Lulu Self-Publishing: Why You Need to Avoid It!

Stop right there. Do not press that button to use Lulu Self-Publishing without reading this article!

You’ve spent countless hours perfecting your work. It makes sense that you would want to protect that investment. If you are looking to publish, find a better place to put your trust than Lulu Self-Publishing.

Here’s why you need to avoid Lulu Self-Publishing:

Scams are becoming a theme in the self-publishing world and Lulu is on the list.

But you don’t need to be a victim. Here, you’ll find valid reasons to look elsewhere for a publisher. The information in this article came from people who have used and been disappointed by Lulu’s publishing services.

You Won’t Get Paid

One of the chief problems with using Lulu for your self-publishing needs is getting paid. Customers reported being duped into accepting zero royalties and only getting paid if their books were purchased directly from Lulu. Even then, the author profit was $1 per book!

Some accounts were frozen for copyright infringement, but the offending book wasn’t even on the account. That customer couldn’t access her royalties but could not reach a customer service representative. She waited weeks to get help.

Yet, the strangest problem with getting paid from your published works seems to be lost somewhere in the pricing structure. Customers report that their book is being sold for $18 – $21, yet they only see a $1 or sometimes nothing at all in profits! That kind of math simply doesn’t add up.

Your Investment Doesn’t Pay Off

There is a reason authors fall into the starving artist category. They make money sporadically and in chunks here and there from the sale of their work. Imagine trying to raise a family on that and fund selling your books at the same time.

You spend a good deal of money to have your book published and you expect it to pay off. At Lulu, publishing can run around $2,700 upfront according to customers. Those same customers reported earning around $18 in royalties for that cost over a 3 year period.

On their website, a standard quality, no frills, paperback book costs $3.25 each to produce. This is the lowest example of what you can purchase with the least amount of features and services. That seems a heavy price to produce a low-quality product.

Lulu is more than willing to upgrade you to the next, more expensive service. They have an enormous list of add-on services, too.

However, don’t expect that quoted price to be the final number. Self-publishers reported additional costs were tacked on at the end of the publishing process but not mentioned ahead of time. This happened even when buying the premium package.

Free Consultation

Reviews Are Misleading

Once upon a time, this company may have been credible, but that is certainly not the case now. Unfortunately, some of those earlier reviews skew the results. Newer authors can be misled by such confusing reviews.

What is very confusing is the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) good rating of a company that otherwise scores extremely low when it’s rated by consumers. It doesn’t add up. At least until you consider the number of reviews on each site.

The BBB has 5 reviews listed for Lulu Publishing, otherwise known as Lulu Self-Publishing, and only 1 of them is negative. Consumer Affairs has 54 reviews, and 35 of those customers only scored Lulu a 1 or 2 out of 5 stars. The difference between the two reporting agencies is astounding!

When you average it out, things don’t look so positive for Lulu.

Customer Complaints Stack Up

Lulu publishing reviews are not very positive at all. While researching for this article, I found review after review with customer complaints. This list will give you insight into why authors are so up in arms over Lulu’s business practices.

Here are some of the major complaints:

  1. Long Delays in Formatting and Printing – I’m not talking about a week delay but weeks of waiting. One user waited 6 weeks on formatting and had heard nothing despite trying to get in contact. Another even reported waiting 10 weeks and more for their books to be printed.
  2. Distribution Delays – Weeks and weeks without books being delivered to either the author or the distribution site means no money coming in. Some customers of Lulu reported that there’s no way to track their books, either.
  3. Website Confusion – A few customers complained that the website is not easy to navigate and can be confusing.
  4. Illustrations Cost Extra – Can you imagine paying an extra $295 for each illustration you include in a children’s book? That’s exactly what one user was told. Additional fees seem to be a common problem with Lulu Self-Publishing.
  5. Ebook Conversions Unsatisfactory – Ebooks were not formatted correctly in many cases. The icons are not where they should be, the print was cut in half on the page and ebooks were even published with the wrong title.
  6. Poor Print Quality – Some of the quality issues include dark or low-quality photos, lopsided print, headers and margins not formatted correctly and using the wrong font or the font is so small you cannot read it.
  7. No Customer Support – This is probably the biggest complaint in all the reviews I read! I found over and over that customers experienced slow responses to their requests. No matter whether they used phone or email, customer support responses were no less than 4 days and sometimes more than 2 weeks later!

Many customers detailed weeks of trying to reach a person to solve an issue with no response. This was especially true if the customer requested a refund for any reason. Customer support seems to be non-existent according to these reviews.

What Can You Do?

No matter what you decide, you need to do your research. Don’t settle for a company like Lulu Self-Publishing when there are credible companies to choose from.

There are much better publishing options out there. Check out this list from the Alliance of Independent Authors for a comprehensive look at your self-publishing options.

Looking to publish a digital magazine? Check out how we do business at MagLoft!

Try Universal App for FREE and Build Your Successful Digital Publishing Business
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on telegram
Share on pocket
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

31 thoughts on “Lulu Self-Publishing: Why You Need to Avoid It!”

  1. I agree. Also had a bad experience where they closed my account and I lost countless hours of work and they did not even give an explanation. My books are about history of science and economics. They don’t answer my emails either. Never received and royalties through them. CreateSpace is a safe option and no doubt there are others.

  2. I ordered a proof of my newly revised book and LuLu sent me the wrong interior – 700 pages of another author’s content! What’s more, the quality of the cover was horrible, with colors that were over saturated and just amateur hour. The pages were held together by thick glue along the spine that was yellow and visible. When I naturally complained and requested a refund it not only took two weeks for them to reply but they did so by agreeing to a refund and SUSPENDING MY ACCOUNT! They claimed to have received a DMCA copyright infringement complaint for the cover of one of my books, but in effect deleted four other titles, all my original work, GONE. Mind you I have been with them for years. The new format they’ve rolled out is pure garbage and lots of authors have had their whole accounts gone missing not mention sales dry up due to missing titles! I suggest avoiding them all together unless you want to see your hard work go up in smoke!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one with this problem! I had literally the same issue happen to me yesterday. I’ve been using Lulu for over 10 years for Private Printing purposes only (ordering copies of my work to keep for myself with zero intent to sell) and they’ve always printed, and ever since they rolled out the new website layout it was awful, but they sent a canned response email saying that my account had ‘violated the member user agreement and they refunded the book that I had ordered, which I guess I would have been fine with if they had left it at that, but then* they proceeded to suspend and delete my account with no warning whatsoever or a chance to contest their decision, and now hundreds of hours of work, years, even, just gone! I definitely plan to avoid them after this incident and will not* be going back. Hopefully, we can spread the word to others to not use Lulu for self-publishing when there are many better alternatives out there!

      1. I had a similar experience yesterday. In addition, I found that nearly all of my private publications were being offered online by multiple sellers. These included a private edition of my Family History and a white paper that I wrote to help out some struggling pensioners. How will I ever find out if any of these books actually sold? Will I get any royalties from illicit sales of my private intellectual property? I doubt it!

    2. The same thing happened to me as well. I’ve been self-publishing books for my own use from them for about two years. I submitted a ticket about an order falling outside of the estimated delivery date and they terminate my account because “they don’t allow fanfiction on their platform”. It was a fan made RPG PDF supplement put out for free, that I formatted into book form, plus my account was also private so no one but me could purchase it. Also, they published the same book twice before (It was my first time publishing something using their hardcover format and my cover didn’t line up correctly). Furthermore, they refused to refund an order I placed with them (totaling $179.66), that they likely cancelled after terminating my account.

      Needless to say I filed a complaint about with the BBB and contacted Paypal about getting a refund. Hopefully Barnes & Noble Press will be a better experience.

  3. I’ve been using Lulu Press for over a decade and have been quite happy using them as a Print on Demand service for books. If they were really as bad as you write they would have been put out of business by the competition. There is plenty of it, including the juggernaut Amazon.

      1. I’ve used them for eleven years, have had none of the above claimed problems, and I certainly do not work for them. I also use it as a print-on-demand service. I get paid regularly, definitely make more than a mere dollar per book, and the quality of my books is top notch. So perhaps some ‘disgruntled customers’ here are working for Lulu’s competitors…?

  4. I am surprised by these stories. I have used Lulu for four years. I market to a niche group, and I have always gotten my money. I sell print books, so Lulu must be paid for printing the book, like any printer would. And they take 25% of the profit. I wish it was less, but businesses have to make money or they can’t pay their bills.

    I agree that the new format is terrible. But I would say that I forced myself to learn how to format my book in Word and I learned about printing and how to make a pdf. You have to take on some of the work or pay someone to do it.

  5. I have been working with Lulu and I am now at the final stage proof reading my memoir. I have called their office at least twenty times. No one has returned my calls or emails. We were supposed to have my books for sale by now. What should I
    do? I need help.

  6. This article is, excuse my French , shit and if I were I would sue the writer for slander. I have been using Lulu for years. Not only the quality of their print is wonderful, in the two occasions I had somethign to say ( over a 5 years period) their representative Renata called me by phone in a matter of minutes after my “complaint” (in one occasion to retire a book from Googlebook where I accidentally put it). As one poster noticed, if they were THAT bad they would have gone out of business ages ago. They have paid my royalties even if I did not show a beneficiary . They put them I don’t know how in paypal. If somebody thinks to make a living out of POD he is out of his mind. POD is for fun or as a springboard for a writer career in “real” pubblishing Shame on you Anna Levi.

  7. I have spent a lot of time writing my story and very naively chose Lulu to publish my work i gave them over £700 pounds this money was part of my pay by instalment plan i was offered, Thank God i never sent them my manuscript i was still formatting it getting it ready to send, i must have tried to contact them at least ten times for help my check in controller i was told was someone called Liz beaumont, i don’t even think she existed i certainly never heard from her or anyone else at Lulu these thieves have stolen my hard earned cash and i want it back: Don’t use these scammers please you will be gutted, there should be something done about this organisation pure criminal.

  8. I would rate Lulu to be under satisfactory unfortunately. I used to use Amazon before they canned author copies to Australia, so, when it came time to find a new manufacturing house I decided to give Lulu a go . I ordered 15 proofs. 10 of which were usable, 4 were dog-eared beyond selling due to poor packaging and 1 had come out of their cutting machine incorrectly – the cover pages still had inches of excess cardboard attached. I later got in touch which customer support and they sent out replacement copies post haste. Quality-wise… they are good enough for the indy-author, however, the cover art never being in the same place twice was a challenge. Book stores are a no go…

  9. If you don’t understand book publishing, or how selling books works in a market controlled by greedy retailers and consumers who refuse to pay, shut the duck up and stop posting bullshit articles with zero basis in reality. Even an a grade moron could figure out how lulu works, understand why pricing works how it does, and use it accordingly without spending up. Clearly you don’t reach those giddy intellectual heights. Or you are being paid by a competitor. Which is it? Idiot or shill? This article has zero facts in it.

  10. I used LULU and did an interview with over three thousand views and most of the feedback was wonderful. However, only two people bought a copy of my book. This didn’t add up at all. When I did my research, yes, LuLu was indeed accused of stealing. No doubt it happened to me too. Thieves! Don’t walk, run!

  11. Mistakes happen and there will always be let downs with any service. However, your article strikes me as a publishing company trying to attack a competitor. Lulu is as good as you make it and there are NO equivalents ANYWHERE else. Anybody that writes their own books or edits books for others knows there is no equivalent of Lulu Self Publishing. They have no need to scam anybody and ALL of their pricing scales are public and easily accessible, unlike perhaps, companies who claim to be better but hide behind a misty veil.

  12. The new format of Lulu is extremely poor, drastically reducing the ability of the user to change and vary cover content and design. The range of colours was huge but is now limited to about ten. Before, title fonts could be different colours, types and sizes on the cover. Now the type size and font are fixed and new words can’t be added. Only one picture is now permitted on the cover. The choice of type of book format is now also extremely limited. Why would you introduce a format that is far worse than the format being replaced, and with far fewer options? I’m fortunate that I self-published many books under the old format but these can’t now be changed.

  13. What an utter piece of garbage article. Lulu have their faults (which in my experience a very few and always put right) but as many have pointed out, it’s not like getting a deal with Penguin. This is you doing all the work and using the platform to produce low runs of books – which is pricey but sometimes the only option. If you’re only going to sell two copies, Lulu is exactly what you need – otherwise you’re going to be sitting on 10,000 books going damp in your garage.
    If you can’t format your book yourself in InDesign and wrap it up for print using Acrobat formats, you’re not a self publisher. You’re just a writer. FACT.

  14. I too believe that Lulu are theives. My account shows that only one book was sold. Yet after 12 months my book is on sale all over eBay from various countries being sold as used. They ignored my request to stop all sales. I don’t know how to complain against them.

  15. I have used Lulu for years. Admittedly, I did not do it for profit and did not use an ISBN. I only put a couple of dollars for my profit. Which I had not issue receiving.

    I have done 4 books. I was very happy with the first 3 books. On the 4th book, the quality suffered a little bit. I was not as happy with the flexibility of the outside cover design tool as opposed as te o to first 3 books.

    However, I never felt they were scamming me.

    I always suspect articles where at the end, they use our product instead.

  16. I have been using Lulu for years now, overall it has been OK (I can’t say stellar, nobody in the PoD business rates that).
    “Duped into zero royalties?” Hardly – the numbers are there for you to choose, with a written warning that if you select the minimum price you will get no royalties. You can update the pricing any time.
    “Terrible print quality”? Yes it sometimes happens. When I complained to Lulu about a proof copy they said, to send it back for a replacement. I said, but it’s only a proof copy, it doesn’t matter, I was really just asking if this was typical. They said no, do send it back, so we can hit the printer over the head with it. I did, they did, and the replacement copy came fast and perfect!
    But yes, the web site revamp is terrible – I am always whining to their customer support how to do what I need. Maybe that’s why the support is so slow, their web site is just not doing its job properly. Like so many businesses who rely on complex web engines, they are proud of their back end and cannot grasp that a web tool is only as good as the users find it to be.
    Would I use Lulu again? Well, you show me a better PoD service with the same sophisticated file normalising formatter, author error handling and wide range of publishing and pricing options and maybe I would. But I am not waiting up!

  17. Whitney D Flake

    I published with LULU 3 months ago and they have yet to send me my money for sales. The last time I emailed them it took them 1 month to get back to me. I worked so hard on my book and my heart is breaking thinking of having to start over. It’s not about the money it’s about feeling taken advantage of. My family and friends bought my book, not to support a company but to support the person they love, me. Stay away from this company.

  18. I used Lulu for years and on the few occasions that there was a problem, they rectified it quickly. I stopped using them for a while due to one of their contracted printers producing sub-standard product. I am now going back to them as they have sorted that out. The quality is good and I get paid. I’m sure that there are people that have issues but Lulu are nowhere near the worst.

  19. Steven P. Love

    I tried to self-publish my book through Lulu back in 2012. Back then I was very naive about publishing. They don’t do any active promotion or advertising unless you pay extra money. As a result my book languished on their site, as well as on Amazon and Apple eBook, for over 2 years. After only 3 sales in 2 years I had finally had enough. In 2014 I requested that my book be taken off the market and close my Lulu account. It took about 90 days but my book did finally disappear from Apple, Barns & Noble, and other affiliates. I thought that was it, but then I noticed my book still on Amazon. I contacted Lulu and asked them why it was still there. They said that the copy being listed on Amazon was from another book dealer that they had no control over. Since the copy this book dealer was selling was listed as used I just assumed that when that copy sold it would finally be completely off the market. Now roll ahead to today, June 12th, 2021. While doing a search for my book title to see how it was displaying on a site called TaleFlick where I was trying to sell it now I discovered in the search results it was still listed on Amazon. I clicked the link and saw that it was being sold as NEW by Amazon. The publisher was listed as LULU. For some reason Lulu was now selling my book again even though I told them to take it off the market years ago. I sent LULU an email demanding it be removed or I would take legal action for copyright infringement. I have yet to get a response and probably won’t until next week. But this is just more proof that LULU is stealing authors’ stories. DON’T USE LULU EVER!

  20. I’ve been a designer for 40 years, with a handful of book projects in my portfolio. Even with that, I had questions regarding Lulu’s needs that aren’t answered ANYWHERE. So I tried Chat. Oh, great, a robot that tells me to click links, only it forgets to give me the links which wouldn’t have answered my questions anyhow. How about emailing customer support? That was smooth, except they NEVER, NEVER, EVER REPLY. Okay, it’s time to talk to a human. I’m used to sites that carefully hide their phone number, but Lulu doesn’t offer one anywhere. You’re on your own. They were my client’s choice. This must never happen again.

  21. Wow, I am shocked by this article, and the negative comments. Having published a number of books all through Lulu, not only have I never paid up front except for my first set of ISBNs, I have been paid every month since 2008 for sales in multiple channels.
    Marketing… Lulu, like any publisher will never market for you, you have to put in the work yourself.
    Customer services … rarely needed, but I had a query this week, emailed them, got a reply within 24 hours.
    Research, yep, done that on both fronts publishers, and my market …I spent a long time researching self publishing companies, and my niche, and still choose to use Lulu, and self hundreds of books every month.
    Amazon will list any book they can so once you have an ISBN that’s it, they’ll list it whether they can actually provide it or not – I’ve had run ins with amazon over that, and had to ask them to remove my titles that I know they won’t deliver.
    It’s like getting a website and expecting sales, it won’t happen unless you work hard at it. That’s down to you, not Lulu.
    If you’re not selling books through any channel ask yourself Who am I selling to? Where are they? and how can I reach them to tell them about my book? Then go do it.
    I did magazine articles, radio interviews, blogging and more to get the sales I get. The rest is done mostly by the amazon algorithm.
    I think if you’re doing fiction you’re up against the big names, but if it’s non fiction you need to do all of this.

  22. I’ve been self publishing with Lulu for over 10 years. My experience has been 100% positive. To date have received over £20,000 in royalties and it increases each year. I find their customer service superb. I cannot understand why so many people are trying to discredit them. Of course if you write a crap book that no one buys you’ll not make any money, but this wouldn’t be the fault of Lulu.

  23. Not the best but not the worst.

    Lulu started out as a multi-media company. I was able to sell anything, photos, videos, books. Then they decided they wanted to be a book publisher. At least they gave me a few months to begin changing my zipped image files to PDF. That was tricky because back then every image in the pdf had to be the same size (that’s not the case today). Plus you couldn’t password protect the book (again, now you can for digital PDFs).

    I’ve been using them for years. Things have, admittedly gone downhill. Customer service takes days. If you file a ticket, be very thorough, clarify the problem, and everything you’ve done to correct it so you don’t have to wait another week with the “did you try this?” response.

    I had a recent order, a photo book, where I had properly formatted it, checked it on their preview window, all was right with the world. It took about two weeks to get the order, and when I showed up, three of my four books were wrong. The images were rotated 90 degrees. It took a couple of days to hear back but they apologizes and said they would reprint it and expedite the order. The replacement books were correct, I was just annoyed that it took a month to get the right books from the time I’d place my order.

    I don’t understand their rampant closing accounts and removing books without “due process” for their members. Seems like in today’s world, communication would be high priority for a business. And while I haven’t suffered too much from the Lulu Tyranny, I’ve read stories such as posted here, and know from the experiences of some that I know that Lulu is ruthless. They are not a people-friendly company.

    They have recently changed their ISBN policy. It used to come free, but now there’s a $4.99 charge.

    As far as royalties are concerned, I don’t use Lulu for distribution. The amount that you get after it goes through their channels, and everyone else gets their cut is ridiculous. As another observed, KDP Print (formerly Create Space) lets you create and sell books directly through Amazon. It’s a bit more work, but you’ll get a lot more revenue from them than using Lulu to distribute it to them.

    All that said, I’ve had basically good luck with Lulu, but then I do ALL my work. I’ve never bought one of their packages, and anyone that has modest computer skills should never need them. You can format your own books with free tools like Open Office, you can use basic Grammarly for free (or upgrade for a month if you want advanced features for your book). There are dozens of royalty free images sources for your cover. You don’t need advanced, expensive photo-editing programs when there are options like Gimp and Photopea.

    Good luck to all. Be safe, be happy.

    1. I had to threaten to sue them to let me back into my account. I discovered they are distributing the UNREVISED edition of all my books after all that necessary editing I did. I also no longer have a way to download and revise my manuscripts as needed.
      I also am noticing original lines from my books either changed or removed. How shady is lulu🤦🙄😒🤔

  24. I’ve published 4 books with Lulu—latest one just recently (2021). No problems to report. Plan to use them again.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Articles

Build your Successful Digital Publishing Business. Try Universal App now!

Sign Up for FREE
Get $100 Conversion Credits
Book a FREE Consultancy Call
and more!