Well, 2021 is very nearly in the books. We made it. And what a year it’s been. As we all adjust to our new normal, let’s take a minute or two to look back at Lulu in 2021. It hasn’t been as exciting as some years past, but there’s still plenty to reflect on.
After the wild ride that was 2020, I think we all needed a less intense year. Right?
Alright, let’s get into our look back at Lulu in 2021.
In May of 2020, we took down our website and released a total redesign. The homepage, the way you upload and publish, the way you manage your projects; everything about Lulu was updated. It was a big deal and the culmination of a lot of work from everyone at Lulu.
So we didn’t roll into 2021 aiming to one-up the previous year’s accomplishments. Instead, we took a look at all the things we wanted to do with our site and couldn’t get done in time for the launch. This year was all about improvements.
Upgrading Your Lulu Experience
As I read through our internal release notes, I count over 100 improvements we made to various parts of Lulu. Some are simple and mundane, such as clarifying a term or adding a link to resources. And some are so behind the scenes that most of us wouldn’t even understand the how or why of the update.
But there are a few improvements from the past year that warrant a little recognition.
Da Cajun Two Step
Authentic cajun recipes passed down through generations, along with some new ones we have come up with. Most of these can be found on TikTok!
An author favorite, when we launched our site redesign Author Spotlights weren’t initially included. A few technical reasons held us up, but in 2021 we got through those and built you new and improved spotlights!
These new spotlights live inside the Lulu Bookstore and give readers quick access to all the books by one author. Nothing fancy, but the new spotlights are the best way to help would-be readers see what you’ve got available and to sort by publication date.
If you’re selling books and you don’t know about BISAC categories, I suggest taking some time to read up on this universal classification system. Bookstores all use some kind of category system to help readers browse for new books.
Historically, we used our own categories—which is all well and good for the Lulu Bookstore, but presented some problems for books in Global Distribution. And there are those of us at Lulu who just crave consistency. So we went through the (surprisingly) arduous task of renaming all our bookstore categories and lining them up with the corresponding BISAC codes.
Today, you won’t even notice the difference in the bookstore, but behind the scenes we’ve organized and better aligned the categories. Readers will find more relevant books while they’re browsing and it’ll be easier for you to categorize your books while publishing!
Another bookstore update, we introduced previews—the option to display some of the contents of your calendar on the store. Plenty of authors and readers have asked for the option to preview a book or calendar before they buy.
The calendar preview is a simple pop out window that lets you look at the images and month grid for the calendar.
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘what about book previews?’—you’re being completely reasonable. All I can say at the moment is that we’re working on adding book previews, but it’s made more difficult by the need to let you define how much of your book is previewed. It’s a feature we hope to add early in 2022.
Another popular request from authors, we added promotional pricing to the bookstore. Now when you view your Project’s details page, you’ll have the option to create and apply a promo!
You can even set the promo to start and end on specific dates—making it easy to sync up an email to your subscribers when the sale starts. And the calculator shows how much you’ll earn from the promo price.
B7 Annual 1982
A 252 page annual celebrating the 40th anniversary of the final series of the best science fiction show to come out of the UK. 100% of all profits raised by this book will go to charity. 50% to Save The Children, and 50% to Axminster & Lyme Cancer Support. The creators of this project will receive absolutely no financial gain from this project.
The New Lulu Junior
On top of all the work we’ve been putting into improving Lulu, we also found some time to do an overhaul of Lulu Junior too!
The new and improved Lulu Junior site still offers the same IlluStory and My Comic Book kits. We also added an online tool to order copies of a completed kit and to track your kit or book order!
If you haven’t checked out Lulu Junior lately you should!
Helping You Sell Your Books
This last update is kind of a work in progress still. But you’ve probably noticed how much we talk about ecommerce lately. With the introduction of our Shopify App and our free Print API, Lulu’s mission has been to make it easier for YOU to sell books.
We’re really committed to the idea that you can do a better job selling your book to your readers than any retailer can. That’s driven our work toward making it easier to integrate book sales into your website. I could go on all day about the benefits of selling direct, but that’s not why we’re here today.
The Queen’s Code (Paperback)
The long-standing war between the sexes is the stuff of legend. In TV ads, sitcoms and chick flicks everywhere, we’ve all seen the images—the long suffering woman and the clueless, insensitive man. But what if it’s all a misunderstanding? In this fairy tale for the contemporary woman, Kimberlee seeks advice and discovers a treasure chest of esoteric knowledge hidden within her own family.
What I am getting at is that we dedicated a large portion of our time in 2021 to working on the next steps in our ecommerce offerings. Look for these exciting updates early in 2022!
And That’s A Wrap!
2021 will be over by the time most of you read this. But I hope you all had a safe and productive year! Even with all the new challenges we face, authorship and book sales continue to climb; clearly a sign we need stories, journals, and wisdom more than ever.
Keep writing, we’re thrilled to see what you create in 2022!
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.