Monday, 9 November 2009

The School Nurse and a Lulu Moan (Mostly the Latter)

I had intended to feature some links to a couple of stories I have been sent, some comments and some links to some varied and interesting sites today. I also intended to do some work on an article in which I plan to tell more about my true life experiences that I alluded to in my last posting. As it is I have spent most of this weekend (other than the time spent earning a crust - or trying to) attempting to contact and get some sense out of the people through whom I presently publish my stuff - Lulu.com. You see they have recently redesigned their virtual shopfront / website. All well and good, you might say - surely an improvement? Well, yes and no - mostly no from my, admittedly selfish point of view. The site / shopfront now has a slicker appearance, but now it is not at all obvious that the books are also available as electronic downloads in addition to print copies.
.....
Now for one reason or another, the folk who read our sort of material would often prefer not to receive hard copy through the post (and I am one) - it can go astray, or worse, fall into the wrong hands, perhaps coming under the disapproving scrutiny of one's spouse or significant other.
.....
Secondly there is the vexed question of price: Due to Lulu's print costs, my books have go at £8.95 for a print copy if I am to earn anything from it at all. To be honest with you, it's actually more to do with my still making a little something when sold through Amazon et al - who take their own cut on top! Lulu.com charges posting and packing on top of that and there can be a delay in receiving the book, as it has to be printed and worm its way through a postal system that, in the UK at least, is becoming increasingly uncertain! The electronic download price, on the other hand, is a mere £3.75 - and few seem to begrudge that. Add to that the fact that the purchase then becomes available practically instantly - and I for one appreciate a little instant gratification - and you can imagine the proportion of my readers that prefer this route. The trouble now is that, to any new would-be reader, the fact that an electronic download is available is all but hidden (a bit of very small text, hidden away to one side of the top of the page) and the download price is not mentioned at all unless one clicks on the appropriate (and minuscule) link. Consequently my sales figures have all but fallen to zero, but for an occasional print copy and one or two sold through online book stores. Volume 2 is not even available in that manner at present as I am holding back with appropriating for it an ISBN registration until such a time as I am sure and certain that it is in its final form - I have been messing about, inserting various keywords and combinations of keywords into section headings in an attempt to make it more visible to search engines.
.....
In addition to all this, other than two, the vast majority of the kind and positive reviews that had been posted on Lulu.com for INSTITUTIONALISED volume 1 (click to see what I mean)have disappeared - including some of the best and most erudite. Comments such as "...destined to become a classic of its genre" - which, as I am sure you can imagine, I treasured greatly -have just vanished forever!!!
.....
So what does all this imply? Well, I am presently searching around for other avenues through which to publish my scribblings, while trudging on with the shortly upcoming 'in-betweeny volume - prequel / sequel' thing (still needs a title) and also one or two parts for volume 3, as and when the ideas come - but as you might well imagine, my enthusiasm is becoming somewhat blunted. Meanwhile, in order to develop at least a little income between the extremely sparse desk research briefs I receive (I'm mostly unemployed) I am considering signing up to two more commercial affiliate schemes - bringing the total to three (and there it will stay - enough, already!). These I will want to be satisfied to be eminently suited to my readership and the subject matter presented on this site and - even more importantly - to offer good value and not be a rip-off. So... a little ad hoc survey:

If you have visited and purchased a subscription to the site I am presently affiliated to - Regulation School Knickers - from which the above images were taken (see sidebar banner or the banner at the foot of the page) - what did you think of their product? Any comments? Either post here as a comment or alternativly you are welcome to contact me direct at the following email adress (anonymously if you so require) toyntanen@googlemail.com .

4 comments:

orage said...

You're right! Only three reviews left for Institutionalised volume 1. Now as to the electronic download being "all but hidden", it's a bit exaggerated. People who don't want to receive the hard copy won't be deterred by the small print! I'm short-sighted but I saw it immediately.
Now why the hell don't they put it bigger?

Madmonkey said...

That is a small font. Have you said anything to them? Maybe they would be willing to make it a bit larger.

Toyntanen said...

Relative to how it did appear it is miniscule. The price for the hard copy and electronic download used to sit side by side and the same size and each associated with a button to click on to buy (along with both prices - now the download price is not shown. So I would argue that I am really making no exaggeration. Contacting Lulu is something else entirely! They have FAQs and an email address if the FAQS don't do it (which they don't, other than saying the site is redesigned - no shit!). But using their email produced what was obviously an automated reply pointing out that there are various 'resources' provided along with FAQs and that my query was therefore being 'closed'. It also stated that if this advice did not solve my problem that I could reply to the email and I would be contacted - I did... and I wasn't... three times!

Then finally a reply came with an apology for the delay and any inconvenience caused - after three weeks! And no prizes for guessing what this stated... yep, "the site is being redesigned". But what of the problems I flagged up, what about my lost reviews???? Nothing! That's what!!! I am furious and I hope other Lulu-published authors are also and that they too vote with their feet as I intend to as soon as I have time to sort out an alternative.

I had enough of them when I was publishing my first book, which is why I am holding back on getting an ISBN for my second until I have everything fixed. I bought a print copy to proof read - I had to otherwise they wouldn't hand out the ISBN (that I had paid for, incidentally. I made a change of a single word (that I didn't really have to, but it made a certain sentence read better) but then, because I had made a change - no matter how small or insignificant -I had to purchase yet another proof print copy. I ended up with three, and buying a block of ten ISBNs cost a bit as well! It was ages before volume 1 as much as broke even because of that! It's all very dispiriting - in fact I don't want to think about it. End of rant...thank you for listening.

Rex Talbot said...

I don't concur with your Lulu complaints. You can publish a book with Lulu free of charge to yourself and sell it thru Lulu, set the price. If you don't sell any it scost you nothing, when you do sell you keep 80% of the profit.

You chose to buy ISBNs thru Lulu, but they were cheaper than if you'd bought them direct from the ISBN agency.


I don't think there is any better deal than Lulu, is there?