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Some Takeaways Using Lulu

swmirskyswmirsky Creator
edited November 19 in General Discussions
Having released my philosophy work, Value and Representation, through Lulu I have a few thoughts on the results:

1) Lulu did a competent job of producing the book though, of course, I already knew they would based on prior experience with them;

But there have been various problems working with the site and with the final product even so:

2) As to the site, it's Coverwizard continues to be quirky. Fixing the text on the back cover, for instance, still results in shifting the position of the sub-title text on the front. So you have to be really careful and constantly re-check before proceeding, fixing inadvertent slippage before pressing the button to move on to the next step. (Failure to see the slippage has caused me to order a couple of extra proofs since the slippage got past me a couple of times while I was focusing on other things.)

3) Although I approved the book a couple of weeks ago, its availability on amazon is still pending (they estimated six to eight weeks so this was not unexpected). However, in the interim, I noticed two other errors, possibly mine, at the end of the second section. This has obliged me to halt and restart the process which means ordering another proof. That takes about 15 days, Lulu says, at which point i will have to restart the amazon distribution all over again. (Good thing I had already issued the book on a parallel basis through Amazon KDP -- though that had plenty of its own problems as well. At least the book will be available via Amazon while the Lulu version limps along.)

4) I have found ongoing problems using the set up tools at the Lulu site. For instance, loading my manuscript file in pdf form, I find that, for some reason, the Lulu conversion pdf doesn't match it in terms of page downs. This posed a problem for my table of contents! Years ago I had the same problem with a more lengthy book trying to get it done through Lulu. I could not make the table of contents in my file cohere with the pdf output file generated by Lulu. This time, as the book is short and only consists of three essays, the first starting on page one, I only had to worry about two pages showing up incorrectly in the table of contents. So I just put the anticipated page numbers in the table of contents rather than the actual page numbers in the Word file and when it converts to Lulu's pdf, it comes out alright. So this worked for a short book with a short table of contents but it would be hell to do if one's book was longer with lots of chapters!

5) A second problem with the upload, which I was not able to figure a way to fix, occurred in the page downs internal to the chapters. Here I have broken the text up in some of the chapters into sub-sections, each preceded by a caption/header indicating what the following text addresses. In the Word file these sub-headers appeared in the places I wanted them but after conversion to the Lulu system pdf, they ended up at the bottom of the preceding page of the text they are supposed to describe. Not a huge problem because it only occurred twice in the last iteration. But it looks unprofessional. Nevertheless, after wrestling with it unsuccessfully, I decided to live with this artifact of Lulu's upload system. It's not that noticeable but it also undermines the book's appearance, albeit marginally.

6) The cover stock is kind of thin. One reading of the book results in the cover folding or creasing, the book losing its integrity. At least two of the proofs I received also came creased to begin with and one was messed up in the printing (Lulu made good on that one).

7) I used a 6x9 trim size because it was easiest for me to set up and Lulu seems to have it as one of its standards. But I note the size of the resultant book compares unfavorably to the size of various commercially published books of the same genre. Commercially published books also seem to hold up better when read multiple times. I've also noticed that some of my Lulu proofs have rather roughly cut pages at the bottom or top. (Amazon's KDP proofs don't have a better record, though.)

So these are a few of my comments based on my latest experience using Lulu. Other Lulu customers here may use them or ignore them as they wish.  I just thought it would be important to tell folks about my experiences.

Oh, one more thing: There is better personal support with Lulu than with Amazon though Amazon staff seem to have more flexibility in how they address problems. Lulu personnel have been invariably friendly and knowledgeable but when it comes to fixing something they generally end up saying well, that's our policy. KDP, on the other hand, recently broke with their policy to fix a problem I was having with them re: this book (though it was a problem they had created through their consolidation of CreateSpace and KDP -- if they hadn't fixed that problem I probably would have just shut down the KDP version of the book).  

Comments

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Some Takeaways Using Lulu

    Your post headings are very like many newspaper headings. Nothing to do with the content!

  • I agree the cover wizard is very buggy. I've had the text have bold settings in the preview just after I turned it off. I go back and turn it off again and have the same result. I have had the same thing happened with the colors not saving or changing. But overall I've gotten used to it and found workarounds. But I hear they are going to update the site and wizard later on so keep that in mind. I've been talking to other authors on Amazon and they say that Lulu's printing is much superior to Amazon's create-space. I have to agree. I've seen copies of my books from both sites and Lulu is much better. Never had the problem you seem to have with the blank pages not sure how that would happen.
  • swmirskyswmirsky Creator
    edited November 25
    Not blank pages but different page-downs i.e., where the lines appear in the Lulu version vs. where they appear in my Word file, the pdfs I create on my pc and Amazon KDP's printed version. Only the Lulu pdf conversion from the Word file (Lulu's site won't accept my pc-created pdf for some reason!) has the problem. Thus I get different paginations in my Lulu book than in the original, screwing up the table of contents.

    In this case, because the book is short with only three rather longish essays to tabulate on the table of contents page, the fix was easy -- I just had to advance the page number on the second two essays in the table of contents by two pages for the final Lulu book but back when I had a book with well over 20 chapters it was a nightmare (because I had to keep track of constant changes to the paginations and coordinate them with the table of contents for each iteration!) and I finally just gave up. Since that last book I tried to do here was a number of years ago, it seems that no improvement has been made to the Lulu site since then. However, as I said, this was surmountable this time because I only needed a table of contents showing three "chapters"!

    On print results, it seems to me that Lulu and Amazon KDP printing are about equal. Both adequate but not top of the line. The cover stock is too thin, the glue binding isn't that strong and there have been errors in the outputs (for my Lulu proofs but not my Createspace proofs). But on balance there isn't any significant difference between the outputs I've seen for either company.

    Yes, we can find work-arounds for the glitches that seem to infest Lulu's CoverWizard. You just have to be constantly on the alert and not take anything for granted. You have to check back multiple times to make sure nothing slips past you. A couple of times I've had to ask one of Lulu's online helpers to figure out a way to resolve a problem, e.g., when an upload wasn't uploading for some hard to fathom reason. The individual who helped me had to circumvent the system and perform the upload herself via a different file system. So it seems there's quite a bit to fix in the Cover Wizard. Hopefully soon, eh?   

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Not blank pages but different page-downs i.e., where the lines appear in the Lulu version vs. where they appear in my Word file, the pdfs I create on my pc and Amazon KDP's printed version. Only the Lulu pdf conversion from the Word file (Lulu's site won't accept my pc-created pdf for some reason!) has the problem. Thus I get different paginations in my Lulu book than in the original, screwing up the table of contents.

    Are you still talking about an ePub or a printed book? Do you still mean a Cover Wizard in either? Lulu's ePub Wizard will not accept PDFs. "Before we can convert your manuscript to an eBook in EPUB file format, it must be saved as a properly formatted DOC, DOCX, RTF, or ODT file." Printed book Wizards will, but it's broken.

    In this case, because the book is short with only three rather longish essays to tabulate on the table of contents page, the fix was easy -- I just had to advance the page number on the second two essays in the table of contents by two pages for the final Lulu book but back when I had a book with well over 20 chapters it was a nightmare (because I had to keep track of constant changes to the paginations and coordinate them with the table of contents for each iteration!) and I finally just gave up.

    Don't create it until the file is finished then. But I am still confused. Your original posting was to do with a Cover Wizard. But what are you on about? ePub or Printed?


     Since that last book I tried to do here was a number of years ago, it seems that no improvement has been made to the Lulu site since then. However, as I said, this was surmountable this time because I only needed a table of contents showing three "chapters"!

    You do anyway to pass the ePub verification test. Title Page, Copyright at the top of the Copyright, and the 1st chapter in the story. There's no rule to say that printed books have to have a TOC.

    On print results, it seems to me that Lulu and Amazon KDP printing are about equal. Both adequate

    Ordered direct from Lulu, paperback printing is outstanding.

     but not top of the line. The cover stock is too thin,

    It's normal for paperbacks.

     the glue binding isn't that strong

    I have never had a problem with it with books direct from Lulu, and I have not seen any one else say in the forum that they have.

     and there have been errors in the outputs (for my Lulu proofs but not my Createspace proofs).

    I have also not had problems with that either, what sort of errors?

    But I feel it's only fair to add that when I order my own paperbacks, they are printed in the UK.

     But on balance there isn't any significant difference between the outputs I've seen for either company.

    Yes, we can find work-arounds for the glitches that seem to infest Lulu's CoverWizard.

    EPub or printed? The ePub Wizard worked fine last time I used it, that was not long before the banner appeared to say the entire Wizard is bugged.

    I have never had a problem with the printed book Cover Wizard. Then again, I upload pre-created jpgs for both. With printed, one for the entire front and one for the entire back.

    You just have to be constantly on the alert and not take anything for granted. You have to check back multiple times to make sure nothing slips past you. A couple of times I've had to ask one of Lulu's online helpers to figure out a way to resolve a problem, e.g., when an upload wasn't uploading for some hard to fathom reason.

    There can be many reasons that happens. One of the commonest is it appear do be doing nothing, but if one goes back a step, then forwards again, it has worked!

     The individual who helped me had to circumvent the system and perform the upload herself via a different file system. So it seems there's quite a bit to fix in the Cover Wizard. Hopefully soon, eh?

    Which printed book one are you using? There are three, the (old) 'new' one that opens by default, the (older) old one that you have to do a rapid click on the link to get to open, and the Advanced one? I only use the default one and have not had any bother with it, and I think I last used it around a month ago.

  • Printed books.

    "There's no rule to say that printed books have to have a TOC." -- Kevin

    How is that even relevant to what I said? Who's talking about rules?

    The cover stock is decent for lower tier paperbacks, not for the higher quality books where the heavier stock resists bending much better. The binding glue is okay but also weaker than is found in other parts of the commercial publishing industry.

    As to errors, I have mentioned the issues here before: creases in interior pages, poorly trimmed edges.  
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Printed books.

    "There's no rule to say that printed books have to have a TOC." -- Kevin

    How is that even relevant to what I said? Who's talking about rules?

    Err, why do I need to point out that not having a TOC would have solved the problems you had  in creating them. (Sigh.)

    The cover stock is decent for lower tier paperbacks, not for the higher quality books where the heavier stock resists bending much better.

    I have 100s of paperback books here from new to very old from many publishers of many 'Qualities'. The card that Lulu's printers use are the same as they are. What does have a tendency to cause POD book covers to curl is the lamination that's applied after printing. It can shrink. Then again I have some mass-printed books where the covers have also curled.

     The binding glue is okay but also weaker than is found in other parts of the commercial publishing industry.

    How strange, none of my Lulu created books have fallen apart.

    As to errors, I have mentioned the issues here before: creases in interior pages, poorly trimmed edges.

    And you raised the point with Lulu Help?  

  • Kevin wrote: "Err, why do I need to point out that not having a TOC would have solved the problems you had  in creating them. (Sigh.)"

    Err, because that was irrelevant to the issue since I had determined the book required a table of contents, i.e., as a philosophy book with multiple chapters the complexity of the material required some ability to differentiate between sections, point readers to particular sections, etc. Anything less would have undermined the quality of the book. So sigh yourself!
  • I just received the latest proof of my book Value and Representation. Glancing through it I discovered yet another new problem with the pdf conversion glitch! A footnote which in the original (and earlier proofs) appears on the same page as the numeral notation corresponding to it now slips to the next page. This definitely should NOT have happened and I am now concerned for other such slippages elsewhere in the book which only a close re-reading of every page can ferret out. Especially worrying is the fact that I found it by just casually leafing through (prompted by the fact that the margins on the left side of each page seem to have slipped too close to the edge of the pages!). Now I am not confident this version of the book is a reliable one or one I will be happy with.
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