Friday, October 24, 2014

Authors: should your face be on the front of your book?

A while ago I was speaking to a "book shepherd," a woman who guides wannabe authors through the publishing process. She works with writers with a wide range of ability, experience, expectation and ego. She said that many writers have such strong egos that they expect their portraits to be on their front covers. 

Some authors deserve this super-star treatment but not many, and certainly not many newbies.
  • If you are writing your first novel or a book of poems, it's highly likely that very few people have ever heard of you and that neither your portrait nor your name will provide a good reason for anyone to invest money and time in reading your precious words. It's much more important to have a great title and cover design.
  • If you're writing nonfiction, whether about the Korean War, cooking pizza or climbing mountains, unless you are famous for achievements in the subject you are writing about, neither your name nor face are likely to convince anyone to invest money and time in reading your precious words. It's much more important to have a great title and cover design.

(above) If you are as famous as Martha Stewart or Suze Orman, and an expert in the field you are writing about, by all means put your portrait on the cover.

(above) If you're famous mainly for being famous, it's critical that your smiling face be on the cover of your books.

(above) If you have a lot of fame or a bit of fame and your physical image will enhance the mood of the book, put your pic on the cover.

(above) If you're famous for your written or spoken words, your face belongs on your book covers -- even if you're dead.

(above) If you're well-known for politics, your image gets to smile at book shoppers.

(above) Everyone who wants to be president of the USA -- or to be remembered for what was accomplished while president -- is assumed to be a professional writer. Fortunately ghostwriters are readily available to aid the inept. The photo on the cover shows the politician, not the actual writer, and sometimes serves as a campaign poster.

(above) Sometimes, not often, books by presidential hopefuls do not have faces facing readers.

(above) If your main claim to fame is that you impregnated a relative of a politician, sure, put your photo on the cover.

(above) If you're not famous, but your appearance adds credibility and implies expertise, sure, put yourself on the cover.

(above) If you're not famous and the presumed audience for your memoir consists of people you know, your portrait certainly won't hurt sales. This is a very interesting book, by the way. I recommend it.

(above) Unfortunately, many authors use amateur photos with bad poses, bad lighting, bad focus and distracting backgrounds -- on a bad hair day. The book shown above may be the worst book ever published, so the horrid author photo is sadly appropriate.

(above) Even a well-done photo may be inappropriate if the person has no known connection to the subject of the book. This cover has another, bigger problem -- the text is extremely difficult to read. Also, the circular necklace ornament right in the center is distracting.

(left) My newest book shows my highly modified face on the front cover. It's a very personal book, so it's appropriate for my face to be there. If I was writing about Richard Nixon, chocolate cake or the Peloponnesian Wars, my face would be on the back.

Here's some advice from Hobie Hobart of Bowker (the ISBN and book research company): Many authors think that putting their picture on the front cover will make them famous. This is not necessarily so. Unless you are well known in the media, bookstore buyers will not accept your book which pictures you on the front cover. However, if you are selling exclusively to a tight niche where you are well known, or your intention is to start branding yourself to a specific market, your photo on the front cover or the spine can be an advantage. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Heteronyms are dangerous. Try to keep them out of book titles, blog posts and website names.

Does the team drink polish?

In an online group for authors, Jessica Bell announced that she is writing a book called Polish Your Fiction: A Quick & Easy Self-Editing Guide.

I started reading her post twice and each time -- for an instant -- I thought that "Polish" was referring to someone from Poland. 

Polish and polish are heteronyms -- words written identically (or identically except for uppercasing the first letter) but having different pronunciations and meanings.

The meaning of a heteronym usually becomes apparent because of its context, but if you can avoid ambiguity and delay -- do so.
  • Try to keep heteronyms out of the titles of your books, blog posts and websites. If you cause a reader to hesitate, you may lose her.
  • Push a homonym out of the first position in a sentence. Try inserting a 'helper' word to precede a homonym so readers know what's going on. "Please Polish . . . " or "Why You Should Polish . . ." prepares readers to absorb the correct word.
  • Heteronyms can cause problems even within text. Does "I read a lot of books" take place in the present tense or in the past? A 'helper' like "did" or "do" or "last year" can remove the ambiguity, as can rewriting the sentence.
  • The position of a word in a line of text can cause a stumble. If the last two words in a line of text are "A sewer," "The bass" or "I read," the pronunciation and meaning might not be apparent until the reader reads the words on the next line.
  • Uppercasing and lowercasing can clarify the difference between Polish and polish, but not between Bass and bass.
Wikipedia provides many examples of heteronyms, including:
  1.    A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  2.    Do you know what a buck does to does?
  3.    They were too close to the door to close it.
  4.    The buck does funny things when does are present.
  5.    Don't desert me here in the desert!
  6.    When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  7.    The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
  8.    How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
  9.    With every number I read, my mind gets number and number.
  10.    He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  11.    After a number of injections my jaw got number.
  12.    I did not object to the object.
  13.    We must polish the Polish furniture.
  14.    He thought it was time to present the present.
  15.    The farm was used to produce produce.
  16.    The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
  17.    There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
  18.    A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  19.    To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  20.    I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  21.    Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  22.    The weather was beginning to affect his affect
  23.    The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  24.    The bandage was wound around the wound.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some self-congratulations, and some tips about blogging

I started writing this blog in September, 2008. Since then I have posted more than 2,100 times and the blog has had more than 1,000,000 "page views." I wish I could have charged the viewers a dollar each, or a dime, or a penny.

My blog traffic has had ups and downs but has gradually increased from the original one page view (mine) to more than 3,000 on most recent days.

That's nothing compared to Huffington Post (which has gazillions of readers and more than 9,000 people doing the writing). However, there are apparently more than 150 million blogs online, some get hundreds of daily visitors, many get dozens and some get none -- so I am quite pleased with 3,391, or even half that number.

I have no secrets to divulge but I will pass on some tips:
  • Write regularly. Three or more times per week. Five is best. You want your blog to become a daily habit with your readers. Some blogs get new posts just once or twice a year. Why bother?
  • Publish in the morning. As early as possible.
  • Don't bother posting more than once a day. If you feel the need to spout more frequently, use Facebook or Twitter.
  • Have a reason to blog: Do you want to sell something, entertain people, change the world, satisfy yourself? For me it's "all of the above."
  • If you're a writer -- and many of my readers are writers -- be aware that writers of nonfiction will probably find it much easier to blog than will novelists or poets. There is just not much to say five times a week about lesbian cannibals from Venus, or your poems about daffodils. If you have a very specific, artsy genre, a website is proper better than a blog.
  • It's nice to publish guest posts but don't let guests replace your own unique voice. One blogger I used to like a lot but now often ignore has become more of a publisher than a writer because he publishes so much material that he does not write. A blog should have a personality, not dozens of personalities.
  • Promote your blog on other media -- websites, Facebook, etc.
  • Mention your blog in anything you control, including books, comments on other blogs and websites, business cards, letterheads, etc.
  • Cover a variety of topics, even if not closely related to your blog's title or premise. Up at the top I say that I discuss "writing, editing, design, publishing, language, culture, politics and other things." Other things allows me to write about anything I feel like without violating my "charter."
  • Variety allows the blogger to preach about world events or personal emotions, and maybe grab readers who don't care about the main topic. Most of my readers come here via Google. They may be searching for topics I discuss (eyeglasses, food, politics), and not necessarily searching for me or my books.
  • Don't be afraid to publish reruns. You should be attracting new readers every day, and someone who reads your blog today may not have read the same material three months or three years earlier.
  • If you do publish a rerun, update it if necessary (this post is an updated rerun). Add, correct, provide new illustrations, change the title. Pick reruns of popular postings, not ones that attracted few readers.
  • Once a year or so change the look of your blog. You can use a different template, change colors, shift things around.
  • Allow readers to comment and respond to the comments promptly. Comments should be moderated so jerks don't spout obscene or libelous material before you can reject it.
  • Blog spam is a BIG problem. Some blogs automatically distribute the spam to all email subscribers before the blogger has a chance to kill it.
  • Write about things that interest you. If you're disinterested -- if blogging becomes a chore -- readers can tell and will turn away.
  • Few things are bigger turn-offs than an abandoned news blog. I've started and stopped several blogs but they were not presenting news and they can stand as completed works, almost like books. Brent Sampson, boss of Outskirts Press, skipped posting on his blog for more than six months. A Book's Mind is a strangely named competitor of Outskirts. It started and stopped publishing a blog. Did Outskirts win?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Authors: Every word you write is an audition. Don't let readers think you're an idiot.

Every word a writer writes must be considered to be an audition, a tryout, part of a competition, the equivalent of a performance on America's Got Talent, American Idol, etc.

It would be a shame to turn off prospective readers and lose book sales because of silly, easily corrected errors. Read, re-read, and re-re-read everything you write.

Yesterday I read a thoughtful and useful guest posting about the importance of editing by Shayla Eaton on a popular blog about publishing. Ben Lunt, an alleged writer (and a nasty SOB and immature egomaniac) posted a response including the word "sight" instead of the proper "site." When challenged, Ben said his comments were a "spontaneous and unedited rant" and that he "never even looked through this before posting."

That's not good enough, especially for someone like Ben who brags that his writing is better than the work of others. His later comments are filled with sloppy errors and childlike insults. A writer must have pride in her or his craft -- regardless of the venue -- and respect for readers.

A while ago I read a writer's blog.
  • The writer said that someone "range" [rang] the doorbell, wore "sheek" [chic] clothing and that something is "cheep" [cheap].
  • This person also wrote "nation-wide" [nationwide], "main stream" [mainstream], "self published" [self-published] and more.
  • This person mentioned "the hard work of revising and polishing" a book.
The blog deserved similar hard work. (Confession: I am not perfect, but I try to be. Some people, like Ben Lunt, don't try.)

It's important that those of us who have writing careers never go "off-duty." We must produce professional-caliber work all of the time, even if it's just a 20-word Tweet or a three-word reply to an email. Never excuse your own sloppiness. Never say, "It's only an email," "it's only Facebook" or "it's only a blog."

Words intended to promote your books deserve and require extra attention to spelling and grammar. Search for improper punctuation or wrong words. Insert words and punctuation marks that may be in your mind but not on the screen. Make sure everything makes sense. Delete material that may be juvenile, unprofessional, irrelevant or distracting.

Here are some online comments I recently read from authors:
  1. I am interesting in your opinion of my new book.
  2. my new book shall be available soon a true story I am a first time writer who went for the self publishing road e book and pod I am looking forward to the launch date shall be announce soon.I shall keep you all posted. many thanks for reading this article for an extract from my book go to my blog page
  3. It's about a girl, Julien, that's trying to adjust to life in a new place after her parents divorced. Just as she is starting to settle in, an "attack" by a Breaker, a person who can enter a persons mind and control thoughts and actions, shakes the town. Before she knows it, her life takes a difficult turn and it could be more than she can handle. Again, you reading it would be super kick ass
  4. For a short period of time the ebook addition will be on sale for only 99 cents.
  5. It seems no one will ever run out of questions about ISBN's - least of all me!
    When you fill in your short & long descriptions on your
    ISBN numbers
  6. I've published an analogy
  7. My first novel, Darkness Forbidden, was published in December on Kindle the paperback should be released shortly.
  8. In the early 90s, Sheila and I selling my art at malls and arts & craft shows, decided to create a few in-demand original titles 
  9. they should have went with Vantage
  10. I need some good honest and reallistic advice. I used AuthorHouse to publish my historical fiction and was very unhappy with their work. I want to format the book myself and then find a link to a POD arrangement bor printing.
  11. Author presently resides in Easton, Pennsylvania and remains in close contact with his family members. Who cares? Is this a reason to buy the book?
  12. The writers adventures as both a military officer and quality professional add greatly to the writings contained in this epic tail of adventure.
  13. My book and movie is going to catch the world on fire! 
  14. Myself and two other authors in the same genre are thinking of . . . 

- - - - -

Even alleged publishing 'pros' make stupid mistakes for the world to see:
  1. Outskirts Press founder Brent Sampson wrote that Roget's Thesaurus was published by Peter Mark (actually, Peter Roget published it), confused a foreword with a preface, and misspelled "offset." Brent advises that "Errors in your writing cause readers to question your credibility."  He's right about that.
  2. Lulu founder Bob Young misspelled "misspell" and confused "less" and "fewer." A publisher should know better. 

keyboard photo is Microsoft clip art

Monday, October 20, 2014

InstantPublisher lies about a lot -- including being a publisher

InstantPublisher.com brags: "You write the book -- we'll do the rest."

That's bullshit.

Actually, authors do almost everything.

InstantPublisher doesn't do important things you might expect a book publisher to do:
  1. It doesn't edit books.
  2. Its doesn't format pages for printed books.
  3. It doesn't distribute printed books to booksellers.
  4. It doesn't distribute ebooks to Barnes & Noble.
  5. It doesn't provide marketing (other than selling DIY material). 
According to its website, "InstantPublisher.com is the short run book publisher division of Fundcraft Publishing Company, the world's largest personalized cookbook publisher. Fundcraft started as a small publishing house in eastern Kansas in the early 30's specializing in short-run custom cookbooks for groups and organizations across the country. Today, Fundcraft ships millions of personalized cookbooks each year to every state."

InstantPublisher.com ("IP") is one of many pay-to-publish companies that demonstrate very few reasons to do business with them. IP is overpriced, inept, boastful and dishonest. 

The page above makes some ridiculous claims:
  • InstantPublisher says it is everyone's favorite book publishing company. It is not my favorite book publishing company. Maybe it's not yours, either. Maybe it's not the favorite of millions of other people. The statement is absurd.
  • InstantPublisher says it is "nationally recognized." By which people, in which nation, for doing what?
  • InstantPublisher says it is "quickly becoming the #1 Book Publishing Service." I'm not sure how IP defines "#1," but since most of its competitors are privately held companies, IP does not have their sales figures or other statistics and can't back up the claim.
  • This page, like others, has errors in English that should not be committed by a publishing company. "10-years" should not be hyphenated. Other terms that the company uses, like "cost effective," need hyphens.
IP tells us that "As a self-publisher, you can receive 50% to 200% profit, when self publishing."
  • That short statement is redundant -- and demonstrates very bad math. It's impossible to receive 200% profit. Profit on book sales is usually somewhere in the 20% to 60% range. If you are able to get a book printed for a dollar and sell it for ten bucks, your (gross) profit is 90%. If you can get a book printed for nothing, and sell it for a penny -- or a dollar, ten bucks or a million bucks -- your profit is 100%. It can never be more than 100%.

The company says that "InstantPublisher simply cannot be beat in the short run book printing industry." 
  • IP gives us an example of "250 copies of a 150 page book, which is 5-½ x 8-½ inches perfect bound with a color cover, your cost would be $3.17 per book." The price from CreateSpace ("CS") is just $2.65 per book (even if I order just one copy), with me providing my own cover design (for which IP charges 25 cents extra per copy).
  • The IP chart above shows a total price of $410.72 for 25 books. That is MANY TIMES the price from other printers, and probably eliminates the chance of making any profit.
  • CS provides distribution to Amazon, B&N and other booksellers, but IP has NO distribution.
  • IP requires customers to buy at least 25 copies. CS has no minimum.
  • IP charges $50 for an unbound proof. I can get a bound proof from CS for $2.65 plus postage.
  • The cover templates are abysmal.
The company says that "any person who writes a book can design the cover and text pages in any Microsoft Windows or Mac based program." The text samples below from IP's own promotional publication, show that the alleged professionals at "one of the top book publishing companies" have a lot to learn about formatting pages. IP's "high quality" work is as bad as I have seen from some first-timers who know nothing about typography. Apparently no one at IP even knows how to hyphenate. A publication that is intended to impress printing customers should not be ugly.

IP says, "InstantPublisher.com does not . . . distribute your books, except for free listings on our web site."
  • Other companies, including CS and Lightning Source, provide worldwide distribution to booksellers -- and charge less. The value of a listing on the IP site is approximately zero. IP expects its authors to become booksellers. Other companies do not.
The IP website provides information on its authors' books -- but does not allow prospective readers to order the books.
  • Competitors such as CS, Lulu and Outskirts do sell books for their authors. 
IP says, "With an extra $0.25/book cost, you can optionally select plastic lamination for your cover finishing."
  • Other companies provide laminated covers at no additional charge.
IP says, "If you already have an ISBN number, Instantpublisher.com . . . can create the barcode for $15.00 during the order process.
  • Other companies will provide the barcode for free.
IP says it "offers two different ISBN options. The first ISBN option retails for $75. This number will list Instantpublisher as the publisher of record and we will be listed as the main contact for your book."
  • CreateSpace and other companies can provide an ISBN for free.
IP says, "By accessing, using or browsing this SITE, you (the "USER") are deemed to have read, understood and agreed to each of the terms, conditions, and notices set forth in this AGREEMENT. In addition, when using any particular content or service on this SITE, USER shall also be subject to and deemed to have read, understood and agreed to any posted guidelines or rules applicable to such content and services that may contain terms and conditions in addition to the terms, conditions and notices set forth in this AGREEMENT.
  • Amazing. If I read anything on the website, IP assumes that I agree to all of its terms, even if I did not see or read the terms.
IP says that "Black and white books will be printed on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. Color book proofs will be trimmed to size. If you do want a proof copy of your book before printing, there will be a flat charge of $50.00 for any color book order and any black & white book order that is under 200 copies. For black & white book order that is over 200 copies, the proof copy cost is $30.00. With the proof copy option, you will be mailed an unbound proof of your book and cover."
  • I can get a bound proof (with proper color cover and proper-size pages) from CS for about three bucks plus postage.
In conclusion, there seems to be little or no reason to use Instantpublisher.com. I sent IP an email asking, "Do you have some advantage that I did not see?" I did not receive a response.

Friday, October 17, 2014

After 80 years, the book business is still being depressed by the Great Depression

Book returnability is a destructive artifact of the Great Depression (roughly 1930 to 1940).

Sales of books, like most non-necessities, had fallen off greatly. In an effort to get bookstores to take in new books, the publishers offered guaranteed sales. Stores received the books “on consignment,” and, after several months, the money for the books that had been sold would be paid to the publishers. Unsold books would go back. This arrangement kept inventory on the bookstore shelves and helped create exposure for books on obscure topics or by unknown authors -- but the logistics and waste added substantially to the cost of publishing.

When books are bought on consignment, bookstore owners don’t have to care if they order slow-sellers or outright flops because almost all unsold books can be returned to the publisher, or even be destroyed, and still generate a refund or credit from the publisher. This adds to the cost of publishing (increasing the prices of books) and wastes natural resources.
  • There have been accusations that major book chains arrange to send back books — and reorder the same titles at the same time — so the stores always have inventory with no concern about paying for them.
Few if any other retail products are sold that way. Except for special circumstances, a Honda dealer can’t return unsold cars to Honda. A Sony dealer can’t return unsold TVs to Sony. A Nike dealer can’t return unsold sneakers to Nike.

Selling on consignment may have been a good solution in 1929, but 80-plus years later it has become very expensive and wasteful. Book publishers and bookstores are in trouble.

If a bookstore operator knows that sales are guaranteed, and if a publisher’s salesperson is sufficiently pushy, and if money is offered for promotion, little thought may go into making a purchase. The store may “overbuy” and inflate the initial sales of a book, but the day of reckoning comes a few months later. If most of the copies of a new title are still sitting on the shelves, they get sent back to the publisher, where they are either remaindered and redistributed for the buck-a-book tables or shredded and pulped to become raw material for new books.
  • Sarah Palin’s second book sold poorly, and many thousands were returned to the publisher. The cost of the waste was partially covered by the profit made on her first book, a bestseller.
The urgency that store operators feel to return books before they have to be paid for shortens the time available for a book to build a market.

The system hurts authors. And readers.

It takes time for book promotion to have an effect and for word-of-mouth to build for a new author or niche subject. Nobody knows how many books which might have been successful with another month or two or three on display in the stores, are considered flops.

Only now, in the 21st century, is there some slight movement away from the burdensome, wasteful process that was an important innovation that kept books available in the 1930s.

HarperStudio was an imprint (brand) of HarperCollins, launched in 2008. It started an experimental program to sell books to booksellers in a one-way transaction, in exchange for providing additional gross profit. The experiment failed and HarperStudio was shut down after two years.

Bookstores are also shutting down. Remember Borders? 

Of course, with ebooks there are no books to return, mark down, shred or pulp.

And no need for physical bookstores.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Avoid archaic terminology when writing about the web

I have previously complained about using 1940s-era terminology (e.g., tennis shoes or gym shoes for sneakers, radio car for police car, dungarees for jeans).

It's now 2:33 in the morning and I just heard two dumbass radio commercials that so enraged me that I got out of bed to blog.

One commercial urged listeners to "log onto" a website. Logging on (or in) means to identify yourself to a website or computer or a piece of software, generally by typing a user name and a password.

That is NOT the same thing as merely visiting a website. Most websites, including mine, do NOT require logging.

The other web phrase I particularly hate is "point your browser at . . . ." Browsers don't get pointed. To visit a website, you either point and click your mouse, point and press a finger, or type.

"Aim your browser at . . ." is a stupid variation. DO NOT type it or say it. Browsers don't get aimed.

"Surf on over to . . ." is not as bad as the other phrases, but it is silly, childish, archaic and unnecessary.

The following section is not about an ancient phrase, just an improper one -- and it's not specifically about the web.

"Cut and paste" is probably misused more often than it is properly used.
  • If you cut and paste something (usually a picture or some text), you REMOVE it from its current location, and put it somewhere else.
  • If you will merely copy (i.e., not remove) the item, you will "copy and paste."
The illustration up at the top of today's blog was copied from Wikipedia, and pasted into my computer so it could appear on my blog. The illustration is still on Wikipedia. Therefore, I copied and pasted -- but did not cut.

I'll probably think of some more later, but I'm going back to bed. My wife and dog miss me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Olympic event? Outskirts Press author/reviewer kissed her own ass

Sally Shields loves a book Sally Shields wrote about Sally Shields.

In the past I complained about mutual ass-kissing in the publishing business, where authors write complimentary blurbs for each other.

I also complained about a book that uses a blurb from an executive at its publishing company, and contains glowing reviews for authors who supplied blurbs.

And I criticized an author whose Amazon page includes a review from her editor.

But just when I thought I'd seen the lowest depth of literary corruption hell, I discovered something from even farther down. Not surprisingly, it involves dishonest and inept Outskirts Press.

Outskirts published the Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors (with Sally Shields identified as one author). Its subtitle is: "How They Beat the Self-Publishing Odds, and How You Can, Too (and How to Publish a Book and Excel at Book Marketing)."

The skimpy 100-page paperback with the absurdly long subtitle sells for $9.87.  An ebook version is priced at 99 cents. The book is intended to help Outskirts sell publishing contracts to writers.

Not only did Sally write part of the book, she is a featured character within the book!

(left-click to enlarge for easier reading)

Depending on your outlook on such things, the title is either an homage to -- or a ripoff of -- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a self-help book by Stephen R. Covey.

The Outskirts book had a five star review on Amazon.com from Sally Shields. The review was apparently dumped by Amazon since I originally complained.

Sally says, "This book is really inspiring for anyone that has a book in their heart! Although getting published may seem like an insurmountable obstacle at the beginning, this book profiles 5 people who overcame any objections and created a book and followed their dreams! Learn what these 5 authors did - all in their own styles, to get their messages out into the world. You will laugh and cry reading about how both having a passion for your topic and a sincere desire to help others can propel one towards your own dream of authorship. This book is a reminder that we can all do it - by simply doing the little seemingly insignificant things each day that can eventually bloom into a pond that is filled with beautiful water-lilies - that will eventually be your book, and more importantly, your message to the world, and even, your legacy! "

There are three problems with the review:
  1. Sally's writing sucks. Based on this abysmal sample, it is no surprise that her book was published by Outskirts, a pay-to-publish company with NO LITERARY STANDARDS. Sally wrote, "The biggest hurtle [sic] is not writing a book." For Sally, the biggest hurdle may be learning to write properly.
  2. Sally-the-reviewer is one of the five people profiled in the book she is trying to convince us to buy! She even "contributed to" the section about herself in the book.
  3. Sally was too stupid to use a fake name in her review so people would not realize that she was kissing her own ass.
Sally wants people to buy her home-study course: "Sally's Publicity Secrets Revealed." It appears that one of Sally's special secrets is to write positive reviews about books that tell about how wonderful she is.

Both the title and the cover design of the Outskirts book were copied from the Covey book. Some lawyers should be very busy.


UPDATE: Ronnie Lee, one of the other Outskirts authors included in the book, wrote an Amazon five-star review for a book he wrote. Is there a pattern here? Is the Outskirts sleaze infectious?

(Ass kiss photo from stanleyrumm.com. Thanks) 

Monday, October 13, 2014

District of WHAT? United States of WHICH?

In the United States of America, today is a holiday, "Columbus Day."
  • It's a day when many people sleep late, drink too much, eat pizza, watch or march in parades and shop for Christmas gifts in honor of an Italian man who used Spanish money to find a western route to India.
Instead he bumped into the western hemisphere and eventually increased awareness of the west by Europeans who eventually dominated the Americas.

Chris (a.k.a. "Cristoforo Colombo" in Italian and "Cristóbal Colón" in Spanish) made four transatlantic crossings, but never reached India.

After crossing the Atlantic, he first set foot on an island in the Bahamas -- not in Columbia, Mayland or Columbus, Ohio or even Columbus Circle in Manhattan or Colombia (not "Columbia") in South America.

Despite what many children are taught in school, Christopher Columbus did not "discover" America in 1492.

Other Europeans (Vikings in the 11th century) were in North America before Chris. Many thousands of years earlier, Asians apparently migrated from what is now Siberia to what is now Alaska, and gradually moved south and evolved into the "Indians" who were encountered by Chris and his crew.

There are also theories that South America was visited by Pacific islanders and Africans.

Many places, Columbia University, CBS (originally the Columbia Broadcasting System), spacecraft and boats and ships were named to honor Columbus.

Columbus named the island he landed on "San Salvador" (Saint Savior), not Columbus or Colombo. The local folks called it "Guanahani." Today, it is not known exactly which island he landed on first, but an Island in the Bahamas is called both San Salvador and Watling Island.

When what is now the USA was being formed, some folks favored naming the new country after Columbus, and if they dominated the debate we could be living in the United States of Columbus.

Instead, we got the A-word, to honor another Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, who explored what is now South America in several voyages between 1499 and 1502. He traveled on ships financed by Portugal, and Brazil became a Portuguese colony.

Although Amerigo (Americus in Latin) never reached North America, he did provide the name for the U.S. of A.

I have no idea why German map maker Martin Waldseemüller named the western hemisphere "America" instead of "Vespucci" in 1507.

If Waldseemüller preferred Amerigo's last name, we could be living in the United States of Vespucci. If the mapmaker had more ego, we could be living in the United States of Waldseemüller.

After our new nation got its new name, it needed a name for its capital city. This, too, was the subject of debate, and we ended up with the cumbersome "Washington, District of Columbia," which honors both the father of our country and the guy who thought he found "Indians."

In its website, the capital calls itself the "District of Columbia," even though most citizens of the USA refer to the city as "Washington." When I last checked, the home page had many references to "DC," but I could not find even one "Washington."

And today, in honor of Chris I will clean my garage (I anticipate some amazing discoveries) and then go to Petco and then eat pizza for lunch.

- - - - -
In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue .
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain .
He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way .
A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go .
Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored .
Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep .
Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand .
October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew !
“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride .
But “India” the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot .
The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice .
Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he’d been told .
He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain .
The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright .