Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lulu Partners

I used to feel pretty positive about Lulu.com, but every new scheme seems to plot another point in their downward spiral. The release of books to Amazon without prior notice (let alone permission). The movement of reviews over to WeRead. The help system that has pretty much ground to a halt. The suppression of all non-Lulu paid services. Etc etc.

Meanwhile tools to help sell books to readers languish, under-developed. The search engine is terrible. The store fronts are a joke. The handling of adult material and related complaints is terrible. Shipping charges are insanely high and climbing, especially for non-Americans. And if there was any doubt that Lulu is more interested in milking aspiring authors than selling books, they have unveiled an affiliate programs: Lulu Partners.

"The Publishing Partner Program provides organizations with a mechanism to register members as Lulu authors and earn a share of the revenue generated by those authors' book sales and services purchases. Unlike traditional affiliate programs, this is a lifetime revenue sharing partnership-you register authors once, and share in all future revenue they generate."

So Lulu is "partners" with people who will indenture authors to them. The relationship with the authors themselves seems somewhat less egalitarian. Lulu, Rather than cutting out a share of the profits for procurers to bring you even more authors, how about helping authors lower their cover prices to make their books more competitive?


Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Omg!!!! I was just talking about this last night with another author. It's not all in my head! Lulu HAS gotten awful, right? It used to be so good! circa 06. Oh well. I use CreateSpace. Their service sucks. But the per book pricing is fabulous. 640 page book: $8.32

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

I've had nothing but a positive experience with Createspace and have done two books with them to date and one I even updated 6 months from the date it was originally published with no problems at all. I am sure there are some issues with other customers along the way, but for me, I am 2 for 2 on the happy side.

Emily Veinglory: said...

I wrote this on a fprum and will add it here as more clearly explaining my concerns:

I look at what they have done and not done and I see them as factory farming authors. They clearly want Lulu to sell more books, but seem not to care if that is by each author selling more books, or just getting more authors or charging authors more up front--in fact they seem focussed on the latter. Battery cages make more eggs than barns of the same size, but that does not make them a good deal for the chicken.

My perspective is as a person who has published no books through lulu and bought about 50 books magazines and CDs there over a period of many years (and received a similar number of review copies). Finding and buying books there was never easy and is getting harder. The search engine had always been bad and has recently got worse. The shipping costs were always high and have recently got higher. The customer support system has never been good and recently became effectively non-existent with the elmination of the one thing that actually worked (live chat help). The customer review system was always bad and now is getting outsourced.

I don't see improvement, I see rapid and ongoing deterioration. I just can't buy books there any more, so how can I recommend that anyone publish book there? The things that set them apart from Tate, iUniverse etc are rapidly disappearing or not already nonexistent and I am currently leaning towards swapping entirely to buying from Createspace--and I hate Amazon (but service and price count for something and I no longer like lulu all that much either). If they want input from a long-term *customer* by which I mean a reader not an author, I would be happy to provide it. As would many others.

roger sakowski said...

I selected Outskirts Press based on the minimal research I was able to do. I can't say the experience was a bad one. It was on the expensive side, but some of it was due to my decisions on buying opions.

I bought their most inclusive package for about $1000 give or take a hundred. They produced a good book for me and they did it as per advertised. On the other hand, their marketing options weren't much help at all. I bought a custome PR package for about $200 and wasn't very impressed with it. I bought custome back cover text and I wasn't impressed either. The custome cover design was more a product of my work than it was theirs. I didn't buy editing services and I should have,but it was estimated at $900 or there abouts and I just didn't want to go the expense. I could have if I didn't buy the other crap. Live and learn. Then again, I don't know how good it would have been either.

I did pay them to put 10 copies out for review. I got one. That might be what's expected, I have no what of knowing.

All in all, I was happy with the POD end of things; everything else didn't seem to be worth the money (except C. A. Gardner's review that is -- grin).

My biggest problem is time. I just don't have enough to do the marketing end justice. That was the logic for picking the options I chose. In the end, the marketing is on the author. I can't really blame Outskirts on that. I simply couldn't leverage whatever they prodced to my benifit.