.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Sad news: British Borders goes bust


Starting in the 1980s, "big box" bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders pushed small mom-and-pop bookstores out of business because the small stores could not match the prices and selection. Now, ironically, the big stores are suffering, too.

The last few years have been tough for all bricks-and-mortar booksellers. Sales were dropping because of increased competition from online sellers, and the recession made it even worse.

The Borders chain in the U.K. has 45 stores with 1150 employees. Last week the company was placed in "administration" -- the British version of bankruptcy. The stores are for sale, and so is everything in the stores. Discounts range from 20% to 90%. There is bad news for some shoppers, however. Gift cards are being redeemed for just half of face value, even though they were purchased at full price.

Borders opened in the U.K. in 1997 and was originally owned by the American Borders company. The British and Irish stores were sold to a buyout group in 2007. In early 2009 management bought the stores back with borrowed money. (info from NewsGuardian.co.uk)

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Another award-winner from the Borat Akademi of Writteningistics


Presented without revision, as originally posted on  http://self-publishing.crs-and-s.com/


For the past years, I engaged myself in different traditional publishing industries. But because of the difficulty and not being satisfied in their services (just like the typesetting of the text, the illustrations are not that beautiful, the binding is not that strength; pages tearing one by one as your readers browsing each line), I decided to shift my latest books in Self Publishing. Why I will have to engage in self publishing? Through this article will give you an insight to transfer your latest books in self publishing. But this article also is not obliging you to enter in self publishing industry.

First of all, in self publishing, you have all the rights to write, edit, as well as all the say in publishing your book. In short, you are the writer, editor and the publishing manager of your book, if you have the talent in illustrating, you can also do the illustrations. If you can also, you will be the one who typeset the whole manuscripts, then do the printing. So, it means, you are the one-man publisher. You don’t need to hire employees to assist you in publishing your own book.

In that case, you will get all the royalties. There’s no need to compute, how many percent will go to your editor, your printer, your illustrator, your typesetter, as well as if you will be the marketing staff of your book. And you can control also, how many copies to print for circulation. As it will go, you will earn as much as you can. If your self publish book will book into the market, you will earn as much as $30,000 in a month or even more.

But the worse case, not all writers who will engage in self publishing can earn as much as you expected. If you published a book that will not boom in the market, a negative in your book as well as throwing out to the garbage bag of your financial investment for a particular book. If you didn’t hit the market, you will lose a lot of money as bad as $10,000 to $20,000. No need to drop down all your tears falling in the floor. And throwing also all the copies of your self published book. And in the end, you will hate in self publishing again. So, I will be rather going back to the traditional publisher, who I am not going to spend a lot of money just to publish my book. I will not oblige myself to market my book to others because in traditional publishing, they are the one, to do it all for me.

So, what you have to do, are you going to the self publishing world or the traditional publisher world? For more information, Self Publishing in other words, they call this as Vanity Press. Vanity Press means, you will write a book, they will print it for you but you have to pay them depends how many copies you want. But there are minimum numbers of copies to print—at least 100 copies in one row.

Remember this, self publishing can also give you a chance to be an editor of a book, you can start it by your own book, you can also have a chance to manage a printing industry as well as the publishing industry.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Lessons (for every day)



A usually reliable source told me that Target was offering my choice of either a one-terabyte internal hard drive or a half-terabyte external hard drive for $60 as a door-buster limited-stock special today. I arrived at my nearby Target at 4:50 a.m. and was told they were sold-out.

Next stop was Sam's Club, which was advertising an amazing deal on an HP laptop with Windows 7, 17.3" LED-lit screen, Blu-ray player and sundry bells and whistles for just $499, about 4-500 bucks less than a "normal price."

Alas, I was told these were sold-out, too. I asked a second person and got the same bad news. I asked a third person and she offered to check in the back.

She found two, and I bought one. It's WONDERFUL. It's MAGNIFICENT. I LOVE it. HURRAY for HP.

Thinking that my luck might have changed, I went to a second Target.

The drives I found on the shelf were external only. I asked one bearer-of-the-coveted-red-shirt, who said the internal drives were sold-out. A second scarlet-clad "guest advisor" advised me of the same situation. A third person with a bullseye on his belly said that the cashier had some behind the counter, and I should get on line.

After 15 minutes I reached the head of the line. I asked the cashier if there were any internal drives left and she said, "yes, but just a few."

Smiling, I decided to push my luck and I asked if there was any limit on the quantity I could buy. I started salivating when she said there was no limit, and I asked for four.

She bent down below the counter and came back up with a stack of four boxes, clearly marked "EXTERNAL."

I told her that I wanted INTERNAL.

She asked me what the difference is between internal and external.

I told her to ask her gynecologist.

Another red-shirted Targeteer who had observed our interaction checked the ad and determined that for $60 I could have my choice of either a half-gig or full-gig EXTERNAL hard drive. Target did not have any special deals on internal drives. (In retrospect, internal drives are much too geeky for a store like Target to sell and I should have been suspicions of my reliable source and checked the ad myself.)

So, I got a nice laptop, a 42" TV for the guest room, a bunch of Blu-ray movies and a free breakfast (at Sam's), some more Blu-rays and an external hard drive (at Target), a couple of pairs of pants and an inexpensive video camera to keep in my briefcase (at Kohl's), and a ton of drill bits and about a dozen flashlights (at Lowes).

I also learned three important lessons: (1) A reliable source is not always reliable, (2) Don't trust anyone wearing a red T-shirt with a bullseye on it, and (3) Never take "no" for an answer.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Lies of Lulu




One side of Lulu is a vanity press which charges up to $1369 for various “publishing packs.”

The other side of Lulu prints books for self-publishers. If you can provide a properly formatted and edited digital file, Lulu will have it printed for you. In the book sample I received, the actual printing was excellent, but many pages had ripples where type disappeared. The book should never have been shipped.

Lulu boss Bob Young (quoted in the 8/6/07 issue of Publishers Weekly), said, "We publish a huge number of really bad books.” Bob also misspelled “misspell” and confused “less” and “fewer” in a blog post. A publisher should know better.

In addition to his deficiencies in literary taste and use of the English language, Bob has a major problem in separating truth from fiction.

Lulu claims to rank #1 among self-publishing websites and to provide free self-publishing. But if you use Lulu you may not be self-publishing, and Lulu’s publishing is not free. They get paid for every book they publish.

Lulu says it is “the only publisher that offers you all that it does for free.” The company has run online ads touting “Publish Your Book— Free,” “Free publishing,” and “Free Self Publishing.” Their website promises, “free book publishing,” but their publishing is free only if you don’t want any books to be printed!

Lulu's notion of free publishing is like free car ownership where there is no charge to view your beautiful new vehicle in the dealer's lot. But if you want to actually drive it home and put it in your garage, you have to pay $54,327.

Bob and his staff also have trouble with basic arithmetic.

Their deceptive book pricing example shown above uses a book that sells for $14.

It says that the cost to manufacture is $4, Lulu gets $2, and the author gets $8 ("your share 80%').

I recognize that there have been advances in mathematics over the past 50-plus years, but if I use the method I learned for figuring percentages back in the Davis Street School, $8 is NOT 80% of $14. It's actually less than 60%.

Furthermore, the chart makes it seem like the $4 manufacturing fee is going to some distant unnamed entity. It goes to Lulu, and you can be sure that there is profit built into it.

And, of course, the example is FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED because $14 is MUCH TOO HIGH for most 100-page books. Unless you are selling 100 pages of new and vital information, a book that size would sell for about $8, leaving very little money for the author.

Most $14 books have 200- 300 pages.

Lulu has a lot to learn about publishing, and honesty.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I just don't understand hyphenphobia





Belinda Kroll blogs as “Worderella” and packaged a collection of her blog advice to writers as a mini-book called Worderella on Writing.

I could not find even one hyphen at the end of any line in the book.

The effect is not artistic; it’s just plain silly, often ugly and unnecessarily difficult to read.

The pages are set flush-left/ragged-right, but the right sides are not just ragged, they're  J   A GG     E  D, with huge, unattractive gaps that could easily have been avoided.

Up above, the black vertical bar indicates the theoretical right margin of the pages, and the pinkish-purplish lines show where hyphenated words could have filled in some of the empty spaces.

Belinda was writer, designer and publisher -- so she gets all of the blame for this bad decision.

A book that tries to advise writers should have been done better.

(I admit that I am not perfect.)

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Another vanity press that hides behind a deceptive, respectable label



BookPros claims to provide "Traditional Publishing, Redefined."

Their homepage says, "BookPros is a traditional publishing firm offering design, publishing, printing, distribution and publicity services to authors..."

Another page says, "If your manuscript is accepted by our team, we will work together to produce the highest quality product. BookPros offers organization, guidance and the industry experience necessary to provide authors with every service needed to present their book to the world. Each service is carefully executed by an experienced staff dedicated to every author's vision, while authors retain full artistic control of their book, its rights and its royalties."

That sure sounds like a traditional publisher.

But if you dig a bit deeper in the website, you'll learn that the company is "author funded" and that "fees run higher than some other publishing companies."

OOOOOPS.

If BookPros is author-funded, the company is a vanity press, and definitely not a traditional publisher despite their claim to have redefined the term.

The company has three "imprints," with publishing packages starting at $3950, $5950 and $6950. Writers can easily spend many thousands more, and must commit to paying to print 500 to 2,500 books -- that may never get sold or read.

Printing hundreds or thousands of copies of a new book is a major gamble, made worse by the company's charge to store unsold books. With the easy availability of Print-On-Demand, there is just no need to risk money with BookPros to print and store books that may never be sold.

Apparently the BookPros definition of "traditional publishing" is traditional vanity publishing. It's like saying that slavery is "employment, redefined," or that walking is "transportation, redefined."

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.”

Accepting BookPros' redefinition of traditional publishing can be a very expensive English lesson. Be careful.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

New Harlequin vanity press yields to protest by writers


Tuesday chick-lit publisher Harlequin Enterprises announced a new joint venture with vanity publisher Author Solutions that would allow writers who were rejected by Harlequin to pay to have their books published.

The new operation was to be called Harlequin Horizons. The name pissed off a lot of writers, particularly members of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). It's a trade association with over 10,000 members. Writers who had been published by the traditional Harlequin operation thought that their status would be diminished by writers who pay to publish books that would have the Harlequin name on them.

RWA has established standards for members books (gotta have a happy ending) and publishers. Vanity publishers are banned from RWA's national conference and their authors are banned from RWA contests.

Because of Harlequin's establishment of a vanity-press operation, RWA told its members and the world that Harlequin no longer meets RWA standards and would be dropped from RWA events and the RWA catalog. Harlequin has participated in RWA events for many years and RWA authors have won RWA awards.

As reported by E-Reads, Harlequin quickly blinked.

Harlequin boss Donna Hayes said, "It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change. As a leading publisher of women's fiction in a rapidly changing environment, Harlequin's intention is to provide authors access to all publishing opportunities, traditional or otherwise.

Most importantly, however, we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us."

Meanwhile Harlequin is faced with an additional protest from another writers' group -- the Mystery Writers of America.

MWA issued a statement saying, "...it is common for disreputable publishers to try to profit from aspiring writers by steering them to their own for-pay editorial, marketing, and publishing services. The implication is that by paying for those services, the writer is more likely to sell his manuscript to the publisher. Harlequin recommends the 'eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service' in the text of its manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints and include a link to Harlequin Horizons, its new self-publishing arm, without any indication that these are advertisements."

"That, coupled with the fact that these businesses share the Harlequin name, may mislead writers into believing they can enhance their chances of being published by Harlequin by paying for these services. Offering these services violates long-standing MWA rules for inclusion on our Approved Publishers List."

"We are taking this action because we believe it is vitally important to alert our members of unethical and predatory publishing practices that take advantage of their desire to be published. We respect Harlequin and its authors and hope the company will take the appropriate corrective measures."

I'd like to see -- and maybe I'll have to start -- another writers group to fight vanity presses that misuse the "self-publisher" label to prey on misinformed and naive writers.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Whoopie! My book is now a bestseller (sort-of)



There are lots of bestseller lists. The New York Times list is the most famous, but other lists are assembled by USA Today, Publishers Weekly and booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

Like the Times, Amazon has several bestseller lists. Their main bestseller list includes 100 books from all categories. As of today, Sarah Palin's rogue book is at the top and Precious is at the bottom.

In the Amazon list of bestselling books about home based businesses, my Become a Real Self-Publisher hit #38 today, up from #46 two days ago. It's behind books on poultry, catering and child care -- but ahead of books about landscaping, massage and bookkeeping.

I never thought of my book as being about a home-based business (I actually drive to an office five days a week), but I'll accept the honor.

I'm not buying any champagne to celebrate, but it sure feels good to be on any bestseller list. It's nice not being on the same list with Palin -- but I wouldn't mind changing places with her.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vanity press helps chick-lit publisher set up another phony "self-publishing company"


Last month Author Solutions (parent company of several vanity presses, including IUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay, Author House, and Xlibris) did a deal with "Christian publisher" Thomas Nelson. It enables writers who are not good enough to be published by Nelson, to pay to be published by Author House under Nelson's WestBow imprint.

Author Solutions has just set up a similar program called Harlequin Horizons with chick-lit publisher Harlequin -- a Canada-based behemoth which has sold about 6 billion soft-core bodice-ripping books over 60 years.

"Harlequin Horizons expands upon Harlequin's tradition of providing wonderful opportunities for fresh voices in women's fiction," said Donna Hayes, CEO of Harlequin Enterprises. "Partnering with Author Solutions, Inc., the recognized world leader in self-publishing [excuse me while I go to the bathroom to puke], is an innovative and original approach to discovering new authors to add to our traditional publishing programs."

The Harlequin press release said, "Through this strategic alliance, all sales, marketing, publishing, distribution, and book-selling services will be fulfilled by ASI, but Harlequin Horizons will exist as a division of Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through the self-publisher for possible pickup by its traditional imprints."

In other words, if a writer's book is initially rejected for publication by Harlequin, and the writer can be convinced to pay to be published by the Harlequin-ASI combo, and the book sells well, then Harlequin may decide to publish it without the author having to pay any more money.

As with Author Solutions' other sleazy business operations, Harlequin Horizons lies about providing as many as 25 "free" books to its authors The books are free only  if the author/customer/victim ignores the $599 to $1599 paid for the "self-publishing" package.

Just as no one can take a bath for you or eat lunch for you, no other person or company can self-publish for you.

Writers who pay Harlequin Horizons will NOT become self-published authors. They will merely become customers (or victims) of a vanity press.

Books published by vanity press are often ugly, error-filled, overpriced, sell poorly, and don't get reviewed.

Harlequin Horizons allows Harlequin Enterprises to do test marketing at authors' expense, and even make a profit on books that Harlequin originally rejected.

This takes sleaze to a new level.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Try writing two books at one time



Many writers think they have several books "in them." Usually they are written in sequence, and trouble with one book can delay starting the next one.

As an alternative, consider working on two or more books at the same time. Lots of people read several books during the same week, changing books whenever they feel like it. There's no reason not to switch the books you're writing, too.

This way, if you hit a writer's block and stall on one book, or simply get out of the mood, you can switch books and keep being productive.

This doesn't work all the time, but if the books are very different the change can be both relaxing and stimulating.

In the spring of 2008 I wrote a humor book and a book about phone systems. In the summer of 2009 I wrote a book about self-publishing and another humor book.

Also, you may find that a concept or actual words in Book A can be used in Book B. Or maybe even give you an idea to write Book C.

What was going to be my Book C became my Book B, but parts of B are in C, and A gave me the ideas for D and E. I pushed back book E to work simultaneously on D and F.

And, even if you're working on just one book, you can skip around within the book. If you're having trouble with Chapter 3, work on a chapter that happens later, or go back and edit chapter 1.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

More lying by DiscountBookSale.com



Sleazy bookseller DiscountBookSale.com has just added my new book, Become a Real Self-Publisher, to their website.

The book's real cover price is $19.95, and both Amazon and Barnes & Noble discount it to $17.95.

The idiot/thieves at DiscountBookSale claim its cover price is $24.34. (Does any book have a cover price that ends in 34 cents?)

However, they will discount the book to an Amazon-beating $16.35 (falsely claiming it's a discount of $7.99/33%) for their BestBrandValues club members.

To join the club, you pay a "low $19.95 membership fee per month" -- nearly $240 per year!

You'll have to buy an awful lot of books before the $240 covers the $1.60 difference between their price and Amazon's price.

And strangely, the company claims both "Usually ships in 24 hours" and "Availability: 2 days."

Also strangely, the company has assigned the book a rating of 4-1/2 stars out of five, with absolutely no explanation of their rating system, or any posted reviews from readers.

They also lie about the cover prices and discounts for three other books I published.

There are many online complaints about this company, particularly from people who joined the expensive club without realizing it when they made a purchase.

Nobody needs DiscountBookSale. There are plenty of other booksellers around. This company should be shut down.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Need a new PC? Shop carefully


For many years I bought a new PC every year. One year I'd get a desktop, and the next year I'd get a laptop.

Over the past few years, as PC technology sort of hit a plateau, my replacement cycle slowed down to about half its previous rate.

This week my formerly huge 21-inch monitor was beginning to look a bit small, and I wanted to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7, so I decided to shop around.

Sam's Club and Costco had similar HP machines with a hi-def 25-inch monitor for $999 ($300 less than what I paid for the 21-inch monitor alone!). I could also get a similar machine at a similar price right from HP, but I'd have to wait about a week, and pay for shipping.

Costco is one of my favorite stores, and they got to sell me the new PC.

The deal was clinched by their two-year warranty and tech support (twice what I'd get from Sam's or HP) and 90-day return period. I'm not likely to return the new PC, but if there's a better deal on "Black Friday," I'll have another chance to consider my purchase.

The new machine is super, BTW. So is Windows 7.

UPDATE: In mid-December, Costco put the PC on sale for $170 less. They gave me back the difference with smiles, and absolutely no hassle. I LOVE COSTCO. Good selection. Good prices. Nice people. Easy returns. Free food. What could be better than that?

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book promotion idea: readers can get your books for FREE, but you still get full-price




Amazon has their own branded credit cards, issued by Chase Bank.

You can use any credit card to buy from Amazon, but if you use your Amazon card, you can get FREEBIES from Amazon. You earn three points for each buck you spend with your Amazon/Chase Visa at Amazon, and one point for each buck spent anywhere else.

I have one card for business and one for personal use, and I use them a lot. Once I've accumulated 2,500 points, Amazon sends me a $25 reward certificate that I redeem online.

Now here's where it gets even better.

If you are an author whose books are sold by Amazon, this can be an easy and inexpensive way to send out occasional freebie copies of your books, and at the same time you'll boost your sales ranking a bit. (I am not condoning its use for this purpose.)

And even better than that:

If you encourage your fans to get a new Amazon/Chase credit card, they can get a $30 credit to pay for things like copies of your book. You'll make the usual money, people get free books to read and possibly recommend, and your Amazon sales ranking may go up.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If you bought a book from Amazon, Walmart or Target, Sears will pay for it


The latest fallout from the bookselling price war is really weird.

If you ordered one of the future bestsellers from  Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com or Sears.com at a stupid-low-price, Sears will give you a $9 refund in the form of a credit that can be used at Sears.com when you spend $45 or more.

CLICK for details.


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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More on what is NOT self-publishing

.
For nearly a year I've been writing and ranting about the misuse of the term "self-publishing" by vanity presses such as Lulu, Outskirts Press, Xlibris and their customer/victims.

I've said that the term "self-publishing company" makes no sense because no company or person can self-publish for you -- just as no one else can eat lunch for you, take medicine for you, go to school for you, have surgery for you or commit suicide for you.

That last example got me thinking. I decided to try to come up with a list of phrases that begin with "self" to see if any of them could be done for you by another person or business.

  • No one can self-immolate for you.
  • No one can self-destruct for you.
  • No one can self-medicate for you.
  • No one can self-educate for you.
  • No one can self-heal for you.
  • No one can self-help for you.
  • No one can self-direct for you.
  • No one can self-appoint for you.
  • No one can self-start for you.
  • No one can self-deprecate for you.
  • No one can self-aggrandize for you.
  • No one can self-efface for you.
  • No one can self-enhance for you.
  • No on can self-express for you.
  • No one can self-insure for you.
  • No one can self-publish for you. The words just don't make sense!

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Why I boycotted Self-Publishing Book Expo




The first "Self-Publishing Book Expo" (SPBE) was held Saturday in Manhattan.

As a self-publisher who lives just 90 minutes away from the expo site, I originally was sure I would go, and assumed there would be much for me to learn.

SPBE presented 55 exhibitors touting their products and services, and (according to Epoch Times), there was "a small  but quality crowd of about 200 people" who paid $15 or $30 each for admission to the exhibits, panels, lectures and discussions.

$15 paid for the exhibit area only, where folks could schmooze, pick up brochures and perhaps buy books.

Self-publishers who wanted to exhibit their books paid $325 each for display space.  Bigger publishers, distributors and other suppliers apparently paid more.

The expo was promoted as providing the following:

"Sales - The SPBE will be open to the public, offering authors a unique opportunity to sell their books to the broadest possible audience.

Meet the Media - Producers of TV and radio programs, and editors of newspapers, magazines, and online media outlets, will attend the event, all looking for great stories that may otherwise be under their radar.

An Opportunity to Learn – Attendees will get to hear about the products and services offered by self-publishing companies from across the country.

Interact – Authors will have the opportunity to discuss their path to self-publishing, and share their unique ideas for marketing, publicizing, and selling their books."

At this point I can't say if the event was considered a success or a fialure. The self-publishers who paid $325 each to sell their books to the public, could not have sold many copies. As of this morning, Google shows exactly ONE news item about SPBE. When Google notices this blog post, that number should double.

So why didn't I go?

It wasn't the money. $30 plus about $25 for train fair wouldn't kill me. I don't mind spending $30 on a book if I get one good idea from it, and an expo about an important topic with knowledgable participants could possibly provide dozens of good ideas that would be worth much more than than the price of admission and transportation.

I boycotted Self-Publishing Book Expo because it was fundamentally fraudulent and flawed.

In an effort to fill up the space that had to be rented from the Sheraton hotel, and to fill up the "expert" panels, the Expo managers invited notorious vanity publishers which masquerade as "self-publishing companies" and exist to extract money from ignorant, inept, and naive writers -- not to sell books to readers.

I was not going to invest my time and money to be exposed to dishonest sales pitches from companies like Lulu.com.

I was not going to pay money to listen to advice from dangerously ignorant fools such as Brent Sampson (the boss of Outskirts Press who didn't know who wrote Roget's Thesaurus or the difference between a foreword and a preface), Bob Young (boss of Lulu.com, who boasted that “We publish a huge number of really bad books,” misspelled “misspell” and confused “less” and “fewer”), and Penny Sansevieri (an alleged expert on book marketing  and the Internet who wrote in her mis-titled book that a typical website should cost between $2,000 and $6,000 to build and needs both a designer and a “coder” to put the website together).

I found a better way to spend my time and my money. It was a beautiful day, and I took the ferry from Connecticut to Long Island.

If there is a second SPBE next year, I'll consider going. Even if there's nothing for me to learn, maybe I can sell some copies of my book about REAL self-publishing.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

When promoting your book, remember "vote early and often"


The famous advice to "Vote early and often" has been attributed to three notoriously corrupt men from Chicago: Al Capone-- the gangster, Richard J. Daley-- mayor from 1955 to 1976, and William Thompson-- mayor from 1915-1923 and 1931-1935.

It's possible that Thompson said it first, and the others copied him.

While it's not a legitimate strategy for winning an election, it is effective for promoting a book online.

As soon as you know your book's title and approximate publication date, start promoting it online -- even if you have six months or a year of writing and editing ahead of you.

Become an active participant in online forums, discussion groups (on Yahoo Groups and elsewhere), and email lists. Every time you write something, mention your book and provide a link to your website.
Submit brief articles to ezines that gobble of lots of content. Every time you write something, mention your book and provide a link to your website.
Contribute to the growing number of “free content” websites that provide material for other websites. Just Google “free content” to find them. Every time you write something, mention your book and provide a link to your website.
Use pages on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, MyLife, and other social network websites to promote your books and your website.
Use Twitter to tell the world about your book (if you think anyone will care).
Exchange website links with other compatible but not competitive websites.
Write a blog that promotes you, your books, and your website.
Include your website address on business cards and letterheads.
Get listed in directories of people in your field.
Make sure any membership lists, especially online, include your website address if possible.
Get your website linked from school and association websites.

I started writing -- and promoting -- my book on self-publishing back in February.

As of this morning, there are 971 Google links for the title, and the number has been growing by about 20-30 each day.

A Google Shopping search for the phrase "self-publisher" shows about 220 links. My book has the first two positions (and at least one farther down), and I'm ahead of books that have been out longer and were written by better-known authors.

A Google Shopping search for the phrase "self-publish" shows about 530 links. My book has the less-impressive #53 position, but it's still ahead of books that have been available much longer than mine.

I really don't know how many people use Google to search for books. A study three years ago showed that Google had 91 million searches per day, so now the figure could be 100 million, or more. I'll gladly settle for a tiny percentage of 100 million -- especially since I didn't spend a penny to get Google to notice my book.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today, it's baseball, not books



When I lived in the Bronx from 1946 to 1952, I lived just a few miles from Yankee Stadium, and only a few more miles from the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan where the New York Giants played before they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Despite all this nearby major league activity, I was no sports fan. I didn’t give a damn about baseball, and couldn’t understand why others did. When other kids asked who my favorite player was, I’d quickly answer, “Mickey Mantle.” It was an easy answer, because Mick and I shared initials, and no kid in the school yard would challenge my choice. I was lucky that none of them asked me for his batting statistics.

My mother’s parents, who lived near us in the Bronx, were big baseball fans and wanted to convert me. They surprised me with tickets to a double-header. It was a double-dose of torture.

It was the longest day of my young life.

It seemed like the 10 longest days of my life. I spent hour after interminable hour staring at white spots on a green field, listening to old men belch from their beers, while I kept asking my grandparents, “Can we go home yet?”

I loved Gramma Del and Grampy Jay, but this was child abuse.

In later years, I didn’t get to like ballgames much more. In mandatory games during gym class, my favorite position was to be “left-out.”

In college, I went through a strange metamorphosis.

There was an intramural softball program, and a bunch of hippies and assorted misfits thought it might be fun to form a team to play stoned, with absolutely no intention of winning. We’d get to smoke some weed, enjoy the great outdoors, work on our tans, and get free T-shirts. It sounded like a good plan.

What I didn’t plan on, was that I turned out to be a “power hitter,” a “homerun king” just like Mickey Mantle.

I found no joy in running around the bases, or catching balls hit by the opposing teams, but I loved to whack those balls as far as I could.

My teammates thought I was a traitor to the cause. The team fell apart, and it was many years before I picked up a bat or saw another ball game.

Around 1995, my nephew and nieces nagged me to take them to a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium, the site of my long-ago — but never forgotten — abuse.

I really didn’t want to go, but I like the kids, so I agreed. I packed a radio with a headset and plenty of reading material and glumly resolved to pass the hours as pleasantly as possible.

When we arrived at the stadium, the butch-bitch rent-a-cop at the gate searched my bag and seized my plastic bottle of Diet Pepsi so her co-conspirators upstairs could sell me $8 drinks.

She would not let me drink it before going to my seat, or take it outside to drink, or reclaim it after the game. She slowly and sadistically removed the cap and poured out the soda into a trash barrel while I watched helplessly as my money and refreshment dribbled away. It was not a good omen for what was to come, I thought.

When we got to our seats I tuned my radio to WCBS, allegedly an all-news station, and was both disappointed and shocked to hear a play-by-boring-play description of the ball game in front of me. For some unknown reason, I didn’t immediately select another station, and soon, for the first time in my life, I understood what baseball was all about.

In baseball, it always seemed to me that the hitters were the heroes. People like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mantle (and even me) hit the homeruns that drove up the scores that won the games and the pennants. But what I learned from listening to the radio that afternoon was that it was the CATCHERS and PITCHERS, not the hitters, who were really in control.

Balls — not bats — made the big difference.

Throwing was more important than hitting; and it was the sneaky, stealthy, silent catchers, squatting in the dirt behind home plate, who signaled secret instructions to the pitchers who caused hero hitters to strike out.

Because of those good pitchers, even really good hitters seldom got a good hit. And when they did, the balls were usually caught by really good fielders, and the hitters did not score homeruns.

I actually enjoyed baseball that day.

If someone had properly explained baseball to me in 1950, my life might have been very different. I might have liked baseball enough to become a homerun king for the New York Yankees.

As Marlon Brando said in On the Waterfront in 1954, shortly after I left the Bronx, “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.”

-From my book, Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults), due in April, 2010.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WOW. I've been banned by another blogger's robo-censor!

Publishing Pinocchio Michael Hyatt can't tolerate truth or criticism


Michael Hyatt is chief exec at "Christian" publisher Thomas Nelson.

The company recently established a sleazy joint venture with vanity press Author Solutions.

The new operation, WestBow Press, exists to extract money from ignorant, inept and naive writers whose work is not good enough to be published by the "normal" side of Thomas Nelson.

Last month I wrote that the company's lies about "free books" that are not really free, and calls its service "self-publishing" when it is really vanity publishing.

No one can "self-publish" for you, just as no one can eat lunch for you or go to school for you. The term "self-publishing company" just doesn't make sense.

Hyatt writes a blog that promotes his business and carries ads for such high-morals services as a pastors conference, "soul care" for Christian leaders, and an online seminary. (For a mere $19,000 I can earn a Master of Divinity degree while sitting at this desk in my underwear.)

Hyatt recently posted about WestBow, and invited comments from readers. Some readers were thrilled to have the opportunity to have their previously unpublishable work published -- even if they have to pay as much as $6,499 (including some "free" books).

This morning I tried to upload a brief comment about WestBow's dishonesty, and I said that lying is particularly inappropriate for a holier-than-thou company that tries to cash in on its Christianity.

As soon as I clicked on "submit comment," my words disappeared and were replaced by a somber note saying, "This comment has been deleted by the administrator."

The rejection took less than a second and it was obvious that no human administrator had read my words.

I was suspicious and tried two tests. I simply tried to submit "test" and then "good morning," and both comments were instantly rejected by Hyatt's robotic censor.

It looks like the pathetically paranoid Hyatt maintains an enemies list, just like "Tricky Dick" Nixon. His blog is programmed to block my words based on my IP address, even if I say something nice.

Hyatt says, "Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic."

He also deletes comments that try to reveal the truth about his lies.

I hope there's a special place in the worst part of hell for priests who molest children, ministers who cheat on their wives and steal from their congregations, and for overtly religious businessmen who lie to their customers.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This publisher's real story is stranger than fiction



(above) PublishAmerica idiots published books written by "Travesty" and "Charlatan."

PublishAmerica (“PA”) tells potential authors it’s a “unique and traditional publishing company.” It is unique, but since a PA author’s advance may be just a dollar, and editing and promotion are almost non-existent, it’s not a traditional publisher.

The company says that it’s the “nation’s number-one book publisher,” and that it “publishes more new titles than any other traditional book publisher.” PA even claims to “receive more queries from new authors than any other book publisher in the nation.” That’s a statistic that they can’t support because other publishers certainly won’t give them query numbers.

PA has a strange marketing philosophy. It wants authors to provide a mailing list so PA can pester friends and relatives to buy and publicize books.

Jenna Glatzer is a magazine article writer, book author, contributing editor at Writer's Digest, and editor-in-chief of Absolute Write, an online magazine for writers. In an interview with WBJB radio, she exposed some of the wacky and scary tactics of PublishAmerica.

According to Jenna, “They harass their authors, they start smear campaigns against their authors, they’re just an incredibly abusive company.” She also said that PA is “built on deception,” and has “vindictive, abusive, and strange people who have crossed the line.”

Jenna discussed author Ken Yarborough, who tried to prove that PA was not selective about accepting manuscripts and did not reject 80% of proposed books, as the company states. Ken submitted a book that consisted of the same 30 pages repeated over and over again— and PA accepted it!

When Ken revealed what had happened, PA reported him to the police, alleging fraud.

In another case related by Jenna, an author asked PA to lower the retail price of a book to make it more saleable, or to release him from his seven-year contract. PA tried to have him arrested for harassment.

Miranda Prather, PA executive director, claims that the company accepts only high-quality manuscripts for publication and has “30 full-time editors.” Apparently none of them checked PublishAmerica’s own website. The site says, “We submit the book to our wholesalers and wholesalers,” “There’s [sic] 190,000 other authors out there,” and “There is this fast-growing number of Internet bookstores.” Yuck.

Prather’s own life would make an interesting book.

She received national attention in 1997 when police accused her of faking a hate crime while working as a teaching assistant at Eastern New Mexico University.

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “Prather was accused of threatening several professors and staging an attack on herself. She was charged with concocting an elaborate hoax that included circulating fliers and mail claiming to be from ‘The Fist of God,’ which threatened death and injury to specific ENMU professors and to homosexuals in general.”

Prather, an open lesbian whose name was listed first on the fliers, was accused of faking an attack on herself that caused slight injuries. She initially said two men attacked her, and then blamed an imaginary woman.

Prather was charged with seven counts of harassment and one charge of filing a false police report. She agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for probation instead of imprisonment. After the plea bargain, Prather joined PublishAmerica— a company with a reputation to match her own.

Authors told Publishers Weekly that PA “sells books to which it no longer holds the rights;… doesn’t pay royalties it owes; engages in slipshod editing and copyediting; sets unreasonable list prices; and makes little effort (and has had little success) in getting books into bookstores.”

The company says, “PublishAmerica is not in any way a POD,” and “In the most commonly used context, POD indicates Publish On Demand.”

That’s not true. There is no such thing as Publish On Demand. The standard meaning of POD is Print-On-Demand— a process that PA does use. Books can be printed on demand, but they can’t be published on demand.

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PA’s low standards have been exposed by several stings in which it agreed to publish deliberately bad books. Atlanta Nights is an assumedly unpublishable collaborative novel created by a group of sci-fi and fantasy authors to test whether PA would accept it. The book was supposedly written by “Travis Tea” (travesty). The Crack of Death author was said to be “Sharla Tann” (charlatan), and the book is filled with bad writing, bad grammar, spelling errors, malapropisms, gender shifts, age shifts, name shifts, and more.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Find & Replace warning


A while ago I decided to change a real name to a fake name in a mostly true book, to avoid embarrassing someone who might not want to be written about.

I used Microsoft Word's Find and Replace feature, which quickly made about a dozen substitutions in a chapter.

But when I read through the chapter I was surprised to find a few instances of the old name, which had escaped the Find function.

It's important to do a manual verification, because Word might not notice hyphenated words, or words with apostrophes or in their plural form, as targets for replacement.

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