Lulu Lens: How can we help you build a more meaningful connection with your readers?

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One of the things we consistently hear from users is that they want us to provide them with better tools to connect with their readers. Obviously this has a lot of value, both for the author and for Lulu, and we want to help you achieve this goal. We have a few things in the works, which we are looking forward to sharing with you soon, but we want your suggestions as well.

Last week, one of Julie’s suggestions was a great lead-in to this week’s topic. She suggested that we have “opt-in mailing lists that authors can use to send promotional offers to customers.” This is a fantastic idea and would certainly help authors and readers connect more. We are also looking at creating an author homepage, which would give authors full control over how their information is displayed on the site.

What other ideas do you have for how Lulu can help you build meaningful connections with your readers?

16 thoughts on “Lulu Lens: How can we help you build a more meaningful connection with your readers?”

  1. I have my own site, but for some authors I’m sure the chance to have a fully hosted site would be quite helpful. They could have a domain that was something like: authorsname.lulu.com You could run it with a wordpress back end. That would give the author a huge amount of variety with what they could design for themselves. Of course you could setup some stock themes for authors who are less inclined to tinker with the nuts and bolts of the operation.
    Their blog/website could also work as a front-end for their own store. That kills two birds with one stone, so to speak.
    What about allowing us to print custom bookmarks to sell with our books? It’s something small, but ordering a book and getting something like that with it, is something that people would remember. It’s always nice to open a box and find a little something you weren’t expecting.
    More later… gonna think about this some more.

  2. How about designing a system that would allow us to host contests to give away free books and the like? We could design quizzes, or have readers write an essay or something, and then we could award “free” books to winners. Of course, the “free” books would just be books that the authors had pre-purchased. We would just give the winner a coupon that entitled them to a certain book, group of books, or one of a selection of titles.
    You could gain the same effect by creating a gift-card system. We could hold contests and award winners a certain amount of Lulu spending cash. This would tie in nicely with the e-mail list. E-mail list participants could be notified of new contests. Plus gift cards have to be spent at Lulu. That guarantees the money stays in the system.
    Contests get the readers interested, and can attract people that might not otherwise buy a book. I’m a firm believer that if a book is good, just getting people reading it is the most important part.
    How about a “Talk to the Author” button on our sales page? It wouldn’t have to be there for everyone, but authors that allow it could have a button that allows for people to either e-mail them directly, or send a message via Lulu. This way, if people have questions about a book, or simply wish to speak with a certain author, they can do so. I personally like to hear from readers, or possible readers. I’ve sold books on banter alone.

  3. But seriously, folks…
    One of the commentators in the other thread similar to this one pointed out that a visitor to Lulu.com can’t tell what he is buying without actually buying it. And other than family and friends — or others who have actually seen your work — not many customers will take a chance on something unknown.
    I have looked through some listings and been surprised that a lot of authors feature no previews of their work — nothing, nada. You have to give a potential customer something to go on — a few pages even…that’s about what I look at in a physical book at a bookstore.
    Another idea is to be your own marketer. Invest some of your own money in your own books and take some copies around town and see if they will sell them for you. Try used book stores. Tell them you will take store credit for you own book. Or just GIVE it to a bookstore and ask if they will display it. Make sure you have your Lulu URL somewhere in or on the book.
    I have discovered that there are two printing options that are cheaper than Lulu’s other options. They are printed on publishing-grade paper (a little thinner than the regular) and come in 8 1/2 x 11 and 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. The savings is significant. The drawbacks are significant as well. One, your work may not be good for those layouts. Two, you can’t get the publishing and ISBN services for these formats. But just to buy a bunch of copies of your own book for promotional purposes, or to have an edition you can link to from another site, this might be perfect.
    I hope Lulu doesn’t see this as some loophole they weren’t aware of. But I have two editions of my book. The cheaper one with publisher-grade paper for me and who I want to link to it — and the more expensive edition that will have an ISBN (eventually) and be listed on Amazon (eventually).
    Cheers,
    Jim

  4. Jim, I agree, most people have no idea how to market anything.
    But lulu do – that is the whole point of the idea that lulu advertise the storefront homepage.
    Plus, printing in bulk to save money is not exactly ‘BOD’, really. I get your point but you may as well go the whole way and have 10,000 done on an off-set machine. 🙂
    And hawking your books around the shops is also a bit oldy worldy when there are billions of people on line, many who buy books, and our wares are also on line on the lulustores, if only potential buyers knew they were.

  5. Am an author of somany books,l have more books that are yet to be pulbished.Am finding it difficult to pulish the new ones.l equally expected my representative to see me face to face to discuss on how my royalties could be paid.l would have done more than expected.

  6. Kevin, I see your point and must confess to being old worldly sometimes.
    But old world or new world, these days the most difficult thing for the promoter to do — whether a real publisher or a self-publisher — is to get a potential reader to cut loose of his money. Times are tough.
    The big bookstore retailers are feeling it, too. There used to be a local authors section at the Borders here that pretty much took up the time of one staff member. Borders no longer has a local authors section anymore — can’t afford it.
    Authors here should consider robbery on the streets — though in this case the victim would get your book in return for what you take.

  7. One problem I do have is the listing at Amazon showing 2 of my 7 published works as being “out of print” and with “limited availability”. I’ve sent in a support ticket and no response. I can’t sell the durned things if people think they can’t buy them! I loved the live chat help, but since you’ve switched to this “ticket” system, I can’t seem to get any help. So my comment is “How can I connect better with my readers, if they think my books are NOT available at Amazaon?”

  8. There is an old saying – “I cannot afford to advertise. Now I cannot afford to advertise.”
    It makes no sense at first but it means that sensible advertising brings in more customers, so if you do not find the money to advertise you end up with no customers and even less money!
    Have you not noticed that due to there being less money around, some companies have stepped up their advertising to attract the money that is around. While some others have cut back. And perhaps they will not be around for much longer.
    So again I say >> lulu needs to advertise the storefront homepage. No one will buy from it if they do not know it is there and the efforts of a few individuals to advertise their own storefront would work far better if it was combined.

  9. How about podcasts of audio segments and reviews of books.
    I’ve done a few book reviews on my podcasts.
    And I have noticed something, print your magum opus as a PDF file and you will find the whole process just runs smoothly from then on.

  10. Peter John Smith

    Thank you for your excellent book service. I have been successful in publishing 3 books.
    Sadly I cannot now get back into “MYLULU”
    as it seems my password is not compatible,
    (although checked correct). Please help.
    I have two new books in the pipeline ready
    to upload.
    Peter John Smith

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