But even as sales were taking off LULU was hard at work in the background putting a halt to it: "We are unable to distribute volume 1 as its title comes to close to the edge of the cover to print correctly" But INSTITUTIONALISED volume 1 had been distributed through Amazon et al via LULU since May 2008!!! (I have 3 printed proof copies myself). Then they came out with: "There are too many characters" in the full title of volume 2. But once again this was near-on two years after it had been published. Now they have removed all the PDF downloadable versions.
I am not sure how successful their new strategy is going to turn out commercially though, either for LULU as a company or their authors, at least insofar as my experience to date. Now I know we are not exactly talking 'Harry Potter' here in terms of sales but I had been shifting 2 or 3 most days, but since all the changes they have made at LULU I have yet to sell one single copy of any of my three volumes. In fact, sales just stopped dead after 21st of September (other than two print copies of the first title via distribution – Amazon or whatever - which obviously date to a much earlier time as they take a while to filter through).
And there are other concerning issues too:
My first volume in particular once had several really glowing reader reviews, all of which – bar two - have disappeared (and I had about eight on volume 1 including one that said "destined to be a classic of the genre" which I was particularly proud of!). Admittedly most of these reviews vanished a long time ago, after a previous reshuffle at LULU (about the same time that the ranking device seemed to cease to function and the hit counter that used to feature on their site disappeared).
Secondly: When I use the LULU book search facility, entering the usual keywords pertaining to books in the same genre as mine, I am hard pressed to bring up my own books, despite the fact that I know what I am looking for. In fact only my second volume surfaces at all now. And it is not just me that thinks there is a problem in that department, either. Several folks have emailed me saying that if not for following the links from my blog they would have never have stumbled across any of my books from a random search of LULU (though they had come across and bought others via LULU previously).
But all is not necessarily negative; I have a strategy of my own: What with my paid work now coming to an end and there being no sign of anymore in the pipeline for the foreseeable future I am at a loose end. I plan to spend a little time fixing the cover of volume 1 to keep LULU happy, but using it as an excuse for a cover redesign since my skills have come on somewhat since 2007 when it was created and I'd like to make it appear a little more like Volume 3 (volume 1 is apparently occasionally mistaken for a psychology text book!!!). While I am at it I plan to change the title: It will still say ‘INSTITUTIONALISED: BEYOND THE STANFORD EXPERIMENT’ on the front cover but will be recreated on LULU under an alternative title – one hopefully more eagerly grasped by their picky search engine.
Now this is where you - my readers and other visitors - come in to the equation. If you were given the task of re-naming this, my first ever book (or had you been its author) what would you call it? All suggestions welcome. Please bear in mind that from as far as I can tell LULU’s search engine looks for keywords in the title. So words such as ‘spanking’, ‘caning’, ‘corporal punishment’ and so on need to be incorporated as early as possible in the title but without it becoming too ‘cheesy’. Perhaps do a search on LULU with a few key words and see what crops (Ha, Ha!) up? Meanwhile I am going to carry out a quick (I hope) experiment involving volume three.