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Publishing on Lulu.com

Updated on November 8, 2009

Publishing on Lulu is easy.


Lulu.com is the biggest self publishing business on Earth. They’re an American company, with links to Amazon.

I’ve published 12 books on Lulu.com . I can honestly say if you’re looking for a simple way to publish your books or other materials, you can’t go past them for a very straightforward process.

Reasons for publishing on Lulu.com

There are two sets of reasons for self-publishing:

Commercial reasons

  1. It’s free to sign up to Lulu.com
  2. You can earn money using a simple royalties process, where Lulu.com takes a small cut
  3. You can publish hardbacks and e-books
  4. You can create a storefront of all your work as a showpiece. Very useful if you want to have an array of materials to display to clients or interested publishers.
  5. You own your materials. Lulu.com doesn’t claim any rights over materials.

Writer-type reasons

  1. Getting your work organized and “out there” is a definite mental relief, a definite accomplishment.
  2. Ownership of copyright is always an issue for writers, and self-publishing helps define those rights, like electronic rights, much better. Each book becomes a distinct entity.
  3. It’s good to have the books in a working mode. A lot of a writer’s angst is derived from having huge amounts of materials sitting in limbo.

Before you publish anything

You need to create an account with Lulu to publish. It’s easy, it’s free, and it takes seconds.

Most important for your peace of mind: Proof reading

Check your work, thoroughly, for typos before even thinking about publishing. Most writers proofread in process, and do a reasonably good job of it, but even if you’re ruthless with typos, there will be some. I had one of my books, Mimbly Tales, proofread. It’s about 145,000 words, and the proof reader found 5 typos.

Good, I thought, and while browsing the collaboration, found that one of the headings, no less, was a typo. Sure enough, Word doesn’t check All Capitals text…. Proof read chapter by chapter, and set yourself a realistic pace so you don’t get tired and miss things.

I’m allergic to typos. I wrote a book called “Freelance Writing: Understanding the toughest trade in writing”. The chapter about quality, naturally, contained an obvious typo. I was so ashamed (not to say infuriated with myself) I wrote a blog piece on Lulu apologizing to buyers. I was able to undo the damage, but the memory still grinds my teeth…

(Fortunately, Lulu has a pretty simple editing system. You can fix any problems quite easily, and just republish.)

Formats

Lulu books are Most people write on Word, so there’s no real problem with that aspect. Lulu will convert your document to PDF easily. However, you should check out Lulu’s format requirements for any specific issues with your work. Because of document formatting, you can get some anomalies like margins, although they’re not common.

If you’re using “exotic” formats, you’ll probably need to convert to a Word doc. Lulu makes obvious attempts to cover all needs, but it’s in the nature of the medium that some things don’t read too well to some programs.

Basic publishing

This is where people can sigh with relief: Lulu’s publishing process works like a Wizard. The only real difference is that it gives you a lot more options.

Steps:

  1. Upload your book. This can take a while, even on broadband, in some cases. It’s not an oppressive amount of time, but it feels like it’s going on forever. This is an automatic PDF conversion, so it’s a bit more complex than it looks.
  2. Select book or download formats, or both.
  3. Pick a cover size. This can be a little unnerving when you first do it. Stick to a standard size, preferably standard paperback size.
  4. Pick a cover design. Lulu has its own designs, or you can upload your own. If you choose to upload your own design, check Lulu’s requirements.
  5. Set a price. This is extremely simple, and you’ll get a fee breakdown of your royalties and Lulu’s modest cut.
  6. Add excerpt or text describing your book. Think about this, because you’re advertising your work. Keep it interesting and fun to read.

Graphics

Lulu does do graphics, and color printing, but you need to check out in detail the specific requirements for images and other issues related to graphic publishing. This is way too detailed to deal with here, but I strongly advise you check everything and ask Lulu for help if you get stuck or you bump into anything you don’t clearly understand.

Un-publishing

You can pull any book or other item quite easily by deleting it.

Your storefront

The storefront consists of your books, and maybe a blog. You can edit the storefront and your materials, very much like profile editing on Hub Pages.

Lulu.com culture

Lulu’s a pretty friendly place to work, and you’ll find you get support when required. There are blogs and forums, and a lot of inter-writer contacts, if you want them. The only issue writers are ever likely to have with Lulu is their own unfamiliarity with processes.

Payments

Lulu are also very good with their payments, and you’ll definitely get your money, however little or much.

Get rich quick?

Expectations are a writer’s stock in trade, and this is one case where fiction has to take second place. You need to promote your work to make money, and Lulu can help you do that. Check out their packages and promo materials, and you may find some very useful stuff.

Remember to tailor your marketing to your audience, and target the right places for advertising and other attention getting processes. Watch your costs, and you’ll stay in control.

Check out Lulu, have a browse around, get a feel for the site. If you like what you see, you’ll like publishing on Lulu.com

Comments

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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I published a book of poems through Lulu, it cost me $70 but I can't remember why but I know it went on to Amazon, etc, so maybe that was it. I loved having the book in my hand. No editing and no mistakes, well that I didn't know about. I did crowd a couple of pages to keep from going to another page for one line. Still looked OK though.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Paul, Check out Lulu support on this link;

      http://www.lulu.com/support/

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Kathleen- Sorry for very late reply, didn't get any notification. I'm not at all sure, and I've since moved a lot of my stuff on to Amazon's Create Space.

    • profile image

      Paul Kelly 

      6 years ago

      Lulu did me a great service and I had my first book published by them, Title "LOVE IS MY DESTINY"

      ISBN 978-1-4461-2252-5. I have two other books I would like Lulu to publish for me but I have lost my Lulu account and I need an email to send my work to them. Help please with an email for Lulu.

      Paul Kelly

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I published a hardback book on Lulu about two months ago and it has yet to be listed on Amazon. I have done some edits along the way. Does this slow down getting to Amazon?

      Thanks for the info and being will to share your experience and knowledge.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      6 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for the helpful information about Lulu

    • profile image

      Keith Spicer 

      6 years ago

      Only a few hours after posting the above despairing note, I got a very nice e-mail from a real person at LULU, giving me a direct telephone line.

      This is most encouraging.

      Keith

    • profile image

      Keith Spicer 

      6 years ago

      I live in Paris, and want to publish my completed French-language novel in France to avoid transatlantic shipping, customs duties, etc.

      Lulu claims it has presses in France, but when I look for a contact here -- or even in Raleigh NC -- nobody answers any of the phones that I had to dig out from U.S. directory assistance because Lulu doesn't list any phone. It also doesn't answer e-mails I have sent to customer service or even the media office.

      Where and why are they hiding? I am an eager but deeply frustrated potential customer.

      Any advice? A reliable Lulu contact in English or French? Can you confirm that Lulu actually does print in France? How long do they take with a proofread manuscript?

      Also, can I buy a few hundred or a thousand copies at a bulk discount and have them shipped to certain French bookstores?

      Any help would be much appreciated.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      CMoore- Extremely sorry for very slow reply, I'm usually quicker than this. Suggest you view the book as a separate entity in its own right, and decide on appropriate content levels. My shortest ebook is about 3500. It was an experiment, I wanted to write the thing, but it was also to see if people reacted negatively to a very short book. No reaction, so I'd say that more isn't better, on principle, provided you cover your subject.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Enyida- Sorry for the incredibly slow reply, really have been busy. Glad to see someone's keeping people's eyes on what they can do to get some exposure. Good luck with yours, too.

    • profile image

      CMoore 

      6 years ago

      Hey Paul, apx how many words in an ebook?

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      6 years ago from trailer in the country

      Hi Paul, I have been using LuLu for about six months, and I am also pleased with them. I just e-published three books this last week. And I really had fun with the photo covers...I actually just wrote a hub on this. Nice to meet you today, and hope you are having success with your books.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Thanks, Angela. I drew that during a frenetic winter. Looks like an old medieval scribe.

    • AngelaKaelin profile image

      AngelaKaelin 

      7 years ago from New York

      Excellent! Very helpful! ...And I like you're graphic... looks kinda like me sitting here in my bathrobe! :-)

    • profile image

      Allie  

      8 years ago

      I would recommend everyone use Lulu competitor. There service is the worst in the industry. No one gets back to you and if you get an email response it is a miracle. Maybe you are a lucky one who gets a good person, but my experience has been terrible thanks to Zac, Cary and their supervisor Sandra P.

    • profile image

      Poemwriters 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for this informative page about publishing books with Lulu.com

    • profile image

      Sol 

      8 years ago

      I love Lulu it's way better that Createspace and after 2 months my book was automatically put on amazon.

    • profile image

      celticmelody 

      8 years ago from Chicago IL

      Hello hello, you might look into Createspace. It is free to publish there too. AND, listing on Amazon is included.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      I would have dearly loved to publish with Lulu but when I contacted them they were more than unhelpful. I tried to get it up as an ebook and not being clever with computers I asked them to help to convert it. They send an email saying it is in the program and I should get on with. I was disappointed. Thank you for writing this hub.

    • Paul Wallis profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Wallis 

      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      The Amazon connection isn't as clear as I'd like it to be. This appears to be a distribution deal, according to Lulu's help page: http://www.lulu.com/en/help/distribution_faq#amazo...

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Great info thanks and much needed. Do they get your work onto amazon etc?

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