Sunday, July 31, 2011

What the hell does this mean?

Phone systems tend to work as a communication exchange, allows people to communicate with each other, inside and out. Phone systems to get that to each business to combine all incoming business calls to a limited number of telephone lines. This does not require any particular telephone line, the public telephone network, the terms and conditions.

However, the values ??of the traditional telephone systems and business phone systems tend to vary as two opposite poles of different. Business phone system is equipped with a variety of useful functions. Business phone systems for a broad variety of growth with some business phone system, every now and then.

You can find business phone systems such as PBX phone systems are used for business purpose of the interview. PBX phone system is equipped with internal and external phone lines, the server computer. Thus, both external and internal phone lines are handled in an orderly manner. There are advanced features such as call routing PBX phone systems that can be useful for business use. Calls can be easily connected to the answering service business phone systems support.

These very qualities are very much shows the lack of a simple telephone system. Regular phone system is a simple telephone exchange servers that do not have features such as internal and external call management, computer servers, call routing, call-connect services to respond.

Phone systems to inculcate a lot of advanced features that can contribute to effectively manage the business. This includes call conferencing, call hold, call divert, voice mail, auto attendant, click call feature, call screening and call logging and tracking. These features are available in every single existing phone system, that you come across. However, it is a known fact that traditional phone system features such as a farm, but at the same time, no advanced technologies, such as call screening, click to call, and others.

Business phone systems are considered useful for a variety of ways. This is especially true in the case of VoIP phone systems, as well as a business phone systems. They are not only cost a little, but is likely to be effective. In this way, they can save money and reduce costs to a great extent. With the help of VoIP phone systems, calls can be routed via the Internet and thus, PTN service is required, which, in turn, eliminates any charges.

Business phone system is equipped with advanced features for the right effect, shall be printed on potential customers. Functions, for example, must-hold music and messages to create a professional impression, can only be acquired in a business phone systems.

No one can keep a normal phone systems for business purposes, because they have lost all the advanced features that take advantage of business phone systems. Businesses use the phone system is not only efficient, functional services, telephone conference, speed dial and other features tend to be rather to facilitate the trip.

With this in mind the fast-paced world, business phone system is the right choice, because they are more simplified in contrast to traditional telephone systems.
 
(from thefreelibrary.com)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lulu lies


  1. Publishing with Lulu is NOT free if you expect books to be produced and sold.
  2. The "free ISBN" is free only if you ignore what you pay for a publishing package.
  3. The "free Amazon listing" is not a competitive advantage, because all self-publishing companies provide it and all ("normal") Amazon listings are free.
  4. The "free book" is free only if you ignore what you pay for a publishing package.
  5. While not a lie, the claim to be "the easiest and best" is debatable and not provable.
  6. While you may be able to get a refund if you're not happy, working with Lulu is not really "risk-free." Wasted time cannot be replaced....

However, Lulu is a good company to use for producing and selling PDF e-books, if you can drive traffic to the Lulu.com website.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Whistle while you work (or have a device that whistles, hums, toots or sings for you)

Music can make life -- even work -- more pleasant.

I thought that "Whistle While You Work" came from the 1946 Disney movie Song of the South, but it was actually part of the 1937 animated Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The song shows Snow White and a bunch of cute animals happily whistling while cleaning house.

This song even generated an anti-Nazi parody:

Whistle while you work.
Hitler was a jerk.
Mussolini kicked him in the peenie.
Now it doesn't work.


Snow White is the source of another popular work song. "Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go" is sung by the seven dwarfs.

When I was a kid, we sang this parody:

Hi-ho, hi-ho
It's off to school I go.
I heard the bell
And ran like hell.
Hi-ho, hi-ho.


In 1957, The Bridge on the River Kwai, showed Allied POWs whistling the "Colonel Bogey March" to maintain morale and dignity while building a bridge under horrid conditions for their Japanese captors. That song was written in 1914, but it, too, was the source of an anti-Nazi parody in the Second World War.

Göring has only got one ball
Hitler's [are] so very small
Himmler's so very similar
And Goebbels has no balls at all


Slaves may have sung since ancient times to mitigate their misery. In the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles, Lyle (played by Burton Gilliam) taunted the mostly black railroad workers: "When you was slaves, you sang like birds. Come on! Let's hear a good, old nigger work song!"


Around 1980, I was writing about 20 hours a day to complete a book with a very tight deadline. I discovered an NPR radio show hosted by Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes. Ed played great jazz after midnight, and the music kept me awake enough to keep writing



Although I enjoy many kinds of music, and my home is filled with radios and recordings and the equipment to play them, I somehow got out of the habit of playing music while I write. Last week I rearranged my home office, and rediscovered the great Tivoli radio that has been on my desk for nearly a decade. While I'm in the car, I love talk radio, but when I'm writing I find that voiceless music is less distracting, very comforting, and sometimes even stimulating.

So, turn on some music -- or whistle while you work. It was good for Snow White.


...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A grammatial lulu from Lulu.com


  • "Little Lulu" (Lulu Moppett) is a comic book character created in 1935 by Marjorie Henderson Buell. I don't remember much about Lulu, but Wikipedia says she "is a kind and sincere little girl who, though prone to mischief, usually ends up saving the day."
  • Lulu.com is a self-publishing company with a high price for printing books. Lulu founder Bob Young told Publishers Weekly that “We publish a huge number of really bad books.” If Bob knows they’re really bad books, he shouldn’t publish them. Bob also misspelled “misspell” and confused “less” and “fewer.” A publisher should know better.
  • "Lulu" is a slang word meaning someone or something extraordinary. It doesn't have to be extraordinarily good.
Lulu.com publishes a blog called "Adventurers in Self Publishing." A few days ago, blogger A.J. wrote, "A little known fact about eBook distribution is that each retail channel has their very own set of requirements for accepting content that your eBook must meet before it can be sold."

Hey, A.J., "channel" is a singular noun. It needs an "its" -- not a "their."

I sure hope that Bob Young is not teaching grammar to his employees.

The company wants us to know that "Lulu is changing the world of publishing." Uh-oh!


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Apology and sympathy for DDR Public Relations

(left-click to enlarge)


This morning I read a news release for the Indie Book Event, to be held Saturday, July 30th, at the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan.

The release says, "Learn How to Become a Successful Published Writer at the Indie Book Event in NYC. Writers and aspiring writers can glean important information at the Indie Book Event . . . . We invite you to find out more about 'how to become a published writer' from independent author Donna Carrick, winner of the first Indie Book Event Award for Excellence in Fiction for her recent novel, The First Excellence, a Canadian/Chinese cultural thriller."

Now, I'm not a newbie in publishing (over 20 books so far), but I am always willing to learn. I might also have been interested in speaking at the event, or even exhibiting so I could promote my books about self publishing. Or, I might have helped promote the event on this blog.

But...

The press release for an event to be held on July 30th was sent out on July 25th. In an earlier version of this blog post, I humorously suggested that someone at DDR Public Relations should be punished for sending out the announcement so close to the event. I carefully pointed out that the short notice could be the fault of the show management, not the PR agency.

Despite my willingness to shift the blame to her client, agency boss Dawn Dankner-Rosen was concerned about my possibly damaging her company's reputation. She pointed out to me that she got the assignment to promote the Event just two weeks ago.
  • That's not enough time to do it right.
Other similar upcoming events, such as Self-Publishing Book Expo, started promoting many months in advance.

A lot about the Event seems half-assed (see below), and I hope that a fine PR agency like DDR doesn't get blamed if attendance is small and money is lost. 

I am reminded of an event that happened when I was in college. A friend and I operated a band booking and management company. On a Saturday, we were contacted by a representative of a well-known band that had a concert canceled on Sunday because of an electrical problem in the concert hall. We were asked to try to schedule a new concert on Sunday, and could potentially make a hell of a lot of money.

This initially sounded good, and one of our friends took an unscheduled shower and put on clean clothes. (This was the 60s.) We started driving to see the Dean of Students to ask if we could have the use of the stadium. After a few minutes, I stopped the car.

I told the guys that this was a suicide mission because there was so much to do in a very short time, and so many things could go wrong.

If everything went perfectly, we could get rich. It seemed more likely, however, that the event would be a disaster, we'd lose money, and lots of people would hate us.

It was a valuable lesson that I've never forgotten: sometimes the best business decision is to turn down business. 

I hope Dawn does not regret accepting this PR assignment.

The Indie Event seems a bit flaky.

  1. The website is still incomplete, just days away from the Event.
  2. It already has a section for the 2012 Event.
  3. There are only two sponsors.
  4. Admission is just $5. With that low price and two sponsors, the Event seems guaranteed to lose money for someone.
  5. The website does not indicate who is running the show.
  6. One sponsor, Five Star Publications, is based in Arizona. Why would they schlep thousands of miles to be part of a probably insignificant event, rather than be part of the successful Self-Publishing Book Expo, also being held in Manhattan, in October? (Maybe Five Star will be there. If so, why be at both?)
  7. The other sponsor is GUD magazine, a literary publication that comes out twice a year. Could it afford to pay for a big part of the Event's cost?
  8. Why schedule an event in the middle of the summer, when many potential attendees are on vacation? Even New Yorkers who are not on vacation may go away on weekends.
  9. The Event website has a list of "Press covering on day of event," including the Huffington Post, Associated Press, New York Observer, New York Post, WCBS-TV, Mediabistro and Publishers Weekly. There is no way that the Event operators can know in advance which press people will show up. I find it hard to believe that CBS would send a television crew, or that the Associated Press would care about the Event.
  10. Listing press attendees in advance is a good way to motivate them to stay away, for spite.
The announced events and participants just don't motivate me to put on decent clothes, and take a train into steamy Manhattan. In mid-summer, I'd much rather be in my pool, or reading or writing a book.

OTOH, if you're a writer and will be in Manhattan anyway, the Event is probably worth five bucks. The website shows a schedule with lunch at 12:30. Lunch is probably not included in the five-buck fee.

...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Learn to kern

“Kern” is the way some people born in Brooklyn pronounce “coin.”

In typography, “to kern” means to adjust the spacing between two adjacent letters. It can also mean to squish two letters together so they overlap to avoid ugly white spaces. WA is one common use of kerning, and the two letters fit together unusually well. Kerning is not usually important in text sizes, but can make a big improvement in chapter titles and in the large type on book covers and title pages.

Compare the normal and kerned versions of a book title of mine:

(The "T" and "e" in "Tell" probably need a bit more kerning.
The "e" and "l" in the same word may be too close.)



The "Avaya" name is a "word picture," chosen because it looks pretty.
The letters fit together unusually well when kerned in the logo.


I used Microsoft Word to make the "Stories" book, and other books. They don’t look too much worse than books composed with Adobe InDesign or Quark Express, which are used by professional designers and a few do-it-yourselfers.

InDesign can provide automatic kerning to adjust space within specific letter pairs. With Word, you manually condense the space between letters. It’s a lot of work that few folks bother with. I do it for book titles and some chapter names and subheads—but not for body text.

The “adult” software packages can cost as much as $800 and can take a long time to learn how to use properly.

On the other hand, most self-publishing writers already own Word and know how to use it. They can quickly learn how to use some of its often-untapped power to produce a nicer book.

If you are using Word, you can kern by selecting "character spacing" within the "font" section. Experiment with different settings for different parts of the word. Look at "professional" books and magazines and even product packages for inspiration.


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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Associated Press should know better, DAMMIT!

"In this May 20, 2008 file photo, a row of C17 Globemaster airplanes are seen at the US military airbase in Ramstein, southwest Germany."


Hey, AP: You're talking about the "row." "Row" is singular. The row IS seen. The planes ARE seen, but the sentence is about the row, not about the planes.

OTOH, your AP Stylebook is excellent.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Harvard president should speak better English.

Apparently, the Winklevoss boys are incensed at a perceived insult from former Harvard president Larry Summers.

According to Slate, "In a letter to current Harvard President Drew Faust, the twins complain about Summers’ 'scorn for a genuine discourse on deeper ethical questions.' That and that Summers didn't shake their hands."

Summers is supposed to have said this about the boys who tried to get megabucks from Facebook: "One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole. This was the latter case."

  • Before becoming a college president, Larry should have learned that "undergraduate" and "asshole" are singular and don't go with "they're" and "they."

He needs to be in a remedial English class.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Do people really read this stuff? Why?


Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his cousin and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul. . . until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife. TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS . . . Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love . . . but life and death.

The last thing Garrett Duke of Calton expects to find while tracking his sworn enemy is the delectable mysterious Kate. This beautiful servant girl rouses a longing the battle-scarred ex-soldier had never hoped to feel again. But when she turns out to be the sister of the man he seeks he's convinced he's been betrayed. Kate knows her duty to her family yet how can she ignore Garrett's powerful pull on her heart? Or the heady temptation of his stolen-and sizzling-kisses? Scandal has followed the duke since the war. Now the greatest shock of all is on its way-the one that can separate Garrett and Kate forever.


Although the widowed Lady Rebecca has sworn off marriage, men are another matter. London's cold winter nights have her dreaming of warmer pursuits-like finding a lover to satisfy her hungry heart. Someone handsome discreet and most importantly as uninterested in marriage as she is. Someone like Jack Fulton. A known adventurer and playboy Jack seems like the perfect choice. There's just one problem: Jack isn't interested in an affair. He needs the beautiful mysterious Lady Rebecca to be his wife. And he doesn't have much time to persuade her. A secret from Jack's past is about to surface and by Christmas Day he'll be either married to Rebecca or dead.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Borders' e-book partners are not going out of business

Despite the loss of their Borders connection, Kobo and BookBrewer are still here.




Kobo is a global eReading service with more than 2.4 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers. Kobo has eReading applications for iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows and MacOS, and is the eReading application of choice for leading tablet OEMs. The Kobo Wireless eReader and the new Kobo eReader Touch Edition are available at leading retailers, including Indigo, Walmart, Best Buy and WH Smith.  It had been available at Borders.

Here's a statement from the company:

The management of Kobo, a global leader in eReading with over 4.2 million users in more than 100 countries worldwide, has issued comments relating to the ongoing liquidation of Borders to clarify misconceptions about Kobo that have been inaccurately reported by the media and misunderstood by consumers.

Kobo management provides the following facts regarding the company:
Kobo is a privately-held company that offers over 2.4 million eBooks, newspapers, and magazines — one of the largest eReading catalogues in the world.

Readers from over 100 countries across the globe download and read using Kobo’s top-ranked free eReading applications for iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows and MacOS. Kobo is the eReading application of choice for leading tablet OEMs.

While Borders is one of the early investors in Kobo, it holds only a minority stake in Kobo, approximately 11 percent. The Borders shares are subject to the terms of the Kobo shareholders’ agreement which, among other things, restricts their transfer or disposition.

Borders serves as part of Kobo’s distribution in the U.S. along with Best Buy, Walmart, Sears and other top retailers.

Kobo does not rely on Borders for content. Kobo owns the publishing agreements and has direct relationships with all major publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, St. Martin’s Press and many more. Kobo is solely responsible for payment to publishers for eBooks sold through the Kobo platform and publishers will continue to be paid on time as usual.

For some time, Kobo and Borders have been in the process of transitioning Borders’ customers’ eBook accounts to Kobo, in order to provide such customers direct access to the most up-to-date eReading functionality, apps and devices. All Borders customers that have transitioned to Kobo shall enjoy uninterrupted access to their e-Reading accounts. Kobo shall continue to work with Borders to transition customer accounts to Kobo.

For those Borders customers who haven’t transferred their eBook libraries to Kobo, the process is quick and easy. Borders customers can visit kobo.to/bmigrate to transfer their Borders eBook library to Kobo. No additional steps are required to continue reading on your Kobo eReader. For those Borders customers that are using Borders apps to access their eBook libraries, visit kobo.com to download a free Kobo eReading app for your computer, smartphone or tablet.

Owners of Kobo eReaders will continue to use their Kobo eReader as usual, and be able to browse and shop for new titles in the Kobo Store with no interruption or change in service.

Kobo continues to grow in the U.S. and around the world. Kobo is very pleased with progress of the launch of the new Kobo eReader Touch Edition which is available at leading retailers including Indigo, Walmart, Best Buy and WH Smith.

Kobo continues to build international growth with the successful launch of Kobo in Germany, the first rollout of several planned international launches.

As an interested party in the Borders bankruptcy proceedings, Kobo has made certain filings with the court to preserve its legal rights moving forward.

Kobo offers their continued support to the Borders’ community of employees, families and friends.

Statement from Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo, Inc:

“As one of the early investors in Kobo, Borders has a minority stake in our company and serves as part of our distribution in the U.S. along with Walmart, Best Buy, Sears and other leading retailers. As a member of the broader book publishing and retailing community, we are watching Borders’ story and will offer our support to Borders and their employees. Kobo will continue to serve Borders customers – in this time of transition as well as moving forward – to provide the ultimate eReading experience and one of the widest selection of eBooks available to the eReading community worldwide.”




BookBrewer is a service that converts text from such sources as bklogs and websites into e-books. BookBrewer had operated the Borders Get Published  service.

Here's a statement from BookBrewer:

The recent news of Borders' planned liquidation has naturally created some questions for authors who have used our co-branded Borders Get Published Powered by BookBrewer service over the past 8 months.

We want to take the opportunity to reassure users of both Borders Get Published and BookBrewer that your books and customer data are safe and will not be affected by Borders' liquidation.

Borders Get Published is run by FeedBrewer, Inc., which has a marketing partnership with Borders. We at FeedBrewer operate the service at borders.bookbrewer.com, maintain the servers and customer data, distribute authors' eBooks to all major retailers (including but not limited to Borders), receive royalty payments from retailers and pay royalties out to authors.

Author agreements are with FeedBrewer, and we have the necessary legal rights to continue to serve Borders Get Published customers even after Borders has liquidated, whether or not the Borders.com Web site continues to operate in the future.

We also run BookBrewer.com, a completely separate service which will also not be affected. Likewise, our integrated print on demand service which is operated in conjunction with Consolidated Graphics will continue operating without disruption.

FeedBrewer will honor all commitments to and agreements with its current and future customers, including:

•Operating publishing services. Authors can continue to use the service to edit and publish eBooks and Print on Demand titles.

•Distributing eBooks to retailers, collecting royalties and paying those out to authors on a quarterly basis.

•Fulfilling Print on Demand orders with our print partner, Consolidated Graphics. We plan to continue to operate the Borders Get Published service at its current location for the time being.

There may naturally be some changes in the future as Borders' liquidation process proceeds and its company winds down, but we will strive to ensure that any changes are as seamless as possible. And as mentioned earlier, BookBrewer.com is completely unrelated to Borders Get Published and will continue to operate as normal. BookBrewer customers' books and customer data will remain safe and unaffected even if we make changes to Borders Get Published.

If you are a current customer we want to thank you for your patronage, and we look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

HEY! Are you as dumb as I am?

Sheila M. Clark, my hawkeyed editor, noticed that I had used the word "illicit" instead of "elicit" in a new book ABOUT PUBLISHING MISTAKES we're working on. Some of my books share material, so I checked and found the error in three books. It was also on my new www.BookFur.com and on this blog.

As a renowned and committed nitpicker, I am deeply embarrassed by this horrible senior moment (a.k.a. "brain fart").

OTOH, I am greatly disappointed that none of you folks caught the error. It would have been a great opportunity to dump on me for being a damn hypocrite.

There are lessons for all writers and publishers in this, of course:
  1. A spell-checker won't let you know if you have used the wrong word, but spelled it properly.
  2. Heterographs and homophones are dangerous. 
  3. All writers need editors. Even editors who write need editors.
  4. The English language is a minefield.
  5. Nobody is perfect -- even nitpickers like me.
Will this recent failure mean that I'll become mellow, tolerant, compassionate and understanding? Will I stop complaining about other people's fuckups?

Naah! To err is human. It can also be funny.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How many queens do we need?



Years ago, "Queen for a Day" was a popular radio and TV game show, where ordinary women competed to be treated royally.

Today, there is no need to impress a studio audience, or be the daughter or bride of genuine royalty. If you want to be a queen, just proclaim it and so be it.
  • Kylee Legge calls herself "The Publishing Queen" and insists that she "has been involved in writing and publishing books since the day she was born." She thinks she can teach people how to write a book in just seven days. She's an egomaniac and an extremely sloppy writer and editor.
  • Heather Covington beats Kylee in the Queening competition, two-to-one! She has TWO realms, as both "Print-On-Demand Queen" and "The Queen of Murderotica Suspense." She also brags that she is a "YouTube marketing expert, editor-in-chief and publisher." Her Highness has also claimed to be "Literary Diva," "The Literary Heat" and "Babe Charisse Worthington."  This queen wants us to know that she is an entertainment journalist, author, motivational speaker, awards official and promoter. Like Queen Kylee, Queen Heather is an egomaniac and an extremely sloppy writer and editor.
  • Queen Elizabeth II became queen the old-fashioned way -- she was born into royalty, as the first daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I. This Queen is Head of State of the United Kingdom and 15 other Commonwealth countries including Australia, Canada, Tuvalu and Jamaica. Her son and grandson are scheduled to become kings. Liz seems to have her ego under control, and I don't know anything about her writing or editing ability.
  • Queen Heather lives in the Bronx, New York. I was born in the Bronx, in the ROYAL HOSPITAL, and lived in the Bronx from 1946 to 1952, and then again from 1970 to 1975. I am therefore even more royal than Heather Covington, and I hereby proclaim myself to be Publishing King. Bow down, Kylee and Heather, and prepare to kiss my royal ass.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

What's really going on with Amazon.com and Lightning Source?

For now, I will be neither a Chicken Little nor a Pollyanna.

Lightning Source ("LS" or "LSI") is the dominant on-demand-printer. It serves publishers ranging from the New York City giants down to tiny publishers like my own Silver Sands Books.

One of the main advantages to using LS, is that the books they print are automatically available on Amazon.com, and on many other booksellers' websites worldwide.

For the last few weeks, there has been much online angst about books being shown on Amazon with two-to-three week availability. They were previously shown as "in stock" and were shipped immediately.

Some observers saw this as a radical change in policy, aimed at driving printing business to CreateSpace ("CS"), which is an Amazon subsidiary.

CreateSpace can produce excellent books, the company is easy to work with, and inexpensive, but provides less profit per book sold on Amazon than the books printed by LS.

Some authors and publishers have devised and suggested elaborate plans to have books printed by both CS and LS, or have switched from LS to CS, or are urging lawsuits and complaints to the Feds.

While some publishers who use LS for printing have experienced the out-of-stock situation, others -- including my Silver Sands Books -- have not. All Silver Sands books printed by LS are shown as "in stock" on Amazon, and I have no reason to believe that Amazon likes us more than other LS customers.

It wasn't very long ago (2008) that Amazon received the very public wrath of publishers (and media attention) and lost an anti-trust lawsuit brought by BookLocker. LS had threatened to refuse to sell POD books supplied by printers such as LS, Booklocker and Lulu, and not use Amazon's own printing facilities. See: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/41680-amazon-booklocker-settle.html

Amazon ended up paying $300,000 for BookLocker's legal fees. While that amount probably doesn't mean much to Amazon, the memory of the incident would probably affect any effort of Amazon to once again try to engage in restraint of trade.

While I can certainly sympathize with other publishers who are suffering, AFAIK there is still no proof that Amazon is doing anything wrong other than not quickly solving a technical problem.

Silver Sands Books has eleven books being sold on Amazon.

One is a Kindle. Two are printed by CreateSpace (and a third CS book should be available any minute). Eight are printed by Lightning Source.
The Kindle edition is (obviously) available immediately. Nine of the ten printed books are shown as "in stock." One of the printed books shows a 9/1 pub date (but B&N is selling it now).

All of the books are being treated equally and have been since the beginning of the trouble about three weeks ago.

At this time I will neither act like Chicken Little ("the sky is falling") nor Polyanna ("everything is wonderful"), but will continue business as usual, while closely monitoring the situation.

I urge any publishers who are experiencing the problem to keep after both LS and Amazon, but I see no need to hire law firms, complain to the government, or switch to CS and settle for less profit per book.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How long does it take to write a book?


(left-click to enlarge)

If you are a writer, you’ll probably encounter books, courses and seminars that allegedly teach you to write a book in an absurdly short length of time.

Since it’s possible for a book to have just three words in it, it is actually possible to write a book in less than ten seconds!

Apparently, most writers of “real” books take from three months to a year to write, and then the book requires more time for revising, editing, designing and marketing. Very few self-published books come out “on time.” My next book will be 13 months late.

Everything takes longer than you think it will. If you rush, you will make mistakes that will take additional time to correct. It’s much more important to be good than to be fast or first.


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Friday, July 15, 2011

Everybody wants to write books

Yesterday I went to my old high school to borrow a banner to display at an upcoming reunion.

To get into the school, I had to speak to two security guards. It was natural to schmooze a bit. I learned that one guard is writing a book. The other's wife is writing a book.

A secretary in the principal's office is writing a book.

A science teacher is writing a book.

The principal's son is writing a book.

It sometimes seems like more people are writing than reading. (However, one of the guards took my picture and will order one of my books.)


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Changing my style

Back in the last millennium, someone produced an "electronic book." The term quickly got condensed, like "electronic mail" did, but the condensation never became standardized.

I thought that "eBook" looked cute, structured like "iPad" and "iPhone" (but they are trademarks and should look cute). I wrote "eBook" and published it in several books.

At some point, I decided to change to "e-book." I even went so far as to change 211 occurrences in a book before it was published.

Then I realized that eventually the hyphen would probably disappear, as "e-mail" has transitioned to "email."

And I realized that at the beginning of a sentence, "e-book" becomes "E-book," which may be construed as yet another variation, not merely the beginning of a sentence.

New words often start out as hyphenated terms, and then close-up and lose the hyphen. "Over-time" became "overtime." "Infra-red" became "infrared." Maybe "microwave" was "micro-wave."

So, it looks like the world is heading for "ebook." I'm just not ready yet. But I do write "email." Language is consistently inconsistent. Why do we have compact discs and floppy disks?


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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Maybe a book cover designer should not design the inside

Cathi Stevenson operates Book Cover Express. The company's website says, "With 30 years of publishing experience, and more than 1200 covers to our credit, you know you're in good hands with Book Cover Express. . . . You need a book cover designer because professional book cover design is essential."

That's good advice, and the company has designed some excellent book covers. 

The site says that Cathi has "a strong background in printing and publishing that goes back to 1981. She also worked as a writer, editor and page designer for many years . . . she can offer sound advice based on practical experience when it comes to designing for print."

Sadly, while Cathi can design fine book covers, her experience is apparently inadequate for designing what goes between the covers.

Below is a page from Cathi's own e-book, How to Sell Your Competitor's Book Online. It is a PDF book, so the pages should look just like a printed book, and not be designed for the dreaded text reflowing of other formats often used for e-books.

The page exhibits several fundamental errors which should neither be expected nor tolerated from a professional book designer:


  1. The first page of a chapter should NOT have a header.
  2. Justified text needs hyphens to eliminate the UGHLEE gaps between words.
  3. "Cross-over" is hyphenated on the page, however, because Cathi apparently thinks the hyphen is part of the word. It's not. "Crossover" is not a hyphenated word. Cathi says she is a "writer and editor." She should know better.
  4. The book uses en dashes when longer em dashes should be used.
  5. In books, dashes generally do not get adjacent spaces. (They often do get spaces in newspapers.)
  6. Instead of using curly "typographer's marks," Cathi uses straight quote marks and apostrophes, like on an ancient typewriter. This is unforgiveable in a book, especially from a pro who points out the danger of a book "self-published by an amateur."
  7. The book identifies the author as "Cat Stevenson," "Cathi Stevenson" and "Catherine A. C. Stevenson." Inconsistency is silly -- and bad design.
  8. There's also some bad grammar in the book, such as "The author and publisher, accepts no..." This is not bad design, but should have been noticed and fixed. 
Sadly, Cathi (or Cat or Catherine) does not seem to have taken advantage of her own staff. She says that Melanie Barton Zoltan has more than 18 years experience as an editor and that Gwen Gades has designed the interiors for hundreds of books.

I have no reason to believe that Cathi is selling book interior design services, and her company certainly has the skill to design high-quality book covers (and websites and brochures). I am publishing today's blog to make two important points:
  1. If you are hiring a book designer -- or anyone else -- discuss the person's qualifications and experience. The best brain surgeon in the world may not be a good choice for removing a wart.
  2. If you are in the design business, everything you design should look good. If you design clothing or cars, you should not live in an ugly house. If you specialize in book exteriors, you should not exhibit a bad interior.
There is no excuse for ugly books!
A self-published book doesn't have to be ugly.
My upcoming book can help.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stupid thieves prey on stupider victims

In my "day" job I get frequent requests for pricing on absurd quantities of absurd items. My company sells a wide variety of telephone equipment, but people want proposals for everything from printer cartridges to digital video recorders and portable horse stalls.

Few of these requests are from genuine potential customers. Most are from thieves who -- after a few emails -- will try to get my company's bank account information, or will suggest a strange and complex transaction, so they can steal my company's money.

Sometimes, for the fun of it, I'll make up model numbers, and quote prices ranging from one tenth of normal to ten times normal. My prices are always acceptable. Some "buyers" even want to pay extra for "handling" or "expediting" or will insist on paying sales tax that is not due.

The names and addresses are usually weird. The "buyers" frequently have inverted names like Morgan Bill or Williams Sam. The initial emails use the awkward English common to most of the thieves. Some "buyers" are so stupid that they ask for my website address or (GASP!) email address.


  • This is Martin Dave With regards to your Company i am sending this email Regards to order some (sortable [sic] Horse Stalls)I will like to know the type and sizes you have in stock and get me the sales price of one so that i will tell you the quantity i will be ordering, and if you accept credit card as a form of payment..hope to read from you soon about my order request.
  • Hello, My name is MORGAN BILL, I want to order some product items from your  store to my below address in Cyprus but before i proceed, i will like to confirm the type of credit card you accept as payment (VISA OR MASTER CARD) and if you can ship to the below address. Please let me know asap, so i can  proceed with my request.
  • Greetings from Ocean Views Inc. My name is Joseph Baldwin the CEO of the company. i will like to place order on some products in your company,but i would like to know if you ship to Auckland,New Zealand and also do you accept Visa or Master card as method of payment? Please do not forget to include your web page in your replying back to my message and get back to me as fast as possible so that i can let you know the product i would like to order. Please email me back with your updated website.
  • My name is Davit Lee from Hotrac.Tech Singapore. I am interesting to order products from your store,I always believe your company can provide the best solution but before I go further,please allow me to ask you some questions below . . . Your confirmation is important to me , I hope you could confirm me with the fixed prices quotation.
  • Hello Good Day, This is Rev Danny .With regards to your Company i am sending this email Regards to order some ( Surge Protectors ) i will like to know the type and sizes you have in stock and get me the sales price of one so that i will tell you the quantity i will be ordering, and if you accept credit card as a form of payment.hope to read from you soon about my order request
  • My name is Jeff Witter, will like to know if you carry some Wall Jacks. I need the type or model of each you do have in stock and also the cost of one.. Reply me back with the type and model and let me advise the qty as soon as possible.I would also want to know the type of payment you do accept.Do not hesitate to reply me back with what you have in stock.i hope this finds you in good health and peace.Thank you and have a nice day.
  • Thanks for the total quote of my order.The total cost of my order is quite correct and okay by me and I'm ready to pay the bills send me an invoice via email and i will email you my Credit Card. But i just got a response from my shipping Agent that he cannot receive payment via credit or debit card from me at the moment. So i want you to help me Charge another $600 to a shipping agent who is going to pick up my ordered items from you. The $600 that will be sent to the shipping agent is for the shipping of my order plus other items i ordered from different countries which will be deduct from my credit card.Also, I'm compensating you with the sum of $100 for the transfer fee and for your efforts. Please note that i should have given the shipping agency my credit card for him to deduct the shipping funds but he told me that he doesn't have the facilities to charge or debit credit card,so that's why i bring my vote of confidence in you and i don't want you to betray the vote of confidence i put in you, so i want you to transfer the funds to him after you have make the charges and the money charged from my credit card is in your account,then you can now make the transfer to the agent via western union.i will have love to do this my self but there no western union here around me . . . Note that my credit card will be charged for the amounts above.Please do get back to me if you are in the office right now so that i can forward my credit card details to you , then you can charge full amount and transfer the agent funds to him via western union or money gram. Thanks for your co-operation & understanding. Hope to read from you ASAP. Thanks and God Bless you. Joseph Baldwin.
  • Dear sales, i want to place an order in your store,and i will like to know if you ship to JAPAN and my method of payment will be credit card. So please let me know if you can assist me with the order ,And please do not forget to include your web page in your replying back to my mail.I will await your prompt response as soon as you receive this mail
The streets and cities are often obvious phonies, and the area codes seldom match the states.

In a recent variation, the thieves want me to use an international freight carrier which they specify instead of FedEx or UPS.
  • One time the carrier was going to send a plane to land in my parking lot in Connecticut to pick up the equipment and then fly it to Nairobi.
  • Another time a carrier based in Texas was going to send a truck to me in Connecticut, drive the equipment back to Texas, and then fly it to Amsterdam.
I am supposed to advance thousands of dollars to the freight company. Sure.

The freight companies all have websites, poorly done, and frequently with the same descriptions copied from a real air freight company in India. The website addresses reveal that the phony companies have free website hosting.

Here are some pages for one of the alleged freight carriers. You can left-click to enlarge. Have a barf bag handy.






I sure hope there is no one stupid enough -- or desperate enough or greedy enough -- to agree to send money to freight company that advertises "your good's are safe" or has email addresses ending in "@usa.com," or "@london.com" or puts Michigan's area code in Texas or an address like "1700 Post Oak Blvdunstarred."

Monday, July 11, 2011

SPBE and me, and you

The first Self-Publishing Book Expo ("SPBE" ) was held in Manhattan in the fall of 2009. I refused to go, because at that time I was really pissed off by what I felt was a misuse of the term "self-publishing." I thought the phrase was fundamentally illogical, because no person or company can "self-publish" anyone else, just as no one can self-educate, self-medicate or self-immolate someone else.

I valiantly and vainly fought that war for two years, and then I retreated. I recognized the inexorable change in the American language. For better or for worse, the meanings and implications of words do change -- and I can’t stop the changes.

At one time, a “girl” could be a boy. Now, “bad” can mean good. “Hot” and “cool” can mean the same thing. At one time, a radio shack was really a shack -- but not now.

Many people -- and media including The Wall Street Journal and Writer’s Digest -- use the term “self-publishing company.” There’s not much point in my continuing to bang my head against an unyielding concrete wall. Or to pee into the wind.

So. . . I shut my mouth and held my nose and moved on to other battles.

I attended the 2010 Expo, and thought it was wonderful. You can read my report here.

The third SPBE is scheduled for Saturday, October 22, 2011 at the Sheraton  New York Hotel.

I'll be be there -- not just as a self-pubber who wants to learn, and as a blogger who wants to report --  but as a speaker.

I'll be discussing "The 10 Worst Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make." That's a convenient coincidence because I am now completing a book titled The 100 Worst Self-Publishing Misteaks. It was supposed to be published in July of 2010 -- but many books take longer than planned. The good news is that the book will be better than if it came out last year. I am co-writing with Sheila M. Clark, who has edited some of my books.

The Self-Publishing Book Expo is a "learning center" for published as well as aspiring authors. Attendees will have the opportunity to gain valuable information about how to successfully self-publish and market their books. Key members of the self-publishing community offering a variety of services to authors will be on hand, as will representatives from literary agencies and the media. Top-notch pros from all facets of publishing will lead a wide variety of seminars and panels on diverse subjects ranging from how to create a website, to the dollars and cents of self-publishing, creating a platform to build a solid audience, how to work effectively with an editor, marketing and publicizing one's work, and more.

Exhibitors include companies who help bring self-published works to market as well as authors selling and displaying their books. Admission to the exhibit hall is FREE to all attendees. There is a charge to attend the seminars, but the price is a worthy investment for anyone serious about self-publishing. Last year the seminars were overflowing with eager writers.

There will be 16 seminars and panels, and one featured event will be a
MANUSCRIPT EVALUATION. You can get instant feedback from a publishing pro in a one-on-one session. There will probably be some freebies and a contest or two.

Info and registration are at http://www.selfpubbookexpo.com./.

On this blog, I've disagreed with some of the speakers and exhibitors who will be sharing space with me. I promise to "make nice" and maybe I'll get to resolve some differences of opinion if my adversaries are receptive. OTOH, you folks don't have to be nice and can ask embarrassing questions if you want to.

I'll probably have some free books to give away, and will be available to answer questions -- embarrassing or otherwise.

Manhattan is usually really nice in October. SPBE is a good reason to make a tax-deductible trip to the Big Apple. Be there.


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Publishing Queen" murders the King's English, and wants to teach you how to write a book -- in seven days



Kylee Legge calls herself "The Publishing Queen" and insists that she "has been involved in writing and publishing books, since the day she was born!"

Well, Kylee, I beat you. I was involved in writing and publishing books since before I was born, and even before I was conceived.

Before they married, both of my parents wrote for their college yearbooks and college newspapers. So, there! I was formed from the sperm and egg of writers.
  • Kylee, if you're going to fling meaningless boastful bullshit at the world, be prepared to have it flung back at you.
  • And as for the queen crap . . . Kylee lives in Australia. The real queen of Australia is Elizabeth II, who is also Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Tuvalu, Papua New Guniea and eleven other monarchies.
Queen Kylee wears that silly fake-royal tiara in her Youtube videos, but I'd bet a few pounds that Queen Liz is better known than Kylee in Tuvalu or Toronto.

Liz became Queen at the age of 24. She apparently wasted many potentially productive years because Kylee (now 26) "wrote her first book at age 2 and opened her first business at age 8."

I doubt that the book won a Pulitzer, or that Kylee sold the business to Google for billions.

Kylee says she "runs Seminars on 'How to Publish a Book for Pleasure, Profit or Publicity" and ‘How to Make Money while You Sleep by Becoming a Published Author in Less than 3 Months’ and Bootcamps on 'How to Write a Book in less than 7 Days', 'How to Design your Book to stand out from the Crowd' and ‘How to Pitch your book to Publishers and Distributors in less than 1 Day’."


  • Kylee Doesn't Know Which Words Need Initial Uppercase Letters.
  • She also doesn't know when to spell out numbers (e.g., "Kylee enjoys walking people 1 on 1.")
  • Kylee leaves out commas and periods, runs words together, spells poorly (e.g., "Seiminars," "avalaunch," "blueray", "adult hood") and misuses "eg."
  • She also doesn't seem to know the difference between a command and a question (e.g., "Work out what your book subject is?")
  • Kylee writes some really terrible strings of words which she thinks are sentences (e.g., "Often this is what you do for a living, often it could be a hobby but whatever it is work out what you are an expert in, what subject matter you know inside-out and back-to-front and that is what you should be writing your book about," and "Never want to stop talking about your book," and "Why because it is literally when you book is published or produced in book format.")
  • She thinks that "Never seem to find the time to put pen to paper?" is a legitimate sentence.
  • She wrote, "It doesn’t matter who you are everyone has a book in them . . ."
  • This pretender-to-the-throne thinks it's OK for a sentence to lack a verb, as in "Many FREE or low cost options available."
  • She wrote "then" instead of "than."
  • And, of course, she misspells "proofread" in a section on the importance of editing!
That crap is NOT "The King's English," and is also unsuitable for the Queen. I would not pay to learn how to write like Queen Kylee.

I would not trust anyone who writes so poorly to teach me how to write.

One of Queen Kylee's books is titled How to Write a Book in Less than 7 Days. Kylee sells it from her website for $29.95 (paperback) and $24.95 (eBook). Amazon.com sells the Kindle eBook edition for $19.96.

All of the prices seem much too high, especially in view of the prices of competitive books. There are no online previews, and -- even after a year and a half -- not even one review from an Amazon customer. (Kylee does quote reviews from folks who did not post their reviews on Amazon.)

I don't need Kylee to teach me how to write a book, but if her book was realistically priced, I would have bought it. I buy lots of books and almost always learn at least one useful thing from every book I buy. Since I write books about writing and publishing, it's also important for me to keep up with possible competitors.

Kylee says, "The seven stages in the publishing process include: Writing, Editing, Illustrating, Designing, Registration, Production and Distribution." Er, what about marketing, Your Royal Highness?

Her highness offers a "free course for creating your first book." It may be worth the price. Or, maybe not.

Apparently, people no longer have to be of royal birth to wear a royal crown.

Manhattan has had a "Papaya King" since 1932.




As it happens, I was born in the ROYAL HOSPITAL in the Bronx, just a few miles north of the Papaya King's castle. I therefore assert my royalty and hereby declare myself to be the Publishing King.

Bow down, ye serfs and slaves. His Majesty doth approach.




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