Lulu.com offers probably the most comprehensive collection of services for the self-publisher. From family histories and cookbooks to documenting reunions, weddings and anniversaries, Lulu can make it happen at a very affordable price. With Lulu there are no up-front costs and no minimum purchases. If you only want one copy of your work, that’s fine with them.
While Lulu does provide all kinds of online support, it creating your book requires more than basic levels of word processing skills on your part. You should be comfortable using the styles, footnotes and table of contents features of your word processing software before you tackle a family history project. Lulu does provide downloadable template files for each book size it offers. These templates already have page size, margins and header/footer formatting in place. There are no restrictions on fonts or number of photos to include in your project.
Lulu.com does provide significant support related to the publishing process. Online support includes a huge help area with documentation as well as video tutorials discussing all aspects of book building and publishing. There’s also a marketplace of fee-based services available for proofreading, editing, cover design, marketing and much more.
Once your project is published, Lulu.com provides a storefront where you can sell your publications. You determine the selling price and Lulu manages the sale, collects the money, prints and ships the book, provides customer support and then sends you the profits. Even if you’re publishing a family history for only four or five people, you aren’t stuck with a large number of copies just to meet a minimum order. If you only want one, you only order one.
There’s more to Lulu than just books. They have a great calendar creation app that will pull your photos in from Flickr, Facebook, Smugmug and Photobucket and even allow you to include your own special dates like birthdays and anniversaries. If you have a lot of digital content you’d like to share, you can create your own CDs and DVDs. From scanned letters and journals to family videos, this is a great way to make family treasures available to all.
A book published on Lulu has reach far beyond the Lulu storefront. Sometime back, Lulu and Amazon penned an agreement to make Lulu books available on Amazon. My family cookbook from 2006 can now be purchased at both Lulu and Amazon. The only thing I had to do to make it happen was say yes when Lulu asked if I would be interested. Lulu also has agreements with Apple and Barnes & Noble to convert your book to ePUB format and list it in their bookstores. Lulu does the conversion, provides the ISBN, lists your book, provides sales reports and sends you your check.
Lulu offers good quality products and the support and services needed to help create them. For the family historian and local genealogical and historical societies with word processing and layout skills, you can build and design exactly the look and feel you want. If your technical skills are more on the basic side, you may be better off looking at other options.