Dropshipping for Entrepreneurs & Creators With Lulu’s Order Import Tool

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Have you ever released a book, run a crowdfunding campaign, or hosted an online course? If you answered yes to any of these, you’ve run into the struggle of shipping customer orders to various recipients.

And of course you don’t want to order eight (very heavy) boxes full of books that you then have to repackage and take to the post office to ship to your customers. Print-on-demand and dropshipping alleviate a lot of that work, but that’s still not good enough.

Today, we’re making dropshipping your book to your audience easier than ever with our new Order Import tool.

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping refers to mailing a product directly from the dropshipping supplier or manufacturer to your consumer. There is no storage or handling on your side. Plus, the ‘retailer’ is removed from the supply chain, increasing your profit margins and enabling selling online for a wide variety of custom products.

Dropshipping has long been an integral part of print-on-demand—the entire point is to make the process more efficient by removing unnecessary steps. At Lulu, we’ve always drop-shipped orders from our online store to your readers.

What Is Multiple Address Dropshipping?

Multiple address dropshipping involves sending numerous orders to your manufacturer, then dropshipping products directly to your customers.

Our new multi-address Order Import tool makes it easy to order and ship multiple books to a variety of your readers. Now you can collect orders from your own website, crowdfunding sites, or even in person from your readers—once your orders are collected you can submit them all at once using our Order Import tool.

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Sell books on your website with Lulu Direct.

Sell Your Book,
Your Way

Sell books on your own
website with Lulu Direct.

When You’ll Need Multiple Address Dropshipping For Your Books

Any time you want to take orders from your readers directly and fulfill those orders later is perfect for our Order Import tool. There are some specific reasons you’ll need to place and fulfill a lot of orders at once:

1. Dropshipping Coursebooks For Course Creators 

If you’re a course creator, you already know how useful print-on-demand can be for your business. Creating your own customized textbooks and workbooks enhances the experience and allows you to give your students something they can reference years later.

Logistically, dropshipping is always going to be the fastest and easiest way to get your coursebooks to your students. You’ll already be collecting their payment for the course—with our Order Import tool there’s no need to charge them separately for their books. Just wrap the costs into the payment for the course, export a list of your registrants (with their shipping information) from platforms like Teachable, Thinkific, or Podia, and upload that information to Lulu to get your books fulfilled!

We can print and ship each book to the individual recipients, saving you time that’s better spent promoting and preparing for your course.

2. Preselling During Your Book Launch

Writing and publishing a book is a lot of work. The launch is an important milestone and a vital part of your book’s success. And the pre-launch sales are equally important. Running a sale while finishing up the editing and publishing process helps build hype around the book and gives you an idea about how popular the book will be when you do launch it. 

Running a presale is work: it’s a full-on marketing campaign to drive new and old fans to your upcoming release. Luckily, with the Order Import tool, you can focus on the marketing aspect of your presale campaign and not worry about the arduous task of fulfilling those orders when your book does launch.

Plus, you can import orders for any book you’ve published on Lulu. That means you can offer options for your readers to preorder. Like a hardcover, paperback, and (pricier) special edition. So long as it’s a published, printable book in your Lulu account, you can include it in your imported order!

3. Fulfilling Book Orders For Your Crowdfunding Campaign 

Just like a presale, you can collect orders from your Kickstarter or Patreon campaign and use the Order Import tool to upload them all at once. Simple as that.

And just like I mentioned in the previous section, the Order Import tool can include any print project you’ve published with Lulu. So it’s easy to offer different editions or versions based on your followers’ funding choices.

4. Selling Books In Person

From conferences to readings, you can sell your books without having to literally hand off a book when your reader pays you. Now you can collect orders (including their shipping addresses!) from your fans and ship print-on-demand books directly to them!

Another common scenario: you’ve ordered 100 books and brought them to an event. But halfway through, you’ve sold out! While that is awesome, you want to keep selling books, right? Now you can gather orders and ship the books to your fans with ease. And because Lulu doesn’t charge you for revisions or uploading new files, there’s nothing stopping you from doing something a little extra, like adding a foreword or note thanking those new readers for buying. 

5. Fulfilling Subscription Orders For Books And Magazines

Subscription services are a great way to earn a steady income from your content. With Lulu, you can publish a magazine or comic book using our unique print layouts. That means you can use any payment or subscription service you want to collect the subscription fees from your readers. 

Then just upload the orders using the Order Import tool and send your monthly or quarterly magazine to all your fans!

6. Using Books As Supplemental Or Reward Content

You don’t need to run a unique crowdfunding campaign to benefit (and utilize) the best practices we’ve all been learning from successful Kickstarters. One thing that clearly motivates people are rewards.

So build in a long-term campaign for your next book: something like this:

‘Once 100 copies have sold, those first 100 buyers will get a free bonus!’

This a particularly great way to promote your work for fantasy and science fiction authors. You already know your fans crave supplemental materials. So create a few short stories in your world or a schematic handbook of the spaceships in your universe and give it away as a gift to those first 100 buyers!

7. Sending Advance Review Copies

If you’re well into editing and finalizing your next book, beta readers are an important step in the process. Using our Order Import tool, you can send your beta readers Advance Review Copies (ARC) in a single order!

Creating an ARC to edit and finalize your book is a key step you shouldn’t skip. The Order Import tool will save you time placing orders for those ARCs and simplifies the process for you! 

8. Using Social Media For A Book Sale

While there are plenty of ways to incorporate direct sales into your social presence, you might not want or need to invest in an ecommerce tool for social selling. 

An easy hack is to use a form or the like to gather orders from your social followers, direct readers to your existing ecommerce site to checkout, then use the Order Import tool to fulfill those book orders!

This is a great option if you want to offer something unique that isn’t for sale on your author website. Remember, you can order any book you’ve published with Lulu using the Order Import tool; that means even books you’re not listing for sale on the Lulu Bookstore or your own site.

Using Lulu’s Order Import Tool

If you sell on the Lulu Bookstore or using Lulu Direct, you’ve already been enjoying the benefits of dropshipping. And you know that dropshipping is profitable because you get to keep more of your revenue and you own your customer’s experience. No need to send them up the river to a massive retail site where your customer will inevitably get lost.

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Order Import Tool How-To

Learn how to use the Order Import tool from our Lulu Direct Help Center!

The first thing you’ll need to do is gather orders and shipping addresses from your customers. Be sure to collect the following critical information (all reputable crowdfunding and ecommerce platforms will help collect this for you):

  1. The customer’s full name
  2. Their shipping address, phone number, and email address
  3. The product information (a product ID and the quantity they ordered)

Once you’ve gathered all your orders and the information for your customers, use our Order Import Template to create an order.

Uploading Your Orders

Using the Order Import tool to upload your orders

Correctly filling out the Order Import Template is the hardest part of the process. Once you’ve got the file ready, go to Lulu and sign into your account. From there:

  1. Go to My Store
  2. Click ‘Order Import’ in the navigation
  3. Follow the steps to upload your file

Selecting Dropship Methods

Select a shipping method for each country you are shipping books to

The Order Import tool uses a single shipping method for all orders within a country. Select a method for each country to continue with your multi-address order.

Order Mapping

Map Lulu projects you've published to the orders in your Order Sheet

Connect the Channel Order IDs you included in your order sheet to Lulu projects you’ve published. This is how we’ll know which books to print and ship to your customers!

Completing Your Multi-Address Order

Review and pay for your order to begin the printing process!

Review the order details and pay for the order to begin the printing and shipping. 

Making Bookselling And Bulk Ordering Easier

Being a content entrepreneur or author is time-consuming. Very time-consuming. You’re not only creating content, but you’re also making social media posts, creating emails for your fans, developing and maintaining your author website, and providing customer service for your fans. 

Our Order Import tool is designed to make running a crowdfunding campaign or launching a new book significantly easier. Try it out for your next bulk order and let us know how it worked for you!

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

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.

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