Lulu UK Blog

Welcome to the Lulu UK Blog where we look forward to chatting about our services and the publishing industry and writing in the UK and Ireland.

Enhance and promote your small business with your indie published book using Lulu API software

The saying goes that everyone has a book in them. But what if that book of yours isn’t a novel or a collection of short stories?  It could be a guide, a masterclass, a how-to, or a personal account relating to your services that would enhance and promote your business.

You could be a sole trader or small business owner – a speaker, personal trainer, life coach, designer, interior decorator, crafter, consultant or entrepreneur. Whatever you specialise in, a book could be the making of you and your business, helping you stand out from your competitors.

To start with, you should think about what the aim of your book is – what do you want to achieve by producing a book? What impact do you want it to make? Your book could raise your profile and become that extra incentive you need to encourage more people to work with you or use your services. It could be that you want to raise your profile, promote your company as a whole and solidify your brand and services. A book could convince your clients that you are an authority in your field. It could also be a way to introduce yourself to new clients or customers in order to secure you with more business opportunities.

As a small business owner you will probably have a website where you direct your prospective clients to promote or sell your services or products. This is where you’ll be able to sell your book without the worry and hassle of arranging the printing and shipping yourself.

So, where does Lulu API software come in? To begin with, you might not know what an API is off the top of your head. However, it’s highly likely that you have encountered websites using this software. API stands for Application Programming Interface – code that allows various software components to interact – in short, a way to plug your website into another.

This means that you can connect your e commerce website to the Lulu API software which will allow customers to purchase your book on your website. This software will transmit your customer’s order details to Lulu where it will be printed on demand and shipped to your customer. The API also provides updates along the production and shipping process so you can keep your customers informed.

Lulu has a global network of printers which means, for example, that if someone in Australia goes to your UK website and purchases one of your books, the API software will arrange for your book to be printed on demand in Australia and shipped direct to their address. This automation means that you can get your book to your customer in a faster and more cost-efficient way than ever before.

Your book – which is essentially a new marketing tool for your business – has the potential to be a valuable selling point for your business and could supplement your income. There are also no upfront costs and the price you charge for your book on your website is completely up to you. You also retain 100% of the profits as Lulu only prints and ships the book on your behalf (you pay shipping and book manufacture cost only).

Lulu always looks ahead to the future and has always been ahead of the game in terms of enabling authors to publish their work with the latest print technologies. We launched Lulu API last year knowing that this software is vital for small businesses looking to expand their reach while saving money. In fact, a 2018 report by the software company MuleSoft found that 58% of businesses increase productivity through APIs.
You can find more information on Lulu’s Print API and how this could work for your business at

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What does it mean to be a self-published author in 2018?

Many authors look forward to a new year. More than most crafts, writing, although a solitary occupation, also divides itself into seasons. At the start of the year there’s everything to play for: a new crop of prizes to aim for, a new festival circuit to plan, new events, finish that book, start that book, new readers, more challenges, more opportunities.

As a self-published author embracing 2018, it’s worth spending a little time on pondering what those opportunities look like. They may be more varied – and potentially more lucrative – than you think.

So, what determines whether an author is successful? Is it because they’re someone whose work gets noticed? Someone who draws in fresh readers all the time? Who makes money from his or her writing? It’s all of these things, of course, but the methods open to you to achieve them may be more varied than you realise.

First of all, if you ever doubted the wisdom of choosing self-publishing, there are now many statistics available to reassure you; and in the unlikely event that you are still harbouring doubts, here are some ‘good news’ stories to enthuse you:

Self-publishing authors have grown by 11% in the UK

In 2015, the proportion of ISBNs issued to books self-published in the UK jumped to 21%. In 2016 this figure grew by a further 11%. (Figures for 2017 have yet to appear.) This should tell you you’re in good company: there must be a reason why so many savvy authors, including some who have worked with traditional publishers for many years, have decided to turn to self-publishing.   These authors are continually exploring new formats: whilst it is true that there has been a dip in e-book sales over the past two years, a trend which looks likely to continue, self-published authors are becoming ever more confident about choosing other format options, including print and audio books.

Self-publishing authors are savvy

Publishing their work in as many viable formats as possible, however, fulfils only some of the aspirations of the most enterprising authors. Setting their sights beyond traditional publishing formats, some authors are looking to television – which offers many more opportunities now that the cable television companies and net-streaming companies are becoming well-established.

Once an author has succeeded in making a breakthrough in a new format, his or her expertise is highly sought after by other writers. Some may offer advice and help for free, at least at first, but it’s more than likely that soon they’ll realise that it is turning into a full-time job and that a lucrative career as a consultant is beckoning. The types of consultancy they may wish to offer can take a variety of forms: some may wish to concentrate on giving advice on the actual practice of writing or to act as commissioned editors, while others will have developed a propensity for marketing or the practical aspects of publishing. All s/he needs is to advance that one step up the ladder to set him or her apart from the crowd, and s/he will be able to establish a flourishing career that marries perfectly with his / her first vocation of author. And with Lulu at hand to help them, harvesting such opportunities no longer need be a daunting prospect.

If you’re interested in exploring new ways of making money from your writing, you could do worse than start with this free slideshow – 17 Passive-Income Ideas for Automating Your Cash-Flow – which may be downloaded at

Understanding how social media can help

Whichever route you take to enhance your prowess as an author and at the same time improve your income, it is crucial that you work on your social media skills. Social media gets a bad press sometimes, because, like all forms of communication, it’s open to abuse or sloppy or incorrect presentation. However, there are few authors today – even those at the very top of the tree, who are earning millions each year – who can manage without a website or at the very least a blog. Some authors are wary that engaging with social media will make such huge inroads into their time that they won’t have time to do anything else; and it is true that some people become addicts and allow themselves to be trapped in this way.

The way to avoid becoming bogged down like this is to use social media strategically. There is quite an art to this: it may be an area where you might yourself like to pay someone for advice – it will certainly pay dividends in the long run, as when you become expert, you’ll also be able to coach others. If, however, you’re fairly confident about your social media skills and just want some tips on how to hone them, you’ll be able to find plenty advice about this on the web (just be selective about which tips you choose to follow). Here is a link that you may find useful:

It’s already February, and if you’re keen on New Year’s resolutions, you will probably have made (and possibly also have broken!) yours a month or so ago. Whether or not this is the case, there’s no law against making some (possibly more robust) new ones a few weeks into 2018. If you’re determined to raise your profile as an author and at the same time make more money from your writing this year by pursuing some exciting new avenues of opportunity, perhaps this article has provided you with a few ideas.


You can do it. Good luck!











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Lulu UK Focus on: Best tips for writing fiction

author-bio-jamesLULU UK recently asked published crime author Christina James for her best tips for writing fiction. Christina is also a book editor, a frequent speaker at literary festivals and creative writing groups and also runs writing surgeries. Her first crime novel, In the Family, was published in 2012.

Christina is keen to point out that her advice comes all the usual caveats stating:

“It reflects my own opinion, you don’t have to agree with it, and if you read books on writing by practising authors, you’ll find they’re all very different from each other and often contradict each other in what they say. I therefore hope that at least some of what I say will chime with your own approach to writing and perhaps help you, too.

To be a writer of any note you need to be brave, self-disciplined, self-critical and industrious; but it’s also true that writing is, or should be, great fun. Your brain is unlikely ever to feel more alive than when you’re writing, or when, after many revisions and rewrites, and quite probably having overcome other significant drawbacks along the way, you at last see your cherished novel in print”.

What in your opinion constitutes a good book?

There are only two kinds of writing – good writing and bad writing – and obviously readability is pretty high on everyone’s list of the things that make a good book.

What are the building blocks of writing?

Let’s start with the basics – the building blocks of writing. Grammar, syntax, spelling, sentence construction, the correct use of words and avoiding the over-use of individual words. I don’t necessarily expect these to be perfect – all authors need a proof-reader, even very famous ones. But if the nuts and bolts of the narrative are so peppered with mistakes that as a reader can’t enjoy what they are reading, they are unlikely to persevere with the book for very long.

The Narrative Voice

Establishing an interesting narrative voice is also important. You might like to try doing this by writing some of the novel in the first person and contrasting this with an ‘omniscient’ author’s third person narrative or you may choose to be what has become known as an ‘unreliable narrator’. The latter explains events in such a way that the reader knows there is something not quite right about the way in which they are presented, and consequently that all is not what it seems. Jane Harris’s Gillespie and I is a good recent example of this.

What makes a good character and a good plot?

Let’s focus on the characters for a couple of minutes. Most authors write sketches of their main characters before they begin work on the novel itself, and it’s my belief this is good practice. It’s very unsettling to the reader to discover inconsistencies in characterisation. Discrepancies can relate to either characteristics or facts and circumstances: for example, don’t give the heroine blue eyes in one chapter and brown eyes in another; if the protagonist is poor, don’t suddenly send him off to Stockholm without explaining how he obtained the money for the flight; and if you say he boards the plane for Stockholm at, say, Luton, make sure there are flights from Luton to Stockholm and that they run at the time of day you say he travels. It all sounds very simple, I know, but many authors come unstuck over details like these. What I’m really saying is that you need to be both disciplined and industrious, otherwise your readers will find you out!

Which brings us to plot. It’s a rash author who doesn’t have the plot properly mapped out before s/he starts writing. As a indie-published author, you don’t have to write a synopsis but I would strongly advise you to do so. It’s for your own reference much more than anyone else’s. But the thing about plot is that it should be an invisible thing: the plot is the skeleton on which you hang the flesh of the story. What doesn’t work is to give a flat account of sections of the plot as part of the story itself. The plot should unfold, rather than be told. Your reader is not going to be impressed by a simple demonstration of your ability to get from A to Z in the novel by cataloguing B, G, Q and Y along the way. You need to reveal, rather than explain, what is happening, also, if you can, lacing your narrative with tensions, twists and ambiguities that are only gradually ironed out as the novel progresses. Your aim is to tell a story that’s so compelling that no one will want to put it down. Ways of doing this include making effective use of dialogue. Successful dialogue gives the author an opportunity really to get into the characters’ heads, to think and speak as they do.

Plots shouldn’t be so fantastic that they lack credibility, but they shouldn’t be too plodding, either.

What about crime novel plots?

A good plot is particularly important if you’re writing a crime novel. It’s become fashionable recently for crime writers to construct very tortuous plots containing multiple ‘surprises’ along the way. I suspect that one of the reasons for this is Gillian Flynn’s stupendous, and well-deserved, success with Gone Girl.

Another point worth making about plot construction for a crime novel is that not only should the plot be meticulous in its attention to detail, particularly those concerning the timing of the crime(s) and the subsequent investigation, so that it is watertight, but it’s also imperative to stick to it once you’ve hammered it out. In other genres, although it’s still possible to trip yourself up, you may be able to make significant alterations to the plot if you have further inspired ideas once you’ve started writing. With crime fiction, this will almost always result in disaster. Building the plot in a crime novel is like building a house: if you start knocking it about before it’s completed, it’s liable to collapse.


Dialogue should offer a semblance of being realistic, but it can’t be based on ‘real’ dialogue, which, if you listen to it, you will find is usually repetitive and bound, over the course of a conversation of any length, to be quite mundane. You are seeking to create apparent, rather than actual, verisimilitude. For example, if you’re writing a detective novel and Mr Dobbs the gardener was outside digging his garden when the killer passed by, the detective who interviews him shouldn’t be subjected to a disquisition on how to grow sweet peas (unless the novel is meant to be humorous, in which case the dialogue needs to be very clever, or alternatively the sweet peas have to turn out to be crucial later on – did the killer get one caught in his shoe?).

The importance of research

Your novel should be well-researched, and avoid mistakes and anachronisms. Your background preparation should be diligent and faultless. The knowledge you have thus acquired, however, should never be paraded. Such lightness of touch is often difficult to achieve: it presents a trap into which even the most accomplished and experienced authors often fall. It’s an excellent idea to introduce an unusual topic, whether it’s one you’re already knowledgeable about or one that has required research, into your novel: most readers like to learn something new from what they’re reading, even if it’s fiction. However, only do this if you have the self-discipline and skill to pull it off. Although you may have researched the topic extensively, you should reveal this only with the odd fact and reference. Introducing indigestible masses of technical or specialist information into your work is not going to cut it. A novel isn’t a manual or a how-to book. It shouldn’t even primarily be an exposé of your own ideas on the subject, though of course it’s fine for you as author and, especially, your characters to offer some opinions along the way. It’s one of the most difficult things to have to do, not to over-egg the cake once you’ve mastered something and know all about it, so if you don’t feel confident in your ability to handle specialist facts lightly, don’t do it at all. If you are brave enough to attempt it, try to think about the topic in the same way as something you’re more familiar with and how you would represent that in your novel: the layout of a house, maybe, or sitting down to an evening meal. You’d be sparing in the details you provided about these things, wouldn’t you? Try, therefore, to sketch rather than paint in oils the more specialised subject in a similar way.

Method of publication

We’re fortunate to live in an age in which indie-publishing has become an economic possibility. It’s also now highly respected: some very famous authors, including Stephen King and Kazuo Ishiguro, the 2017 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, have indie-published some of their books. You may decide you like indie-publishing so much, or do the maths and realise that it brings you better financial rewards than signing a contract with a conventional publisher, that you will never feel the need to consider other options. If, however, your ultimate goal is to be published by a conventional publisher, indie-publishing is one of the best ways of getting your work noticed. Publishers and their scouts are continually on the look-out for promising indie-published novels. When I meet an author at a festival and s/he tells me that they’ve already self-published, I both admire them and know they have the seriousness and tenacity that it takes to make a successful writer.

I can assure you, therefore, that indie-publishing does work. There are just a couple of pieces of advice that I’d like to offer you:

If you choose indie-publishing, I strongly recommend that you pay a professional copy-editor and proof-reader to check your work. Unless you are confident in your artistic and composition skills, you should also pay to have the jacket designed. Remember that the jacket should resemble a commercial publisher’s as much as possible – it should include some quotes from reviewers if you can get them (try other sympathetic authors or local newspapers or a local bookseller when you’re first starting out). Lulu can help you both by finding a good editor / proof-reader for your work and help you to produce a professional-looking jacket. These cost extra – they’re not part of the standard package – but, believe me, every penny that you invest in this way will be worth it.

You must be a stringent self-critic. If you can labour over your writing for many hours and then scrap most of it because on reflection, when you read it next day, you realise that most of it isn’t up to scratch, you’re well on the road to achieving your writing goals.

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How do I make money as an author?

Why do authors write?   Why put themselves through long hours toiling alone, often having to scrap the whole day’s output when mature reflection on the following day tells them their words are fit only for the recycle bin? Why do they abandon ‘safe’ careers or put them on hold, compromise their financial position, truncate their social lives, just so that they can write?

Of course, the picture I’m painting here is far too bleak. Not all authors choose to make material sacrifices and few are afflicted by all the misfortunes I describe. It remains true, nevertheless, that the ‘writing bug’ bites deep. Compounded of the quest for fame and fortune and the joy of seeing one’s name in print, it’s a complex sentiment seldom motivated solely by the desire for financial gain – though there are exceptions to this rule. For example, Ian Rankin, creator of Rebus, who is single-handedly responsible for 10% of all crime fiction sales in the UK, once famously said that he became a writer in order to make enough money to marry his future wife. What astounds here is not so much his ambition as his (it turns out, justifiable) self-confidence: many writers may aspire to the creation of wealth by the pen, but few succeed. Rankin managed to pull it off and become both rich and famous, but, in common with all authors, the odds were heavily stacked against him.

Although most authors harbour secret hopes of making money from their writing, few really expect it to support them. Nevertheless, being a writer is not without its expenses: travelling to events, paying for membership to writers’ groups – all require financial outlay. There may also be occasions when you will need to take some unpaid leave in order to fulfil a writing engagement. Added to all of these, and equally important, is the immense sense of achievement that every author feels when he or she gets paid for something directly associated with his or her writing. The effect of this should not be under-estimated: often it is the vital boost that provides you with enough courage to keep going!

It is therefore not difficult to make a powerful case for the benefits derived by authors from generating income from their writing. Developing an actual strategy for financial gain can be trickier. The rest of this article is devoted to some (mainly modest) ways in which authors can make money.


Organisers of events, even though they don’t have much money to spend, are often scrupulously ethical about not expecting authors to contribute for free. Festivals take the lead here, but expect to have to work hard! Your best way of featuring on the programme of a festival is probably to agree to run an authors’ surgery. This may involve being sent up to 3 chapters of prospective authors’ MSs in advance, reading them, and then meeting the authors at (typically) 15-minute slots allocated by the festival organisers. For this you will be paid a modest hourly rate for the time you put in at the festival only – so, for example, if the rate is £30 an hour and you see 12 authors, you will be paid for three hours, i.e., £90. If you’re asked to deliver a talk or workshop at the festival on some aspect of writing (typically, it will last for about an hour), you can expect a payment of, perhaps, £90 – £100. Leading a half-day or day-long workshop will pay you more, but not proportionately more: you may get £150 – £250 for a half-day, £300 – £400 for a full day. In addition to this, the festival organisers will usually also pay travel expenses and, if the festival is being held at a venue where accommodation is plentiful, such as a university campus, free accommodation. As a rule of thumb, the expenses / fees you receive will help you to break even, or do a little better than that. There are other bonuses: usually you’ll be able to attend sessions at the festival when you’re not ‘on’ yourself; you’ll get the opportunity to meet other writers and publishers; and if the festival has a book stall, and you ask in good time, the bookseller may be happy give you a slot for a signing session and help you to publicise it.

Top tip: aside from the possible signing session, don’t forget that this is not mainly about you and your own writing: it’s about helping other writers. But you will benefit, both directly and indirectly, if you become well-known on the festival circuit.

Libraries like to host author events. Many libraries run one or more reading groups, so if you are invited to speak at an event, they will have a ready-made audience for you – though, as with securing an audience for any event, you should take nothing for granted: the more work you put in to build up the audience yourself, the more successful the event is likely to be.

You should be aware that there are now two main types of public library in the UK: those that are still maintained by the local authority and those that are now run by the local community (i.e., by a group of unpaid volunteers who have come together to keep the library open). Although all libraries are strapped for cash, those run by local authorities are more likely to have a proper budget to support events and therefore be able to offer you a fee. If the library is run by the local community, it is unlikely to be able to stretch beyond picking up travel expenses.

If the event consists simply of a talk about your latest book, perhaps followed by some readings and a signing session (most libraries are happy to allow you to bring in books to sell, or to arrange for a local bookseller to do it), you can’t really expect much in the way of payment, as essentially the library is giving you publicity to help promote your book (though some will still be prepared offer modest travel expenses). If the event is a lengthier, more organised occasion at which, for example, you’ve been asking to run a writing or reading workshop or lead a literary game, the library may then offer you a fee. As indicated, fees vary according to the library’s finances: for an afternoon or evening event lasting two hours or more you may be offered a fee in the region of £150 – £200, plus travel expenses.

Top tips: Except in the case of a talk about your book / readings, again understand that this is not about you: your focus should be on the readers, what they like to read and how they approach the books they read. If the session is a workshop, prepare it very carefully, and learn from your mistakes: take stock afterwards of what worked and what didn’t work. Try to build up a rapport with the audience so that they ask to see you again. Make sure that the librarians involved know how grateful you have been for the opportunity: send them a thank-you card afterwards. Remember that a huge additional perk is that libraries buy books for reading groups in sets, often of eight copies or more.

Schools often have a budget to pay authors. Usually this is for running a half-day or whole day workshop. They may be looking for specific types of author, however: performance poets are the most popular. Some schools are interested in creative writing workshops (and, as with festivals, they may ask you to examine students’ work in advance). Typical fees are £300 – £400 for one day, £150 – £250 for a half-day. In certain circumstances, schools may also offer you the opportunity to sell your books to students / staff. If so, it is wise to offer a discount on the cover price.

Top tips: This is one of the hardest kinds of paid work to pull off successfully. You need to carry out a significant amount of research beforehand: make sure you understand the age-range, ability, ethnic mix and interests of the groups of students you will be working with. Run the exercises and readings you’re planning past their teachers. Be prepared to make swift changes to your programme if it’s clear that something isn’t working. Make sure you work with groups that are small enough for you to be able to manage them, and for a relatively short period of time: it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to engage the concentration of a schools audience for more than one hour.

Universities and colleges that run creative writing courses may also be interested in paying you to give a talk (usually for one hour) or workshop (usually for one-and-a-half to two hours) on some aspect of writing or getting published, and may also sometimes pay travel expenses. Paradoxically, they often don’t pay as well as schools, because they have a standard hourly rate for visiting lecturers and are unlikely to want to pay you for more than an hour or two.   Like schools, they may be prepared to let you sell your books to the students.

Top tip: Again, research your audience beforehand. Make sure any exercises you devise are stimulating and imaginative. The students are likely to be politer than schoolchildren if they’re not enjoying the session, but still look for the signs of ennui and be prepared to change tack if necessary.


If you find the suggestions offered so far on how to make money too daunting because they involve more audience engagement than you feel comfortable with, perhaps you are the sort of person who would do better to focus on using your writing talents to make money. It’s worth researching writing competitions, and deciding upon the ones that offer the best fit for you. Some writing competitions offer as the prize only the chance to be published (either by a traditional publisher or a self-publisher) or the opportunity to have your work included in an anthology of short stories. Although this reward is not to be sniffed at – your ultimate game plan should be to gain as wide recognition as possible for your writing – other competitions also offer cash prizes, sometimes very rich ones. For example, the Sunday Times Short Story Award, the richest short story prize available for an English-language short story, is worth £30,000 to the winner, plus the opportunity to get the story published. You should note, however, that it is a requirement for this competition that all entrants have previously had at least one work published by a traditional publisher; and that, although the competition has undoubtedly been won by obscure writers, some very well-known writers will also enter every year and, frequently, it is one of them who wins.

There are many other competitions with smaller cash prizes where the bar is not set quite so high. However, you should always be prepared for disappointment. The quirkiness shown by the judges of writing competitions is well-known: they may have a particular reason for choosing a winner that isn’t directly related to the quality of the writing, for example, because his or her work is very different from the previous year’s winner’s. But writing competitions are an excellent way of honing your writing skills, with the attractive possibility that the immediate outcome may be a financial reward.

Top tips: Make sure you read the small print. Writing competitions often have very strict rules about who is eligible to enter, word limit, subject matter, etc. Some require payment of a (usually quite modest) entry fee. If you fail to comply with any of the rules, your submission will be disqualified, however good it is, and all your hard work wasted.


If your books are on topics that have a strong local interest, or you have succeeded in establishing yourself as a ‘local author’, you may be able to secure commissions for articles to be published in local and regional newspapers and glossy magazines (Yorkshire Life, Lincolnshire Life, etc.). If you’re lucky, you may even manage to secure a regular writing slot in one of them. Rates of payment vary tremendously: some of the glossies will pay quite generously for feature-length articles. Sometimes literary blogs and e-zines will also pay for articles. Book reviews may also attract payment, though it is more usual to be expected to write the review in return for a complimentary copy of the book. Again, all of these provide excellent writing practice.

Top tip: Think about the readership and adjust your style and tone accordingly: you would, for example, want to adopt quite a different approach to writing a short piece for a funky e-zine than that you would take towards crafting an extended piece in an established glossy.


If you’re eligible, you may also be able to obtain a substantial sum by applying for an author’s bursary. These have been set up for various reasons – often to promote the literature, tradition or culture of a particular geographical region, or to aid writers working in a particular genre – so it is not possible to generalise about them. Here are some examples:

It is important to emphasise that in most cases this is not just money given out in return for ‘going your own thing’ as a writer. All impose particular qualifying requirements and most expect authors to fulfil duties – sometimes substantial ones – in return for the bursary. Most bursaries are awarded for one year, but some may last for longer.

An important sub-group of bursaries are writers-in-residence appointments at universities. These are usually tenable for more than one year – often, for three years – and involve fixed duties, including delivering (perhaps six) lectures per year and mentoring an agreed number of students. However, whereas authors’ bursaries can usually be applied for by the authors themselves, it is more often the case that writers-in-residence are invited to take up the post by the university or college concerned.

Top tip: Again, read the small print and make sure that you have complied with all the requirements before applying for a bursary; and if you are lucky enough to secure one, be scrupulous about fulfilling and, if you can, trying to exceed, the terms of the contract.

Literary prizes

All literary prizes give authors inestimable benefits: kudos, becoming better-known, clout when negotiating for contracts. Just being nominated for a literary award, without actually winning it, still brings great gain, particularly in terms of book sales. Some awards also include cash prizes, and these can be substantial. However, you usually have to be nominated for a literary award, either by your publisher or some other respected literary figure.

Top tip: Don’t try too hard for a nomination; if you do, you’re likely to make a nuisance of yourself. Wait for it to happen – and be grateful if it does!

Public Lending Right [PLR]

Public Lending Right, which was set up in the UK in 1979, recognises the right of authors to be paid for the use of their books when borrowed from public libraries. It is administered by the British Library from its offices in Stockton-on-Tees. The amount paid varies from year to year, but is at present around 7 pence per borrowing (the number of borrowings is calculated by collecting data from a group of representative libraries, which changes every year, and scaling it up to produce a notional figure for total borrowings across the country).   Monies are awarded for each title registered. It’s easy to register: see Even little-known authors can make a few hundred pounds a year from PLR (there is an upper limit to the amount that can be earned from PLR by each author, which again varies, but is several thousand pounds). The money is paid direct into your bank account and gives you a pleasant surprise each February.

Top tip: Don’t forget to add new titles to your registered list as they come out. They need to be registered for several months before they start to generate income.

 The Authors’ Licensing and Copyright Society [ALCS]

The ALCS helps authors to track use of their books, scripts, plays, poems, articles, etc. by third parties and secure any royalties they may be owed. If you’re not a very well-known author, the ALCS may not be able to help you immediately, but it’s still worth registering – it’s free of charge, and is likely to benefit you eventually. See

Top tip: As with PLR, don’t forget to keep on registering new work.

Crowd funding

Crowd funding has become a very popular way of raising money in recent years. Essentially, it is a way of raising money for personal needs by asking many people to contribute just a small amount each to your project (which in your case is to support your writing, or, more specifically, your latest book). If you have a blog – and every writer should have a blog and make the effort to post articles on it frequently, so if you don’t have one I’d advise you to set one up immediately – you can use it to ask for crowd funding. However, by far the most effective way of publicising your crowd funding request is to do it through one of the many dedicated crowd funding sites that have been set up. Here are some examples:

If you use one of these to source funds, you can, of course, also put the link on your blog.

Top tips: Preparing a good pitch to ask for funding is all-important. It’s imperative that yours is well-written. Try to make it humorous and think of other ways of ensuring it stands out – perhaps by not just making it entirely about receiving on your part. For example, could you provide a prize draw of, say, six copies of your book as a thank-you? Or offer to coach a young writer free of charge?

 Finally, don’t give up the day job!

You’ll have heard this before: it’s a piece of advice often given to writers, especially those who’ve enjoyed a modest success and think it means that (perhaps) they can live by writing from now on. Please understand that it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to do this. A recent survey of writers in the UK showed that those who depend on their writing for a living and are supported by no other form of paid employment earn on average less than £8,000 per year. This will include payment from some of the means discussed in this article, as well as straightforward royalties.

There are other reasons for hanging on to the day job besides the imminent prospect of penury. Foremost among these is the richness of experience it brings to you. Imagine sitting at home all day, alternately staring at and pounding away at your keyboard. This may sound like a delightful prospect, but how do you think it might feel after one, two or three years? Never standing on the bus and observing your fellow passengers. Never gossiping in the canteen at work or observing the kindling of the latest office affair. Never walking through town or city streets, glancing in shop windows, noticing subtle changes. These kinds of experience represent untold wealth to a writer: they’re the raw material on which he or she depends. Take them away and after a few years, unless you are an author with a very fertile imagination indeed, your writing will become tired and cliché-ridden; your originality will wither.

This doesn’t mean to say that every writer’s day job is as congenial as any other. You may hate your job; or it may involve taking on responsibilities which don’t leave you in control of your leisure time; or it may simply be too arduous, and wear you out so that you have nothing left when you try to write. If this is the case, you may have some difficult choices to make: the most difficult is likely to be making the decision about how much income you really need. Once you’ve done this, you can make choices about the type of job that’s right for you. Jobs that are close to writing in some way: bookselling, working for a publisher, for a newspaper or a theatre – often provide a fertile and congenial environment for authors. Think about it. It’s not so much about giving up the day job as about making the day job work for you, the author, because, first and above all other things, that is who you are.



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Lulu sponsors Reader’s Digest 100 word short story competition is delighted to have joined forces with Reader’s Digest to support this annual prestigious 100 word writing competition. For the first time in the history of this competition the winners and the runner-ups will be published in a special anthology, meaning even more people will have the opportunity to read the winning stories.

Reader’s Digest will also be giving the authors of the winning stories the chance to write longer versions of their entries to be showcased in the book, due to go on sale in 2018.

In addition, the winner of the adult category will receive £1,000 cash and two runner ups will receive £250 each. There is also additional goodies to win for the 12 and under 12 winners.

Competition details and how to enter can be found at  and all entries must be submitted by 5pm on February 19.


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Lulu launches novel writing competition with Writing Magazine – your chance to win a publishing deal has teamed up with Writing Magazine to offer a complete publishing package, including marketing and PR, to one lucky reader.

The prize includes:
• copy edit
• cover design
• full interior layout and design
• set of proofs
• 10 author copies of the finished book
• marketing to trade and media
• distribution to the book trade for at least a year

We’re looking for a previously unpublished novel manuscript, in any genre, but which we feel has obvious mass appeal and deserves to reach a wider audience. will publish the winning book in 2018, with cover design, marketing and PR support..

To find out more about the competition and how to enter visit the Writing Magazine website or click here 

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LULU launches global print and fulfilment API software for all content owners

Lulu is proud to announce the release of our Print API, the first of several API connections we plan to offer the publishing and developer communities.

What exactly does this mean for you?

I’m glad you asked! Are you a content aggregator, publisher, a developer, an entrepreneur, or a business owner? Are you a web-savvy author with your own website who would like to sell directly to your readers? If you fall into any of these categories, the Lulu Print API will allow you to take advantage of our print network directly.

Let’s take a closer look at the Lulu Print API and how this new service might work for you or somebody you know.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the technical aspects of APIs for software, you’ve almost certainly encountered them online without realizing. The acronym API stands for “Application Programming Interface.” Most basically, API is code that allows two unique pieces of software to talk to each other. This, in and of itself, is pretty simple. I say this as someone with only the most rudimentary understanding of coding.

Retailers, individuals, and institutions all make use of APIs to expand their capabilities and offer their users more options, better pricing, faster shipping and much more. Lulu’s Print API serves the same functionality. Once the API is integrated, users can create unique “buy now” options on their SHOP pages within their websites, and all orders placed are channeled into Lulu’s global printing network, to be fulfilled by the same process as any order on Lulu.

But before we dive into the technology aspects of this new tool, let’s take a moment to consider how this impacts the everyday author and the publishing community.

Breaking down Boundaries, Creating Partners

Lulu has always aspired to be a premiere destination for authors, as well as a powerful print and fulfillment partner for businesses, institutions, and publishers. We want to empower everyone to tell their stories and share their knowledge.

From a technical stand point, our Print API service may not seem like an exciting piece of news for the individual author (APIs run in the background and are never seen). API tools are usually meant for web developers, who implement the cross-platform code so the two discrete programs work in harmony. The average author might have little need for an API connection if they don’t want to deal with selling directly from their website.

That being said, publishers and businesses need APIs for many things. And here at Lulu, we understand that need, because we’ve lived in that world for the last fifteen years. We’ve witnessed, year after year, small and independent publishers who start up, bring on a handful of authors, publish a few books, and then eventually fold. Yes, of course, some small publishers succeed, and some even succeed beyond all expectations. We’re more concerned with the publishers who couldn’t keep up.

One of the biggest problems facing many small publishers is the cost associated with printing and fulfilling book orders. The price to print and ship can be prohibitive for small publishers, who likely are operating on a limited budget and need to make the most out of every dollar invested. Print API is an answer to the funding problems these small publishers face. Because the Lulu Print API can be implemented to allow for direct print on demand services at low prices, small publishers can remove the cost of printing and storing books from their budget.

Just like using Lulu’s self-publishing tools, the Print API features all the formats and sizes Lulu has to offer, at the same low prices, and with the same quality and global shipping you’ve come to expect from Lulu. The difference is that publishers the world over can plug into our network while maintaining their brand’s independence.

Harnessing the power of the Web

To further highlight how an API works, here’s an example of how a business might use the Lulu Print API:

Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur with a history in finance and banking for years. You’re taking that experience and offering independent financial advice. You can go out as an individual and meet people, making connections and building up a clientele. Now imagine you wrote your plan for financial success down. You’ve got a valuable document that offers your unique skills but comes at a much lower cost than individual financial planning. With Lulu Print API, you can publish your book, offer it for sale on your website, and print on demand to control costs. Your book becomes a crucial supplement to your income as well as a tool for sharing your expertise. And all of that comes without upfront cost to you, and all the sales are handled on your end, with Lulu only printing and shipping on your behalf.

The API process capitalizes on Internet connectivity to enable collaboration among a variety of companies and individuals, further opening the printing and publishing world to more readers, authors, and publishers.

Pricing is another important aspect to consider with an API connection. Rather than pricing your book on the Lulu site for your profit and our commission, you price it with 100% return of profits. The price you charge on your site is entirely up to you! With the API integrated, the order bills from Lulu to you for the printing and shipping, while the amount you charge a customer is entirely on your end. This expands on the already generous and easy to control profit model Lulu utilizes.

Integration is In

Using API integration is more than just the cool new thing happening across the web. Take a look at this article from TechCrunch last year, “The Rise of APIs”. While the title sounds very Terminator-esque, the point the author makes is clear: third-party APIs are the future, and they are here to shake up the way the Internet works. The opening paragraph of the article sums it up; ” there is a rising wave of software innovation in the area of APIs that provide critical connective tissue and increasingly important functionality.”

While a clean and easy-to-navigate interface is always going to be important, the ability to quickly implement a new program through API connections is what will keep web based retailers one step ahead. Adding new features, replacing out of date products, and generally being able to work with the range of other programs on the web is a key to staying relevant; using API connections solves all of these problems. All modern software providers are conscious of API connectivity, and the implications of creating software that does not allow for API integration. The way of the future is sharing, through both open and private API connections, and mutually finding success through shared programming.

Lulu embraces this mentality wholly. From the first day, we’ve been a company designed to help content creators better share their stories and knowledge. Enabling API connections with our print network is a logical and necessary step for us.

Looking to the Future

Lulu’s Print API is the first of many steps from Lulu you’ll see in the months and years to come. Our eyes have always been toward the future, toward finding better, cheaper, and more efficient ways to help you share your story.

Whether you’re an individual author with a website you’d like to sell your book directly from or a business with a high volume of printed material you need created and shipped directly to customers, Lulu’s Print API offers the services and versatility you need. Designed with developers in mind, Lulu’s Print API will be a crucial piece of Lulu’s ability to offer the best printing and self-publishing options to everyone, everywhere.

Look for more from Lulu in the future, as we continue to make innovations in the publishing community. For now, you can check out our API/Developer’s Portal site at to learn more about Lulu’s Print API and see if the tool might be right for you.

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Meet the four winners of the Brighton Festival, nabokov and ‘Everyday Epic’ short story writing competition – Beki Turner

Together We Can by Beki Turner


I live in Brighton with my daughter Rosie and my dog Frankie, and I have been here since 1999, moving impulsively from London after ending up at a party in the basement of a record shop.

Brighton is a very special and magical place, and it felt right to base my story here. I wanted to highlight the subject of loneliness, and how people of all ages can be isolated and lonely for a number of reasons. I’ve worked extensively with homeless individuals and quite vulnerable adults over the years.

Everyone has a reason for ending up in Brighton, and sometimes people get lost along the way.  I wanted to show how kindness and coincidence can bring people together and change lives, and how people coming together can be really powerful.

Perhaps the characters in my story will be developed in the future because they all have a story to tell and have the potential to help each other.

I have always loved writing fiction as a hobby and promised myself that if I was one of the winners of the competition, I’d start taking it seriously…

Extract from Together We Can

Gav is drunk. You can see it in his ordinarily militant body; His usual brash march is more of a meaningful flounder as he meanders across the pebbles. Gav opts for an unnecessarily loud exit from the blaring serenity of Brighton beach, striding past the bank holiday families with their middle class picnics, and the hipsters with their disposable barbeques bought with their disposable incomes. They are all being circled and Gav ruffles the seagulls’ feathers as he strides noisily past them.

Tourists and locals huddle around tables, drinking premium beer from flimsy cups as the sun starts to set. Gav turns back to look at the glitter bomb ocean. The sky is as beautiful as a Bierstadt. Gav breathes in the wafts of charred meat, cigarette smoke, aftershave and salt. He listens to the voices shouting over the deafening base lines and the sirens overhead. He pulls his last can of lager out of his pocket. It’s still perfectly cold. He holds the can for a moment, feeling it penetrate his hands and enjoying the sensation. He cracks it open and takes a swig. The beer simmers in his mouth and the taste is wondrous. And at that exact moment, Gav knows it’s a good time to die.

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Meet the four winners of the Brighton Festival, nabokov and ‘Everyday Epic’ short story writing competition – David Benedictus

Protected Housing by David Benedictus 

DavidbenedictusI am 79 and I am a theatre director and writer. I have written lots of stuff – too much really – and published about 15-20 novels from The Fourth of June (1962), a scurrilous book about Eton, to Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009) an authorised sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

I am a member of Nightwriters, the writers club in Brighton. My second published novel, You’re a Big Boy Now (1963) was filmed by the (very) young Francis Ford Coppola in New York. I worked for the BBC on many occasions and was commissioning editor for drama series at Channel 4 from 1984-1986. I was a London tour guide and ran a horse-race tipping service for 25 years. The Daily Mail said I was going to marry Princess Anne , but I didn’t. At the BBC I initiated the programme Something Understood.

I have 4 children, a QC, a novelist, a psychotherapist and a theatrical producer. They are amazing. I have also written a number of musicals, one of which was started in 1955 and is still awaiting a full production

I don’t know where the idea for Protected Housing came from but with just a few hours to go before the deadline I thought I ought to do something  and this is what emerged. It’s not like anything I have written before and although it would benefit from a second draft I like its poignant atmosphere.

You can read more about David’s life  here

Extract from Protected Housing

‘It really was the most marvellous garden,’ she said. ’Not that I had anything to compare it with.’

He tried to recall it. ‘It smelled so beautiful. No chemicals of course then, and it rained only when you needed it. I remember a tree,’ he said. ‘Because I used to sit in the shade and make up names for things. Then you came along, and you thought of miraculous names. Like Flutterby.’

‘You improved on that one.’ She smiled. Although her skin was so wrinkled these days, she retained a smile to charm the birds out of the trees. They seldom spoke of those days because they seemed not only to belong to a different age but to two different people entirely.

‘Would you like to go back?’

‘Well, we couldn’t, could we? For one thing, we’d never find it.’

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Meet the four winners of the Brighton Festival, nabokov and ‘Everyday Epic’ short story writing competition – Saba Sams

Nice Light by Saba Sams


Saba Sams just graduated from the University of Manchester with a first class degree in English Literature with Creative Writing. She has now moved back to Brighton, where she was raised. ‘Nice Light’ is her second short story to be published. The first, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’, can be read online at Forge Literary Magazine. A few of Saba’s poems have also appeared in places such as Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Cluny MCR.

Nice Light’ was written in Manchester, on an evening spent missing those hot Brighton summers, when drunks stumble up the Old Steine, and teenagers crowd the cycle paths on the seafront. It’s a story about right now, about living in the present tense, told by a protagonist who can do nothing but cross each bridge as she gets to it. But this story is also about those tiny moments of self-reflection, those glimmers of memory, recognition, or random kindnesses that remind us who we are, or where we’re going. It’s about that time of day when the clouds split to let a little sun through, and a few minutes of nice light remind us that the ordinary can hold something extraordinary.

Extract from Nice Light

One of those days in Brighton where the heat is thick. Everybody lying on the grass watching everybody else. Ice lolly sticks all over the playground. Dogs with their tongues out, dry. Max sleeping next to a crate of Foster’s. No clouds. A teenage boy in a grey t-shirt tapping me on the shoulder. Sweat patches, smiley. Tells me he’s looking for alcoholics. Making a short film for college. Just thought he’d ask around the park. Hot day, you know? Writes his mobile number on a rizla. Don’t have to decide now, just something to keep in mind. He’d appreciate it.

Put the rizla in my back pocket. Remember being seventeen, on a bus. Woman with a sandwich turned around in her seat to tell me to go easy on the drink. She’d seen me on this route before. Couldn’t even walk straight at eleven in the morning. Better kick it before it’s too late. Got a whole life ahead of me. Not a thing to waste, a life. I thanked her for the advice and got off at the next stop to buy four K Ciders. Guess I’ve got it written all over my face.

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Meet the four winners of the Brighton Festival, nabokov and ‘Everyday Epic’ short story writing competition – Jenny Gaitskell

On the Threshold by Jenny Gaitskell
My-Wife B&W


My default state is daydreaming, and some days I have to go to work and pretend to be sensible, but I write stories whenever possible. While I’m writing, I can go to places I’ll never see, travel in time, meet impossible strangers and be somebody else for a while. When the stories are published, my hope is that readers will imagine something new too. I blog about daydreaming, my creative brain (who calls herself Gonzo) and the unexpected encounters which inspire me. If that sounds like fun, have a look on, or come and say hello on twitter @jennygaitskell.

When I wrote , I’d woken up into one of those mornings when everything feels impossible, even making stuff up. Under those circumstances, obviously the best thing to do was mess about on the internet, and that’s how I found the theme for this anthology, Everyday Epics. Yup, I thought, each day’s a toughie. My page was blank and my mind was blank, except for a woman stuck behind a door. I asked myself, if she could only make herself take that first step, out into the world, what might she try next?

Extract from On the Threshold

On the threshold, Emily told herself: you can become the version of you that’s needed, send another letter, take one more step forward. She took it, and closed her front door quietly behind her, for the sake of neighbours who’d never noticed her. Once again, the street smelled of last night but the sky was pink with possibility. Passing across the square, she recognised, from identical mornings, another early riser. He didn’t see her smile, was too busy examining the inside of his frown. There is always tomorrow, she thought. She was right on time for the park, and ready for the dog walker’s half-hearted salute, which might really be no more than a shaking of the leash. She threw her first ever greeting, but it fell short. The walker didn’t turn to pick it up, didn’t wait to see what might happen next. But a word had been spoken, and that was better than yesterday.

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Announcing our new UK based Marketing and PR services to support indie-authors and small publishers

We are delighted to announce that we have launched a new UK based book and marketing service to support UK an Ireland based authors in helping to bring your works to a larger audience. We are delighted to have joined forces with Authoright who are a UK based marketing and publicity agency with strong industry links to help you build the buzz about your book.

We choose Authoright because we know that marketing and publicity ‘combined packages’ don’t work for every book and every author; sometimes only a flexible and bespoke campaign will work. Authoright offers a ‘pick and mix’ selection of services to help to get the pitch just right without breaking the bank. So if you are great at your own social media, for example, why pay for it again as part of a marketing package when you don’t have to.

By partnering with a UK based company you can be assured that they have their finger on the pulse of the UK publishing and promotion scene. And, since Authoright is UK based this means you can contact their publicists within UK working hours.

The new UK services can be viewed by visiting and selecting the United Kingdom or Ireland shopping carts as your preferred cart.

We will be regularly featuring success stories from authors using this service on this blog – be it a radio interview, book signing tour or an author that has just launched a great new website with cutting edge design we will be sharing these success stories. 

How does it work?

When you submit the marketing enquiry form it will be reviewed by Authoright staff who will contact you directly with more information on the services you are interested in together with their Terms and Conditions. You will naturally have a lot of questions. We try and capture as much information as we can so that the Authoright team can give you the best advice.

The Authoright team is very experienced with a good feel for which types of publications fail or succeed in the book market; they will assess your publication and give you their honest view of your possibilities for media success and if they feel that they can take your publication on and market it for you. They want the books they represent to be a success too.


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CL Bennett shares her views on why she indie-published and the dreaded ‘writer’s block’

buggglepuffsWhy did you choose self-publishing instead of a traditional publisher?

It took me six months to write the first book and when I got to the end of my scribbled pages, I sat there with an enormous pile of papers and wondered what do I do next? If I want it to be presented in the best possible way, then maybe I should create a finished book. I still had a long way to go developing the characters, bringing them to life through illustrations and putting the series together from hundreds of muddled up pages so I decided to work with an indie-publishing company to bring the ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ to life.

What made you decide to indie-publish? Did you enjoy the process?

Publishing a book is very hard work and I now hold great respect for traditional publishing houses and the process a book goes through from a manuscript to the finished book on a shop shelf. I naively thought it was easy – not! To create twenty-four illustrations for the book I had to go into exquisite details to help animate the Bugglepuff characters. My husband and I managed to miss this fun but my children very kindly dressed up as the Bugglepuff children with their own pets from the book and acted out silly Bugglepuff poses until I got the right photos for the first illustrations!

This was a lot of chaos, chasing chickens around the garden and getting our pig to carry a basket without eating it, was tremendously entertaining. Then I had to sketch out the basic illustrations, with other pictures and wait and wait and wait some more. When I got the first email saying the first few illustrations were ready to view I was so deliriously excited I nearly cried, in fact I think I did. The illustrator at Lulu captured my family and their personalities. I chose black and white sketches for the interior because I love the simplicity of them and they’re so deliciously crisp and timeless.

The editing process was a long, complicated and sometimes frustrating time but I was well supported throughout by Lulu Publishing. It took eight months from August 2013 to April 2014 to complete but I know it was all worth it when I finally got to hold my first ‘Bugglepuff and the Magic Key’ on the 10th April 2014 – my animated family was in print – yippee!

As an author is your job done after you finish the book?

Goodness me no. There is a slight breather when you feel complete holding the first copy of your first book. A sparkle of pride and something inside shouts, “YES!” but then the hard work really starts. Some writers write for the sheer personal pleasure but if you want to reach a wider audience you must look at the readers your targeting. Their age, interests and social media is a massive portal to share your book all over the world. Make sure your up to speed or have an indie-publisher like Lulu on hand to give you marketing guidance. Share the book in the local community and shops. The stigma that used to go with a self-published book in the retail world is getting less biased. If your books are good enough and they catch a retailer’s eye you may be able to launch your book in a bookshop. Online booksellers, including Lulu’s own online shop, are very fast to deliver your books whether you live in China, Europe or the US.

To be a successful and happy writer you need to be able to have a passion for writing, marketing and understand that it takes time and patience to get people to turn the pages of your books. But if you believe in your books worth then so may many other readers – good luck!

Do you suffer with ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it?

keyWriter’s block for me only came with lack of time in the day to write between juggling everything else. If I felt I needed inspiration I would go for a walk by the sea. I always carry a camera with me to take photos of scenery, a crooked doorway, a curious animal or the ever-changing colours in the sky. Never miss an opportunity to write if an idea pops into your head so always carry a pen and paper to capture that spark. Ideas when they are fresh are the most original and alive in a writer’s imagination.

Did you know? 

The great children’s writer Roald Dahl used to keep exercise books called ‘ideas books’ to write down even the smallest of ideas which could potentially become stories. The BFG started with one such sentence scribbled in one of his ideas books. Today, children visiting the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire are still presented with an ideas book to help them capture ideas for their stories. Brilliant!

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Tales from the Toy Cupboard written by Darren Bane and illustrated by Fiona Mitchell – five fabulous signed copies to give-away in time for Christmas!

product_thumbnailLuluUK has teamed up with Lulu author Darren Bane and illustrator Fiona Mitchell to give you a chance to win a printed signed copy (we have 5 to give-away!) of their fabulous children’s book Tales from the Toy Cupboard. Fans of Winnie the Pooh style stories (and all things ‘Teddy’) will love this book. The book is suitable for reading age 8+ and snuggle up reading aloud with adults age 4+. This is a great gift for Christmas.

How do I win a signed copy? 

To stand a chance of winning a signed copy to be delivered in time for Christmas all you need to do is connect to us on twitter or Facebook @luludotcomUK and tweet or message us TEDDY and your name will be entered into a prize draw. The draw will be made on 30th Nov 2017 and the winners notified the first week of December. This is only open to UK residents.

About the author and illustrator:

Darren lives in Bristol and is a qualified journalist and a multi-award-winning PR, corporate communications and marketing professional. He is addicted to writing and his other publications include Uncle Prawn, Big One and Furgle and the Frimp,  all available from the bookshop. Darren and Fiona have planned four more books in the Tales from the Toy Cupboard series and book two, Hide and Squeak will be released in 2018. Darren is also currently working on his fourth full length comedy and has plans to publish a diary charting the first six month’s of his son’s life as he struggled to hang on to life.

We also took this opportunity to ask illustrator Fiona what inspired her to start to illustrate and she has shared her thoughts with us:

“I have always loved colouring-in, but when I was younger hated the big areas to be filled in the pictures, so I started drawing in a more intricate style for myself. I always imagined what adventures my teddies got up to when I wasn’t looking so it has been a delight to illustrate them. Most of them sit watching me in my studio as I work. Teddies can be such important characters in our lives when we are young and not so young.”

You can read more about Darren and his previously published titles by visiting his Lulu author spotlight page.

All Darren’s books can be purchased on the Lulu bookshop at


Author Interview: Hannah Russell and the Magic of Little Alf

Self-publishing attracts a wide and diverse range of writers. Like, staggeringly wide and diverse. You know why. Because we all have stories to tell, wisdom to impart, and a desire – almost a need – to share those stories.

Today we’re going to hear from just such an author: Hannah Russell, the author of The magical adventure of Little Alf. Her stories are geared toward younger readers, but show how anyone can take their ideas and their imagination and turn that into a story. Read on to learn a little more about Hannah’s unique author journey.

What do you do when you are not writing about Alf? 

Haha, funny questions, if I’m not writing about Alf I am usually thinking about Alfie and what he is up too, we are never usually that far apart. But in my spare time, I love reading, I think this is a common hobby in authors we are either writing or reading. I love all books literally I will read anything. I also love visiting quaint and quirky shops in the UK especially books shops there is something about them that is just so magical. And if I am not doing any of the above you will find me with my pets. I have 13 pets so I’m usually chasing one of them around the house or garden… they always create such mischief…

Tell us a little bit about yourself 

Hmm well, my name is Hannah Louise Russell, I am 20 years old and live in the stunning Yorkshire Dales. I live near a small market town called ‘Leyburn’ which is in the heart of Wensleydale. I have 13 pets all different shapes and sizes, I have 4 guinea pigs, 4 horses, 2 rabbits, 2 dogs and 1 robo hamster, who keep me on my toes. I love hot chocolate and drink at least two cups a day through the winter months and I love all things animal related! I’m usually in my office at home writing which has a small window where I can watch my horses in the fields.

Tell us a little bit about Little Alf

Where do I begin?! Little Alf is my little bundle of cheekiness. He is a miniature Shetland pony who stands at just 28 inches high due to him having dwarfism. He is 5 years old and is always playing in the field. Alfie has a best friend who is another miniature Shetland called Pepper.

How did the two of you come together?

Back in 2012 I heard about a miniature Shetland looking for a home, due to him having dwarfism his previous owner could not keep him and as soon as a saw him I fell in love, he was a hairy mess and looked like he belonged to a hippie rock band. Alfie came to live with me at a point in my life where I needed a new focus, I was 16 years old and had just found out that I had fractured my vertebras in my back and was likely never to ride again… He came to me at the ‘right time’ and completely turned my life upside down in the best possible way and gave me a new focus. I’ve never looked back since and couldn’t imagine life without him.

What made you decide to share your life with Alfie with the world?

I felt like I had a story to tell which could inspire so many, I was so stressed doing my A levels at college so ended up ‘dropping out’ which wasn’t very common although my family were really supportive. I felt with my story I could share it with other individuals. I’m a big believer in ‘Do what makes you happy’ and felt like my story could reflect that. I also wanted to share Alf’s story and his cheeky adventures and raise awareness about animals and pets in general. All of my animals are rescues and life for pets who aren’t considered ‘perfect’ can be unpredictable. In my book, you can read about all my daily activities with my pets and what extra care they need!

Are you surprised with how popular Little Alf has become?

Yes, 100%! When I was 17 years old (2 years ago) I was just a girl writing about my pony, and now his fan based is completely crazy. It’s been hard work over the past 3 years, it’s not that easy being an author but this year with his memoir been published I’ve felt incredibly proud of what we have both achieved together it’s all still very overwhelming! Alfie even gets fan mail which is so adorable we get the best drawings and presents sent to him!

What made you want to write a book about Alfie’s adventures?

Alfie! Alfie is my inspiration he always has been, he’s full of life and mischief and he’s just the perfect character for a story, he’s always up to no good but that’s what makes him him!

Have you always enjoyed writing?

No, not all! I hated writing and English at school I was more of a maths and number type of girl. I never imagined one day I would be a writer and author. I loved reading through school and also liked writing stories but did not enjoy anything to do with English literature or language. I’m actually a terrible speller and really struggled with writing through schools. Once I left college and Alfie came to live I started writing a blog about him and loved it… then a few months later his first children’s book was published.

How did you come across Lulu?

Word of mouth actually! I knew of a local author who lived nearby and my mum went and knocked on his door actually which was very nice of her, I was so shy at the time! He invited us in and told us all about LULU and how to use to the online site. I have kept in touch with him ever since and he is a big supporter of the Little Alf books.

How did it feel to publish your first book with Lulu? What was it like when you got it in the post? 

Amazing! I felt so proud of my first ever book, I remember holding in my hands and just been so proud and overwhelmed… Who knew back then that one day Alf would have his own empire.

What kind of impact do hope your books will have on the children that read them? 

My children’s books have lots of magic and adventure, I hope it gives them a sense of adventure when they read the books and makes them believe in the magic…! I visit schools quite regularly for talks and it’s always lovely to hear what children think of your books!

Can you tell us a little bit about the awards the books have received?

I currently have 5 awards sat on my shelf at home which have been for the books, which is very overwhelming! When I was 17 years old I was nominated for a local award close to home it was ‘5* book review’ it’s quite a big award for authors in Yorkshire, one of Alfie’s fans had nominated his Christmas book and very surprisingly we won. I remember being told the news I think I just sat in my office and cried it meant too much. Then after that, we received an author award for inspiring children with the stories. And in 2016 me and Alf where shortlisted ‘young entrepreneur of the year’ for the whole of the UK, where we came runner up! This year me and Alfie got a very special award from HRH ‘Princess Anne’ which was unbelievable, that was for the Little Alf children’s books and helping raise awareness for the Riding for Disabled Association – It’s been quite a whirlwind the past few years.

Has writing these books provided you with opportunities that you would not have expected?

Yes! I would have never imagined getting an award of meeting Princess Anne one day! I’ve had the most exciting year this year, I’ve met some Olympic horse riders and been to huge events book signing, it’s been crazy.

What advice would you give to others out there that may be interested in writing a book, but are afraid to give it a chance?

Go for it and believe in yourself. Everyone has a story inside of them it’s just whether you wish for it to come out. Make some notes, start writing and go for it! It’ll be the best thing you ever do, whether you write a chapter every night or on weekends just start writing! Believing in yourself is a huge aspect in life, it’s something I never did until now, it’s hard I must admit as sometimes you take 1 step forward and 2 back but you’ll get there. Hard work does pay off and it’s really worth it!

What’s next for Hannah and Little Alf?

Who knows! Even I don’t really know, this year I opened up the first ‘Little Alf’ shop in Leyburn Market Town. It’s really small but perfect for me and the Little Alf products. I would love to open up more shops across the UK. I have a few exciting campaign I’m working on for 2018 for charity and one campaign for a feed brand which is very exciting! Next Spring I’ll be publishing the next children’s book so at the moment my office is covered in sticky notes and coffee mugs. Other than that I’m not sure I just love spending time with Alf!

Hannah Russell is the Author of the Little Alf adventure series, her first book ‘The magical adventure of Little Alf – the discovery of the wild pony’ was published when Hannah was just 17 years old.
The Little Alf books are based on Little Alf, who is Hannah’s miniature Shetland pony who stands at just 28 inches high. Hannah had the idea to write books about Alfie due to his huge cheeky personality!

Check out her Author Spotlight for all of Little Alf’s Adventures!

Indie Publishing continues on the rise in 2017

Taken from the UKSG Article 10th October 2017, Self-Publishing Isbn’s

Since 2011, International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) for self-published titles have climbed 218.33%, according to the latest report, ‘Self-Publishing in the United States, 2011-2016’, from ProQuest affiliate Bowker. A total of 786,935 ISBNs were assigned to self-published titles in 2016; in 2011, that number was 247,210.

This new study from Bowker highlights the latest self-publishing trends in print and e-book formats. For 2016 vs 2015, the numbers indicate a continuing growth trend for print (+11%), though at a slower rate than a year ago (+34%). E-books show a slight decline in the number of title registrations (-3%), but this is a significantly smaller decrease than the prior year (-11%).

The report also indicates that the self-publishing industry is dominated by three service providers (of which Lulu is ranked in the top three) which, combined, account for over 84% of all print and e-book titles published last year.

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