Articles tagged "Self-Publishing"

Great Apps for Writers

You’ve heard plenty of people say,”There’s an app for that,” but which are best for writers? Whether you need to give your creative side a kick or want to continue revising your work during your morning commute, here are a few apps you may want to check out:

Pages: For $9.99 this Apple app allows you to write and re-write no matter where you and your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch are. Start a new doc or drag Pages ’09, plain text, or Microsoft Word files into the iCloud and… boom, your creativity can take center stage at the bus stop or while waiting for a movie to begin. Other perks include choosing from 16 templates for reports, flyers, cards, and posters; adding in charts and graphs; or printing wirelessly with AirPrint. And since Pages saves your work as you go, you’ll never have to worry you’ve lost your latest if you press the wrong button or close out of the app. Given all of these perks, it’s no wonder MacWorld rated it 4/5 stars.

Advanced English Dictionary & Thesaurus: 250,000 entries, 1.6 million words, and 134,000 pronunciation guides — all for 99 cents. Need I say more? If you’re in a bind, this is the app to turn to. What’s more, you can edit your history, bookmark specific words, and learn not just what the word means and its synonyms but also a whole host of related information including examples/types and parts of the object you’re looking up.

Story Tracker: At $7.99 this app is a steal for the submitting writer who wants to keep his or her ducks in a row. You can keep track of the publications you’ve submitted your works to (sortable by date), make note of details for each market, including title, genre, editor, or deadline, catalog your submission history with specific sites and markets, and more.

Evernote: See something you think might make for a nice moment in a future novel? Jot it down with Evernote, a free app that helps you “stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity.” Recently optimized for the iPhone 5 so that you can view more notes, this New York Times Top 10 Must-Have app’s perks are many and include:

The Nexus 7: Good News for EPUB Formatted eBooks

The new Google Nexus 7 tablet is making headlines as the “Kindle Killer.”  Early adopters of the device are reporting that the Nexus 7 can open EPUB formatted eBooks, which you can create right here on Lulu, as well as make use of all the e-reader apps in the Google play store.

Folks are even saying they can just upload all their EPUBs to a Dropbox folder and easily access their entire digital library directly from the cloud.  Looks like Lulu customers just got one more device they can enjoy their open-published EPUB titles on.
Some reviewers are stating that the Nexus 7 beats the Kindle Fire on specs and features.  Determine which device is best for your e-reading needs by checking out these sources:

Author Success Story: The Walk-On by Matt Stewart

Matt Stewart knows what it feels like to be the underdog. As a freshman at Northwestern he walked on to the school’s football field and earned a position as the fifth-string free safety. But that didn’t deter him: through hard work and dedication he rose to second-string his sophomore year and in the process earned a full-ride scholarship. Stewart’s rise to success mirrored the team’s. In 1995, after 20-plus years of losing seasons, Northwestern’s footballers won 10 games as well as the Big Ten, and even played in the Rose Bowl.

Life changing for Stewart and his teammates, the school’s breakthrough season was a story he felt he had to tell, and after years of research based on his coach’s own book, the games Stewart’s mother taped, and the programs he saved, he finally finished. The Walk-On was released in May.

“I wrote this book to inspire others, to let them know that no matter what the odds, no matter what the obstacles, anything is possible as long as you work hard, believe in your abilities and approach your goals with a good attitude.”

From the get-go Stewart knew that publishing the book was only one of his goals. Making sure it got into the hands of the right readers was another—and to date his approach has worked. The Walk-On is sold on Lulu, Amazon, BN.com, the iBookstore and a number of brick-and-mortar stores. He secured indie placement by visiting the stores in person and asking them to consign his book — a deal that gives the retailer 40% of the profits and the author guaranteed shelf placement for at least three months.

Are eBooks a Viable Option for the Classroom?

As the last days of summer sublimely trickle away, a good portion of the population returns to school. But first, they must do the necessary shopping. New clothes, some unsharpened pencils, Binders, notebooks, and, for an increasing amount of students, e-readers and tablets.

Looking to cut down on the cost of textbooks, some parents have invested in e-readers. Some school districts have even taken the large step of buying e-readers for their entire student body, looking to spare themselves from buying textbooks that will either get lost or become outdated (here’s a map of schools that are using tablet technology). But are school districts taking full advantage of this new technology? It was only two decades ago that we were wondering about the efficacy of computers in the classroom. Forbes has put together a list of four reasons why distributing tablets in classrooms can stumble. The reasons include theft, no new curriculum to go with the new technology, no available wi-fi, and glitchy products.

Here’s a list of ideas of how educators and authors can help make tablets and e-readers a vital part of the classroom, and help the technology mature past its bumpy introduction.

1) Make sure e-readers are not only used for assigned reading or projects. Allow students to explore different books and media — a school’s library doesn’t have to become obsolete just because the school has gone digital. Libraries can be a place where students can borrow e-books from sites like Overdrive, or other companies that let you borrow books. School libraries can also be a place where a school employee can train students on how to use their new technology in diverse ways.

Good News / Bad News from BRAGMedallion.com

The good news: According to publishing industry surveys, 8 out of 10 adults feel they have a book in them. In the past, few were able to realize this dream. However, the emergence of self-publishing companies such as Lulu and print-on-demand technology has made it possible for anyone to publish a book.

The bad news is that with so many new titles it can be hard for readers to find the true gems. Furthermore, as the understanding of what it means to self-publish evolves, we still sometimes see authors go the self-publishing route with the misunderstanding that their book does not need editing and so books go into print with grammatical and spelling errors. That’s where we come in. At B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, we hold indie authors to a higher standard: The decision to honor a self-published book must be unanimous among the group of our readers who review it.

Thus, our advice to budding indie authors is twofold. First, read before you write. The best guideline for writing a good book is to read the work of others―both to learn what is good and to avoid what is bad. Second, after you write your book, have it professionally edited. This constitutes line editing, preferably, or proofreading at a minimum. Nothing turns off a reader more quickly than a poorly written book. To help Lulu authors find high-quality self-published books, they should visit www.bragmedallion.com. It is an online community that welcomes all those who seek to learn how to become better writers, and those looking to gain recognition for their work. There, they will find a list of books by talented indie authors, as well as relevant advice and commentary from the world of self-publishing.

Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book

As self-published authors, we find that it’s often in our own hands to promote our own work. We make daily efforts to find new and innovative ways to spread the word, inspire readers and gain recognition. At Lulu, we are always thrilled to see self-published authors succeed, and we are particularly grateful to the people and organizations that dedicate their efforts to supporting the community of self-published authors.

That said, we are happy to share with you a great new opportunity for self-published authors brought to you by Margaret Brown of Shelf Unbound Magazine. If you don’t know Shelf Unbound, I highly recommend checking it out.

And without further ado… the competition details below in the words of Margaret Brown herself:

Seeking Best Self-Published Book

We launched the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book a couple of weeks ago. Word of mouth. Social media. Modest expectations. I immediately got a rather scathing email from an industry guy questioning my ethical integrity – how can I justify charging $10 entry fee when there are no self-published books worthy of even being read, he asked.

Video: What is Lulu?

We’re very excited to show off our brand new “What is Lulu?” video with special thanks to Vance Reeser, co-director, animator and artist and to Noah Smith for storyboarding.

Vance Reeser, a lulu author himself, says he first heard about Lulu a long time ago when searching the Web for a way to collect some sketches into a printed book. “I gave it a shot,” he says, “and was pretty impressed with the results so I ended up using it again for my kids book Edward the Invincible.”

Lulu: How was your experience publishing on Lulu?

Vance: It was fun and very easy. I wasn’t able to turn making children’s books into a career or anything, but that also wasn’t my goal. There’s something very satisfying about having a tangible, very real copy of your book there for people to check out and buy.

Lulu: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Vance: I’d say keep working and power through those early years of work you know is just flat out busted or maybe not quite up to the hazy image in your mind you can’t seem to get on the page/screen. The only way through those hard HARD days is to keep working at it. There are no shortcuts. Stop looking for them – it’s a waste of time. There’s no magic software that makes it easy, no book of tricks… As the years go by and if you’ve stuck with it, it will get better, and what you see in your mind’s eye will slowly but surely refine and you’ll be achieving it on your screen. This is all basically what Ira Glass has said before, but it’s very true!

Lulu: What motivated you to co-direct the “What is Lulu?” video?

Vance: Immanuel (Lulu’s brilliant graphic designer and sneaky nerf gun aficionado) is a friend from my days in college taking design classes, and he gave me plenty of freedom to creatively approach the ideas that needed to be conveyed in the video. That allowed me to take the reigns quite a bit, which is a nice change of pace for me in regard to client work! He made sure we stayed on message and within the style boundaries he had in mind, and I worked out a lot of the visuals with the help of Noah Smith and directed the pacing and how the transitions and elements would move within the “rules.” The initial idea was to do more of a somewhat simple, flat, paper cutout look, but we ended up going into richer, deeper visuals as the project progressed. We did carry over a slower frame rate from the cutout concept, giving it a handmade crafts-y feel I think.

Check out his latest masterpiece, the brand new, “What is Lulu?” video as well as his children’s book, Edward the Invincible. Tell us what you think!

Author Success Story: Ruth Anne Kocour

Trek to K2 and Pakistan’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, Kashmir, Tajikistan, and China. See topography that has led to isolation–physical and cultural–of tribes blocked for centuries by natural barriers, lack of infrastructure and communication. Ruth Anne Kocour’s tale of travel and adversity lends a face to today’s news and a glimpse into what we all have in common–our humanity.

When it came time to publish her new book, Walking the War Zones of Pakistan: One Woman’s Journey Into the Shadow of the Taliban, Ruth Anne Kocour planned to bypass traditional publishers because she wanted to “enjoy more control over the final product.”

Despite having had an “excellent” experience working with St. Martin’s Press on her first book, Facing the Extreme, Kocour didn’t want to go through extensive re-writes and wait years to see Walking the War Zones of Pakistan in the hands of readers especially since Kocour believes independent publishing is the future of the industry:

“I believe traditional publishing will focus more on subjects with broad market appeal, sensational subjects, timely events, and/or celebrity-type bios, and I see self-publishing as an excellent option for subjects with niche markets or those of regional interest, that wouldn’t capture the attention of a mainstream publisher.”

So Kocour turned to Lulu who evaluated her manuscript as part of the Editorial Quality Review package. Together they worked on a mechanical edit that improved grammar and punctuation, and which she called “the most technical and comprehensive edit I’ve ever had.” For the cover Kocour provided Lulu with photos she thought would “lend to a good design” and received two mock-ups back, both “top notch.” Overall Kocour is quick to praise Lulu, which she says “exceeded her expectations.” Even the process itself was “fun.”

Having a successful media tour for Facing the Extreme already under her belt, Kocour was at an advantage in terms of marketing. She drew from her network of journalists and bloggers, among others, and was even contacted by new media via her website, through referrals, or from her talks. Additionally the timeliness of her story helped — and now hardly a week goes by when she’s not asked to speak or do a TV interview. Still, she learned a lot about publicity this time around:

“Media loves media.  Once you have a successful track record with the media, you become a known entity–one they can count on. We have several of my TV interviews posted on my website where media people and others can access them.”

Now Kocour is an independent publishing convert, and sees the route as not only viable, but preferable for new and veteran authors. Currently conceptualizing a new story, Kocour plans to once again publish through Lulu. She also intends to bring Facing the Extreme back in print—in hardcover, paperback, and as an eBook. This, too, will be through Lulu.

Her advice to new authors is very simple.

“If you think you have a book in you, and you want to get it out there, then do it! And definitely take advantage of the vast array of services Lulu has to offer, and its great staff who are more than willing to walk you through the process.”

Author Success Story: Valerie Baadh Garrett

While working as a movement specialist at the San Francisco Waldorf School, Valerie Baadh Garrett decided she wanted to write a book that would “support the movements of a kind of modern ‘circus’ for 200 children.” So she and her husband created a character that readers young and old would love: Uffe the Gnome. Nestled deep in the woods, his tall tales are designed to get kids’ minds and bodies moving in The Adventures of Uffe the Gnome.

Once Valerie landed an illustrator she approached traditional publishers but was rejected. No one was interested in a children’s story about gnomes and fairies in rhythm and rhyme. Valerie was not deterred. As she explains:

“Although that was disappointing, we knew there was an audience for our Uffe stories because we saw it every time I did a class or circus program.  Parents and children would clamor for a copy of the story.”

So she turned to Lulu.com, a decision she is very happy with—calling the company and its services “easy to use.”

“We were thrilled to see our little book look so professional so fast.”

Already the book has sold well. Outside of being sold on Lulu’s site, The Adventures of Uffe the Gnome is available as an iBook, through iTunes, and can be found on the website Valerie and her husband own and manage, The Movement Academy Project.

Recently, Valerie took copies to China on a trip that grew out of her movement work. There to lead a workshop, she knew she’d be working closely with teachers and parents and that Uffe would be a great resource for them. So to better serve that market, she updated her book by adding the title in Mandarin and changing it a bit to The Adventures of Uffe the Earth Fairy since gnomes aren’t part of Chinese culture. Additionally, Valerie included a CD she and her husband created narrating the stories in English so that her overseas customers would find added value in this bilingual package. These efforts paid off: By the end of the trip she’d secured a Chinese publisher for Uffe’s current and future books.

“One of my hosts set up a meeting for me with a local publishing house, and right away they loved Uffe. We are still working out the details, but it looks like they will publish six different books, to start, with six individual stories, bilingual in Mandarin and English, in a larger-scale format so the illustrations can be colored like a coloring book.”

Stateside, Valerie mainly promotes the book by hand and on Twitter, through her account that is tied into her movement work, as well as her website. Outside of her online efforts she ordered postcards offered by Lulu after Uffe was published and sent them to select bookstores. A few ordered copies right away!

Her advice to new authors is simple: “Give Lulu.com a try, but try not to rush.” Valerie admits she made a costly mistake by ordering copies with a typo in the title. Although funny now, it was a frustrating lesson that required a reprint and more money.

There are a lot more adventures on the horizon for Valerie, who has several projects in production.  Lulu.com, she insists, will be “a vital part of the process.”

A Look Into Publishing Lingo

Publishing lingo can be tricky. When you’re making the decision about whether to self-publish your work or pursue a traditional publishing house, you may stumble upon some unfamiliar terms. Below we have outlined some of the most commonly used terms in the traditional publishing world to help.

Advance: This refers to the amount of money you receive up front from a traditional publisher. Depending on your deal it can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands, though first time/mid-list authors should expect more modest amounts. The structure of how an advance is paid out varies by house but range from half on signing and half on delivery of the final manuscript to a third on signing, another third on delivery, and the final third on publication. One quick note: it isn’t until your book makes back your advance that you’ll see any royalties whatsoever.

Royalties: Once a traditional publisher has made back the money it advanced you to write the book, you will begin earning royalties. Like an advance, the amount you receive per book sold (to a retailer at the wholesale price) will vary based on many factors, although typically it will be on the smaller side–say 6.5% to 10% for print editions (rates differ for paperbacks versus hardcovers) and 25% for eBooks. Payment schedules will differ based on the publisher, but will typically be doled out on a quarterly or twice-a-year basis.

When you self-publish through Lulu, you keep 80% of the profits on your print books and 90% of the profits on your eBook. To understand revenue vs. royalty vs. profit, we’ve written some brief explanations:

  • Revenue: a general term for any money Lulu pays you for book sales
  • Royalty: a specific type of revenue that comes from retail sales and is subject to United States of America income tax laws
  • Profit: the net income for your work after other expenses have been accounted for, including payment to contributors, pre-production, labor, marketing and overhead costs.
For more information on pricing and profit on Lulu.com, check here: Deciphering Retail Prices.

 

ISBNThis stands for International Standard Book Number. Essentially, it is a 13-digit identifier required if you plan on selling your book in a bookstore or distributing it via a library. It’s often printed on the back cover of a book or the copyright page and every edition (eBook, paperback, hardcover) need its own ISBN. 

Laydown date: Your book’s publication date — as in the day it will go on sale. Large publishers will sometimes enforce a “strict laydown date,” meaning that retailers are not allowed to sell the book before it comes out — and may even be subject to legal action copies be accidentally released beforehand.

Galley or ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy): These are the copies that authors/publicists send to media for review. A galley will include the cover and the book’s text with the caveat that reviewers check with the publisher before printing a quote, but won’t include any special effects on the cover like foil or embossing (raised print). An Advance Reader’s Copy costs more to produce and tends to include snazzier extras. In Lulu terms, this is called a proof copy. 

OOS: Out of stock. This can apply to either a retailer or the publisher — meaning books are flying off the shelves too fast for the printing press to keep up! In Lulu land, the only time this would happen would be if the author took his or her book out of distribution but a retail partner, such as Amazon, hasn’t taken the listing down from their site yet. 

Mass Market: In addition to hardcover and paperback bindings, there’s also what’s known as a “mass market” edition, which is always paperback and of a smaller trim than the dimensions of a “trade paperback.” However, mass market refers to more than just size. Distribution-wise these books are sold outside of bookstores in the aisles of your local big box or grocery stores. This term is specific to traditional publishing.

If there are other terms you’d like to know more about add them to the comments section below and stay tuned for a follow-up post.