Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BAD BOOK WEEK, #3, a classic

Infinity Publishing's book is intended to show how good the company is. Instead, it shows how bad the company is.


Does the cover show an autopsy, or a butt crack?


Infinity Publishing calls itself an "independent (indie) book publisher."  Depending on your attitude, it's really a vanity publisher or a self-publishing company.

The company has published a small book called Become a Published Author! It's aimed at prospective author-customers and explains how the company operates. It also includes some useful information on preparing a manuscript for publication. The 90-page book has a phony cover price of $14.95 which no one ever pays. Infinity gives it away for free. Sellers on Amazon.com offer new copies for 60 cents, and used ones for a penny!

It's been available since 2002, but there is not even one review on Amazon.com, and its sales rank was below 3,000,000 this morning.

The book has another stated purpose, to provide a sample of a book that Infinity has published, to seduce customers.

Ironically and stupidly, the book is made very poorly, and it's ugly.

The cover has little contrast between text and a weird background illustration that looks like some letters sprinkled on the interior of a cadaver, or someone's ass. The subtitle is A complete guide to Infinity Publishing's "just in Time" Book Publishing Method. (The subtitle of the book version shown above (from Amazon) is "Your comprehensive guide to the publishing industry. I got my copy in 2009, and I'm not sure when the cover was revised.)

"Time Book Publishing Method" should not have initial capital letters. A publisher should know this. So should an editor.

When you open the book's ugly cover, the first thing you'll see is a blank sheet of white paper. Most paperbacks begin with a title page, or a page of "blurbs" from happy readers.

If you flip over the blank, you'll see that its backside is also blank, and then you see the title page. Strangely, no author is identified on that page or elsewhere in the book (at least I couldn't find it). Amazon says the book was written by Dave Giorgio. Years ago a publisher so badly messed up a book that I wrote that I refused to let my name appear on it. I wonder if Dave feels the same way about this book.

In "normal" books, the back of the title page is the copyright page. This book shows no copyright notice there, but begins with a "Thank You." That's a nice touch--but it's the wrong way to construct a book.

After five pages of introduction, we come to a second title page, which does have a copyright notice on its backside.

In the past I've complained that companies such as Lulu never look at the books they churn out, assuming that if the author-customer approved it, it's good enough to print.

As irresponsible as that attitude is, what Infinity has done is even worse. Infinity's bosses apparently did not take a good look at a book their own employees put together to represent the company's best work.




(above) The tops and bottoms of some facing pages are badly misaligned. The page margins are much smaller than on a standard commercial book.


(above) Infinity will be glad to sell you copyediting services.
(below) Look at the blooper they did not notice, in at least three editions of the book. The Infinity website has errors, too, like "in to" instead of "into." Where are Infinity's copyeditors?


The book's size is just 5.5 x 8.5 inches, smaller than the standard 6 x 9-inch size for similar books. Strangely, Infinity can't even print 6 x 9 books. The company lies that "Most of our competitors can produce only 5.5" x 8.5" books." That's bullshit. Infinity brags about being the only company that can print an 8 x 8 book. BFD! For most writers, 6 x 9 is much more important. Infinity tells us that it offers "the most freedom and best value of any publisher hands down." If they can't produce a common 6 x 9 book, how much "freedom" do their authors have?

The book both uses and recommends Times New Roman and Arial typefaces. Those are Microsoft's default faces and are widely shunned by publishing experts.

Infinity brags about its "accomplished copyeditors" and that the editing service is "the best of its kind." They missed some silly errors, bad grammar and bad English.

The book says, "We only publish high quality books."

That's bad English, that should have been corrected. The "only" should be after "publish." Many editors would recommend putting a hyphen between "high" and "quality" because it's a compound adjective.

If this book is an example of Infinity's best work--the sample they use to attract new business--imagine how crappy their regular books are.

The book also says, "As you hold this book in your hands, take note of the quality of the printing..." I did take note, and I almost barfed on the book.

To dig their burial hole even deeper, the book brags that Infinity has invested millions of dollars in its printing equipment. They say, "Most of our competitors...involve a third party to print and ship books, yielding lower quality and less reliable fulfillment."

That's bullshit.

I--like many independent self-publishers and most of Infinity's competitors, and many major traditional publishers--use Lightning Source to Print-On-Demand and ship books to booksellers and readers. I've never encountered a problem with fulfillment, and my books look infinitely better than Infinity's.

The book says that Infinity sells books to its authors with a 40% discount off list price and that "Our competitors sell you your book at 25% off (if you are lucky)." That's bullshit. Outskirts Press offers discounts up to 48%. Wheatmark's author discount is 40%. The discount at iUniverse can be as much as 65%.

My version of the book was published in February 2009 and is badly out-of-date. It discusses saving files onto floppy discs or a Zip disc. It provides instructions on composing a book with the ancient year-2000 version of Microsoft Word.

(below) Should we believe Infinity's book--or its website?


The book says, "We sell only printed books (not digital or downloadable books) because nothing compares to the real thing." It strongly criticizes the difficulty and the physical pain caused by reading eBooks. Infinity warns us that eBooks ruin the reading experience, and says, "Barnes & Noble stopped selling eBooks--a telling sign." B&N may have stopped selling eBook at one point, but now expects eBooks to be the savior of the company.

High up on the homepage of Infinity's website is this message: "We now offer the complete eBook Publishing solution." Apparently they realize that the warnings in the 2009 book are bullshit. Or, even if reading eBooks does cause eye strain and neck cramps, those are not reasons for the company to turn down a possible source of revenue, and to have a policy that makes Infinity uncompetitive.
  • Strangely, the book I received last year is version 3.5, with a copyright date of 2009, and a notice that it was published in February, 2009.
  • I also have a copy of another version 3.5, with a copyright date of 2007 and a notice that it was published in November, 2007.
  • A few minutes ago I downloaded what should be the latest version of the book--the one which Infinity wants prospective customers to read. This book is also version 3.5, copyrighted in 2008, and published in July, 2008. Yes--today's download is older than the physical book that was distributed 19 months ago!
  • There are slight differences among the three 3.5 versions.
All three versions of the book say that "There may be other publishers that offer low setup fees only to charge extra for things that are really important...Infinity Publishing's basic fee [$499] includes everything you need. The only extras are marketing packages [$125 to $470], copyediting [.013 per word] , our extended distribution with Ingram Book Group [$149] and photo scanning." While not every author needs a publisher to scan photos, the lack of copyediting, proper distribution and marketing will doom a book to failure.
  • Clearly, Infinity's claim that the $499 fee includes "everything you need" is BULLSHIT.
  • And so is the $14.95 price printed on the book.
  • You can get the book for nothing. It's actually worth more than nothing if you want to format a book with an ancient version of Microsoft Word, or want to see some good examples of what NOT to do with your own books.

(above) Infinity's book pricing is strange. Their suggested cover price for a book with 129 pages is a buck more than the price for a book with 128 pages. The author pays 54 cents per book for the additional page. Page number 129 is printed on a very expensive piece of paper. Independent self-publishers who have Lightning Source print their books pay .013 for an additional page. Ironically, Infinity's $149 Extended Distribution Package uses Lightning Source to print the books. Infinity pays Lightning .013 cents (or maybe less) for page number 129, but charges authors 54 cents! That's a nice markup. Infinity also says that its own printing and fulfillment are better than Lightning--but they use Lightning anyway.



(above) Infinity Publishing brags about its innovation and technology. Their book includes this pathetic picture. The caption says "Michelle Shane, sales administrator, is seen here receiving an order for a book."

The ancient CRT monitor on the desk is not the worst lapse of technology. Poor Michelle's left arm is twisted like a pretzel to hold her telephone handset against her right ear to free her right hand for writing. She's not even taking advantage of the high-tech shoulder rest that someone stuck onto the handset. Michelle should be using a HEADSET, not a handset, so both of her hands will be free to conduct business. And why is she writing on a piece of paper instead of typing on a keyboard? I suppose her method is better than using a quill on a sheet of parchment--but just barely. I wonder if Infinity's books are printed on demand, as scrolls, by monks working by candlelight.

The book warns about about neck cramps from reading eBooks. Look at the torture an Infinity employee has to endure. I wonder if Michelle was paid extra to smile for the photograph.

8 comments:

  1. Another great critique of book and publisher.

    Infinity Publishing is infinitely pathetic, hopeless, out-of-date, incompetent and uncompetitive.

    Why would anyone use them?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe the cover shows a butt crack just before an autopsy.

    Either way, the cover is butt-ugly.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd like to respond to this, since I am mentioned in the article. There are valid points written here. I'd like to explain some things.

    I think what had happened with that book is kind of like the story of the shoemaker who worked so hard on everyone else's shoes, that he looked down one day to see that his own shoes had holes in them.

    The book was written around 2001. It was edited by Melanie Rigney, who is excellent. At that time, it was at least pretty good if not very.

    However, I left the printed books side of things in 2005 and the book was not kept quite as current as it could have. There is still, even now, a lot of relevant content. But as pointed out, for example, ebook publishing is a lot more desirable today than it was back then.

    The book wasn't managed, but rather, added to by staff over the years. So it's possible that some things were added without the same level of attention that the book had originally been written with.

    However, the only feedback received was that people found it really helpful. So there was no call to action to scrutinize it. That's the truth.

    That being said, Infinity Publishing underwent an ownership change earlier this year, and one of the improvements targeted was the publishing guide. A process had long ago been initiated that will yield an up-to-date and helpful guide whose purpose is, yes, to reflect well on Infinity Publishing, but to also serve up some valuable information in the process.

    I have seen about a dozen proposed book covers, and they are all excellent. I am not sure which one will be chosen, but it will be very, very good.

    The ownership change is what brought about the recent ebook offering and other really good things are coming from that as well.

    Infinity Publishing is a small company with a lot of really dedicated staff. Taking care of authors is a huge undertaking because there are so many nuances to each person's book, their situation, publishing in general, etc.

    I agree. It's been time for the book to be redone. It hasn't had the attention it deserved. But it's not because Infinity doesn't care. Just like the busy shoemaker who loses track of his own, the staff all work 60-hour weeks trying to provide the best, most responsive service that it can.

    So while the focus had at one time been taken off the printed book they send out, I believe that the focus on authors has been the right thing for them to do.

    With the new publishing guide that is forthcoming, the shoemaker will have finally repaired his own shoes.

    Best Regards,
    Dave Giorgio

    For any comments or questions to this post, please feel free to contact me on my direct line at: 215-531-2519

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd like to respond to this, since I am mentioned in the article. There are valid points written here. I'd like to explain some things.

    I think what had happened with that book is kind of like the story of the shoemaker who worked so hard on everyone else's shoes, that he looked down one day to see that his own shoes had holes in them.

    The book was written around 2001. It was edited by Melanie Rigney, who is excellent. At that time, it was at least pretty good if not very.

    However, I left the printed books side of things in 2005 and the book was not kept quite as current as it could have. There is still, even now, a lot of relevant content. But as pointed out, for example, ebook publishing is a lot more desirable today than it was back then.

    The book wasn't managed, but rather, added to by staff over the years. So it's possible that some things were added without the same level of attention that the book had originally been written with.

    However, the only feedback received was that people found it really helpful. So there was no call to action to scrutinize it. That's the truth.

    That being said, Infinity Publishing underwent an ownership change earlier this year, and one of the improvements targeted was the publishing guide. A process had long ago been initiated that will yield an up-to-date and helpful guide whose purpose is, yes, to reflect well on Infinity Publishing, but to also serve up some valuable information in the process.

    I have seen about a dozen proposed book covers, and they are all excellent. I am not sure which one will be chosen, but it will be very, very good.

    The ownership change is what brought about the recent ebook offering and other really good things are coming from that as well.

    Infinity Publishing is a small company with a lot of really dedicated staff. Taking care of authors is a huge undertaking because there are so many nuances to each person's book, their situation, publishing in general, etc.

    I agree. It's been time for the book to be redone. It hasn't had the attention it deserved. But it's not because Infinity doesn't care. Just like the busy shoemaker who loses track of his own, the staff all work 60-hour weeks trying to provide the best, most responsive service that it can.

    So while the focus had at one time been taken off the printed book they send out, I believe that the focus on authors has been the right thing for them to do.

    With the new publishing guide that is forthcoming, the shoemaker will have finally repaired his own shoes.

    Best Regards,
    Dave Giorgio

    For any comments or questions to this post, please feel free to contact me on my direct line at: 215-531-2519

    ReplyDelete
  5. I came across your article on a random Google search and, I must say, it has honestly made my day. I am disappointed to say that I am an Infinity author, and the experience has been terrible. Book prices are outlandish. The options are small. Marketing is nonexistent (the best you get is your book goes on their website... yes folks, you're still doing all the work, unless you want to shell out thousands for them to make you promotional material and then you can give it out yourself still). Sending them email is useless--it goes into a black hole, never to be replied to. I can't believe they're still ranked on Top Ten review lists for positive reasons, because this has been an awful process for me. I'm planning to pull my book and go elsewhere, but I'm already preparing myself for the hair-pulling, teeth-gnawing experience that will surely come with that.

    Very good article though. The buttcrack comment really made my day.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi,

    After carefully reading The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine, I picked Infinity Publishing after conversing first with several other independent publishing companies. What Infinity Publishing offers is what you get. They've always been very responsive to every email I sent. If I called they satisfactorily answered my questions. They have a good blog that gives authors a lot of advice. It's true they don't do marketing, but they make it clear upfront they don't do marketing. Even traditional publishers don't do much marketing for new authors. Selling your first book is a bitch. That's life. Back in the GOD (good ol' days) times, all an author had to do was give his/her publisher a manuscript (not a book, mind you, just an ms) and go back to starting the second ms. Those GODs are gone forever. Being an author has evolved, and yes, it does take a lot more work and effort. That's life. As for Infinity Publishing, I'm happy I found them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree with Kirk Bonner, I'm on my Second Book with Infinity, and so far I received excellent response from them, and they did an excellent job on my first book, Journey Beyond Infinite, BOOK 1, by Ron Rolaine. I will continue to use Infinity as long as the good service and excellent products are forthcoming.
    Ron Rolaine

    ReplyDelete
  8. I published 5 books with Infinity. The first three were handeled well; I lovedthe covers and response to my e-mails or phone calls was prompt. Communication on the forth and fith books were extremely poor, so I started publishing on Create Space after a friend suggested it. I still order books from Infinity. I was informed it would take 30 days to get my last order. Wow! I ordered books from Create Space at the same time. They arrived within a week. I don't have personal contact with Create Space, but I don't have to pay them $500 plus to set my book up and then be ignored.

    ReplyDelete