Salute to Service: 4 Veteran’s Stories

Yesterday, November 11, marks Veteran’s Day here in the USA and Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in Europe. This solemn holiday commemorates the end of the first World War in 1918, and this year marks the first centennial of this monumental event. Each year, this day marks a moment for everyone to step back and honor the soldiers who fight for all of us.

Today, we’d like to take a moment to say thank you to all of our veterans and to all the active duty soldiers around the world.

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Lulu’s Holiday Gift Guide: Graphic Novels

The holiday shopping intensifies!

Graphic Novels have long been an under-represented form of publishing and creativity. Partly due to niche markets and partly to the cost of creating high-quality, color books, Graphic Novel creators have long struggled to make their work readily available.

Self-publishing changes all that. We’re here today with a selection of some awesome graphic novels self-published and available on the Lulu bookstore.

And as an added bonus, we’ll feature a few of our favorite Zines as well: short, independently created and published magazines.

First, we have some of our favorite Graphic Novels:

Seen and Unseen

By Sarah Dahlinger

It’s a historical fiction set deep in the Panamanian rain forest. Follow Sam Hildebrand, an ichthyologist, during his harrowing adventure through mud and magic, as he tries to complete the 1911 Smithsonian Biological survey.

***
rated PG-13

-animals kill people
– indigenous nudity on female monkey-like forest creatures in one drawing
– there is nothing sexual in this book at all. It’s like Treasure Island.

MISFILE – Book 1

By Chris Hazelton

In one little corner of the universe, there’s nothing more irritating than a misfile…

The Do-Jahng #1

By Jon D. Sloan

“The Do-Jahng” is a comic about the trials and tribulations of Tae Kwon Do Master Jim Parker and his students as they live and work in the town of Dukesville. This series focuses on their lives both in and out of the do-jahng (training hall), dealing with every day life as well as ever-present threats from various ninja clans!

This first issue finds our friends pondering a new assignment that Master Parker has given them. They must work on a very introspective paper while dealing with a new arrival to Dukesville, AND their do-jahng!

Pep Squad

By Iran Johnson

The villainous ‘Evil Mind’ desires to conquer Chill Town (the coolest place on the planet) after being deemed “uncool” and “whack”. Exiled for his “ill” behavior, Evil Mind struggles to think of a plan to achieve his goal. However, a freakish accident has left him–incurably stupid. Eventually, he sends his ‘hooligans’ out to do his ‘dirty’ work–but there are four little heroes that are determined to protect their beloved city from Evil Mind’s whack-ness!

Beard for Dummies

By Janne Karlsson

Everything you´ll ever need to know about BEARD as seen through the bizarre eyes of Swedish artist/cartoonist Janne Karlsson.

Vegan Sidekick Volume 4

By Richard Watts

Are your friends and family conflicted about whether they should stab animals in the neck constantly every day all the time constantly? Do they react to your non-violence as though you are some spilt hummus on the carpet and they don’t know what kind of stain you will leave? Have you had the same conversation 18 quintillion times this morning about how killing innocent victims is really a personal preference? Then maybe you could do with this book in your life. Alternatively, just go to one of Vegan Sidekick’s social media pages and read the comics for free lol no need to buy anything, what kind of advertising even is this?

Bagel Soup – Stirring the Pot

By David Koesters

Bagel Soup comics (originally published at bagelsoup.com) are an eclectic mix of social commentary, sight gags, horrible puns, and the occasional peek at genuine cleverness. With chapters ranging from Depressants, Religion, Relationshipping, Sex, and, aptly, Animals, Food, Fists, Balls, and Butts, this collection has something for everyone to laugh and be mildly offended over. It’s cute, cutting, groaning, clever, and consistently inconsistently. Author David Koesters is a resident of Lincoln, Nebraska where he lives in a decrepit house, is an officer of the United States Army, has a law degree for some reason, and bleeds ketchup. After surviving a long battle with sense of humor cancer, Koesters’ Bagel Soup sprung out of the ashes of bad cooking to become something whereby he figured he could do the least damage to society. (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a laughing?) Though he’ll be the first to say he can’t draw, you may agree, Bagel Soup is good for wasting your time and provides healthy eye laughter. Enjoy.


If you’re more of a Magazine person, check these Zines. They’re all loaded with great content sure to please anyone on your holiday shopping list:


 

Self Care Zine: Food

By Rachelle Abellar

This issue of the Self Care Zine is 56 pages of comics, illustrations, recipes, personal stories, tips, and resources all related to how we use food as self care.

The Sublime Zine issue three

By The Sublime Zine

Sublime aesthetic magazine has one simple purpose, to inform freely and honestly the world of the wondrous culture and art born every minute.

 

Unusual Bath zine

By Stefan Alexander

Unusual Bath is a self-published comic zine.

The story based on a bather enjoying his relaxing bath until he experiences a unusual adventure while in his bathtub which takes him to different fantasy worlds.

 

 

And of course you can find plenty of other Graphic Novels and Zines on our bookstore:

Graphic Novels & Zines on the Lulu Bookstore

The 1000 True Fan Theory: Achieving Sustainable Income as a Writer

What’s your dream? When I was a teen I read Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger” and decided I wanted to be a novelist. I was already an avid reader but there came a moment as I finished “The Gunslinger” when I realized I didn’t just want to partake in stories, I wanted to tell them.

Back then, I imagined writing a story, handing the manuscript to…someone…and their mind being so blown away that they would heap piles of money on me. From there I would retire to my writing desk to pen my next masterpiece without a care in the world.

Reality check.

Stephen King and J.K. Rowling tier writers are very few and even further between.

But that does not mean you can’t earn a living as a writer!

Back in 2008, Kevin Kelly penned an article titled “1,000 True Fans.” In this piece, Kelly argues that the power of direct connection through the Internet allows creators to earn a living from their art if they have only 1,000 True Fans.

Let’s break down Kelly’s theory and see how it can apply to self-published authors.

First, we need to address the two criteria Kelly identifies as requisite for building a True Fanbase:

  1. You must generate enough content to earn $100 from each True Fan per year;
    and,
  2. You must create and foster a direct connection between you and your 1,000 True Fans.

Alright, before I lose anyone, I know that both of these criteria seem pretty tough. $100 a year from book sales is unrealistic. If you sell your book for around $15, you’ll be taking home around $8 a sale after printing costs. I’m guessing most authors aren’t putting out more than one book a year. $8 and $100 is a pretty big difference.

Doing the Math

As Kelly points out, his count of 1,000 True Fans is arbitrary. He’s just making a point, which is the core of what we’re talking about today—breaking down your expectations allows you to set real and achievable goals.

Here’s a better way for authors to think about the imperative to reach True Fans: determine how much you want to make on your writing each year. Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans formula results in $100,000 a year earning if all the criteria are met perfectly.

Honestly, though, $100,000 is ambitious. Let’s say you just want to get the ball rolling. You’ve written a book and you have a few people you know will buy it. You’re not quitting your day job and you are set up to earn $8 per sale. 1,000 fans will make you $8,000. That’s a reasonable sum to expect to earn from your first offering.

You’re most likely adding this to your income from your day job, so being an author is still a side gig at this stage.

The key element here is to apply the basics of Kelly’s formula when you design your book marketing plan. You don’t need to aim for selling to 1,000 people initially. But if you set a realistic goal and work toward it, you can earn good money—maybe even enough to quit that day job and write full time!

Hypotheticals Time

Let’s outline a few hypothetical examples to better break down and understand how to make money as an author.

You want to earn $10,000 a year selling books –

Earning per sale = $8.00

Individuals on your mailing list and following you on social platforms = 500 combine

If each follower buys a book, you’re at $4,000.

This means you need to aim for an additional 700 purchases in the year.

  • Around 58 sales a month
  • Or around 2 sales a day

Bottom Line – if you have a fair number of followers and some contacts on your email list, it is completely achievable to earn $10,000 in a year with 2 or 3 sales a day. Not necessarily easy, but doable.

You want to earn $5,000 a year selling books –

Earning per sale = $8.00

Individuals on your mailing list and following you on social platforms = 300

If each follower buys a book, you’re at $2,400.

This leaves you needing an addition 300+ purchases.

  • Around 25 sales a month,
  • Or less than 1 sale a day

Bottom Line – earning $5,000 in a year, with only a modest social following, demands selling less than a single book a day. That’s a very achievable goal!

Even better, if we keep our sights modest and aim for around $5,000 in book sales a year, we have our backlist to think about. That first year’s goal with 300 or so followers and selling 1 book a day is difficult but very doable. The following year when you release your second book?

Well, that follower list will have grown. And you’ll have some residual sales from the first book still trickling in. It’s not unimaginable that you might get up closer to $7,000 that second year. And if you release a third book the year after?

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Investing in yourself

Don’t misunderstand me. Earning a living as a writer is not easy. It will (probably) never be easy.

What Kelly’s piece does is something all creators should do when they start to think about monetizing their work—break their creations down into commodities.

This doesn’t mean you devalue your work. You’ve created something unique and amazing. That’s important in and of itself.

What it does mean is that, when it comes to selling that amazing thing you’ve created, you have to think about it like any other consumer item. You have to look for cost-effective ways to get to your goal. And you have to ensure those goals are reasonable so that achieving them is possible.

Print-on-demand enables self-publishing, which allows authors to put the profit directly into their hands while retaining control over their work. A tremendous boon for authors everywhere. But with that added benefit comes additional work.

Now those very same authors have to learn the lessons larger publishing companies learned decades ago regarding marketing and distributing those books.

  • Set reasonable goals
  • Know your market or niche
  • Engage your audience regularly
  • Motivate your followers to buy.

All of those points lead to one concept – if you want to be profitable and successful as a self-published author, you have to identify and secure True Fans.

The True Fan theory in practice

True Fans, as I said earlier, are fans who will always buy your work. They are assured sales. Getting a core group of these True Fans is likely to be your biggest challenge as a self-published author. But also the most valuable.

So how do you do it?

  1. Start small – attend a local writing group. Or start one. Build a small group of fellow writers. These folks will help your writing grow and serve as a constant inspiration as you keep writing.
    Likewise, seek to build a relationship with the local bookstore. This can be crucial, as you’ll be asking them to host you for a signing and to feature a few copies of your book on the shelves at some point. Build that relationship early.
    And of course, connect with the local library. Volunteer. Get to know the regular readers. And be transparent. Make sure the staff knows you are an author working on publishing. There is a very good chance they feature local authors and you might be able to get a copy on their shelves.
  2. Expand with the Web – Once you’ve begun building a strong core of local, in-person connections, look to expand that online. This can be in the form of blogging, frequenting online writing or reading groups, or even through social media.
    Early on, the best path is probably looking at online forums and engaging directly. Try to find groups focused on your genre, as these will be your most likely readers. Then talk to them about books. Maybe even join a reading group and engage in regular discussions about content from that angle.
    Blogging is a tough one because it is slow and demanding. Still, I advocate for starting and maintaining a blog. You’ll want a website to direct new and old readers (and fans) to, so all you end up needing to do is host a blog on the site. This provides fresh content to encourage return visitors and gives you a medium to publish teasers or excerpts.
  3. Attend and host events – You’ll need to build off of #1 and #2 to be successful with events. Once you’ve got a core group of True Fans, expand that with an author signing or book sale at the local bookstore.
    Or attend a writing or book convention and meet an even wider range of authors, book publishers, and book designers. This is fairly intensive, as it’s going to mean investing in the tickets and trip, but it can pay off in a lot of ways too. For our True Fan search, the biggest benefit may be the opportunity to connect with other authors and attract some of their fans.
    Don’t think of other authors as competition. That’s assuredly not the case. You need to view every single other author you can connect with as a possible extension of your reader network, and a means to acquire more True Fans. Because another author’s True Fans, on that author’s recommendation, can easily become one of your True Fans too.

These are just a few ideas. Be creative in thinking about ways to attract True Fans. Maybe a Youtube series. Or maybe other hobbies like fantasy football or yoga could lead to a group of people you can transition into True Fans.

These True Fans will not be your only source of income either. If you’ve got a relatively large network of online followers, many of them will simply be a follower; someone who might buy a book, might not. They might read your blog or like your Facebook posts, but not rush to buy your newest book. These fans will help support you from time to time, but the True Fans are the ones contributing with a purchase for every product your produce.

That’s why the True Fans are so critical and why generating a strong base group of them is so important to earning sustainable income as a writer.

The Ultimate Guide to InDesign for Authors (Part 1)

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you might remember the Writer’s Toolbox series from last summer, in particular the MS Word review. Earlier this year I followed that piece up with a post about laying out your book, again focusing on using MS Word.

I tend to talk about creating books in terms of MS Word because we know the majority of book makers on Lulu use Word to create their files. While it is the preferred choice for many of our users, Word is hardly the only option for laying and designing your book.

Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to InDesign for Authors (Part 1)”

What do you do with those long summer days? Read a book!

Summer is here!

deckchairs on the beach

Experts, psychologists, and authors agree that reading can make you more empathetic. Literary fiction helps us better understand each other and how we think. That alone is interesting and notable, but what does it have to do with summer?

Because summer is traditionally a time to read lighter, more character driven books. Spend a moment or two on the web and I’m sure you’ll find more than a few “summer reading lists” or “best beach reads” articles. In fact, since you’re reading this, it’s safe to say you’ve found at least one!

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Don’t Write Alone: Author Learning Center

You may have noticed the Lulu Blog featuring posts from Keith with the Author Learning Center. Here’s the last two he published:

If you’ve read those posts and took a minute or two checking out the Author Learning Center, you probably have a good sense of what the site aims to accomplish. They provide tools, encouragement, and advice for authors at all levels. That means from the most novice of authors just penciling ideas to the author with multiple publications under their belt, the ALC has something to offer.

What might you wonder? Well, read on and find out!

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