Friday, August 30, 2013

Sorry, Pagedia, you failed your audition

Tom Lehrer is one of my literary gods.

Tom claims he “went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity.” He graduated from Harvard Magna Cum Laude at age 18 and made Phi Beta Kappa. He taught at MIT, Harvard, Wellesley and the University of California, but is best known for hilarious songwriting, much of it political satire in the 1950s and 60s.

Tom's musical career was powerful but brief. He said he performed a mere 109 shows and wrote only 37 songs over 20 years. Britain’s Princess Margaret was a fan, and so am I. I can still sing Tom Lehrer lyrics I first heard in seventh grade. See www.tomlehrer.org.

In 1960 Tom wrote and sang some excellent advice for graffiti writers: "Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell."

There is a corollary in publishing: Don't demonstrate your incompetence in public.

I am frequently amazed at the abysmal shit that appears on the websites and Facebook pages of book companies and on their pages on booksellers' websites. Either the people at these companies don't know they made errors or they don't care if they made errors. Either reason is tragic. If publishers can't put decent English, accurate information and proper typography on their own websites, how can any prospective author or reader have confidence in the books they produce? 




Pagedia is a book manufacturing and distributing company that showed up on Facebook in July, 2013. Its primary Facebook classification is "publisher." I won't call Pagedia a publisher because it does not provide editing, or distribution of printed books.

Its website and Facebook page seem to be 
deliberately constructed to scam search engines. One page repeats the phrase "book printing" nearly 70 times!

The website and Facebook page are FILLED with careless errors that destroy all credibility for the company.
  • "Pagedia - Is an innovative new company in the book industry, That delivers Hardcover book manufacturing, DVD-Book Packages and eBook Conversion and Distribution services."
  • The website includes "Paperback Book Printing" under "Hardcover Services."
  • "eReaders nearly doubled from December 2011 to January 2012." [Not likely.]
  • The company confuses book distributors with booksellers.
  • "Traing" [Training]
  • "Includes 2 revision" [two revisionS]
  • "Table of content" [contentS]
  • It's ebook services are much more expensive than services from other companies such as eBookIt.
  • Strangely, the Pagedia fax number is toll-free but voice calls must be paid for. Its voice phone line is shared with other businesses.
  • Apparently the company can't produce hardcover books with dust jackets. 


The over-apostrophed La' Femme Fatale' Publishing website is almost a museum of carelessness and ignorance.
  • "Thank you for visiting us feel free to read up on our latest titles" [This should be two sentences.]
  • "LFF Publishing is the home of diversified literary. There is a book for everyone." [The first sentence is incomplete. The second sentence is untrue.]
  • "Everything is not what it seems and when it comes to Mark. [Huh?] His ulterior motives for being with her soon come to light. Mark is not who he seems to be . . . ." [Sloppy repetition.] 


Esquire Publications has nothing to do with Esquire magazine, and has much lower literary standards.
  • "Esquire Publications believe[s] that the collaborative relationship formed with our authors is the key to successful publishing. We are committed to excellence in all areas of the publishing process from concept to publication. Our team of professionals are [is] available every step of the way to guide you through the publishing process. 
  • "Nikivea Nikki Ellison and Brandon Richards were part[s] of Atlanta[']s wealthiest black families. Contrary to their familys [ies'] rivalry, Nikki and her beau Brandon fall deep in love. From private school to college their beautiful liaison was on the verge of transforming into something special until Nikki[']s world becomes . . . ." 
  • "King, a divorced middle-aged man that [who] soothes his internal pain with alcohol after being abandoned by his wife of 20 years. [This is not a sentence.]


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are you important enough to be in Wikipedia?


"Internet fame" can be measured in several ways. Kids compete to be the first to accumulate 1,000 friends on Facebook. Adults may count their Google links. (My best friend from childhood has about 271,000. I'm getting close to 100,000. One of our mutual friends has just over 1,600.)

But none of these statistics is as impressive as having a biography on Wikipedia. Two of my high school classmates have made it, but, so far, not me.

Wikipedia is the Internet’s mammoth and free encyclopedia, a valuable reference source — and an addictive time-waster — for millions of people worldwide. Almost anyone can gain Google and Bing search links, but most people are not deemed worthy of an article on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia says: “The topic of an article should be notable, or ‘worthy of notice;’ that is, ‘significant, interesting, or unusual enough to deserve attention or to be recorded.’ Notable in the sense of being ‘famous,’ or ‘popular’ — although not irrelevant — is secondary. This notability guideline for biographies reflects consensus reached through discussions and reinforced by established practice, and informs decisions on whether an article on a person should be written, merged, deleted or further developed.”

While you can publish an article about yourself, or have someone write about you, you must be noteworthy and the article must be neutral and verifiable. An inappropriate article will usually be deleted quickly. If you want to be enshrined in Wikipedia, do something important that others will notice, like D. H. Lawrence, above.

Of course, being on Wikipedia doesn't mean you're wonderful. Atilla the Hun, Torquemada, Stalin and Hitler made the cut. Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle were approved, too. So is the cockroach. Even "shit" is in Wikipedia.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Listen to Aretha Franklin. Readers deserve R-E-S-P-E-C-T from publishers. Am I wrong to expect that a $6.99 book would be edited?



Aretha Franklin's 1967 hit recording of Otis Redding's Respect won two Grammy awards. It's in the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry, Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the Recording Industry of America's Songs of the Century.

Although Aretha's version of Otis's work became a feminist theme song and her words tell about a woman's demands from a man, some lyrics perfectly demonstrate the relationship between reader and publisher:

"All I'm askin' is for a little respect . . . . I'm about to give you all of my money"

The reader is entitled to a properly produced book. That's literary respect.

The cover shown is from a disrespectful book.

The publisher is named in a strange bit of Hollywood-style text at the top of the book: "La' Femme Fatale' Publishing Presents." Maybe the two unnecessary apostrophes are intended to imply exoticism to ignorant readers.


The author ("Minx") says this on her Facebook page: "Minx is Miami. I’m the glamour of South Beach and the struggle of the hood. That’s why I’m representing so hard for Miami. The 305 made me who I am." (305 is the telephone area code in Miami.)

In a sad preview of sloppiness to come, Minx typed the title in three different ways on Facebook: "...the 305," "...tha 305" and "da 305."

Here's how Minx promotes the book: "Money can’t buy you happiness, and beauty damn sure can’t either. Only In Da 305, introduces Eileen and Chayil. Two of the baddest bitches in Dade County. Different circumstances leave them in fucked up situations. Chayil and Eileen have two things in common. Their both dead gorgeous and they love their thugs. They’ll do anything for the thugs in their life. Cook, clean, fuck, suck and of course even carry their drugs. All in the name of love. The only thing is, the only thing their thugs got love for is the game.

Kirk and Dwayne reinvent the word vicious. After all their ride or die chicks do for them they repay them with abuse, prostitution, and disrespect in the most profound ways. They show Eileen and Chayil the only thing a thug can truly love is his money and the almighty pursuit of it. But like a dog every thug has his day. Who will have the last laugh or shall I say, bullet. In this it’s a thin line between love and hate urban tale."

I've heard that some black teenagers dismiss good grammar as "acting white." I think that bad grammar, misspelling and defective typography on a publisher's website, a book cover, in a promotional paragraph or in book text is not white or black. It is simply sloppy, unnecessary, unforgivable, unprofessional -- and disrespectful to readers.


Below is the horrid first page. You can left-click to enlarge the image -- but don't show it to children.

The abundant red arrowheads show just how pathetically unprofessional this book is. It would receive a grade of "F" in junior high school, and its $6.99 price is literary fraud.

I've seen books selling for 99 cents -- and even books being offered for free -- that are much better prepared for publication than this is.

Ironically, Minx mentions that two men in the book "disrespect in the most profound ways." Minx may not be profound, but she and her publisher are certainly disrespectful. Sadly, Minx is a good storyteller. It's a shame that her publisher didn't care enough to hire an editor, and that Minx didn't care enough to insist on editing. If the author and publisher show so little respect for readers, readers should spend their money elsewhere.

In case you think that I'm being too picky, readers noted the deficiencies, too:

  • "A LOT of grammatical errors. Very poorly edited." 
  • "The editing needed work. I had to go over sentences a couple of time to understand what was being said."
  • "the errors really killed me I had to almost guess a word or go back and reread the sentence."


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Aretha photo from http://www.blacktoptens.com. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Will Outskirts Press go out of business this year or next?


Outskirts Press is an often-awful pay-to-publish company. Its people do so many things so badly that they are a frequent topic for this blog. The web has many complaints from unhappy author-customers.

A few years ago I wrote a book, Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy: The Strange Story of Vanity Publisher Outskirts Press. How Do They Stay in Business? The book needs to be updated but I now think I know what the last chapter will be: "Outskirts Press goes out of business."

For several years Outskirts had decent positions in the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing private companies in the USA. Three years ago Outskirts plummeted from the 500 into the 5000. The company still touted its dubious achievement, assuming that readers would not notice that FIVE THOUSAND is not the same number as FIVE HUNDRED."

Well, I noticed.

At the beginning of this month I wrote: "Prior to 2012, Outskirts Press boss Brent Sampson (the same guy who confused 'foreword' and 'forward') used his blog to brag in advance about his company's pending Inc. position. This year -- and in 2012 -- Brent had nothing to say in advance of the announcement, a wise move." 


  • In 2009, Outskirts had a ranking of #268 (part of the top-performing "Inc. 500").
  • In 2010, Outskirts dropped out of the 500 and was ranked #1266.
  • In 2011, the Outskirts ranking dropped to #3088.
  • In 2012, the company ranked #4530, getting perilously close to the bottom of the barrel.
I wrote, "In 2013, if the trend continues, Outskirts will not even be in the 5000."

Well, it happened.
 - - - -

So, is it over for Outskirts? Are we just waiting for the fat lady to sing? 

Consider the following:
 
(1) 
As recently as this morning, Outskirts Press still called itself "the fastest-growing full-service publishing provider." It would be hard to justify that boast -- and Inc. disagrees. [below] This year Outskirts has completely vanished from the Inc. lists of the 500 and 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States.

(2) Outskirts faces considerably richer competitors with bigger staffs possessing broader experience. The multi-brand Author Solutions behemoth now belongs to publishing giant Penguin Random House. CreateSpace is now part of Amazon.com. Lulu had to cancel its planned public stock offering but seems to be reinvigorated, recently broadening distribution and adding executives and programs.

(3) Other small self-publishing companies such as Vantage, Aachanon and McKinney have recently closed. They failed to deal successfully with the same pressures facing Outskirts. Arbor Books emphasizes ghostwiting over self-publishing. Other companies' websites show no recent books.

(4) According to the info published by Inc., sales at Outskirts dropped from 2010 to 2011 and there was a tiny increase from 2011 to 2012 -- a time of tremendous growth in self-publishing -- and Outskirts employment has remained at three lonely folks since 2009. The Outskirts website contains just three "executive profiles," and two of them are Sampsons. Brent has three titles, Lynn Sampson has two and Kelly Schuknecht runs three departments. Brent's wife Jeanine Sampson used to be Chief Operating Officer but apparently has left the company. Judging by the many errors in the company's website and press releases, and complaints by authors, the tiny staff is inadequate. 

(5) Many new competitors have appeared, particularly concentrating on ebooks.

(6) More and more authors realize that they can publish without the hand-holding provided by Outskirts, and can probably publish faster and more profitably.

(7) Outskirts Press skipped recent Self-Publishing Book Expos and does not exhibit at Book Expo America -- where an increasing number of competitors vie for attention of authors and media.

(8) Even after 11 years, Outskirts is apparently still a home-based business, using a UPS Store as a mailing address. 

(9) Boss Bent Sampson has drastically reduced and weakened his blogging. Instead of posting about a wide range of book-publishing topics nearly every business day, now Brent does little more than tout his own company, and does that just once or twice a month. I don't know if Brent has earned so much money that he can spend his days fishing or golfing, or if he is so depressed that he can't stand going to work. An un-engaged President/Chief Executive Officer/Chief Marketing Officer is not good for the company's future.

(10) The growing importance of inexpensive ebooks means less revenue per book for publishers, fewer physical books to be sold to authors, and less need for such profitable tchotchkes as bookmarks. 

(11) The Outskirts website continues to tout the success, in 2008 - '09, of author Gang Chen ("Self Publishing Author Earns Over $100,000 in Just Six Months with Outskirts Press") even though Chen left Outskirts to form his own publishing company. Apparently Outskirts has no recent superstar to brag about.

(12) Outskirts is trying to broaden its base by offering "Full-service Christian publishing" in competition with experienced specialists including Xulon, Westbow and Crossbooks. Is this a desperate Hail Mary pass? 

(13) I realize that it's natural for companies' growth to slow down as they mature. I realize that the Inc. ratings are relative rankings of growth, and a company's rank may drop simply because other companies are having growth spurts. However, Outskirts's claim to be "the fastest-growing full-service publishing provider" seems to be unprovable and should be dropped if not provable.

(14) Perhaps the most revealing -- Brent recently wrote: "No company plans to fail . . . Being prepared for that possibility is the responsibility of the executives at every company. That’s why, at Outskirts Press, we have a cash-flush savings account devoted solely for our authors exclusively for this purpose, so that all outstanding royalties would still be paid to them and any remaining authors in the pipeline would receive refunds." 

I've never seen a similar statement on any other publisher's website. Brent wants to instill confidence in authors and prospective authors, but it sure sounds like he is anticipating going out of business. 

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Gravestone photo from www.123rf.com. Thanks 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marginal thinking, marginal analysis, marginal remarks

Last week I discussed white space, also known as negative space or air.



The most obvious kind of white space in a book is its margins.

A margin
 is the space between your text or illustrations and the edges of the paper (or virtual paper in an ebook). I mentioned my rule of thumb: a margin at the side of a page should be big enough to fit an adult human thumb without covering any text or illustration.

Each page has four margins, and they can be the same or different. It’s common for vertical margins to be larger than horizontal margins, and sometimes the top and bottom margins are not the same size. This is where the book's formatter gets to make an aesthetic judgment. Small margins make a book look lousy and hard to read. New designers and cheapskates often maximize the number of words on a page, so fewer pages will be needed and a book can be printed for less money. (A printed page costs about a penny, e-pages cost nothing.)

White space demonstrates extravagance and implies wealth. When I was a child I was advised to eat everything on my plate. When I was a teenager I dated a wealthy girl who had been taught to always leave some uneaten food on her plate so no one would think she actually needed the meal. White space is part of the paper you choose not to print on. If your primary consideration is to get the most for your money, you would leave as little white space as possible.

Ample white space implies that you own the entire page but don’t need to consume it -- you can use it for aesthetics rather than for practical purposes. It’s like having roses -- not tomatoes -- in your garden.

Because of its uniform line length, justified text lacks some of the negative space that flush-left text provides. Experiment with other ways to add negative space to a page. Larger margins can help. Extra space between paragraphs adds negative space which makes a page more attractive, but also makes each paragraph look more independent rather than part of a unified “whole.”

Your publisher or printer can tell you the minimum margins for the page size you’re planning to use. A common minimum size is ½ inch on all sides. You can choose to have bigger margins than the minimum, but not smaller.



[above] The medium affects the margins—and the gutter
If you have either large pages or a spiral binding it’s good to have smaller margins on the inside of a page (the gutter) than on the outer edge. This can make the three vertical white strips (left, center and right) look approximately the same.
In thick books the inside gutter margins often dissipate as they curve into the binding With the common 6-by-9,so I like to use the same-width margins on left and right.
When a printed book has more than about 500 pages, it’s a good idea to provide additional gutter width to compensate for the white space that dissipates into the binding. Your printer or publisher can advise you.
If your book is going to be e-only, you don’t have to think about gutters.

A printed book with large pages simply has more room for white space than does a book with smaller pages. In newspapers where space is fought over by editorial and advertising departments, text gets less air than in books. 


[below] Some good advice from 1907.





[below] Without sufficient negative space, a page seems overstuffed and it repels -- rather than attracts—readers.

[below]  Compare how the same text appears with larger margins.



[below] Compare how it looks with larger margins, indented paragraphs and more leading (space between lines of type).



[below] When leading is too large, the negative space dominates the text.



[below] If your text is set as flush-left/ragged-right, particularly with no hyphenation and in multiple columns, pages can develop oversize and ugly blotches of negative space. Don’t let it happen.




[below] Here’s a much nicer version, with full justification and hyphenation.




[below] If the white space that separates columns of text on one page is too narrow, readers may skip over the space and start reading the next column, instead of moving down through the first column. 



[below] Negative space can be used as an alternative to horizontal lines (rules) to separate sections of text.



[below] Placing more white space above and below a subhead (also known as a breaker head) makes it more dramatic and important. If it introduces a new section, put more space above it than below it so it is more strongly associated with the text that follows.



[below] Placing more white space above the opening of a chapter makes it much more dramatic. Compare these pages from two of my books:




[below] When a graphic element is inserted within text, make sure to provide adequate white space around it. Compare the upper and lower photos in the page shown. The amount of white should be proportionate to the size of the graphic, but there is no specific rule. The more space you provide around a photograph, the more important it will seem to be. The default spacing in Microsoft Word is .13 inch. You probably should not go below .1, but if a photo includes its own white or light border you can get closer without crowding.



This post is adapted from my upcoming Typography for Independent Publishers.


Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm not feeling well, so here's a rerun: How do you start to write a book?


  1. Decide on your primary objective(s): Change the world, entertain the world, educate, inform, preserve memories, personal fulfillment, fun, money, fame, status, revenge, something else.
  2. Decide on your target audience. If your audience is 'everyone,' it will be very expensive to reach them. If your target is too small, you may not sell enough books to make money. Your mother may be wonderful, but your potential sales of a book about her may be seven books. Or two. More on choosing a topic 
  3. Check out the competition. Does the world really need another barbecue cookbook, JFK bio or post-apocalypse teenage vampire sex novel? More about competition
  4. Come up with about ten possible titles, then cut back to three, and then one. More about choosing a title
  5. Even if you have no artistic talent, make some rough cover designs. More about covers
  6. Write a one-paragraph book description that could go on the back of the book cover and on booksellers' websites, and should keep you focused.
  7. Read books for authors. Many are reviewed at Books for Authors
  8. Write. How to deal with writer's block 
  9. Oh yeah, if you plan to write poetry, forget about making money.
  10. Think about how it's going to be published: (A) traditional royalty-paying publisher (difficult for a first-time author), (B) self-publishing company, (C) your own little publishing company. If you are considering A, this book will help. If you are considering B or C, this book will help

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tiffany, Laozi and Picasso can help you make better books

“Negative space” may sound like a “worm hole,” “alternate universe” or another strange phenomenon encountered by the crew of a star ship. Fortunately, you don’t have to understand astrophysics to understand negative space, and why books need it.

In graphic design a “thing” such as a piece of text or a photograph is considered to be “positive space,” and everything else on the page (or screen) is negative space. Because most book pages are white, negative space is sometimes called “white space.” Even if your page is gray, beige, black or turquoise, any space where nothing else is, is considered to be white.

Negative space is not nothing. Negative space is important and has many purposes.

Negative space can seem extravagant and imply wealth and high class. Printed ads for luxury brands often have lots of negative space. Tiffany has used extensive negative space for many years. [below]


Negative space can help to establish a mood. Just as a billionaire’s estate may have hundreds of acres of “nothing,” a page or ad with abundant negative space can seem luxurious and elegant, while a page with tiny margins can seem as cramped as a slum apartment where 20 people fight for space to sleep and sit.

Another term for negative space or white space is “air,” and a new art director at an ad agency might be told by his boss, “Larry, we need more air around the graphic of the lawn mower.”

When you start a new design, whether it’s a book cover, an interior page, a tiny postage stamp or a mammoth billboard, all you have is white space—a blank slate (tabula rasa in Latin).

On a book page or cover, white space includes the tiny indents at the beginnings of paragraphs, the spaces between lines of text, margins, borders around photographs, blank areas between sections or chapters and even just patches of nothingness that a designer decides to provide.

Newbie designers and D-I-Y publishers tend to pack nearly every square micron with text and graphic images: “I paid for the entire cover, and damn it, I’m going to use it.” That’s not a good idea. Attractive covers and interior pages often use lots of negative space where there is nothing but the background color. In art (and life), “nothingness” can be something—something very important.



Chinese philosopher Laozi is credited with writing the following more than 2500 years ago:
Thirty spokes meet in the hub, but the empty space between them is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay, but the empty space within it is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doors form the house, but the empty space within it is the essence of the house.

Sadly, both amateur and professional publishers seem to strive to save pages, dollars (and maybe also trees) and the result is often awful.

Authors Kim Golombisky and Rebecca Hagen advise: “Beginners often make the mistake of forgetting to account for space. Too much space, and visuals and type get lost or don't talk to each other. Not enough space, and they start to fight with each other.”

White space provides “visual breathing room for the eye” and also provides contrast that highlights the positive space. Painters—and the people who frame their work—have understood this for centuries. Amateur book formatters should spend some time walking around an art gallery or even viewing the websites of companies that sell art prints.



[above] For example, Pablo Picasso created “Petite Fleurs” with ample white space around the image, and even the hands and forearms are mere outlines around white space to further emphasize the color of the flowers held in the hands. The folks at Art.com
 provide additional white space in the matte that surrounds the print in a frame. 

At the right/above, I show how the same-size artwork would look if Picasso and the framer removed the air supply. The lithographic print with ample air draws me in. The airless print pushes me away. Eyes—like noses—need air.

Just as the appearance of a picture is improved by having a matte within its frame, your text needs adequate white space surrounding it. Eyes—like noses—need air.

One of my basic rules of thumb is that the a book’s outside margins must be large enough to comfortably fit human thumbs without covering up any text or illustration. It’s really annoying to have to constantly re-position pages while reading through a book.




The sample books that Infinity Publishing and DiggyPOD distribute to impress potential author/customers have barely enough margin room for a child’s pinky—let alone an adult’s thumb. Some magazines, including Bloomberg Business Week, are guilty of the same sin.

Paper is one of the least expensive parts of publishing, and if a book requires 10 or 20 more pages to be more attractive and more comfortable to read, it’s a worthwhile investment.

While paper is not expensive, it’s not free, so keep printing costs in mind while evaluating suppliers. Each page from Lightning Source or CreateSpace costs the same, but other companies have wacky price schedules.


With Infinity Publishing, a reader pays a buck more for a book with 129 pages than one with 128 pages and the author pays 54 cents more. Page number 129 is printed on a very expensive piece of paper.


Xlibris also has an inflated and weird “delta” between page ranges. A 107-page paperback book will sell for $15.99 and the hardcover will sell for $24.99. If you add just one page more, the price goes up $4 or $5. The difference in the manufacturing cost is tiny, and can’t possibly justify the difference in cover price.


The price for a paperback with 398 pages is $19.99 (just like the 108-page book), but, at 400 pages the retail price jumps four bucks to $23.99, and that price holds all the way to 800 pages.


Xlibris gives away 400 pages for “free,” but charges four or five bucks for one page!


Xlibris books are printed by Lightning Source, so the price per additional page is $.013 (or maybe even less if they get a discount).

---------------


I'll have more to say about page design soon. This post is adapted from my upcoming Typography for Independent Publishers.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't be embarrassed by a bad author video. Don't waste money, either.

Yesterday I provided more than 40 tips for authors who want to make their own book videos ("trailers") and showed an example of a pretty good one. Now it's time to learn from some bad ones.

Many videos from self-publishing companies are overloaded with gimmicks that may impress newbie authors, but probably won't help sell books. There's often lots of zooming and spinning, terrible typography, juvenile clip art, music found in low-budget porn flicks and the videos are either too short to sell the book or too long to hold a viewer's interest. 


The video below, from sloppy/sleazy Outskirts Press, is typical. It suffers a from a bad case of the zoomy/spinnies and has bad grammar and weird typography. 



Outskirts produced one of the world's worst book videos (below). 



There is only one good thing I can say about this video: it's short, so the pain is over quickly (except for the lingering nausea). The script, the photography, the typography and the "slow dancing" music are all AWFUL. Outskirts charges an outrageous $799 for a pile of shit like this and claims it's "A $1,800 value!" (Actually, the proper word is "an," not "a," but don't expect good grammar from Outskirts.)

The company says, "Are you ready to take your book marketing efforts into the 21st Century? Be among the first authors anywhere to use online video marketing. The Book Video Trailer is like a movie trailer for your book. It's cool, it's hip, it's NOW!"


This video is NOT cool, NOT hip, and NOT NOW.

Outskirts also brags that "Our book videos are unlike any other book videos available, featuring Hollywood-style production values and a cutting-edge look and feel." 


It would be nice if there were no other book videos like Outskirts Press's book videos. However, the 'producer' of this crap seems to have studied at the Nelson DeMille Academy of Shitty Video (coming up next).

Even 'real' publishers can be involved with stinky, sloppy, sleep-inducing videos. The loser below is from Grand Central Books, part of Big Five company Hachette. Despite Hachette's backing the book, the video seems to have been homemade by author Nelson DeMille, or by a no-talent buddy. Someone at the publisher should have said, "Sorry, Nelson, NO WAY." 


It's over-zoomed, over-rotated, over-ellipsised, has mind-numbing music, blah clip art, terrible typography, asks questions of the viewer, yells "Read the book!" and has silly captions (e.g., "that was an explosion" and "the end" TWICE). The copyright warning and credits might seem funny in fourth grade -- or maybe not. There's even misspelling:



The all-text narrative goes on and on for three and a half interminable minutes that provide almost a condensation of the book, and then we have two more minutes of juvenile legalese (below). The last half-minute of the video is devoted to a warning that the FBI investigates copyright violation and that the potential penalty is a $250,000 fine and five years in the clink. Anyone who is stupid enough to copy anything from this abysmal waste of electrons is too stupid to know how to copy.



(below) Because of poor lighting on her face and a soft voice, heterosexual men like me may focus on Print On Demand Publishing Queen Heather Covington's cleavage instead of on her message.



In addition to being a "queen," Heather claims to be a "YouTube marketing expert." An expert should make much better videos.

Some viewers' comments:
  1. "Your video is very poor technical quality (grainy, frame rate is low and the visuals are lagging the audio. There is also buzz on the camera you are using from its motor)"
  2. "Thanks for the mammories!"
  3. "boooobieeees!"
  4. "Give me a hug!"
  5. "Nice tits babes n I love the blowjob lips"
Heather is not merely a queen and an expert. She wants us to know that she is also an entertainment journalist, publisher, author, motivational speaker, awards official, promoter and editor-in-chief; and that "HER WORK IS BOLD, PROLIFIC AND QUICKLY RISING IN THE LITERARY COMMUNITY!"

Heather's "first debut book," (can you have a second or 45th debut book?) Tekila Nika: The Forbidden Bronx Video Diary Tales has an Amazon sales rank below 10 million and the book attracted only one review in more than five years. So much for "quickly rising."

Heather says, "I plan to get this book into as many hands as possible who are willing to listen . . . ." I didn't realize that hands can listen.

She also calls herself  "Literary Diva," "The Literary Heat," "Babe Charisse Worthington" and "The Queen of Murderotica Suspense."


Amazing -- Heather is queen of both POD publishing and murderotica. SALVE REGINA.

An editor-in-chief and publisher should not write a book with unnecessary hyphens and uppercase letters, numerals that should be spelled out, "that" instead of "who" and ugh-lee justification. The book begins with a stupid sentence: "Babe was born in the poorest and most rundown ghettoS of the Bronx." You can't be born in more than one ghetto. 

An editor-in-chief and publisher should not write a book description for Amazon that confuses "pact" and "pack," includes sloppiness like "deadly murder," "covering a span of 6 years with cover design and art direction by Def Jam's Robert Sims," "WILL LEAVE YOUR MOUTH AGAPE and as told by Babe Charisse Worthington," and puts five dots in an ellipsis.


OOPS -- she did it again, displaying a leg as well as her chest. The video shown below has badly synced audio and video, mentions an empty website, and foolishly announces Heather's phone number. Is she trying to attract readers -- or dates?



It's easy to make a bad video.

Lull 
Mengesha (below) unintentionally produced a left-right reversal of his video. You can read the book’s title more easily if you view the video in a mirror. Sadly, the bad advice in the video won’t be improved with a mirror.


(below) This video is a collection of free clip art and has waaaay too many transition effects from Windows Movie Maker.



The author's voice in the video below is so low that I have no idea what he said or what the book is about -- and I certainly have no reason to buy it. Computer "mesh" animations and wave sounds are silly and intrusive.


I am not convinced that book trailers are important. I invested five bucks in one from FIVERR.com. I got my money's worth, but I think it should be shorter.



I've long been a fan of evangelical doomsayers and bible thumpers. My first enthrallment occurred in San Francisco in 1961. The preacher sung-shouted, "If the good Lawd tells you not to wash your fee-it, you had bettah keep your fee-it dur-tee, my brothers!"

My hired preacher says he usually reads the Bible but has discovered another "good book" -- MINE. He says it might even save your life. (Watch the video to learn how.)

If you like the video, you'll probably like 
the book. It's available as a hardcover, paperback and ebook. Tell one. Tell all. Praise the Lord, and please praise the book. Amen.
This is the second "take" of the video and corrects two errors from the first one. Unfortunately, this time the preacher forgot to mention my name -- which is in the first version. It's annoying, but not a sin.

Keep in mind that in videos -- as in books, voicemail announcements and wedding invitations -- any time you try to correct an error you may make another one. 


Marilyn and I got engaged back in 1971, slightly after brontosauruses stopped stomping on the Earth. Her cousin Manny was a printer, and he offered us free invitations as a present. Unfortunately, they were printed with my father’s given name -- that few people would recognize -- instead of his well-known nickname. When Manny reprinted them, he got Pop’s name right, but he printed the wrong year.

We didn’t want to ask Manny for a third freebie or insult him by taking our business elsewhere. (He kept a gun strapped to his ankle and I used to refer to him as Mafia Manny although I had no real knowledge that he was in the mob.) The wedding date was rapidly approaching, so my future mother-in-law used a pen to correct the year on each invitation  It wasn’t elegant -- in fact, it looked like shit -- but it was definitely a rare collector’s item.

The imperfect video is neither rare nor a collector's item, and I don't think it looks like shit. Despite being a bit too long, previewers said it's funny, and that's what I wanted it to be. Maybe someday I'll get another one. Or maybe not.