Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SELF-PUBLISHING HALL OF SHAME WINNER:
David Rising


One of the worst-looking books I’ve ever seen also has the worst title: How to Get Published Free: Best in Publishing & Print on Demand: Plus Marketing Your Book on The Internet by David Rising.

It may also be the worst-written book I’ve ever read.

Rising tries to advise authors about self-publishing, but his own book is a great example of what not to do. I read the third edition, published in 2006. This is such garbage that it’s tough to imagine how bad the earlier editions were.

It’s like a MAD magazine parody — a catalog of the worst mistakes a publisher and author could make.

Books like this are a perfect example of why self-publishing is regarded with suspicion by some pros in the book industry. Even if the author was too ignorant or too stupid to notice the errors, the publisher, Lulu, should never have let it out the door. Lulu's requirements for publication are apparently (1) blood pressure above zero, and (2) a credit card with a sufficient line of credit.

Chutzpah is a great Yiddish word that means having BIG BALLS, unmitigated gall, unlimited arrogance, and brazen egomania.

The classic example of the highest level of chutzpah is a boy, convicted of murdering his parents, who begs the judge for leniency because he is an orphan.

Another great example is the $19.95 price that David Rising put on this book.

There is some confusion about the title of this nearly worthless volume. Amazon, the unwitting co-conspirator who sold me a copy, thinks the title is Best in Publishing & Print on Demand: Plus Marketing Your Book on The Internet. Rising says all of that gibberish is actually the subtitle, and the book's real title is the deceptive How to Get Published Free.

So why is $19.95 an example of chutzpah?

(1) The book is puny, just 136 pages. Pages 135 and 136 have numbers on them, but nothing else. The next page is completely blank, without a number. Maybe Rising expects his readers to finish writing the book themselves.

(2) Of course, someone might argue that $19.95 is a fair price based on the value of what's inside -- but only an idiot would make that argument. 37 pages (TWENTY-SEVEN PERCENT) are instructions on using Lulu to publish your book. Lulu published this book, and I'm not impressed. The same information is available from Lulu, for free.

(3) There's more un-original book padding including eight pages from Dan Poynter that are available for free on Dan's website and six pages from Audrey Owen that are also available online for free. There's also an interview with Richard Paul Evans by Carolyn Campbell that takes up 10 pages. It too, is available as an online freebie. Rising even reprints unedited advertising for publishing services, such as five self-serving pages from Lotus Books.

(4) There's more padding that doesn't use words. Spacing between paragraphs is consistently inconsistent, with large blocks of white space and some silly pictures showing up for no particular reason. I don't know if Rising or someone else did the layout -- but it sucks.

(5) Rising's writing style is amateurish and definitely not ready for print. His up-front disclaimer speaks to "you, the reader." Who could "you" be other than the reader? On the same page, Rising says, "...could result with..." It should be "could result in." Apparently Rising believes that an automated spellchecker is a substitute for a copy editor. It isn't. The very first sentence of his introduction has a stupid error: "level playing field for all participates." That's not a spelling error; it's the wrong damn word! Rising also has bad grammar: "There isn't going to be thousands of unsold books..." and "there is always one or two...” and "Don't be afraid you'll not lose anything..." He also says, "your writing should at least see the light as for getting published..." and "whether you see sells of any significance." I have no idea what the hell he is talking about. Another gem is "Unlike a traditional publishing house that can spend huge amounts of money advertising a book they think could be a best seller." Rising thinks that any chain of words is a sentence. That was not a sentence. He also leaves out the second "a" in "manage." There are many more examples, but I'll spare you the agony. If I typed more, I'd puke on my keyboard.

(6) Rising does give some good advice, such as hiring experts when necessary. Unfortunately he was too blind, stupid or broke to heed his own advice. One of the funniest examples is, "you'll soon see how easy it is to over look mistakes" Hey genius, it should be overlook (one word). On the other hand, he spells "subtitle" as "sub title" (two words).

(7) The typography is atrocious. Some pages are set justified, some are flush left and ragged right — depending on where Rising copied the text from. Some paragraphs start with an indent, some start with a skipped line, and some have neither an indent nor a skipped line. The type justification is even worse than I find in newspapers, and Rising did not have a daily deadline as an excuse for ugliness. Some of the word spacing is absolutely grotesque, and is inexcusable.

(8) Rising doesn’t understand arithmetic, or at least he doesn't explain it well. He says, "Lulu only charges you 20% commission on your profits. So, for any product you sell on the site you get 80% profit." In the real world, an 80% profit means that something costs you 20 cents and you sell it for a buck, so your (gross) profit is 80 cents, and 80% of the sale. Rising should have said "80% OF THE profit," not "80% profit." There can be a huge difference.

(9) Even the index is stupid, apparently assembled by a robot with no common sense and never checked or modified by a homo sapiens, or even by a lesser primate. Before the "A" topics we have lists of topics beginning with the dollar sign, and with the numbers three and seven. If you want to find the page where Rising discussed "$34.95" or "72DPI" you'll love his index. The index's typography includes a strange mix of standard, boldface and underlined text, has no standardized system for capitalization and uses different fonts. Even email addresses appear in the index, and there are terms that no one would ever look for, like "Noah."

(10) The UGH-LEE front cover screams, "How to Get Published Free." The apparently important word "free" is not indexed, and I couldn't find anything about free book publishing in this book. I didn't actually expect to learn how to publish for free — certainly not on paper — but I was cynically curious to find out what Rising had to say about it. Maybe he’ll remember to include it in the next edition.

(11) The poorly written back cover says, "This book will explain to you how to use database logic…" and I was pleasantly surprised to find "database logic" in Rising’s index. Unfortunately, and more characteristically, when I got to the proper section I couldn’t find any explanation of the term. Rising apparently thinks it’s important because he says, "Understanding database logic will be a key ingredient to having any success marketing…" The section discusses book titles, Internet key words (and "keywords" — Rising spells it both ways in the same paragraph), has some incomprehensible drivel about Barnes & Noble and Amazon, but NOWHERE DOES HE EXPLAIN what database logic is.

(12) Rising recommends investing in inventory so you can sell books through Amazon’s "Marketplace" in competition with Amazon itself. He justifies this strange advice by claiming that "when a book first goes on sale they will have a very limited supply of books" and it can take up to 13 days before a book is shipped. That’s just not true. If a book is PODed by Lightning Source, Lightning will ship directly to Amazon’s customer within 24 hours. Amazon does not have to own any copies itself for quick shipping.

This is the only book I can recall that says nothing about its author. Maybe that's because there is nothing in the author’s education or experience that he can claim qualifies him to write about the topic. Rising’s own website says nothing about his writing experience, but merely tries to sell PDF file conversions and submissions to Amazon. He even got the copyright notice wrong. I’m not surprised.

I’m a strong supporter of freedom of the press. Until now, I've firmly believed that any writer should be able to publish anything. However, after buying this slim and nearly worthless volume, I might be willing to consider a licensing requirement for writers. I have no doubt that David Rising would fail the test.

3 comments:

  1. Shall we assume you didn't like the book?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm guessing this is a book of what not to do....

    At first I thought you were joking, but you don't do that so oh my.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maybe this book is a joke. Maybe it was conceived when one of Rising's friends said, "I bet you can't write...and get somebody to buy it."

    ReplyDelete