Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Book Distribution at Lulu.com.

You get what you pay for.

This is an update on circumstances regarding the buying/distribution status of my book Inside Realms.

This past summer Lulu.com was offering its Published by Lulu distribution package for free, so I took advantage of this deal for my book Inside Realms. I double-checked their webpage to see if there were any restrictions, but they were indeed offering their regular $100 package for free (which gave book distribution on various online retailers, including Barnes and Noble and Amazon, including the international sites). I assumed it was just a time-limited promotion, for their website never changed the description of the distribution package. I repeat, at no time did that description change, so I assumed that I would receive the full distribution for my book, Inside Realms.

All went well at first; my book appeared on the Amazons, then at Barnes and Noble, beginning at unavailable/out of stock status as it was supposed to happen. I patiently waited and then one happy day it was at full status at Amazon.com. I thought it was only a matter of time before all the other retailers followed. In fact I believed it was happening when Barnes and Noble listed it at full status. Then it was gone, back to out of stock status at Barnes and Noble a few days later.

What was happening?

Policy changes at Lulu.com. They changed their Published at Lulu distribution package to a permanent free status, but it now mirrored Amazon’s CreateSpace with only Amazon.com distribution. Which is fine, that is definitely their privilege, although it does make it more complicated for international authors, especially with their new shipping rates.

I thought perhaps these changes were causing some delay or glitch with my book’s distribution, so I emailed Lulu. And found out they were not honouring the full distribution agreement, that they had somehow downgraded me to Amazon.com only.


This is the inquiry email I sent:
I recently acquired a Published by Lulu distribution deal for my book, Inside Realms, just before you made your latest changes. I have been waiting for it to be available for sale at online retailers for over the allotted time, but only Amazon.com lists it for sale. Places such as Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.ca are still listing it as unavailable or out of stock.

Can you enlighten me as to why? I have been reading disturbing rumours on the Internet regarding recent Lulu.com books not getting their full distribution due to your policy changes.

This is their reply:
Thank you for your email. Titles with the Free Published by Lulu distribution package will only be distributed to Amazon. However, we do offer an option to get wider distribution if you have the Free Published by Lulu package. You can check out the Expanded Distribution Package here:
http://www.lulu.com/content/4683045
Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions.

(Note: the Expanded Distribution Package costs $50.)

I sent another email after this protesting their stand, but I have yet to hear anything from Lulu.

Further investigations have led me to believe I am not the only author who got downgraded; there are rumblings among the blogs of others. It seems Lulu’s free summer offer was for its new Amazon.com only package, not for the old one they advertised.

I would also like to state that the current situation of my book may be due in part to the fact Barnes and Noble may be phasing out Print-on-Demand books. Everything in POD these days seems to be gearing toward Amazon, and just Amazon.

The end result of all this is one fact: there are only two places people can buy my book. At Amazon.com and Lulu.com; I don’t even have a retail listing in my own country of Canada.

All these recent changes and uncertainty has me asking: Is this the end of POD as a publishing option? I know I am certainly reconsidering my publishing options.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

For the Typing Challenged Writer.

Why I like Voice Recognition Software:

I like to write longhand, taking my favourite pen, put it to paper and see the words flow in front of my eyes. Eventually though, these words will have to be transferred to the computer to be edited, formatted and spell checked. This is where I used to have quite the challenge.

I can't type.

The best I can achieve is the hunt and peck method, hunched over the keyboard trying to add my prose to my hard drive with as much speed as I can muster.
Which isn't much.

Then I discovered voice recognition software. For those of us who are typing challenged it is a blessing, just read the pages into a microphone and watch them magically appear on screen. Granted your words are sometimes mangled and misheard, but no more so than your average typing error, and well it can all be fixed in the editing process.
Sometimes I just use it to let the ideas flow from my head straight into the computer, especially when I'm editing.

I have two voice recognition programs: My computer has Vista, and came with pre-installed voice recognition software; my laptop needed to have such software installed so I went with Dragon Naturally Speaking (a very reasonably priced option).
The software is fairly easy to use, you simply train the program with your voice patterns and it continues to learn as you use it. The hardest part is remembering the program commands, so make sure you are familiar with them; in other words, read the tutorial.

All I can say is my writing life is far easier since I traded my poor typing skills for voice recognition, but I do need the occasional extra throat lozenge.

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