Creating real memoir books with Lulu

A couple mothers I know received beautiful gifts of memories for Mothers Day. The memoir books I’ve been working on arrived in the mail this week from Lulu.com. Kate’s bittersweet memories from childhood, including being orphaned at age 13 and caring for her little brothers, became a 24-page hardcover with her photo on the front. She was amazed at how nice it looked, pleased and honored that someone thought her stories were worth that kind of effort. Her daughter was very excited and asked me to order another ten copies. My mother-in-law was also very happy to receive an 84-page soft cover book of the highlights of her father’s stack of letters to home during his WWII service. She called to thank me and tell me she had tears in her eyes as she read the first section.

To get the manuscripts printed and bound, I opened an account with Lulu.com, a popular “self-publishing” company which actually serves as a publishing services company too expensive to use for those intending to sell their books to the public. However, for private family memoirs needing small quantities, Lulu is a good deal. It would have cost me almost as much at Kinkos to have the pages coil bound with frosted plastic cover as it did to make real-book copies at Lulu. Lulu has a number of format styles for book covers, or you can upload your own design at extra cost. You can choose the exact color shade(s) for your front and back covers, add photos and text. My advice is to choose standard paper vs the ultra thin “publisher” grade paper. A Word file can then be uploaded to the site, but I created a pdf file (using the free PrimoPdf download) since there were photos set into the text that I wanted to make sure would stay in place when converted to book. Be sure to double-check cover and manuscript to ensure all is well, and this was a little awkward as there was no way to “back up” from view mode so I had to just close out the window and then get back into Lulu. Once “published,” copies can be ordered and will arrive in about a week. I chose trackable shipping which is a little more expensive than regular. The FedEx man delivered the books well-packed within cardboard boxes.

The minimum page number for hard cover is 24 total (counting fronts and backs), the minimum for soft cover is 84. Both books were at the bare minimum, which can make binding more difficult. The hard cover appears to be of high quality binding, the soft cover is good and held up to reading. There was some tiny “chipping” at the tops and bottoms of the narrow spines, this from cutting the covers to size—not much to complain about, and should not occur with thicker books. All in all, they look very nice and are impressive for the family. The 84-page 8 ½” x11” book is $6.84 each, the same size 24-page hardcover is $15.63 each. There is a discount if ordering 50 or more copies. Lulu conveniently prices everything out for you immediately as you choose your options of size, binding, number, shipping method.

No excuses now, it is easier than ever and not too expensive to create your own real book of memories.

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About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), and cats
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4 Responses to Creating real memoir books with Lulu

  1. Kim says:

    The books look very nice, Linda! What wonderful Mother's Day presents.

  2. Great job! I'm glad to hear that PrimoPDF does the job with Lulu. I'd wondered about that. Did you download one of their templates to format your page layout?

  3. Linda Austin says:

    Lulu will take a Word document. I did my own interior formatting.

  4. Jerry Waxler says:

    Haha! It's in the air. I was just looking at some of the self-published memoirs on my reading pile. Some of them are quite good, and I wished I had a way to review or write about them all. But since I don't, I thought the next best thing would be to encourage the whole notion of self-publishing your memoir. It was fun to see your blog on the subject. A great gift to family and also a neat goal for next year for those of us who missed this one.Jerry Memory Writers Network

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