Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ancient cliches should be avoided like the plague


I recently read an article about a rock star. She has a mansion equipped with a Jacuzzi and two flat-screen TVs.

BFD.

I'm not a rock star, or one of the one percent, and I have nine flat TVs. I even have both indoor and outdoor bubble tubs (but not Jacuzzi-brand bubble tubs).

Flat screen TVs have been around for years. They are no longer rare, expensive or status symbols. They are not worth mentioning.

What is "the size of a Volkswagen?"
Also, it's time to stop describing things as "the size of a Volkswagen." That comparison may have made sense in the 1950s when the only VW was the Beetle, but VeeDubs have been made in many sizes, and many current cars are smaller than the Beetle.

Is it bigger than one of these?
Another size cliche relates to breadboxes. "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" was a question often asked by Steve Allen on the TV game show What's My Line? 

Michael Desmond recently wrote that a Fujitsu scanner is "about the size of a breadbox."

Breadboxes were common in 1955-era kitchens, and most people back then knew they were big enough to hold two loaves of bread. In 2013, many people have never even seen a breadbox (but they are available at Target).

Also, be careful if you refer to "the turn of the century." Most uses seem to refer to the 1900 changeover, but we had a much more recent turn of the century.

A few more:

  • clockwise and counterclockwise
  • 1440 on the AM dial
  • repeating like a broken record
  • "This recording may be taped for training and quality control"
  • answering machine
  • food stamps
  • radio car
  • dial a phone
  • develop an x-ray
  • rewind (on a DVR)

(photo of old Beetle is from Robert Couse-Baker. VW van photo is from AutoEvolution.com. TV pix are from Panasonic. Bread box is from Tar-zjay. Thanks.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A little tribute to my literary gods


(above) Creations of Groening, Martin and Ward.
Barry, Shepherd, Lehrer and McCahill.
Creations of Solomon & Hirshey, and Douglas.

I thank them for entertainment, stimulation and setting high standards.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author, and the funniest writer I know of. He is so funny that I had to stop reading his column because I got so jealous. Dave used a picture of my dog Hunter in one of his books. It's called Dave Barry's Money Secrets. Here's a Dave Barry money secret: Dave didn't pay me any money for the picture, but I did get a few free books. I'll let Dave read my books for free, too. See: www.DaveBarry.com

 ● Jean Shepherd (1921 - 1999) was a radio and TV raconteur, and he probably ties with Mark Twain for story-telling ability. Shep's books include In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and A Fistful of Fig Newtons. Twain was a great writer, but Shep was funnier. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Shepherd

Jack Douglas (1908 - 1989) was an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer on The Jack Paar Show, The George Gobel Show, Laugh-In and other TV programs. I remember him most for his book titles, which include My Brother Was an Only Child, Shut Up and Eat Your Snowshoes and Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Douglas_(writer)

 ● Michael Solomon and David Hirshey edited and did the headlines for the annual Esquire magazine “dubious achievements” awards in the 1990s. Why is this man laughing? See: http://www.observer.com/2008/beloved-esquire-franchise-dubious-achievements-becomes-one

Don Martin (1931- 2000) was an extraordinary cartoonist best known for his work in MAD magazine. Don created such notable characters as Fester Bestertester (top, center) and Freenbean Fonebone, and printed sound effects like “FAGROON klubble klubble.” Don's books are available from Amazon: www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b/102-1200899-0172121?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=don+martin 

"Uncle" Tom McCahill (1907-1975) was an automotive journalist who wrote for Mechanix Illustrated magazine in the 1950s and 60s. He rated car trunks by the number of dogs they could hold, and described the ride of a 1957 Pontiac as “smooth as a prom queen's thighs.” Tom was a Yale graduate, and knew classic literature as well as cars. When a reader asked how to pronounce “Porsche,” Tom answered, “Portia.” Some of us understood. Another time another reader asked, without specifying a vehicle, "How much is the parts cost and how much do the car?" Tom had a great answer: "Sure." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_McCahill

Tom Lehrer claims he "went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity."Tom was a Phi Beta Kappa student who taught at MIT, Harvard, and Wellesley, but is best known for hilarious songwriting, much of it political satire in the 1950s and 60s. Lehrer's musical career was notably brief: he said that he had performed a mere 109 shows and written 37 songs over 20 years. Tom developed a significant cult following in the U.S. and abroad. Britain's Princess Margaret was a fan, and so am I. I can still sing lyrics I first heard in seventh grade. See: www.tomlehrer.org andhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Life in Hell. The Simpsons has been the longest-running comedy show in American television history. Because it's a cartoon, some people make the mistake of assuming it's for kids. It's not, but kids love it. See: http://www.thesimpsons.com/index.html

Jay Ward, creator of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman  Crusader Rabbit. The Rocky show was filled with literary allusions and magnificent puns (or horrible puns, depending on your outlook on such things). Unless you are an old fart who watched TV in the fifties and know that Durward Kirby was the sidekick on "The Garry Moore Show," you would not appreciate the pun in "Kerwood Derby," a hat that increased the intelligence of its wearer. See: http://bullwinkle.toonzone.net 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Will anyone miss Wordclay? How did it last so long?



Wordclay was one of the least-known brands of self-publishing behemoth Author Solutions, Inc ("ASI"). It closed its virtual doors at the end of 2012 and author / customers were urged to use other ASI brands, particularly BookTango (for ebooks). ASI boss Keith Ogorek told Publishers Weekly that ASI recognized that among DIY author-publishers, e-publishing is now preferred over print. The decision to migrate its print on demand self-publishers to DIY self-publishing via Booktango is simply a reflection of today’s DIY market realities.

Wordclay said it provided "by far the easiest, fastest and most dynamic DIY self-publishing experience."

I have no idea how Wordclay measured ease and speed (or if the testing was supervised by an independent auditor) and "dynamic" is a meaningless description for publishing. My dog is dynamic. So is my PC monitor screen. So is the Atlantic Ocean. Who cares?

Wordclay also told prospective author/customers: "The steps to self-publishing through Wordclay are quick and easy. From listing your title to choosing a book size, approving the formatted interior and designing a cover, you'll be surprised how quickly a finished book can be in your hands. The flexibility of the design elements, choices and optional additional services offer a dynamic experience that will be a perfect fit for many different types of authors."

There's "dynamic" again, but even more troubling is the freedom that the Wordclay process provides. Unfettered freedom -- with no experienced expert to say, "THAT'S NOT HOW IT'S DONE" can lead to books that are dreadful -- inside and out.

Up above are two Wordclay books with the same cover illustration and nearly illegible type.
  1. The one on the left has an extra space between "God's" and "Great." 
  2. The one on the right has missing commas, a misspelled word, an unnecessarily hyphenated word and unnecessary exclamation points! The title uses an ampersand before "enemies" but the subtitle spells out "and" before the unnecessarily hyphenated "enemies."
No professional designer (or experienced amateur like me) would make those stupid mistakes. Sadly, there was nobody at Wordclay to say "THAT'S NOT HOW IT'S DONE

Below are two more books with the same cover art, and more terrible typography. 



[below] At Wordclay, tracks-and-trees are not the only popular choice. A golden sunset with purple sky is also used more than once -- maybe MUCH more than once -- and with terrible typography, of course. And, of course, there is no one at Wordclay to say "THAT'S NOT HOW IT'S DONE.





We're told that ignorance is bliss. In book publishing, it's both unnecessary and stupid to be ignorant. 

One of my Marcus Maxims, developed about fifty years ago, is:

IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, DON'T DO IT.

Ask somebody for help. Hire an expert. Use a publisher that provides help. Read some books about publishing. I have a website that will help.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Exactly what is a printer?

It's unfortunate and amusing that words used in the book business -- a business that exists to communicate -- often don't communicate enough.

Just as a "notebook" can be a notebook or a portable computer, and a "slate" may or may not be a portable computer, a "printer" has multiple meanings. If you use the word in your writing, make sure the context makes it obvious what you are referring to.

(above) A person who operates a printing press is a
PRINTER.



(above) A company that provides printing services is a
PRINTER.

The owner of the company,
even if she or he never has ink-stained hands,
could still be called a
PRINTER.


(above) The machine on your desk that prints is a
PRINTER.



(above) The big machine that prints books is a
PRINTING PRESS.



(above) The big machine that prints books on demand is a
DIGITAL PRINTING PRESS.

- - -

Photos from USPS, Morris Printing Company,  HP, Times92.com, Xerox

Friday, February 22, 2013

dehyphenation (or de-hyphenation?)



As of today I am officially changing from typing "e-book" to "ebook." As new terms become common (like "email"), they often lose their hyphens.

I am also removing hyphens from "p-book" and "e-publish" to be consistent. Consistency is admirable, but uncommon in English.

I am making the changes in new books, blog posts and websites, and revisions of old ones.

I previously dropped hyphens from "bestseller," "bookstore," "bookseller" and "copyedit." 

At one time, there were hyphens in "automobile" and "cry-baby" -- but not "female" (which, interestingly, is not derived from "male."

Sometimes hyphenated words lose their hyphens but gain spaces, as with "ice cream" and "water bed."

The red things up above are proofreaders' marks, indicating deletion of the hyphen and closing up the space where the hyphen has been.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do authors need to work with literary agents




Literary agents are the folks who try to interest a publisher in an author’s work, and who usually are involved in contract negotiation and the sale of “subsidiary rights” (movies and such). If a deal is made, the agent gets a percentage (typically 15% in the USA) of the author’s income from the deal. The percentage may be higher for foreign rights.

Sometimes, an author can make a deal with a publisher without working with an agent, but this is uncommon with larger publishers. Before I opened my own publishing company I made deals with three “traditional” publishing companies. They approached me, but apparently this is uncommon except for superstars.
  
Books have been written about finding an agent. (I bought the one shown above before I decided to self-publish.) Most of my knowledge is about self-publishing, but I’ll tell you just a tiny bit about working with an agent here. If you need to know more, read the book shown, Rachelle Gardner’s excellent blog and this Writer’s Digest blog.

Agents tend to specialize in genres such as sci-fi, Christian or chick-lit, or sometimes broad fields like fiction and nonfiction. Don’t waste time submitting a kids’ book about dinosaurs to an agent who specializes in cookbooks or celebrity memoirs.

Some literary agents work solo. Some work in agencies with many agents and a large support staff. Some agents have close ties to the "acquisition editors" at certain publishers based on past successes. A newbie agent may have trouble attracting the interest of a publisher.

Many agents are located in important publishing cities, particularly New York and Los Angeles. You may prefer to find an agent near where you live if you crave frequent in-person meetings. (Agents may crave fewer sessions.)

You can find an agent by asking other authors for recommendations, through discussions and speeches at conventions and trade shows, through Writers Market, and the website of the Association of Authors’ Representatives. AgentQuery is very good, too. News and interviews in Publishers Weekly frequently identify successful agents. 

Look in books you own and on the shelves of library and bookstores and in online previews. Very often authors thank their agents in the front of the books.

It can take three to six months—or even longer—to find the “right” agent, and there is no guarantee that even a superb agent will be able to get you a contract from a publisher.
It’s tempting to try to establish a relationship with an agent who represents an author who writes books like your book—but that agent may be reluctant to help a competitor. (That happened to me.)

Although agents may be fiercely competitive, they also cooperate. If an agent turns you down, ask for some recommendations. Most good agents know about other good agents.

Agents are often more than dealmakers. Some will advise changes in your book,  recommend an editor or marriage counselor, arrange book tours and other publicity, tell you to forget about becoming an author and let you cry on their shoulders.

Agents succeed or fail based on the sales potential of their writers and connections with publishers. An agent should be able to suggest several publishers who are right for you, and also tell you which ones to forget about. Publishing is very fluid. Companies are bought and sold. Editors and agents move around. Imprints (brands) are established and shut down. It’s important that you find an editor whose knowledge is up-to-date.

Before you “query” an editor, read her or his website and directory listings so you are sure you do things right. Thousands of writers are competing with you, Don’t get shut out because of a silly error. Some editors insist on email. Others want sheets of paper in an envelope.

It's perfectly fine to query multiple agents at one time (probably 5-20, but not 200), but not several agents at the same agency. Don't expect to get a response in a day or a week, or maybe even in a month. Rachel Gardner says: "If we are interested in your project, we will be in contact within 60 days or sooner. If we do not think your project is something we can represent, we may or may not be in contact, depending on current workload. I always try to respond to all queries. But if you don’t hear from us within 60 days, you can assume it’s a pass."

While it's natural to want to confirm that your query has been received, most agents don't want to be reminded or nagged. The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency tells authors not to "Call or email to check on your submission status."  However, Manus & Associates says "We do reply to every  submission, and we appreciate your patience while we evaluate your material. If we haven’t contacted you within eight weeks, feel free to email or call us."   

Beware of editors who advertise for clients—especially if they charge a fee to read your manuscript. Read warnings here.

Some attorneys are also agents. Some agents are also editors. Some agents are also publishers. Some agents are also authors.

---

(from my upcoming 499 Essential Publishing Tips for a Penny Apiece)



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A wonderful book (mine) from a great author (me)


Writing books is similar to other artistic pursuits ranging from singing to sculpting. Modesty will keep you hidden, and maybe broke. You have to overcome shyness and learn to toot your own hornor hire someone to toot for you.

It's time to do some tooting for my latest book: How to not get Screwed by a Self-Publishing Company.

Self-publishing companies enable anyone who can type to quickly become a "published author" and compete for the attention of the reading public. There is no longer a need to go through the years-long process of finding an agent and publisher.

Sadly, these companies publish a lot of badly written books, and sometimes do a bad job of publishing and promoting them. Their writer/customers spend a lot of money, and many customers are greatly disappointed in the quality of their books and the limited sales and book reviews. You can minimize disappointment if you are properly prepared—and this book will prepare you!

Don’t buy services and trinkets that you don’t need. Pay the right prices for what you do need. Let the publisher do the tech stuff that you don’t want to get involved in, and concentrate on the creative process (perhaps with a independent editors and designers) to make a good-reading, good-looking book which you can be proud of and maybe make money from.


It's critical that you remember that when Random House sells a million books, they make money from the books. When Outskirts Press sells 14 books, they need to supplement their income by selling bookmarks, postcards and press releases.

You may get seduced by ads promising "free" publishing or publishing for $199, but pressure from "advisers" may boost your bill into the thousands. A lot of what the companies want to sell you is available for much less, or even for free, elsewhere.

For a while Outskirts offered to sell authors customized Keds sneakers with images of a book cover for $99. Now they try to sell $49 T-shirts that you can get from Zazzle for $12.95.

Balboa and DellArte charge $90 for a Library of Congress Control Number registration. You can get one for FREE, with a few minutes’ work. 

Self-publishing companies apparently want you to think copyright registration is difficult. Booktango will provide U.S. copyright registration for $150. Wheatmark will register for you for $199. Xlibris charges $249. Schiel & Denver charges $250. AuthorHouse charges $170. Outskirts Press charges $99.· You can do it yourself for $35.

Lulu boss Bob Young told Publishers Weekly that “We publish a huge number of really bad books.” He didn't have to publish them.

The book includes revealing comments from customers and former employees of several major self-publishing companies.

Here's the table of contents:

Preface: a change of heart
SECTION ONE
Background
Publishing paths: difficult and easy
Three doses of reality
Why self-publish?
Why is self-publishing so popular now? There’s bad news and good news.
SECTION TWO
What should you write?
What shouldn’t you write?
How much should you write?
Building your “self” publishing team
How good is good enough?
What should you name your baby?
Try to be original
Should you announce your new book’s title before it’s published?
Don’t forget business insurance!
SECTION THREE
Why no respect?
Don’t be easily impressed
Empty boasts
Self-Publishing may have more flavors than Baskin-Robbins
Every publisher doesn’t do everything
Check the deal
Don’t get the royal shaft on royalties
Advertising what can’t be sold
Advertising what is almost never sold
Advertising what is seldom sold
The embarrassing secrets of self-publishing companies
What do you get for $199, or for nothing?
Can you really publish for free?
How to get the most from your publisher
The worst mistakes of authors who use self-publishing companies
GOTCHA! Some reasons to do it yourself, and not use a self-publishing company
GOTCHA AGAIN! Some reasons not to be an independent self-publisher
Don’t use your publisher’s brand name
Prices, discounts, markups
Making cents
Basic arithmetic for a $15.95 book
Do You Need to Make a Profit?
À la carte overcharging
Beware of Bait & Switch
What’s an ISBN and do you need one?
Buying copies of your own book
Get real. How many can you sell?
What does a self-publishing author have to do?
Understanding print on demand (POD)
Ebooks: even greener than POD
The split-personality self-publishing companies
SECTION FOUR
Outskirts press is often stupid, sloppy and sleazy
The low standards of PublishAmerica
Xlibris is ruining self-publishing by not providing the help its authors need
Mill City’s weird math
Stay away from Beckham
Don’t get help from Self Help Publishers
Light Messages is sending the wrong message
Obit for a first-class self-publishing service
SECTION FIVE
What should you call yourself?
Marketing your books
Your website
Getting out the news: promotion, publicity, press releases
Getting book reviews
Book blurbs
You don’t really need bookstores, but you might want to try to use them
Should you allow returns?
Why can’t books be sold like toys?
Buying copies of your own book
Selling your books yourself
Special sales
Selling out to a traditional publisher
SECTION SIX
Where can you get help
You don’t have to do it all yourself
How long does it take? How much does it cost?
SECTION SEVEN
What should publishers do?
What should you do?

The book quickly reached the #71 position in publishing on the Amazon Best Sellers lists. I've had other books on other bestseller lists and this sales rankings may be different in an hour, but as of right now: YIPPEE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Self-publishing companies use some very weird math




Periodically, Outskirts Press sends me email messages to try to convince me to use them for publishing. One email from Karl related an alleged conversation with a happy Outskirts author. Karl said, “Outskirts Press was her first choice because our authors keep all their rights. And she liked our pricing flexibility. The other publisher pays her 200% less in royalties. Yes, 200% LESS.”

I’m no Einstein, but I think there’s something very strange about that number.

To keep it simple, let’s assume that Outskirts would pay a royalty of $100 for some quantity of books sold at some price over some period of time.
If the other publisher paid $50, it would be 50% less than Outskirts paid.

If the other publisher paid $25, it would be 75% less than Outskirts paid.
If the other publisher paid absolutely nothing, it would be 100% less.
Unless there’s a way to receive less than nothing, I can’t see how it’s possible to be paid 200% less than anything. I asked for an explanation but I didn’t get one.

Some self-publishing companies try to impress potential customers with the prospect of earning big royalties on each book sold. Don’t be impressed by big percentages: 50% of $8 is not better than 20% of $20.

Most self-publishing companies have multiple paths to get books to readers, and the path ("channel") determines how much royalty you will receive. On books sold from the publisher’s website, you could get a 50% royalty. This is the highest royalty percentage, but because of limited website traffic, your sales and income will probably be minimal.

On books sold through online sellers such as Amazon.com, you could get 10%, or possibly a bit more. On books sold through terrestrial booksellers that pass through a distributor or wholesaler or both, your royalty may be just 10%—or less.

If you earn a “royalty” of 50 cents or $6 per book, but you’ve already paid $300 or $3,000 or $13,000, you’re really just getting your own money back—very slowly.

Some publishers are vague or misleading about how royalties are calculated. They may offer what seems to be a very high percentage, but it’s based on the wholesale price of a book or the net profit, not the retail “cover price.” Be sure you know what to expect. e-Booktime says, “For ebook sales we pay 50% of the amount we receive from retailers. EBookIt pays me 85%
.
Laredo Publishing says: “When co-publishing with us, you receive 25% of the net profit from the books we sell.” That promise may be as empty as the “percentage of the net” deals offered by Hollywood studios to naive actors. There may be NO net profit to get a percentage of. How can an author know if a book is profitable to Laredo? She can’t know.

Mill City Press recommends selling books from your own website with "fulfillment" by Mill City. 

How many people are going to find your website and order books from you? How much will it cost to drive traffic to your website. What happens if nobody shows up?

The company recommends giving Amazon.com a 55% discount. Amazon will accept 20%. Don’t waste your money by following any of Mill City's recommendations.

Mill City says: "The typical earning for a book sold through your own site is about three or four times more than it would be if you were selling it through Amazon or another retailer. For every book you sell through your website, you’d need to sell three or four on Amazon to make the same amount of money." BULLSHIT!
  • With a 200-page, $20-list-price paperback printed by Lightning Source and sold by Amazon.com, an author would keep about $12 after giving Amazon its $4 discount and paying Lightning $4 for on-demand printing and shipping. 
  • The same size book would cost about $3 for offset printing by Mill City. The company would add $1.50 for handling, $5 for shipping and 4.5% for credit card processing. The author keeps $9.60. 
Mill City's mathematician must be smoking some very strange stuff to determine that $9.60 is three or four times $12.

The numbers are even worse when you consider that Mill City has a setup fee of $499 and a $199 fee for later years. With Lightning Source, the setup fee is $117 and the annual fee is $12.

As I mentioned yesterday, Booktango boasts: “we think you deserve 100 percent royalties. We won’t take any of your hard-earned e-book sales: no distribution fees, no transaction fees, no nothing. That means you’ll earn the full list price of any e-book sold through our bookstore. And when your e-book sells through a different online retailer, say via the iBookstore, you still get 100 percent of net royalties.”

That little word “net” is very important. The 100% royalties come only from books sold from the Booktango website, which will probably sell very few books. With sales from other booksellers, you’re supposed to collect 100% of what Booktango collects—but you’ll never know how much Booktango actually collects.
Also, if Booktango is paying you 100%, you may wonder how it makes money. How does it pay its employees? How does it pay its bills?
I can think of just one way: by pushing high-profit publishing services and packages priced from $49 to $2,999.
That’s a long way from “free.”

Booktango will provide U.S. copyright registration for $150. You can do it yourself for $35.

- - -



- - - 

Einstein photo by Oren Jack Turner

Monday, February 18, 2013

It takes two to tango, but I won't dance with Booktango.


Wordclay was a self-publishing company owned by self-pub behemoth Author Solutions that closed at the end of 2012. It was merged into Booktango.

Wordclay used to say, “You can sign up and start publishing your book for free. There is no cost to register with our Web site and create your account. There is no cost to use our publishing wizard to turn your work into a published book . . . . We have additional goods and services that you can also purchase through our Services Store, but again, there is no obligation. The basic publishing experience of getting your manuscript into a finished book is entirely free.” As with its competitors, the “free” publishing didn’t actually include printing any books

I tried and criticized Wordclay three years ago

Booktango boasts:we think you deserve 100 percent royalties. We won’t take any of your hard-earned e-book sales: no distribution fees, no transaction fees, no nothing. That means you’ll earn the full list price of any e-book sold through our bookstore. And when your e-book sells through a different online retailer, say via the iBookstore, you still get 100 percent of net royalties.”

That little word “net” is very important. The 100% royalties come only from books sold from the Booktango website, which will probably sell very few books. With sales from other booksellers, you’re supposed to collect 100% of what Booktango collects—but you’ll never know how much Booktango actually collects

Also, if Booktango is paying you 100%, you may wonder how it makes money. How does it pay its employees? How does it pay its bills?

I can think of just one way: by pushing high-profit publishing services and packages priced from $49 to $2,999. That’s a long way from “free.”

Oh yeah, the free ebook can’t include any illustrations. If you want to beautify your bare text, you’ll have to pay at least $49 to show up to ten images. Even the top-priced $359 package includes just ten images. Additional images will cost you a buck each. That could easily add $100 for the typical books I publish. OUCH!

  • ·      Booktango will provide U.S. copyright registration for $150. You can do it yourself for $35.
  • ·      With the $359 package you get a “free” ebook. How generous!
By the way, the Booktango online bookstore is terrible—with misclassified, badly described, unedited, overpriced and ugly books.

The overall image of Booktango is unprofessionalism.









Friday, February 15, 2013

Self-Publishing may have more flavors than Baskin-Robbins






In Lewis Carroll’s famous Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Humpty Dump­­ty told Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.” For better or for worse, word meanings and implications do change. Radio Shack stores aren’t shacks and they sell much more than radios. “Don we now our gay apparel” gets a different re­action now than when the words were written years ago.

In the late 20th century, the terms “vanity publisher” and “subsidy publisher” were applied to the companies that provided pay-to-publish services. Those companies and their writer-customers were derided by other publishers and writers. Writers identified as “self-publishers” were ignored or sneered at.

In the 21st century, self-publishing has gained increasing respectability, and the term is now so much in vogue that com­panies love to call themselves “self-publishing companies” to attract business.

I consider myself to be an “independent” self-publisher. I own a small publishing company. I hire editors and artists, buy photography, get copyrights, pick printers, and promote my books. I could call my company, Silver Sands Books, a self-publishing company—but that would make my situation even more confusing.

On the other hand, companies such as AuthorHouse and Mill City Press that I would like to call “author services companies,” call themselves “self-publishing companies.
Below are some of the words and phrases used by some pay-to-publish businesses to describe themselves and to attract customers. Most of these companies provide pretty much the same services. PublishAmerica is a special case.

·    Aachanon Publishing: self-publishing service provider
·    Arbor Books: self-publishing, subsidy publishing
·    Archway Publishing: the best that self-publishing can offer
·    Authors Online: Pioneers in Self Publishing
·    AuthorHouse: the leading self publishing company in the world 
·    Author Solutions: alternative publishing, self-publishing, indie book publishing, cooperative publishing, on-demand publishing service, independent publishing, indie, do-it-yourself-publishing, supported self-publishing
·    Aventine Press: the best print on demand publisher you never heard of, quiet professionalism
·    Balboa Press: self-publishing
·    Beckham Publications Group: joint venture publishing, self-publishing
·    BookPal: the widest and largest book distribution channel in the world
·    BookPros: subsidy publishing, traditional publishing—redefined
·    BookSurge: do-it-yourself-publishing, publish-on-demand
·    Canmore Press: assisted self-publishing
·    Covenant Signature Publishing: independent book publishing
·    CreateSpace: do-it-yourself-publishing, print-on-demand publishing, self-publishing, subsidy publishing
·    Crossway: blends the best of self-publishing and traditional publishing
·    DellArte Press: assisted self-publishing, self-publishing
·    Dog Ear Publishing: co-publishing
·    eBookTime: the book publisher who can turn your dream of becoming a published author into a reality!
·    Eloquent Books: joint venture publishing
·    Fertile Ground Press: assisted self-publishing
·    GM Books: co-publishing
·    Infinity Publishing: author originated book publishing, print-on-demand publishing, an independent (indie) book publisher that has blended aspects of traditional and self-publishing to create a new kind of publishing.
·    Innovo Publishing: full-service family-owned publishing com­pany serving the Christian and wholesome self-publishing markets
·    Isaac Publishing: subsidy publishing
·    iUniverse: print-on-demand publishing, self-publishing
·    Light Messages: partnership publishing
·    Llumina Press: publish-on-demand, self-publishing, print-on-demand
·    Lulu: free self-publishing, print-on-demand publishing, self-publishing, publish-on-demand
·    Mill City Press: self-publishing
·    Morris Publishing: self-publishing, short-run book printing for self-published authors

That covers examples from just the first half of the alphabetbut I think you get the idea. If you’d like one more term, author Theresa M. Moore calls these companies “self-help publishers.”

Even if there are not as many varieties of publishing as Baskin-Robbins has flavors of ice cream, the number must be getting close.

Uh-oh. Apparently I’ve neglected HYBRID PUBLISHING.

Google shows nearly 40,000 links for the term (up from 13,000 a few years ago), so apparently I’ve ignored something important.

Google’s first link goes to Windy City Publishing. The company's website tells us: “As a hybrid publisher we provide authors the control, flexibility and speed of do-it-yourself publishing. But more than that, we also provide support with a team of experts that help guide our authors through the entire process.”

Gee. That sounds like AuthorHouse, CreateSpace, Outskirts and many others. Windy’s publishing packages cost as much as $$13,999. OUCH.

RevMedia Publishing says Hybrid-Publishing [the company hyphenates the term] “is publishing your book with a minimal investment and getting paid royalties for bookstore sales and other retail revenues from a publisher. It’s getting your book in the wholesale market without warehousing thousands of copies costing you huge money that could be used in marketing. It’s getting your name on retailers book lists and providing access to major book retailers to order your book with out [sic] paying big dollars to publish your book.”

Gee. That sounds like AuthorHouse, CreateSpace, Outskirts and many other self-publishing companies.

BQB Publishing wants us to know that “Hybrid publishing is typically a combination of the high-quality processes for acceptance, editing, and book design that are indigenous to the traditional houses, combined with the author’s financial participation that is a part of self-publishing.”

Gee. That sounds like Vantage Press, Beckham Publications and others.

The new She Writes Press says: “We are a hybrid because we are, in fact, a publishing company. What we’re offering is fee-based publishing, but we are also offering a partnership. With SWP, you own your content, but you publish under our imprint and our ISBN. You can have your rights reverted at any time, but we are bringing you under our umbrella when we offer you a contract.”

Gee. That sounds like lots of other self-publishing companies.

----
From my just-published How to not get Screwed by a Self-Publishing Company.