Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lulu -- Important Changes Regarding Reviews

Got this in my email box last week, although it would be nice if their automatic sorting process were a bit better, since all my work is retired and out of print with them. Yes, I don't have a single "available" title with Lulu at the moment. But anyway, here is the email:

We are contacting you to inform you of an important change regarding our Ratings & Reviews system for published content within the Lulu Marketplace.

Our system indicates that one or more of your published works on Lulu has Ratings & Reviews preferences set to "Restricted". This means that only those who have purchased this item can leave ratings and reviews for your content. Next week, we will be launching a great new feature that will share your book on social networking sites such as weRead, Facebook, Myspace and more, allowing over 3 million users to see and review your work via weRead's new review service!

Central to this feature, is the value of community reviews, word of mouth recognition and the idea that, the more people exposed to your work, the more likely someone will purchase or want to review it. With this new feature, people who have not purchased your book on Lulu will be able to review your book on Lulu, weRead or any other site that utilizes weRead's application.
Even though we feel strongly these new features will benefit you, we value your privacy, and, if you are not interested in your book being shared with the weRead service, you can set your reviews to "Unavailable".
Again, this is par for the course with Lulu, the vagaries of the email announcement are mind-blowing. Exactly how are they going to share your work with social networking sites???? Are they going to set up a Lulu page and highlight specific works??? Will they be sharing previews of author's works???? I am sorry Lulu, but yet again, you really need some professional help when it comes to marketing rollouts, or any of your product launches of late for that matter. weRead is already on Facebook, and it works the same as say an Amazon link or recommendation page. How are the Lulu books going to stand out??? They won't, so you can save the vague email hype. Listing books with weRead offers just another distribution channel. I wouldn't consider a distribution channel a form of marketing or a "Great New Feature." The end user still has to fossick through all the books available, and a Lulu link on the main page of weRead really doesn't amount to much either, since it takes the buyer back to Lulu so they can fossick through the books there. It's nice to know that Lulu is expanding its distribution offerings to sites such as weRead.com, but at most, it only saves the author from loading up their own work on the site themselves. So let's just call it what it is. A distribution channel does nothing to actually sell a book, 3 millions members or not. I'd like a little more explanation as to how this Great Feature is gonna work and what exactly makes it so damn great.


Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

What a great post. I retired all my lulu titles about 6 months ago, never to return. I think lulu is great for somthing like a yearbook.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

They are trying to do too much and are so unfocused and understaffed it's a shame really. Nothing more than bad management and bad planning.

And they really have to stop with the hype. Maybe the novices fall for this, but for serious indie authors it's kind of like an insult.

Emily Veinglory: said...

If Lulu really cared about their customers (by which I mean readers, not authors) they would fix the pathetic excuse for s search function on their website so we could actually find the books we are looking for.

The LL Book Review said...

I have to agree with all of you, especially Emily.

For the LLBR Quick Picks each month which are primarily all from Lulu, our reviewer sends me the title, author, and product ID for each work. Half the time, the search will not find the item by product ID. But when I do eventually find the product, the product ID she originally gave me is always correct.

Their search feature is so broad sometimes, often finding too much or nothing at all, and really does need to be fixed.


Anonymous said...

I'm probably ditching Lulu as of the end of the year and moving to CreateSpace. I stuck with Lulu even as other people were quitting in droves, but now I'm more or less convinced they simply don't know how to handle this kind of stuff elegantly.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

And now with their "buy your own ISBN model" there really isn't any reason to stay with them other than they take care of all the fiddly administrative things that go along with distribution. I am not so sure I trust them any more with handling that sort of stuff.

I have been quite pleased with Createspace. I've done two of my second editions so far with two more in the pipeline and one original. The book quality is really way above par. Covers are beautiful. Not to mention they offer standard book sizes.

Nick Popio said...

Those are all fair points. I'll be the first one to admit that we make mistakes, and I try to own up to them where I can. The primary purpose of this feature is that we're getting all of our books into weRead's system, and we'll be sharing reviews with them. This means that the reviews you have already cultivated on Lulu will be replicated on weRead and if you receive a review on weRead it will be replicated on Lulu.

I hope this helps clarify what the email was trying to say, but if you have any questions (about this or about anything else Lulu related), then feel free to ask me. You can also email me at npopio@lulu.com.

Emily Veinglory: said...

In my opinion not having the review on the point-of-sale storefront is just crazy. That and the huge shipping cost and long term utter failure of the search engine are just too much for me. I can no longer buy books at Lulu after having shopped there for so many years--the basic functionality is not there.

My advice: Lulu need to stop putting all their energy into Amazon, wereads, affiliate programs etc and fix your basic printing, shipping, vanding and custom support capacity. Otherwise I assume your real priorities don't rest will selling books to customers.