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Author Topic: Lulu.com  (Read 13672 times)
GrinReaper
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« on: August 13, 2005, 01:16:11 AM »

Has anyone seen this self-publishing site?

http://www.lulu.com

You can upload your file and sell it with no upfront costs. Lulu gets paid a commission based on your royalty, which you set. For example, if you set your royalty at $US4 per book, Lulu gets $US1.

From my calculation (based on an example on the site), if you had a 300-page book and set your royalty at the above amount, it would cost punters $US15.53 to buy (8.56 quid), plus postage.

What I'm wondering is how much Lulu builds into the production costs? Is $US15.53 a realistic price for a paperback in the states? (Or 8.56 in the UK).

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2005, 04:57:52 AM »

Thanks for the link. First time I've seen that site.  I'm looking at a paperback (326 pages) by Janet Evanovich and the cost on the back is US $7.99 $10.99 CAN. However, I got it at SAM'S Club (a megastore) for $4.43. So, unfortunately, it looks like Lulu is not a place where one can self-publish at a competitive price.

Have you Googled them to see what authors say about them--other than at their own website?
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2005, 07:12:45 AM »

Prices vary so much. Lulu might be a good bet for your own book even if a megastore sells other books cheaper than Lulu can. It's not just about price.

An example of how crazy some online (I wrote onloin there, is that a Freudian slip?) prices and sales issues are. I checked Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/103-3773305-7830215
and found the ebook and paperback of my Escaping Reality went up a couple of days ago. It says used AND NEW for the paperback. What? How? I don't think there are any paperback copies in North America until next week!!

And when the ebook went up in the UK it had a lower USED price for that too, until my publisher told Amazon he wasn't happy with the idea of creased and mucky second-hand ebooks being passed on  grin - they removed it.

Geoff
« Last Edit: August 13, 2005, 07:13:45 AM by Geoff_N » Logged

Ed
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2005, 12:14:00 PM »

I've heard of them before, and I remember the report was good - vaguely remember something about a celeb publishing a book with them.

There are drawbacks with any self-published book, though.  The first is the price of the book - Publish America books (don't go there) seem to sell for around £12 (roughly $20US), and that seems to be the average among self-published novels.  That's part of the reason why sales of such novels are generally in the tens, rather than hundreds or thousands.

The main reason that self-published books don't sell well is they don't get promoted like the bigger names.  Also, most retail outlets refuse to stock POD books, because they are of a lower quality than Lith printed, or so I'm told.  Novels that make it big are sold on a 'sale or return' basis, so any copies the retailer can't shift in about three weeks, get shipped back to the publisher (at the publisher's cost), resplendent with grubby thumb marks and torn/creased/freyed pages - unsuitable for resale.

Another issue with self-pubbed book is that they haven't usually been through a thorough, professional editorial process and can go out with glaring mistakes throughout the text, or even a few pages missing.

I looked into it quite extensively, and I decided against going the self-pub route - I think it's worth subbing to all the traditional publishing houses first.  Then, if you're absolutely certain you've got gold on your hands, (the finest novel ever conceived) and you're still not getting a nibble from the publisher, go the self-pub route. 

Just my opinion though smiley
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2005, 12:30:06 PM »

There's some great info in this thread. Some of the vanity presses do serve a real purpose, however. My mother, whom happens to be a fantastic cook, is putting together a cookbook of all her favorites. It's the kind of thing that will go to friends and family and, likely, never see an ISBN number attached. In that regard they can be very handy and just the ticket for a small run of personal-use books. From what I've heard, it's not all that expensive to produce some of these types of books if you do the editing, cover art, etc., yourself and just have it run that way.
Mom and I are going to find out for sure in about 2 years when we have it ready to be printed. Personally, I can't wait. Mom has some recipes that make my mouth water just thinking about them. So, in some cases these POD shops really serve a purpose.
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« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2005, 01:10:10 PM »

There's a huge market for cookery books, Walker. I'd be tempted to send the MS with photos to the mainstream publishers who carry them. If your talented mum took her sample nibbles around to her regular suppliers you might find they would be prepared to support an approach to a mainstream publisher. Failing that they might sponsor her with self-pub and sell the books at their establishments. There's many opportunities there once you start on it!

Geoff   - who's just put the oven on! tongue
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GrinReaper
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« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2005, 06:20:04 PM »

Thanks for all the feedback. The project in question is a book called Joe's Bazaar, and it has sort of taken on a life all its own. My friend and I are building a website -- and this began even before we discovered lulu. So we were going to have a website even though it's promoting a book that doesn't actually exist! We've sent the ms to quite a few agents -- no interest. Partly I think because it's a bit of a dog's breakfast. But that was sort of our intent when we wrote it. It's sort of in the vein of Tales From the Crypt/Twilight Zone. It's sort of like a book version of a show you accidentally catch on tv at 2am, once, and then can never find it again no matter how hard you try. So we figured, seeing as we're setting up the website, we may as well offer people a place where they can actually buy the book. But then I was thinking, well, if we're going to do that, we should try and offer the book at as competitive a price as possible. Which prompted the thread!
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Ed
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« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2005, 06:37:58 PM »

Yep, that makes sense, Grin - sounds to me like the perfect use for POD publishing.  A book to go with the website is a good idea, IMO afro

Walker - good luck with your mum's cookery book.  You never know, she may be the next Mrs Beaton, and you know how popular she got - everybody's heard of 'Beaton eggs', haven't they? Cheesy  Seriously - go for it afro
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2005, 06:18:26 PM »

I've looked over LuLu. I'm considering trying them out. I'm a writer/Illustrator/Graphic designer with layout experience. I should be able to do all the work myself thus only having to pay the production cost. I'm just looking at something small.. around 100 pages... just to try them out. I've actually heard good things about them. At around 100 pages you can have it produced as a POD for around $6.00 per book. Then you add your royalty amount of course. Their royalties are 25% of what you set yours at. Meaning if you set your royalties at $2.00 they set their profit at .50 cents. This of course is added to the price of the book which would raise a $6 book to $8.50. Which still isn't bad. They also do magazines at the same cost if anyone is looking to do a printed magazine. They have several sizes. They have a video on their site that you can click on that shows you the stages of production and how it works. I believe they have a program that they can list your book with ISBN number on several sites including Amazon.com. They then manage all the sales and shipping for you. You watch your royalties in your account rise,providing your book sells of course.

A friend of mine and I have a ton of flash fiction stories that have had the first, second and third rights in some cases used up all ready. We're talking about using those stories. Nothing to loose there.
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2005, 07:10:50 AM »

I noticed this on another website where they were discussing Lulu.com and the guy was saying www.lightningsource.com is a better deal, if you're looking at shifting a few copies -

Quote
The difference is the per book cost. Start up is more at LS. So lets say, you're going to do a book that sells ten copies.

At LS that would be 90 plus 40 = 130
At lulu that would be 100

now, if you went up to 20 copies printed and sold,
90 plus 80 = $170

20 copies from lulu is now $200

The more copies printed the cheaper it becomes to bring them out from LS, yet the cost from lulu remains the same.

Now.

Retailers like Shocklines want a 40% discount off the cover price. (some places will accept 30 or 35, but that's not common)

In order to give them that discount on a 300 pages or less book, you are looking at a cover price $18 to break even and make a small profit.

The set up fee at LS would be spread out over many books, and eventually in a book that has been well promoted will come down to pennies on the book.

At $4 per book with a $15 cover price, (I'm not a great math person, so someone please double check me.), after giving the retailer his discount, you end up with a $5 profit, then you pay the author (assuming a novel or single author collection) their standard percentage, which is usually between 7 and 8 % of the cover price.

Because you can afford to give a retailer discount using LS, the books will be picked up by places like Shocklines a lot faster. That, in turn, means more sales per book.

This assumes that most retailers will want a 40% discount on the cover price and the author will want a $5 profit on each book, which seems like quite a lot, on a $15 book.  I'm pretty sure mainstream publishers give the author a lot less. scratch

Amazon, apparently, want a 60% discount - is that right?  If so, it's a wonder they get as much business as they do.  That's a pretty huge markup.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2005, 07:13:52 AM by blunt » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2005, 04:53:31 AM »

Recently I ordered some books from Lulu.com  Robert Blevins SF Say Goodbye to the Sun and the SF short stories anthology he and I scribbled called Dimensions. Very good quality publications and at very reasonable prices.

My Escaping Reality thriller is printed through Lightning Source - also good quality production but although I don't get my fingers entangled in the tricky admin stuff, I believe Lulu offer more services to self-publishing / small press ventures than LS do.

Geoff
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Robert M. Blevins
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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2005, 11:57:33 PM »

 afro

I am sure glad I came upon this thread. I think I can clear up all the confusion about Lulu.com in numbered order.

1)  Lulu is NOTHING like Publish America or any of those other ripoff vanity sites. Trust me on this one.  They print high-quality books, six-by-nine inch paperbacks AND HARDBACKS WITH DUST COVERS.

2)  Lulu has reasonable prices. They charge you less than 5usd per book, plus 2 cents per page. KEEP BOOKS SHORTER AND YOU CAN COMPETE WITH THE BIG BOYS.  Stay under 200 pages, if possible.

3) Lulu is a GIGO site. If you give them a nice set of files, they will print you one hell of a nice book.  (GIGO, of course, means Garbage In-Garbage Out)

4) Before you even think about having them do a book, you had better download and print everything you can about how to format a book properly in Word that Lulu's free PDF conversion engine can work with.  Here's how... go to CafePress.com first.  Register there. Try to publish your non-existent book.  You will be taken to a page about Book Publishing Guidelines.  Paste and print EVERYTHING YOU SEE, INCLUDING ALL TEXT FROM ADDITIONAL LINKS. One important one you will see in a link is 'How to use Word to set type that looks professional.'  Get it.

5) Do the same thing at lulu, except you don't have to try to publish a book to get the data. It is available onsite. The reason for going to CafePress and lulu both for instructions is because together they provide all the info you will need. CafePress will show you how to set up the Inside Matter properly, more so than lulu, the way the pros do. When you are done downloading and printing all the info, you should have about fifty printed pages. You'll need them.

6) You will drink lots of tea, you will swear and curse, but eventually by using your downloaded, printed notes from both sites you will be able to format properly.  Force all chapter starts to the right. Set your Word spacing to 'mirror margins' and don't use Times New Roman. It's for newspapers, not books. I suggest Garamond set to 11 or 12 point, with spacing set to 'at least' 13 or 14. Don't click double space, single space, or 1.5  They don't look professional.

7) If you format properly, in the end you will have a REAL book from a Word doc that looks and is professional! 


More about Lulu, and why they are different from the ripoff vanities...

Lulu has a big support forum, and a great search engine for all your questions. Lulumasters (people with over 4,000 postings) can answer your problems quickly. Lulu will also answer your email questions within a day.

They have great support groups and storefronts 

You get your own storefront page free, and there is no 'free' and 'premium'  They are all the same, and you can insert links and images into your storefront.

Currently, good 6x9 inch paperbacks go for about 12-14 usd in stores here in the US.  You can do a 70k novel that costs you less than 8usd, leaving plenty of room for bookstores to mark it up.  In addition, they offer serious discounts for bulk purchases, up to one-third off the price.

Lulu offers ISBN packages. One is 35 usd per book and includes a free year on the Amazon marketplace.  The other costs 150usd and is Global Distribution through Barnes, Borders, Amazon, etc.   Lulu doesn't pressure you to buy either one.

Adventure Books has done two titles there and we are VERY satisfied. On January 28, 'The 13th Day of Christmas,' a first-mission-to-Mars novel will be available. Others coming Spring, 2006, and we are still accepting subs. See the website and read sub and faq pages carefully, also House Rules.  cool

Best and friendliest POD on the planet!!!  Yada yada...blah, blah blah...(LOL)

« Last Edit: December 10, 2005, 12:47:15 AM by Robert M. Blevins » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2005, 08:25:03 AM »

Wow! Thanks for all the good info, Bob! Now I'm even more excited that I have a story coming out in an anthology that's being published by Lulu.com. I'll be at my mailbox awaiting my Spinetingler Anthologydance
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2005, 08:32:34 AM »

Excellent set of instructions there, Robert afro  Thanks for that.
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2005, 12:24:18 PM »

Thanks.  Very helpful.  I'm passing this on to another writing friend who was wondering about them.  smiley
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Robert M. Blevins
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2005, 01:15:11 PM »

Before anyone plunges into Lake Lulu, I point out that one reason Adventure Books exists is because we know how to format books that are professional and illustrated, and that we have a good marketing program, especially in the Seattle area...

The first book we did there was 'Say Goodbye To The Sun'   We had to make corrections/changes and upload the ms., covers, to lulu THIRTY TIMES before we got it right.

Since then we have learned a lot...(LOL)  It is rewarding, it is seriously empowering, and it can give you a big headache until you get it right.

Second book, Dimensions, only needed minor changes. 
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2005, 05:37:25 PM »

And my copy of Dimensions just arrived in the mail last week. It looks very good and is currently sitting on my pile of reading for next week.
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2005, 07:56:58 PM »

Does the front cover of your book also have the words 'A Science-Fiction Anthology' and 'Special Illustrated Editionr??'
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2005, 01:23:06 PM »

Yup!  afro
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2005, 03:15:37 PM »

Boy, that's a relief!

You didn't receive one of the first six galley copies with the minor errors. There were four pages in that edition where the text was Times New Roman instead of Garamond, and a couple of the stories had minor errors. We fixed it all, as far as I cn determine. Great.

All copies now should have the isbn on the back, with the barcode. Yours, maybe. Doesn't really matter, though, on that point.

Happy reading. One of my personal favorites is 'A Smaller Step.' Wink
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« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2005, 04:35:37 PM »

It is an enigmatic story, Robert.

As you know, I would have a slightly different ending. Only a matter of opportunist identity that maybe readers might add themselves...  they will understand.


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« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2005, 11:39:33 PM »

Lulu.com has done a fine job on the Spinetingler Magazine Short Story Anthology, with YOURS TRULY'S short short story, "Goody-Two-Shoes." in it. Blunt, you gave me great advice about dialogue tags on that story.

Very professional looking, excellent quality cover and paper. Now to buy a bunch of them for holiday gifts!  evil
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« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2005, 09:05:43 PM »

I also appreciate the info. in this thread.  I have books that friends have had done at Lulu and they are very well done...but the price does really vary, and I'm thinking you set your own price.  Theatre of Decay, a print horror mag. does theirs at lulu and it looks great, but I just read a post someplace else that has one for $15. 

I would love to have Static Movement in print but am afraid that I can't do it.  I'll take a look at the instructions on both of the sites mentioned here and maybe I'll be able to figure that out in the future.  Static Movement is the first thing I've ever had to program and it wasn't easy, but getting better as I do it, maybe between the two instructions something will come of it.

With Lulu, you can also get isbn# and possibly get into bookstores locally.  Worth looking into.



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