Articles tagged "tips"

Getting self-published books on store shelves

Compliments of Blogto.com

In an increasingly digital world, it’s still the dream of many authors see their books in print and on the shelves of their favorite bookstores.  Many stores order books from wholesale distributors such as Ingram Book Company, where Lulu authors can get their books listed through our GlobalReach distribution service.  That means that in addition to having your book on popular online retailers like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, you’re also giving brick-and-mortar stores the chance to carry your book!

But there’s another way to go about it, and that’s by selling directly to bookstores yourself on a consignment basis.  Basically you, the author, purchase copies of your book and work out a deal with a bookstore to get those copies on their shelves.  The catch is that bookstores don’t pay for the books right away: money is only transferred when a book sells, with you being paid an agreed-upon, per-book price.  In short, you’ll need to foot the bill initially and will be responsible for any unsold copies.  Unlike your average print-on-demand sale, where there are no upfront costs to you and books are printed as they’re ordered, you’ll need to spend a little money to make a profit down the road.

Getting Started
The easiest way is to simply talk to someone at your local bookstore.  Each store will have their own practices on ordering books, so you’ll have to ask some important questions before signing any deals.  How many copies will they shelve at a time?  How long is the consignment agreement for?  Are there any fees?  How and when will you be notified of (and paid for!) copies that have sold?  What’s the revenue split between you and the store?  Check out the websites of any places you have in mind; stores often have their consignment policies posted online and you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with them before speaking to someone.

There are a few hurdles you’ll have to get past when selling on consignment – paying to print the books, dealing with the business side of bookstores, and so on – but the benefits make the effort worthwhile.  This method is great for bookstores – it’s less risk on their end since they’re not paying for a book until it’s already sold – and that means more stores will be willing to take a chance on you.  You also stand to make more money per sale since you’ll have more control over the final price of your book.  Overall, the relationships built with retailers and the lessons learned about what it really takes to sell your work can prove to be invaluable over the course of your self-publishing career.

A few final tips:

  • Go Local: You might have better success targeting local independent bookstores rather than big chains.  Small bookstores are generally happy to showcase local talent and might be more willing to work with you not only to display your books but also set up book signings and other promotional events to help sell books.  IndieBound’s store finder makes it easy to locate bookstores near you.  If you do go to a chain location, see if they have a section spotlighting local or self-published authors.
  • Look the Part: Getting your book into bookstores starts well before it hits the shelves.  Unlike online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores only have so much space so they’ll want books that look like they belong there.  Make sure you have an eye-catching cover and that your interior is edited and formatted.  If you don’t want to do this on your own, Lulu has you covered with our professional publishing services.
  • Buy Big: You already know that with Lulu’s print-on-demand model you can print as many or as few books as you like, but just because you can print only one book doesn’t mean you should!  If you have more copies you can make deals with more stores right away.  You also don’t want to find out that a store has sold out and wants more copies of your book and you don’t have any to give them!  With Lulu’s bulk purchase discounts the more you buy, the more you save.  You’ll never find yourself short of books, and you’ll end up saving money in the long run.

Tips for NaNoWriMo Success

It’s late. Your heart-rate is elevated. The coffee is still percolating. Your hair, unwashed, is now reaching skyward as you tug on it almost every minute. You look over at your wall calendar, but you don’t need to be told what month it is: it is November. It is National Novel Writing Month. 

Started in 1999 by Chris Baty and “20 other overcaffeinated yahoos,” the write-50,000-words-of-a-novel-in-a-month challenge started with 21 participants and 6 winners. In 12 years it’s grown exponentially. By 2011, 256,618 writers attempted the feat and 36,843 finished.

The word count threshold, 50,000 words, means that a writer must commit to writing just a little under 2,000 words a day, or, to us writers, A LOT OF STINKIN’ WORDS. While some established authors take months or years to craft a narrative, writers participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), have just one month to commit to a draft. Several best-sellers have emerged from NaNoWriMo including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

We totally understand that finding the time and creative energy for this 30-day challenge is a huge feat, so here are a few ways to make the words flow!

Top Web Resources for Writers (Part 1)

There’s a reason why the Internet was called the “information superhighway” in the 1990s. Although the term itself is somewhat out of date, the significance is not. Today’s search engines pull up thousands of web pages in seconds, so which sites should you be visiting and why? Here are some of our suggestions:

Publishers Weekly: Whether you know you’re going to self-publish or not, you should always keep an eye on the pulse of publishing. It’s helpful to know what genres are hot, how authors got their start, and what self-publishing phenoms did to market their titles. Although technically a trade journal, Publishers Weekly presents everything from industry news and deals to author interviews and the latest on the expanding digital market.

Absolute Write: First, check out the blog, which includes helpful articles such as: how to write good web copy and how to handle feelings of frustration. Then head over to the forum, where you can connect with thousands of writers about anything and everything. Engage in discussions on grammar and syntax, specialty genres, e-publishing, and even the freelance market. The site also serves as a place to take, or teach, writing classes.

Critique Circle: If you’re looking for honest feedback on your work then look no further than Critique Circle, which is a forum to help writers connect with one another. This free service allows writers to submit their work to a select few and garner feedback in a private exchange. According to the site, stories receive on average between 7 to 10 critiques each. If that’s not enough there are other handy tools that will help you bring your characters to life (and come up with their names), track your own progress, and write a paragraph a day thanks to the Paragraph-A-Day tool.

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!)
    Continue Reading »

A Gift from Our Grammar Geeks

There, their and they’re… it’s almost as intimidating as lions, tigers and bears! But no worries – Lulu to the rescue! Consider this poster a gift for our lovely writers. It’s just a few helpful grammar reminders.


A Gift from Our Grammar Geeks

Click on the image for the downloadable PDF version. Be sure to “fit to page” when you print.

5 Things to Avoid When Creating an eBook

UPDATE:  Learn More About eBook Publishing at Our New eBook Page

A little known fact about eBook distribution is that each retail channel has their very own set of requirements for accepting content that your eBook must meet before it can be sold. These requirements may sound scary at first, but they are actually pretty great.  By following the requirements set by each retailer, you can be sure your customers get the most robust experience from reading your work.  To help, here are the top five reasons we’ve seen eBooks bounce back from distribution.

  • No description or description too short – Describing your work might be the most important step of all.  Not only does a book description double as a great marketing tool to get readers interested, it’s also used to catalogue your work in retail channels all over the world. For this step, you’ll be asked to provide details including category and genre, keywords, description, language, licensing and edition number. It’s crucial you provide consistent information here that matches any details you have already provided or stated in your book and on your cover. Many retailers require this information to be accurate in order to list your content and make sure it gets in front of the right readers.
  • Metadata” mismatch - Simply put, metadata is the who, what, when, and where of your eBook.  Much like your eBook’s description, metadata includes items like your title, author name, volume number, price, etc. and are what most retailers use to appropriately list and categorize your content.  Metadata must perfectly match so that customers searching for your eBook in a catalogue can find it.
  • Up-selling or listing a price on your cover – You can adjust the price of your eBook at anytime and we encourage you to experiment with different prices that are competitive with other books in the same genre.  With that in mind, avoid listing the price of your eBook anywhere on the cover, in the description, or in the eBook itself so you can be flexible to change the price later if you need to.
  • Inappropriate or illegal content (erotic, malicious, or plagarized content) – This one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Non-English content – Unfortunately, we’re unable to distribute non-English eBooks at this time.
  • Poor image quality (borders, pixels) – You’ve probably come across a picture on the Internet that was hard to see no matter how much you zoomed in or reloaded the page.  Pixelated or blurry images won’t show up on today’s high resolution computers, tablets, phones and eReading devices. This means they can’t go in your eBooks either.  If you decide to include images in your eBook, we can only accept high-resolution, three color, RGB (red, green, blue) formatted pictures.  Four color, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key black) images will not translate properly.


 

Fun Ways to Improve Your Next Book Pt. 2

Last week, we posted some new ways to help you make your next work even more remarkable. Below are two more tips to help inspire you to put pen to paper or start hammering away on your keyboard.

3. Challenge your vocabulary at Knoword.org.

If you’re a word nerd like I am, you will quickly find yourself addicted to this vocabulary game. Unlike some games that have you match words and their meanings, this one gives you the definition and first letter, and you just fill in the word. It’s harder and faster paced than some others I’ve played. You can choose your level, and either Canadian or US dialect. This is really valuable for those studying for SAT and GRE exams, too.

4. Follow your favorite authors on Twitter.
If you’re a Twitter user, you’re probably following a number of celebrities–why not authors? Here are some of our favorite tweeting writers from a variety of genres. (Of course, the opinions expressed by these authors do not necessarily reflect those of Lulu, so tweet at your own risk!)

Science Fiction author Cory Doctorow @doctorow
Young Adult writer Adam Selzer
@adamselzer
Fiction writer Chuck Palahniuk
@chuckpalahniuk
Novelist and poet Margaret Atwood
@margaretatwood
Jon Winokour gives daily quotes from famous writers, as well as goings-on from the writing and publishing world.
@AdviceToWriters

If you’re not on Twitter, it’s free to sign up! Check out InkyGirl’s Writer’s Guide to Twitter.

Be sure to check back next week for even more tips.

How to Market Your Book:Blog #3

Become an Authority in Your Field

Whether your book is an extensive study on quantum physics, or helpful tips on how to raise twins, there’s an online community just waiting to learn from your expertise.  What better way to flex your knowledge muscles, and promote your book, then providing commentary on your favorite forums, blogs and discussion boards?

By providing regular insight and support, you’ll quickly establish credibility and become known as an authority in your field.  This will also provide you with a golden opportunity to promote your book.  Be sure to mention that more information can be found in your book, and provide links for your new readers to purchase.

Once you’ve established yourself, your audience will be more than happy to help promote your book.  Reach out to bloggers and ask if they’ll mention your book in an upcoming post.

Before you know it, people will be buzzing over your book and your hard work!

Marketing Your Book: How to Get Your Book on a Blog

I’ll be the first one to admit it- I love blogs. They’re resources for information, inspiration, and ideas. Plus, blogs are perfect venues for marketing your book. It’s a great way to get your book noticed.

Why market your book on a blog?
It’s an inexpensive way to get your book out to lots of people in your target market- all at once. If you play your cards right, your book could get quality exposure at a really low cost.

Do your research – and participate.
This is the crucial step—finding the right blogs. Think about your market. Where does your average reader hang out online? Read a lot of blogs (really read them) and figure out where your book fits best. Start commenting on posts, subscribing to feeds, and mentioning snippets you liked in various social media endeavors. Always be nice! Bloggers will be glad to have a new active reader.

Making Criticism Work For You

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re the creative type and maybe even a DIY-er. If I were to guess, I’d have to say you’ve probably written your own book, edited it, and then designed the cover. Pretty impressive, and you definitely get a pat on the back from me. But you may have noticed that it’s really easy to get stuck inside your own head and become blind or even evasive of constructive criticism when you’re doing it all on your own. The key is to not let your work suffer.