E-mail interview with Carl Neville about why he chose to use Lulu.com, June 2004

When did you first join trAce and put up a posting about White Diaspora - can you remember?

Exactly, no, but it would have been around March last year... trace was one of the forums i posted on and i think i came to it via Alt-X or looking for stuff by Mark Amerika.....

And what was the process that took you from that first announcement (and, presumably, an already-mature intention to self-publish on the Web) to Lulu?

A rough chronology of my thought process would run like this.... finish writing book, feel initially enthused then lapse into depression at the prospect of the arduous uphill struggle that everybody tells you is required to find an agent/publisher...try approaching publishers directly, they tell you to get an agent.... read that you have to submit synopsis/sample chapters/ writing c.v etc... read that the average paperback sells a thousand copies. Reflect that even if, after months of work and rejection for your masterpiece then you'll have to wait a year or so to see it in print and then a) won't make any money on it or b) sell any copies anyway in all likelihood and wonder what the point in pursuing orthodox publication is therefore other than the Kudos factor and the super- remote possibilty of becoming a best seller....

Combine this with a certain anti corporate/anti "Culture" streak fuelled by appreciation of situationism and the Frankfurt schools attacks on the culture industry and the idea comes basically to do it yourself.

Come up w ith ideas for a website, ask a friend to do it for you, then search on internet for self-publishing options. Discover print on demand. Talk to writer friend who suggests contacting a site called.... www.e-booksworld.de... who don't want you to pay, don't require exclusivity and are just setting up.......

Discover that they aren't competent to typeset your word document or convert it to pdf, can't understand the pagination etc... Situation drags on, delaying the free review copies you've promised people...When the book arrives its full of errors because you don't have a professional proofreader and its hard to spot your own mistakes/motivate/impose on others to undertake a thorough, laborious proofreading, so you have to pick through it again, repaginate it on the pdf wishing you hadn't decided to write something that goes backwards halfway through...

A series of other incompetencies on the part or ebooksworld.de, including the failure of numerous free books to arrive at their potential readers' homes and a later failure to send out copies to those who have paid, makes you decide to look elsewhere....

You encounter LULU.com......... vitally, they wont take a profit if you don't, meaning that you can just give away the pdf and sell the pod book as cheaply as possible. You never intended to make a profit on it anyway, and in your previous set up were charging more than the production cost so your unreliable printer/distributor could make some money...

The process is incredibly simple. You admire Lulu's ethic and have read on other sites that it is a much better site than Cafepress which doesn't offer as broad a service, ie. no perfect bound books, and which has intellectual copyright issues that are seriously bugging some users....LULU on the other hand seems extremely accessible, easy, well thought out re conversion, offering free info, a help forum and reasonable paying services for the novice (though by now you're a hardened Quark and Acrobat vet, still you appreciate the service offered which further enthuses you about the site) overall you have the impression that LULU is a genuinely empowering and non-mercenary endeavour.. So you download your stuff and re-inform whoever you can about your novel's new home...

Were you originally intending to go by a more conventional self-publishing route and get 1000 copies of the novel printed at your own expense?

No.. the decision to self publish was a result of finding out about POD, thusfar with Lulu for example I have incurred no cost whatsoever.... and have a world wide distribution service/printer's potential accessible to me the moment I write the final full stop on the next work.... Available to the world in book form within half an hour or so....... As a writer i find this incredibly exciting and it's unprecedented I assume..... it removes the burden of having to worry about agents, publishers, budgets, demographics, flavour of the month etc.....it removes arbiters in other words, it undercuts the power structure.... I feel I can simply write whatever I choose and it can be read in book form in outer Mongolia however many number of delivery days later without me leaving my desk or incurring any expense..........I'm reiterating but basically this is like having a huge weight lifted off your shoulders if you're interested in the writing and don't care about the money-potential of your work.

Did you find that they weren't shifting off your private website, and feel that the novel would stand a better chance of being noticed if it was on Lulu, or was it purely the print-on-demand angle which appealed to you?

I dont expect to be noticed on lulu.com per se, I just want a reliable accessible home for the book that people can post comments on. Lulu is just a vastly superior version of what I was initially using and seemed designed to avoid most of the pitfalls I had already experienced and therefore, very smartly conceived ....... re getting the book noticed.... that's a whole other consideration which I'd be happy to tell you about but maybe you should ask me more specific questions as i guess that's pretty much the other really significant factor.......