Articles tagged "write"

Author Success Story: “If I Write It, They Will Come.”

Newly published author Rick Burton has built a career around sports.  Right out of college, he took a job with the Syracuse Post Standard as their sports writer.  He’s worked at the Miller Brewing Company managing public relations for sporting events.  While at ad agency DMB&B, Burton worked with clients such as the NFL and Reebok, and is currently the Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University.  So Burton is about the last person you’d expect to write a World War II based thriller centered around the exploits of the B-17 100th Bomber Group, much less a great one.

Author Richard H. Burton

“Imagine this unknown sports guy pitching a WWII novel.” Burton says.  “Not only was I 20 years behind the curve of writers like Jack Higgins and Alistair Maclean, but I was entering the publishing industry at a time when the decision to publish an author virtually has to go to the CEO of a publishing company.”

Burton got the idea for his book, The Darkest Mission, while working at Miller Brewing Company after a life-changing chance encounter.  An actual bomber group, wanted Miller Brewing Company’s help staging a 40th anniversary reunion for those serving aboard the bomber appropriately named “High Life.” After meeting the crew, and hearing stories of the supposed “curse” placed on the group, Burton was hooked.

“I started doing a lot of research about World War II bombers and started the process of getting an agent and a publisher,” says Burton. “It became a nice distraction from my day job.  Regular guys golfed – I worked on my book.”

Burton soon realized how quickly the book industry is changing and that if he wanted to go the traditional route, he’d have his work cut out for him.

“If I was writing about vampires, I’d have done fine,” jokes Burton. “Agents and publishers kept telling me:  ‘This is fantastic, but not for us,’ or ‘this is really good, I wish you’d brought it to us 10 years ago.’”

Not to be discouraged, Burton thought back to sports for inspiration, thinking about Michael Jordan and how he got cut from his high school basketball team, only to go on to become one of the greatest players in history.  Burton knew he couldn’t just give up.

“I understand the need for rejection,” Burton says.  “You take the criticism, you make revisions, you get better.  But there comes a point when being rejected doesn’t move you forward anymore.”

So Burton turned to Lulu’s open publishing platform for help and after a year of putting the finishing touches on his work, The Darkest Mission is available to the pubic and is selling quite well – there’s even a production company looking to turn Burton’s work into a movie.  Burton stresses that a large part of his success has come from setting realistic expectations and goals.

“At first I felt kind of like I was selling insurance to family and friends,” Burton laughs.  “But I thought conservatively and set thresholds for myself.  Can I sell 100 copies to people other than family and friends?  200? 500? By meeting these goals a step at at time, you can really feel validated.”

Burton also believes it is important for authors to step away from the “lottery mentality” of publishing, where an author writes a book and just instantly finds a publisher and becomes an overnight sensation.

“The myth surrounding publishers has historically been:  If I write it, they will come,” says Burton. “Great writing will always get picked up, regardless of genre eventually. Luckily places like Lulu exist to make the process easier, and I can move onto book two.”

Be sure to check out Burton’s new book, The Darkest Mission, available on Lulu.com today.

 

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.


 

What is Metadata?: How to Save Yourself Some eBook Distribution Headaches

As eBook sales continue to rise, Lulu wants to be sure you have access to all the latest and greatest tools and resources to help you sell more books in this exciting new market. In order to reach the millions of customers who own e-Reading devices, it is important to stay up to speed on best practices for making an electronic book quickly and easily.

One term you’re likely to come across when publishing your eBook is “metadata.” It also happens to be one of the main causes eBooks get bounced back from distribution.  In many cases, a quick revision of your eBook’s metadata is all it takes to push your content out onto digital shelves and increases your work’s marketability.

Simply put, metadata is the who, what, when, and where of your eBook.  Items such as your title, author name, volume number, etc. are all types of metadata and are what most retailers use to appropriately list and categorize your content.  When your eBook is listed on an online store, customers will see an image of your cover, which they can click on for more information about your work and to access the actual content of your work.  Many retailers treat the cover image and the actual eBook’s content as two separate pieces and it is vital that the metadata for both match (including upper and lower case letters) so your customers are linked to the correct book interior.

For example, lets say your book title is The Greatest Book Ever: A Tale of Suspense and Intrigue by Samantha Thomas. If the metadata for your cover is only listed as The Greatest Book Ever, by Sam Thomas, without the subtitle and a different author name, then the retailers can’t be sure if it’s the same work.  With the thousands of new eBooks being submitted everyday, it becomes too difficult to try to match the cover to the content.

Luckily, on Lulu it is pretty simple to ensure all your metadata matches. When you start a new project and name it, whatever you enter into the title and author fields will autofill the empty fields in the cover step. Whenever a colon is used in the project title, the system automatically treats any text after it as a subtitle. Once you get to the cover step, you can still edit your title, author name, etc. just be sure if you do make changes, you also go back and change the project information you started with too. For authors uploading a one-piece cover, again, just be sure all the text matches the project information you enter.

Be sure to check out our knowledge base for more eBook metadata tips to help you reach more readers in more markets all over the globe.

 

Confessions of a Lulu Services Team Member


I confess. It excites me to read brilliant content from our creators. I also confess I see content with potential that lacks basic principles of composition.

The Editing Month festivities at Lulu last month challenged me to consider how one might break habitual bad writing habits and make significant changes to please the reader. I literally dusted off my grandmother’s copy of Strunk’s The Elements of Style in hopes of finding a few elements that would change any manuscript.

From William Strunk, Jr.’s The Elements of Style III. Elementary Principles of Composition:

  • Use the active voice: The active voice is more direct and vigorous than the passive. I shall always remember my first visit to Boston is much better than My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
  • Put statements in positive form: Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, non-committal language. Use the word “not” as a means of denial or in antithesis, never as a means of evasion. For example, rather than He was not very often on time one could use He usually came late.
  • Omit needless words: Read your manuscript and see how many times you see the fact that and try to replace it with since, because, though or although. Another example is “there is no doubt but that” could simply be “no doubt.”

Too often I meet authors whose excitement of a speedy book launch diminishes the importance of a thorough pre-publishing scrub. One passionate author related the book launch to taking a child to school on the first day of kindergarten. Just as parents send kids equipped with backpacks and lunch boxes, your book should be as equipped with a proper edit. Correctness is contagious.

A professional editor can review your manuscript to determine which elements could make your book an easier and more enjoyable read. Our publishing packages provide the Editorial Quality Review as well as Formatting and Cover design. Buying services in June automatically enters you to win one of two new HP Mini laptops. Plus, use the coupon SVCWIN and we’ll take 15% off any package (maximum discount $1,425).  Offer expires 6/30/2011.

*No purchase necessary. Enter coupon code SVCWIN at checkout and receive 15% off any service package or simply publish a work through Lulu.com. The maximum savings for this offer is $100. Sorry, but this offer cannot be applied to previous orders. You can only use this code once per account, and unfortunately you can’t use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. This great offer expires on July 8, 2011 at 11:59 PM, so don’t miss out! While very unlikely, we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so. Shipping destinations must be within the United States.

Everybody Needs an Editor

Happy Editing Month, everyone. Didn’t know May was Editing Month? Well it is, because Lulu says it is! And we all have our virtual red pens poised and ready to edit some great books!

“I was an English major, so I don’t need editing.” “My professor already edited it.” “My mother was a teacher for 27 years; she can proofread it.”

We here at Lulu have heard every rationalization authors have for not investing in professional copy editing. It’s completely understandable—editing can be costly, especially if you have a very long manuscript. And for some, it may seem preposterous to pay someone else to do what your professor or a relative has already done.

So why should you consider a professional copy edit?

First, remember that, while it is great that you have friends or family that will closely read your book (trust me, not everyone is that lucky!), more than likely, these people are not editors by trade. A teacher is not an editor. An English major, while he or she may have a better grasp on the English language than most, probably isn’t up-to-date on the changing style rules. (The Chicago Manual of Style is on its 16th edition—which edition is that dusty copy of yours?) Not to mention, your friend knows how hard you’ve worked on your book and may be afraid to tell you that your dialogue is dry and unrealistic, or that Chapters 9 through 14 go off on a tangent they didn’t understand. An editor doesn’t know you from Adam, and isn’t concerned with hurting your feelings—they want your book to be as good as it possibly can be.

Second, a proofread is not a copy edit. What your friends are probably doing for you is checking for typos and grammar mistakes. While these are, of course, very important, they only scratch the surface of what a true editor looks at in a manuscript. A professional editor is also looking at syntax, word choice, organization, plot and character development, text flow, inconsistencies in tense, among other issues.

Third, consider the value that a copy edit will add to your book. You wouldn’t go out the door without looking in the mirror to make sure your shirt is buttoned correctly, right? Now imagine if you had a stylist from Vogue stopping you at the door each morning to tell you if your shoes are inappropriate for the interview/wedding/wrestling match you’re headed to. That’s what editing does for your book. It adds credibility—you obviously think so much of your book, and of the information you are relaying, that you won’t settle with only one pair of eyes going over it. Yes, the cost of editing might be higher than what you’d planned to spend on the whole pre-publishing process, but it’s really an investment in your book’s future.  You’ve worked on this book for months, or maybe years—you certainly don’t want your reviews to start, “Great message overall, but couldn’t get past the glaring typos and strange sentence structure.”

How can Lulu help with editing?

An Editorial Quality Review is a great place to start. This service is included in our three main Pre-Publishing Packages, and is also available on its own. This review not only provides helpful feedback that you might use in your own revisions, but also recommends one of our three levels of copy editing. And to celebrate Editing Month, we are offering the Editorial Quality Review itself, normally $199, for $149, plus 15% off the price of whichever copy edit we suggest. And if you decide to take that polished manuscript all the way to the finish line with one our publishing packages, we’ll reduce the cost of the Review from the package price. To get started, just click “Add to Cart” here.  This promotion, along with Editing Month festivities, will end on June 1, 2011.

Wallflowers: Get Familiar with Our Lesser-Known Services

They might not be the most popular services on the block, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be an invaluable step in the process of publishing your book! Get to know these services, and see if they might be a good fit for your project.

Ghostwriting: Ghostwriting services can start from any stage of the writing process. Maybe you are an expert in naval engineering, and have an idea for a book that will totally change the industry–but you’re too busy to sit down behind the computer, or just don’t have the writing skill to make a cohesive sentence. Maybe you’ve been working on your book for years, but you still don’t feel that it’s complete, and could use the talents of a co-author to help you finish. Maybe you have the bones of the book, but need some help in fleshing it out. Our ghostwriters can help! We have a talented team of writers with years of experience, who are eager to help you with your project. Learn more about Ghostwriting Services or get a Ghostwriting Consultation.

Transcription: Transcription services turn a printed manuscript into a digital Word document. Examples might include your grandfather’s memoirs, written on a typewriter and coil-bound at a copy center, or a book you published previously, that you want to reprint, but you only have the printed book. Once you have the Word document, you can then take the next steps of publishing, either formatting and designing it yourself, or using one of Lulu’s pre-publishing packages to help you with the work. Request a consultation and express your interest in transcription services.

Media List: The Media list will answer one really big question for you when it comes to Book Publicity: Who? In a world where more than 800 books are published daily, you’ll need to make a great first impression to the right audience. Our Media List Service will help you create a refined list of exactly who to contact. You’ll work with a publicist who will consult with you about your goals, possible publicity angles, media preferences and the best way to stir up interest in you and your book. In the end you’ll have a targeted media list of local, regional and national print (magazine and newspaper), broadcast (radio and television), and online (e-zines, blogs, websites) outlets in the US and Canada in Excel and mailing label formats; minimum of 500 targeted media contacts. One idea … Pair this with a Press Release Writing service and prepare for liftoff. Learn more.

Fun Ways to Improve Your Next Book Pt. 1

Okay, so you’ve published your first book on Lulu.com. Now what? Keep writing, that’s what! You want to keep exercising that writing muscle, and anyway, what’s cooler than saying you’re working on your second book? Here are some fun ways to get inspired and make your second even better than your first.

1. Join or start a writing group.
Sometimes, you are not your best motivator or your best critic. Finding or starting a writing group is not easy, but it can be very rewarding. Some groups are more like workshops, where everyone critiques one another’s writing, while others are organized simply to set aside time to write, and can be as basic as three or four people clustered around a coffee shop table with laptops, just writing. If you don’t have writer friends who want to join you, I suggest trying Meetup.com to find a group in your area. I found 34 groups within ten miles of the Lulu.com headquarters.

2. Organize your writing with Google Docs.
This free, multi-faceted tool is great for writers who are either constantly moving from home, to office, to laptop, to phone, or for multiple authors collaborating on one project. You create a document that’s stored online, and you and your collaborators can access it from any computer. As a fiction writer, I use this tool to keep track of my characters–each one gets his or her own page, with traits and personal thoughts–and also my personal to-do lists, since I work from three different computers over the course of a day. Be sure to check out
Google’s introduction to Google Docs.

Be sure to check back in next week for more tips in part 2.

Lulu to Create a New Standard in Publishing Commerce

At Lulu, we stop at nothing to help you bring your knowledge and ideas to your readers more easily than ever before.  For us the formula is simple:  the better the tools and resources that power Lulu, the quicker you can publish and sell your remarkable works. It’s rare, but when we find other companies that focus on ease of use for customers like we do, we get very excited. Just like we did when we partnered with eCommerce platform provider Elastic Path.


By working with Elastic Path, we’ll be able to add new capabilities such as registration-less checkout and customized sales campaigns that will benefit all of our customers whether you come to Lulu to buy or to sell.  In fact, our unique online community of 2.5 million customers, made up of great folks just like you, has been the primary inspiration behind this partnership as we work to provide creators with more freedom and buyers with more savings.

This new eCommerce strategy is just one more element of the open-publishing market that Lulu is building. Through our growing network of retail partners and open publication APIs, Lulu is empowering you to sell your works anywhere, anytime. Be on the look out for Lulu and Elastic Path at two upcoming events. Our CEO, Bob Young, will be presenting along with Elastic Path CSO, Cliff Conneighton, about the future of publishing at the World e-Reading Congress in London, May 9-11, and at Book Expo America in New York May 24-26.

Author Feature: Elizabeth Wright

Author of Dear Bob, Dear Betty:  Love and Marriage During the Great Depression

iPad 2 Means More Readers for You

We love technology at Lulu, especially technology that helps our authors reach more readers.

Today, Apple is set to unveil the new iPad after the first version shattered sales records (15 million units sold in 2010) and introduced a new retail channel, the iBookstore, for authors to distribute their eBooks through.

Last year, eBooks accounted for $263 million of total trade book sales, which represents a 193% increase from 2009 according to the Association of American Publishers. As readers continue to find new ways to discover and purchase content, any author would do well to provide their work in as many formats and on as many devices as possible because you never know how your next biggest fan may discover your work.  As speculation builds over new iPad features, more eyes are turning towards the device, which opens up even greater opportunities for authors to expand their readership across millions of people.

In recent posts, we’ve shown you how to get your Lulu published eBook into the iBookstore and onto the iPad and we know how eager you are to see your books out in the world. That’s why we’re happy to help you distribute your remarkable works through our growing network of retail partners. Keep in mind too, that authors are always able to publish and sell their books immediately to the 2.5 million unique customers in the Lulu Marketplace for free, either electronically or in print. Lulu continues to help you bring your knowledge and expertise to your customers more easily than every before. We look forward to your continued success with Lulu and our retail partners.