Writer’s Digest has been serving writers for over 90 years. Primarily a monthly publication (also called “Writer’s Digest”) the magazine provides authors and publishers at all stages of the process with advice, tools, and opportunities to advance their writing and achieve their goals. Each year, Writer’s Digest hosts an annual conference to bring together authors, publishers, and all other professionals involved in the writing and publishing process.
In our continued efforts to support authors and help provide our services to as many as we can, Lulu sponsored and attended the conference again this year. Our contingent of Lulu team members had a great time working the booth at the exhibition and talking with all of the authors in attendance. We also had the opportunity to attend the sessions and panel discussions, and even participated in one of the panels!
Events like the Writer’s Digest Conference (our favorite, BTW) are a great way for authors and publishers to connect and learn more about the ever-changing world of publishing. It is also a terrific place for self-publishing and print facilitators like Lulu to inform authors of the tools available to them. Likewise, we’re able to get feedback from authors about what is working, what is not working, and what they feel they need to be successful in the future.
This year’s Conference focused on exploring publishing options, book marketing, writing techniques, and genre studies. Because of our position as a self-publishing platform, having a Marketing team that loves to talk shop, and being a strong advocate for author’s controlling their content, Lulu happily can speak to authors on all of these subjects!
As you might imagine, there was a lot going on at this event, from lectures and panel discussions, to the exhibition of publishers and author related service providers networking. One very cool feature of this year’s Conference is the Pitch Slam event. Authors have the opportunity to pitch their work with selected agents – authors signed up based on the agent’s preferred genre – in one-on-one pitch sessions. Think of it like speed dating for authors and agents.
Lulu also participated in one of the weekend’s panel discussions. Lulu’s COO Kathy Hensgen spoke as part of the “Best in Class: Self-Publishing Platforms Share Their Offerings and Advantages” panel. Kathy is a long-time Lulu team member, and comes to the Conference with those years of experience to provide data and information aspiring authors need.
Here are a few slides from her presentation, which included our latest author testimonial video:
But highlighting the numbers is not why Lulu chooses to support and attend this conference. We had one very specific goal in mind: to share our story. Because that’s our purpose. Yes, we are a business and we aim to make money, but that’s not our main goal at Lulu. Sharing stories is our goal. It’s why we do what we do, day to day, and it is the mindset we bring to all of the work we undertake.
Kathy took the opportunity on this panel to let everyone present know just that. We are a rich and historic company, founded by an author and designed for authors. A side by side comparison of all the self-publishing, independent publishing, and even hybrid publishing companies out there will reveal pros and cons among all of us. There are aspects of publishing that other platforms might handle better than we do. There are things we do better than anyone else out there. But that’s not the point.
The point we wanted to make, and that Kathy strove to extol, is that everything we do is in service to stories. Our mission is to provide global access to publishing tools, to make it possible for anyone and everyone to share their story. That’s why we support the Writer’s Digest Conference, and that’s why we go into the office every morning.
While we only participated in one panel, the weekend featured many opportunities to learn the ins and outs of publishing and writing. Experts provided insight about Marketing for authors (something we’ve looked at in great detail on the Lulu Blog as well) in the digital age with email, social media, and various forms of web based marketing.
In fact, one of the questions we hear the most from our authors in general is “how do I sell more books?” There’s no definitive answer, but we can provide best practices on what has been successful. And when we can, we provide our authors with additional avenues to promote their work. One such way we’ve recently introduced is our Lulu Scholarship.
The Lulu Scholarship
The Lulu Scholarship started as an idea from our Marketing team. We chose to divert some of our budget to directly helping authors. We wanted to spotlight individuals to not only promote their work, but also to spur more writers to take the chance and publish their story.
This year, we announced our first Lulu Scholarship giveaway! The giveaway included a 3-day pass to Writer’s Digest Conference and a ticket to a Pitch Slam session. The contest was hosted through our Facebook page and one lucky winner was chosen at random. Look for an upcoming guest blog post by the 2017 Lulu Scholarship winner, Hannah Miller!
While in New York, we had the pleasure of meeting our winner, 18-year-old author Hannah Miller! Hannah published her novel “I” on Lulu earlier this year. You can find her book on Lulu here. It is a story of adventure and friendship, sure to thrill and engage readers.
We’re happy to have Hannah at Writer’s Digest Conference, and we hope to be able to provide more of our authors these kinds of opportunities in the future. Who knows where our next Lulu Scholarship winner will come from, or what awesome prizes we’ll have in store!
What Writers Want
Writer’s Digest Conference, like any event we attend, led a number of authors and aspiring authors to our table with questions. We value the questions we receive as it allows us to keep up with author’s needs and stay abreast of what really matters to storytellers.
Here’s a run down of the most common questions we heard over the weekend and some short answers.
Q: Why should I self-publish?
A: There are so many reasons! Self-published authors retain control over their content and are free to do with their work as they see fit. Self-publishing also circumvents the long, grueling, and often unsuccessful agent and query letter process traditional authors use to get discovered by a publishing house. Thanks to print on demand technology, self-publishing has never been easier or more affordable. If you have a book and you want to share your book with the world (or maybe even just a few people) self-publishing is the place for you!
Q: Why is Lulu better than the competition in self-publishing?
A: Ask this question of any self-publishing platform (or of any company in any industry) and you can expect a string of unique service offerings or ways that company can fulfill your needs at a lower cost with better results. That’s the expected answer. I can tell you we’re one of the only self-publishers offer free self-publishing, our print quality is unmatched, and that we control costs for our customers to offer our services at competitive prices.
None of those points are what set Lulu apart. We’re different because we care. We offer live support and do our best to listen to and respond to the needs of our users. And when our service isn’t right for your needs, we’ll admit that and guide you toward a publisher who is right for you. With Lulu, its about telling your story first and foremost.
Q: How do I get my books into bookstores if I use Lulu?
A: Our distribution agreement with Ingram puts your book in their catalog system, making it available to bookstores. We suggest Lulu authors self-purchase copies of your book (since it’s print on demand) and work with your local bookstores to make a deal that works best for you and your promotional goals. This is generally the best way to get in the door with a bookstore.
Q: Do you offer help with editing, cover design, and book marketing?
A: We do! We have free resources on our blog and featured advice on our Facebook page. There’s also our author community, with a forum for peer to peer support and extensive documentation about the publishing process, all the way from getting started to distributing your finished work. If you want to hire pros to help with formatting, editing, or design, we offer those services too.
And of course there is the live support we talk about so often. Lulu has an in house staff of self-publishing wizards ready to help with any aspect of the process, from advice about the best software to use for laying out your book, to questions about shipping and ordering your completed work.
Q: How much will my book cost?
A: That depends on a number of factors. How many pages is your book? What about the binding? And the size? Is the interior in full color or black and white? Rather than list a long table full of prices and combinations of options, you can see pricing for our most common formats on our site.
Q: What royalties will I get with the other distribution channels?
A: First, remember that Lulu offers the best returns for our authors. Selling a print book on our store will earn you 80% revenue. Other retailers are going to take a steeper cut as part of their distribution agreements. The same page I linked above (this one) will display the difference in revenue shares for retailer sales. Here’s a common example I use.
Let’s say you have a 200 page 6 x 9 Paperback. This is the most common size book we print, and 200 pages is right around the average page count. This book costs around $5.25 to print, and if you list it at $14.95 for sale, a sale on Lulu will net you $7.76, while a sale on Amazon will bring in $1.58. The difference is in retailer shares, as they take a much larger cut of the profits.
Thanks to all the authors, editors, agents, and publishers who stopped to see us over the weekend! We look forward to seeing all of you again at future events, and continuing to be your choice for self-publishing and print on demand needs!
Paul is the Technical Writer at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site (misspellings included). He also manages the community site – http://connect.lulu.com/en/ – and in his free time, he’s an avid reader and short story writer.