.

.

Monday, June 30, 2014

This may help you avoid embarrassment and lawsuits

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

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

But when I read through the chapter I was surprised to find a few instances of the old name which had escaped the Find function.

It’s important to do a manual verification because Word might not notice hyphenated words or words with apostrophes or in their plural form as targets for replacement.


Don’t lose a friend or risk a lawsuit by publishing a wrong name or word.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Indents, Outdents, Pilcrows, WTF?


[above] Half-inch indents are a holdover from 1960s-era typing classes, when kids were instructed to indent five spaces. They’re OK in a letter, but generally look bad in a book. Half-inch is Word’s default. The ‘proper’ indent is an aesthetic decision, and varies with typeface, type size, page size, margins and more. I generally use .3-inch for books with 12-point type.

Back when type was set from pieces of lead, an em quad was used to insert a blank space of the same width as an uppercase “M.” A one-em indent is generally safe for book text, but as far as I know an em indent is not an easy option if you are formatting with Word.


[above]  Missing tooth? Most paragraphs in most books will be indented, but I don’t indent a paragraph that starts parallel to the top of a graphic element, or generally the first line at the beginning of a chapter or section, or after a large white space, a chart, a diagram or a photograph.
These are aspects of personal style, and can change from book to book. Do some experimenting, look at lots of books, and maybe ask for advice or hire a designer.
Keep in mind, however, that a paragraph’s indent signals the beginning of the paragraph, so if the beginning is obvious without the indent, there is no need to indent.

A new paragraph can be introduced by a skipped line, an indent, an outdent, an initial cap or a symbol such as the pilcrow [above]. Although there is generally no need to use more than one indication, it is sometimes necessary to use a skipped line to provide space for an initial cap or a decorative symbol.






Today's material is updated from my upcoming ebook, Typography for Independent Publishers



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Would you pay $140.11 for the worst book ever published? How about $75?



(left-click to enlarge)

This overpriced, unprofessional, ugly and weird book was ranked #10,543,762 by Amazon.com this morning.
  • That means that more than ten million other books have sold better than it has.
  • Yesterday it was ranked 10,125,019 -- so its sales declined.
  • It may be the absolute worst-selling book on Amazon.
  • Based on its title, cover, formatting and writing, it may also be the absolute worst book ever published.
  • I would not be surprised if its sales have been ZERO.
  • It was published by AuthorHouse (part of pathetic pay-to-publish behemoth Author Solutions) -- a self-publishing company with just two requirements for an author to be published: blood pressure above zero, and money to buy a publishing package.
  • AuthorHouse brags that it "assigns each author a personal publishing consultant, who provides guidance throughout the self publishing process." I'd like to see the IQ test and eye test for the consultant who guided the author of this trash.
Originally I thought this book was a spoof, a scam, a con job -- published by pranksters to demonstrate the low standards of AuthorHouse. I thought it was like the deliberately bad books published through PublishAmerica: Atlanta Nights by “Travis Tea” (travesty) and The Crack of Death by “Sharla Tann” (charlatan).

Sadly, this book is real.

In the past I've stated that I don’t believe in prior censorship or the licensing of writers or publishers. Unfortunately, the ease of publication means that a lot of worthless crap gets published, and this is probably the best example. Based on this book I may support pre-publication testing and licensing. I am certain that MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON would flunk the test.

This book has 648 huge 8.5 x 11-inch pages and a $150 cover price. Amazon discounts it to $140.11, but it's available for just $75 on the AuthorHouse website.

AuthorHouse is one of many brands used by self-publishing empire builder Author Solutions -- a company with  terrible reputation -- which was recently bought by traditional publishing empire builder Random Penguin. When AS was bought by RP some industry observers expressed hope that RP would elevate the quality and business tactics of AS. That didn't happen and apparently RP's deep pockets have enabled AS to spend even more money peddling its crappy and overpriced services to desperate and ignorant wannabe authors. The web is filled with complaints by AS authors.


Strangely, AS recently published a book by funny man Carl Reiner (Rob's papa). I never thought of him as desperate and ignorant, but he sure seems to have made a strange choice for his publishing path. Maybe he figured that his name can enable him to make money on the book despite the publisher's name.


NO LOWERCASE LETTERS ARE USED IN THE WACKY BOOK BY MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON.

What follows is a sample of the text, and some "author" info. Keep your barf bag handy.


ARE YOU BARREN AND DISGUSTED?? OR BIRTH CONTROLING AND BUSTED?? THESE QUESTIONS IS >ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTERS IN THIS BOOK: > REVEALING > THE SINS OF THE CHURCHES: REVEALING: HOW *THE SINS BIRTH CONTROL IN OUR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES AND IN THE WORLD MARRIAGES EVEN IN SINFUL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS: HAS CALLED WORLD SIN IN ADULTERY AND FORNICATING RELATIONSHIP AND FALSE CHRIST LEADERSHIP.

THE PIT OF SPIRITUAL WHOREDOM BECAME OPEN AND THE CAUSE OF ORGANIZED CRIME IN OUR GOVERNMENT AND WORLD LEADERSHIP

THE YEAR OF 1994. THE MILITARY HELP DESTROY MY MARRIAGE OF 17 YEARS. FALSE CHRIST LEADERSHIPS BEGAN TO FORM ON TELEVISION.

BECAUSE OF SPIRITUAL SEDUCING SINS. AND SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN OUR CHURCHE LEADERSHIP.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: BIRTH CONTROL IS ONE OF THE MAJOR REASON: WHY HUMANS HAVE FALLEN FAILED COMES COMMANDMENTS: AND NOW THEY HAVE BECOME: WARFUL AGAIN: HEARTLESS AND SINFULLY PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS AND HOLY PEOPLE IN MANY COUTRIES. ** SINFULLY STARTING PERSECUTIONS AND RACISM: THROUGH EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATIONS. **RESULTING IN GREED AND EVIL: EVEN WORLD WHOREDOM: CAUSING > HOMOSEXUAL AND GAY SINS: USING THE MEDIA OF TELEVISION, THE INTERNET WIDE WORLD WEBSITES AND RADIO SATANIC WORSHIP.

MY FIRST CHRISTIAN BOOK: ASK THE QUESTIONS:

ARE YOU BARREN AND DISGUSTED?? OR> . BIRTHCONTROLING AND BUSTED?? >REMINDING THE WORLD: > ONE IS A SIN AND THE OTHER IS A CURSE OR PERSECUTION!!

JESUS SAID: YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS: BECAUSE > YOU WILL LEARN TO HATE ONE! > AND LOVE THE OTHER!! **

WOMEN AND CHRISTIAN MARRAIGES ON BIRTH CONTROL HAVE LEARN TO HATE HAVING CHILDREN: AND LOVE LIVING WITHOUT THEM. *CAUSING WORK DISCRIMINATIONS AGAINST WOMEN WHO DO HAVE SMALL CHILDREN. AND CAUSING DISCRIMINATIONS: AGAINST OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE BY STARTING WARS AND BY WRITING LAWS AGAINST SCHOOL PROSPERITY.

MY AUTHOR NAME IS:

MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON: I AM A HOLYSPIRIT ANOINTED CHOSEN DISCIPLE OF GOD AND CHRIST JESUS. NAMED TO BE A ANOINTED APOSTLE TEACHER BY THE VOICE OF GOD: TO HELP CALLED THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CHURCH INTO TRUE ETERNAL LIFE SALVATION IN JOHN 3:16. THIS BOOK IS DIRECTED BY GODS HOLYSPIRIT VOICE: ALSO BASE ON THE HOLY COMMANDMENTS: EXODUS 20:13 THOU SHALT NOT KILL, GENESIS 1:26-31 GO INCREASE, MULTIPLY AND TAKE DOMINIONSHIP OVER ALL THINGS. AND 1TIMOTHY 2;15 *THE WOMEN WILL BE SAVED IN CHILD BEARING YEARS: IF SHE CONTINUES: WITH FAITH, CHARITY AND HOLINESS. *ALSO REVELATIONS 2 & 3:*GOD IS ASKING THE CHURCHES TO REPENT OF ALL THEIR> SINS: AND TO RESTORE THE TRUE CHURCH BACK INTO GOD EVER LASTING COMMANDMENTS. * GOD HAS CALLED AND CHOSEN: ELIYZABETH TO HELP SAVED THE WORLD AND CHURCH FROM THE FALSE CHRIST TEACHINGS. *THROUGH THIS BOOK HOLYSPIRIT PRAYERS: AND HOLYSPIRIT TEACHINGS: YOU WILL AND CAN FIND TRUE SALVATION IN GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: JOHN 3:3-16 THIS HOLYSPIRIT BOOK OF REPENTANCE AND REMEMBER OF THE WORDS AND COMMANDMENTS OF GOD: WILL HELP YOU BECOME A TRUE: BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN: JOHN 3:3-16 REMEMBER: JESUS SAID: YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN: OF THE WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT . GOD HAS DIRECTED*ELIYZABETH HOLYSPIRIT WRITINGS IN THIS BOOK TO HELP ALL>UNDERSTAND GODS SALVATION CALLS!! GOD HAS DIRECTED THIS BOOK TO HELP ALL WHO SEEK TO BE OBEDIENT TO GODS HOLY COMMANDMENTS: EVEN OVERCOME ALL FALSE CHRIST TEACHINGS: THROUGH REPENTENCE & RESTORATION: GIVING GODS TITHES BACK INTO THE HOLYSPIRIT LEADERSHIP: STARTING WITH: THIS BOOK OF HOLYSPIRIT SERVANT: MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON: WHEN YOU GIVE TO MY HOLYSPIRIT DISCIPLESHIP: YOU CAN BE SURE YOUR ETERNAL LIFE AND NAME WILL BE WRITTEN IN THE LAMBS BOOK OF LIFE. **SUPPORT GODS HOLYSPIRIT GOALS: THROUGH THIS HOLYSPIRIT BOOK WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN CHARITY DONATIONS: TO HELP ME BUILD HOLYSPIRIT CHURCHES AND TO HELP ME MENTOR ADOPTIONS OF GODS ORPHAN CHILDREN. I AM A HOLYSPIRIT BRIDE VOICE FOR GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: REPENT AND SEEK TO RESTORE YOURSELF: FROM ALL YOUR SINS: WHEN FOLLOW ME: IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: JOIN YOUR HOLYSPIRT CONNECTION: SUPPORTING ME: SISTER ELIYZABETH WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN TITHES AND CHRISTIAN OFFERINGS!! *MALACHI 3:1-16 *AND MATTHEW 4:17-25. & MATTHEW 28:18-20

IT IS WRITTEN: REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!!

Is there anything good I can find to say about this book? Sure there is. It's so big and so heavy that it can be used as a doorstop. It's also a powerful example of what writers and publishers should NOT do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Self-appointed publishing queens can kiss my royal ass



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

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

  • Queen Heather lives in the Bronx, New York. I was born in the Bronx, in the ROYAL HOSPITAL, and lived in the Bronx from 1946 to 1952, and then again from 1970 to 1975.

    I am therefore even more royal than Heather Covington, and I hereby proclaim myself to be Publishing King.

    Bow down, Kylee and Heather, and prepare to kiss my royal ass.


...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Self-publishing companies don't have to publish shitty books, but most are perfectly happy to do so

Self-publishing companies (formerly known as vanity publishers, subsidy publishers, author mills and book whores) make most of their money by selling services and products to authors -- not by selling books to readers.

Because of this, they're generally perfectly happy to publish any book submitted (unless it is obscene or libelous). If they refuse to publish a book -- because it is obscene, libelous or merely terrible -- they make no money.

Therefore, they publish many shitty books.

With most of these companies, editing is an extra-cost option usually costing $300 to $1,000, which many ignorant, egomaniacal or impoverished authors decide to skip.


I previously blogged about the problem created by Xlibris's not insisting on editing.

Xlibris says, "One of our founding principles, dating back to when we were newly incorporated and making books out of a basement office, is that authors should have control over their work."

That's not necessarily a good thing. If an author has bad ideas for a book's design, or is simply a bad writer, shit gets published. The "proficient team" and "best editors" don't control the quality of what gets published with an Xlibris label on it.


One of the best examples (i.e., one of the worst books) that shows the failure of Xlibris is the awkwardly named, physically ugly, poorly written, unedited and overpriced The Truth and the Corruption of the American System by Eunice Owusu.

The author has some important things to say, but her message is diluted and distorted by bad presentation, and lack of help from Xlibris. The company wanted to collect money for the publishing package they sold her, but made no effort to improve the book.


I've preached that companies like Xlibris need to stop behaving like crack whores who will provide service to anyone who can pay the price. I also said that self-publishing companies need to develop some pride, and to grow some balls. They need to be able to say, "I'm sorry, but your manuscript is just not good enough to be published unless it gets professional editing."


Sadly, even if an author does pay for editing, the book may still turn out badly. One author told me she paid $999 for the most expensive "Diamond" publishing package from stupid, sloppy and sleazy Outskirts Press, plus extra-cost options including nearly $1,000 for "professional" editing.

She said, "I have had some scathing reviews due to the errors that were left in my book after I paid a small fortune for editing with the Outskirts editing team. I was so excited when my book was first released, but after a few family members pointed out the mistakes left behind, I can't describe the restraint it took for me not to explode. I tried to reason with my so-called marketing representative, but she simply hid behind the "fine print" they give you after they receive payment from you. It would have cost me another small fortune to revise the book, and I am still in debt from publishing it in the first place. The marketing representative simply would not assume any responsibility for mistakes that Outskirts made. Outskirts made me feel paranoid about not getting their editing service, but when I did it was as if I had no editing at all."

A while ago I had the misfortune to flip through a horribly produced book from Outskirts Press, Stupid In Montana As America by Robert E. Milliken.


Virtually everything about the book is either inept or wacky.
  1. It had two reviews on Amazon, and one was written by the author. That was removed and the remaining review is terribly written.
  2. It's overpriced.
  3. The title makes no sense.
  4. The description on Amazon misuses the noun "dupe." It is not a synonym for "stupid person." Some dupes are smart people, like clients of Bernard Madoff.
  5. The author's promotion in an authors' online group is filled with religious nonsense, and nonwords such as "accurd" (occurred) and "maltible" (multiple).
  6. There are abundant errors inside the book. Some are silly and tiny, such as "bit" for "bitten." But there is major garbage which should never have been printed, e.g., "Fme fishing and hunting are my two faveretfavorite things to do, but I gotta tell yayou, that theirsthere are more and more people doing it."
  7. The first sentence in the first chapter says: "I may have a deferent different view point than of the local’s who live there." I've read a great many books, but I can't recall any short sequence of words with as many errors as this one. Like Owusu, Milliken has some important things to say, but his message is horribly weakened by the unprofessional publishing provided by Outskirts Press.

Sadly, this book about stupidity is a great example of stupidity. It is really stupid to publish an unedited book.

Companies that willingly (and gladly) publish shit are contributing to the downfall of literature, culture, civilization and maybe even life on Earth. I wish they would merely go out of business.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why is this pathetic publishing company still in business?


I previously noted that "the recent, long-overdue and completely justified demise of Shiel & Denver" meant that Outskirts Press had reclaimed its sad title as the second-worst publishing-services company in the world, with Publish America (now America Star Books) as the worst.

A recent look at the site of Self Help Publishers has caused me to drop PA and Outskirts into merely second and third worst. Congratulations to both.

Like many of its competitors, Self Help Publishers is both inept and overpriced.

Unlike PA and Outskirts, Self Help is only mildly sleazy. However it is so outrageously incompetent that it grabs the overall-worst title even without cheating or stealing.

It is misleading, of course, with the impressive-sounding claim that "Your book shall also be made available to several online retailers and no less than 30,000 bookstores." That does not mean that any bookseller will actually try to sell your book.

And its claim that it has assisted "hundreds of thousands of authors in realizing their self publishing dreams" is absolute bullshit.

The company's website was incomplete and incompetent when I first looked at it in 2010 -- and it still is in 2014.

What does this mean:  "Does royalties can earn by buying my own book?"

The logo at the top of the website indicates "beta" -- but the website was created on June 4, 2003!  Eleven years is a long time to remain in beta. The most recent copyright date is 2011. Isn't anyone at the company paying attention? Am I the only one who has read the website? 

The site's section about ebooks mentions reading on an extinct PDA (portable digital assistant) but does not mention tablets, smart phones or e-readers.

The pathetically out-of-date company can't handle color ebooks. However, it can provide PDF ebooks, which approximately 17 people still care about. 

What the fuck does this mean: "The editorial section looks for any errors in the books whether it be in the typing, spelling mistakes or the punctuation. This gives an edge over the market value of the book. This
Basic Editorial Service
Enhanced Editorial
Indexing
Manuscript Review/Assessment"

And, couldn't someone in the "editorial section" see that the following should be two sentences?

"Your search for book publishers is over Print-on-Demand is the most affordable option if you want to become a successful self published author." 

... or that "in to" should be one word?

(below) Take a look at http://www.selfhelppublishers.com/affiliate_program.php -- and have a barf bag handy. The text is all "lorem ipsum" (temporary Latin text used to evaluate a layout).


The online forum has few posts. One post says "Is peace possible?" That's an interesting question, but has nothing to do with publishing. Many posts are unmoderated spam.

The blog section is similarly useless.

The site promotes a dozen "Unique Offers services." None of them are unique and most are of dubious value. Prices range up to $9,999. Ouch.

Much of the site seems to have been written by someone who is NOT a native English speaker (and edited by someone who is blind), like:
  •  "The manuscript can be well prepared before it is finally published. The user file contains images, graphics and contents, which can be very useful before you make the final publication. There are two main service involved in this."
  • And: "Irrespective of your choice of genre chosen to write the book, you will have an undivided access to our services and support essential in publishing them. We have crafted a professional process of self publishing to enable to take complete control of your book throughout all the stages of editing, proofreading, designing the design, and selecting the layout of the page."
  • And: "We authorize you with full creative control right from the submission of the manuscript till the final publication of the book." 
  • And: "We ensure you that we will offer the top of line self publishing services along with the editorial and the marketing services."
  • And: "the entire money is reimbursed back."
  • And: "The eBooks are in the electronic version."
  • And: "Should y"
  • And: "She doesn't talk to re"
  • And: "Do\'s and Don\'ts"
  • And: "Now, an intensive artwork is available"
  • And: "Do the customers spend time considerable time looking at the book cover?"
Self Help says "Within few weeks you will get published." It also says, "your manuscript conversion into a book will take somewhere between three to six months."

The section called "The People of Self-Help" includes job functions, but has no people.
Many of the books the company offers for sale are from authors who do not use the company -- including Arthur Conan Doyle and Homer! Many prices are extremely high, and extremely stupid, like $30.61 and $20.27.

Many categories including law, medical, technology and juvenile fiction have no books at all.

The company says that a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) protects your book. It does not.

The company brags that it lets author submit their manuscripts online. That's not exactly a competitive advantage since all of its competitors work the same way.

Even the company's name is stupid. It would be a good name for a company that publishes self-help books.


According to its website, "We are one of the renowned book publishing houses " and "Self Help Publishers is the world's leading provider of Print-on-Demand book publishing, distribution and marketing services for authors."

I hereby declare that the pathetic company is full of shit, and I challenge the company to justify its claim of world leadership.

Of course the company lies about providing up to 30 complimentary books. They're complimentary only if you ignore the fee of up to $2,099.


I am amazed that this company is still in business, and can't imagine why any writer would pay money to it.

Self Help Publishers takes incompetence to a ludicrous new level.



STAY FAR AWAY!

Friday, June 20, 2014

If an old book can't be cured, let it die


The Complete Guide to Self Publishing has been promoted as "The Bible of Self-Publishing," and criticizing it is almost like criticizing the Bible. In fact, the book is almost as old as the Old Testament. I'm exaggerating. The first version, written by Tom and Marilyn Ross, was apparently published in 1978, when self-publishing was very different from today. 

I bought the out-of-date 4th edition in 2008, and the new 5th edition in 2010. It's also out-of-date, and was out of date when it was printed. It was adapted and updated by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier from the earlier versions 

It's advertised as "Completely revised and updated," but it needs more updating.

Many thousands of copies of various editions of this book have been sold, and it has received many good reviews and blurbs. Like the Bible, there are problems with this book. People get into trouble if they rely on books with good reputations that provide bad information.
  • The discussion of discounts shows a range of 40 to 67 per cent, but there is no mention of the 20% discount common in online sales.
  • The book shows a chart of quantity discounts, but this is meaningless unless the self-publisher maintains and ships inventory -- which is uncommon in the era of print-on-demand.
  • The section dealing with the cost of "subsidy and POD publishing" states that Lulu charges about $853 for 100 books. That price is too much to pay, and no author should order 100 books from Lulu.
  • The quoted price of $8.53 to $13.19 per book from CreateSpace is much too high, and the real CreateSpace prices do not mean that "you'll lose considerable money on each sale."
  • The discussion of POD print quality is out of date and unnecessarily negative.
  • Many web addresses are non-functioning.
  • Ebook material is ancient. The index doesn't include either "ebook" or "e-book."
The glossary needs work.
  • It includes "Click-through rate." "Click-through ratio" is much more common.
  • "Cataloging in Publication" needs more explanation.
  • "Cropping" refers to using a pencil or crayon -- but not digital cropping.
  • It says that LCCN stands for "Library of Congress Card Number." It's "Control" number.
  • It says that a modem is used with a microcomputer. Modems are nearly extinct. Microcomputers are completely extinct. The term was replaced by "PC" around 1980.
  • The definition of "net receipts" uses the quaint and legalistic plural "moneys." "Money" would work just fine.
  • The definition of "photostat" is wrong, and the term is irrelevant to self-publishing.
  • The definition of "platform" is a computer operating system, but there is a much more common use in publishing. An author's platform consists of all of the connections an author uses to reach readers, such as a blog or speaking engagements.
  • The definition of "POD self-publishing" is unnecessarily negative.
  • "Posting" mentions ancient newsgroup submissions, but not blogs.
  • "Proportion wheel" is a tool of ancient paste-up page formatting, not modern electronic formatting.
  • "Public Relations" is not in the glossary or the index.
  • "SASE" is probably a waste of space and does not need to be there.
  • OTOH, "Self-publishing" -- the subject of the book -- is not in the glossary.
  • "Slug" is an ancient printing term which could have been eliminated. However, it has a meaning in journalism, even in the 21st century, which could have been included.
  • "Stripping" is another ancient printing term which should be dropped.
  • Defining "telecommunications" is a waste of space.
The book definitely shows its age. It sometimes seems to regard the Internet as a novelty.
  • The recommendation that web pages must load in eight seconds or less was appropriate in the age of modems, but not now, with ubiquitous broadband.
  • Ancient fan-boy jargon like “surfer,” and spelling “Web site” instead of “website,” and uppercasing “Net” and “Web” make the book seem like a 90-year-old in a nursing home dressing like a teenager.
The book needs a front-to-back revision and elimination of the ancient artifacts. It’s silly to show a letter (seeking permission to use copyrighted material) that refers to a book coming out in 1985, and apparently composed with an ancient typewriter. Another letter includes “news” of upcoming events in early 2001.

The front cover looks absolutely ancient -- but not funky-ancient, just dull-ancient. There is poor contrast between the type and background, and when the cover is shown as a thumbnail on Amazon.com, only the word “SELF” can be read.

I am extremely disappointed with the interior design. The book is just plain hard to read.

The text type is small. The ink color looks more like gray than black, so there is not nearly enough contrast against the cream-colored pages. White would have been better.

The italic captions are even smaller than the text, and words within illustrations are nearly illegible. The fly-turd-size italics in the index are almost useless.

Chapter names are in tiny italic type in the page footers, and my baby-boomer eyes had trouble reading them with my new glasses. (For the record, I have no trouble with newspapers, magazines or most books, and my PC monitor is set for “normal” size type.)

I recognize that there's a lot of material in this 556-page 6 x 9 book. If it had 7 x 10-inch pages, the type could have been larger and the thinner book would be easier to keep flat for reading and annotating.
  • Even with the present page size, the leading (space between lines) could have been reduced a bit to allow larger type.
  • The index needs a thorough pruning. By eliminating terms like “Homer Simpson,” “Pegine Echevarria,” “FAO Schwartz” and “J.C. Penney” -- which NO ONE would search for in a book about publishing -- some space could be rescued for enlarged text.
  • Also, I doubt that readers need separate listings for Tim Zagat, Nina Zagat and the Zagat survey -- which are all on the same page in the book.
  • Suggestions that the reader kill time by looking at Hubble space telescope images, or use Google images as monitor wallpaper seem inappropriate -- and waste space.
There is a tremendous amount of valuable information in this book, but it simply is not ready for 2010, or 2014. It is past-due for a complete remaking -- or maybe it should just be allowed to die gracefully. Anyone who wants to self-publish in 2014 or later will be in trouble if this book is the only resource consulted.

It could continue as an artifact showing the way things used to be, like The Compleat Angler. That book was first published in 1653, but you can buy a freshly printed copy on Amazon.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sexist, but funny, so please excuse me

Why Some Men Have a Dog And No Wife.


1. The later you are, the happier your dog is to see you.

2. Dogs don’t notice if you call them by another dog’s name.

3. Dogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.

4. A dog’s parents never visit.

5. Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.

6. Dogs find you amusing when you’re drunk.

7. Dogs like to go hunting and fishing.

8. A dog will not wake you up at night and ask, “If I died, would you get another dog?”

9. If a dog has babies, you can put an ad in the paper and give them away.

10. A dog will let you put a studded collar on it without calling you a pervert.

11. If a dog smells another dog on you, it doesn’t get mad. It just thinks it’s interesting.

12. If a dog leaves, it won’t take half of your stuff.


To test this theory:

Lock your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour. Then open it and see who’s happy to see you.

(The list is from Harry Newton, who, like I, has both a wife and a dog. I thank him. Photo is from GlobalAnimal.org -- read about dog kissing.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

When trying to impress people, don't make stupid mistakes


Errors in online text are the electronic equivalent of a piece of lettuce stuck between two front teeth, an open zipper, upside-down wrist watch or toilet paper trailing from your ass. They distract people from your message and are evidence of carelessness.

On an online forum for writers, editors and publishers, someone was trying to attract attention to a new book and get advice for promoting it. He wrote, "My first novel . . . . will soon be relaesed
to Amazon, B&N and e-books."

That typing error is not a big deal, but it stands out like a sore thumb and could have been easily fixed before the world saw it. Also, a book is not released "to" e-books.

Sadly, these errors are part of a pattern of carelessness limiting the effectiveness of this new novelist who is trying to sell books in a very crowded field.
  • Some of the errors in one short blog post include "bias" instead of "biased," "wonderous" instead of "wondrous," "existance" instead of "existence," "Capitalism" instead of "capitalism," "was" instead of "were," "socio-economic" instead of "socioeconomic" and "hell bent" instead of "hell-bent."
  • In just a few paragraphs of his online book sample, he wrote "marines" instead of "Marines," "cake walk" instead of "cakewalk," "whaopping" instead of "whopping," "coffee-table" instead of "coffee table," "main-room" instead of "main room," "oak, dining table" instead of "oak dining table" and "table-lamp" instead of "table lamp." There is also improper punctuation.
The author is a good storyteller, but he's a careless author. His book was supposed to go on sale in a few days. Based on the online sample, the book -- like the cast of "Saturday Night Live" -- was not ready for prime time.

The publisher's website says, "Quality is our top concern." In an online forum, a representative of the publisher made multiple errors in English. That's not a good sign. 

image from www.thinkstockphotos.ca. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I have a great new way to make book covers, and you should try it, too.


In the past, for my "important" pbook (printed book) covers I hired a professional artist who worked from my conceptions. I was generally very pleased with the results.

I went to art school as a kid, I won some art prizes, I like design work and I am considered "pretty good." At the age of 68 I am still getting better.

I've designed most of my ebooks and a few pbooks, too.

One thing that held me back was my ignorance and fear (and presumed inability) of producing a proper PDF of the pbook cover to submit to either Lightning Source or CreateSpace, my two pbook printers. This was something, I thought, that separated the pros from me.

CreateSpace, Lulu and other author-services companies provide free cover templates for their customers. Below are some quickie examples of sleep-inducing covers I produced with free templates.



And below are some dreadful covers of real books other people produced with free templates.
  • Templates have a big advantage: they make it possible for people with absolutely no artistic ability to produce book covers.
  • As you can see, one of the big disadvantages is that many people use the same templates.




A few times I "cheated" when using a CreateSpace blank template. I attached my own front cover design (produced with a mix of Microsoft Image Composer and Photoshop Elements) to a simple CS spine and back cover. The results were OK, but not as good as they could have been or should have been.

Below is what I was able to produce with this half-assed, half-baked method for my new Do As I Say, Not As I Did (which quickly became an Amazon Kindle bestseller). I could not match any of CreateSpace's available spine colors with the red I chose for the front and back.


Next is an abandoned feeble and futile attempt to make a cover in Microsoft Word.


And finally is a much better cover produced with brand-new template software that uses MS Word, from Joel Friedlander and Tracy R. Atkins. It still needs a bit of tweaking but I am extremely pleased with both the ease of production (fast learning curve) and the final result.



(below) And here's what it looks like in 3-D, as imagined by MyECoverMaker.com:  




(below) There is no guaranty that cover borders will turn out properly, so here's a later version with a stripe but not borders, now on sale on Amazon. I switched to a lighter, more elegant typeface for the author's name and subtitle to increase the relative impact of the title, and also emphasized the bestseller status.



(below) I also tried and abandoned an all-black version. The template makes it easy to experiment.


(below) for the final version I restored the red trim, put my name against a white band so it's easier to read and moved the subtitle up so it's right below the title.




Joel Friedlander is an award-winning book designer and the man behind TheBookDesigner.com -- a very useful blog for self-publishing authors (and even traditionally published authors and non-published authors). Tracy R. Atkins has over 15 years' experience building technology platforms, holds many tech certifications and is a Microsoft Certified Professional. Both men are self-published authors.

Like many "real" book designers Joel initially sneered at amateurs like me who used Microsoft Word to format book interiors. He wrote:  Typesetting with a word processor is never going to give you the smooth color, sophisticated hyphenation, and fine control over your type that you can get with a professional-level program.
 
HOWEVER, he also wrote: “the books we see that look bad, only look that way because the author couldn’t work out how to make it look the way it ought to . . . . It isn’t because of the tool that was used the create them.”

That last quote provides a clue to Joel's recent change of heart that led to his template business.

Joel wisely realized that he was not going to be able to convince thousands of amateurs like me to use "adult" software like InDesign that can cost as much as $849 and can take a long time to learn how to use properly. I’ve done some test pages with InDesign but never bothered to use it for a complete book. One of the ugliest books I've ever seen was a book about book design produced with InDesign. On the other hand, no reader has ever complained about the pages inside the books I've formatted with Word.

Joel and Tracy worked together to produce and market a growing collection of extremely good templates for the interiors of both pbooks and ebooks. I plan to try one very soon.

Their newest product family has templates for book covers based on MS Word. I tried a cover yesterday. The instructions were complete and easy to follow. I had just two minor problems but easily solved them myself in a few minutes. My front cover design was done previously and I spent less than an hour learning and using the template. The result was exactly what I wanted to achieve and was accepted by CreateSpace with no problems. CreateSpace even plopped the ISBN bar code in the right position provided on the template.


My project was a bit different from the procedure envisioned by Joel and Tracy because I already had a complete front cover image. I did not need to use the template's built-in text-handling capability for the front, but I did use it for the spine and back.

I had a little trouble when I wanted to change the background color of the template. At first I didn't realize that the color wasn't  "real" color in a table cell but was an image. When I caught on I was easily able to substitute my own images. My front cover image was complex with background color, a manipulated photo plus text. My images for the spine and back cover were simple blocks of red color and I plugged-in text and art where I wanted it to be.


My other problem may be the fault of the template, of Microsoft or of me. I needed to adjust the spine width to .689 inches to reflect the page count (306 pages). Whenever I tried to put the proper size in the cell width window, it initially showed the proper size and then snapped back to the default 2.5 inches. I avoided this roadblock by using my mouse to grab the edge of the spine and drag it inward until the proper dimension showed up in the window.

The template is extremely flexible and can (not "will") allow you to produce a fine cover.
Re
member: excellent tools -- whether cover design software, a camera or a sculptor's hammer and chisel -- can only help someone who has artistic talent and knowledge. They will not convert an ignorant, egomaniacal fool into Michelangelo. His "David" is at the side.


Everything in the template online store is on sale until 6/18/14 at midnight Pacific time. Just go shopping and when you add an item to the cart, it will give you the discount automatically.

Prices, even when not on sale, are extremely reasonable for what you receive. And, when combined with free support and a liberal "no questions asked" refund policy, the templates merit serious consideration by anyone who formats books.  

Now some plugs for a couple of my books that can help you with cover design:

The Look of a Book: what makes a book cover good or bad and how to design a good one

 

 The Two Buck Indie Author's Type Book