Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not about books: end-of-year reminders



As the year ends, you have only a few more hours to make tax deductable donations to charity. It's not a big deal to write a couple of checks, and lots of charities accept credit card donations and have convenient websites. However, if you want to spread money around, American Express makes it extremely easy -- and personally profitable.

The Giving Express program connects you to over a million charitable organizations! You can search for them by name, keywords, location, or use an extensive list of categories such as performing arts, education, health care, housing, human rights, disaster relief, religion and much more. The AmEx website has financial reports, mission statements, contacts, and other information regarding the organizations.

Donating online helps nonprofit organizations reduce administrative costs so that they can do more with the money. Your dollar donations are tax-deductible and you’ll receive an e-mail receipt for your records.

• Give to one or more charities and nonprofit organizations
• Donate dollars with your American Express Card
• Donate Membership Rewards points
• Set up recurring donations

When you make a donation, you'll get an immediate e-mail confirmation for each transaction. AmEx will post a detailed record of all your donations on your password-protected Giving History web page, if you need a record for an IRS audit in the future. CLICK

This is also the time of year to engage in some intensive house cleaning and office cleaning. I recommend the one-year-test (or six-month test, or pick another appropriate interval). If there is something you haven't used in a year, there is a good chance that you won't use it in the next year...or decade.

Gather these things together and take them to your nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army "store." You'll get rid of clutter, get a tax donation, provide employment, and help someone less fortunate get a bargain on something she needs. While you're there, you may find some bargains to buy, too.

Although not specifically a year-end reminder, think about getting a credit card that will help an important charity or organization with your normal spending. For example, Bank of America works with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® to provide co-branded credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts, encouraging people to "Make every purchase pink." For each new Susan G. Komen for the Cure branded credit card account opened and used, Komen receives a minimum of $3, and a minimum of 20 cents for every $100 you make in purchases with the card. Komen also receives $1 for each annual renewal of the card. CLICK for info.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PEN NAMES:
What do vanity publishers call vanity publishing?

This blog and my book Become a Real Self-Publisher condemn vanity publishers, and warn writers of the potential perils of using them (paying a lot of money to publish a lousy book that few people will read).

"Vanity publishing" and "vanity press" are undeniably pejorative terms. Critics like me use those terms, but no company calls itself a vanity press.

Here are some of the labels used by pay-to-publish businesses, and the keywords they advertise to attract customers:

Arbor Books: self-publishing, subsidy publishing

Author Solutions: alternative publishing, self publishing, indie book publishing, cooperative publishing, on-demand publishing service, independent publishing, indie, do-it-yourself publishing, supported self publishing

Aachanon Publishing: self-publishing service provider

Beckham Publications Group: joint venture publishing, self-publishing

BookPros: subsidy publishing, traditional publishing—redefined

BookSurge: do-it-yourself publishing, Publish-On-Demand

Canmore Press: assisted self-publishing

CreateSpace: do-it-yourself publishing, Print-on-demand publishing, self-publishing, subsidy publishing

DellArte Press: assisted self-publishing, self-publishing

Dog Ear Publishing: co-publishing

Fertile Ground Press: assisted self-publishing

GM Books: co-publishing

Infinity Publishing: author originated book publishing. Print-on-demand publishing,

Isaac Publishing: subsidy publishing

iUniverse: print-on-demand publishing, self-publishing

Leonine Publishers: hybrid publishing company

Llumina Press: publish-on-demand, self-publishing, print-on-demand

Lulu: free self-publishing, Print-on-demand publishing, self-publishing, Publish-On-Demand

Mill City Press: self-publishing

Outskirts Press: custom book publishing, on-demand publishing, do-it-yourself publishing, Print-on-demand publishing, and independent self-printing, Publish-On-Demand.

PublishAmerica: Book Publisher, Publish-On-Demand, traditional, royalty paying publisher.

SpiderWize: assisted self-publishing

Tate Publishing: subsidy publishing

Trafford Publishing: self-publishing, independent publish-ing

Vantage Press: subsidy publishing

WestBow Press: self-publishing

Xlibris: do-it-yourself publishing, Print-on-demand pub-lishing, self-publishing, subsidy publishing

Xulon: self-publishing

Advertising what can’t be sold

Even though PublishAmerica insists that "publish-on-demand" is the real meaning of “POD,” and Llumina Press, BookSurge, Lulu and Outskirts Press also advertise that phrase, there is no such thing as “publish-on-demand”

It makes no sense, but companies still want you to think they’ll provide it for you.

The ads featuring the meaningless phrase are aimed at ignorant writers who don’t know the difference between printing and publishing.

They’re not the same thing. Printing is part of publishing. Printing can be done on demand. Publishing can’t.

Publishing is a complex, multi-stage process that takes a writer’s words from manuscript to books being sold. The end result of a publishing project — which may be a million books or just one book — can take weeks, months, or even years.

With Print-On-Demand, books are printed one at a time or a few at a time, as orders are placed by readers through booksellers. That does not mean that a publishing company starts the entire publishing sequence each time an order arrives.

...

Monday, December 28, 2009

What does "free" mean?



The 60 books are not really free if AuthorHouse customers have to spend $1,999 to get them.

...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cheer-up! Some comfort and encouragement (and caution) for rejected writers


Many writers turn to self-publishing and pay-to-publishing after being rejected by agents and traditional publishers.

While rejection can be depressing and discouraging, the failure to be approved by the media gatekeepers is not necessarily an indication of bad writing or an uninteresting idea.

Books are rejected for many reasons (not only bad quality), but they usually are accepted for one reason: because they are expected to make money.

Sarah Palin's Going Rogue and the endless stream of celebrities' addiction/abuse/confession/recipes/weight-loss books are not published in anticipation of glorifying the publisher by winning Pullitzer prizes. They are published in anticipation of making money.

Professional judgment is imperfect. Many books that are rejected by one publisher, or by many publishers, are later accepted by another publisher.

Most books published by traditional publishing companies with highly paid experts having years of experience, do not sell well. After a few months they are doomed to be sold on the buck-a-book tables or recycled into the raw materials for more books.

My taste in books apparently puts me in the minority of book buyers. Often I eagerly buy a new book as soon as it is released. As expected, I love the book. Alas, few others care about the subject, and the book is soon available for almost nothing at Barnes & Noble or Dollar Tree. This has become a running joke in my family, and my wife would strongly prefer that I wait a while and pay just one dollar instead of $25.

But I won't wait.

There may be many people like me who are waiting for what you are writing. Find a way to reach us. If you can't get a contract from a publisher, self-publish...on paper, online, or in eBooks. Don't be stopped. Don't be silenced. Don't skip professional editing. Don't publish crap.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?


Vanity presses usually charge from $199 to $10,000 or even more for their "publishing packages."

The chart below based on recent personal experience shows the estimated minimum costs to publish a 200-page "trade paperback" book (without buying any new software) as a "real" self-publisher, using Lightning Source to print on demand.


I recommend that you budget about $1,000 - $1,200 so you have some reserve to print several generations of corrected proofs if necessary, and can afford to send out news releases and review copies.

If you can't "format" the interior pages yourself, you can hire a designer to develop a style for you to follow, or to format the pages for you. This could cost hundreds or thousands. Many self-publishers format their own pages with Microsoft Word. Some of these books look fine, but many are terrible (mostly because of the limitations of the person, not the software).

If you must publish at the lowest-possible cost, you can skip the ISBN, the copyright registration, the editor and designer, the professional photograph, and the proof. This way you can publish a book for an initial cost of about $87 using Lightning Source or $0 with Lulu or CreateSpace -- but the book will probably be terrible and no one will read it.

...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NO SURPRISE: The Outskirts Press contract avoids responsibility for errors and has a stupid typo.

BIG SURPRISE: authors might loan Outskirts money for six months, interest-free!



The executive team at inept vanity publisher Outskirts Press consists of boss Brent Sampson (who has a degree in English), Brent's wife Jeanine (who also has a degree in English), plus Lynn Sampson (an attorney). Here are some highlights from their author contract:

Author receives 100% of the royalties profit for each wholesale print copy sold for which Outskirts Press receives payment. [If you work your ass off promoting your book, and pay Outskirts to promote your book, but Outskirts sells copies of your book and doesn't get paid, you don't get paid.]
 
Royalties are paid to Author within 90 days following the end of the calendar quarter in which Wholesale Book Sales occurred [If a book is sold on January 1, Outskirts doesn't have to pay you your royalties until 90 days starting on April 1 (i.e., the end of June -- six months later!).

The Outskirts Press online bookstore offers discounts of up to 55% on purchases of 10 or more books to "Wholesalers, retailers, distributors," and requires payment by credit card. A bookseller's money should be in the Outskirts checking account two days after a purchase, but  Outskirts doesn't have to pay you until up to 178 days later.

You will become Outskirts' bank, potentially loaning it money for nearly half a year, but not being paid any interest.

Outskirts will cancel your book if you don't pay their $25 annual digital storage and hosting fee within 30 days, but you must allow them six months to pay you. Conceivably, your book could be canceled if you owe them $25 for 31 days, even while they owe you hundreds or thousands of dollars.]

 
Outskirts Press does not warrant that the service or product provided will be uninterrupted or error free. [That's certainly no surprise.] Outskirts Press disclaims any and all representations and warranties, expressed or implied, including, without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability, salability, or noninfringement of copyright. [In other words, don't expect Outskirts to do anything right.]

Outskirts Press’s total liability to Author or any third-party for any and all damages shall not exceed in the aggregate the amount of fees actually paid by Author to Outskirts Press during the one month period prior to Outskirts Press’ act giving rise to the liability. [If the author paid $5,000 two months before the screw-up, but didn't pay anything in the immediately preceding month, the author gets nothing -- even if the Outskirts error costs the author a million bucks.]

To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall Outskirts Press, its parent companies, subsidiaries, or affiliates, or any of their respective officers, directors, employees, or agents by [TYPO: should be "be."] liable for punitive, consequential, incidental, exemplary, indirect, or special damages, including without limitation damages for loss of profits, revenues, business data, or other intangibles, whether or not such damages were foreseeable and even if Outskirts Press had been advised of the possibility or likelihood of such damages.  [In other words, if Outskirts Press screws up, don't expect them to pay for any loss caused by their errors -- even if they knew in advance about the problem.]

Any legal action related to the terms of or obligations arising under this Agreement shall be brought in the District Court of Douglas County, State of Colorado. [If you live in Hawaii or New Hampshire, and you don't like what Outskirts did to your book, you have to travel to Castle Rock, Colorado to sue them.]

Outskirts says its mission statement is "To exceed the expectations of every author we help publish." Authors can expect crappy books and inadequate promotion from a company that hides behind legal weaseling, denies any obligation to do the right thing, and may deny any liability when they do the wrong thing. 

...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Outskirts Press editing is like "no editing at all."
An Outskirts victim speaks


From Michael: I have frequently preached about the necessity of paying for professional editing of self-published and pay-to-publish books.

Unfortunately, there is no licensing exam or certification process required before someone is allowed to use the "editor" label. People tend to trust the editorial staffs at publishers, and may end up paying a lot of money for inferior editing which can severely damage a book that has been lovingly labored over for years.


Outskirts Press -- the vanity press I love to hate -- apparently has some terrible editors. Even a book written by Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson is filled with stupid errors that no legitimate editor would have ignored.

What follows is a slightly modified email from an Outskirts author/customer/victim. This author paid $999 for the most expensive "Diamond" publishing package, plus extra-cost options including nearly $1,000 for "professional" editing.

I wish I would have read your blog before I published my first novel with Outskirts. I have had some scathing reviews due to the errors that were left in my book after I paid a small fortune for editing with the Outskirts editing team.

I was so excited when my book was first released, but after a few family members pointed out the mistakes left behind, I can't describe the restraint it took for me not to explode.

I tried to reason with my so-called marketing representative, but she simply hid behind the "fine print" they give you after they receive payment from you. It would have cost me another small fortune to revise the book, and I am still in debt from publishing it in the first place. The marketing representative simply would not assume any responsibility for mistakes that Outskirts made.

Outskirts made me feel paranoid about not getting their editing service, but when I did it was as if I had no editing at all. The only consolation that I have, is that I have a few fans that were willing to give me a chance as a new author. They loved my book.

I'm sure other writers would hate to be scammed out of their money for a service as unreliable as Outskirts' editing. I purchased the editing service for peace of mind, not to hold my breath each time a review comes out, only to be criticized for editing I paid for but did not receive.

From Michael: Outskirts seems to use the worst editors, but even the best editors are not perfect. I've seen some really stupid stuff in books published by major publishing companies. Sometimes an editor will create a mistake while trying to eliminate another.

If a reader finds errors, the reader will blame the author, not the editor. The author will ultimately suffer for all of the words associated with her or his name. Even after a professional and expensive editing, it's important for the author to read the book a few times, and to have it read by some amateur volunteers before approving it for printing.

This points out another advantage of being a "real" self-publisher instead of using a company like Outskirts Press. I published a book in October. Despite extensive checking and professional editing, I've found about six typos, and there are a few things I want to change because some conditions have changed. The total cost for me to make the changes, including getting a proof shipped for next-day delivery from my printer (Lightning Source) is just $30.


...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reviewing a review
(of an Outskirts Press book, of course)



Embellish by R. L. Sloan
ISBN 9781432740320
Reviewed by Victoria Gonzales for Reader Views (9/09)

This book is a fun [I'm really getting tired of seeing "fun" used as an adjective. There are better words, like "entertaining."] addition to the vampire romance novels in circulation. [As opposed to the vampire romance novels that are out of circulation?] The book begins with a frightening description of a distressing event in the main character Solis Burkes’ [At this point we don't know the gender of Solis. It would be useful to point out that she was raped as a young girl -- per the description on Amazon.com.]  life. [Awkward sentence structure.] This event would determine ["Affect" might be a better word.] the rest of her life. Her past is known by her family and a secret admirer. The premise is that a group of very evil people [Childish term.] have begun to take control of the town and threaten to influence ["Affect"or "dominate" might be better words.] everyone with their dark magic [Why not "black magic?"] and voodoo. Solis Burkes decides that she will exact revenge [Silly cliche.] on these evil people [Childish term, repeated.] . She joins forces [Overused cliche.] with a man who has been watching over her for many years. She wants revenge, and she gets it. Her family and friends are all in danger with ["Put in danger because of" would be better.] her involvement in revenge against the evil doers. [More appropriate for Batman.] Solis must make a decision to save her family and friends or continue with her revenge. [Why can't she do both?]

Overall, this is a great book and the most unique ["Unique" is an absolute. It can't be modified. Every unique thing is equally unique (i.e., one of a kind). Most people learn this by sixth grade.] part is the addition of such a young character’s voice. She is funny and brave, [Childlike description.]  and her inner thoughts [Are there outer thoughts?]  are fun to read. [Childlike description.]  I thought the author did a good job [Childlike.]  capturing a young teen’s voice. For example, Sloan writes: “I once again slammed the phone down as hard as I could. It felt good to do that! It might have been childish for me to do, but I was beginning to feel a newfound confidence that was starting to make me feel alive. It made me want to start regarding myself with some value [That doesn't seem like a young teen's voice.], and not be pushed around or taken for granted anymore.” The characters are very interesting to read about [Childlike description.], a protective grandmother, a nice teen with a big heart and a sad past, and a secret admirer, are all well developed. It is a very good read [The next time I read "good read," I'll stop reading and puke on my keyboard. Google shows more than 4 million uses of the hackneyed phrase. It's time to find something else!] , both fast-paced and thrilling.

I think anyone would enjoy this book, especially if you like romance and the paranormal. [I don't care about paranormal romances. Am I still part of "anyone?"]  It is the first book in a series, but is very worthwhile to read. R. L. Sloan is a good writer [Who probably deserves a good reviewer.]; she captures a youthful voice perfectly and she makes it fun [ENOUGH "fun," already.] to read about Solis and find out what will happen to her next. The dialogue between the characters is very interesting because she uses New Orleans colloquialisms and the characters’ names are very unique ["Unique" is an absolute. It can't be modified. Every unique thing is equally unique (i.e., one of a kind). Most people learn this by sixth grade.], for example Childress, Olvignia, and Erland. “Embellish” is simply a good book, and hopefully [Technically, that's an improper use of "hopefully," but our language is changing so I won't deduct any points for it now.] the sequel will come out soon!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Outskirts Press idiots show how NOT to write a press release


Outskirts Press announces Romancing A Mystery from Burbank, IL author Evelyn Cullet. Unless the author is J. D. Salinger or J. K. Rowling, the mere publication of a book is NOT news. Is there anything in that headline that offers a reason to buy the book? Does anyone care who is making the announcement? Does anyone care that the author comes from Burbank, Illinois? Does anyone know why the letter "A" in the book title is in upper case? The book title should have been in italics, or in quotes, to separate it from the rest of the text.

Outskirts Press, Inc. [Who cares if the business was incorporated?] has published Romancing A [should not be upper case.] Mystery by Evelyn Cullet, which is the author's most recent book to date. [If it's her most recent book, there is no reason to say "to date." Actually, it may be her only book.] The 5 x 8 Paperback [Paperback should not be in upper case.] cream [What the hell is a "Paperback cream?" I suppose it's less fattening than ice cream. Oh, I see: cream is the color of the paper the book is printed on. Will anyone make a buying decision based on paper color? If the paper color really is important, the sentence should have been written better.]  in the FICTION / General category [FICTION does not have to be in upper case, nor does the "G" in "General," and the category is unlikely a reason to buy. We already have a pretty good indication that the book is fiction.] is available worldwide [Yeah, just like almost every other book in the world.] on book retailer websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble [Yeah, just like almost every other book in the world.]  for a suggested retail price of $19.95. The webpage [Most people spell "web page" as two words, but I'll let it go since I write "website" -- but I really don't like the "bp" combination.] at www.outskirtspress.com/romancingamystery was launched simultaneously with the book's publication. [Oh goody, the author has a web page. That means this must be a good book and I'll have to buy it.]

Meet Charlotte Ross. [I guess the author likes charlotte russe cake.] A young woman in her prime, [A young woman should be in her prime. If she was young and past her prime, then it would be worth mentioning.] she’s become bored living in the small Illinois town [Gee, the author is also from a small Illinois town. How inventive -- NOT! And how irrelevant. Who cares where the small town is?] where she grew up and is tired of her mom [I'm tired of finding the childlike "mom" in serious writing and broadcasting. Let's go back to "mother" except for quotations.] trying to marry her off to the oldest and wealthiest men in town. [If this was a TV show, at this point I'd switch to CNBC or Animal Planet.] So when her mystery-loving friend Jane Marshall [That name deserves an award for blandness. Why not another name derived from a cake? She could be "Banana Cream" or "Deborah Devilsfood?"] suggests a driving trip across England and Ireland, Charlotte eagerly packs her bags. [A silly outdated cliche -- they're probably suitcases, not bags.] But Charlotte is about to get more than she bargained for. Just two days in, [In what?] their car breaks down and the women take refuge inside Blake Hall [Ooh-ooh. I bet it has ghosts.], an ancient aristocrat’s lair [Sounds like the BatCave.]  with a long and rumored past. [That goes well with "a dark and stormy night."]  As guests of the handsome [Well, if he's handsome, I'll definitely buy the book.] Lord Peter Montigue [Montague would have been a better choice. It was the last name of Romeo, Juliet Capulet's boyfriend.] Blake, the girls [Girls? We were first told that Charlotte is a "young woman," and then that they were both "women."] waste little time getting into plenty of trouble: ruining a priceless painting, encountering alleged ghosts [AHA! I was right about the ghosts. But who alleged that they were ghosts, and why can't we have some real ones in the book?] and stumbling upon a gruesome corpse [As opposed to a really pleasant corpse.]. The latter ["Latter" is OK for a contract, but not a press release.] will draw them into a centuries-old mystery that has remained unsolved, until now at least. [If it's unsolved, it's unsolved until now at least.]  Through it all, these out-of-place Americans also find the last thing they’d ever imagined: unexpected romance. [Chances are, as young women on a road trip, they did imagine finding romance, and it's probably not the last thing they imagined. Finding Queen Elizabeth wandering drunk and naked on the road might be the last thing they'd imagine. And who is the romance with? With ghosts? With the handsome lord? With each other?] Smart, savvy [People can be smart and savvy, but can a book be that way?] and at times uproariously funny [I hope it's as funny as the press release.], Romancing a [Oh good, for a change we get a lower case "a."] Mystery is part Jane Austen, part Agatha Christie and part Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with just a touch of Oscar Wilde thrown in to spice things up [Oscar was apparently gay, so being thrown in somewhere with Sir Arthur could have been spicy, but Oscar probably wouldn't care about Jane and Agatha.] for an unforgettable story that’s all its own. [What does "all its own" mean, or add? If I buy the book, will it be "all my own?"]

Deftly constructed at 352 pages, [EVERY damn book published by Outskirts is said to be "deftly constucted." Another Outskirts book is "Deftly constructed at 52 pages." Perhaps it's much defter than this one is.] Romancing A [Should be lower case.] Mystery is being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets ["aggressively promoted" is another phrase that appears in every press release for an Outskirts Press book. It means that Outskirts is using freebie press release distribution services to send out news that will likely be ignored.] with a focus on the FICTION / General category. [If we didn't care about the category the first time, we still don't care about it the second time, and we still don't like the upper casing.] With U.S. wholesale distribution through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, [That may impress the author, but it means nothing to readers.] and pervasive online availability [That's a phrase we don't often encounter -- except in about 130,000 other online items about Outskirts books.] through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and elsewhere, Romancing A [Should be lower case.] Mystery meets consumer demand [Which consumers have demanded it?] through both retail and library markets with a suggested retail price of $19.95.

Additionally, Romancing A [Should be lower case] Mystery can be ordered by retailers or wholesalers for the maximum trade discount price set by the author [Who the hell cares who sets the  price; and wouldn't retailers and wholesalers want to buy at the MINIMUM price, not the maximum price? Buyers want the maximum discount, but the minimum price.]  in quantities of ten [Should be "10."] or more from the Outskirts Press wholesale online bookstore at www.outskirtspress.com/buybooks

ISBN: 9781432746667 Format: 5 x 8 Paperback cream SRP: $19.95 [Yeah, yeah. We know that already. "Paperback" should be lower case, and it would be nice to have some punctuation or a line break after the ISBN and "cream." Actually, this stuff really belongs on a "sell sheet," not in a press release aimed at the general public.]

For more information or to contact the author, visit www.outskirtspress.com/romancingamystery

About the Author

Evelyn Cullet is a longtime mystery buff. A former member of the Agatha Christie Society [Did Agatha throw her out?], she is a current member of Sisters In Crime [The release could have said that she "has been a member" of both organizations, without revealing that she is no longer a member of the Christie Club.], the worldwide organization for women mystery writers. Now retired from the offices [How many offices did she retire from, and didn't she really retire from the company, not from the offices? That phrase reminds me of the stupid notepads that say "from the desk of..." ] of a major soft drink company, she spends part of her time organic gardening  [Are her experiences with compost and sugary fizzy water reasons to buy the book?] , and the rest doing what she loves best: writing. [Hmm. She spends part of her time gardening and the rest of her time writing. That leaves no time for eating, bathing, sleeping, shopping, socializing, anything. Evelyn doesn't seem to have much of a life -- unless the press release writer made a MISTAKE. Is that possible?]

About Outskirts Press, Inc. [Nobody cares about the "Inc."]

Outskirts Press, Inc. [Nobody cares about the "Inc."] offers full-service, custom self-publishing [Actually, they don't offer any kind of self-publishing. No company or person can self-publish for anyone else.] and book marketing services for authors seeking a cost-effective, fast, and flexible [What do they mean by that?] way to publish and distribute their books worldwide while retaining all their rights and full creative control. [Not if the design and editing are done by Outskirts people.]  Available for authors globally [Damn. Apparently the writers on Neptune will have to find another publisher.] at www.outskirtspress.com and located on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado [Outskirts is on the outskirts. How cute. Is the location of the publisher's office a reason to buy the book? Are we suppposed to be so excited from reading the press release that we'll drive to Colorado to buy a book?], Outskirts Press represents the future of book publishing [Uh-oh. We're in deep shit, folks.], today.

The press release contact is Kelly Schuknecht. Kelly is "Director of Author Support" at Outskirts, and was previously  their "Press Release Coordinator." We can't be absolutely sure that she wrote this crap, but she certainly had the opportunity to read it and fix it.  Kelly has a degree in Modern Foreign Languages from James Madison University. It's too bad she doesn't have a degree in ENGLISH!

On the other hand, Jeanine Sampson, Outskirts COO and wife of Outskirts boss Brent Sampson, does have a degree in English from the Univ. of Virginia. Maybe she could help. OOPS! Forget about it. I just saw a press release sent out over Jeanine's name last year. It has the same goofy "most recent book to date," "Deftly constructed at," "maximum trade discount price" and "pervasive online availability" phrases that Kelly uses. 


Message to the author: I have not read your book. It may be superb, and it sounds like a lot of fun, but I don't like your inept publisher. Maybe this publicity will help you sell some books. Good luck. I hope you write better than the person who wrote your press release.

...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A blatant commercial message:
Flashing red Batphone can be delivered before Christmas


Now everyone can have a red phone with a flashing light like Batman.

In general, I write at night. My day job is running a company that sells a wide range of telecommunications products. We sell business phone systems, installation supplies and tools, phone accessories like headsets, and fun stuff like this Batphone, which I designed.

When there’s trouble in Gotham City, Police Commissioner Gordon calls caped crusader Batman, the secret alter ego of millionaire Bruce Wayne.

At Wayne Manor, the flashing red Batphone is answered by Alfred the butler, who tells Wayne about the trouble. Then Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson put on their superhero costumes. As Batman and Robin, they race from the Batcave in the Batmobile to battle evil-doers, or rescue citizens in distress.

Now everyone can have a bright red flashing Batphone just like a superhero. When an emergency call -- or even an ordinary call -- comes in, a bright red light centered in a shiny chrome ring starts flashing to attract attention.

The Batphone has classic sixties styling, with heavy-duty construction, a two-year warranty, and is made in the USA. It gets all of its power from the phone line, and doesn’t require a power cord or batteries. It can work on an ordinary home phone line, or on an "analog extension port" in a business phone system.

The phone rings when the light flashes, unless a purchaser prefers the bell to be disconnected for silent signaling, or an optional high-pitched "BatSignal" or buzzer to be installed instead of the bell. Price with the bell is $122, including Priority Mail shipping to all 50 states.

Order online at www.GetABatPhone.com, or call toll-free 1-888-225-3999.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stupid & cheap Outskirts Press helps competitors



Outskirts Press is the vanity press I love to hate. I urge writers to stay away from Outskirts because its people are inept and dishonest, but those same characteristics give me lots to write about.

Outskirts management and staff are like The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. When they try to draw guns, they shoot themselves in the feet. When they try to instruct and advise, they reveal how little they know. When they try to be competitive, they create opportunities for their competitors.

Outskirts frequently sends out press releases promoting their author-customers, and tooting their own horn.

Rather than spend money with first-class news distribution services like PR Web, PR Newswire or Business Wire, Outskirts instead does it the cheap way, with no-cost news services like PR Log, PR.com, Newswire Today and Free-Press-Release.com.

The freebie services generally get little attention from media. When I checked, I saw that a release for an Outskirts book, Eternal Life, was not picked up by EVEN ONE website.

The services that Outskirts uses often present ADVERTISING FOR COMPETITORS of Outskirts -- on the same web page! Was Outskirts too lazy to check, too blind to see, or too stupid to care?

Up above you can see some alleged news about Outskirts that was distributed at no charge by PR Log. Since Outskirts doesn't pay PR Log, PR Log must get income from somewhere. They carry pay-per-click ads that target key words in the press releases.

So, the Outskirts news that is intended to get customers for Outskirts, runs right alongside vanity press ads for Tate, Trafford, CreateSpace, Lulu, iUniverse, Dorrance, AuthorHouse and perhaps others. Those companies are paying money to grab potential customers away from Outskirts, which was unwilling to pay a few hundred bucks for news distribution free of promos for its competitors.

Outskirts Press is cheap, stupid, ignorant, deceptive and self-defeating. It's OK to use the company for laughs, but not for publishing.

...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

After 40 years of faithfulness, I've cheated on Nikon. Blame Tiger Woods, or Panasonic



I'm a sucker for red. I have a 31-year-old tomato-red Fiat sports car. I have a  website that specializes in red phones. My favorite uncle and an important girlfriend had red hair. I even had red walls in my apartment until I married a different girlfriend who didn't like red walls. I refuse to eat "white pizza." If it doesn't have red sauce, it's not pizza.

As soon as I saw the new Panasonic Lumix G1 digital camera last year, I started salivating and panting. The G1 probably won every camera award there is.

I've been a Nikon fan and owner since 1969, starting with my first "grown-up" camera, the Nikon Photomic FTn. I bought it to use on my first post-college job as assistant editor of a hi-fi magazine, paying a friendly camera dealer 10 bucks a week from my meager $115 weekly salary. It was an expensive, huge, heavy machine, but it took amazing pictures and was ultra-reliable. The earlier manual version, the Nikon F, was the first Japanese camera to win the loyalty of pro photographers who were previously addicted to German Leicas. One FTn was taken on the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon. Mine traveled as far as England, and pictures taken with it ended up in Rolling Stone, Womens Wear Daily, my first book back in 1976, and were projected 10-feet-wide on the screen in my basement.

By today's standards, the FTn was primitive, and expensive. The only zoom lens had a range of just 43-86 millimeters, and I think it cost over $500. There was no built-in flash. A motor drive (which became part of $35 cameras in the 1990s)  was beyond the budget for an amateur like me.

Over the years I gradually upgraded to newer Nikons, with more built-in features, less heft and smaller price tags. I had an FE, then a miniaturized EM, then my first digital SLR -- the D70, a smaller digital rangefinder CoolPix P5000, and a pocketable CoolPix L6. They have all been superb picture-takers that have never let me down. They all still work.

In general, I use my big Nikon D70 DSLR for "serious" photography, and the compact Nikon Coolpix L6 is always in my briefcase or car for unplanned photos. In my office, there's the older Coolpix P5000 on a tripod for taking product pictures. I occasionally fondle the film cameras, but I haven't shot film in years.

People tend to stay with the beer brands, tool brands, car brands and camera brands they've been happy with. Dave, my best buddy from college, has long been a "Canon guy." Until last weekend, I was a "Nikon guy."

I've been well aware of the inroads that Panasonic has made into the digital camera business, especially since they started using Leica lenses on some products. Panasonic has long been an important innovator in video cameras and camcorders, and now they're kicking ass in still photography, too.

I'm not ready to empty my shelf full of Nikons, but I was definitely ready to add a Panasonic to the collection, and it will not just stay on the shelf.

The Lumix G1 is the world’s first Micro Four Thirds system camera. Panasonic says it's the world’s smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens camera system, with the body and standard "kit" lens weighing about 20 ounces. It fills an important middle ground between my big and small Nikons, offering the quality and versatility of an SLR in a much smaller package (about one-third smaller than the D70), and has a bigger display than my other cameras.

Based on the new Micro Four Thirds System standard, the Lumix G1 eliminates the internal moving mirror and prism that are used in other single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, so it reduces the size and weight significantly.

With the mirror-less system, the G1’s distance between the lens mount and the image sensor, has been reduced from 40 mm to approximately 20 mm.

The G1's Full-time Live View lets you see in the LCD screen while making adjustments to see how the exposure, white balance, aperture and even the shutter speed will affect the photo. This kind of super-easy live-view shooting has never before been possible with a conventional digital SLR camera.

Intelligent Auto mode activates six detection and compensation functions that work automatically, leaving you free to just aim and shoot.

But wait. There's more.

  • Shake detection - Mega O.I.S. Helps prevent blurring when the camera shakes.
  • Motion detection - Intelligent ISO Control Helps prevent blur caused by subject motion.
  • Light detection - Intelligent Exposure Adjusts the brightness of dark areas in the image.
  • Advanced Face Detection Face Detection AF/AE Helps deliver clear portraits.
  • Scene detection - Intelligent Scene Selector Selects the optimal scene mode for the situation.
  • Subject detection - AF Tracking follows moving subjects and adjusts accordingly.


  • The 3.0-inch free-angle LCD with high 460,000-dot resolution 180° horizontally and 270° vertically, makes it easy to capture shots from extreme angles without getting into an awkward position. And when the lighting around you changes, the LCD backlighting level automatically changes too, so you get easy-on-the-eyes viewing at all times. You can flip the screen around to face front for self-portraits, or to allow subjects to see themselves.

    In My Color mode you can freely adjust the color, brightness and saturation of an image, while checking it with Full-time Live View. This gives you the power to control how your image will look. You can even make dramatic color changes.

    Film mode lets you capture photos with a special mood or expressiveness. Much like changing the film type in a film camera, you can get a wide range of expression based on six color modes and three monochromatic modes. When the multi-film mode is selected, you can record pictures having up to three different effects with each press of the shutter button.

    1920 x 1080-pixel HD (high-definition) photo recording. The G1 shoots wide-screen, 16:9, full-HD images. These images can be displayed on an HDTV, which handles about four times the data of a standard-definition TV.

    The camera has a high-definition output so it's easy to connect to an HDTV for high definition viewing. If your TV is HDMI compatible, a single HDMI mini cable is all you need. If you have a Panasonic Viera HDTV, you can also operate the G1 with the Viera remote control for even easier viewing.

    The image sensor has 13.1 total Megapixels -- over twice the resolution of my newest Nikon. It can provide both RAW and JPG versions of the same shots. There's a Supersonic wave filter dust reduction system. Lens focal length is 14mm to 45mm -- the 35mm film camera equivalent 28mm to 90mm, which I've always considered the ideal zoom range for most shooting. Back in my pre-zoom Nikon days, my favorite lenses were 28mm and 85mm.

    More joy: ISO Sensitivity can be selected for Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / Intelligent ISO. White Balance choices are: Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1,2 / Color temperature setting.

    A G1 kit with the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S lens has a list price of $800, but you should be able to get it for under $700. Also available is the 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/Mega O.I.S.lens.

    The Lumix G1 is apparently the world’s first interchangeable lens camera with color choices, just like some Panasonic phone models. You can choose basic black, electric blue or bloody red models. I like bloody/tomato/Fiat red.

    For current Four Thirds users with a collection of lenses, an optional mount adapter will allow Four Thirds lenses to be compatible with the Lumix G1.

    Panasonic is offering accessories including External Flash DMW-FL220(GN22); PL Filter: DMW-LPL52; Mount Adapter: DMW-MA1; Battery Pack: DMW-BLB13; DC Cable: DMW-DCC3; Soft Case: DMW-CG1; Soft Bag: DMW-BAG1; Shoulder Strap (Stylish) DMW-SSTG1-A/C/R; Shoulder Strap (Woven) DMW-SSTG2-W; Shoulder Strap (Leather) DMW-SSTG3-T.

    Last weekend included the beginning of Chanukah and my 38th anniversary - - two reasons for gifting.

    My practical wife wanted a set of new Michelin tires for her Town & Country van. I got them at Costco. Seeking a bit more excitement in my life, and perhaps inspired by Tiger Woods, I cheated on Nikon and I got a sexy red Lumix.

    It's an amazing camera. Images are bright and sharp. I can compose a shot with the viewfinder or the large flip-screen. There is no lag between pressing the shutter button and capturing an image. The zoom lens covers the ideal range for me. The built-in strobe is so powerful that I probably won't buy an external strobe. The menu system is logical and easy-to-use -- much better than on my digital Nikons. Unlike my film Nikons, the lens cap never pops off when it shouldn't.

    I have only one criticism. The strobe light doesn't pop up automatically in low-light situations. However, it's possible that it really can auto-pop, but I just have not figured out how to activate the feature. I guess I'll have to do a very un-manly thing: RTFM. I hope I'll be forgiven.

    ...

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    A nice way to say "fart," and a nice way to say "vanity publishing"


    What follows is from my book, "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)," coming 4/1/10.
    .
    Eleanor Browne taught junior high English. She was a vicious and sadistic misandrist — a man-hater — and our class had 31 men-to-be, and not even one young lady.

    Browne made our lives MISERABLE around 1960. She tortured us at test time (“What five adjectives did Dickens use to describe the horse pulling the cart up the hill in A Tale of Two Cities?”), and she had a strange aversion to basic bodily functions.

    Except when in medical school, few people like to discuss excretion and secretion, and perspiration is certainly unpleasant. But Browne found even nasal emissions offensive, and she demanded that we ask her permission to leave the room to sneeze or blow our noses.

    If she was in a particularly sadistic mood (which happened often), she’d ignore a franticly waving hand until the unfortunate penis-bearer turned bright red or pale white and finally yanked his hanky without permission.

    The punishment for unauthorized use of a human nose was temporary banishment to the hallway outside the classroom, where the male malefactor could wheeze and sneeze in peace.

    Browne had a particularly low, gravelly voice.

    One time she was talking in the front of the room, and I farted in the back of the room.

    Browne escorted me to the office of the assistant principal Lou Rubano, but she did not accuse me of committing the offensive anal act.

    She told Mr. Rubano that I was MIMICKING HER VOICE.

    Browne left me with Mr. Rubano, who took me into his private office to get my side of the story.

    I was momentarily speechless. I was afraid to say “fart,” had not yet learned “break wind” or “pass gas,” and was embarrassed to use the family word, “boompsie.”

    I thought for a while, and then told Mr. Rubano that I had “involuntarily generated anal gaseous emissions that produced simultaneous aural and nasal stimuli.”

    He looked at me, and looked at me, and looked at me. And then started laughing hysterically.

    “Oh, you FARTED,” Mr. Rubano shouted. “I guess there’s no good reason to punish you merely because her mouth sounds like your ass.”

    He said he’d tell Browne that he took care of me, and he informed me that “flatulate” is the nice word for “fart.”
    .
    .
    FAST-FORWARD FROM 1960 to 2009:

    This blog and my book "Become a Real Self-Publisher" condemn vanity publishers, and warn writers of the potential perils of using them (paying a lot of money for a lousy book that few people will read).

    However, I recognize that not everyone wants to set up their own little publishing company as I did, and might benefit from using one of thos companies.

    "Vanity publishing" and "vanity press" are undeniably pejorative terms. Critics like me use those terms, but no vanity press will use them voluntarily.

    The prefer deceptive terms like "self-publishing company," "indie publishing," and "subsidy publishing" that are used to confuse and seduce prospective customers who may be ignorant or naive.

    I won't use the wrong labels, but a situation came up where I needed a neutral, non-pejorative term that would not alienate the customers (victims?) of compamies like Outskirts Press, Author House, iUniverse and Xlibris.

    I'm now working on a book called "The 100 Worst Self-Publishing Misteaks." I want the book to be a "big tent" that would appeal to the customers of the vanity presses, but I did not want to insult any potential book-buyers, so I needed a new term.

    I decided to use "author services company."

    There are about 10,000 Google links for the term, and 15,000 for the plural version, used by both the companies and by their critics.

    I think its a good choice.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Not about books: end-of-year reminders





    As the year ends, you have only a few more days to make tax deductable donations to charity. It's not a big deal to write a couple of checks, and lots of charities accept credit card donations and have convenient websites. However, if you want to spread money around, American Express makes it extremely easy -- and personally profitable.

    The Giving Express program connects you to over a million charitable organizations! You can search for them by name, keywords, location, or use an extensive list of categories such as performing arts, education, health care, housing, human rights, disaster relief, religion and much more. The AmEx website has financial reports, mission statements, contacts, and other information regarding the organizations.

    Donating online helps nonprofit organizations reduce administrative costs so that they can do more with the money. Your dollar donations are tax-deductible and you’ll receive an e-mail receipt for your records.

    • Give to one or more charities and nonprofit organizations
    • Donate dollars with your American Express Card
    • Donate Membership Rewards points
    • Set up recurring donations

    When you make a donation, you'll get an immediate e-mail confirmation for each transaction. AmEx will post a detailed record of all your donations on your password-protected Giving History web page, if you need a record for an IRS audit in the future. CLICK

    This is also the time of year to engage in some intensive house cleaning and office cleaning. I recommend the one-year-test (or six-month test, or pick another appropriate interval). If there is something you haven't used in a year, there is a good chance that you won't use it in the next year...or decade.

    Gather these things together and take them to your nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army "store." You'll get rid of clutter, get a tax donation, provide employment, and help someone less fortunate get a bargain on something she needs. While you're there, you may find some bargains to buy, too.

    Although not specifically a year-end reminder, think about getting a credit card that will help an important charity or organization with your normal spending. For example, Bank of America works with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® to provide co-branded credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts, encouraging people to "Make every purchase pink." For each new Susan G. Komen for the Cure branded credit card account opened and used, Komen receives a minimum of $3, and a minimum of 20 cents for every $100 you make in purchases with the card. Komen also receives $1 for each annual renewal of the card. CLICK for info.

    ...

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    HEY! It's almost 2010. Stop talking and writing like it's 1944.



    SQUAD CAR, RADIO CAR
    CRUISER CAR, POLICE CRUISER

    I think we're long overdue to banish these ancient artifacts of 1940s pulp novels and Dick Tracy comics.

    There's nothing wrong with POLICE CAR.

    And as long as we're solidly into the 21st century, lets banish "dungarees" in favor of jeans, and kill "gym shoes," "athletic shoes" and  "tennis shoes" in favor of "sneakers."

    And only Monty Burns is allowed to say "aerodrome."

    ...

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    If she doesn't know how to form the plural of "writer," I won't hire her as an editor


    (copied and pasted from ChristianFiction.blogspot.com)

    >>Hi, I’m Dee Stewart and I write Christian Fiction Blog to support writer’s of Christian Faith. I started Christian Fiction Blog in 2004 to help other writer’s deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of book promotion and book events marketing while still running a household and increasing in spiritual maturity.<<

    -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  - 
    Dee says she has been an editor "for ten years." An editor should know that it's "10," not "ten," "writers," not "writer's," and "faith," not "Faith." She won't get any editing business from me.

    Years ago political satirist Tom Lehrer sang, "Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell."

    Editors who are promoting their business should make sure that their words don't need to be edited.

    ...

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Amazon combines two POD divisions, stops fighting with Lightning Source, and may open bookstores




    This is complicated, children, so pay close attention. There will be a quiz on Friday. Take notes.

    In 2005, Amazon bought BookSurge, an on-demand book printing company.

    In 2005, Amazon bought CustomFlix Labs, an on-demand DVD making company. The name was changed to CreateSpace, and the product line was expanded to include music and video downloads, CDs and books -- just like BookSurge.

    In 2008, Amazon flexed its muscles and announced that publishers that want to sell their POD books through Amazon must have them printed by BookSurge, rather than by Lightning Source. Lightning is the dominant POD book printer, part of Ingram Industries which includes the largest book wholesaler in the U.S., and is a major supplier to Amazon and other booksellers.

    Shortly after Amazon's announcement, Amazon was sued by BookLocker.com, a small print-on-demand company that claimed Amazon was engaging in unfair business practices in violation of federal antitrust laws. Amazon filed a motion to dismiss the suit, but a U.S. District Court judge denied Amazon's motion.

    Despite many fearful shrieks by POD printers and self-publishers, Amazon never carried out its threat. Many books (including mine) are printed by Lightning and sold by Amazon.

    While BookSurge and CreateSpace offered publishers easy access to Amazon's bookselling web pages, the services did not provide a simple distribution path to reach the majority of bricks-and-mortar booksellers, or BarnesAndNoble.com and other important online booksellers.

    Last week CreateSpace announced an agreement with Lightning Source to allow CreateSpace's customers the option to have books printed and distributed by Lightning to reach a wider audience than CreateSpace itself could provide.

    CreateSpace customers will have access to this enhanced print and distribution option as part of the CreateSpace Pro Plan, a program with lower prices for customers' own book orders and higher royalties for sales on Amazon.com.

    The deal with Amazon is not the first instance of blurred definitions of Lightning Source's "competitor" and "customers." Vanity press Infinity Publishing normally competes with Lightning and prints books for Infinity author-customers, with limited disribution. Infinity offers an optional Extended Book Distribution program to distribute books through Ingram Book Group, with printing by Lightning Source. Infinity claims that “While their books are not as high quality as ours, they’re considered acceptable.”

    That’s a bunch of crap. I -- like many independent self-publishers, most of Infinity’s vanity press competitors, and many major traditional publishers -- use Lightning/Ingram to print and ship books. My books look infinitely better than Infinity’s.

    Meanwhile, Amazon realized that there was confusion, duplication and waste because of the overlapping services provided by CreateSpace and BookSurge. Last month Amazon began combining the two operations. CreateSpace will be the surviving brand and Amazon said that the integration will provide new benefits for authors and publishers.

    On Sunday the Times of London reported that Amazon was stealthily searching for real estate to open bricks-and-mortar bookstores in England. This revelation comes right after the bankruptcy of Borders bookstores in the U.K.

    Amazon could be responding to increasing customer demand for "web-to-store" transactions where products are ordered online and then picked up at a nearby physical store, rather than wait even one day for delivery. The timing is right for Amazon store openings. The Great Recession has killed many retailers, and landlords who are desperate to fill vacant space would presumably be eager to rent to a successful business like Amazon.

    In the U.S. Amazon recently began offering same-day Local Express Delivery in Seattle, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Las Vegas; and expects to add other cities.

    Since same-day delivery requires local warehouses filled with merchandise, it's not a giant leap to assume that Amazon might start doing business from former Circuit City, Steve & Barry, or Linens 'n' Things stores, or even SAAB dealerships.

    If Amazon does set up retail operations, they would be ideal locations for the Espresso Electronic Book Machines. The "EBM"s are vending machines that hold digital files, paper, glue and ink and spit out books a few minutes after a keyboard is tapped. Lightning Source currently makes its customers' books available on Espresso machines.

    There have been unconfirmed reports that Amazon personnel visited Iran and North Korea to negotiate the purchase of nuclear missles to wipe out Walmart and Barnes & Noble.

    (Of course, I'm just kidding about the nukes, and as a writer and reader I love Amazon, but I'm glad I'm not a competitor.)

    UPDATE: (from Reuters news service) Amazon denied that it has plans to open stores anywhere in the world, in response to the Sunday Times report that it was planning to open shops in Britain.

    If they denied it, it must be true.

    ...

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Outskirts Press keeps getting stupider


    Vanity publisher Outskirts Press is a frequent subject of this blog's wrath and ridicule because the company does so many things so badly, and the Outskirts boss Brent Sampson is careless, ignorant and dishonest.

    The latest Outskirts offense is a silly email blast sent to potential customers from Karl, Elizabeth and Chris in their Author Services department.

    This is the first paragraph:

    >>I hope you're having a good day so far. I'd like to tell you a little about our Marketing COACH. In fact, below you will find an example of the type of emailed marketing information and promotion advice that is included with our Diamond and Pearl books after publication. Consider it a taste to whet your appetite to publish with Outskirts Press. You can meet your author representative in your author's center by clicking on the GET YOUR AUTHOR REP button when you are ready at http://outskirtspres.com/authors.php<<

    Unfortunately, that linked website is NOT for Outskirts Press, because the three geniuses omitted the final "s" in "outskirtspress." The error was not caught by the "dedicated group of publishing professionals" at Outskirts who also missed boss Brent's many errors -- including misnaming the author of Roget's Thesaurus and calling a preface a foreword.

    Instead of taking readers to the Outskirts Press website, the erroneous link goes to a site operated by a "URL poacher" which makes money because of mistyped web addresses. The site carries advertising for Outskirts' COMPETITORS including Xlibris, CreateSpace and PublishAmerica. It also has links to "related searches" for dating, ringtones, mortgages and travel.

    So, we have a carelessly crafted promotional email sent out by Outskirts Press, in an effort to impress people about Outskirts' promotional abilities, that delivers potential Outskirts customers to Outskirts competitors!

    Also: the first word in the email is "I," but the email is signed by three people. This is the kind of silly incompetence I've come to expect from Outskirts. I hope no one would trust them to publish a book. On the other hand, I don't want the company to go out of business, because the Outskirts idiots give me so much to write about.

    ...

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Inexpensive high-quality author photos



    Every author needs a portrait, for the backs of books, websites, blogs, press kits, posters, etc.

    Unfortunately, many authors use amateur photos shot by friends or relatives, with bad lighting, bad focus, distracting backgrounds and other sins.

    The price of a portrait shot in a professional photographer's studio can easily be in the $300-$1,000 range, too steep for many writers who don't have a publisher to pick up the check.

    Fortunately, there is a good low-cost alternatives that few authors think of -- the photo studios inside retail stores such as Sears, Penney, Target and Walmart.

    While most of their business involves babies and family Christmas cards, they will take pictures of solitary adults, often at ridiculously low prices.

    Walmart's "PictureMe" studios are now offering a special for just $7.99 that will give you 32 prints of various sizes from one pose, or 20% off other packages. You can scan a paper print yourself or pay a few buck for a digital photo on a CD-ROM.

    They'll likely lose money if you spend just $7.99 so they hope to sell you lots of high-profit addons, but you probably won't need them.

    You can also get a "business portrait package" for $65 or $100 that includes up to six poses on different backgrounds, and the CD-ROM.

    It's not clear if the quality of the $65 package differs from the $7.99 package, but the more expensive deal includes a CD-ROM, but probably does not include a lollipop.

    Walmart's service is provided by CPI Corp, which also operates the studios in Sears.

    Sears is currently offering a 35-print package for $7.99, or 20% off other packages. Their business portrait services are the same as Walmart's.

    Lifetouch Portrait Studios owns and operates Target Portrait Studios. They are currently offering discounts of 40% and 50% off regular prices. As with mattresses, it's extremely unlikely that anyone ever pays the "regular" price.

    JCPenney has portrait studios, too, operated by the same company that operates the Target studios, with similar prices and promotions.

    Many other stores and independent studios around the country have good deals on portraits. Shop around and ask questions. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that a studio that offers bargains for babies will also take your picture and do a good job with it.

    The photographer will probably be thrilled to have a subject who does not vomit on her, or require funny faces to illicit a smile.

    One tip: although you can choose from many backgrounds, at least one should be plain white -- the most versatile for web use. Also: don't pay extra to get both color and black-and-white version of the same photo. Anyone with graphics software can convert color to B&W in seconds for free.

    The picture I've been using was taken by a newspaper photographer to accompany an article about me nearly two years ago. The aviator eyeglasses look a bit out-of-date. I think I'll see how Walmart or Sears can portray the "new me."

    ...

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    More choice tidbits of previous award-winner from Borat Akademi of Writteningistics




    (from http://self-publishing.crs-and-s.com)

    With self-publishing, the author do not just write the articles, he is also responsible for the proofreading,

    Self-publishing is a jam-packed responsibility

    Some writers who prefer self-publishing would often try to do everything on their own, it is okay as long as you have the knowledge and expertise.

    add an additional 1/8 inches on the side where the book will be binded.

    Spaces are also good to the eye.

    Character spacing is also important, lines which are compressed makes it look very heavy.

    Make sure that you will a font style that would be easy on the eyes of the reader.

    some fonts would require additional printing cost.

    Pull out a book from your shelf or bookstores.

    Be conscious with the size of the picture

    ...

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    You're not stuck with stock photos, or any photos

    

    Stock photos, from such sources as Fotolia.com, are an excellent alternative to expensive custom photography for book covers and interior pages. Millions of photos and illustrations are available from skilled pros and amateurs for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring a photographer and models and renting a shooting location and paying for travel and food.

    Prices range from a laughable 14 cents to about a hundred bucks, depending on size, resolution, and what the photographer feels like charging. I paid $60 for one cover shot, but most of my pix cost $4 or $6 each.

    Unlike some "stock photo house" policies, you are buying a license for nearly unlimited use. You don't pay more money based on the readership/viewership of your media, or the purpose of your project. All the files available on Fotolia are royalty-free, meaning they can be used with no limits on time, number of copies, or geographical location.

    About the only limitations are that you can't put any person in a photo in a bad light or in porn or a violent situation, or use a photo to support a political party or religious organization.

    One other possible limitation is that despite a nearly endless selection from Fotolia and its competitors, you may not find a photo that's exactly right for you.

    That's where someone skilled with Adobe Photoshop can remake a stock photo into a custom photo.

    The photo in the book cover at the top was nearly perfect, except for a generation gap. I needed a picture of a father speaking to a child, but the original man (in inset on the right) was obviously old enough to be a grandfather, or even a great grandfather.

    Carina, my ace cover artist, gave him a hair transplant, eliminating the effect of decades.

    In the seond row, Carina doctored my 1971 wedding picture, to remove my wife, clone some hair onto the right side of my head, and remove a reddish cast from the photo.

    In the bottom photo, Carina removed a cluttered background, straightened out my tilted head, and removed my right hand that looked like the deformed appendage of a Thalidomide baby. In the future I may ask her to give me more hair and darker hair, remove the wrinkles and change my eyeglass style.

    Carina is too busy to work for others right now so I won't tell you how to find her, but you should be able to find a suitable substitute.

    ...

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    This could be the worst book ever published, and demonstrates the complete lack of standards at Author Solutions.






    This overpriced weird pile of shit, ranked #8,385,292 by Amazon.com, may be the absolute worst-seller on Amazon. Based on its title, cover, formatting and writing, it may also be the absolute worst book ever published.

    It was published by vanity press AuthorHouse -- a company with just two requirements for publication: blood pressure above zero, and money to buy a pay-to-publish package.

    AuthorHouse has been in loud controversy recently because its parent Author Solutions has made deals to enable Christian publisher Thomas Nelson and chick-lit publisher Harlequin to offer vanity publishing services to writers who were rejected for their standard publishing programs.

    AuthorHouse brags that it "assigns each author a personal publishing consultant, who provides guidance throughout the self publishing process." I'd like to see the IQ test and eye test for the consultant who guided the author of this trash.

    Originally I thought this book was a spoof, a scam, a con job -- to demonstrate the low standards of AuthorHouse. I thought it was like the deliberately bad books published by PublishAmerica: Atlanta Nights by “Travis Tea” (travesty) and The Crack of Death by “Sharla Tann” (charlatan).

    Sadly, this book is apparently real. It even has a 3-1/2-star rating on Amazon -- that's half a star higher than the number-one bestseller, Sarah Palin's Going Rogue.

    In the past I've stated that I don’t believe in prior censorship or the licensing of writers or publishers. Unfortunately, the ease of publication means that a lot of crap gets published, and this is probably the best example. Based on this book I may support pre-publication testing and licensing. I am certain that MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON would flunk the test.

    This book has 648 huge 8.5 x 11-inch pages and a $150 cover price. Amazon discounts it to $135, but it's available for just $75 on the AuthorHouse website.

    Its Amazon sales rank is so low, that if every person in New York City wrote books, they would all have better sales rankings!

    No lower-case letters are used in the book.

    What follows is a sample of the text, and some "author" info. Keep your barf bag handy.

    ARE YOU BARREN AND DISGUSTED?? OR BIRTH CONTROLING AND BUSTED?? THESE QUESTIONS IS >ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTERS IN THIS BOOK: > REVEALING > THE SINS OF THE CHURCHES: REVEALING: HOW *THE SINS BIRTH CONTROL IN OUR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES AND IN THE WORLD MARRIAGES EVEN IN SINFUL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS: HAS CALLED WORLD SIN IN ADULTERY AND FORNICATING RELATIONSHIP AND FALSE CHRIST LEADERSHIP.


    >THE PIT OF SPIRITUAL WHOREDOM BECAME OPEN AND THE CAUSE OF ORGANIZED CRIME IN OUR GOVERNMENT AND WORLD LEADERSHIP

    THE YEAR OF 1994. THE MILITARY HELP DESTROY MY MARRIAGE OF 17 YEARS. FALSE CHRIST LEADERSHIPS BEGAN TO FORM ON TELEVISION.

    BECAUSE OF SPIRITUAL SEDUCING SINS. AND SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN OUR CHURCHE LEADERSHIP.

    BELIEVE IT OR NOT: BIRTH CONTROL IS ONE OF THE MAJOR REASON: WHY HUMANS HAVE FALLEN FAILED COMES COMMANDMENTS: AND NOW THEY HAVE BECOME: WARFUL AGAIN: HEARTLESS AND SINFULLY PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS AND HOLY PEOPLE IN MANY COUTRIES. ** SINFULLY STARTING PERSECUTIONS AND RACISM: THROUGH EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATIONS. **RESULTING IN GREED AND EVIL: EVEN WORLD WHOREDOM: CAUSING > HOMOSEXUAL AND GAY SINS: USING THE MEDIA OF TELEVISION, THE INTERNET WIDE WORLD WEBSITES AND RADIO SATANIC WORSHIP.

    MY FIRST CHRISTIAN BOOK: ASK THE QUESTIONS:

    ARE YOU BARREN AND DISGUSTED?? OR> . BIRTHCONTROLING AND BUSTED?? >REMINDING THE WORLD: > ONE IS A SIN AND THE OTHER IS A CURSE OR PERSECUTION!!

    JESUS SAID: YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS: BECAUSE > YOU WILL LEARN TO HATE ONE! > AND LOVE THE OTHER!! **

    WOMEN AND CHRISTIAN MARRAIGES ON BIRTH CONTROL HAVE LEARN TO HATE HAVING CHILDREN: AND LOVE LIVING WITHOUT THEM. *CAUSING WORK DISCRIMINATIONS AGAINST WOMEN WHO DO HAVE SMALL CHILDREN. AND CAUSING DISCRIMINATIONS: AGAINST OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE BY STARTING WARS AND BY WRITING LAWS AGAINST SCHOOL PROSPERITY.

    MY AUTHOR NAME IS:

    MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON: I AM A HOLYSPIRIT ANOINTED CHOSEN DISCIPLE OF GOD AND CHRIST JESUS. NAMED TO BE A ANOINTED APOSTLE TEACHER BY THE VOICE OF GOD: TO HELP CALLED THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CHURCH INTO TRUE ETERNAL LIFE SALVATION IN JOHN 3:16. THIS BOOK IS DIRECTED BY GODS HOLYSPIRIT VOICE: ALSO BASE ON THE HOLY COMMANDMENTS: EXODUS 20:13 THOU SHALT NOT KILL, GENESIS 1:26-31 GO INCREASE, MULTIPLY AND TAKE DOMINIONSHIP OVER ALL THINGS. AND 1TIMOTHY 2;15 *THE WOMEN WILL BE SAVED IN CHILD BEARING YEARS: IF SHE CONTINUES: WITH FAITH, CHARITY AND HOLINESS. *ALSO REVELATIONS 2 & 3:*GOD IS ASKING THE CHURCHES TO REPENT OF ALL THEIR> SINS: AND TO RESTORE THE TRUE CHURCH BACK INTO GOD EVER LASTING COMMANDMENTS. * GOD HAS CALLED AND CHOSEN: ELIYZABETH TO HELP SAVED THE WORLD AND CHURCH FROM THE FALSE CHRIST TEACHINGS. *THROUGH THIS BOOK HOLYSPIRIT PRAYERS: AND HOLYSPIRIT TEACHINGS: YOU WILL AND CAN FIND TRUE SALVATION IN GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: JOHN 3:3-16 THIS HOLYSPIRIT BOOK OF REPENTANCE AND REMEMBER OF THE WORDS AND COMMANDMENTS OF GOD: WILL HELP YOU BECOME A TRUE: BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN: JOHN 3:3-16 REMEMBER: JESUS SAID: YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN: OF THE WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT . GOD HAS DIRECTED*ELIYZABETH HOLYSPIRIT WRITINGS IN THIS BOOK TO HELP ALL>UNDERSTAND GODS SALVATION CALLS!! GOD HAS DIRECTED THIS BOOK TO HELP ALL WHO SEEK TO BE OBEDIENT TO GODS HOLY COMMANDMENTS: EVEN OVERCOME ALL FALSE CHRIST TEACHINGS: THROUGH REPENTENCE & RESTORATION: GIVING GODS TITHES BACK INTO THE HOLYSPIRIT LEADERSHIP: STARTING WITH: THIS BOOK OF HOLYSPIRIT SERVANT: MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON: WHEN YOU GIVE TO MY HOLYSPIRIT DISCIPLESHIP: YOU CAN BE SURE YOUR ETERNAL LIFE AND NAME WILL BE WRITTEN IN THE LAMBS BOOK OF LIFE. **SUPPORT GODS HOLYSPIRIT GOALS: THROUGH THIS HOLYSPIRIT BOOK WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN CHARITY DONATIONS: TO HELP ME BUILD HOLYSPIRIT CHURCHES AND TO HELP ME MENTOR ADOPTIONS OF GODS ORPHAN CHILDREN. I AM A HOLYSPIRIT BRIDE VOICE FOR GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: REPENT AND SEEK TO RESTORE YOURSELF: FROM ALL YOUR SINS: WHEN FOLLOW ME: IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: JOIN YOUR HOLYSPIRT CONNECTION: SUPPORTING ME: SISTER ELIYZABETH WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN TITHES AND CHRISTIAN OFFERINGS!! *MALACHI 3:1-16 *AND MATTHEW 4:17-25. & MATTHEW 28:18-20

    IT IS WRITTEN: REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!!

    ...