Understanding Lulu: Book Sample

Understanding Lulu

At Lulu we are always thrilled to hear when anyone is interested in writing and publishing. Gearing up to start your own publishing venture is no minor feat though. For many, publishing is a huge decision that can seem overwhelming. We work hard to make the publishing process as smooth as possible so you can excel no matter what your publishing goals may be. We are always trying to grow and improve while continuously engaging the community we started in. That said, I think it would be beneficial to anyone seeking Lulu out to provide explanations to some of the questions and comments we have encountered during our daily customer service and community interactions.

The goal is to address aspects of Lulu that may be unclear at first while answering why we do or don’t do certain things, and ultimately: “Why Lulu?”

First, I would like to address a question I get a lot: “could you send me a sample of a book?” I totally understand where people are coming from on this one. You are investing your time and money into something new and different and you want to make sure it is worth it. So much of the fun of having a book published is getting it out into the world and frankly … bragging about it to your friends!

What you make has to look great and be a good interpretation of what you are trying to convey to your readers.


Lulu is responding to the trends and needs of the digital age. Authors on Lulu have the option to sell their books as print or electronic download. The idea here is that the items on our website can be shared instantaneously without ever becoming physical content, much like the current digital music craze.

Beyond that, Lulu functions as a print on demand company that produces only what you sell. No printing occurs within our building but with various global print partners. Printing on demand is great for both the environment and the author’s pocket because it means that without a minimum print run, you only have to pay for one sample instead of mass-produced stockpiles of books that take up expensive warehouse (or garage) space.

For photo books, the virtual Lulu Studio ™ actually does a really great job of letting you see your work every step of the way. The Studio ™ is free and there is nothing to install. You simply upload content straight from your computer and customize the layout. There is even a built in cost calculator that updates the manufacturing cost along with the changes you make to your content. If you are like me, you like to have an actual thing in your hands though. For regular books, you can buy your finished book at manufacturing cost or order a copy of a fellow author’s book similar to what you are trying to achieve. You’ll have your sample, and you’ll be making another Lulu author’s day in the process!

I hope this post and the ones that follow help to shed a little light onto the Lulu process. Please know that we are growing and learning right along with you to do something exceptional!

21 thoughts on “Understanding Lulu: Book Sample”

  1. I used to work for A. N. Other POD company and we tried to respond to the requests for samples.
    The requests for samples were so many that it became too expensive to produce the (more expensive) POD books as samples. We tried doing an offset run of books that was similar to but not exactly like the books the authors would be selling, to save money, but that almost completely defeated the purpose.
    I applaud your approach. I hope authors take your advice and invest a few dollars in someone else’s book, as a true sample. It’s definitely worth the investment and, as you say, will make that other author smile.

  2. Thank you very much for this. We were very interested in trying out different bindings to see what they were like and it took a while to discover books in different bindings – we couldn’t find a ‘search by binding’ option. It might be an idea if Lulu created a largely blank book – perhaps just with page numbers – in every binding. Then we could just order whichever of those we fancy and once we’ve checked the quality we would still be left with a nice, usable notebook or sketch book.
    Could be a best seller

  3. I’ve been selling my calendars for 2 years..
    and I recently created a mini book.
    Lulu Sends 25% off coupons but
    THEY DON’T WORK!!!!! i can process my order without it but cannot get the discounts. As there is no way to get a response or have the problem fixed…what is the solution?

  4. Did you know that people are using stolen credit card numbers off the internet to buy your products and services? maybe be a little more careful huh!?

  5. David,
    I’m sorry the coupon didn’t work. Which coupon was it?
    Yes, thank you, we are aware of the activity. We are working to deal with the issue on our end. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about the credit card numbers being stolen, since they were not stolen from our site. However, we are working on refunding the cards, and we have disabled the accounts involved.

  6. Hello,
    I’m interested in writing an ebook entitled “Reverse the Aging Process”. I’ve just signed up with Lulu. Do I need to write the book in Word? How long is an ebook? Eventually I’ll publish it in book form. Do you guys have a phone? Thanks.

  7. Hi,
    I have written a book about africa,my english is not very good but a proffessional editor would understand what my book mean and how to sort out some common english mistakes in my book.
    However I would want to know how can I use your website services in order to improve and make my book look well and proffessionally before I’m up for publishing it.Is it possible for me to work on the book the way I want it to look before take it to the publisher?
    Kindly regard,

  8. I have a handbook that was written in a class by all class members (including me). I would like to publish this as is for my own purpose, not to see but to use in my office.
    I already have the cover I want to use and so on. All I need is it printed and bound. Can your company do this for me?
    If so what do I need to do to accomplish this.

    1. Joseph,
      In order to publish on Lulu an author must own the rights to the content. If you have used PublishAmerica you would need to verify that you retained the rights to the content your submitted to them. I’m not sure what their policies are with that so definitely double check to avoid any adversities. For better clarification check here: http://www.lulu.com/en/help/copyright_faq

  9. in respect of authors purchasing their regular books at manufacturing cost (mentioned in your article) i tried purchasing my book at that price but my money was refunded back to me. have you just started this or is my case an exception?

    1. Paul,
      That sounds like an interesting issue – did you still get a copy of your book or no? Either way, go here: http://www.lulu.com/help/email_support.php and create a ticket about your problem in as much detail as possible – it will automatically be filtered to the orders and fulfillment specialists who will do their best to get you a solution. I apologize for the inconvenience.

  10. About 7 of us want to publish and anthology of our poems… how do we go about this? Can there be 7 authors? Do one person or two publish as editors? Can the anthology be published as both an ebook and hard copy?
    Thanks for responding soon.

  11. Been a printer/publisher off and on for fifty years . . . but for the life of me, find nothing anywhere on your site about using B&W photos on your “standard” grade paper. So I really would like to buy a copy of something that would show me (my client) how everything would look. Any recommendation? Thanks!

    1. Carmela,
      You can write your book in word if you want to, just make sure you save your file as a .doc file – not a .docx file (word 2007 likes to save files as .docx). Books have a certain page limit to them depending on the layout and binding you choose for your book. Lulu does not offer phone support at this time unless you purchase a service package which gets you in touch with someone to help you through your publishing process. You can reach one of your customer voice representatives here: http://www.lulu.com/help/email_support.php this will create a ticket that will allow the reps to track your case as your relationship grows with Lulu. This makes it easier for them to help you in the future!
      You can certainly work on your book before it is published. You simply upload your content to Lulu and your project doesn’t become published until you are ready for it to be. You can customize your work however you choose. We have a number of services to help people with formatting, editing, distribution, marketing, etc. for those that need help along the way. http://www.lulu.com/services/packages/author_publishing/?cid=us_sh_apacks
      As long as you own the copyright to use the content, Lulu can publish anything you submit. Simply upload your content in one of our accepted file formats (PDF, Word file, etc.) and the cover image and choose the binding, size, and paper quality.
      There are a few books featured on Lulu that are published by two or so authors. Some books are published by a company and will say “Blahbedy Blah” by “Company Name.” If you want to publish a poetry book, you can certainly compile works from 7 authors in one book as long as you have consent from each author and the rights. Your poetry anthology would be housed under one Lulu account, the username for that account is entirely up to you. I would think the easiest thing to do would be to pick a single username and then have a page in the book featuring all of the various authors’ names on it.
      I actually have a few favorite Lulu Studio photo books flagged that I have been just waiting for someone to ask to share!
      This is an art-photography book called “Blink”:
      This is actually an awesome calendar with pictures of Afghanistan printed on standard paper:
      This one has some black and white photos and some sepia-toned images from a wedding:
      This is a photo book about Mozambique:
      Family photo books spanning generations:
      About horses:
      Hope these help you get an idea of what your black and white photos will look like!

  12. None of the suggested books match my project — which is a 500-page text book with occassional black-and-white photos. Your examples are all “full color inside.”
    My concern: will the photos print well on your text stock?
    Thanks, Brayton

  13. When might I expect an answer to my post of September 16?
    And I have a bone to pick: in response to my earlier post, you provided a link to a product (a calendar with photos of Afghanistan) that you said was “printed on standard paper.” So I bought a copy, just received — and is is NOT on standard paper. It’s on a heavyweight stock. Frankly, I feel cheated, as with shipping, it cost me almost fifty bucks.
    May I request a refund?

    1. Brayton,
      I apologize for the delay in communication. While the links I posted are “full-color” inside, many contain black and white photos that should give you an idea of the black and white photo quality. Here is a link to book America: The First 500 Years ( http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/america-the-first-500-years/7647628). This is a 5th grade, paper back history book that is 8.5×11 perfect bound. The color is black and white, not full color. Hopefully, this better matches your project. While this may give you an idea of how your book turns out, I would highly recommend ordering a proof copy of any book you publish to be sure it is up to your standards before you mass order copies or start marketing your book. As for the refund I will issue one to you – but I will need your order ID.

  14. You guys don’t have a paper sample pack???? My brain just exploded. Every other printing company – even the ones who print on demand have a paper sample pack. it’s just a few pages (1 of each paper quality they offer) printed with the ink quality they offer. This way someone can decide which paper and ink options to choose.
    It’s just such a simple thing to provide for people so they can make you guys more money. Otherwise they’ll just go to your competition.
    I mean you’re telling me i have to order every variety option book just to see your quality. Basically i just wanna see the #60 uncoated paper vs #80 coated. And also color premium vs color standard. So since they can mix and match i have to order 4 freaking books just to see the difference?? AM I UNDERSTANDING THIS CORRECTLY!?

    1. Hi Deja,
      Thanks for reading!
      I can understanding wanting to sample some of your options before committing to a large order.
      I’m not actually aware of other print-on-demand book companies that offer sample packs, but we’ve always hesitated to do so for a couple of reasons.
      First, it is important to remember that seeing a single page at a specific weight/color is not always a good indication of how the final book will appear. There isn’t really a good way to see how a book will look without seeing the complete, final product.
      Add to that the prohibitive cost of binding a book with multiple paper weights and inks. Print-on-demand is a highly automated process. Paper from multiple machines would need to be hand bound to create a sample with different inks and weights.
      I apologize we’re not able to accommodate a sample book, but if you reach out to our team (844-212-0689) they can answer most questions pertaining to the materials we use.

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