Lulu books - Why buy them?

The Great Unknown


I have heard it mooted that buying books from an outfit like Lulu might be a waste of money because anyone can upload their rubbish and how can you tell the good from the mediocre from the outright garbage? It's a question we've got to ask ourselves before putting our hands in our wallets, and it is a real quandary.

It crossed my mind this morning when I was emerging from that land of nod in which there’s a railway station in my daughter’s new home and a little old lady down the road fancies me to the extent that she stalks me on buses wafting her bus pass temptingly in front of my eyes, that had the world been different I might have uploaded my very first book to Lulu when I wrote it years ago, and nobody would have stopped it being printed. Nobody, either, would have changed one word or spelling mistake or grammatical boob. Not a single soul would have pointed out the inconsistencies in plot and characterisation and it would have been there, a pretty little thing with a bright and shiny cover, ready to expensively deceive the unwary. It was a dreadful piece of work and I'm ashamed to actually remember it. But in this age of easy communication how many present-day equivalents of the younger me have turned to Lulu with what they believe is an excellent piece of work? And how many old geezers with a vocabulary of fifty words have gone into Lulu print just so that they can say they have before they pass on to that great big bookstore in the sky?

The trouble with Printing on Demand outlets like Lulu springs into sharp focus when you consider what I might well have done back then, given the opportunity. It’s a good thing, then, that there was no Internet in the Stone age, no Lulu (except for a bright and cheerful Scottish lass with a voice that could beguile Saints), and no opportunity for me to foist my nonsense on an unwary public.

I shudder when I think of that first (now thankfully long lost) manuscript and blush in the loneliness of my own boudoir when I remember that I actually submitted it to a mainstream publisher. Maybe it was that indiscretion that has blacklened my name ever since!

But all this means there’s going to be a huge question mark in the minds of passing strangers who chance upon this site and get to wondering whether it might be wise spending their hard earned money on a book that might quite simply be dross. I’m like that myself. I’ve read quite a lot of author’s blurb about their work and decided not to buy so far because I’m far from wealthy and quite simply can’t affords to throw my meagre funds away on rubbish.

Yet I also know that there is work of the highest possible standard on Lulu. Lulu is a repository of that work which is so different and brilliant that no commercial publisher would touch it with a barge pole. It contains, in fact, what most likely might be the very best and the very worst of published work.

Oh, I know with my own books the odd typo has survived. The hardest thing a writer can do is check his own work because having passed over a mistake once he’s quite likely to pass over it again and again, and let’s be honest, no spell checker is going to correct the unforgivable error of writing there when you know and everyone is convinced that you meant that. But I’m not really on about genuine and hopefully rare typing errors. Some even manage to crawl onto the pages of professionally type-set works once in a very blue moon. I’m on about the substance of the books, the totality of what should be an enlightening read.

So how does the proud author convince a sceptical public that it might just be worth buying one of his masterpieces?

There’s always the star rating on the Lulu contents page. He could give himself a maximum number of stars and sit back and wait for the money to roll in. But the great reading public isn’t daft and probably realises that he’s probably awarded that accolade himself, the cheeky little wordsmith. I haven’t done it, and that’s the reason that to my knowledge only one of my books has a star rating and reader’s comment – and that is absolutely unsolicited and genuine. I will not degrade a system that should be an honest guide to the public by corrupting its veracity.

What else can the author do to inform potential readers, then?

I suppose he can give the book away and wait for the praise to come in. That would help spread the word, but it might also lead to nothing. Having provided free copies to all potential readers why should anyone buy the wretched thing?

I’ve opted for a variation on the theme of giving. Right from the start I decided to include on this Wiki sample pages so that the potential reader can judge whether the style and content of my books might please them. Most of the samples are as much as the whole of the first chapter if that chapter is short enough. I have recently included a sample of Chapter One, part One from the five-parter “The Jewels Of Ooombis”. I may or may not go on to include freebies of the other four parts. There is such a thing as swamping a shared site like this to the real cost to others.


I believe that the samples might give some indication of the style and nature of the book, but I would advise potential readers that my adult books all tend to incorporate some adult scenes. One of them “A Fall From Grace” is only available to those with an access level of “mature”. It’s a shame, but human life has its horny bits (wouldn’t our spell on Earth be dull if it didn’t?) and any honest fiction is either bound to reflect that or pretend that it doesn’t exist.

So this is my answer to those who suspect self-published work. Take a look, I say, decide for yourself. And if it’s something you’re unlikely to see elsewhere that tempts you, then why not be tempted? Remember: Lulu books are Printed on Demand, and that means that if only a dozen people buy a particular book then only a dozen copies are ever printed. And I can’t see mine ever being available in shops or even on sites like Amazon, not because they aren't the brilliant works of a genius (because they obviously are) but because I've approached regular publishers and don't like their negative attitude. So if you acquire a copy of, say, “A Fall From Grace” you might be virtually unique in your neighbourhood and consequently know something that nobody else does. What a secret to have all to yourself!

Spooky, isn’t it?

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