Lulu adds book templates and publishing options

Self-publishing pioneer Lulu has revamped its service with new book templates and publishing options.

Lulu’s print book templates offer a good basis but could need tweaking.

Lulu, which launched in 2002, has drawn up some print book templates for Microsoft Word covering a wide range of book sizes.

They include a guide for content creation, formatting and layout, addressing common elements and questions for fiction and non-fiction, and have embedded tips to guide authors through the process.

The company says the templates are free to Lulu authors but I simply downloaded a couple of the templates without having to log in, so it looks as if they’re freely available.

The templates are functional and could provide a good base, with plenty of guidance laid out in bright yellow boxes, but I don’t think the typography and set-up is very inspired.

For instance, the Digest (5.5 ins x 8.5 ins) template uses Times New Roman for everything, including single-spaced 12pt TNR for the body text. Times is a fine typeface for many projects but it isn’t good for books.

Authors can, of course, change the selected fonts to their own choices but a lot of people using templates might not be aware of this and feel they have to stick with the set styles.

If you do use the templates, I would suggest at the very least changing the body text to 12pt Georgia with 1.4 line spacing, so the text doesn’t feel too crowded. I would also change the chapter headings from Times to Georgia or a sans serif font.

The indented body text on the templates is indented too much at 0.76cm and I would change this to 0.5cm.

These might seem like small changes but they make a big difference to the overall reading experience.

The templates are well set out, saving you time on setting margins, etc, but I would take care to print out some pages to check the margins suit your requirements.

Standard settings can mean losing readability if the text is set too close to the spine, that is, on the left-hand side of right-hand pages and the right-hand side of left-hand pages. You might need to adjust these to change these margins.

I use Microsft Word 11 and to change the margins differently for right and left pages, you need to click on the Layout section of the ribbon at the top of the screen and then click on the flyout arrow at the side of Margins.

At the bottom of the resulting menu, click on Custom Margins and check the box for Mirror margins. This will change the Right and Left margin settings to Inside and Outside. Inside will be the inside of either page, regardless of whether it’s left or right, so you can set this globally.

Lulu now offers three choices for publishing ebooks at reasonable prices ranging from £69 to £149, although it keeps 10% of the revenue from each book sale. It also has a DIY option for authors. Books are distributed to the iBookstore, Nook and Lulu Marketplace.

In a link-up with The Book Genome Project, Lulu recently introduced The Helix Review to provide self-published authors an in-depth comparison of their work against a database of over 100,000 well known books to deliver insights for better marketing and selling books. The review costs £19.99 for the basic report and £34.99 for a more comprehensive version.

The review involves no human reading but is an electronic analysis of your text. Take a look at the 22-page sample report on Moby Dick  to get an idea of what it entails.