Monday, January 31, 2011

It's irresponsible to let an out-of-date, inaccurate book continue to be sold.

With conventional offset printing, books are manufactured in quantities of hundreds, thousands or even millions, and are usually expected to be sold in a year or less.

If sales are slower than expected and the book is a novel, memoir or a collection of poetry, it makes little difference if a book written in 2007 and published in 2008 is purchased in 2020 and finally read in 2030.

But in a fast-changing field in business, technology or even politics or history, a book written just six months ago may be seriously out-of-date. It may contain inaccurate information and bad -- even harmful -- advice, that is presented as current, truthful and useful.

There is not much an author who works with a traditional "trade" publisher can do about obsolete books on the shelves of a distributor or bookseller.

But publishers -- especially self-publishers -- who produce eBooks or use Print-On-Demand for pBooks, have no legitimate excuse not to update books that have become out-of-date.

I'm nearly finished reading a book in a field I know well. It's a POD book with a 2009 copyright, and I expected it to be reasonably up-to-date, and accurate.

Sadly, it has several serious inaccuracies that can mislead readers, causing them to waste a lot of money.

When I questioned the author, he said, "The book was published in 2009 but mostly written in 2008. . . . When I update the book next year [i.e., 2012], I will be making revisions to those chapters."

That's just not good enough. Taking four years to make corrections in a POD  book is inexcusable, irresponsible, reprehensible and shows contempt for readers.

-----------
(This paragraph is aimed at the usual anonymous snarksters who read my blog posts.) My first book on self-publishing came out in late 2009. It is no longer current (but is not dangerous). The eBook replacement has been on sale for about a month and the new pBook should be on sale in a week or so. Although the 2009 book is still on sale, I have a note posted on Amazon that says, "Note from author: Please buy the newer version" and points out that much has changed since 2009 and lists some of the things that are covered in the 2011 book, but not in the 2009 book.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A tip that may help you avoid embarrassment and lawsuits

I once decided to change a real name to a fake name in a book I was writing, to avoid embarrassing someone who might not want to be written about. I also thought I might get sued for what I said about her.

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

But when I read through the chapter I was surprised to find a few instances of the old name which had escaped the Find function. It’s important to do a manual verification, because Word might not notice hyphenated words or words with apostrophes or in their plural form as targets for replacement. Don’t risk a lawsuit by leaving in a wrong name or word.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace vs. Lulu

Today, blogger/book designer Joel Friedlander said he recommends that his clients use either Lightning Source or CreateSpace for POD books. I agree with his recommendation, and I posted comments about the differences I've found using three printers. I think it makes sense to publish my comments here, too.
.

I've used LS for most of my book, but CS for two books when my cover artist was busy and I decided to apply my own limited artistry to CS cover templates. I've also used Lulu for printed proofs and for selling PDF eBooks.

A few differences among the companies:

(1) CreateSpace is extremely paranoid about potential copyright violation, and demanded that I show proof that I had permission to use every photograph in a book. I’ve never encountered this, or heard of this, with other printers, and it delayed publication of the book. Another time, CreateSpace did not question the photos, but rejected a book simply because it mentioned the name of corporate parent Amazon.com. I complained publicly and got a quick apology. Apparently, the robot censor was hyperactive and needed to be recalibrated. LS and Lulu don't seem to care (or even notice) what you want printed.

(2) It can get very expensive making repeated changes with LS ($70 per proof).

(3) LS needs text submitted using Adobe Acrobat Distiller applied to a Postscript file, but CS and Lulu will accept "raw" PDFs.

(4) CS robots will point out lots of potential problems with an interior file -- many of which are not really problems. Responding to each one can wast lots of time.

(5) Even though CS may use LS to print books in its Expanded Distribution service, it has different requirements. CS rejected an interior bleed on two pages that were identical to bleeds that were acceptable to LS.

(6) File uploads to Lulu are much more likely to go nowhere than uploading to CS or LS, and it can take days to get the problem solved.

(7) Even if you pay for "fast" shipping of a proof from CS, it may not come any faster than if you did not pay extra -- and, unlike LS, no tracking number is provided.

(8) For normal publishing, Lulu's cost per book is MUCH higher than CS or LS. Lulu is inexpensive for proofing (even though it overcharges for shipping). I like to use a UPS Store for early proofs when I don't care about a bound book with a real cover. UPS proofs cost less than LS but more than CS or LL -- but are done in hours, not days. UPs proofs may give a false indication of a problem with a photo (e.g., a white background may be printed as gray), that turn our fine with LS or CS.

(9) Lulu's photo reproduction is better than CS or LS.

(10) These comments are based on my experience with about 20 books. As with most things in life, "your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A nom de plume that does not make me want to read the book

It’s not unusual for a writer to use a pen name (nom de plume in French). Mark Twain is probab­ly the most famous fake. Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clem­ens, but he also used Sieur Louis de Conte.

Here's the headline from a recent crappy-as-usual Outskirts Press book announcement:

"Outskirts Press Announces Nubian Gold, the Latest Highly-Anticipated History – Other Book from Houston, TX, Author Tarchon the Etruscan."

If the author was Conan the Barbarian, Atilla the Hun or Andre the Giant, I might have read more.

If the category was more exciting than "History - Other," I might have read more.

If the publisher was not Outskirts Press, I might have read more.

If the press release was written better, I might have read more.

If the Etruscan was from ancient Italy -- not modern Texas -- I might have read more.

And finally, the full title is Nubian Gold: A Conspiracy of Jewish Proportions. I've heard enough anti-Semitic crap about alleged Jewish Conspiracies and will not buy the book.

If you're more curious or motivated than I was, here's a link for the book on Amazon.com

OOPS. I'm not through.

If you need another reason to ignore the book, read this egomaniacal bullshit about the author: "Tarchon the Etruscan is a student of the human condition, wielding the written craft to enrapture the mind much like an artist wields a brush. The pages are a blank canvas on which to draw from a talent heralded by many and matched only by an imagination that rises to the task. Nubian Gold is the reminiscences of a seer’s vision."

It's hard to read that without puking.

Sorry, Tarchon. Somehow, I just don't feel much of an urge to have my mind enraptured, especially by an  egomaniac who is afraid to use his or her real name.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Save Energy. Use fewer words.

Since the end of the last century, many words have been written and said about minimizing the use of vehicles, fuel, heat, power, water, food, packaging, building materials and more. We are supposed to SAVE vital resources.

I think it's time to say a few words about using fewer words.

The archaic phrase "Inquire Within" has been pissing me off since I was a teenager. The sign shown above does not display a phone number or a web address. If the sign did not say "Inquire Within," and you wanted to get hired, exactly what the hell would you do but open the door, walk in and inquire?


I bought gas Saturday. A sign on the pump said, "Product Contains Up to 15% Ethanol." If the first two words were deleted from the sign, would the message be less clear?

The same principle applies to writing. Almost any page can easily shed a word or ten -- and be improved by the pruning.

I tend to be pedantic (a trait I inherited from my father). I naturally give lots of examples to prove a point. I recently self-imposed a rule to limit examples to THREE -- and my arguments are no less forceful.

Print-On-Demand and eBooks are certainly efficient. But if every writer would eliminate two pages out of every 100 pages, book printers would use less paper, ink, toner, glue, energy and time; and the trucks that move the books would save fuel, and the UPS driver might last longer.

AND... the books would probably be better if they were briefer.

In an electronic medium like a blog or eBook, writers have unlimited space to spew all of the words they want to -- and the lack of limits encourages sloppiness.

Advertising is very different.

If a copywriter writes too many words to fit in a one-page ad, he shouldn't use tiny type and can't assume that the client will pay $30,000 extra to run a two-page ad. If she writes too many words to fit into a 30-second commercial, she can't decree that the actors must speak faster, or that the client must pay for more air time.

Impose some limits on yourself. It won't hurt, and may help.

--------------------
Help Wanted photo from http://www.newstimes.com/. I forgot where the gas pump photo came from.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Author Solutions wants to conquer the universe, and has help from Writers Digest


Is Author Solutions emulating Emperor Palpatine's Stormtroopers from Star Wars, or the "Resistance is Futile" Borg from Star Trek? 

Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI) is a massive pay-to-publish empire which has grown by acquiring and combining such former competitors as AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay and Xlibris. Last year ASI started a Spanish-language division called Palibrio. ASI also operates the self-publishing businesses for traditional publishers Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and Hay House. Those alliances pissed off many people when they were announced.

The latest announcement from ASI is even more disturbing. The press release they sent out on Saturday is below the following parenthetical paragraph.

(Saturday, Sunday and holidays are considered to be "slow news days." Many journalists work Monday through Friday and not on holidays. Press releases are often sent out on slow news days by companies who have to make announcements, but prefer that not much attention is paid to them. However, recognizing the paucity of competing news, some companies deliberately send out releases on the slow days so they will get noticed by those journalists who are working. Some companies simply send out releases with no consideration of the day.)

New York City (PRWEB) January 22, 2011 -- Writer's Digest, the oldest and most respected [NOT ANY MORE] media company dedicated to the advancement of writers, announced today it is partnering with the leading [BIGGEST, NOT BEST] self-publishing company, Author Solutions, Inc., (ASI), to launch Abbott Press-a self-publishing division. Named in honor of Richard K. Abbott, the legendary Writer's Digest editor, Abbott Press is devoted to helping writers improve their work and realize their dreams of getting published [AND TO WIPE OUT ABBOTT'S COMPETITORS] .

"In keeping with the mission of Writer's Digest, and in order to provide our consumers with the most complete information, inspiration, products and services to further their craft, we are proud to expand our portfolio to address a real desire of aspiring writers-to get published, be it by indie publishing [CUSTOMERS OF ABBOTT WILL NOT BE ENGAGED IN INDIE PUBLISHING]  or by traditional means," said Sara Domville, president, F+W Media. "Fully supported by the trusted experts at Writer's Digest, Abbott Press brings the same respectability, integrity, and commitment to editorial excellence as our Writer's Digest brand, [WHICH MAY LOSE ITS INTEGRITY] while maintaining a unique identity of its own, for the benefit of our authors."

Through this strategic partnership, Author Solutions will manage Abbott Press on behalf of Writer's Digest, taking responsibility for sales and publishing activities, while delivering a comprehensive array of publishing, marketing, and book-selling services, designed specifically for Abbott Press authors [ACTUALLY, THEY'RE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS THE SERVICES FROM OTHER ASI BRANDS]. The educational and editorial services provided to authors fall under the respected Writer's Digest brand umbrella of Writer's Digest Books, Writer's Digest University, The Writer's Digest Conference, and Writer's Market.

"This is a landmark alliance, as Writer's Digest has been the relied-upon source for support and education for writers for more than 90 years. Its entry into the self-publishing arena further exemplifies the sea change toward indie publishing which puts the control squarely with the author," said Kevin Weiss, Author Solutions president and CEO.

Author Solutions, Inc. is getting too damned big.

More importantly, I don't like the idea of a magazine that carries advertising for competing self-publishing companies, to have a financial stake in the success of one of those companies.

  • If you were a soda salesman and wanted your products to be sold by Walmart, would you expect to be treated fairly if Walmart owned Coke or Pepsi?
  • If you were the boss of Infinity Publishing or Outskirts Press and you advertise in Writer's Digest, would you expect to be treated fairly -- in ad placement and editorial coverage -- if WD profits from the success of your biggest competitor?
I'm sure that WD wants the world to believe that the new arrangement will have no effect on its relationships with the competitors of its own Abbott Press. But, in an era when print publications are starving -- and since WD is operated by human beings -- it will be extremely difficult for WD to resist the opportunity to maximize its income by discriminating against Abbott's competitors.

WD may degenerate into a biased "house organ" for ASI.

In the past, I got pissed off at WD for having Outskirts Press sponsor the annual WD Writing Competition, giving credibility and visibility to Outskirts at the expense of other publishing companies. It also bothered me that WD runs events and publishes books that compete with the services and products of its advertisers.

The new deal seems much worse, and I'm very sorry to see it.
  • When I was a journalism student we were taught that legitimate publications maintained a "Chinese Wall" between the editorial and advertising departments. Allegedly, at the New Yorker magazine, the ad people and the editorial people used separate elevators to minimize the chance -- or even the appearance -- of ad people pressuring the editorial people to tout the advertisers.
  • On the other hand, we were taught that trade publications -- particularly those that were greatly dependent on ad revenue -- were whores who would do anything necessary to bring in the bucks.
  • It appears that WD is transitioning from being a little whore to become a huge whore, with a pimp that wants to vaporize its competitors.

..............................

Stormtroopers photo from Star Trek

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Go back. Go back. Time travel is possible for writers.

My career as a writer started in fourth or fifth grade, back when Barney roamed the earth.

My friend Alan and I wrote articles about the other kids in our school, and his father's secretary typed them up and printed our  "newspaper" on a mimeograph machine. We priced the paper at a nickel. I don't think we sold many, and may have published only two issues.

I have no copies of our short-lived paper, and don't even remember its name. The name was probably lame and my writing probably sucked and would embarrass me today.

Later, I was a journalism major at Lehigh University and wrote for the student newspaper, the Brown and White (named for the school's horridly dull colors which only a coprophile could be enthusiastic about). I probably saved most of my "clips" from those days, but all but one of them -- a major opus -- disappeared years ago.

After college I wrote for lots of magazines and some newspapers. At first I saved everything that was published. After a while, seeing my byline in print was no big deal, so I stopped clipping and saving. At one time I had bound volumes of Rolling Stone which included my columns. I think the huge books are in my attic, but I haven't seen them in decades. My decedents can decide what to do with them.

I sometimes fantasize about time travel (and space travel,  unassisted flight, X-ray vision and feet that don't hurt).

One recurring fantasy involves the adult-me encountering the child-me. Would adult-me warn the child-me not to make the stupid mistakes up ahead? Would the adult-me like the child-me? Would the child-me be afraid of the adult-me, or think he's an asshole?

With current technology, time travel has to exist in the mind only.

But even without a time machine or a clipping file, there is a way for writers to go back to an earlier era and evaluate their youthful output. We can determine if indeed "the child is father to the man," or if adulthood strayed far from childhood and young adulthood.

I had a special thrill yesterday. I had an email conversation with Professor Wally Trimble, chairman of Lehigh's Journalism and Communication Department. He let me know that our student paper has been scanned back as far as 1894, and the issues are online and searchable!

Traditionally, newspapers have  had "morgues," where back issues become yellow and moldy, and sometimes crumble.

I know that the New York Times has digitized archives online, but I had no idea that the concept had reached college papers. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised that Lehigh -- a school known for educating engineers -- would have a digital, online morgue.

Articles and ads going back over a century have been preserved -- perhaps for future centuries.

I was somewhat apprehensive about reading what I had written in the mid 1960s. Would I recognize my writing as "my" writing? How badly was my work butchered by editors? Was I any good then? Was I an asshole?

In one of the Back to the Future movies, Marty McFly wonders if his future kids will think he's an asshole. I understand his fear.

Researching and writing my recent memoir stirred up some long-buried emotions that probably should have stayed underground, and I was initially reluctant to type my name into the search window on the Lehigh website.

I could not resist for long. I typed in "Michael N. Marcus," and found my name listed as a "reporter" in a 1965-66 staff list. Strangely, I found no links for anything I had written.

I then typed my name without my middle initial, and my monitor revealed the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Apparently I had not yet started using my middle initial in my byline (probably because I despised my middle name until later in my life, when I also realized that there are many other Michael Marcuses and I needed to make my byline distinctive).

I did not find all of the pieces I remember writing, and found some I did not remember. Subjects ranged from mundane (a $50,000 allocation to improve campus safety that few read in 1966 and I did not read in 2011) to politics and reviews. I found a mildly critical review I wrote of a jazz concert, and a scathing review of a live electronic music concert performed by ME, that I might wish was not preserved for posterity.

After months of wandering through Antarctic blizzards, female Emperor Penguins return home and are able to identify their mates from among thousands of apparently identical males.

I'm amazed that my writing "voice" in 1965 is not even remotely recognizable to me as me.

If I did not see my byline, I could not have identified my words -- and that was very weird. My word sequences were not even as distinct as the feathers on a damn penguin!

The 19-year-old Michael Marcus does not sound at all like the 64-year-old Michael N. Marcus. In 1965, I had not yet developed an identifiable style.

The young-me was a decent journalist, and his writing style is much more serious than the old-me. At least he doesn't seem like an asshole.

I'm sure there are people who think the old-me is an asshole. At age 64, I don't care.

(Barney pic may be from PBS. Photo of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly is from Universal Pictures. Photo of penguins is from Southern California Public Radio.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why finding seven mistakes in a book is better than finding just one

(OOPS -- not ready for prime time.)


Yesterday I received a fifth-generation proof of my newest book, Independent Self-Publishing: the complete Guide.

I've already gone through it dozens of times, and was reasonably sure that the latest proof would be good enough to approve for printing and selling. It's already a few weeeks late -- which is normal.

As soon as Bill, our UPS driver, delivered the box from Lightning Source, my printer, I gave it to Dave. He's my youngest employee and has better vision than I have. He also has good artistic judgment and his mother owned a bookstore. Hawkeyed Dave studied each page, and spotted one line of text that was not indented properly in a paragraph with a "hanging indent."


The error (above) was annoying, but not terrible, and one error in 520 pages was not sufficient for me to "stop the presses."

When Dave finished his page flipping, it was my turn.

I was horrified to find a page with ghastly word spacing:


In the book, I point out that it's difficult to achieve good word spacing in a narrow piece of justified text, and I offer some suggestions for solving the problem. I was amazed to see that I had missed this ugly page (which is actually no worse than is printed in most newspapers and in some books I've seen -- but is unacceptable in a book that preaches the importance of producing good-looking books).

I quickly decided that I could not let the book reach the public in its present form, and read on.

I ultimately found seven pages that could be improved. Other than the page with the bad word spacing, none of the seven would have been bad enough for me to delay publication by a week, but taken together, I had good reasons not to approve the book.

And... as long as I was fixing up the interior of the book, I asked my artist to make some little fixes on the cover. There were three little bits that had bugged me. I doubt that anyone else would have noticed them. But as long as I was going to delay publication to fix the inside of the book, I may as well use the opportunity to fix the outside, too.

No book is perfect -- not even books produced by the big guys in Manhattan -- but it's important for my books (and all books) to be as close to perfect as possible.

Self-publishers have an extra burden to turn out good work, because each sloppy self-published book reflects badly on the others.
_ _ _ _

OK, it's time for an old but appropriate joke:

Q: What's worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm?

A: Biting into an apple and seeing half a worm.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A weird coincidence;
and why is Breinigsville, Pennsylvania so important to publishing?

(left-click to enlarge image)

A lot of my mostly funny/mostly true book, Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults), takes place in the Lehigh Valley of east-central Pennsylvania. I attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem. The central story in the book took place there, and I also wrote a bit about nearby Allentown and New Tripoli (pronounced nutri-PO-lee).

Yesterday I looked at a MapQuest map of the area. I spotted a lot of towns and cities I had visited back in the 60s, and one place I had never visited or known about back them -- but which has become an important part of my life.
  • Breinigsville, Pennsylvania is not as well known as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or even Bethlehem.
  • Breinigsville is an unincorporated community in Lehigh County in Upper Macungie Township, between Trexlertown and Maxatawny (one of those great Pennsylvania names, like Punxsutawney, Hokendauqua, Catasauqua, Intercourse and Blue Ball). 
  • Breinigsville is about 10 miles from Allentown (where Lehigh students of my era went for Chinese food, Jewish food and girls at Cedar Crest College).
According to Wikipedia, Breinigsville was named for George Breinig, who established a farm in the area in 1789. In the 1860s, the Catasauqua and Fogelsville Railroad ran tracks into Breinigsville to serve iron mines. These mines shut down by the end of World War I, and the rails through Breinigsville were removed in the 1940s.

Not a hell of a lot happened since then. Breinigsville has no Indian casinos, presidential birthplaces, TV studios or natural wonders.

After 222 years, Breinigsville has fewer than 4,000 people.

But, it's conveniently located less than two hours from New York City and one hour from Philadelphia. Breinigsville apparently has lots of low-priced land that's used for manufacturing and warehousing that replaced farming and mining. Sam Adams beer, Kraft cheese, Grey Poupon mustard and A-1 Steak Sauce are made in the area.

So are my books -- including the book I wrote with stories about the area!

Strangely (to me, at least) Breinigsville, is home to a 130,000-square-foot printing plant operated by Lightning Source -- the dominant print-on-demand company and the company that prints and distributes most of my books.

And just a few minutes away from Lightning Source is a giant 600,000-square-foot warehouse operated by Amazon.com -- the company that sells most of my books.

Weird.

Even weirder: Yesterday I received a purchase order from Amazon. They want to buy 10 copies of one of my books. The books are supposed to go to the Amazon warehouse in Breinigsville.
  • Does Amazon really need me to arrange for the books to be shipped two and a half miles down the road?
  • Does Amazon really expect me to sell them books for 25 cents above my cost (about HALF of what they'd pay Lightning), AND I'll pay for shipping, AND I'll take back unsold books?

(left-click to enlarge image.)

Maps from MapQuest.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just what the world needs: yet another sleazy pay-to-publish company

(Black text is the company's press release. My cynical/snarky comments are in red bold)

Self-Publishing Company MindStir Media Offers Book Publishing for $199

Author’s paperback is published and then distributed through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million [Not impressive. "BAM" uses phony, inflated, “retail prices” and then offers alleged discount prices that bring the purchase price to just a few pennies below the cover price. BAM prices are typically a few bucks higher than Amazon's.] , B&N, or Target.com, and more for less than $200. [But the company would much rather sell you its $8,899 publishing package.]

Hampton, NH (PRWEB) January 18, 2011

Fresh [maybe not so fresh] and innovative [maybe not so innovative]  self-publishing company MindStir Media, publisher of Amazon.com bestselling books [maybe not bestselling] “Unconventional” [Amazon rank: 861,139] by J. J. Hebert and “Contingency: Book One: Covenant of Trust Series” [Amazon rank: 266,528] by Paula Wiseman, is now offering a self-publishing and book distribution solution—the Design It Package—for $199. [Other companies already offer packages for $199, and even $195. We need a $59 package!] The publishing package includes a unique ISBN and barcode, Library of Congress Control Number, U.S. Copyright Registration, fast book printing, advertising at MindStir Media's website [Which approximately four people will see] and via the MindStir Media Facebook page [Which approximately five people will see] , U.S. distribution, a high royalty, and low printing costs. [If you want to buy a copy of your 251-page book, you pay a buck more than if the book had 250 pages. YIPES!] The package makes self-publishing—the fastest-growing segment of book publishing—easier and more cost-effective than ever. [That's true -- if you ignore the other companies providing similar services. $199 doesn't even get you ONE copy of your book from MindStir. Wasteland Press provides five books with its $195 package. Aachanon provides four books for $195 and Outskirts Press provides one for $199.]

The author simply purchases the Design It Package for $199 [The price is $700 more if you want a cover designed, and $2,600 more if you want proofreading. If you want to be able to set the price and have books sold outside the USA, you pay at least $1,899.], signs a non-exclusive contract (which means the author retains all rights to her work), designs her book cover and interior with easy-to-use guides and templates provided by MindStir Media, and then her book is published and available for sale through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and many more U.S. retailers. The author earns a high royalty for each book sold and also has the option to buy discounted copies to sell on her own. The author can expect to pay $5.25 for a 200-page book [GOOD -- that's a quarter less than CreateSpace or Lightning Source charges -- but you pay much to much if you add one page.], and the price per copy increases as the page count rises.

MindStir Media also provides professional services in the Starter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Platinum premium publishing packages. Some of those services include custom cover (front & back) design, comparable to the quality offered by major publishing houses; editing; e-book format and distribution on Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and more; audio book production and distribution via iTunes, Audible.com, and other sites; author website design.

MindStir Media, a self-publishing company utilizing print-on-demand technology, supplies authors with Mind-Stirring Publishing Solutions to help them successfully self-publish and distribute books. Authors retain all rights and receive royalties up to 100%.

Some more comments:
  1. MindStir "bestseller" Contingency: Book One: Covenant of Trust Series has exactly ONE review on Amazon.com. It's a five-star review, and says "With divorce rates at an all-time high, Contingency -- a story packed with wise marriage advice and solutions -- should be required reading for every adult Christian. I highly recommend this God-centered read!" That might be impressive, if you don't realize that the review was written by the guy who owns the publishing company! That's sleazy -- and even sort of incestuous. The reviewer makes money on every book bought by people who are influenced by his review. What would Jesus say?
  2. The company offers the usual gamut of absurdly overpriced add-ons, such as $799 for a website (PLUS the cost of hosting and domain registration), $1299 for a press release, $1299 for "copy-editing" (MindStir strangely hyphenates the term), $599 per month for online advertising and $499 for a Foreword/Clarion review -- which you can buy for $305.
  3. The company uses strange math to calculate royalties ranging from 30% to 100% on the "net sale", depending on the package you buy. If you want to earn more, you have to first pay more. There's something weird about that, like maybe you're getting back your own money! MindStir can easily afford to give you 100% if you've paid them nearly NINE GRAND for "Platinum" publishing. They make a nice profit even if you sell no books.
  4. You get to set the wholesale discount on the more expensive packages, but have to offer at least 30%. Amazon and other online booksellers will gladly accept 20%, so Mindstir forces you to waste money.
  5. The company's online bookstore offers exactly TWO books for sale -- not an impressive lineup after two years in operation. Prices on the MindStir website are higher than on Amazon.com. Shipping is free, which may or may not be the case with Amazon.
  6. The $8,899 MindStir package includes 50 "free" copies of your book. $8,899 is not free. The $1,599 package includes one "complimentary" copy. $1,5999 is not free, either.
  7. The company's Facebook page touts a "FREE publishing consultation" which may be useful, at http://www.mindstirmedia.com/?p=852. The company will also sell you a $599 three-page critique of your manuscript prepared by "inspirational" author J. J. Hebert. It's unclear what you get in the critique that you don't get in the consultation. Critiquer J.J. just happens to be the president of MindStir, and says he studied at the "University of Self-Taught." It ain't Harvard, or even Northampton County Area Community College.
  8. MindStir Media seems to be a "virtual company" employing freelance editors and designers as needed (which is not necessarily bad, but may not inspire confidence). Its mailing address is a Post Office Box. Competitor Outskirts Press is more creative. It has what seems to be a real address, but it's in a UPS store.
  9. MindStir doesn't seem to be much better -- or much worse -- than the competition. Apparently its only unique offering is a critique by J. J. Hebert. Mindstir does include an ISBN, copyright registration and a Library of Congress Control Number even in its least expensive package, unlike some competitors who charge extra. Xlibris charges $249 and Schiel & Denver charges $250 for copyright registration -- more than a complete package with copyright from MindStir. Wasteland Press offers five books and a custom-designed cover for four bucks less than the bottom MindStir package, but no J. J. Hebert or copyright.
  10. MindStir has a web page titled "Publishers, Are You Looking For More Freedom?" It says, "Publishers can now take advantage of our POD printing and global distribution services. Ideal for publishers wanting to maintain an active, always-in-stock backlist and/or frontlist while avoiding large and risky print-runs or warehouse fees." Since it's quite obvious that MindStir -- like most of its competitors -- has books printed and distributed by Lightning Source, I can't see why any publisher would need MindStir to act as paid intermediary with Lightning.
  11. The $199 MindStir package offers some things that you'd have to pay a lot for if you used other self-publishing companies. However, since you'll have to format your own text and design your own cover and don't get international distribution, you may as well use CreateSpace or Lightning Source.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's nice to know that someone likes this blog. Too bad he or she is incoherent.

Also, remembering the duck and the bears.

"I am impressed! Blog advice posted here is quite my friend. I justified after to say board up with comments and nobility work. IE browser bookmarks to your blog just now, I l stumble upon back to see my friends more in the unborn! The color of the layout is not rotten, it is easy on the eyes."

This reminds me of a joke/riddle my father used to tell:
Q: What's the difference between a duck?
A: Each of its legs is both the same.

And a joke I learned in college in the 1960s:
Two polar bears are sitting in a bathtub. The first one says, "Pass the soap." The second one says, "No soap, radio!"
_  _  _  _ 

(From Wikipedia): "No soap radio" is a traditional punch line for a prank joke. The body of the joke is not related to the punch line itself, but is made out to be humorous by participants in the prank. The first known reference to this form of anti-humor was in the late 1940s.The origin of the punchline remains mysterious, but it was circulating in the suburbs of NYC as early as 1956–57.

The punch line is known for its use as a basic sociological and psychological experiment, specifically relating to mob mentality and the pressure to conform.

The setup involves at least two conspirators and "victim." One of the two conspirators, the "joke teller," will catch the attention of the target and announce his intention of telling a joke.
The punchline of the joke is known to the co-conspirators beforehand, traditionally the phrase, "No soap, radio." After the joke teller delivers the punchline, the co-conspirators immediately laugh uproariously, treating the story and the nonsensical punchline as though it were, in fact, a proper joke. In reality however, there is intentionally no humor in the content and punchline.

The prank is intended to elicit one of two responses:

  1. False understanding -- when the victim acts as if the joke is humorous, when in fact the victim does not understand the joke at all.
  2. Negative understanding -- when the victim expresses confusion about what the joke means and feels left out (e.g., "I don't get it.") The conspirators are now prepared to mock the victim for the victim's inability to get it. Because of pressure to conform, the victim may switch to false understanding (pretending comprehension of the incomprehensible) after receiving facetious derision from the conspirators. Normally after some time of negative understanding, the prank is revealed to the victim.
Over the years the joke has become widely known and entered popular culture in other forms, including a shower radio labeled "No Soap, Radio!" on an episode of The Simpsons, a popular podcast named after the joke, and a band with the name appearing at the Crazy Horse on The Sopranos. It has been used as the name for rock bands, as well as a short-lived TV sketch comedy show (à la Monty Python's Flying Circus) starring Steve Guttenberg which aired on ABC in the spring of 1982. It can also be seen in the movie Training Day and there's a line of bath and body products with the name. "No Soap Radio" was also the name of a radio commercial production company.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s "No Soap Radio" was used by college students as a nickname for public radio, including college stations. Such radio had no commercials and was thus not like "Soap Operas" which did carry commercials.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How much bad English should I tolerate?

I am intolerant of sloppy language in print and in speech.
  • When a leading character on one of the CSI shows greets another with "hey" instead of "hi" or "hello," I want to hurl the remote control at the TV.
  • I cringe when a 20-something -- or Dubya Bush -- says, "I was like . . ." instead of "I said . . . ."
  • When Mrs. Palin -- who could have been one heartbeat away from the White House -- says "gunna, " "nucular," "refudiate' and "misunderestimate," it's hard for me not to puke.
  • When the present inhabitant of the White House says "gunna," I want to verify his diplomas from Columbia and Harvard.
HOWEVER, I am mellowing. There are two instances of bad English that no longer make me nauseous or violent. The English language is fluid and flexible, and perhaps I should not try to hold it back.

So, starting right now, I will not get upset about two former abominations.

The misplaced "only." Theoretically, if people say (or sing) "I only have eyes for you," or "I only drive Japanese cars," the speakers are implying that they do nothing else but have eyes for some specific person or drive cars made in The Land of The Rising Sun. They do not have breakfast, go to school, watch movies, make love, breathe or do anything else.

To make the phrases accurate, "only" should be shifted to produce "I have eyes only for you" and "I drive only Japanese cars." (The "only" could also go at the end.)

"Only" has been misplaced so often and for so long, that perhaps it's time to put its misplacement on the approved list, despite its illogic. It's no worse than a TV newscaster signing off with, "I'll see you tomorrow." Besides, I misplaced the "only" in the title of my first self-published book, I Only Flunk My Brightest Students -- and the title was a quote from an English teacher.

The superfluous adverb. I just started reading You Don't Say: The Ten Worst Mistakes You Can Make in Speech & Writing & How to Correct Them. While author (and Ph. D.) Tom Parks doesn't say "most unique" or "exact same," he does say "exactly the same" twice within two pages, and "precisely the same" soon after.

If something is the same (or unique), the adjective needs no modifier.  Uniqueness and sameness are absolutes. Nothing can be more unique or more the same than anything else.

I recognize that these barbarisms may qualify as figures of speech. I am ready to admit that "exactly the same" and "exact same" may be useful usage and I will no longer write a ticket when I encounter them. I will not, however, employ such sloppy usage myself. In this case, I have a higher standard for myself than for others.

However, I will NOT permit "most unique." At least not in 2011. Check back in 12 months and see if I've mellowed some more.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Michael Hyatt is a hypocrite



Michael Hyatt is the chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and allegedly the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S.

Last year, Hyatt caused a stink in the book business by forming a pay-to-publish alliance with Author Solutions. Writers whose books are not good enough to warrant a royalty-paying contract from Nelson, can pay thousands to be published by subsidiary Westbow Press. Its first book was overpriced and under-edited.

Hyatt publishes a blog to promote himself and his company. He says, "This is my personal blog. It is focused on 'intentional leadership.' My philosophy is that if you are going to lead well, you must be thoughtful and purposeful about it. I write on leadership, productivity, publishing, social media, and, on occasion, stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into one of these categories. I also occasionally write about the resources I am discovering. My goal is to create insightful, relevant content that you can put to work in your personal and professional life."

That sounds impressive.

Hyatt brags that he has been a church deacon for 23 years, but he tells us that  we should not believe or rely on anything he says: "I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use."

The pompous weasel lacks the guts to stand behind his own words. What would Jesus think?

Hyatt recently published a blog post titled, "Why I Stopped Reading Your Blog." It lists six reasons, including "You don’t participate in the conversation. You either don’t allow comments or don’t participate in them."



Hyatt, just like "Tricky Dicky" Nixon (above, right), maintains an enemies list. If someone has previously pissed off Hyatt, any comment from that person is blocked instantly, without any human review.

Apparently I never pissed off President Nixon. But after disagreeing with Hyatt-the-hypocrite once, I am forever banned from his blog.

Anything I try to post -- even the most complimentary comment, or something completely neutral or very helpful -- is immediately rejected by Hyatt's robotic sentry.

So much for "You either don’t allow comments..."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Memo to Outskirts Press: this would be more impressive if there were not more than 350 day left in the year

From a press release distributed  on January 11 by pay-to-publish company Outskirts Press:

"The most exciting self-publishing promotion of the year sees $300 added to the author accounts of every writer who purchases a Diamond or Pearl book publishing package from Outskirts Press in January."

Outskirts's competitors have more than 11-1/2 months to come up with a more exciting promotion. It should not be difficult.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not about books today... The best thing about January is February candy

January is named for Janus, the Roman god of doors. I'm not sure why the Romans needed a door god; but they had loads of gods, so they could certainly spare one to watch the door. Maybe Janus was the first bouncer.

Anyway, January is the door to the year, and I like January a lot. Each day we get a few more minutes of daylight. Five p.m. now comes during the day, not at night. Even though I'm typing this as an expected 12-to-18 inches of snow is accumulating outside my window, the earth is warming. Spring is coming. Crocuses will be popping soon. In about 85 days, the cover comes off the pool, and my ancient and beloved bright-red 1978 Fiat convertible comes out of the garage.

But the best thing about January can be found in chain drugstores like Rite Aid. That's where you can get JuJu Hearts, the magical chewy-gooey red cherry candies I've been addicted to since babyhood. If I close my eyes when I open the package, the sweet aroma transports me to Cherry Blossom Time in Washington DC -- or at least to my grandmother's apartment in the Bronx.

When I was a kid, my Grandma Del would buy pounds and pounds from Krum's -- the pre-eminent candy store in the Bronx, or maybe in the world.

Some years she even arranged to buy the huge pile of hearts on display in the window, at a special price after Valentine's Day. We grandchildren would get a few pounds in February, and Grandma would stash the rest in her freezer, to be gradually defrosted and doled out throughout the year. (In later years, when Grandma Del moved to Florida, I provided JuJu Hearts for her.)

Krum's was famous for its candies and ice cream sodas, and used to be on the Grand Concourse between 188th Street and Fordham Road. In the front of the store was a huge display case of chocolates and other candies, and farther back you could sit and slurp. The landmark Lowe's Paradise Theater was across the street, and before McDonalds and Taco Bell came to town, teenagers went to Krum's for a post-picture snack.

The Lowe's Paradise has been reincarnated as a mostly-Latino concert venue, Grandma Del and Krum's are long gone, but JuJu Hearts are as good as ever. The price has gone from 15 cents a pound to 99 cents for a 9 ounce bag in 2009, to $1.59 for 12 ounces in 2011. (I saved 50 cents off the $1.59 per bag because I'm a card-carrying customer of Rite Aid.)

In most years, we get a bit less for our money, but 2011 strangely provides a  better deal than 2010 (with the card). But addicts don't care about the cost of their fix.

Although I'm using the traditional term, "Ju-Ju Hearts," I could not find any with that name this year.

Product names, retail availability, manufacturers and even the country of origin varies over time. This year, I made my first stop at Wallgreen's. Sadly their seasonal candy shelves were still filled with 75%-off Christmas sweets.

Rite Aid, too, had chocolate Santas, candy canes and such on its shelves, but I spied a huge stack of unopened cartons nearby. I thought I detected a familiar aroma, and a quick inspection revealed a familiar name on one of the top boxes. I summoned the manager. He recognized me, smiled, and said, "You again?, I guess it's that time of year again." He took out a box cutter and handed me my ten-bag season-starter supply.

This year's first crop bore the brand name "Brach's" -- which now belongs to candy giant Farley's and Sathers. F&S now supplies such vital foods as Chuckles, Jujyfruits and Jujubes. The product name has morphed, too. It's now "Jube Jel Cherry Hearts."

The taste is fine -- just a tad sweeter than the 2010 vintage (I have samples preserved in my freezer.)

JuJu/Jube Jel Hearts' taste and texture are unique: sweeter and softer than red hot dollars, but not as sweet or slimy as Gummi bears or worms.

Strangely, the JuJu/Jube Jel Heart formula doesn't seem to be used for anything else, at any other time of year -- not even for JuJubes or Jujyfruits. But that's OK. JuJu Heart season is only a little longer than the bloom of the Cherry Blossom. The rarity makes them more special, and less destructive to teeth and glucose levels... and freezers make it possible to prolong the pleasure.

This year's heart package shows no country of origin. Years ago, they were made in the USA, In 2008, they came from Canada. In 2009 (a terrible year), they were from Brazil. In 2010, they were made in (FILL IN).



JuJu history
  • The JuJu name apparently comes from the jujube, a red fruit first cultivated in China over 4,000 years ago, that can be used for tea, wine, and throat medication, or eaten as a snack.
  • A jujube tree in Israel is estimated to be over 300 years old.
  • The jujube's sweet smell is said to make teenagers fall in love, and in the Himalaya mountains, young men put jujube flowers on their hats to attract hot Sherpa babes.
  • In West Africa, a Juju refers to the supernatural power ascribed to objects or fetishes. Juju can be synonymous with witchcraft, and may be the origin of the American voodoo.
Some of the first JuJu Hearts were made by the Henry Heide Candy Company, founded in 1869 by Henry Heide, who immigrated to New York from Germany. Heide Candy became known for Jujubes, Jujyfruits, jelly beans, Red Hot Dollars, Gummi Bears and Mexican Hats, which have been perennial favorites in movie theaters and five-and-dime stores.
The business stayed in the Heide family through four generations, and was sold to Hershey Foods in 1995. In 2002, Farley's & Sathers Candy Co. acquired the Heide brand products from Hershey.

Although F&S owned Heide, they did not produce Heide's hearts.

Through the 2009 season, the hearts were distributed by Mayfair Candy, in Buffalo, NY.  Over the years, I've encountered some really crappy hearts. Mayfair made the real thing. My dog loves them, too -- but he never refuses anything that's remotely edible.

Strangely, there were two (maybe more) kinds of JuJu Hearts distributed by Mayfair. The "original" version was sold by Rite-Aid (and possibly others). I discovered another inferior version for the first time in 2007, at CVS. The individual candy pieces were smaller than the originals, and they had a second heart shape molded onto the front of each piece. They didn't taste nearly as good as the originals: they were too sweet and not as chewy. Strangely, the same packaging, with same ingredients and same stock number, was used for both.

I will get back to Wallgreen and also go to CVS to see what they have this year and will update this post.

You can get JuJu Hearts online. Metro Candy offers 5-lb and 30-lb batches from Ferrara Pan. I have not tasted them


Special thanks to Philip Heide,
and Roger McEldowney of Mayfair.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taxing time

This is the time of year when each trip to the mailbox yields interest statements and income statements -- the raw materials used to create the annual work of fiction known as the Income Tax Return.

Years ago, when I lived in New York City, I had a simple formula that worked very well (i.e., no audits ever, and refunds every year):

  1. No more than 10% for the feds.
  2. No more than 5% for the state.
  3. No more than 1% for the city.
For ten years I've been in Connecticut. There are no city taxes, but life is more complicated. I pay my accountant about $700 for a few hours work necessary to produce my annual business and personal federal and state returns. After much scientific number crunching, he still comes up with the same percentages I established 40 years ago.

I'll pass on a tip for a deduction I developed while working as an advertising copywriter and have continued to use as a webmaster and writer/publisher.

EVERY piece of media you consume should be deducted in the range of 25% to 100%. Deduct movies, CDs, games, concerts, artwork, vacations, MP3 players, big TVs, books, magazines, newspapers, iPad, smart phone, museum visits... all that stuff that helps you stay aware of trends in culture.

Years ago my father owned a chain of clothing stores. He once considered deducting his subscription to Playboy (which did provide news and advice about mens' fashions among the airbrushed large-breasted babes). Alas, he was afraid to list a skin mag on his tax return, so he sent too much money to the IRS.  I have no such reluctance -- and may have bigger cojones.

With proper classifications, you can probably get Uncle Sam to subsidize porn, booze and hallucinogens.

Here's some more advice of uncertain value:

  1. A successful small business is one that breaks even each year, with a slightly higher gross income.
  2. Big profits are nice if you're trying to sell the business, but not when you're filing your income tax return.
  3. Write about stuff you like, whether it's wine, sports cars, clothes, travel, cameras, horse racing or sex. Then you can deduct everything you spend on fun -- if you classify it as "research."
  4. There's almost nothing that's too crappy to donate to Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army and claim an appropriate deduction for. Bill Clinton was criticized for claiming a deduction for donating used underwear. I'm not the president and don't care what Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh will say about me. I've lost a lot of weight recently, and last year I donated lots of oversized underwear. Washed, of course.
I am  not a professional tax advisor. I'm more of a professional wiseass (who usually gets away with his wiseassing).

If you're a writer who'd like to learn about taxes from a genuine tax pro, read Julian Block's Easy Tax Guide for Writers, Photographers, and Other Freelancers. The price is $15.95 (tax-deductible, of course).

The book was published a few days ago (it's what used to be called "hot off the press') by my buddy Christy Pinheiro's PassKey Publications -- so I know it's a superb book, even before I read it.

Christy (a writer as well as a publisher) says, "It’s more important than ever for writers, photographers and other freelancers to familiarize themselves with steps that can keep their taxes to the legal minimum. This book offers detailed help, in simple language that everyone can understand, on how to keep more of what you earn. It is a guide to use throughout the year for advance planning that alerts you to new and frequently overlooked changes in the tax rules and explains how to take advantage of them and steer clear of pitfalls -- all completely legally. The author is a nationally recognized tax attorney and also a published author."

I'm thinking of putting all I know about taxes into a book, The Wiseass Writer's Guide to Apparently Absurd Tax Deductions that only Members of the Media Can Get Away With.

I was kidding when I started typing the previous paragraph. Now I'm not sure. Stay tuned, folks.


(Mailbox photo from WW.MilitaryTimes.com Thanks.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

There's no news like old news

(left click on image to enlarge)

In November of 2009, I sent out a press release to announce a new book.

Yesterday an idiotic automated website ran the release, still using my 2009 headline about the "new" book.

Goofs like this seldom happened back in the 20th century, when news reporting was done by human beings, not by robots.

A lot has happened in publishing since 2009. The 2009 book mentioned in the release is now officially obsolete, replaced by this one:
It should be on sale in about a week. You can order here. It's bigger and better than the 2009 book, but the price is the same. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

I published a two-buck book.
Actually, it costs $1.99, but I Iike the sound of "two-buck book."

A few days ago I published the eBook you see above.

This eBook is an experiment in providing a lot of information simply, quickly and inexpensively. It’s also a sampler which I hope will convince people to buy my other books about publishing.

This book should be useful to writers who form their own publishing companies, and writers who use self-publishing companies, and even writers who have contracts with traditional publishing companies.

There are many more than 199 tips in this book, plus valuable information that’s not in tip form. I had to choose a title before I finished writing and 199 seemed to be a good number. There are probably more than 300 tips here, so each tip will cost you less than a penny!

This book was initially produced as a PDF (Portable Document Format) book. PDF books have pages that look just like pages in printed books, and are super-simple to produce. The same interior file used for print books work for the eBooks.

This book looks good and works well with Adobe Digital Editions—an excellent feature-rich and FREE e-reader program which you can quickly download. It lets you read a book with several viewing options, insert bookmarks in your book, and easily move around pages. The reader provides page numbers even for books that are not numbered, lets you search inside books, organize your eBook library, add new items and distribute them in different categories (“bookshelves”'),  You can also use the older Adobe Reader.

It's important for writers to have Kindle and EPUB books, and I plan to eventually have most of my books available in three eBook formats as well as paper. It will take some time to make the conversions, or pay to have them done . . . but the ease, income and quality of PDFs is hard to ignore.

The PDF version is sold by Lulu.com and I didn't pay even one penny to start selling it. I doubt that Lulu attracts anywhere near the number of book shoppers as Amnazon, B&N or Smashwords. But the revenue per book is high and you can make money if you send potential customers to your lulu books from websites, Tweets, blogs or emails.

A few days ago I received an email from a potential customer in Malaysia who wanted to buy a PDF version of one of my books that was then available only as a pBook. I produced it initially for her, and I make almost as much money from the $9.99 eBook as from the $19.95 pBook.

The customer saved over $40 it would have cost her to receive a printed book.

Avoiding high shipping costs can make international market for eBooks very important, and self-publishers should exploit this part of the business. It may pay to produce eBooks that are translated into non-English languages, or even to do books in British English in addition to American English.

If you are a self-publisher who has been thinking that maybe sooner or later you will produce eBooks, sooner is not too soon. You can start selling PDF eBooks in a few minutes, and eventually produce Kindle and EPUB versions. There's no reason to be out of the eBook business for lack of money, time or technical skill.

Even if you don't have a PDF file, Lulu can work with a DOC file from your word processor.

Make an eBook TODAY!

As Bob Dylan said, ". . . you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin'."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hey, I know it's the third day in a row, but this stuff is just too silly not to include it.

On Tuesday I told you that silly Outskirts Press is paying to run online ads associated with "Russian dressing."

On Wednesday I told you that Outskirts is paying to run ads associated with "bullshit."

Well, last night I found an ad for Outskirts on Yugster.com (a special deal site), on a page offering an adapter from Monster Cable which allows two headsets to plug into one jack.

What's the connection between audio adapters and self-publishing? I don't know. Ask Brent Sampson.
 

(left-click to enlarge image)

I promise that tomorrow I will write about something else -- unless, of course, I find something really goofy to report about Outskirts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

God -- or the devil -- caused me to change today's topic

Today I had planned to discuss several websites that offer useful services for free or close-to-free.

One of them is www.cooltext.com/, a site I've used for many years to generate fancy text for logos, and to bling-up websites. It's great for online banners.

I wanted to show an example of what CoolText has to offer. I picked one of their designs, and as a joke, I typed "bullshit" into the text window.

OMG! Look what appeared on my screen:



Yup.

I did not fake this.

I did not have to.
  • Yesterday I told you how Outskirts Press was paying to run ads associated with Russian dressing.
  • The often-dishonest company is also paying for an ad associated with the word "bullshit."
Now, I know that no one at Outskirts actually chose to have their ad associated with "bullshit." But the ad's appearance sure makes me think that a supernatural power might be manipulating online ads to make important revelations. This ad's appearance is equally as startling as seeing Jesus's face on a slice of pizza.

On TV's "Maude," actress Bea Arthur often said to husband Walter (played by Bill Macy),  "God is gonna get you . . .."

Brent Sampson, be very careful.

First, Sampson's company was associated with Russian dressing, Now it's associated with bullshit. What could be next? I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Outskirts Press advertises in some very strange places

(left-click to enlarge image)

I couldn't make this up -- and I don't have to.

In a post Last week, on December 30th, I said it might be my last chance to make fun of Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson in 2010.

Well, folks, we're now barely into 2011, and my Outskirts Press Stupidity Detection Alarm has already rung. and given me a reason to laugh and to write.

Yesterday, in order to settle an argument in the office, I Googled to determine the difference between Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing. One of my know-it-all employees had insisted that they are the same. I disagree and decided to check the web.

I got an answer (which may or may not be accurate), but up above the answer was an ad for (drum roll, please) the often-clueless Outskirts Press.

What are the chances that there is a significant number of people researching salad dressing and also interested in self-publishing?

A pretty slim chance, I suspect.

                       HOLY SHIT!
IT'S EVEN WORSE THAN I THOUGHT.

I just Googled "Russian dressing" to get a picture to put in this blog post, and guess what I found . . .



(left-click to enlarge image)

Why does Brent Sampson have a fetish for Russian dressing?

In reality, the Outskirts ads are not appearing at irrelevant and silly sites. They're appearing on sites because the one-world corporatist/communist overseers in the black helicopters have been hovering above me and detected that I have searched for websites related to Outskirts Press, or visited the actual Outskirts site. The enslaved lackeys have programmed their servers to display Outskirts advertising on sites which get paid by Google to display ads.

So, what are the chances that I'd click on an ad for Outskirts Press? Somewhere between none and zero.