Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Skip this over-priced, error-filled,
ugly, padded book
Chutzpah is a great Yiddish word that means having BIG BALLS, unmitigated gall, unlimited arrogance, and brazen egomania.
The classic example of the highest level of chutzpah is a boy, convicted of murdering his parents, who begs the judge for leniency because he is an orphan.
Another great example is the $19.95 price that David Rising put on his Best in Self Publishing & Print on Demand. Actually, I'm not sure if that's the title. It may be just one of two subtitles on the jumbled cover. The actual title might be the deceptive How to Get Published Free.
So why is $19.95 an example of chutzpah?
(1) The book is puny, just 136 pages. Pages 135 and 136 have numbers on them, but nothing else. The next page is completely blank, without a number. Maybe Rising expects his readers to finish writing the book themselves. By comparison, Carolyn Howard-Johnson's excellent The Frugal Book Promoter has 283 much-more-useful pages and a $17.95 price tag. Morris Rosenthal -- the expert on POD publishing, asks just $14.95 for his infinitely superior Print-On-Demand Book Publishing, with 173 pages. Dan Poynter's excellent and authoritative Self-Publishing Manual has 463 useful pages and the same $19.95 price tag as Rising's puny publication.
(2) Of course, someone might argue that $19.95 is a fair price based on the value of what's inside -- but only an idiot would make that argument. 37 pages (TWENTY-SEVEN PERCENT) are instructions on using Lulu to publish your book. Lulu published this book, and I'm not impressed. The same information is available from Lulu, for free.
(3) There's more un-original book padding including eight pages from Dan Poynter that are available for free on Dan's website and six pages from Audrey Owen that are also available online for free. There's also an interview with Richard Paul Evans by Carolyn Campbell that takes up 10 pages. It too, is available as an online freebie. Rising even reprints unedited advertising for publishing services, such as five self-serving pages from Lotus Books.
(4) There's more padding that doesn't use words. Spacing between paragraphs is consistently inconsistent, with large blocks of white space and some silly pictures showing up for no particular reason. I don't know if Rising or someone else did the layout -- but it sucks.
(5) Rising's writing style is amateurish and definitely not ready for print. His up-front disclaimer speaks to "you, the reader." Who could "you" be other than the reader? On the same page, Rising says, "...could result with..." It should be "could result in." Apparently Rising believes that an automated spell-checker is a substitute for a copy editor. It isn't. The very first sentence of his introduction has a stupid error: "level playing field for all participates." That's not a spelling error; it's the wrong fucking word! Rising also has bad grammar: "There isn't going to be thousands of unsold books..." and ..."there is always one or two..." and "Don't be afraid you'll not lose anything..." He also says, "...your writing should at least see the light as for getting published... and "whether you see sells of any significance." I have no idea what the hell he is talking about. There are many more examples, but I'll spare you the agony. If I typed more, I'd puke on my keyboard.
(6) Rising does give some good advice, such as hiring experts when necessary. Unfortunately he was too blind, stupid or broke to heed his own advice. One of the funniest examples is, "...you'll soon see how easy it is to over look mistakes..." Hey genius, it should be overlook (one word). On the other hand, he spells "subtitle" as "sub title" (two words).
(7) The typography is atrocious. Some pages are set justified, some are flush left and ragged right -- depending on where Rising copied the text from. Some paragraphs start with an indent, some start with a skipped line, and some have neither an indent nor a skipped line. The type justification is even worst than I find in newspapers, and Rising did not have a daily deadline as an excuse for ugliness. Some of the word spacing is absolutely grotesque, and is inexcusable.
(8) Rising doesn't understand arithmetic, or at least he doesn't explain it well. He says, "Lulu only charges you 20% commission on your profits. So, for any product you sell on the site you get 80% profit." In the real world, an 80% profit means that something costs you 20 cents and you sell it for a buck, so your (gross) profit is 80 cents, and 80% of the sale. Rising should have said "80% OF THE profit," not "80% profit." There can be a huge difference.
(9) Even the index is stupid, apparently assembled by a robot with no common sense. Before the "A" topics we have lists of topics beginning with the dollar sign, and with the numbers three and seven. If you want to find the page where Rising discussed "$34.95," or "72DPI" you'll love his index.
(10) The front cover screams, "How to Get Published Free." The apparently important word "free" is not indexed, and I couldn't find anything about free book publishing in this book. I didn't actually expect to lean how to publish for free -- certainly not on paper -- but I was cynically curious to find out what Rising had to say about it.
This is the only book I can recall that says nothing about its author. Maybe that's because there is nothing in the author's education or experience that he can claim qualifies him to write about the topic.
I'm a strong supporter of freedom of the press. Until now, I've firmly believed that any writer should be able to publish anything. However, after buying this slim and nearly worthless volume, I might be willing to consider a licensing requirement for writers. I have no doubt that David Rising would fail the test.