Guest Blog: Author Julio Vazquez

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I’m honored to have Julio Vazquez guest blog today. Julio is one of our very first authors and has become good friend of mine, too. He’s a leader in the Lulu Community and can often be found helping others in the forums. I asked him to share his experiences with Lulu here on the blog.


2010.

I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since I first stumbled on Lulu.com.

Looking back, I had originally come across the site during a job search. When I looked at the positions available, I didn’t find anything that I felt I could fit in comfortably. While I was on the site, I got intrigued by the fact that they were offering the ability to publish and print books for literally pennies per page.

I had already written a novel and a set of short stories. I didn’t have any particular success placing the work with publishers because, frankly, I didn’t do the sort of market research that would place me with a traditional publisher. I just wrote and what I wanted to do was make my work available to others to read. I wasn’t worried about making multi-million dollar deals. I knew that there were few authors who got to that level in the business. I just felt that I had some good stories that I wanted to share. Lulu gave me the opportunity.

I remember the first time I went through the process. Watching that manufacturing building pulse to produce my work. Then I wound up disappointed because I got things I didn’t expect for my fiction. The thing looked like a text book. There was a table of contents and other things that I considered ugly. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t pleased but I contacted the support team. Fortunately, they wanted to learn and they wanted to get my work to the point that I’d be happy with it. We talked through the forums and emails about publishing and expectations and what would work better. The publishing process improved. Finally I published the first two books, The Truant Murders, and Pictures at an Exhibition: Vignettes from my Mind.

Okay, they didn’t sell much. That wasn’t the point. I was able to share these works with others easily now. I did sell some and I was also able to send copies to the man who encouraged me to write. I got back a nice hand-written letter that encouraged me and stated that I validated his career (he was a H.S. English teacher). That defined success for me.

I then started contributing to forums and I started a blog. I wanted to help others who were writing. Things like how to get through writer’s block intrigued me and I tried to help folks get over the hump and suggest strategies that could help. I tried to maintain a positive attitude about the experience, even when I had some concerns about the process and the product. Overall, I suppose I was successful because I was asked to be a community leader.

Sometime during these years, I wrote two more novels, Death at Disney and Where is Love? Death at Disney had legs. It sold more units than I expected for a self-published book. I entered it in the Self-Published book competition and it scored fairly well, even if it didn’t win. I also entered Where is Love? after I published that one and it did remarkably well in the scoring (though they did tell me what I knew – the cover wasn’t great). I’ve been in technical communications for a long time and I finally used Lulu to create a technical book that is my best seller yet, Practical DITA. I believe that the ability to get the book out to press quickly (2 editions in less than 6 months) helped achieve that success. This book has been a boon to me and the company for which I work, SDI in showing that we do have expertise in the field.

Overall, I’ve had a pretty positive relationship with Lulu and have been happy with the results. I look forward to getting 2 more books out this year (if I can ever slow down enough to spend more time writing) with their help.

Enjoy the ride!

2 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Author Julio Vazquez”

  1. As a Lulu author with a newly established Blog of my own, I really appreciated your guest appearance Blog, Julio. Like you, I stumbled upon Lulu, and it was the best discovery I ever made. The way the Lulu system works, along with the helpful tips and information available on the forums, made it possible for me to see my work in print. I cannot begin to describe the emotions I felt when I held a published work of my own in my hands for the first time. It was certainly one of the defining moments in my life.
    Like you, Julio, I had written a number of stories over a period of years, but had done nothing with them. I knew nothing about genre, or what kinds of stories were easy to market. I wrote what I wanted to write, for myself. I believe it was Jesse Stuart who wrote, “Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.” I think that describes the way I feel about my writing.
    Just over a year ago, I decided to see how possible it might be to self-publish. My idea was not to make a ton of money, but more to share my stores, just in case someone out there might be interested. After looking through all kinds of websites on publishing, I happened on Lulu.com in 2008, and there I stayed. I published the first of my Lulu books, “A Family Legacy: THE WATSON WORKS,” on the last day of 2008.
    Since then, I’ve followed the publishing of that first novel with seven other books, ranging from 30,000 to 100,000 words. I have listed all of them as Young Adult stories, although some may have cross-over appeal to general adventure fiction. I have kept half of them free to download, just to see what kind of response I could get. Knowing that there are plenty of authors out there with lots of competition for readers, I decided free e-books might be a way of building interest.
    So, I’ve made Playing the ‘Son’ Card, Playing the Baseball Card, Robert’s Ride, SONS and BROTHERS in SEATTLE (short version), and A Family Legacy: THE WATSON WORKS all free.
    Very recently, late in December 2009, I followed other advice I’d seen in Lulu forums, and started a blog, and I’ve recently made other efforts to market my books. In the year since I first published on Lulu, hundreds of people have downloaded my books, something that still humbles me and fills me with awe. I keep writing, perhaps because I feel a little more motivated, but mostly because I still have more stories to tell.
    All of what I’ve achieved in the last year started with Lulu, and I will always be grateful for what the wonderful people connected with Lulu have brought to my life.
    Happy reading,
    Wil James

  2. Julio,
    Thanks for your inspiring blog. I have just recently began searching for the right publishing alternative. After reading quite a few comments from LULU authors it looks like this is the way to go. I write stories for young teenage boys. The first being about two mountain men boys in the early 1800’s. They have a lot of fun growing up, and tend to get into a little trouble here and there, though definitely not the same trouble our teens may get into today. But some how they survive the wilds and learn some real life lessons. Here is an excerpt from the book.
    One evening we were coming home. Red was ahead of me a good thirty yards or so and we were imitating an ole blue jay that had harassed us all day. We were just at the edge of the forest where it thins into a meadow, when I looked up and saw an Arapahoe scout wondering what the Jay’s were fussin about.
    I let go with Red and I’s prairie hawk scream of warning. Red instantly vanished into the ferns and scrub oak, but that scout must’ve seen his red hair as he let loose an arrow that barely missed Red’s shoulder as he dove for cover. And then Red was gone and me alone with that scout crouching not but thirty feet away. I knew Red was covering me, but it was mighty lonesome sitting there watching that scout. So I taken out my knife and picked up a good sized throwing rock, and waited. Pretty soon Red found his spot and showed face. Right behind me!
    That scout came out of those ferns like a rabid dog turned loose and I let go of that rock as hard as I could. I didn’t look back to see if I had hit him or not, just turned tail and ran. Red was right behind me hollering “Go Go Go” as if I could run any faster! We never stopped running all the way home. Pa and Red’s dad Jeb were laughing so hard they were practically rolling in the dirt, although I noticed they were outside the cabin with their rifles ready! Pa said we coulda out run an Indian scout. I up and said, “we just did”
    And that’s when Pa got mad. He said “I told you a hunnert times you can’t out Injun an Injun!.” After that we realized not only were we the hunters, but that we could become the hunted.
    Hope you like it!
    Allen

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