Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What's he talking about?


(from http://businessideas.doodig.com)

The best way to tell how a good idea to publish your book cars look how easy it is for the market. If it is difficult, then sell, not just a good idea.

The best idea of self publishing book will be interesting, and a breeze on the market mainly because it tends to focus on solving some pressing problems of the target market that the business of publishing itself has identified and decided to concentrate to focus on is . For example, when you use a blog as the book market isSimply, the keywords and key phrases, the best motion of the major search engines tend to be identified. The number of hits on the blog is attracted in this way exactly the target market niche, which aimed at the book and is very easy to market and sell.

In fact, the narrower the niche is your best idea of self publishing the book, targeting the best and most effective the book is intended to be. One of the mistakes the first time you do the editorsis to groped around for everyone. It works in any store, and there is reason to believe that it works, even if you are publishing a book and then it is in your interest and a good idea to avoid at all costs in general.

...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Vanity bookselling? Now writers can pay to have books in a store


Colorado's Boulder Book Store is willing to stock and display self-pubbed books if the author/publishers pay for the service. The books are on consignment, and are returned to the author if they do not sell.

The bookseller charges a tiered fee structure:
  • $25 simply to stock a book (five copies at a time, replenished as needed by the author for no additional fee)
  • $75 to feature a book for at least two weeks in the 'Recommended' section
  • $125 to, in addition to everything else, mention the book in the store's e-mail newsletter, feature it on the Local Favorites page of the store’s website for at least 60 days, and enable people to buy it online for the time it’s stocked in the store
  • $255 to add an in-store reading and book-signing event.
"Most people will come in at one of the higher fee amounts. That surprised us," said Arsen Kashkashian, head buyer, who added that writers have generally been enthusiastic about the opportunity, telling him, "I want the marketing, I want the exposure. I worked so hard on this project, and you guys are the only ones who could help me with it." (info from shelf-awareness.com)

This move parallels vanity publishing, where authors pay the cost of book production and the publisher make money even if it sells no books. In this new system, the bookseller makes money even if it sells no books.

In both cases, the author is a cash cow.

...

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's nice to find a computer with a sense of humor


(Left-click on image to enlarge)

In the past I've criticized incompetent and untruthful vanity publisher Outskirts Press for using free press release distribution services which publish ads for competing companies right next to the Outskirts news.

The ads are distributed by Google's computers, and they show up on web pages that have "key words" selected by the advertisers. Outskirts itself uses the system for some of its advertising.

I've just published a book that criticizes Outskirts Press. I'm using a mix of paid and freebie news distribution services.

Outskirts Press is paying to put an ad on a press release web page with a headline that says that the company is inept and dishonest.

I love this stuff!

...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It looks kind of like English, but on the other hand...


Question: I have created a book upon diploma instrumentation. we wish to tell a book out of my own but a assistance of any edition association or any agents. Can i do it?Will u greatfully assistance me? we am an Indian national.

Answer: Go to lulu.com. It’s a undiluted place for you. All a instructions have been upon a site. You can tell your book with them. They’ll put it upon their site, as well as any a single who wants to buy it afterwards simply orders it online. That includes yourself. So it costs we zero to have them do a book, though if we wish copies we buy them from lulu. It functions similar to a charm. I’ve finished a single book there already. There have been no catches. You set a kingship we wish to consequence upon a book, as well as lulu will afterwards compensate these royalties to you. Of march there’s a simple assign for them to imitation a book, though it’s not excessive. Anything over that (which we stipulate) is for yourself. Check them out.

By a way, do not go for any of a alternative “print-on-demand” or “self-publishing” or whatever places. They’re all in it for a money, as well as they’ll slice we off.

(from http://msiba.org/how-to-publish-a-book-on-our-own/  "Welcome to the online Book Publishers Association. Here you will find tips and information on how to publish your own book, how to publish your photo book, Christan Book, Mystery book and more. Full of tips, information and resources, Books Publishers Association is the place to be. Subscribe today!")

...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

With Outskirts Press, a lot of money is not much money



A publicity outburst from inept vanity publisher Outskirts Press highlights their customer/author Gang Chen, who “has earned over $100,000 in author royalties in six short months.”

Chen wrote on a blog that “In one month (January 2009), I earned over $30,000 in Royalties ($31,207.68, to be precise). I earned even more in February.”

Outskirts says Chen “will receive a first-quarter royalty check in the amount of $77,611.88 for books sold between [sic] January-March 2009. This follows a previous royalty check of $33,679.56 that Chen recently received from Outskirts Press for books sold between [sic] October-December 2008.”

Chen’s blog offers some useful advice, but don’t be fooled by the headline, “How You Can Earn $30,000 a Month through POD Publishing.”

Chen’s experience is extremely atypical and no one should salivate while dreaming of emulating him. Be aware of three things:

(1) Chen’s book is highly specialized. It’s a study guide needed for professional advancement. It’s a very important book aimed at a very small audience for whom the book price is not significant. It’s like a college textbook that students must buy for $150 in order to take a course needed for graduation.

(2) Because of the small audience, it’s highly unlikely that the sales volume (about 1,000 copies per month) and royalty payments will stay at the recent high level month-after-month, year-after-year.

(3) Despite its small page size and mere 243 pages, it has a huge cover price of $69.95. Amazon discounts it by just 10% to $62.95.

I compliment Chen for filling a need and getting paid well for it. HOWEVER, if he became a real, independent self-publisher instead of using Outskirts, he probably could have made even more money.

According to the Outskirts online chart, if Chen paid $999 or more for an Outskirts “Diamond” package, he earns $28.18 per book.

If, on the other hand, Chen decided to do a little bit more work himself, or hired a freelance designer and editor possibly for less than what he paid to Outskirts, he could have had the books produced directly by Lightning Source (the same printer that Outskirts often uses) for just $4.54 per book plus a small set-up fee.

  • With Outskirts Press as the publisher, each $69.95-list book earns $28.18 for the author.
  • If Chen self-published and kept the $69.95 list price, he could have made $51.42 per book — nearly twice what Outskirts pays him!
  • Alternatively, if Chen is satisfied with $28.18 per book, by self-publishing he could have reduced the list price of the book to just $40.95, instead of $69.95. He might sell more books and make more money.
  • By using Outskirts Press, Chen is making less money than he could be making, or his readers are paying more for his books than they could be paying — or both.

...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dialog with a pissed-off publisher


I recently slammed the new vanity publishing operation of a litle-known traditional publisher. The owner is also a writer and editor. I criticized her writing and editing, based on the abysmal quality of her press release and websites.

Her writing has errors in grammar, spelling and typography and is often awkward and unclear. She even used a copyright date several years in the future. She also makes unsubstantiated claims, offers free books that are not free, and used a press release service that shows ads for competitors.

All in all, I thought the operation was pathetic.

I got four emails from the woman who runs the business. Rather than disagree or disprove my criticisms, she used ad-homonym attacks more suited to an elementary school playground than business discourse. She saw my photo and thought she could score debating points by implying that I was overweight and bald. (I confess to being both, but neither condition hurts my writing, and my wife and dog love me the way I am.)

Here are some excerpts from our "dialog."

(her) You obviously have too much time on your hands to down talk everyone elses businesses.

(me) I have a lot to do, and I do what I want to do and need to do. I don't "down talk everyone elses businesses," just some bad businesses.

Also, the correct word is "else's." An editor should know that.

I've never encountered the phrase "down talk" used as a synonym for "criticize," and a Google search didn't reveal anyone using it the way you do. What planet did you learn English on?

(her) Get a life

(me) I have one.

(her) call Jenny Craig, and get Rogain!

(me) Ooh Ooh. Did you learn that technique in debating club? If you can’t make a logical or factual argument, you use childlike physical insults. They may be effective in third grade, but not now.

Can you defend yourself against even one of my criticisms?

By the way, editor, you spelled "Rogain" wrong. It's "Rogaine." Even a spell-checker knows better than you do.

And the men on the covers of two of your books seem to have less hair than I do. Did you recommend Rogaine for them?

You are pathetic. You are a terrible writer, and should not be taking money for providing editing and publishing services.

(her) Why would you talk about me like this when you don't even know me.

(me) I don’t need to know you to write about you, any more than a book reviewer needs to know an author in order to review a book, or a restaurant critic needs to know a chef to review a meal. You chose your words and a format for presenting those words to the world, and I reacted to your words.

(her) My kids by the way, think your really great,

(me) Good. But, Ms. Editor, you need a comma after "kids," and the correct word is "you're."

(her) especially how you down played [sic] our abusive past.

(me) I wrote, "I'm sorry about the abuse." I didn’t have to say anything. I could have said that you should not have stayed in an abusive marriage for 15 years. I could have said that you should have left after the first abusive incident. I could have said that you should not have had babies with a man who had been abusing you for nine years. But I was writing about your business, not your personal life. Maybe I shouldn’t have said I was sorry about the abuse.

(her) May God bless you.

(me) And may God help you to find a career you are better-suited for. You clearly should not be writing or editing.

(her) WOW! Your a great man of God

(me) Again, it's "you're." Where did you learn the English language?

(her) and I like that you feel like your

(me) The correct word is "you're."

(her) doing the world a service and duty

(me) How does someone do the world a duty?

(her) by criticizing everyone else.

(me) I don't criticize everyone. I specialize in incompetents and liars.

(her) That is absolutely the way of a Christian.

(me) I'll have to take your word for it, since I'm not a Christian.

(her) Don't speak about why I stayed in my marriage, if you don't know anything about it and have never experienced it, then don't talk negative about it.

(me) I can speak or write about anything that interests me. You are not my boss, my mother or my censor. Besides, YOU brought up the subject. YOU decided to tell the world you married the wrong man.

(her) ..your wrong on that,

(me) Again, the word is "you're." It's time to end your dreams of an editing career.

(her) no matter how you come up with something negative to say about it. Why not ask a million people why did they stay in abusive marriages of both men and women and children/teenagers are also victims.

(me) I don't know a million abused people, or even three. I know one woman who was abused by her father and later by her husband. She left both of them. She even hit her husband with a baseball bat after he hit her. Maybe you should have tried that -- and then grabbed your kids, gone to a shelter and reported your husband to the police.

(her) I like how you blast people in regards to domestic abuse and question them in an awful manner.

(me) I don't think my questions were awful. I genuinely don't understand why you stayed with an abusive man, and continued to procreate with him. Even if you were a masochist, you should have gotten your kids out of that home.

(her) Thank you wonderful man of God. I pray He has mercy on your soul.

(me) I don't think I have a soul.

(her) Your parents must be proud.

(me) My mother is proud. My father is dead.

(her) Look, I don't do blogs and I can say a lot of mean and nasty things about you, but I have a business to run rather

(me) The correct word is "whether."

(her) you think I'm running a good business or not. Your

(me) The correct word is "you're."

(her) not putting money in my pockets or taking care of my kids. I am doing very well for a single mother and have done so thus far so quite frankly, your opinion opposed to many satisfied customers and networking friends, what you have to say doesn't matter.

(me) Here's an opinion from someone else: "I had a run in with [her] and let me tell you, I would not pay her a dollar to publish my books! She has to be one of the most unprofessional women I have ever met. I purchased a book she edited and my five year old son could do better."

(her) If this is how you get paid

(me) I get paid for books, not for blogs.

(her) by putting other people down and what they have accomplished or trying to do, then go for it! I can say that I have accomplished alot

(me) "Alot" is NOT a word in the English language, dear Ms. Editor.

(her) with coming out of an abusive marriage and being homeless with my children. I wish you all the luck in the world Michael.

(me) Thanks, but I don't believe in luck.

(her) I am not going to go back and forth with you on this. I have a family to take care of. Thank you for your opinions. I have learned from them and maybe you can help me with my website and give me tips on what I need to do to make my service a much better one or what I can do to make my website look much better.

(me) Get rid of the silly and unnecessary animations and hire an editor.

...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good question: who is the publisher?


This question was recently posted on the forum of the Independent Self-Publishers Alliance:

If I were to write my own book and assemble it to a POD company to print and send it out, who is considered the publisher? Am I considered the publisher because I have written, edited, produced graphics, and located the customers to sell it to? Or, is the POD company considered the publisher because they are the one printing the book and physically mailing it out to the customer? And, if I am considered the publisher, then should I make up my own publishing company name and have it listed on the copyright page? Or, can the POD company end up being considered the publisher and I would therefore get in trouble for doing this because I should be putting their name as the publisher instead?


My response: The answer depends on the POD company you use, and there are different kinds of POD companies. Some are publishers, some are printers, and some function as both, or either.

The official "publisher of record" is the person or business who owns the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) associated with the book.

If you use a vanity publisher such as Outskirts Press to POD, they supply the ISBN, their logo is on the book, their name is in the book, and they are the publisher. You are a customer.

If you use a publisher such as Lulu or CreateSpace, you have the option of supplying your own ISBN, using your own business name and being the publisher...OR they can supply the ISBN and will be considered to be the publisher.

If you deal directly with a POD printer such as Lightning Source, YOU are the publisher.

Books that carry the names of vanity presses have little credibility in the publishing business, and are usually shunned by bookstores and book reviewers. It's much better to establish a business, register a name, get ISBNs, have a logo designed... AND produce very good books.

If you want to be your own publisher, I recommend my book (of course): Become a Real Self-Publisher. Don't be a Victim of a Vanity Press.

...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Infinite Monkey Award winner



The Infinite Monkey Theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will type Hamlet (or Romeo and Juliet, or the complete works of Shakespeare, or the Declaration of Independence, or the entire Bible). Variations of the theorem employ an infinite number of monkeys, not just one.

In 2003, a British university tested the literary output of real monkeys. They put a computer keyboard in a monkey enclosure at a zoo. The monkeys produced five pages mostly of the the letter S. One monkey smashed the keyboard with a stone, and others urinated and defecated on it.

What follows is from from http://businessideas.doodig.com/.  It's a little bit better than what those monkeys achieved.

Publish your book

The best way to tell how a good idea to publish your book cars look how easy it is for the market. If it is difficult, then sell, not just a good idea.

The best idea of self publishing book will be interesting, and a breeze on the market mainly because it tends to focus on solving some pressing problems of the target market that the business of publishing itself has identified and decided to concentrate to focus on is . For example, when you use a blog as the book market isSimply, the keywords and key phrases, the best motion of the major search engines tend to be identified. The number of hits on the blog is attracted in this way exactly the target market niche, which aimed at the book and is very easy to market and sell.

In fact, the narrower the niche is your best idea of self publishing the book, targeting the best and most effective the book is intended to be. One of the mistakes the first time you do the editorsis to groped around for everyone. It works in any store, and there is reason to believe that it works, even if you are publishing a book and then it is in your interest and a good idea to avoid at all costs in general.

...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Infinite Monkey Award winner




The Infinite Monkey Theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will type Hamlet (or Romeo and Juliet, or the complete works of Shakespeare, or the Declaration of Independence, or the entire Bible). Variations of the theorem employ an infinite number of monkeys, not just one.

In 2003, a British university tested the literary output of real monkeys. They put a computer keyboard in a monkey enclosure at a zoo. The monkeys produced five pages mostly of the the letter S. One monkey smashed the keyboard with a stone, and others urinated and defecated on it.

What follows is from from thecompanymarketing.com. It's a little bit better than what those monkeys achieved.

How do I get published?

This is a question of my clients who are new and aspiring writers always ask me.

He writes for several reasons: fun, challenge, or our creative efforts and information sharing. If you intend to share what you write, you will need a means or place of publication. But you knew that, of course.

But enough is known about how to do this?

If you are a writer article, and locations of what you publish a review (like this) too. One of the best ways toSearching for a place or places "Writer's Market, a few centimeters thick book that people with so much current information on markets as possible, and you can find many good e-magazine for writers can be obtained for disposal are interest in offering free online, the other markets. You can also online websites that can be published for free. You can create your own blog or use any of the social-networking sites.

Perhaps a fiction or non-fiction is to focus on your creativity.Many people have dreams of landing a major book deal. Can you imagine what it likes and what he is doing for them, but do not do the research to find out how this is possible. Some believe that the pressure of its copies with a vanity press is the answer, but not necessary, because they have to sell at the market or copied for thought on other important issues like obtaining an ISBN. Several print-on-demand, but are not sure which serviceright for them. Two things you can do is to learn more, visit the site (s) and contact some of the writers to explore with the print-on-demand (s) and ask them to share their experiences should be published.

These days it is very easy for you to get your name and your message to the world beyond. Being confident enough to know what it was, optimize your efforts. Then watch your dream into reality.

...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why can't CreateSpace tell the truth?



(Left-click to enlarge image.)

I recently ordered some book proofs from CreateSpace. I expected them to be shippd via Express Mail, for next-day delivery.

On 3/16 I received a message saying that the books were shipped. I expected to receive them on 3/17. By 3/19 they had not arrived and I contacted customer support. I was told that the proofs were actually sent via UPS "second day" and were shipped a day later than I was told.

  • What's the point of lying when it's so easy for people to find out that you're lying?
  • Why do computers lie? Are they learning from their human masters?

...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wordclay is dysfunctional, dishonest and overpriced



(Left-click to enlarge image.)

I've done most of my recent publishing with Lightning Source and recently started examining and evaluating other paths to publication.

I already tried Lulu and CreateSpace, and Wordclay was next on my list.

Wordclay is part of pay-to-publish behemoth Author Solutions, which also owns former competitors AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford and Xlibris.

Wordclay is listed on the Author Solutions website. Strangely, the Wordclay homepage says that the site is copyrighted by Publishing Solutions, Inc. -- and does not mention Author Solutions. The parent is mentioned in Wordclay press releases, but not on on the "About Us" page.

Like many competitors, Wordclay promises "Free Publishing." It says, "And, best of all, you can self-publish as many books as you like...for free, compliments of Wordclay." In truth, you can play around on the website for free, but if you want a real book to be printed, you pay (and overpay) for it.

You can even pay Wordclay for things that are free elsewhere.

Any American author can get a Library of Congress Control Number easily, quickly and at no cost. Wordclay will do the three minutes work for you, for $150.

Wordclay also charges $150 for a copyright registration. You can register yourself for $35.

More non-freebies from Wordclay include $275 or $999 for cover design, $249 for a logo design, six cents per word for content editing, and $799 to permit booksellers to return unsold books.

Wordclay says its "user-friendly book publishing service"  is "by far the easiest, fastest and most dynamic publishing experience."

I have no idea what they mean by "dynamic," but I am qualified to evaluate friendliness, ease and speed.

It's definitely not easy to publish with Wordclay. I have not been able to verify the claim for speed.

I tried to register to publish a book, but on five different occasions over two days (screen shots above), when I clicked on "save registration" I was taken to an irrelevant page that said that my search term did not return sufficient results.

The Wordclay printing price for a 128-page 6-by-9-inch paperback book is $6.99. That's a little less than Lulu charges ($7.06), but a lot more than CreateSpace ($2.50) and  Lightning Source ($2.97) charge.

Prices for other sizes are similarly out of step, which means that the retail price would be higher than competing books, or the author would make less money, or both.

I can't see any reason for a writer to use -- or try to use -- Wordclay.

...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You can't make money by losing money. And if you're losing money despite charging a lot more than your competitors charge, you're doing something very wrong.




Years ago on the I Love Lucy TV show, Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz frequently got involved in harebrained schemes to make money. In one 1954 episode they started a mail-order salad dressing business. When Lucy's husband Ricky asked her about the profitability of selling  Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing, Lucy explained that they lose money on each bottle of dressing, but they "make it up in volume."

Bob Young is the founder and CEO of pay-to-publish company Lulu.com. Maybe he should have watched the Lucy episode. He might have learned that Lucy's formula is flawed and he shouldn't use it in his own business.

Lulu says it "has more than 300,000 recently published titles and more than 15,000 new creators from 80 different countries joining each week." Despite those impressive numbers, it loses money each year, and now wants to sell about $50 million in stock to erase the red ink.

  • Bob seems to be like his starry-eyed customers who spend a lot of money to become profitless "published authors." Bob has used millions of dollars from his personal fortune to become a profitless publisher. Is Bob the ultimate vanity publisher, publishing for fame but not for fortune?
According to Publishers Weekly, Lulu "has lost money every year since its inception, including $1.9 million in 2009 on sales of $31.5 million. ... it has increased the number of people who use its services with 1.1 million registered creators as of the end of 2009. The number of units sold rose to 2.6 million in 2009, up from 2.3 million in 2008 and 1.7 million in 2007. Lulu does not have much money left, listing cash and cash equivalents of $2.5 million and has far more liabilities ($38.5 million) than assets ($11.5 million)."

  • That sounds like a recipe for bankruptcy -- not a good way to impress Wall Street.
The negative balance sheet is particularly noteworthy in view of Lulu's large sales volume, and prices that are much higher than competitors. For example, Lulu charges its customers $7.06 to print a 128-page 6-by-9-inch paperback book. Competitor CreateSpace charges just $2.50 and LightningSource charges $2.97.

If Lulu is losing its shirt despite charging several times as much as other print-on-demand companies, and has a huge sales volume, something is very wrong. Bob Young was ranked as a "Top Entrepreneur for 2006" by Silicon.com and was nominated as one of Business Week 's "Top Entrepreneurs" in 1999. Apparently he's a smart guy. He should be able to figure out why Lulu is in trouble.

  • Maybe its cost of doing business is too high.
  • Maybe its employees are overpaid idiots.
  • Maybe it's because its wholesale and retail prices are too high. 
  • Maybe it's because its website has a terrible search engine which makes it hard for people to buy books.
  • Maybe it's because the company has a silly-sounding name.
  • Maybe it's because its quality control is terrible. (It sent me a book printed on wrinkled paper.)
  • Maybe it's because Lulu published one of the worst-looking, worst-written, worst-titled books.
  • Maybe it's because customer support is terrible and customers get pissed off and leave.
  • Maybe it's because customers realize that Lulu lies by saying it is “the only publisher that offers you all that it does for free.” Their publishing is free only if you don’t want any paper books to be printed or eBooks to be distributed! Lulu gets paid for every book they publish. That's not free. Lulu's notion of free publishing is like "free" car ownership where there is no charge to view your beautiful new vehicle in the dealer's lot. But if you want to actually drive it home and put it in your garage, you have to pay $54,327.
  • Maybe it's because Lulu lies when it claims to rank #1 among self-publishing websites. If you use Lulu you may not be self-publishing because a big part of Lulu is vanity publishing.
  • Maybe it's all of the above.
Bob told Publishers Weekly, "We publish a huge number of really bad books” and revealed that the average Lulu print run is for fewer than two copies.

  • With many small print runs of bad books, it's easy to lose millions of dollars.
Bob also said, “A publishing house dreams of having 10 authors selling a million books each. Lulu wants a million authors selling 100 books each.”

  • Maybe most of his authors are selling only six books each. And an infusion of $50 million won't help to increase the sales of crappy books.
I will not be buying any shares of Lulu. If Lulu loses money despite charging much more than its competitors do, I can't imagine why anyone would risk money with them.

...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CreateSpace can be good, but it's weird




Until recently, I've used LightningSource to print my self-pubbed books. I've generally been quite satisfied with the quality, price, speed and distribution. However, in an effort to learn more about this business -- and to inform you folks -- I am experimenting with CreateSpace, WordClay and Lulu.

The test subject is a 138-page 6-by-9-inch paperback book attacking the Evil Empire (also known as inept and dishonest Outskirts Press.) The title is Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy: The Strange Story of Vanity Publisher Outskirts Press. How do they stay in business? 

It's already available as a $5 eBook from Lulu. The $10.95 CreateSpace pBook version should be available from Amazon by the end of March. I've just started setting up the WordClay version.

CreateSpace provides an inexpensive and easy way to get into print. The document preparation is simpler than with Lightning Source. You just upload a PDF.  Unlike when I use Lightning Source, there is no need to make additional generations that are saved as a Postscript file and Adobe Acrobat Distiller file.

You can upload your own custom cover design, or work with one of the CreateSpace templates. There are 30 choices that can be customized by changing colors. You are somewhat limited, however. For example, I was unable to have underlined or italic type on the cover and I couldn't change the size of the boxes that hold illustrations. I was trying to minimize my expense and not planning to enter any beauty contests, so I settled for what I could achieve with a freebie template.

Cost is very low. There is no upfront or ongoing fee for the basic service.

However, if you are willing to pay $39 for the "Pro" program, you can make much more profit per book. I became a Pro, and my printing cost for the $10.95 book is just $2.50. With the standard program, the cost is $4.26 per book. Please don't think I'm getting rich with the $10.95 cover price, because the booksellers get a piece of the action, too.

Lightning Source charges $2.97 to print the same size book; and $117 to set up a book, send a proof for next day delivery, and maintain the file for a year. Lightning has somewhat better distribution, but CreateSpace is catching up.

After uploading my files, it was time to order a proof. The first box up above shows four choices with four prices. Strangely, three of the choices with three different prices, all offered (estimated) delivery on the same day!

Even stranger, after I made my selection, the options changed (second box above). The price for standard shipping increased by 83 cents, and the time increased by eight days!

CreateSpace has robots which (who?) interact with its customers by email. I received frequent status reports to confirm my uploads and let me know about progress or possible problems. The same messages are available on the CreateSpace website's "Member Dashboard."

Robots are not as smart as people -- or at least not as smart as smart people. Some of the automated messages are confusing.

For example, I received the following two messages a few minutes apart on the same day:
  • Thank you for ordering a proof copy of "Stupid, sloppy, sleazy," Book #3436960. This is to notify you your order has been received and is currently being processed. Your proof copy will ship to you within five days; delivery times vary dependent upon selected shipment method.
  • Thank you for ordering a proof copy of "Stupid, sloppy, sleazy," Book #3436960. This is to notify you your order has been shipped and you will soon receive it.
I had ordered and paid for Express Mail service, which should provide next-day delivery. When the proof was a few days overdue, I clicked to send a message to get the tracking number. (Lightning Source provides tracking numbers without being asked.)

Apparently my message was misrouted, and I received a canned response telling me how great CreateSpace is, and offering to answer any questions I have.

I wrote back saying that I just needed my tracking number. I received a rather snippy reply saying that the rep I had contacted  works only with full-service customers (apparently in the vanity publishing department formerly known as BookSurge) and not with lowly do-it-yourself customers like me. She could not or would not provide the tracking number.

The proof showed up later the same day, but I'm still pissed off because of the lack of information and cooperation.

I'll let you know when the pBook goes on sale. It's important, informative and funny.

I'll also let you know if Outskirts sues me (or if they sue CreateSpace, Lulu and WordClay). It will be good publicity, and a lot of fun. I love playing lawyer and almost always win my cases.

...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Outskirts Press made a few improvements
-- but is still stupid!



(Left-click on image to enlarge it for easier reading.)

Outskirts Press is a frequently incompetent and dishonest vanity publisher. The company does so many things so badly that it frequently makes me scream and laugh.

The company uses freebie services to distribute press releases for the books it publishes. The authors pay for the press releases, but Outskirts does not. Since Outskirts does not pay to spread the news, the news distribution services surround the releases with ads for competitors of Outskirts, and even for bargain software and medication.

Outskirts uses a template for quick production of its releases, and little bits of stupidity remain year after year.

No one at Outskirts will respond to my emails, but, as demonstrated by the press release above, it seems that someone at Outskirts has been reading this blog, and has made an effort to fix some of the worst offenses.

  • This book is described as a "5 x 8, 382 page paperback." In the calorie-filled bad old days, it would have been  "5 x 8 paperback cream." HURRAY!
  • The book is described as "the author’s most recent book." In the redundant bad old days, it would have been  "the author's most recent book to date." WHOOPIE!
Unfortunately, as usual, the release is awkwardly written ("many generations removed," and "The premonition pertains to") and is filled with Outskirts' traditional cliches ("being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets" and "meets consumer demand through both retail and library markets.") There are fundamental editing errors such as spelling out ten, eleven and fourteen instead of using 10, 11 and 14.

  • And, of course, there is one really stupid mistake. The website for Outskirts is shown as outskirtspress.ciom  (In other releases, Outskirts spelled its own name wrong.)
  • And another stupid mistake. The release talks about "Zoey L Mar." It should be "La Mar."
  • It's also probably really stupid to put a $27.95 price on a book for beginning readers. Very few adult books are priced that high. I don't think I'd trust a five-year-old with  a $27.95 book. Would you?
  • The Outskirts web page about the book and its author has one of the worst sentences ever written in English: "It is from this background and education that his inspiration to write comes."
  • The author is not ready for prime time. He wrote, "She snickered at the horror being subjected." The main character hugged herself twice in three successive paragraphs. Either the author would not pay for editing, or the Outskirts editor sucks.
  • It's time to go puke.
...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Amazon.com is fighting with Colorado over sales tax collection


Thousands of people functioning as "Amazon affiliates" make a few bucks to a few hundred bucks each month by sending business to Amazon.com. Whenever someone clicks on a link on an affiliate's blog or website to buy a book or other item on Amazon.com, the affiliate gets a commission.

Last week, about 4,000 affiliates lost business when Amazon.com announced it was cutting ties with its Colorado-based affiliates.

Amazon blamed a new state law requiring it to collect up to an estimated $4.6 million in online sales taxes a year.

Amazon has dropped affiliates in two other states — North Carolina and Rhode Island — that passed laws requiring the company to collect state sales tax on online purchases. Those states claimed that in-state affiliates were akin to outposts for online retailers, and therefore the companies had to collect sales tax. Getting rid of the affiliates got Amazon off the hook from doing so.

In Colorado, the situation is different. The state's new law doesn't link paying the tax to the presence of affiliates; instead, it requires out-of-state retailers to help enforce collection of the 2.9 percent state tax that online consumers in Colorado are technically supposed to pay already, though few know about it or do it.

Each year, retailers would have to tell their customers what taxable items they bought and that they need to pay the tax to Colorado. Retailers also would have to turn over those documents to the state to help enforce the law.

Backers of the law say that Amazon still will have to comply, whether it has affiliates in Colorado or not. They believe that Amazon cut off the affiliates to make a point in a larger battle over online sales taxes, and to deter other states from adopting Colorado's approach.

In an e-mail to Colorado affiliates, Amazon didn't directly say what cutting them had to do with the new tax. The company said the law was aimed at inducing it to collect taxes itself and that it would reinstate the affiliates if the law was repealed or if Colorado followed a "constitutional" approach to collecting taxes.

A 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found that states can only make companies collect sales tax if they have a physical presence in the state to prevent out-of-state sellers from having to deal with thousands of separate tax jurisdiction.

Colorado Republican Senator Greg Brophy thinks Amazon might be trying to avoid possible liability for paying back taxes in case it loses a pending legal challenge to New York's online sales tax. That first "Amazon law," passed in 2008, does link the requirement to pay to online affiliates based in New York.

Brophy said it doesn't really matter why Amazon did what it did and that he wants Colorado's law repealed to help affiliates. Majority Democrats aren't inclined to do so, saying that would reward what they see as corporate bullying.

There are signs that other states are interested in Colorado's approach.

Joe Huddleston, executive director of the Multistate Tax Commission, which advises states on tax policy, said officials from about 20 states participated in meetings in person and by phone in Denver last week to discuss the Colorado law.

He said they're interested in any approach that's successful in helping plug budget deficits and protect in-state retailers who make up a big part of their tax base.

The National Council of State Legislatures, meanwhile, has been working for the last decade to get Congress to help states collect online sales taxes.

A bill could be introduced in the coming weeks, said Neal Osten, NCSL's federal affairs counsel, but it would only help the 23 states that have aligned their tax laws so that, for example, they all have the same definitions of what items of clothing are taxable and which aren't.

That would leave out Colorado and some of the largest states, including California, that haven't joined the effort.

California lawmakers are once again considering a New York-style Amazon law that was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year. Similar bills are pending in Iowa, New Mexico, Vermont and Virginia. Rhode Island is considering repealing its law after failing to collect any revenue by the end of 2009.

Fred Nicely, of the Council on State Taxation, a trade organization Amazon belongs to, said his group favors a national solution. If other states adopt Colorado's approach on their own, he said the confusion over what is taxed and what isn't will grow. (info from The Associated Press)

...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irony: this time Outskirts Press wasn't stupid
-- it just seems stupid.


(Left-click on image to enlarge it so you can see it better.)

Vanity publisher Outskirts Press makes a lot of mistakes in publishing and publicizing books, and also in publicizing itself. Rather than use a paid-for news distribution company, Outskirts uses services which display ads for competitors along with the Outskirts press release.

I am on the Outskirts email list and often receive messages that try to convince me to let them publish my books. (HAH!) Most of the emails are signed by people who work for Outskirts, but I just received an email from an apparently happy Outskirts author.

I'm not unhappy that she's happy (but I know she could have made more money by being a real self-publisher), and I don't know if Outskirts did a good job on her books or botched them.

I received her Outskirts ass-kissing at my Gmail account. Gmail is a free service that derives revenue by displaying ads that are automatically triggered by email content.

In this case, while reading a glowing testimony about Outskirts Press, I was also exposed to ads and links for eight competitors which want me to ignore what I was reading about Outskirts and pick another publisher!

I know that Outskirts can't control this, and I would not see the ads if I used my regular email address -- but it's really funny to see a company that stupidly uses free press release services get kicked in the ass by a free email service.

...

Friday, March 12, 2010

This author loves Outskirts Press -- but he shouldn't.


Gang Chen is a "poster boy" for inept and dishonest vanity publisher Outskirts Press. Outskirts has crowed about the huge royalty payments ($111,000 in six months) that Chen has received, and Chen recently kissed the Outskirts asses on ZeroMillion.com, a website for entreprenurs.

What follows are some of Chen's comments, and my responses.

When I went to publish my book, Planting Design Illustrated, I received lots of interest from traditional publishers. But they wanted to make a lot of changes including adding a co-author. These were changes that would have made me dislike my own book!

Maybe readers would have liked it better.

So, I turned to self-publishing. At the time, making a lot of money was not at the top of my priorities. I simply wanted to publish my own book, my own way.

Now that I have self-published my first books, things have changed.

Actually, you did NOT self-publish. You used a vanity publisher.

Yes, I still want to have full control and yes I want keep all of my rights to the book. But now the royalty checks have become a top priority, especially with the economic climate that we're in. That's why, when I self published my second book,

Again, you did NOT self-publish. You used a vanity publisher.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) AP Exam Guide with Outskirts Press (a print on demand publisher), I took a different approach.

My book had the benefit of being published at the right time, at the right price. I earned over $30,000 in royalties ($31,207.68, to be precise) in one month. I earned even more the next month. Within six months I had earned over $110,000!

Your book is highly unusual and your earnings are highly atypical. Other writers are wrong to think they could emulate your success.

I don't think I'm saying anything revolutionary when I say that publishing non-fiction is an easier proposition on the self-publishing front than fiction. But even fiction books are valuable if they provide the type of "escape" your reader is seeking. Whether you write non-fiction, fiction, poetry, or something else entirely, the book must deliver on its promise. You might do everything else on this list, and you might even find some short-lived success, but ultimately, the success of your book comes down to how valuable your book is to its readers.

That's why your situation is atypical. Your book is much more valuable to its readers than most books are, so you can charge a much higher price. But despite the high price, you made much less money than you could have.

(1) The book is highly specialized. It’s a study guide needed for professional advancement. It’s a very important book aimed at a very small audience for whom the book price is not significant. It’s like a college textbook that students must buy for $150 in order to take a course needed for graduation.

(2) Because of the small audience, it’s highly unlikely that the sales volume (about 1,000 copies per month) and royalty payments will stay at the recent high level month-after-month, year-after-year.

(3) Despite its small page size and mere 243 pages, it has a huge cover price of $69.95. Amazon discounts it by just 10% to $62.95.

I compliment you for filling a need and getting paid well for it. HOWEVER, if you became a real, independent self-publisher instead of using Outskirts, you probably could have made even more money.

According to the chart on the Outskirts website, if you paid $999 or more for an Outskirts “Diamond” package, you earn $28.18 per book.

If, on the other hand, you decided to do a little bit more work yourself, or hired a freelance designer and editor for probably less than what you paid to Outskirts, you could have had the books produced directly by Lightning Source (the same printer that Outskirts uses) for just $4.54 per book (plus a small set-up fee).
  • If you kept the $69.95 list price and allowed Amazon.com and other online booksellers the normal 20% discount, you could have made $51.42 per book — nearly twice the $28.18 that Outskirts pays you!
  • Alternatively, if you are satisfied with $28.18 per book, by being a real self-publisher, you could have reduced the list price of the book to just $40.95, instead of $69.95.
  • By using Outskirts Press, you are making less money than you could be making, or your readers are paying more for your books than they could be paying — or both.
When I chose my POD publisher for my second book,

If Outskirts Press is your publisher, then you are NOT the publisher. Therefore you have NOT self-published!

I was not considering how much my royalties were going to be. That only became important to me after the book was published. But they say hindsight is 20-20, so I'm going to share with you one of the main reasons my royalties are so high. The publisher I chose, Outskirts Press, pays me 100% of the profits of the book and lets me set my own pricing. iUniverse pays 20% of the profit. Xlibris pays 10% of the retail price. But by paying 100% of the profit, Outskirts Press allowed me to set the retail price to whatever I wanted, and now I earn the entire benefit of increasing my price.

Baloney! The only numbers you see are what Outskirts chooses to reveal. You don't get 100% of the profits. Outskirts makes a profit, too.

Here's another way to look at it: If I had published my same exact book with iUniverse at the same exact retail price, instead of earning $31,207.68, I would have earned approximately $5,300. If I had published my same book with Xlibris, I would have earned approximately $4,600. Yes, without knowing any better, I would have still considered myself a successful self- published author, but probably not enough to write this article.

You are NOT a self-published author. You used a vanity publisher. If you really were a self-published author, you could have made MUCH more money than you did.

As you can see, self-publishing is working for me.

No, it's not!

I've made over $111,000 in six months.

You could have made much more.

My royalties are increasing every month

It can't last. You have a very limited audience.

and I'm working on my third book, which I will also publish with Outskirts Press. If hindsight is indeed 20-20, I can only imagine what my royalties will be for book #3!

If you follow the steps above, you too can be on your way to earning $30,000 a month self-publishing!

BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT.

...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oh goody! Another incompetent vanity press has been born.




Vanity publishers love to pose as "self-publishing companies." It's the scam du jour.

I just received a press release from the newest entry in the field, Esquire Publications. I assume it won't be long before the company is sued by Hearst Communications, the publisher of Esquire magazine, for trademark violation.

The new company announced itself to the world with a press release. Like its older inept competitor Outskirts Press, Esquire chose to use PR Log, a freebie news distribution service, instead of a paid-for service.

Since Esquire did not pay PR Log to make the announcement, PR Log has to make money somehow.

They make money by carrying ads FOR COMPETITORS of Esquire, including vanity publishers PublishAmerica, Outskirts Press, iUniverse and Dorrance.

The Esquire boss is Elva Elizabeth Thompson.

  • Her website says she was: >>given the name "Precious Love" and at times, "Quiet Storm" for her well known "straight to the point" spoken word. Ms. Love has been writing since the tender age of 15, but made her first debut on the stage of her own former spoken word venue called Love Jones Poetry in 2003. Besides being a spoken word artist, she is also a published author of 5 non-fiction novels, currently working on a 6th. Books are available at A1books.com, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Borders. Precious Love is the Founder of nonprofit organization Precious Hearts Foundation, that aids men, women, and children victims of domestic abuse and resides in Georgia and along the waves of Florida in the summertime as a small business owner since 1997 as an Editor of her own editorial service, owner of Esquire Publications, and VP of Operations for GSH Publishing.<<
Elva claims that GSH Publishing is "The Most Trusted Name In Publishing."

I don't know who did the research, but apparently that claim is not enough to bring in the big bucks. So, like Harlequin and Thomas Nelson, GSH has decided to get into vanity publishing.

Although she operates an editing service and has written several books, Elva is a terrible writer and editor.
  • Elva's Esquire Publications website is filled with errors. Examples: "At Esquire Publications, our goal is to assist authors self publish their title(s) whether you are writing mystery, nonfiction, fiction, christian, childrens, poetry or any other genre, we can help you reach your goal." and "Esquire Publications believe..." and "Our team of professionals are..." 
  • Her GSH Publishing website is over-animated and has bad writing and non-functioning links. The company seems to specialize in black chick-lit. One featured author is George Sherman Hudson. His initials apparently provided the name for the company.
  • Her Georgia Editing Service website says, "Elva "Precious Love" Thompson is the owner of Georgia Editing Service, LLC, a Florida-based editorial service for 12 years in counting, originally birthed in Atlanta, GA, as well as a published author of several non-fiction novels. She is a 20-year veteran of the writing era economy, started out with spoken word / poetry that later ventured into short stories and blossomed into biographies and autobiographies for herself, as well as others. [Time  Out. I have to go puke. I'll be back after I mop up.]
  • Her Precious Hearts Foundation website shows a copyright date of 2012. maybe Elva has a time machine.
  • That site describes her as a "mid-Eastern Pennsylvania native and past victim and survivor of domestic abuse of 15 years duration is a divorced mother of 5 that range in the ages of 6-year-old twins to age 22." I'm sorry about the abuse, but what the hell is a "mid-Eastern Pennsylvania native?" Was she born in Allentown or Cairo? Elva claims "she holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and an Associates
    Degree in Medical Editing." Maybe she bought the diplomas online.
  • The press release has bad grammar.
The press release says, "Self publishing services from Esquire Publications starts [sic] with the basic package priced at only $999. Valued at more than $1250..."  Who established the valuation?

The $999 package provides "complementary paperback copies of the book." Sorry, Elva, but if a writer has to pay $999, the books are NOT complementary.

The press release also says, “Poetry is growing in popularity as people use it often as an outlet to express their thoughts and feelings.”  It seems to me that's why people wrote poetry 2500 years ago.

...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Blogs that are really ads for vanity publishers



There are millions of blogs on the web. I write this one because: (a) I like to write, (b) I think I am providing a useful service, (c) I hope that some readers will buy my books.

I write other blogs that have absolutely no commercial aspect.

On the other hand, there are blogs where making money is the prime raison d'ĂȘtre. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but what I don't like is what seems to be a growing trend for "corporate" blogs to hide behind personal, non-corporate names that mask the intent of the blog.

Some blogs display corporate logos, but it may not be apparent that the logo belogs to the operator of the blog and is not just a paid-for ad.

A casual visitor seeking unbiased information from a blog is often given a dose of highly biased -- and often inaccurate -- information.

Here are some examples:

  • Self-Publishing Advice looks like advice about self-publishing, but it really exists to promote vanity publisher Outskirts Press.
  • freeselfpublishingblog.com is not merely a blog about "free" self-publishing. It's an advertising medium for Wordclay, part of vanity-pub behemoth AuthorSolutions.
  • Self-publishing is the new black is really advertising for Xlibris, also part of AuthorSolutions.
  • Indie Book Writer is the blog of Keith Ogorek, vice president of marketing of AuthorSolutions.
  • michaelhyatt.com is not sneaky. It's obvious that it's the blog of the boss of Thomas Nelson, a "Christian" publisher that now provides vanity publishing services. Although it's not sneaky, the blog IS sleazy, because it's programmed to block comments -- even complimentary comments -- from people who are on Hyatt's enemies list. I am one of them.

It should be obvions that LuluBlog is not written by or about someone named Lulu. It's presented by pay-to-publish company Lulu.com, and provides useful and interesting content. While I dislike Lulu as a vanity publisher, I have been pleased with their eBook publishing service, and the company is more honest than some of its competitors.

Although I am on the verge of puking as I type this paragraph, I have to give a little bit of credit to the blog operated by Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson. Although Brent and Outskirts are frequently dishonest in the way they portray other paths to publication, at least this blog does not hide its corporate connection and I have not yet noticed any big lies (except when it labels Outskirts a "self-publishing company"). On the other hand, the blog is not very useful or interesting.

...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Doomed from the start?


(from evoradio.net)

I finished writing a self improvement book. How to make it published.

1/ How to make it published?

2/ If I print it on my expense, how to make it distributed over the US stores?

...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is this the only news medium that pays attention to Outskirts Press press releases?


Yesterday I showed you a crappy press release distributed by Outskirts Press to promote Final Outcome, an overpriced horror debut novel by James McPike.

As usual, Outskirts distributed the "news" via freebie PR services that display ads for competing publishers. And if a member of the media is motivated to request more information -- which could help Outskirts -- there is no way to request it.

The Outskirts publicity efforts are both inept and ineffectual. This release was distributed on 2/28. Google shows just three links to it.
  • Two are on the freebie press release websites that "distribute" the news.
  • It was picked by exactly ONE news medium -- this blog.

For comparison, I paid about $300 to publicize one of my books, and it has about 18,500 Google links.

Another book of mine that also got a $300 PR launch has about 33,600 Google links.

And another book of mine has nearly 5,000 Google links. It won't be sold until next month and I haven't sent out a press release yet.

Only an ignorant starry-eyed author would trust Outskirts Press to publicize a book.

...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Outskirts Press is still stupid (and may be getting stupider)


Despite my constant criticism, inept vanity publisher Outskirts Press continues to distribute poorly written press releases that carry ads for its competitors.

The silly release above, composed with the tired Outskirts template, includes the overused phrases "the author's most recent book to date,"  "deftly constructed,"  "aggressively promoted to appropriate markets," and  "meets consumer demand through both retail and library markets."

Like other Outskirts books, this new one is made out of "paperback cream." That sounds delicious.

And, because Outskirts is too cheap and not smart enough to use a paid-for news-distribution service, this freebie release carries a big banner ad for competitor Tate Publishing, plus smaller Google ads for about 20 other competitors.

A "company overview" link at the top of the page reveals that Outskirts uses "publishing-on-demand technology."

That's a really stupid statement -- especially for a publisher. It takes only about a minute to print a book, so printing can be done on demand. Publishing, on the other hand, is a complex process that can takes months or years. Publishing is not done on demand. When a purchaser clicks "Add to Cart" on the Amazon.com website, the lengthy publishing process does not start anew.

Outskirts also says,"Our cutting-edge digital process allows us to publish a great number of titles each year. This high rate of production increases your chances of getting accepted and published by a high-quality book publisher."

I'm not quite sure what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

  • Maybe Outskirts is saying that they publish almost any book that is submitted -- regardless of quality.
  • Or maybe  they mean that after being published by Outskirts, an author can then be published by a "high-quality book publisher."

The press release headline says that this is McPike's "latest book." Lower down on the page, we learn that it's his first.

This book is HUGE, with 722 pages. It also has a high price for a paperback. How many people will risk $24.95 on a paperback novel from an unknown writer? How many will invest the time to read 722 pages written by an unknown writer?

For $20.47 you can buy a 1047-page scary hardcover written by Stephen King.

Outskirts wants us to know that author McPike "is a college undergraduate, works part time as a paralegal for his father’s law firm, and ... in 1997 he was honored as Ponderosa Lion’s Club Spelling Bee Champion." Spelling proficiency will not motivate me to spend $24.95.

The description on Amazon is poorly written:

  • "For Lieutenant Lewis Snyder he thinks he's served his time in Iraq and retirement is the next thing."
  • "he openly accepts a harrowing call from a general to help out a deceased friend"
Exactly how does someone help a dead person?


Press releases are intended to attract atttention of people in the media (like me), who will help Outskirts to spread the news. Like most press releases, this one includes a link that journalists can use to request additional information.

I had a few questions, and clicked on media@outskirtspress.com to send email.

This was the instant response:

"Hello. If you attached your press release and/or marketing plan materials to your email, they have been received. Since your book needs to be published before these marketing services can be completed, their completion date is dependent upon your publication date."

That's an automated email intended for Outskirts authors -- not for people in the media that Outskirts wants to impress. The same improper response has been going out for several months -- at least.

How does this company stay in business? By appealing to writers who know even less than Outskirts' employees do.

Like a pyramid scheme, it can't go on forever.


...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Would you risk $85 on a chance to put "AWARD WINNER" stickers on your books?


There are many award programs in the book business. Some of them seem like scams, with the primary purpose being to generate income from entry fees.

I have not made my mind up about the value of book awards. They undoubtedly make winners feel good and losers feel bad. Winning provides an excuse to send out a press release, but I'm not sure if winning books sell better because of the awards.

However, if you (and others) believe in the merit of your book, it probably won't hurt too much to take a chance for a hundred bucks or so.

Keep in mind that few readers will recognize the name of the award. Even the National Book Award, established in 1950, will mean much less to the average person than Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe or Pulitzer.

If the name of the award-giver means little or nothing to the public, it may make sense to concentrate on contests with low entry fees and few entrants -- rather than go after one of the major prizes.

(There's nothing to stop you from inventing your own scam award just for your own book, and announcing your status to the world. A few years ago, Orlando Digital, a lying scumbag plagiarizing competitor of my telecom business, gave itself a "prestigious" award. I was pleased to tell the world that the company was bullshitting, so a fake award does have risks.)

The IPPY Awards are not fakes, and are apparently the world’s largest book awards contest and the longest-running unaffiliated contest open exclusively to independents. There are now just 15 days until this year's final entry deadline of Saturday, March 20th.

Here are the basics:

- 14th Annual Awards, accepting entries for all 2009 and early 2010 releases
- 67 Categories, 20 Regions, 12 Outstanding Books of the Year
- Awards ceremony & publicity event at BookExpo America
- Entry Fee is $85 per category

The IPPY Awards reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing. These awards include the Regional IPPY Awards for Best Fiction and Best Non-Fiction in eight U.S. and two Canadian regions. It costs just $45 to add the regional entry to your regular IPPY category entry. Also, every book entered is also considered for our Outstanding Books of the Year awards, at NO EXTRA CHARGE. So, you can enter three contests at once for just $130.

Enter now at: http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/IPAwards.php

Still undecided? Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Enter the IPPY Awards:

10. Bragging rights
9. Endless P.R. possibilities
8. Credibility opens doors
7. Awesome stickers
6. 3 ways to win
5. Awesome party
4. Great marketing dollar value
3. You can't win if you don't enter
2. It's so easy to enter

Launched in 1996, the Independent Publisher Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Open exclusively to independents, the "IPPYs" recognize the year's best books and bring them to the attention of booksellers, buyers, librarians, and book lovers.

The IPPY Awards contest is among the largest and most recognized book awards events in the world, and all independent, university, small press, and self-publishers who produce books written in English are eligible. Titles copyrighted 2009 or 2010, or that were released in 2009 or early 2010 may be entered. National category entry fee is $85; Regional category can be added for $45; Outstanding Books of the Year consideration at no extra charge. Final deadline is March 20, 2010; enter online or postmark entries by that date.

Print guidelines and entry form: http://www.independentpublisher.com/IPPY2010_Guidelines_Final1.pdf
Enter online at: http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/IPAwards.php

Here is the link to the 2009 Awards results article online, with links to event photos, press release, etc: http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1298

The 5th Annual Regional IPPY Awards go to the Best Fiction and Best Non-Fiction Books in eight U.S. and two Canadian regions. If your book is written or published with a regional focus, don’t miss the opportunity to extend your exposure and increase your chances of winning a regional Independent Publisher Book Award.

Outstanding Books of the Year: For 27 years the mission of Independent Publisher has been to recognize and encourage the work of publishers who exhibit the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society, our environment, and our collective spirit. One book in each of the following categories will receive a special award for Outstanding Book of the Year:

Most Original Concept - Most Likely to Save the Planet
Freedom Fighter of the Year - Most Outstanding Design
Peacemaker of the Year - Story Teller of the Year
Best Book Arts Craftsmanship - Most Inspirational to Youth
Most Life-Changing – Most Progressive Health Book
Independent Spirit Award – Independent Voice Award

Questions? Contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director, jimb@bookpublishing.com or phone: 1-800-644-0133 x1011

  • Disclaimer. This blog posting is NOT meant to be an endorsement or recommendation of the IPPY awards, or the company behind it -- The Jenkins Group. Jenkins conducts several awards programs, provides various services to publishers, and is also a pay-to-publish company (a.k.a. a vanity publisher). I have not examined any of their books or heard complaints from any of their authors, and their website seems to be forthright and non-sleazy.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nothing today


I just don't feel like writing a blog post this morning. I don't even feel like posting a rerun. I'm allowed to take a day off.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another side of Brent Sampson?


In the two years I’ve been aware of vanity publisher Outskirts Press, my opinion of the company and Brent Sampson, its founder and boss, has been mostly negative. I have frequently found him to be both deceptive and incompetent.

I recently heard Brent interviewed on BlogTalkRadio.com. Brent was putting his best foot forward and may have been acting, but he seemed articulate, knowledgeable, honest and even humble. I felt he was both less sinister and less stupid than his print persona.

Sometimes when speaking, a person puts his foot in his mouth — but not Brent Sampson. When he writes, however, Brent puts his foot in his keyboard.

Maybe this publisher should stick to verbal — not textual — communication.

I’d think more of him if I had never read anything he wrote.

Memo to Brent: You say you're an "accomplished artist." Your portrait offends my artistic sensibility. It's time to vist a photographer and get a new pic.

Walmart-blue dress shirts died with disco.

Both collar points should be inside your jacket.

That tie is UGLY!

The brown background looks like shit (real shit). Either you or the photographer should have known better. Next time, pick a neutral color that provides contrast with your hair. And next time, either grow a real beard or shave off the "five o'clock shadow." Stubble may be appropriate in show biz, but not the book biz.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Job Opportunity: The Library of Congress needs a copyeditor




(From a Federal government webpage about applying for a Library of Congress Control Number ("LCCN").

"Resources applied to respond to such inquiries is better applied to processing PCNs."

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Maybe Brent Sampson is not qualified to give publishing advice. And maybe he's a snuff perv.


Inept and dishonest vanity publisher Outskirts Press was started in 2002 by Brent Sampson “after several frustrating attempts at traditional publication.”

Celebrity Parents magazine said that before Brent decided to self-publish, he received “many rejection letters (which he’s now proud of).” That’s pathetic! And why is Brent considered a celebrity?

His first book, The Art of Poetry, is a collection of illustrated poems, published by vanity press iUniverse in 2002. Amazon.com shows new books selling for under $19, and used books are offered for as little as $1.49. Despite over eight years of availability, there is not even one review for the book on Amazon.com.

The Product Description says, "Absorb into your soul the unique and stylized images that join each poem as they cast their spell. From the asphyxiation of sex to the zenith of being, The Art of Poetry exercises any excuse to be seen, heard, felt, tasted, or touched. Join artist/poet Brent Sampson as he illustrates the poetic nature of art and the artistic flair of poems within a collection of work that lingers on once the fixation is gone."

Hmm. I've read lots of books, but I never had a fixation to lick, eat or fondle a poem.

Brent's writing can be confusing and poetry is often ambiguous. In the phrase, "From the asphyxiation of sex to the zenith of being," zenith is obviously the high point (i.e., life), so the asphyxiation of sex seems to be death.

OTOH, maybe Brent just means that sex leaves him breathless, or leaves his sex partner breathless. Or maybe he means that his sexual activity is lifeless.

Or maybe he likes snuff porn.

I wonder if Brent's wife, Jeanine Laiza Sampson, knows about her hubby's interest in sexual asphyxiation. Maybe someone should warn her, and call the cops.

The book is no longer available on the iUniverse website. Apparently its sales were so low that Brent decided not to pay the small annual fee to keep the book "in print."  Probably wisely, Brent has not published it as an Outskirts book. It's not even shown on his bibliography page on Amazon. Maybe he'd prefer that nobody knows about it. Sorry, Brent. TFB. We know about the book.

Barnes & Noble sells it for $9.85.  You can read some of it for free on Google Books.

The book's Amazon sales rank this morning was #7,236,335 — making it one of Amazon’s worst sellers.

So, after having a disastrous experience with book sales on Amazon, Brent wrote Sell Your Book on Amazon: The Book Marketing COACH Reveals Top-Secret "How-to" Tips Guaranteed to Increase Sales for Print-on-Demand and Self-Publishing Writers.

Unfortunately, the book reveals no secrets and has no guaranteed tips. The title is fraudulent.

And, if Brent really is "an expert in the field of publishing and promotion" as he claims to be, he probably should've been able to move more of his poetry books.

Of course, most poetry books sell poorly, and vanity-press poetry books sell very poorly.

It's also possible that it's just a shitty book that nobody wants to own.

Brent's poorly written introduction mentions a defunct website, TheSampsonGallery.com, where he apparently failed to sell much artwork from 2000 to 2006. Brent even tried to sell his artwork on clothing and housewares in an online "gift shop" operated by CafePress. You can see Brent's old site at the Internet Wayback Machine.

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