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Antique Safes/Peckham Boy

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Question
QUESTION: Hi Mike,

I just ordered a copy of your book on Roy Saunders - "Peckham Boy".

I had met Roy several times when he was living and working in California so I'm aware of this story, but I can't wait to read the book to get more details, as this is a story that does pop up from time to time in the security industry.

My question really concerns your use of Lulu.com as a publisher.   My book on the history of antique safe makers from the early 1800's through the mid 1900's will probably be ready for publishing the middle of next year - I've still got a ton of research to do, but I currently have information on close to 300 safe makers or manufacturers.
While the books main focus is on US safe makers, I've included a few British, European and Canadian safe makers that either had an influence or because of the number of safes had an impact on the trade.

I've looked at a couple publishers that are "self" publishers, but I hadn't heard of Lulu.com until I found your book.   

I would like to hear your reasons for choosing them.

Thanks,

ANSWER: Hi Terry,

Great to hear from you and many thanks for ordering Peckham Boy.  The main reason for choosing Lulu in the first place was because I am an ordained member of the Triratna Buddhist Order and many of my Buddhist friends have had books published through specialist printers Windhorse Publications.  However, I discovered that many of them have found self publishing quicker and easier and when I sought advice, they all recommended Lulu.

I don't know how they compare with other self-publishing companies as I have only used Lulu, but to me it seemed remarkably efficient.  I felt a little intimidated at first and was afraid of making a mistake and ruining it, but I found that if you take it one step at a time, it is very straightforward.  I prepared the manuscript as per their instructions and uploaded it.  Then my son designed the cover and that was slightly more challenging but it went smoothly.  Finally I pressed the right keys and there it was!

After the first issue, some close friends pointed out a couple of inaccuracies and I was able to make some amendments and publish a revised version.  At one stage I made an error and contacted their help line by email.  I received a response within half a day, explaining what to do.  I followed their instructions and it all worked.

They track the number of sales and also make regular monthly payments into my Paypal account.  There's even a graph to show how sales are going.  Currently they are pretty steady with nearly 200 copies sold.

My experience of Lulu has been very positive and speaking to friends they all say the same.

Good luck Terry, let me know when it is out there and I will certainly buy a copy.

Very best regards.

Mike

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Mike,

Does lulu.com charge a fee or take a percentage "WHEN" the book is ordered/sold or printed, or do you have to order xxx # of books up front?

The self publishers I've looked at, have base rates for xxx # of books to be printed, and then its up to you to market them.

Not a bad way as you have total control, and profit, but you also have a large outlay of cash and a pile of books laying around until they sell!

I'll have to look more closely at Lulu.com

Thanks

Answer
The good thing about Lulu is it is a 'publish on demand' service.  So you don't have to finance a minimum print run - you can request just one copy if you wish.  If you order 15 copies you get additional discounts.  

You set the price at which it sells and Lulu take a percentage and makes it quite clear what you receive if the purchase is made through Lulu.  If it is purchased through Amazon or any other retailer, you get substantially less as Lulu takes its margin and so does the retailer.

Their pricing is always transparent but look out for the shipping costs.   In the early stages I found it cost effective to order a number and sell them myself to friends and family, charging extra for signed copies.    However, now the initial rush is over, it has settled down and I am beginning to seek ways to market it.  Lulu can be very helpful in this regard although some of the services have to be paid for.

I am lucky that I have a son who is a graphic designer but if you need help with the cover, Lulu has a cover design service - once again this is a paid service.

I have only just started to think about marketing as I have been away on holiday so I am quite pleased that I have sold quite a few without too much effort.  All together my experience of Lulu has been very positive.

Best regards,

Mike

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer

Expertise

I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.

Experience

I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

Organizations
I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

Publications
I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

Education/Credentials
No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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