Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lulu enthusiasts

Following last Friday's mention of Lulu.com, a number of satisfied users of that company wrote in to say that they have no complaints, which I feel is a good sign. They also highlighted some interesting output.

Blogger Carla Nayland wrote as follows:

I recently put a book on Lulu [Ingeld's Daughter] and found it a remarkably painless process. You can make the same book available both as a printed copy (choice of several formats) and as a download if you wish. If you set the royalty to zero the download is automatically free and the printed copy is charged at Lulu's printing cost (a flat rate plus so much per page). This means that anyone who would like to read the item as a printed book or leaflet, instead of reading on screen or printing out a PDF, can buy a printed copy if they wish. Essentially they have the option of paying Lulu to print and ship a copy for them instead of printing it out themselves.

You can control as much or as little of the design as you choose. We designed our own front and back covers, but took Lulu's default layout for the contents, for example....

Lulu doesn't charge the author anything up front (unless you want them to list the book on Amazon for you). They take 20% of whatever royalty you set, but if the royalty is zero or if their share would come to less then 20 cents, they waive it. I presume they must also have a profit margin built into their per-page printing costs.

Carla's novel , by the way, runs to 572 pages.

Then there's Ron Morgans. He used Lulu for his thriller Kill Chase. He says that it takes a while to get to grips with the systems, but it's easy to correct your printing mistakes until your work is perfect -- then publish.

Ron is a former Fleet Street picture editor and on his own web site has stories about, and links to, some further info on famous press photographers. I particularly like Terry Fincher's pic of a British soldier making an arrest in Aden in 1967. If he did it that way today fourteen editorials would be written about human rights.

Finally, Matt Bell and Josh Maday used Lulu to publish a small collection from their micro-fiction blog, Dancing On Fly Ash: One Hundred Word Stories. They published the book under a Creative Commons licence, and are offering it as a free download from their website in addition to selling the print edition. They did all the cover art and layout themsleves, and say that they couldn't be happier with the book. Sales have been excellent, though they don't sell the book through Lulu. Instead they just ordered a print run and then sold them on their website. This generated higher royalties and faster despatch.

16 comments:

Kevin said...

So far, the most interesting description that I have found.

I am doing searches for "lulu.com AND complaints" and came across this blog. I found one review from an user, and this one, that have perked my interests due to the honesty of the "cons" of the site. Constant praise can lead me to believe in the worst, but honesty of stating cons wins me over simply because some of it can be worked around.

Thanks for this article.

. said...

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Anonymous said...

Lulu apparently means LateLate. Their concept of 10-15 days is now close to a month. I need to look at other PODs.

narrator said...

My experience so far is awful. Their "help" is less than worthless. It's a slow process and now, after two proofs, they still can't print the cover without having embedded fonts replaced by crap default fonts. When printing pdfs this requires deliberate stupidity. So, I'm wondering, any luck with createSpace? Other printers?

Anonymous said...

Pity their customer services can't sort out sending a forgotten password to a registered address.

I am really frustrated. I had to set up a dummy account just to email them that they had a problem with their forgotten password function.

So far I have had non-sensical responses back from customer services, and no sign of a password.

This is the kind of service will hopefully pave the way for someone to come along and do it more professionally!

Dan said...

I've just started working with lulu over the last month and so far it has not been a pleasant experience. I'm selling my album through a few channels one being lulu. At cafepress I uploaded the whole album and did the artwork in about 1 maybe 2 hours to upload the whole album, set the price and do a few other things. It was painless easy to understand and on top of that I added a Fathers Day greeting card for sale the next day which took me about 1/2 an hour.
At lulu it took me 2 weeks just to figure out how to upload 1 mp3 for sale. To my knowledge there's no way to call lulu for help -- plenty of phone help at cafepress. Lulu's instructions are hard to find and confusing and the customer service is very slow via email. Sometimes taking two weeks or longer to answer and by then you probably have it figured out but at a great cost of time, and as the old saying goes time is money. When I finally figured all this out and got the mp3 up for sale after a month or so of working on this. I did a test to see how hard it would be to buy the mp3. First I put a link from my website to my storefront at lulu, then I went to the my lulu storefront and my album was there, BUT --- I discovered my customers would have to become a member of lulu in order to buy one mp3. I filled out the email form and then when I hit continue to checkout nothing happened !!! If that would have been a real customer that would've been a lost sale for sure. They are supposed to be representing you as a your distributor, how is stuff like that going to affect your customers. I think I'll give them one more week but this has been a nightmare so far. I would not recommend lulu. I was thinking about putting a book on there for sale but now I'm having second thoughts. I'm going to distribute my album through CD Baby starting this month. They will sell the whole album and individual mp3's through iTunes,Rhapsody and about 10 other sites. I'm probably going to drop lulu unless they can get it together within the next couple of weeks but that doesn't seem likely at this point.

Dan said...

Actually I think I'm going to cancel the account right now.

Anonymous said...

You can call but they discourage it but it might be fun.

Lulu.com
3101 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh North Carolina 27607
US
+1.9194595858

I am having a hard time getting a publishing package out of them. I am seeing a lot of bad press for Lulu. Um... so it goes.

Anonymous said...

Lulu.com was very helpful- emailing me back the same day when I had questions about publishing with them. Now that I spent hundreds of dollars with them (my impression is that now they have my money, they can take their good ole time. Oh, and they don't answer emails!). Very disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, their printing process SUCKS. If you have your files all worked out and looking good, it will still get screwed up somehow going through their process. If you email customer service, they won't even read your complaints, you'll get an automated response with "helpful links" that have nothing to do with your issue. Also, it's highy QUESTIONABLE that they actually report all your sales to you. If you track your sales on various book sites, you'll find it doesn't seem to match up with what they're telling you on your report.

ehcmier said...

Some customers aren't receiving the books they've purchased, and some authors have not received their money from those purchases. Attempts to contact Lulu have not been answered, while others receive bogus responses. Class Action lawsuit time! Gotta find an attorney that smells blood.

Cindy Callinsky said...

I used Lulu years ago when they first started and they were wonderful. I thought they were the best thing ever. After trying to use them this year, I will NEVER use them again. If I were Bob Young heads would be rolling. If this lack of customer service continues he will have no business.

Cindy Callinsky said...

Oh, wait. I guess Bob Young probably doesn't give a s(*&. In an article on writersweekly.com he was quoted as saying, "A majority of the company’s titles are of little interest to anybody other than the authors and their families. We have easily published the largest collection of bad poetry in the history of mankind."

Anonymous said...

Yeah definitely a scam! Bob Young and LuLu.com really has no interest in you as an author only in your money, their recent IPO(Initial Public Offering) on the Canadian Stock Market for $50Million should send a few red flags up (can you say we are hurting and need money?)
This also may be why they have been lax in remitting payments to creators. I have not been paid for 10 books ($297) I sold in November and Decmber.Their FAQ says you are paid by the end of the following month for sales in the previous month.
Best advice: RUN from LuLu, if you want your work published, use another more honest venue that will pay you quickly like clickbank, paygear or even do your own site.

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