Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Interview with Jo Linsdell on Lulu Publishing

This week I asked Jo Linsdell some questions about publishing with Lulu... I think you'll find her comments useful!

How easy was it for you to publish?
Lulu is very easy to use. They can even create the pdf of your book automatically for you so you don’t really have to worry about the technical side of things. They also have templates that you can use for free both for the format of the book and for the cover art. This means you don’t have to panic over margins and other issues that could affect the presentation of the book. There are guides on the website too full of information about ‘how to’ and an online help for assistance if needed.

How computer literate do you have to be?
Enough to be able to go to the website ;) Everything is so easy to use and the process is guided step by step so even the most computer illiterate person can publish a book.

Did you need support from Lulu at all, and in what areas?

I’ve never needed to contact Lulu for support because the site is very straight forward to use and my orders have always arrived on time and with good quality printing. Royalty payments have also always been on time and correct.

Are there any particular pitfalls a newbie could easily miss? What should I watch out for to make sure I get it right?
When designing your book make sure you consider the size before formatting. Some sizes e.g. pocket size books can only be ordered from the U.S. and the ‘standard’ size is different for the U.S (6 x9) and Europe (5 x 8). Think about who your market is and where you’re likely to sell more copies.

Overall: is it a positive thing for you to be using Lulu?
I’ve used Lulu to publish all my books so far and am happy with the results. I’m considering using a traditional publisher for my next book though so I can compare them and consider the differences between the two. I will however continue to use Lulu in the future esp. for ebooks.

Aside from Lulu, what marketing strategy has brought you the best results?
I do a lot of marketing for my books. I’ve sold books to people who have visited my website, myspace (where I have a page), PROMO DAY! (an online event I organise for people in the writers industry), my blogs, subscribers to my monthly newsletter and to members of writers groups that I belong to. There’s not really one strategy that has worked best. All of these plus interviews, leaving flyers in book shops etc…have helped sales.

Anything else you feel would be interesting for Lulu newbies?
I’m the moderator for two Lulu groups; Travel Literature and Italy and I strongly encourage lulu members to take part in the forum discussions. They can be a great way to learn more about lulu, meet other members, pick up some tips and advice and keep up with new developments on site.

Jo Linsdell-Feliciani
Visit Jo at the following websites:

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Of Germans and UFO's

The video below is in German so I'm going to try and explain it.
I wanted to interview all the mountain climbers, but I didn't know what to ask them. Then I opened up the ever-present writer's notebook and found a half-finished story. What could be better than asking them for help with my UFO story?

So I told them what happened already:
Two people are sitting in a restaurant, when suddenly a blue light hovers outside the window. What happens next?

Most explained that it wasn't really a UFO - it was an ambulance, or a bike tail-light, or a lamp. One girl said that little green men got out and served up cake from Mars, and one guy said that the spaceship's captain just got out and introduced himself. Perhaps you'll catch his mime if you watch carefully.

So the general consensus is... Germans don't believe in UFO's. But at least we had some fun finding out. Enjoy the scenery!

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy

This is a rather unusual Western full of modern satire, girl power, and the supernatural. And no, Petticoat Ranch is not the name of the piece of land in question. It’s just an apt title for a story of a farm full of women – not one of them wishy-washy. A young widow and her girls get by in the wilderness, until her late husband’s brother shows up…

The tale begins with a dramatic night-time rescue of said brother-in-law, followed closely by a hurried wedding. The pace hardly lets up as the sudden newlyweds lock into a battle of wills. Sophie and Clay give each other plenty of reason to get mad, but they have to work together to outwit the killers after their ranch. Sophie’s four daughters confuse Clay mightily with their crying and shrieking while they hide from him the fact that their prowess with guns and horses is on a par with his own. Clay learns that it’s hurtful to call someone stupid, and Sophie learns to let Clay do the heavy work she’s been used to since Cliff died.

Clay does his best to protect his newly-acquired womenfolk, but in the end they take care of the problem themselves. It’s almost pure delight to observe the men rushing off on wild goose trails while the girls set traps, load their guns and tie up bad guys with a matter-of-fact skill.

The supernatural aspect is an underlying simple communication between Sophie and God, which is miraculously overheard by far distant friends who then set out to help her. The timing is always perfect, whether for Sophie’s booby-traps or the arrival of the troops.

The result is a highly spiritual Western adventure full of hilarious moments as well as serious Christian growth. In between Clay’s getting buried in petticoats, threatened with a soup ladle by his little wife, or spied on by gangsters, and Sophie praying, building booby-traps, or fighting off the desire for revenge, there’s never a dull moment.

The storyline is squeaky clean, to the extent that it surprised me when Sophie announces she’s pregnant. Yes, this is a romance, but a very practical one – men don’t like talking, women are smart, men yell and women cry, men want to be protectors and women wear long rustly dresses. Some of these things may almost seem clichéd, but the way it’s all told here, it sure sheds a humourous light on the gender battles that still go on today.

It is perhaps a little incongrous to see so many elements of modern thinking in the Wild West. However, it is certainly more than obvious that it’s the rigours of the West that force people to be innovative.

A sharp-eyed view of the world as seen by a tough Western woman is salted with occasional comments from her husband, only proving how very opposite their thinking is. Girls, don’t miss this one…

And don't forget to visit CFRB Central to see what the others are saying!

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Sci-Fi Still Too Unpopular with Christians

A quick comment on a very prevalent prejudice among Christians...

The other day I came across a new Christian publisher (who shall remain unnamed) and read through their submission guidelines. Down the bottom was a list of genres they don't accept. There along with erotica and porn and violence they listed sci-fi!

I promptly wrote to them and asked why as nicely as I could, and stated that I was very saddened to see it in a list with porn etc. I also said I don't need them to bend the rules for me, but I do wonder why they exclude a genre with so much potential for touching people's hearts.

A very nice lady wrote back to me immediately and explained the quandary they find themselves in when deciding what is acceptable - the traditional Lost Genre/bridging-the-gap problem we're all too familiar with. After all, the LGG was founded as a support network precisely because most Christians find our genres unacceptable, and most mainstream genre writers/publishers/readers are not interested in God. This same problem pops up all over the place.

Anyway, because of what I said, they had a rethink and took sci-fi out of the no-no list. They still don't want aliens, but futuristic is okay. So those with alien stories will still have to go to Wayfarers' Journal or Raygun Revival.

Slowly, surely, the lost genre moves forward... :) It may seem like a small step, but I was encouraged at how easy it was to point out the prejudice to the publisher, and that they so graciously re-worded their guidelines, at least a little bit...