Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lulu lies about not lying

I just got an email from inept pay-to-publisher Lulu, touting their Presidents Day Sale with a claim that "We cannot tell a lie."

Actually, Lulu can, and does, tell lies.

Here are a few:

  1. Lulu claims to rank #1 among self-publishing websites. If you use Lulu you may not be self-publishing because a big part of Lulu is vanity publishing.
  2. Lulu says it is “the only publisher that offers you all that it does for free.” The company has run online ads touting “Publish Your Book—Free,” “Free publishing,” and “Free Self Publishing.” Their website promises, “free book publishing.” Their publishing is free only if you don’t want any paper books to be printed or eBooks to be distributed! Lulu gets paid for every book they publish. That's not free. 
  3. Lulu's notion of free publishing is like free car ownership where there is no charge to view your beautiful new vehicle in the dealer's showroom. But if you want to have it titled in your name, drive it home and put it in your garage, you have to pay $76,484.
  4. Lulu says, "It is not unusual for vanity presses to require an initial order of hundreds of copies of any book they print." Actually, it is extremely unusual. This bit of bullshit is proffered by Lulu and some of its competitors in an effort to make themselves seem better than other pay-to-publish companies. The requirement to buy hundreds of books was common back in the 20th century, but seems to have disappeared, due to the use of Print-On-Demand by vanity publishers.
Lulu boss Bob Young (quoted in the 8/6/07 issue of Publishers Weekly), said, "We publish a huge number of really bad books.”

Sadly, that's the truth!



  1. Oh, come on. You're saying it's not free because Lulu takes a percentage of all books sold? Give. Me. A. Break. How disingenuous can you get?

    Obviously anyone providing a self-publishing platform is going to do that; this is how they stay in business. The phrase for this in the industry is "paying royalties." Amazon takes 30%, Smashwords takes 15%, etc. but that's another way of saying that they pay 70%/85% etc. royalties. By your argument, conventional publishing isn't free to the author, either.

  2. To Brian:

    Michael is not being disingenuous. You, OTOH, have gone beyond being disingenuous to sanction dishonesty -- and you don't deserve a break.

    (1) "Free" should mean "free." It's not a complicated concept. If Lulu takes a cut of the price a book sells for, they are lying about their publishing being free.

    (2) Of course Lulu needs income to stay in business. Paper, toner and postage cost money. But Lulu shouldn't lie to attract ignorant customers.

    (3) Conventional publishers don't advertise "FREE PUBLISHING." They risk their money, usually pay an advance, and if books sell, they pay a royalty to suthors.

  3. Hey Brian,

    Lulu say's it is "the only publisher that offers you all that it does for free."

    If they offer to print books, and as stated, "Lulu takes a small commission when your content is purchased," the book printing is NOT free.

    Ergo, Lulu is lying.

    Why is this so hard for you to understand.

  4. To Brian:

    Last fall Lulu charged me $13.12 to print a book, plus $6.53 to send it to me.

    That sure doesn't seem like "free," and there was no royalty involved. I simply paid for a product to be manufactured and delivered.

    I did not expect it to be free, but I don't expect to be lied to.

  5. Publishing and selling are not the same thing.

  6. So far I like Lulu. They let me publish my crap when other publishers would make me jump through lots of stupid hoops only to take more of a cut at the end. The only thing that concerns me is whether Lulu is honest about the number of books sold. We'll see...