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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.

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Marketing Tips

Spotlight on Authoright – helping Lulu authors making their book-shaped dreams come true with new marketing and publicity services

Writing a book is true labour of love and an amazing achievement for anyone. It can be a very solitary experience however, and often, once the writing part has been completed, authors really want to talk about the process and to ask the all important question: what’s next for me and my book? Authoright began so that writers could do exactly that; ask questions and have a chat with like-minded publishing insiders who understood the business of books and could give them the right advice to help them publish and promote their books successfully. Authoright are passionate about supporting new writers who are indie-publishing. We’re a small team of hardworking book lovers, and we can help writers to complete the all-important steps to publishing and promoting their books that go far beyond the writing part. Cover design, editing services, website creation, multi-media services, publicity and marketing; we can help new writers to really find their voices and to connect with their audiences.

GarethAuthoright was founded in the early days of indie-publishing by a lawyer-turned author who was going through all the challenges of publishing and launching his debut novel. In 2004, Gareth Howard was trying to sell his first novel but soon discovered that traditional publishing was something of a closed shop; you couldn’t simply call or email a literary agent or a publisher to ask their advice. The process of securing the services of an agent, who then in turn had to sell the work to a publisher, was slow and frustrating and publishing houses were more inclined to work with celebrities rather than new talent. After lots of rejection. Gareth knew he had to try and figure out how to bring his book to market, on his own terms. So he decided to take a proactive step and turned to self publishing. This meant learning on the job, and having to quickly fine-tune the skills required to produce and publish a book professionally. Gareth effectively had to become his own agent, publisher, designer and publicist overnight.

With a bit of creativity and a lot of hard graft, Gareth produced a good-looking book and secured extensive media coverage – both for the book and for him as a writer and his experiences of self publishing at a time when it was almost unheard of – managing the publishing and PR process on a shoestring budget. Over a six month period, managing the production and launch of his book had become a full-time job! But Gareth’s efforts soon paid off and his novel became one of the earliest indie-publishing success stories, earning positive reviews and being featured in the national media in the UK, the USA and even Australia. Readers contacted him through his website to tell him how much they were enjoying his book and were sharing it with others (and this was at a time when social media barely even existed).

Gareth had learned first-hand how to produce and publicise a book on a budget and he wanted to share his experiences with other writers by creating a company that offered the kind of services he had found to be so important to the success of his own novel. And so Authoright was born, sharing advice, tips and tricks of the book trade, as well as providing effective and affordable editing, design, marketing and publicity services to unknown, first-time and self publishing authors. From how to write an elevator pitch, to media training ahead of a big interview, to creating an author brand; Authoright helps authors to make their books the best they can be without breaking the bank. Every author will make an investment in their writing if they want it to be a success, but finessing the book and supporting it with the right kind of services is important, rather than spending as much money as possible. Together we still speak to around 1,500 writers a year, listening to their questions and concerns about publishing, and helping them to find the best route for them to becoming a bestseller of the future.

Every author deserves a team of cheerleaders to help them bring their book to market. To supplement their writing abilities with expertise in cover design, editing, online marketing and publicity. Every author wants their book to be a success and Authoright can help authors find the right way for them to tell their own, labour of love story.

We’re thrilled to be able to work with Lulu,com and their help their awesome authors make their book-shaped dreams come true.

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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 http://www.lulu.com 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.

 

Featured post

Introducing CL Bennett our award-winning guest author blogger

buggglepuffsAs 2017 kicks off we are delighted to have International award-winning children’s author CL Bennett, creator of the ‘Bugglepuff’ series with Lulu publishing, join us as a regular guest blogger. Over the forthcoming weeks CL will be sharing insights and tips on writing and publishing with us. If you have any specific questions for her please contact us as CL has also kindly agreed to be our agony aunt blogger! If you are interested in joining our author guest bloggers please contact us on social_uk@lulu.com as we would love to hear from you.

CL Bennett has already sold 1000’s of books online, gone on UK book tours, started Bugglepuff ‘fun days’ in 100’s of schools and libraries around the country, made audio recordings of her books with the famous actor Brian Blessed OBE and won children’s books awards in both the USA and Europe. For those of you keen to read the series these can be purchased direct from our online bookshop.

Taking 5 minutes out of her hectic schedule between writing and travelling she spoke to us about the magical world of the Bugglepuff series.

Hi CL ! So, would you mind telling us what the Bugglepuff series is about?

bugglepuffs2Jungle bedrooms, pirate treasure maps, a chocolate bath, little people with flying boots, a crazy parrot and a Magic Key can all be found in the first of a series of books about the Bugglepuff family.

Captain Bugglepuff, his mad wife Delirious and their four rascally children Anenome, Compass, Rocky and Seasea live a haphazard day to day family life in a little English fishing port in Devon, until the arrival of a mysterious crisp white letter in the post. Nothing in the Bugglepuff’s lives after this letter will ever be the same again.

It takes the Bugglepuff family to a new home by an enchanted creek that leads to a fantastical adventure in a world of magic where dreams can come true. But the family must be careful. Temptations takes the Bugglepuff children and their extraordinary animals on a series of dangerous quests for which the price of failure will break the family apart and the world as we know it!

 

Why did you start to write?

My family was the inspiration behind my award-winning book series ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ and newly published through Lulu, ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Quest – PART 1’. My four hilarious children’s day to day dramas growing up gave me so many scrumptious stories, that after several years and a lot of persuasion from friends and family I felt it was time to put pen to paper and bring them to life in an animated adventure.

It’s the drama and excitement I can create as an author pubugs3tting my family into the world of the Bugglepuffs which is an absolute joy and delight. What will they do next? Who will play the lead role? Sometimes if one of my children does something naughty at home I make them do something terribly silly in the book to make me laugh!

 

What inspired you to write a children’s book in particular?

The natural choice was to write a children’s book that my own children could read for six to eleven-year-old boys and girls. But I think the whole family would enjoy the series and can laugh at the Bugglepuff family’s daily chaos and sometimes the dream of escaping to a new life full of magic and wonder! Heartily I wanted to write books to create tremendous worldwide fun and to send sparkles into the imaginations of children. If I can achieve a sprinkling of this, that would be gloriously special!

Where did the tremendous word ‘Bugglepuffs’ come from?

I was travelling home from school with the children last spring and I said to them, “Well if I’m going to write a book I need a name for the family. Our surname is Bennett so I think it should start with a B.” “a B,” they all said then ‘splat’ a bug hit our windscreen. ‘Bug,’ shouted my youngest son, they all laughed, followed by my oldest daughter replying, ‘Buggle’ and then my youngest daughter roared with giggles and screamed, “puff, puff puff.” At that moment, I nearly went into the hedge as I realised the animated family name had been born. That was the start of the ‘Bugglepuffs.

We hear that the character ‘Delirious Bugglepuff’ is based on yourself? What is the silliest thing that has ever happened to you?

Well there are many silly moments but I guess probably the funniest was when my kids were very young. I was very tired with sleepless nights and crying babies and I was ferociously late for school. I’d been folding up the washing and then raced out the door with pram in toe and whizzed up to school. I got to school with five minutes’ spare in a frazzled state but happy I’d made it on time. Suddenly I heard a laugh, followed by another laugh and another and I didn’t know what my friends were pointing at. I looked around then realised they were pointing at me, at my hair. In my rush to get to school I had left a fresh pair of twizzled up knickers in my hair. It was my most deliriously silly moment as a mum to date but one I’ll always happily remember and giggle about!

What makes creative writing so exciting for you and what else inspires you?

Oh, where to begin with this one! Creative writing is like having a canvas in front of me and putting hundreds of colours together through writing. My pen is like a paint brush. I want every child and every adult to see, touch, hear, smell and taste the magical world of the Bugglepuffs and travel excitedly on the adventure series with me.

Children are my inspiration and not in a corny way. They have the most sharp, unreserved minds and come out with such genuine and inspiring suggestions when you least expect it! This has led me to starting ‘Bugglepuff Fun Days’ in primary schools and it’s been like sitting in a bath of delicious ice cream! I love animating the children with creative writing, the joy of reading and the delights of dream bedrooms and chocolate doors. Taking their minds into a world of adventure is so much fun! For older children, I talk about my writing and publishing experiences so far, and in return the children ask me brilliant questions about what it’s like being an author and creating the Bugglepuffs. Fun is not enough of a word it should be ‘Fundeliciouslywonderfullystupendous!’

Join CL with her next blog when she will be talking about why she decided to indie publish and shares tips on how to overcome writer’s block!

Pitch Perfect: Pitching a Guest Post

For authors and writers who are just beginning to build an audience, guest posting an article on an established, related blog is an excellent means to expand your reach. Your post will be seen by a completely new audience who may then decide to follow your blog or maybe even purchase a book or two. The challenge for new writers is in finding sites with a dedicated readership related to your area of expertise that are also willing to accept unsolicited articles from an unknown writer. Therefore your pitch letter must be near perfect to catch the editor’s attention.

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What is a Pitch?

In its purest form, a pitch includes:

  • An introduction: Who are you?
  • Relevance: How does your proposal fit with the existing audience?
  • Topics: What do you propose to write about?
  • Value: What benefit will readers get from the article?

Your pitch should not be a bulleted list, nor should it be an epic love poem in long form. Keep it brief, to the point, and grammatically correct. This is the one piece of your writing an editor is guaranteed to read. A convoluted, poorly composed, error-filled pitch does not make a good first impression.

Do Your Research

Spend some time reading, yes actually reading, the blog to which you intend to pitch your article. Look for existing topics you think can be expanded upon by your expertise or fresh outlook. While researching, take note of not only the subjects, but also the typical article length, their structure, tone, and use of imagery.

Also, a little investigative work on your part goes a long way in making sure your pitch is welcomed. Addressing an editor by the wrong name, wrong gender, or the generic “to whom it may concern” makes a terrible first impression. Find out as much as you can about the editor and their interests, then incorporate that information into your introduction to make a connection.

Get Their Attention

Based on these subject lines, which email would you open first?

Posting Inquiry

E-Reader Covers: What They Say About What You Read

Enough said.

Show Them What You’ve Got

Nothing gets a reader’s attention like effective imagery. You will get more notice with original work than from stock photos.

Be Patient

Depending on the blog’s popularity and posting scheduled, there may be a publishing calendar that is planned out for the next 10 days to two months. There is no need to follow up every day to see if the editor received the follow up you sent yesterday. If your article was accepted, the editor will let you know when it will go live.

While You Wait

It’s acceptable to write articles ahead of time while you wait for responses, but we recommend you do not publish them. If you plan to submit an article as a guest post, it should be an original post.

Don’t forget to compose an author bio that is accurate, succinct, and relevant to the audience. Include a link back to your blog or a link to your book page so that your potential new fans can find you.

Congratulations!

If your article is accepted, tell all your friends, post about it on your blog and link to it from your social media sites – all of which boost your article’s search results and your online reputation. And, don’t forget to send a thank you note.

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How to Write a Killer Author Bio

You are a writer. Using your keyboard you can create an entire world, the people who live in it and the circumstances for all sorts of interesting things to occur. At peak production, you are churning out 500 to 1000 words a day. So why is it so difficult to write 100 words about yourself? It is, after all, a topic in which you are intimately familiar.

It is likely that you have not even considered your author bio until you are asked for the information from your cover designer. And, as a reader I don’t recall ever not buying a book due to an uninspired “About the Author” blurb. I have, however, upon completing an enjoyable book returned to the bio to learn more about the author – especially if I am interested in reading more of their work. When considered from this perspective, the author bio is really a marketing tool that allows your newest fans to connect with you, possibly leading to increased sales.

So how do you boil your life experience down to a concise and compelling blurb?

Start Big – Go Small

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. You will need to create three author biographies:

  • Long form version for your website, interview sheets, and press releases that includes your age, location, credentials, background, inspiration, fun facts and contact information.
  • Medium length (approximately 250 words) version for queries, guest blogs, and marketing materials
  • Brief bio (approximately 50-100 words) for your book cover and social media profile

The good news is that once you have the long form version complete, it is much easier to edit it down to include the most relevant information based on the context in which the bio will be presented.

Who is your reader?

What’s relevant for inclusion in your author bio depends on your intended audience. An author bio is much like meeting someone at a party. You need to keep it brief, but memorable. Therefore only share the information your audience will find most interesting. Are you writing for an academic audience, summer beach readers, memoir enthusiasts, young adults, or children? An academic reader is probably not interested that you have four children just as a young adult reader will not fully appreciate the effort required to earn that long list of academic credentials listed behind your name.

Brag Selectively

Speaking of credentials, if your name is followed by a bowl of alphabet soup, choose the credentials most relevant to the work you are publishing. The same applies for multiple degrees, certifications, previous publications, articles, and awards. A PhD in astrophysics is impressive if you are publishing a book about the far reaches of the universe – not so much if you are writing a cookbook.

Imitation is the purest form of flattery

So, how do you know what to include in your author bio? Easy, just go online or to your local bookstore and take a look at a few books in your genre or field of study. When you find an appealing author bio, copy it substituting your information and voila! Author bio complete.

What makes you human?

While researching (see above) author bios, you will notice there is usually something included that differentiates the author from their fellows. They may be avid collectors of porcelain Chihuahuas, share their home with 15 hedgehogs, or live off the grid in the Scandinavian woods. This type of information sets you apart from other writers in your field. Other types of humanizing information include your locale or profession, but only if either plays a part in your work.

A picture is worth…..

You only get 50-100 words to share your life story on a book cover or flap. A good picture can help you tell it with fewer words. If you can afford it, have a professional head shot taken to include with your bio. If you can’t afford it, make sure the picture used is in an appropriate setting for your material, is in high resolution and prominently features your face –not your dog, not your car, not your collection of porcelain figurines. It’s called a head shot for a reason.

And finally

Use third person to refer to yourself and read your bio out loud before you publish it. You may choose to create several versions of your brief bio for use in articles, guest blogs, speaking introductions, interviews, and social media. Don’t forget, just as you would update your professional resume, periodically review and update your author bio to include new publications, awards, areas of expertise, and life changing events.

Guest Blogging: Building Your Online Reputation Using Someone Else’s Platform

Since joining the Lulu team, I have attended publishing trade shows around the country in an effort to keep up with industry trends. After a few years, I noticed a distinct pattern. Each year it seemed the industry latched onto a particular theme or buzzword around which all shows were organized. One of the first of these themes focused on the need for creating an author platform.

author-platform-1

Once I learned what an author platform was, it seemed like a rather simple and logical approach to publicizing your work. All you need to do is set up a website, start a blog and interact with your fans on social media. Easy right? According to the experts, an author platform makes current fans feel connected to the author while at the same time attracting new readers thereby ensuring a steady flow of money into an authors’ bank account.

The thinking here is solid.  If we conduct a quick online study we will find most successful, independently published authors already have an author platform in place – likely built by a member of their publishing team (another year’s theme). If you conduct a search for these authors on the internet, not only would their books be returned in the search results, but also links to their social media pages, discussion boards, blog posts, and articles – all of which contribute to their online reputation.

Guest Bloggers Welcome

For new authors the question then becomes, “How can I get some of this search engine goodness for myself?” If you don’t have access to a social media team or a neighborhood kid to build your website, the easiest option is join a few discussion groups or to make use of another person’s platform by guest blogging. Both of which give you an opportunity to reach new audiences.

You may respond “I don’t write for free.” Well, yes you do. You write for free until someone buys your book. Once enough people have bought your book you can set your own price for articles. Until then, your best bet is to find a site that appeals to your target audience and pitch them an article. Most bloggers are constantly on the lookout for new material. So much so they will even let you plug your book in return for free, compelling content..

This strategy is a win/win for everyone. The site owner gets content to fill their pages.  You get more search hits, a new audience for your work, free advertising, and a bump in your online reputation score.

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