Writing and publishing is a process that is both challenging and rewarding for most people, especially for those who are blind and physically disabled, and this is the case with me. Having lost my eyesight at the age of seventeen, I no longer could express myself in my artwork, so I turned to writing to share with others my imagined worlds and creations. I became an author at the age of twenty, completing three books within one year. I wrote my books using a screen reader (computer software) that reads what’s on the screen and tells me which keys I type. It has great functionality that enables its users to use most computer programs with relative ease.
When I first started out as a professional writer, I was clueless to as what I should do to publish my books. I never heard about self-publishing or print-on-demand technology, nor did I know that traditional publishing is not the route for everyone. I began by researching on the Internet and joining discussion e-mail groups consisted of writers, publishers, editors, and other professionals in the publishing world. I searched for publishers, and learned what to look for in a publisher. For my first book, I first published it with a small publisher who uses print-on-demand technology. It differs from many other print-on-demand publishers in that they review manuscripts in order to accept those of high quality for publication. I was thrilled when my book was accepted, and in a matter of a few months, it was published.
For my following two books, I decided to self-publish them through Lulu.com. I completed every self-publishing task, including formatting my manuscripts, on my own without eyesight; I had to upload the formatted ready-to-publish pdf files onto Lulu’s servers, set the binding type, color, specification, pricing, etc. I also found editors and artists to design my covers.
Lulu.com primarily acts like a printer (you have to format your manuscript, make it ready to print, find editors/designers, etc.). Whenever I need more copies of my books, I simply order them through Lulu.com at the printing cost without any other fee. Lulu fulfills my orders when people order my books through them, and promptly pays me royalties for books ordered through them or from Ingram.
I highly recommend Lulu for the following reasons, which are also the reasons why I have chosen to self-publish my books rather than having a publisher.
1. There are no contracts to sign; there is only the member agreement (the usual terms of service).
2. You retain full copyrights to your work.
3. There are no fees to publish any work (but you have the option to buy one of the two ISBN services they offer: Published by Lulu and Published by You).
4. You can make your books available through Ingram by purchasing their ISBN service, and it will in turn make your books available on Amazon.com and other major outlets; and bookstores and libraries have the ability to order and stock your book.
5. Publishing is instant; after you upload your file onto Lulu’s server and specify the options, your book is immediately published once you click on the last button at the end of the simple steps. Once it is published, it is immediately available for others to order through Lulu. (Getting listed on Amazon can take up to eight weeks.)
6. You can have the option of making your book available only to yourself through Lulu, so you can order a copy to make sure everything looks okay before making it available to the public.
7. You can publish your books in different sizes and binding types (i.e., trade, textbook-sized, perfect, coiled, stitched).
8. You can use your own ISBN instead of theirs, so you will be the registered publisher of your work. I have published most of my books under my own name, Dance with Your Heart! Publishing.
9. Their printing quality is quite high, combined with paper of fine quality and glossy covers.
10. 24/7 availability–you can publish, revise, and order your book anytime.
11. You can revise your book anytime for an unlimited number of times, and it’s free.
Publishing through Lulu has been a wonderful experience. Since I do everything myself, depending solely on a computer, and cannot travel to any printers, using Lulu’s printing services has been a dream come true for me. Lulu, like any other company, is definitely not for everyone,
but it is perfect for me.
Shirley Cheng (b. 1983) is a blind and physically disabled award-winning author (with eight book awards), motivational speaker, self-empowerment expert, poet, board member of the World Positive Thinkers Club, and advocate of parental rights in children’s medical care. Cheng is the author of eight books and a contributor of fourteen. http://www.shirleycheng.com