Lulu gained a reputation as one of the friendlier self publishing companies when self publishing started to become more common. Its services have expanded over the past few years, and now it has significantly more competition. Unfortunately, both the Book Designer and Publishing Guru note that Lulu has not kept up with the times, and first time authors may run into a number of problems when using Lulu.
Lulu itself can be a good self publishing option, but you must not look at it as a one stop solution. You’re only setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Here are some of the biggest ones you must avoid as you can see from checking out Lulu reviews.
Never Publish Your eBook Without an ISBN Number
Unlike many of the other larger self publishing stores, you can choose to publish on Lulu for free and not use an ISBN number. This is a terrible mistake. The ISBN number is what allows your book to be found across the world. It’s true that it can be quite expensive to purchase one. Depending on whether you purchase a package deal or a single ISBN code, it ranges anywhere from $32 – $150. But if you want your book to be taken seriously and sold in online bookstores, you must make sure that you have an ISBN number. For the best deal and if you plan on writing multiple books, you should purchase the ISBN numbers in bulk.
Many of Lulu’s packages include the ISBN number in the price, and authors often note this as a good thing in their Lulu reviews. But this option is not included in the free publication. Do not make that mistake. A number of authors made critically wrong assumptions and found that they could not get their books sold in bookstores because of it. You can remedy the issue, but it takes longer.
Choosing a Non Traditional Print Size
You can choose all kinds of printing sizes when it comes to publishing if you decide to publish both an eBook and a regular book. This is one of those mistakes that does not extend only to a Lulu review. You need to make sure that you choose a standard paperback whenever you can. Lulu’s primary offering is a 6 x 9 inch paperback. Avoid 8 ½ x 11 paperback books. It may cost less in some respects, but you wind up with a book that looks significantly less professional. Instead, either leave your eBook just as an eBook or pay more for the standard size books. As a self published author, you don’t want to give the bookstore owners any other reasons to avoid buying your book for their stores.
The Publishing Packages Are Not Your Best Choice
When you decide to publish your book through Lulu, you’ll see a number of options and packages. Some of these packages include everything from cover preparation to formatting to marketing recommendations. The most expensive package tops out at a little more than $200. Do not buy these packages. First you should compare the prices offered on other platforms. We compared the platforms ourselves, you can read the review here: Lulu Review: Is This Platform Really Effective for ePublishing?. From this lulu review, you can find out if it’s really worth your money.
Most of the time; as shown in self-publishing and Lulu reviews, publishing packages include what looks like an excellent deal. They typically throw in something like a Helix review and cover art as well as formatting. The dirty secret though is that the quality will not meet your expectations in most cases. They advertise their packages as costing significantly less when compared to doing it all individually where the costs can easily reach $5,000. But the quality of the finished product reveals the difference between those products.
Always make sure that you research each of the individual options to see which ones you actually need and which ones you can find from other sources. Standard publishing packages like Lulu’s Assistant Package include
table of content formatting
Get a Separate Cover Designer
All of Lulu’s packages come with cover art designs. The first clue that you’ll need a separate cover designer for your eBook is the fact that the site claims you can use their free book cover wizard to revise it at any time. A high quality book cover cannot be so easily revised.
Instead of relying on their cover designer, invest the money in a quality designer. A good cover starts at about $300 and can easily go higher. But the results make an enormous difference. People do judge books by their covers, and when they see a quality cover, they are more likely to take a second look at the book. It applies just as much with eBooks as it does with traditional books, even though people do not see the covers as much on eBooks as with traditional books.
The cover that you choose for your eBook needs to show something about the book and hook the reader. It needs to make him want to know more, and it should also add to the brand of your name. Often times, this requires much more specialized work than Lulu and other self publishing services can provide. A talented artist can capture the essence of your eBook and make it more likely that people will be intrigued when they see it rather than repelled or disinterested. Just make sure that the book cover looks good in thumbnail scale. This size is approximately the size of a postage stamp. If it can’t be seen, then get another cover.
Read the Fine Print
It should go without saying that you never sign onto a service if you don’t read the fine print. Yet an amazing number of people don’t do even that. On Lulu’s website, it states that you get to keep 90 percent of the profits from sales to Apple iBookstore, Lulu Marketplace, and Nook. But what this means, though it varies somewhat based on your contract, is that you will only keep 90 percent of what Lulu receives. The other online bookstores will take their cut. Additionally, it costs an extra $50 to get your eBook or book listed on Amazon, which is still considered one of the top online bookstores in the world.
Remember That You Cannot Edit the Text
Many first time authors assume that Lulu will allow them to edit the work after they get back the galley copies. That is not the case, and that is one of the more common reasons for negative Lulu reviews. Lulu is not scamming people. It states on its site that once you purchase a package, you cannot make text revisions without purchasing a new package. Whenever you are considering a self publishing package, check for the editing option. Unless it is there, you will have to pay for a new package every time you want to change the font.
Don’t assume that you can just get on the phone with Lulu either or claim that they are scamming you. Open Salon attempted such a feat with an article detailing the author’s dissatisfaction. Lulu did not budge. It makes its position clear, and you as the author must be prepared to abide by the terms that you agreed to.