.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

The shit list: America's worst self-published books


“From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.” Groucho Marx  (1890-1977).


Below are the winners (?) from my just-published STINKERS! America's Worst Self-Published Books. It's both sad and funny that most of the stinkers try to provide advice about publishing books. I hope you'll avoid the mistakes of the stinkers so your work won't be featured in Volume Two. We don't need more bad books.



Birth Control is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and also robbing God of Priesthood Children!  by Eliyzabeth Yanne Strong-Anderson, AuthorHouse, 2008, 648 pages, $150

#1
This is probably the worst book ever published! It has 648 huge pages, $150 cover price and an Amazon sales rank below 10,000,000. No low­­ercase letters are used in the book. It’s ugly, has bad grammar, bad spelling and atrocious typography. Also, the title is stupid and the theme is absurd.


Mosquito Marketing for Authors
by Michelle Dunn, CreateSpace, 2010, 174 pages, $12.95

#2
This book is the second-worst, and third-rate. It demonstrates what happens when a marketing expert who’s a sloppy writer hires a designer who doesn’t know how to design books and an editor who doesn’t notice mistakes.



Best in Self-Publishing & Print on Demand...
by David Rising, Lulu, 2006, 136 pages, $19.95

#3
This is the third-worst book I’ve ever seen, and a catalog of all of the things you should not do if you write and design a book. It is so crappy that if you use its pages to wipe your behind, you might be dirtier after you wipe.



Principles of Self-Publishing: How to Pub­lish and Market A Book or Ebook On a Shoestring Budget 
(2 nd edition)  by Theresa A. Moore, CreateSpace, 2010, 152 pages, $15.95

#4
The fourth-worst is a really bad 152-page book about publishing. The material in it could have been used to print a few decent eight-page booklets.



Self-Publishing Simplified  by Brent Sampson, Outskirts Press, 2005, 110 pages, $5.95

#5
This book is ranked fifth-worst. It’s small, but errors are abundant. The author is a book publisher who badly needs a book editor.





Become a Published Author!  by Dave Giorgio, Infinity Publishing, 2009, 95 pages, $14.95

#6
The sixth worst “book” is another ad masquerading as a book. It has some useful information, but is very poorly produced and terribly out-of-date. It’s supposed to attract potential author customers to Infinity Publishing. It’s more likely to drive them away.



The Truth and the Corruption of the American System by Eunice Owusu, Xlibris, 2009, 96 pages, $15.99 or $24.99

#7
This potentially important book was ruined by its uncaring and mercenary publisher. It badly needs an editor. Bertram Capital, which owns Xlibris, should be terribly embarrassed by this crappy book.




11 Secret Steps to Writing, Designing, Creating & Self-Publishing Your Very Own 'How-To' Book, Ebook or Manual  by Jaime Vendera, Vendera Publishing, 2008, 136 pages, $19.95

#8
This author tried to do the right thing—but it turned out wrong. I don't like the book, but I do like the author. He knew not to do everything himself, but his helpers need help.





I Hate it When They Say “It Can’t Be Done!”  by Leon Terrell Ash, Lulu, 2011, 58 pages, $20 

#9
This undersized, overpriced and dreadful book should be euthanized. The author is an ignorant egomaniac.



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Thursday, September 29, 2011

What year is it?

Today is the Jewish New Year's Day, "Rosh Hashanah." That's a transliteration of the Hebrew words meaning "Head (of) The Year." "Rosh" means "head," "Ha" means "the" and "Shanah" means "year." "Of" is understood, so it doesn't have to be written. A less formal pronunciation is "Rusha shunnah." The picture above shows a "shofar." It's a ram's horn used to make toots and squeaks to celebrate the new year. It's kind of a Jewish vuvuzela. You can hear a shofar here
  • In Hebrew the word for "she" is pronounced like "he" and the word for "he" is pronounced like "who." The word for "who" is pronounced like "me." The word for "fish" is pronounced kind of like "dog." (And you thought English was confusing?) My first name means "who is like God." I'm not sure if it's a question or a comparison. Maybe my parents chose the name because they thought I was divine prenatally.
Today is the first day of the Jewish year 5772. Like every other day, it's also the first day of the rest of your life, and my life.


Adapted from http://www.jewfaq.org/: The Jewish calendar is based on three astronomical phenomena: the rotation of the Earth around its axis (a day); the revolution of the moon around the Earth (a month); and the revolution of the Earth around the sun (a year). These three phenomena are independent of each other, so they have  no direct correlation. On average, the moon revolves around the Earth in about 29½ days. The Earth revolves around the sun in about 365¼ days--about 12.4 lunar months.


In the Jewish calendar, months have either 29 or 30 days, corresponding to the 29½-day lunar cycle. Years have either 12 or 13 months, corresponding to the 12.4 month solar cycle--which creates a problem.


A 12-month lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than a solar year and a 13-month lunar year is about 19 days longer than a solar year. The months drift around the seasons on such a calendar. To compensate for this drift, the Jewish calendar uses a 12-month lunar calendar with an extra month occasionally added.


Instead of the February 29th  Leap Day (when women are allowed to propose marriage to men) the Jewish calendar can have a leap month.
  • Jewish holidays that have fixed dates in the Jewish calendar have changing dates in the western "Gregorian" calendar. Most western Christian holidays, like Christmas, have fixed Gregorian dates. Easter, on the other hand, moves around. Supposedly Jesus's "last supper" was a Passover seder. Passover and Easter are usually close. Christmas and Chanukah (often inaccurately called the "Jewish Christmas") may be very close together, or weeks apart. In 2013, Chanukah starts on the evening of November 27 -- right before Thanksgiving. In 2016, Chanukah starts on the evening of December 24 -- which is also Christmas eve. Jewish holidays begin at sundown. More about Easter dates is here.
The year number on the Jewish calendar represents the number of years since creation, calculated by adding up the ages of people in the Bible, back to the beginning. This does not necessarily mean that the universe has existed for fewer than 6,000 years of about 365 days each. Even religious people readily acknowledge that the first six "days" of creation are not necessarily 24-hour days. A 24-hour day would be meaningless until the creation of the sun on the fourth "day."


Adapted from Wikipedia: Parts of 2011 and 2012 in the The Chinese calendar constitute the Year of the Rabbit. It lasts from February 3, 2011 to January 22, 2012. It's believed that the Chinese calendar has been in use for almost 5,000 years. 


There is no universally agreed upon starting point for the Chinese calendar. Tradition holds that the calendar was invented by Emperor Huang-di in the 61st year of his reign in what is now known under the Gregorian calendar as 2637 BCE. Many people have used this date as the first year of the first 60-year cycle of the Chinese calendar, but others use the date of the beginning of his reign in 2697 BCE as the start. Chinese Americans use 2698 BCE as the basis for numbering the years.Some Chinese people are 60 years ahead (or behind) others.


Adapted from www.chinese.new-year.co.uk/calendar.htm:  The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the 12 years after an animal. Legend has it that the Lord Buddha summoned all of the animals to come to him before he departed from Earth. Only 12 came, and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on personality.


The Chinese calendar provides leap months, like the Jewish calendar. There was one in 2006. Jews and Chinese have much in common -- emphasis on family, education, entrepreneurship and love of Chinese food. During World War II, some Jewish refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe found safety in China. Shanghai Ghetto is a great movie about that period.


  • So, if according to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5772, and according to the Chinese calendar, the year is 4708, what did Jewish people eat for the first 1064 years until Chinese restaurants appeared?

...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You never know who will buy your book

I've been cleaning out my garage over the past few weeks. A lot of stuff was just junk, but some went to Goodwill or was put on Craigslist or given to neighbors.

One former treasure was a big and heavy amplified subwoofer system which a nephew had briefly used in a car he no longer owns. He could not sell it on eBay, so it was left in my garage for posterity.

Posterity ended yesterday, I planned to donate the subwoofer to Goodwill and get a tax deduction. One of my employees suggested that I take it to a local pawn shop. I did that, and was pleased with the payment.

As an avid viewer of the "Pawn Stars" TV show, I could not resist the urge to ask the local pawners if the show was realistic, and we had a very pleasant conversation. One young employee asked what I did, and I told him that I write and publish books.

He said he wished that he read more books, but had a limited attention span and had trouble reading through a complete book. He asked me what my favorite book is.

Naturally, I recommend my own Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults). I pointed out that it's funny, sexy, and had many short stories that could be read in seconds or minutes. He was easy to convince and I showed him how to order it on Amazon.com. He asked me if I had a copy I could sell directly to him. I said that I would bring him a copy and autograph it. I'll go back tomorrow, and may even take some of my surplus Seikos with me.


...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Barnes & Noble will buy Borders name and other intellectual property

(from Bloomberg Business Week)

Bankrupt bookseller Borders won court approval to sell intellectual property, including a customer database, to Barnes & Noble after resolving a dispute over shoppers’ privacy. The price was just under $14 million.

Judge Martin Glenn approved the transaction after reviewing new terms that will protect the privacy rights of 48 million customers.

B&N  won an auction to buy most of the trademarks and intellectual property of Borders for $13.9 million. In addition to Borders’ trade names and the database, B&N bought the Waldenbooks and Brentano’s names.

The customer list could be useful, but I doubt that B&N would want to open stores with Borders, Walden or Brentano's signs on them.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

If you are -- or want to be -- a self-publishing author, go to NYC on 10/22

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 as both a self-pubber who wants to learn, and as a blogger who wants to report.

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 you can also collect free stuff, and enter a contest or two.

Maybe you'll win free marketing services

Attendees at the 2011 Self-Publishing Book Expo will have the opportunity to enter and win free PR and marketing services from Authoright PR, a company that supports authors who need professional help marketing their books. Valued at $3,000, the package will include the services of a professional publicist for eight weeks.


Pitch Your Book Idea To Agents & Editors
WHAT'S YOUR STORY? is a new special session where aspiring authors will get to meet with some of the top editors and literary agents to pitch them their book ideas. Pre-registered attendees for WHAT'S YOUR STORY? will have 10-minute one-on-one sessions — 3 minutes to make your pitch, and 7 minutes receiving instant feedback from your assigned publishing pro. To be eligible, you must purchase a ticket to the panel sessions (attendance for all panels & lectures is included) and pre-register for this session. Once payment has been received, you will receive instructions on how to register for pitching.

Manuscript Evaluation
How can you maximize your book's sales potential and make it the best it can be? Get clear-eyed, objective feedback from professionals who've evaluated thousands of manuscripts and queries. In focused one-on-one sessions, the pros of the Consulting Editors Alliance (www.consulting-editors.com) -- a group of highly skilled editors, each with a minimum of 15 years' New York publishing experience -- will comment on the commercial appeal and marketability of your book's plot or subject matter, identify potential strengths and weaknesses, and brainstorm market positioning and strategy. Let us help your book take the giant step from worthy to absolutely compelling. To be eligible for this session, you must purchase a ticket to the panel sessions (attendance for all panels is included) and submit a 1- to 2-page synopsis and a 5-page sample (double-spaced, 12-point type, 1-inch margins) in advance of the session. Once payment has been received, you will receive instructions on where and how to submit your work. Submissions will be accepted and appointments scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Monday, October 3, 2011.


Show info and registration are at http://www.selfpubbookexpo.com.

On this blog and in my books, I've disagreed with some of the speakers and exhibitors who will be at SPBE. 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.

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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Friday, September 23, 2011

The best of the worst

“From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down
  I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.”
Groucho Marx (1890-1977)


I am an undeniable and proud nickpicker. Through some genetic defect (or maybe a sense of justice) I am attracted to -- and I publicize -- grammatical malfunctions and literary disasters. I've used this blog to warn readers about some really terrible books. Last year I instituted Bad Book Week to further honor the horrors.


 “It is far better to be silent than
 merely to increase the quantity of bad books.”
Voltaire (1694-1778)


Although it has become relatively easy to self-publish, it’s also easy to make serious mistakes in writing, design and marketing that can seriously limit the acceptability and sales of a self-published book.


“We publish a huge number of really bad books.”
Bob Young, founder of Lulu.com

While there is great satisfaction in seeing your name on the cover of a book, I hope that you will write what other people will want to read, and that they’ll like what you write. I believe in absolute freedom of the press. I don’t believe in prior censorship or the licensing of writers or publishers.


Unfortunately, the ease of publication means that a lot of junk gets published. It’s sad -- and perversely funny -- that some of the worst self-published books I’ve found, and the majority of the books I criticize, are books that try to provide advice to other authors.

I collected my favorite failures in a new book, STINKERS! America's Worst Self-Published Books. I've finally stopped tinkering with it, and am now pleased to announce that the book is available for immediate shipping from Amazon.com.

The book is important, educational, and funny; and its price is just $9.99. In addition to the stinky reviews, the book includes a sizable appendix with information that should be useful to all writers, regardless of their path to publication.


This book will help you avoid the worst mistakes of others, so you can publish a book that you can be justifiably proud of, and perhaps enlighten, entertain and inform others -- and maybe you’ll even make some money.

What makes a book a stinker?
1. Most stinkers are ugly.
2. Most stinkers are poorly written.
3. Most stinkers violate the rules and customs of book design.
4. Many stinkers are inaccurate.
5. Some stinkers make promises they do not—or can-not—deliver.
6. Some stinkers are padded—including unnecessary information, information that is readily available elsewhere for free, or too much empty space.
7. Some stinkers are really advertisements—even bad advertisements—masquerading as books.
8. Some stinkers are absurdly overpriced.
9. Some stinker authors either got help from the wrong people or got no help at all.
10. Some stinker authors are extremely careless—or just don’t care about producing good books.
11. Some stinker authors don’t accept the advice they give to others.
12. Some stinker authors know less than they think they know.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's easy to become a bestselling author

Lots of writers you’ve probably never heard of are described as “bestselling authors.” Unlike lists of the winners of Oscars, Emmys, Pulitzers and Nobels, there is often no official registry where you can check the validity of the claims. Also, there’s an almost endless list of bestseller lists. Unless a publisher provides a detail like “103 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List,” it’s hard to document or disprove bestseller status.

The Times, of course, is the biggie. Other important lists are provided by USA Today, Amazon.com, IndieBound, Publishers Weekly and Barnes & Noble.

There is often disagreement among the bestseller lists and it may not be obvious how the lists are calculated. For example, online booksellers and “big box” stores may be excluded.

  • A book about flea removal from pregnant three-legged albino Weimaraners could sell exactly one copy and still be the BESTSELLER IN ITS FIELD. There is no law that requires an explanation on the cover or a footnote inside the book.
  • Anyone can call any book a bestseller (or “best-seller” or “best seller”) and the label may help it to achieve more sales—deserved or not deserved.
  • Keep in mind that even if a book is on a legitimate list, the fact that many were sold does not necessarily mean that it’s a good book, or even that buyers have read what they've bought.
  • There are even fudged bestseller labels that are more the result of marketing than of statistics, such as “summertime bestseller” or “underground bestseller.”
Amazon’s bestseller list has been manipulated by elaborate online campaigns to maximize purchases during a brief time period to temporarily elevate a book to bestseller status.


Yesterday, with no manipulation, my newest book, STINKERS! America's worst self-published books was ranked NUMBER EIGHT on one of Amazon's bestseller lists. Today, it was up to NUMBER TWO. That's pretty amazing, especially since I am still tinkering with the book and have not made an official announcement that it's available. It's on a very specific list (maybe a very obscure list), but now I can legitimately call the book a “bestseller.” My wife is not impressed. If you are impressed, please buy the book. It's important, useful and funny.




(pooch pic from http://arizonaweimaranerrescue.com)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Outskirts Press has yet another way to soak its author customers

Pay-to-publish company Outskirts Press is frequently inept and dishonest. I've written about the company many times on this blog, and in a book. One of the company's sleaziest business practices is getting no-interest loans from its authors.


The company recently announced its "Boston Review Co-op Advertising Option for authors." A press release says, "With this new addition to its popular co-op advertising programs, Outskirts Press allows authors to reach the growing intellectual market of 30,000 Boston Review readers with a full-color ad for their books at an affordable rate." Each ad for an author’s book occupies a 2” by 2.5” space within a full-age ad, and includes a color image of the book’s cover, a short synopsis and ordering information.

Each full-page ad includes a dozen Outskirts Press books. The price to advertise a book is $199. For 12 book ads, Outskirts collects $2388. Based on the "6 times" rate, Outskirts would pay $1050 to have the big ad published, so it makes a nice gross profit of $1388 per ad -- which sells the company's services to prospective authors in addition to selling books. This is a great deal for Outskirts. It get a highly visible ad, completely paid-for by its customers.

Outskirts has a new definition of co-op advertising.
  • Instead of its customers (authors) paying half of the cost of the ad, they pay more than TWICE the cost of the ad.
  • Instead of the ad being an expense for Outskirts, it is a source of profit.
  • Where's the cooperation?
Even if you are also paying for the Outskirts corporate advertising campaign, $199 is not a huge amount of money to reach an upscale intellectual audience. However, for just $225 you could have YOUR OWN AD in the Boston Review. It would be about twice the size as the small chunk of the Outskirts ad, and your ad probably won't be right next to a competing book.


OH SHIT! Book ads normally announce the publication of new books. It's important that advertising be coordinated with other promotional efforts near the publication date. However, Outskirts says, "we are unable to schedule a specific week/month for the ad, or even estimate when the ad will appear." 


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lightning Source vs. CreateSpace (again)

The two most important printers for self-publishing authors are Lightning Source (LS) and CreateSpace (CS). LS is part of Ingram Industries, which operates the largest book wholesaler in the world. CreateSpace is owned by mammoth bookseller Amazon.com. For the last few months, there have been many complaints (and many theories and few genuine explanations) about delays in Amazon's shipping books printed by LS. Paranoid conspiracy theorists (or realists) have suggested that this is an effort by Amazon to drive printing business to its own subsidiary.


Although I started with LS in 2008, I've used CS for several recent books. Despite its smaller publisher's profit margin, CS does have some important advantages over LS:


(1) It normally costs $70 and takes three or four business days to get a printed proof of a paperback from LS. A printed proof from CS arrives a little faster and costs about $15. I tend to go through multiple generations of proofs, so this is important to me.


(2) CS has a new program that allows me to approve a proof for distribution, without actually seeing it. If I am reasonably sure that the book will be good enough to not embarrass me, I tell CS that it's OK to distribute the book. In less than hour (maybe just a few minutes) the book will be available at Amazon (compared to several days for books printed by LS -- in the old days). I can order a book for second-day delivery with free shipping because I am a a member of "Amazon Prime." Alternatively, I can pay $2.99 for next-day shipping -- even for delivery on Saturday morning! Although I pay the retail price for the book, my cost is reduced by the publisher's profit I make on the book, and my purchase helps the book's sales ranking. Because I make a lot of purchases with Amazon/Chase credit cards (I have one, my wife has one, and my business has one), I accumulate lots of Amazon $25 gift certificates. If I use a certificate to buy my own book, and then earn the publisher's profit, the book costs me less than nothing. If I find major errors in the book I get from Amazon, I submit a revised file to CS, and the book quickly becomes unavailable on Amazon. This keeps people from buying a less-than-perfect book, but the book is still on Amazon and people can see it and order it for future delivery.


(3) CS has knowledgeable human beings readily available to answer questions.


(4) A few times I've received books with skewed covers from CS via Amazon. I was able to return them easily, with no cost for shipping.


(5) A few times I designed covers with live matter too close to the edge. I was notified of the problem in less than 24 hours and submitted a revised design to CS. With LS, I would not have learned about the design problem until I had waited four days and spent $70.


(6) CS is not perfect. I've had a few skewed covers and covers where the laminate peeled. OTOH, LS has also printed skewed covers, covers with a green tint, and once even wrapped my cover around another publisher's book pages.


(7) For newbies, CS is easier to work with than LS. Anyone can easily become a CS customer. The CS website is very user-friendly, and PDFs don't have to be converted into PostScript and then run through Acrobat Distiller before uploading. 


(8) Although CS sometimes has its books printed by LS, it strangely has different standards for page bleeds than LS, and requires that a cover be designed with a different spine width than if I submit a book directly to LS. It would make sense for CS to accept covers designed for LS and to use the LS bleed standard.


(9) I have to pay LS a $12 annual "digital catalog fee" plus $75 to set up a book. With CS I pay just $39. (If I was stupid or a pessimist I could pay zero.) 


(10) CS will provide a free ISBN if you want one.


(11) CS books are automatically set up for "Look Inside" and "Search Inside" on Amazon.




My newest book, STINKERS! America's Worst Self-Published Books was printed by CS, and available for sale on Amazon a few minutes after I approved the proof. It's important, informative, educational, troubling -- and funny.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I yearn to kern


“Kern” is the way Archie Bunker pronounced “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. Almost everyone is exposed to kerning, but probably few pay attention. It's an important design tool used by professional graphic artists (including book designers) and amateurs should learn to kern, too.



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


The logo for the "Law & Order" TV shows has one of the
most widely seen examples of kerning.
Did you ever notice it? 

AW (and WA) are common kerning combos, and the two letters -- like the AV and AY in Avaya -- fit together unusually well.


The type in the United Way logo uses both uppercase
and lowercase letters, unlike "LAW" and "AVAYA."
However, the designer still used kerning, tucking
the lowercase n under the "flag" of the uppercase U,
and the lowercase a under the flags of the
uppercase W and the lowercase y.

Kerning is not usually important in the type sizes used in book text, 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.)


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.


...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stupid errors in English can be funny -- but they're still stupid

From a recent discussion on the Linkedin Publishing & Editing Professionals forum:

  1. Brew-ha-ha (brouhaha)
  2. Poured (pored)
  3. High bread (hybrid)
  4. Bare with me (bear)
  5. For all intensive purposes (intents and purposes)
  6. Would of (would have)
  7. Could of (could have)
  8. 500-pound guerrilla (gorilla)
  9. A whole nother (another whole, or just another)
  10. Pneumonic (mnemonic)
  11. Walk the talk (walk the walk and talk the talk)
  12. Nip it in the butt (bud)



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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feeling bad, or badly, or good, or bad

Last night I heard a Congressman interviewed on MSNBC. He said that he felt badly about the result of an election.


"Badly" is an adverb. In this case, it describes the act of feeling. You may feel badly if you have nerve damage to your fingers or are clumsy.


If you are unhappy, you feel "bad" -- with no "ly."


Similarly, if you feel badly, you don't feel well. If you feel bad, you don't feel good.


Now, I hope you feel better.


"Better" works in both cases. If you are more dexterous than Dexter, you feel better than he feels. If you have gotten over an illness, you feel better than you used to feel.


(photo from Business-Stock-Photos.com


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to save time and money if CreateSpace prints your books

Amazon's CreateSpace ("CS") has a new program that allows authors to approve a book proof for distribution,without actually seeing it, to save time and money.

This is dangerous for a first-generation proof, but may be OK for later generations. (NOTE: It's important to view your book as a Word doc, a PDF, and in printed form. Different errors will be revealed in each medium.)

If I am reasonably sure that a book will be good enough to not embarrass me, I tell CS that it’s OK to distribute the book. In less than hour (maybe in just a few minutes) the book will be available at Amazon (compared to several days for books printed by Lightning Source).

I can order a book for second-day delivery with free shipping because I am a member of “Amazon Prime.” Alternatively, I can pay $2.99 for next-day shipping — even for delivery on Saturday morning!

Although I pay the retail price for the book, my cost is reduced by the publisher’s profit I make on the book, and my purchase helps the book’s sales ranking.

Because I make a lot of purchases with Amazon/Chase credit cards (I have one, my wife has one, and my business has one), I accumulate lots of Amazon $25 gift certificates. If I use a certificate to buy my own book, and then earn the publisher’s profit, the book costs me less than nothing.

If I find errors in the book I get from Amazon, I submit a revised file to CS, and the book quickly becomes unavailable on Amazon. This keeps people from buying a less-than-perfect book, but the book is still on Amazon and people can see it and order it for future delivery.

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