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.

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!

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8 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!

  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.

  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 Lulu.com 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.

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