The anatomy of the explosive YA Genre

Young Adult (YA) fiction has enjoyed a resounding surge in popularity over the past two decades. Pinpointing exactly why YA fiction has become so popular is no simple or clear task, but there are a number of factors that contributed to the growth of the YA genre.

If you’re a writing in the YA genre, understanding the nuances that propelled YA books can give you the edge to stand out from the crowd. Today, we’re going to examine the facets of YA fiction that make it so popular and the elements you should be thinking about as you craft your book.

Continue reading “The anatomy of the explosive YA Genre”

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 develpers.lulu.com to learn more about Lulu’s Print API and see if the tool might be right for you.

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

Together We Can by Beki Turner

Beckiturner

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.

Meet the four winners of the Brighton Festival, nabokov and Lulu.com ‘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 jennygaitskell.com, 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.

Brighton Festival, nabokov and Lulu.com exclusive short story writing competition based on the Brighton Festival 2017 theme of ‘Everyday Epic’. Competition entries extracts.

Master of the Rolls

The groan that oozed from Amir’s throat pitched as horror, sadness and pity took turns to confront him. The barbeque was tomorrow. And now £95 worth of meat – the beef-burgers, the lamb-chops, the vegetarian sausages – was all gone; destroyed. And £20 of breads used as tennis balls? This could not be happening. Everyone in The Building had been invited: ten families; thirty two stomachs. He couldn’t cancel. He must think of a solution – one that didn’t involve shelling out money. Because all he had in his wallet was a maxed-out credit card and a £10 note. Nothing in the bank until the cheque he’d paid in for the Matheson’s loft job was cleared. It would be Wednesday, at the earliest, before that £200 was in his account. Amir heard his wife sniffling her sobs under control.

(Michael, Eastbourne)

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.

(Saba, Brighton)

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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Brighton Festival, nabokov and Lulu.com spotlight on Everyday Epic writing competition judges: Gareth Howard of Authoright

GarethGareth is a former lawyer – turned writer and CEO and founder of Authoright (www.authoright.com), the leading provider of editing, design, marketing and promotional services for authors, based in London and New York.

Gareth published his own first novel Single White Failure back in 2005 when indie-publishing was in its infancy, becoming one of the first indie success stories. An early supported of indie-publishing and embracing new routes to market, he played a significant role in helping to democratise the publishing industry, by making professional, fair, and affordable production and publicity services available to all authors. Gareth still speaks to over 1,000 authors individually each year, as well as at publishing conferences in the UK and USA. He designed the author space at London Book Fair, founded the London Author Fair in 2014 and has previously been an ambassador for Frankfurt Book Fair.

Single whiteGareth is working on two new novels which will be published this year.

Authoright has kindly donated the cover design service and will be providing publicity services for the final published Every Day Epic anthology of short stories.

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Brighton Festival, nabokov and Lulu.com are coming together to launch an exclusive short story writing competition based on the Brighton Festival 2017 theme of ‘Everyday Epic’.

BF2a-200h_k (3)Lulu are proud sponsors of Brighton Festival’s world premier the Storytelling Army and in celebration of this exciting event, Lulu and Brighton Festival are thrilled to be able to launch this competition with the prize offered for your story to be published into a short story anthology with four additional stories from members of the Storytelling Army and produced as a paperback book.

Everyday Epic looks at us as human beings, at what we do on a daily basis and celebrates those little achievements – whether it is that today I am sober, or I have managed to take my kids to school and I suffer from depression, or whether it’s my first day of paid work – whatever that Everyday Epic is, it’s the chance to celebrate that and tell that story.

Prize

Four winning entries will be combined into a short story anthology with four additional stories from members of the Storytelling Army and produced as a paperback book and published.

The 4 winners will be announced on Wednesday the 24th of May 2017. If the submission rate is high the judges reserve the right to announce the winners after the close of festival.

Submission Opening and Closing Date

The competition opens on Friday 31st March 2017 and all entries must be received electronically by midnight GMT 24th MAY 2017.

Terms and Conditions

  • Entry is free.
  • The competition is open to writers who are Sussex residents.
  • There is no obligation to purchase any Lulu.com product to enter this competition.
  • The theme of entries should be ‘Everyday Epic’.
  • Your entry must be no more than 4,000 words, no minimum word count.
  • The title does not count as part of the word count.
  • Only one entry per person is permitted.
  • Your entry must be previously unpublished.
  • You must be 18 years or over to participate.
  • By entering the competition you agree to be published if you are selected as a winner.
  • All entries must be typed and supplied electronically.  No hand-written entries will be accepted.
  • Your entry must be submitted electronically as a word or pdf document and the document must contain: your name, your address, your age, your e mail contact details, the title of your submission, the word count, your twitter handle (if relevant).
  • It is preferred that all entries are written in English, however we will accept a non-English entry providing an English translation is also submitted with it.
  • Once an entry has been submitted it cannot be withdrawn.
  • This prize is not transferable.
  • Entries cannot be returned so please keep a copy.
  • Late entries will not be considered.
  • It is not possible to confirm receipt of entry by phone or email.
  • We will only contact the entrants who have won.
  • Winners and extracts of their stories will be communicated via our website and social media pages.
  • If you do not hear from us your submission has been unsuccessful.
  • If you are successful, in entering the competition you agree to our publishing terms and conditions which can be viewed at www.lulu.com/about/legal
  • Copies of the anthology will be published and made available for sale. Lulu pays 80% net royalties (net is the amount left after retailer discount) which is the highest in the industry. As this is an anthology royalties are to be shared 50% to the Storytelling Army and 30% shared between the 4 non-Storytelling Army winners.
  • Final cover design is to be decided by Brighton Festival and nabokov.

Address for entries: 

  • All entries should be electronic and emailed to social_uk@lulu.com
  • Entries will only be accepted if submitted as an electronic version to the entry address provided.
  • If you are unable to email your entry then you can copy it onto a CD and post to the address below on condition that they are received by the closing date and only CD’s are sent. No CD’s can be returned and we take no responsibility for any lost in the post.
  • Address for CD submission: Lulu.com, Workshops 1 &2, Park Farm, Paulerspury, Towcester, Northants, NN12 7NG

Judging

The judges decision is final, judges are unable to comment on individual entries, judging is fair and unbiased and experienced readers assist in helping the judges select the winners. Profiles of the judges will be posted on this blog.

Marketing

  • Copyright of each entry remains with the author but in entering the competition the author agrees that Lulu.com, Brighton Festival and nabokov will have the unrestricted right to publish the winning pieces (including any shortlisted entries) in relevant promotional material in print or online.
  • Submission of an entry implies the winners give agreement to be photographed and will take part in any marketing and publicity opportunities (print, social, or as otherwise required in the promotion of the event and the anthology) connected with this competition carried about by Lulu.com, Brighton Festival or nabokov.
  • Lulu.com will hold your contact address in our systems to contact you with regard to any future writing competitions we feel may be of interest to you unless you contact us to opt out. If you do not wish us to contact you for future events and competitions please make this clear on your competition submission.

Submission of your entry implies acceptance of these competition terms and conditions.

Lulu.com upholds the Data Protection Act 1998.

 

 

 

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