the Wall Street Journal, the role of eBooks might have been greatly overestimated. “It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audiobooks — a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.”

It’s fair to say that a seamless transition from printed books to digital ones just isn’t happening, and the marketplace that we live in now — where both printed books and eBooks are having brisk sales — might be here for some time. According to a 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research, 59% of Americans say they have “no interest” in buying an eBooks. While I believe that this number will go down as more and more Americans familiarize themselves with reading on digital devices like tablets, it goes to show just how much of the population is still wedded to our old friend, the printed book. This transitional market bodes well for authors looking to explore multi-platform publishing, as they will be able to test the waters of both a digital and print readership, and see which one works best for their content.

While it doesn’t appear the the rise of eBooks has stopped in its tracks, it has definitely slowed. When it comes to eBooks, a lot of consumers and providers are still working out the kinks. Publishers are still trying to figure out how much they should cost, while libraries are desperately trying to make them widely available to the public. In the goodwill of making eBooks and an author’s content as widely available and as equitable for both the reader and author as possible, Lulu recently said goodbye to DRM. So while the market has definitely shifted over the past few years, we won’t be living tomorrow in a world without the printed book, and probably won’t for years to come.

Advice from a Wise Guy

Photo credit: @abennett96 on Flickr

Guy Kawasaki, one of the most prominent venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, as well as one of the original marketers of Apple, has struck out on his own and self-published a book (which fittingly enough, is about self-publishing). APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur explores the pitfalls and successes of self-publishing from the vantage of a Guy (sorry) who knows a thing or two about success in the digital age.

He’s recently compiled a list of “do’s and dont’s” for independent publishers, which can be quite helpful to consider when you’re embarking on your next big independent publishing project. All of them are particularly smart things to keep in mind, and are questions that one should definitely revisit each time you publish a book.

His bottom line, however, is that when it comes to publishing independently, nothing is set in stone. So with that in mind, here are a couple of additional pieces of advice to consider, especially for keeping yourself in a good state of mind when entering the wonderful world of independent publishing.

1) Let it work for you. You will need to make a decision on how much effort and time you devote to the project. If you would like to make a living off of independent publishing (which is still very hard to achieve), then you will need to give it your all. If you are only able to give half of your attention, then recognize that the results might not be as great as you expected. Keep your expectations in line with your effort.

2) There is no magic formula. Some books take off, others languish. Some of your success will depend on conditions out of your hands. So, even giving it your all might not be enough. Recognizing that we have yet to crack the magic formula of independent publishing is huge.

3) Write because you love it. Kawasaki touches on this a little bit, but I really want to stress that this is the most important part of writing. Love the act, even if it hurts sometimes. Remember that this is your passion, as well as a possible way to make some money. Here, I offer a great quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke on how you now if you’re called to be a writer:

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

4) Be your worst critic/best champion. Be hard on yourself — push yourself to get your book into shape, polished, and something that you really want the world to see. But once you do it, then make sure you are your best champion. You need to believe in your book before anyone else will.

As independent publishing continues to expand, the litany of advice will continue as well. What are your best inspirational tips? What has helped you avoid mistakes? What was the best advice about independent publishing that you ever received? Let us know.