Articles tagged "writing"

How to Get Your Local Bookseller to Carry Your Book

Selling your self-published book through Lulu and other online outlets feels good. Your book is now available to anyone, anywhere in the world just by downloading or ordering it through the Internet. But there might be something missing. What about being able to eagerly browse the shelf at your local independent bookstore and coming across your book there?

Independent bookstores have considerable trouble stocking self-published titles. First, they’re not often able to sell the book back to the self-publisher if the product doesn’t sell. As such, bookstores need to be pretty sure the book is going to be purchased before they buy it.

How to write a successful author bio

Quick, look at your back cover. If there’s a big blank space there, you probably need to write your author biography.  This is not the time to be shy; your author biography, while only a few sentences long, can have a huge impact on the success of your book and you as an author.

CONTENT:

Consider your audience; what do your readers want to know? Keep your information relevant to the book’s subject and your audience.  If you’re writing children’s books, leave out the fact that you started your own tax firm at age 19, and vice versa; if your books are about preparing your own small-business taxes, don’t mention that your two Shih-tzus are named Jingles and Meriwether.

Elements to include:

  • Education. Where did you get your advanced degree(s)? If you don’t have a lot of other career or writing experience, name-dropping your university helps show qualification.
  • Experience with the subject. Tell us how you became an expert, or how you’ve recently used your expertise.
  • Previous publications/writing experience. Were you published in the New York Times? Fantastic! If this is your first book, you might mention it briefly, but only if you have room after all of your more important information. Otherwise, you can simply state what you are in vague terms: novelist, writer, poet, etc.
  • Other ways to find you. Do you blog? Have a podcast? Write regular articles for a popular site? Include other ways for readers to find your work or contact you directly, if you wish.
  • 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.

Author Tips: Avoiding Digital Distractions

As an author trying to complete a third book, I have to admit that one of the hardest things this time around has been avoiding digital distractions like: Facebook, Twitter, IM, Email, Angry Birds, DVR’d Shows, Skype, etc, etc, etc.

Chances are you may have seen the following cartoon image of a man sitting in front of a typewriter trying to finish a research paper. A short distance away from him is THE INTERNET with its bright lights, a girl in a bikini, dinosaur, two fighter jets and a birthday cake.  The image highlights an experience many of us have felt at one time or the other when trying to write – namely, the Internet’s ability to be highly distracting and totally awesome!

There is currently a great deal of debate on the impact the Internet has on our ability to focus, with authors like Nicholas Carr and Cathy N. Davidson offering different perspectives on the issue.  Whether the Internet is truly making it harder for us to concentrate on a single task is arguable.  I can say, however, that I’ve wasted plenty of hours on the Internet while trying to “write.”

So what is an author to do when the multitude of distractions constantly “lurks behind your screen, one alt-tab away from your word-processor?”  Blogger, journalist, and Lulu author Cory Doctorow addresses this question in a column for LOCUS online entitled “Writing in the Age of Distraction.”  As a prolific writer whose job dictates almost constant access to the web, Doctorow outlines techniques he’s used for years to help manage one’s need to access the Internet while having to write.  I highly recommend Doctorow’s column to anyone who has felt distracted while trying to write.

Doctorow’s full column can be viewed here.

Marketing Your Book at Book Fairs

This past May, Lulu team members, along with numerous works by our remarkable authors, attended Book Expo America 2011 in New York City, the largest book convention in the United States.  Book Expos such as BEA offer great opportunities for authors to display their content, meet fellow authors, and hear insights from industry professionals.  Check out the video above of the action from this year’s BEA and see why Lulu’s booth was the talk of the show – drawing such great crowds.  If you are thinking about attending or displaying your book at a book fair, here is a list of up-coming events.  Hopefully this video will get you excited for BEA next year, as we’d love to see both you and your book(s) at the show.

What’s your passion? Pt. 2

Sketchnotes 2009 & 2010
By Eva-Lotta Lamm

This book contains 2 years worth of illustrated notes (also called sketchnotes) that Eva-Lotta took at dozens of UX / Design events and conferences, featuring talks from over 100 speakers and panelists. Some of the events covered in the book are UXweek 2009, d.construct 2010, Flash on the Beach 2010, etc.

1) What came first, the idea for the book or the sketches?

The sketches came first. For the last few years, I’ve been attending quite a few design talks and conferences and as I have a really bad memory, I need to take notes to not forget everything within days. I’ve always been drawing, sketching and playing around with my handwriting, so it came naturally to include little sketches and some nicely drawn type in my notes. Over time (and with the discovery of others doing these kinds of notes as well and giving them a name: ‘sketchnotes’) my style slowly became more and more visual. Since 2008, I’ve shared my notes online on flickr, but at some point I wanted to make the notes available to people in their original format as well: on paper. So the idea for the book was born. As the sketches are quite detailed, the format of a book is ideal: you can sit down and take the time to discover and let the eye and mind explore.

2) I love the concept, but I have to ask … with the explosive growth of online video and conferences like TED where talks are recorded and posted online, what advantage does one gain by consuming content via a format like sketchnotes?

First and foremost the sketchnotes are a personal tool for me to remember the parts of the talk I was interested in. They are my interpretation of what was said rather than a complete summary. I don’t see them in competition with the video recordings or as an alternative to actually attending a talk. They are an addition, an interpretation, a sort of digest and maybe an intriguing way of getting someone interested in actually watching the video or going to see a talk of the speaker. I leave it up to my ‘readers’ to decide if and why they are interested in looking at my notes.

What’s Your Passion? Pt. 1

As authors, we are all passionate about something.  For many of us, it’s our dedication to a specific topic that motivates us to sidestep life’s daily distractions (TV, Internet, etc.) and sit down and write.  From an author who has skateboarded across America THREE TIMES to a designer whose love of illustration compelled her to publish over 100 conference talks as elaborate sketchnotes, these two Lulu authors are a testament to true passion.

The Skateboarder's Journal - Lives on Board 1949-2009

The Skateboarder’s Journal – Lives on Board 1949-2009
By Jack Smith

This book was written by those for whom the ride is never-ending: by the 15-year-old grom who falls asleep dreaming of skateboarding; by the 40-something “pad dad” you see at the local skatepark; by the women whose stories have never been told; and by the 73-year-old architect who didn’t begin skateboarding until the age of 65. Over 170 stories and 200+ photographs.

1) What made you decide to self-publish instead of going through a traditional publisher?

Since it was my first attempt at putting together a book of my own and really don’t know how the traditional publishing system worked, I decided to give Lulu a try. Previously I had done the layout for a friend’s book that he published on Lulu.  I found Lulu very easy to work with.  I also thought that by self-publishing, I would have greater control over the content.

2) Where does your passion come from to both skateboard across America (three times) and write a book?

The passion for skateboarding across America came from three very different places during three very different times in my life. In 1976, I was 19 years old, living in Morro Bay, California where pretty much the only job for a teenager was working in restaurants, which I had my fill of! 1976 was at the beginning of the urethane era of skateboarding, and I was looking for a way to make a name for myself. One night a group of us were hanging out and someone jokingly threw out the idea of skateboarding across America, within a few minutes the talk turned serious and we decided to give it a shot. I sent a letter to Roller Sports, a wheel manufacturer in Florida asking for sponsorship. A couple of weeks later they responded with a yes and a month later we were underway. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Heck, we even took a .22 rifle with us, after all we would be skating across the wild west. This was during a time when a long distance phone call was still a big deal; we would call home every few days, with one set of parents relaying our progress to the others. We might as well have been on the moon. We made the crossing in 32 days.

The second trek came about through the urging of some younger friends who had heard all the stories about the first crossing. We decided to do the trip as a fund raiser for Multiple Sclerosis. We had great sponsorship, including a van from Chrysler that we scored when one of the team members, Paul Dunn, wrote a letter to Lee Iacocca. The equipment was quite a bit better than the first time, allowing us to finish in 26 days.  (Thrasher Magazine wrote an article on the 1984 trip, click the following links for shots from the magazine: part 1, part 2, part 3).

Celebrate NaNoWriMo with Lulu

We’re obviously big fans of books here at Lulu and that makes November one of our favorite months. Why? Because it’s National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.

For eleven years NaNoWriMo has brought together thousands of aspiring authors who share a passion for writing and creativity. Each November, more and more authors join in and take a no holds barred approach to pumping out a 50,000 word book in just 30 days. With such a limited time-frame for making a remarkable work, writers often surprise themselves with what they can accomplish and what creative ideas they can come up with – music to the folks at Lulu’s ears.

Some of us Lulus are even getting involved in the action. I am using this year’s NaNoWriMo to overcome a three-year case of writer’s block. Well, at least I’m trying to overcome a three-year case of writer’s block. So far I’ve spent several days staring at a blank screen hoping to channel Neruda, Hemmingway, Frost or Fitzgerald and then distracting myself with exciting things like laundry and grocery shopping.

Writing is much harder than anyone gives us literary types credit for, and I admire all of you Lulu creators for being able to have the self-discipline to write something and the confidence to put it out in the world.

NaNoWriMo is all about getting motivated. Any book written in 30 days probably won’t be a work of genius, but writing 50,000 words in one month is going to force you to write and take risks. You can edit, take out weak characters, and add sub-plots later. For now, just get writing!

My favorite high school English teacher told me once that writing is easy. You just write about yourself with the life you’ve always wanted. Change your name, give yourself an apartment in Paris and a love interest who got away. Find inspiration in everything and use the mannerisms of interesting strangers to write new characters. Combine it with the search for home, and you’ve got yourself a bestseller.

So, let’s do this together! We’ve got three weeks to write a book. It may not be your most remarkable work, but then again, maybe it will be. You don’t know till you try. And when you’re all done, I encourage you to publish your books on Lulu. What have you got to lose?

Feel free to add your NaNoWriMo experiences in the comments section below. We’d love to hear what you’re working on or any tips for NaNoWriMo survival and getting motivated?  Come on NaNoWriMo veterans, I know you’re out there.

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.

Writing Exercise: 750 Words

750 WordsA few months back, I came across an article on Lifehacker about a new web app created by Buster Benson called 750 Words. Once I read that Benson’s app could help writers like me get back into daily journaling, I was hooked. In the Lifehacker article, Gina Trapani expalined that “every day, you type 750 words—the equivalent of three pages…. whatever you want, free writing.” I loved this idea.

Often, I find myself staring down a blank page with a topic rattling around in my head, clouded by a million other thoughts. I was already laying down the groundwork for the upcoming Script Frenzy challenge and thought this would be a great way to get focused and write like I’ve never written before. And it’s really helped.

The days I haven’t written my daily quota, I struggle. It takes me longer to say what I want and I stumble along the way. It’s harder for me to focus and stay motivated. But the days I’ve tackled this writing exercise I fly through pages. The words flow with ease and I’m less stressed about what shows up on the screen.

One of the things I really love about this site are the graphs. Stats are extracted from your writing and displayed after you meet your daily goal. They show you how you are feeling, what you are concerned about, what your mindset is, and highlight your frequently used words. The 750 Words webapp also times you and tracks how many distractions you’ve had. (You can see a sample of my daily stats on the left.) For me, this feature is invaluable when it comes to dissecting my daily brain dump.

If you’ve been wondering how to take your writing to the next level, I highly recommend you try writing 750 words a day.