Self Publishing Your Book With Lulu

Written by Eric Vance Walton | June 26, 2013

The publishing world has undergone drastic changes in the last decade but one thing remains the same, being a successful writer still takes an extreme amount of hard work and dedication. As an unknown author decades ago, I found the traditional publishing world was a very tough nut to crack. Back then the conundrum always was you needed a literary agent to find an established publisher but there were few legitimate literary agents willing to consider an author who wasn’t already published. Unless you found that one person willing to give you that first break you were out of luck.

Thankfully, today authors have more options. Novelist Barry Eisler recently made waves when he turned down a half million dollar contract with a major publisher to self-publish his work. News stories like this can be a very persuasive argument that self-publishing is becoming more lucrative. Both the traditional publishing and self-publishing options have their pluses and minuses so it’s best to educate yourself and make an informed decision that is right for you.

About eight years ago I found Lulu (www.lulu.com). Lulu will publish your book free of charge and offer it in paperback, eBook and hardcover formats. You can create an, “author spotlight” on their website, which is like a virtual storefront to offer your books for sale. They allow you to include a bio and post links to your personal website or social media. They will also offer your book for sale on Amazon.com and if you have chosen to produce an eBook it will be available in Apple’s iTunes bookstore as well as Lulu’s site. The other upside to publishing with Lulu is you retain all rights to your work and creative control. Lulu offers all of this free of charge but there is somewhat of a caveat.

Lulu leaves all editing, formatting and cover design up to the author. You must create a finished version of your book, inside matter and cover, and upload it onto their website. The process is relatively straightforward. The only difficult part for me was figuring out the cover dimensions and spine width for the cover, this took a couple of tries to get right. If you want to sell an eBook you also have to create this yourself in ePub format (the format that eBook readers use), which is easy on a Mac. Although Lulu does offer marketing, editing and design services for purchase they are priced at a premium.

For my recently published novel, Alarm Clock Dawn, I hired a professional editor and graphic designer for less money than Lulu charges. Also, Lulu sets your wholesale book price based on the format of your book and the number of pages. The author decides what the retail markup is, the difference between the two is your profit.

Alarm Clock Dawn is my fourth book published with Lulu and I’ve learned that the wholesale price that is set by Lulu can make it difficult to make any more than a few dollars off of each copy of the book sold. Also, I’ve found it difficult to get anything self-published into the large bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble.

In my experience, local independent bookstores have been the only retail outlets willing to carry my self-published books and even then it is on a consignment basis. For example, the wholesale price set by Lulu for Alarm Clock Dawn is nearly $12 per copy but brick and mortar bookstores who are willing to carry it want it priced around $15.99. After their consignment commission this doesn’t leave much of a profit margin. Despite all of the hype in the media about the popularity of eBooks I’ve experienced quadruple the number of sales of the paperback version compared with eBook version of my novel.

Writers love to write so it’s natural for authors to want to jump to the next book project after their book is available for sale. When you self-publish the hard work is far from over when the writing of the book is complete. Being successful at self-publishing requires you to not only be a talented writer but to also harness the creativity that makes you a great writer and apply it to networking and marketing your book.

The good news is with the advent of social media and free blogging sites like WordPress it’s never been easier to build a fan base. I’ve experienced success with a Facebook author page that is linked to both a WordPress blog and a Twitter account.

In my eighteen years of trying to make writing my, “full-time gig” I’ve made nearly every mistake that can be made but I’ve learned something from them all. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust that, despite who publishes a book, readers will always resonate with quality writing when they see it. I’ve also learned to sort through misconceptions and see things for what they are. If you start with a great manuscript, work to build a loyal fan base and market your book effectively, success will be within your reach. Thanks to Lulu, I’ve never been closer to achieving my lifelong dream.

Author Bio:
Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, author and poet with a writing
career spanning nearly two decades. He has published several books
in different genres and has won several awards for his work
including the, “James Thurber Treat Prize”. Alarm Clock Dawn is
Eric’s debut novel.

Facebook Author Page Link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eric-Vance-Walton/320090161436012

Lulu Author Spotlight Link –
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ericvancewalton