Monday, August 31, 2009

Beckham — the Pegasus of publishing

Some types of publishing are like the Pegasus, Unicorn, Loch Ness monster, or Big Foot.

“Joint venture publishing” and “co-publishing” are so hard to find that they may not exist.

Beckham Publications Group says it provides joint venture publishing, where “two parties decide to invest in a project and share in the profits generated. The investing partners are the author and the publisher.”

Authors pay Beckham a fee to design, edit, manufacture, and deliver a specified quantity of books for the author to resell. Beckham also prints copies to go to booksellers and pays a royalty on each book sold. The company can provide extra-cost promotional materials and services such as press releases.

Beckham says, “Larger houses take 12 to 18 months to produce a book… However, your joint venture self-published book can be produced in half the usual time commercial publishers take.” If Beckham takes six to nine months to put books on the market, it’s slower than most vanity presses and MUCH slower than REAL self-publishing.

Beckham is pleasantly candid and honest about the prospects of its writers, and its advice applies to most customers of vanity presses and many self-publishers: “Do not expect to receive reviews in national media; your book probably doesn’t have so large an audience. Most of our joint venture publications will not attract a large reading audience. Therefore it is unlikely that it will attract the interest of the big chain buyers.”

Beckham’s fees are determined by how much work needs to be done, book size, artwork, and number of books printed. The author must buy some books to sell or give away.

Beckham gets a copyright for you and assigns one of its own ISBNs. If you use Beckham, they — not you — are the publisher. With Beckham, you are NOT self-publishing, despite what they state.

Company boss Barry Beckham said that an author who might collect $2 per book in royalties from a traditional publisher could collect $9 from his company. But since the author makes a big investment, he will not get back his investment until about 500 books are sold (which may never happen).

The Beckham website says, “Our editors are prepared to correct textual matters like grammar, punctuation and spelling.” They may not be adequately prepared. The website mis-identifies Virginia Woolf as “Wolf” and Stephen Crane as “Stephan.” Virginia with the extra “o” was a writer. Virginia with just one “o” is a sculptor. The site also says “trims size” instead of “trim size.” My own websites are imperfect, but I’m not trying to impress publishing prospects with my editors’ abilities.

Following Beckham’s instructions, I submitted 10 sample pages of manuscript to find out if I was good enough to meet their publishing standards and how much they would charge me to do a joint venture with them.

After nearly four weeks I received this email: “Attached is our estimate of $4,555 that includes our services and 100 copies delivered to you.” That price is so high it seems like the investment formula for the “joint venture” is 100% for the author and 0% for Beckham.

Beckham provides a lot of services, but their price is thousands of dollars more than what a real self-publisher would pay. And in order to make back my investment and earn a tiny profit, I’d have to sell those 100 books for about FIFTY BUCKS EACH.

How many would you like to buy?

I wouldn't like to buy any books from Beckham.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lulu is too stupid to be trusted
to deliver toilet paper

What do these books have in common?

They all come up in a search on for the very specific title of my new Telecom Reference eBook. I uploaded it a few days ago as a test, and with the pathetic hope of selling a few copies.

The wacky search suggestions include:

Professional Helicopter Pilot Studies
Gay Girls in Dresses
How to Study and Interpret the Holy Bible
Sacred Geometry Design Sourcebook
Epic Role Playing Game Manual
Dragon's Den
Resurrection of the Hellcat
Thinking Skinny Ebook
Passion X:
Film Dollies, Cranes, & Camera Stands
Disciplinary Dialogues

...and more irrelevant crap.

If Miss Lulu thinks these books are the right books, I would not trust her to bring me a roll of toilet paper when I am in need.

Lulu's search technology is retarded. A search for my exact title brings up 5,685 results -- of which only one is the right one.

A search for my exact name brings up 8,246 results -- of which only one is the right one.

Yesterday the right one was buried so far down that I never found it.

The first time I checked today, it was the very first one.

The second time I searched today, there were 5,256 results (nearly 3,000 names disappeared from Lulu in less than a minute!), and my name was once again buried deeply among some absolutely absurd search results.

Tomorrow? Who knows. Maybe Lulu will be out of business tomorrow.

If I try to refine the search by specifying only titles published this week (which I would not expect a prospective purchaser to do), I get 43 results, which would allegedly be displayed on six screens (or four or five screens, depending on the mood of the perverted search engine software).

Since my name was not displayed on the first screen, I clicked to see the second screen and got this cheerful message: "Sorry, your search did not match any of the interesting content on Lulu. Suggestion: Make sure all words are spelled correctly, also try different or more general keywords."

The most interesting content on Lulu might be a book that no one can find.

Authors' names that came up in a search for "Michael N. Marcus" include "Michael Winkler, "Sebastian Michael," "Raymond McMahon," "David Nutter," "B├ętina Daquin," and "Mary-Barbara Doloris" -- BUT NOT MY NAME!

I then tried to make the search even more specific than by using my exact title or exact author's name. I put the search term within quotation marks -- the normal way to enhance searching. I got ZERO results. The brain-dead search system thought that the quote marks were part of the search terms.

I am not making this up. No one could make this up.

Lulu is apparently run by a bunch of idiots. Any writer who expects to sell books from the Lulu website is clueless, or an idiot. STAY AWAY FROM LULU!

Lulu boss Bob Young said, “We publish a huge number of really bad books” and “We’re not trying to get books to a mass market." Lulu's website is so bad that I'm amazed that Bob and his moronic crew have any market at all.

Bob also owns a football team and part of a soccer team, and likes fly fishing and old calculators. His online biography says he "tips his orange hat." The photo on that page, of course, shows Bob in a black hat.

It's time for Bob, or someone, to pay more attention to Lulu.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Sony eBook Readers

Although the Sony Reader debuted in 2006, before Amazon’s Kindle, the Kindle quickly surpassed Sony in reader sales and in available titles. In 2009, Sony crept ahead in titles and introduced new fourth-generation models at lower price points, as well as a wireless Reader. Sony also reduced the prices of new releases and New York Times bestseller titles in its eBook Store to $9.99 to match Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The PRS-300 Reader Pocket Edition has a five-inch electronic paper screen and is available in a variety of colors. It can be operated with one hand, and fits into a purse or jacket pocket. It can store about 350 standard eBooks, and provides up to two weeks of reading on a single battery charge. Its suggested retail price is $199, probably the lowest-priced eBook reader at the time of its introduction.

The PRS-600 Reader Touch Edition features a responsive, menu-driven, six-inch touch screen panel for quick navigation, page turning, highlighting, and note-taking with a finger or stylus. You can take handwritten notes with the stylus or type with the virtual keyboard. Notes can be exported and printed. The Reader Touch Edition includes an onboard Oxford American English Dictionary that allows you to look up a word by simply tapping on it. The Touch Edition also offers five adjustable font sizes, as well as expansion slots for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards, so it can handle an almost unlimited number of stored books. Touch Edition comes in red, black or silver and retails for about $299. It replaces the similar-size, $350 PRS-700.

Both new models use E Ink Vizplex electronic paper dis-play that mimics the look of ink on paper. Sony’s eBook Library software 3.0, which includes support for many Mac computers as well as PCs, makes it easy to transfer and read any Adobe PDF (with reflow capability), Microsoft Word, BBeB files, or other text file formats on the Reader.

Kindle eBooks can be downloaded wirelessly and instantly, but most Sony eBooks must first be downloaded to a PC, and then copied to a Sony Reader with a USB cable.

The new Reader Daily Edition (due in December) will provide wireless access via AT&T’s 3G mobile broadband network to Sony’s eBook. There are no monthly fees or transaction charges for the basic wireless connectivity and users can also load personal documents or content from other compatible sites via USB. It has enough internal memory to hold more than 1,000 books and expansion slots for memory cards to hold even more. It has a seven-inch touchscreen and its price will be about $399.

This week Sony announced its Library Finder application. Sony, working with OverDrive, a distributor of eBooks, will offer visitors to the Sony eBook Store easy access to their local library’s collection of eBooks.

Thousands of libraries in the OverDrive network offer eBooks optimized for the Sony Reader, and visitors can now find these libraries by typing their zip code into the Library Finder. Through the selected library’s download website, visitors can check out eBooks with a valid library card, download them to a PC and transfer to their Reader. At the end of the library’s lending period, eBooks simply expire, so there are never any late fees.

Sony’s eBook store (, looks a lot like Apple’s iTunes store and allows you to make searches and selections using various criteria.

Until the spring of 2009, Amazon offered many more book titles for downloading to Kindle than Sony offered for its Readers. The balance of power changed greatly when Sony made a deal with Google to offer more than a half-million public-domain books that Google has scanned and digitized, boosting the available titles from Sony to more than 600,000. These Googled books are available FREE to Sony Reader owners.

Books from Google include an extensive list of traditional favorites, including A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Black Beauty, as well as more obscure material and non-English books. People can search the full text of the col-lection or browse by subject, author, or featured titles.

Once downloaded, these books can be read on your PC or transferred to a Sony Reader like any other eBook available from the Sony eBook Store. Sony Reader customers can regis-ter up to five Readers to one account for sharing downloaded books.
Sony has a section of their website for publishers to establish a relationship for selling eBooks from the Sony store at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If their website is this ugly, would you trust them to publish a book?

Virtualbookworm is a pay-to-publish company. Allegedly they have some standards for accepting books and are not a vanity press.

In addition to their website designer's extremely ugly and inappropriate justified type (shown above, from their homepage), their copywriter could not decide between "Print-on-Demand" and "print on demand." The designer hid the last "demand" by placing white type on a white background.

Other pages have bad writing, bad typography, factual errors, bad grammar, an empty "news" section, and a non-functioning link to the company's blog.

The site is also misleading. Alluding to competitors, it asks, "Does the company have an online bookstore for customers to purchase your book directly (which means higher revenues for you) or do they force you to rely on Amazon and other middlemen?"

Amazon sells MUCH more than any vanity press's website, and this particular publisher is nearly invisible in the publishing business.

And the company lies, claiming that a Library of Congress Control Number is worth $75. Actually, anyone can get one free with about five minutes' work.

Claiming to provide "self publishing" is also a lie. If this company publishes your book, you are not self-publishing. Just as no one else can take a bath for you or eat lunch for you, no one can self-publish for you. Only you can self-publish for you.

The company offer a "Professional Editing Package," but the one book they published that I bought has a terrible error, claiming that Amazon owns POD printer Lightning Source.

And...WOWEE! If you use Virtualbookworm, you'll get a "FREE BOOK." (However, since you'll pay as much as $2,100 first, it's not really free.)

The site says: "We won't print garbage."

I admit that a website is not necessarily printed, but Virtualbookworm did display this garbage sentence: " is one of the most established POD publishers in the industry." "Most established" is very stinky garbage.

The company brags about being NUMBER ONE on BooksAndTales, but that site is not exactly an influential endorser, and the ranking is from 2005.

They also claim to be ranked #4 by TopTenReviews. Apparently the bookworm has crawled down hill, because in the 2009 rankings Virtualbookworm has dropped to #5.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lulu pisses me off, too.

I've used this blog to do a lot of dumping on Outskirts Press -- the vanity publisher I love to hate.

I don't hate Lulu quite as much, but the company really pisses me off!

The company has the dubious distinction of publishing the absolute worst book I've ever seen. The only requirements for having a book published by Lulu are a valid credit card and blood pressure over zero. Subject matter and literary quality don't count.

The price of a Lulu book is often higher than books printed by others. To make an adequate profit you’ll probably set a higher retail price than you otherwise would, and this may cost you some sales unless your book is unique and important.

Lulu’s founder Bob Young said, “A publishing house dreams of having 10 authors selling a million books each. Lulu wants a million authors selling 100 books each.” He also admitted that the average Lulu print run is for fewer than two copies, and said, “We’re not trying to get books to a mass market.” There’s very little chance of that happening if his company continues to turn out crap.

Young told Publishers Weekly: “We publish a huge number of really bad books.” I don’t think that’s anything to be proud of. If he knows they're bad books, why does he publish them?

The company advertises FREE PUBLISHING. Unfortunately, if you expect to see or sell real books with actual paper pages, Lulu's publishing is not free.

OK, so Lulu is deceptive and has low standards, just like its competitors.

But why am I pissed off at Lulu?

A few days ago -- as an experiment and possible source of income -- I used Lulu to publish an eBook. It did not cost me anything to "publish" it, and all I had to do was fill in some blanks on my PC screen and upload a PDF file.

I expected that I would be able to choose the formats my new masterpiece would be available in, because there are about a dozen different formats used by PCs, phones, and dedicated eBook readers.

I had no choice.

Lulu publishes eBooks only as PDFs, which are mainly used for reading on a PC screen and limit readership and sales potential. In 2007, Lulu announced their “eBook Optimization” service which would allow users to format their books for viewing on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, and Sony eBook Readers. The program was canceled. (I asked one of their public relations people what happened to the program, and after 24 hours I had no answer.) UPDATE: After four days, I still have no answer!

After I uploaded my PDF and chose a suitable cover, I naturally wanted to try to buy a copy of my new eBook. At first it was easily searchable by both title and author, and then by neither, and then by title but not author, and then by author but not title, and then by neither.

The Lulu search system is absolutely miserable, guaranteed to display dozens, hundreds, or thousands incorrect search results.

When I was able to find my book, it was impossible to put it into the electronic shopping cart to buy a download. I tried on several days with several PCs and different web browsers, but I could not buy my book. And neither could anyone else.

I have no idea how many other books can't be bought. Obviously Lulu and at least one author are being deprived of revenue.

Normally in a case like this, I'd call tech support. But Lulu's tech support functions by email only, and can take 24 to 48 hours to respond -- an eternity in the Internet Age.

The first email response was automated, from either a person or a robot named Sandra. It or she sent a bunch of useless and irrelevant copy-and-paste nonsense filled with lots of links that would do absolutely nothing to fix a problem with Lulu's e-commerce system.

Sandra assumed that I would fix their system myself or just fade away. Unless I replied to the email, which would "re-open the ticket," my complaint would be dropped.

That's not a good way to run a business.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Be ready to take advantage of press coverage

Eighty-year-old New Jerseyan Alfred Pristash wrote a memoir that was published for him by Author House.

Pristash spent 18 months writing the manuscript in longhand, and then dictated it to a son who typed it. The book received extensive and complimentary coverage in and in a major New Jersey newspaper. The article mentions that the book sells for $73.99 and is available at

I was curious to see how a vanity-press book could possibly justify that high price. Unfortunately the Amazon page had just basic facts like page count and size. There were no reviews and no information that might convince me to spend $73.99. The AuthorHouse website links for “About the Book, “About the Author” and “Free Preview” contained nothing. I did not place an order.

If you are lucky enough to get media coverage of your book, be sure your online presence is ready to back it up and sell some books!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Amazon, Microsoft & Yahoo
to fight Google book deal

Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo are planning to join a coalition of nonprofit groups, individuals and library associations to oppose a proposed class-action settlement giving Google the rights to commercialize digital copies of millions of books.

The settlement between Google and groups representing authors and publishers, which is awaiting court approval, has attracted opposition from various entities in the book world. The Department of Justice has also opened an antitrust investigation into the implications of the agreement.

Gary Reback, an antitrust lawyer who is acting as counsel to the coalition, said that Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo had all agreed to join the group, which is tentatively called the Open Book Alliance. The Alliance is led by Reback and the Internet Archive, a nonprofit group that has been critical of the settlement. The Alliance plans to make a case to the Justice Department that the arrangement is anticompetitive. Members of the Alliance will most likely file objections with the court independently.

“This deal has enormous, far-reaching anticompetitive consequences that people are just beginning to wake up to,” said Reback. In the 1990s, he helped persuade the Justice Department to file its landmark antitrust case against Microsoft.

Some library associations and groups representing authors are also planning to join the coalition, he said. Earlier this summer, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos criticized the settlement.

Google reached the sweeping settlement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers in October. The two groups had sued Google for copyright infringement in 2005 over the company’s plan to digitize millions of books from libraries, alleging copyright violations. The agreement sets up a mechanism for Google, along with a registry operated by authors and publishers, to display and sell millions of books online.

The parties in the settlement have hailed it as a huge public good, arguing that the agreement will make millions of out-of-print books widely available online and in libraries across the country. They have said it will also create new ways for millions of authors to make money from digital copies of their books, and that other companies could secure deals similar to the one Google obtained under the settlement. (info from the NY Times)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More incompetence from Outskirts Press

The more I read about Outskirts Press, the less I think of them. They do such a lousy job promoting their own business in press releases and promotional books, that I would not expect them to be much help to their author/customers, either.

For $99, they'll send out a "standard press release" to announce a new book. Customers can also buy a "custom press release" for $199.

The Outskirts press releases that I've seen, prepared both for Outskirts and for it author/customers, are amateurish and error-filled. Additionally, rather than use the paid-for press release distribution services that get more respect from the news media, Outskirts uses freebie services that are usually ignored by the media, or that don't distribute releases to the right media.

A Google search for a key phrase in the release I show up above for Diamond shows exactly FOUR links. Three links go to the free PR services, and one link is for a British blog. That's pathetic, and not the way to sell books.

A similar search for a key phrase from the Outskirts book Eternal Life (chosen at random from a list of recent releases) also shows exactly four Google links -- and each one is for a PR distribution website!

Apparently not even one other website thought it was newsworthy. Outskirts does not know how to sell books, but they do know how to collect money from ignorant authors.

By comparison, a news release for one of my books, distributed through PRWeb (which is not a freebie), was picked up by hundreds of websites. Even many months later, it is still on about 90 sites.

The fragment of a custom press release up at the top shows the abysmal quality of Outskirts' release writing. It has bad grammar, extraneous words, improper typography, ugly justification, non-sentences, etc. It's not worth $1.99, let alone $199.

If you look at the group of Google links for Outskirts books below the release, you'll see that three different books are all described as "deftly constructed at 215 pages...."

I don't know if all of the books were constructed with equal deftness, but it's obvious that the actual releases are not particularly deft. Daft might be a better adjective.

I find it strange that the three randomly selected books all have the same number of pages. It's also strange that they have 215 pages. Since a piece of paper has TWO sides, a page count is almost always shown as an even number, whether or not the number includes blank pages at the back of a book.

In addition to the "deftly constructed phrase" that seems to appear in every Outskirts press release, the company uses the similarly ubiquitous "being aggressively promoted to appropriate markets."

If the press releases are ignored my the media, Outskirts has a lot to learn about aggressive promotion.

It appears that Outskirts Press is run by a bunch of ignorant fools. Sadly, its customers seem to be equally deficient.

More lies from Outskirts Press

Outskirts Press is the vanity press I love to hate.

They want prospective author/customers to think they are a "self-publishing company," but they're not. (More about that later.)

Vanity presses make most of their money by selling services to writers -- not by selling book to readers.

Why do I love to hate Outskirts?

It's because they do so much, so wrong, that I have a good time pointing out their failures, foibles, and distortions of reality.

They recently distributed some alleged "news" via several of the freebie press release services (not the first-class services that charge for distributing releases and get better pickup by the news media).

In addition to suffering from limited media impact, freebie PR services also display ads from competitors.

The page at with the Outskirts news release has bold, colorful ads promoting the publishing services of Tate Publishing and Booksurge with clickable links to take readers right to the Tate and Booksurge websites. It takes two clicks to go from the Outskirts press release page to the Outskirts website -- but of course the competitors paid money and Outskirts went the cheap route.

The headline writer wants the world to know that Inc. magazine declared Outskirts to be the "Fastest-Growing Self Publishing Company."

Forget, for a moment, that Outskirts is not a self-publishing company.

The release stupidly says: "sales of self-publishing books climbed 132% while the sales of traditionally published books fell by 3%."

"Self-publishing books" would be books about self-publishing. I think someone at Outskirts meant "self-published" books.

Even worse, Outskirts is seriously distorting the statistics (originally provided by R. R. Bowker). The 132% growth was for on-demand books, which include much more than self-published books. Major traditional publishing companies now print-on-demand, as do university presses, vanity presses, and real self-publishers.

(Here's the actual statement from Bowker: "Bowker projects that 285,394 On Demand books were produced last year, a staggering 132% increase over last year’s final total of 123,276 titles.")

And, of course, authors who use companies like Outskirts are not really self-publishing. If Outskirts is the publisher, the author is not the publisher; and you can't be a self-publisher if you are not a publisher. Just as no one can take a bath for you or take medicine for you, no one can self-publish for you.

Outskirts is notorious for deception, exaggeration, and stupid errors. Company boss Brent Sampson wrote a book that showed that he didn't know what a foreword is, and he forgot the last name of the author of Roget's Thesaurus -- among other sins. He apparently had no editor or a blind editor. Or maybe none of his employees is willing to correct the boss. Some of his employees are relatives.

Brent promotes himself as a "best-selling author." I've twice asked for some specifics about his bestseller status, but never received an answer.

A book about flea removal from pregnant three-legged albino Weimaraners could sell exactly one copy and still be the BESTSELLER in its field. There is no law that requires an explanation for a bestseller claim. Anyone can call any book is a bestseller.

In a promotional email, one of the Outskirtsers 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.”

How can something pay 200% less than something? 100% less would be zero. Did the other publisher pay less than nothing?

The press release says that from 2005 through 2008, "Outskirts Press grew at a rate of 850.5%, making it the fastest growing self-publishing and book marketing company and #268 among all American businesses. Outskirts Press is the 21st fastest-growing business in the Consumer Products & Services category."

Even the last sentence is misleading. Book publishing is certainly not a consumer service. If Outskirts was more properly listed in Business Products and Services, its ranking would drop a few places.

In truth, Outskirts Press might be #268 among the businesses that submitted information to Inc magazine, or among the businesses that the magazine analyzed. But only the IRS has the statistics to judge business growth. And companies can lie to both the IRS and Inc.

Additionally, Inc's rankings are of "America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies" -- not ALL American companies, as Outskirts wants us to believe.

Inc conveniently supplies a press release template for use by honorees.

Here's part of it: "Inc. magazine today ranked COMPANY NAME NO. XX on its 28th annual Inc. 500, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies."

Here's how Outskirts modified the template to remove the reference to "private companies.": "Inc Magazine released their annual Inc 500 list of the nation’s fastest-growing businesses."

Look again at the headline in the Outskirts press release: "Inc. 500 Names Outskirts Press Fastest-Growing Self Publishing Company."

In truth, Inc never applied that description to Outskirts Press.

The Outskirts company profile published by Inc says that the company's 2008 sales were $4.6 million. While that revenue is equal to three or four McDonalds restaurants, it does not mean the company is a titan in the publishing business.

Business information service provider said that Outskirts competitor Author Solutions "has an annual revenue of $29,300,000 and employs a staff of approximately 260." Random House, the world's largest English-language general trade book publisher, reportedly has annual sales of about $2.3 billion and about 6,000 employees.

The Outskirts company profile published by Inc says that Outskirts has just three employees. Judging by the poor quality of the company's output, those three people must be terribly overworked.

Outskirts Press is a vanity press that calls itself a "self-publishing company." It grows by exploiting ignorance and gullibility. As journalists and prospective customers continue to catch the company's lies, distortions and stupid errors, its growth will not continue.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An editor is not necessarily an expert

No editor knows everything about anything, and certainly not everything about everything.

Despite the use of professional fact-checkers, even major publications frequently publish errors. Newsweek even printed “newsweek,” and is infamous for printing corrections ("Newsweek regrets the error"). Time misspelled the last name of Alfred E. Neuman (my middle name). The New York Times has online and printed correction sections. The New Haven Register once printed different dates on two pages of the same day's paper.

Errors in periodicals can be easily forgotten. Online errors can be quickly corrected. But errors in books can misinform and annoy readers for centuries.

Be a careful writer and choose your editors carefully.

Sometimes an editor will assume that the author must know what’s right and does not correct the author’s error. Sometimes an editor assumes the author was wrong, and then changes right into wrong. The author may not notice, or might assume the editor was right.

In Orange County Choppers: the Tale of the Teutuls, there are several really stupid mistakes that were missed by five co-authors and the support army at Warner Books.

“Paul Senior” said his parents charged people to park in their driveway on Cooper Street in Yonkers when they went to baseball games in Yankee stadium, which was within “walking distance.”

The stadium is about 8.5 miles south. The 17 mile round trip is not “walking distance” for most people. I hope Paul calculates more precisely while building motorcycles.

He mentioned his house in “Muncie,” New York. Muncie is in Indiana. The Teutuls lived in MONSEY (which is pronounced like Muncie). Someone besides me should have noticed.

In Release Your Writing: Book Publishing, Your Way!, Helen Gallagher says that POD printer Lightning Source is owned by Amazon. It’s not. Maybe Helen’s editor assumed that Helen knows her subject better than she really does. Editors should not assume authors are experts. And vice-versa.

Authors should not assume that they are experts either. Back in 1976, I accused a co-author of BS-ing when he wrote about a “baobab” tree. I was sure that there was no such thing. There is. The picture up above shows one. It looks like it's growing upside-down.

Monday, August 17, 2009

More advice on writing
from someone who can't write


How to write your book and get it published

Got a book written or thinking of writing a book? Want to know how to get it published? Read on...

I wrote my first book and was I so excited! But people don't tell you about the consistency and the research that goes into it. But if you are writing a book be encouraged! I am with you, but here are a couple of tips to help you get that book published so you can touch people lives and sell millions of copies.

Whatever you are writing about, do your homework on the subject and be passionate about your topic. That is how you generate more pages for the book. Don't write a book for the money, write the book because you want to impact people lives. But that is my opinion on why I write books. Once you are done writing the book, start your search on publishing companies. Find a good publishing company that you feel will give you the best chance to get your book into as many outlets as possible. The heavy hitters for print on demand books are Yorkshire, Lulu, Author House, Trafford, iUniverse and Xlibris publishing just to name a few.

Some publishing companies connect you to Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Borders book stores. Of course, you get better deals with the more money you spend. Some publishing companies give you certain packages with a front cover, back cover, ISBN number and also have you listed in the Library of Congress. Although all of these are important, the most imporatnt one to me (besides the front cover) is the editing. All publishing companies have editing in their packages too. Never put a price on editing because it's expected to have your T's crossed and I's dotted. Write down all the questions you want to ask. Then when you are talking on the phone, as many questions as possible when talking to a rep for the printing company. Remember this is your baby.

Make sure you look at EVERYTHING when the company send you a demo book in the mail. Once you ok the book, then that is what will come out in bulk when you order.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I'm taking a few days off. I probably won't be on the beach much. I have to concentrate on finishing my book about self-publishing. I should be back during the week of 8/16.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why should you publish your own books?

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the world, or know more than everybody else does, to give advice and get paid for it.

You can make a pretty good living if you know more than 90%, 80% or even 20% of the people in the world — if you can reach them.

Self-publishing makes it much easier.

I sincerely believe that every human being is born with a unique set of talents, and it is our obligation to identify our talents and find a market for them. This applies whether we are trying to be admitted to a college, get hired for a job, win an election, start a revolution, or write a book.

Self-publishing makes it much easier.

Communication is one of the most fundamental human urges. Until recently, there were significant barriers that kept most people from distributing their thoughts to others. Now you can communicate online for free, or through books for a few hundred dollars.

Self-publishing makes it much easier.

When I was in my early 20s, I discussed a business idea with my father. I asked him if he thought I should try it. He said he didn’t know if I’d succeed, but he did know that if I didn’t try it, for the rest of my life I’d wonder what would have happened if I did try it.

If you wonder what will happen, try it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sony cuts prices on eBook Readers and eBooks

Yesterday Sony announced two new lower-price eBook Readers. Both the Reader Pocket Edition and the Reader Touch Edition should be available at the end of August. New book releases and New York Times bestseller titles at the Sony eBook Store will now be available for $9.99, a reduction of $2 to match prices at and B&N.

The Reader Pocket Edition has a suggested retail price of $199. It has a five-inch electronic paper display and is available in navy blue, rose and silver. The Reader Pocket Edition can be navigated with one hand, and fits into a purse or jacket pocket. It can store about 350 standard eBooks and provides up to two weeks of reading on a single battery charge.

The Reader Touch Edition features menu-driven six-inch touch screen panel that enables intuitive navigation, page turning, highlighting and note taking with the swipe of a finger or stylus.

Users can take handwritten notes with the stylus or type with the virtual keyboard. All notes can be exported and printed. The Reader Touch Edition includes an onboard Oxford American English Dictionary that allows you to look up a word by simply tapping on it. The Touch Edition also offers five adjustable font sizes, as well as expansion slots for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD card, making your portable library virtually limitless. It comes in red, black or silver and will retail for about $299.

Both models use E Ink® Vizplex™ electronic paper displays that mimic the look of ink on paper. They will come with a protective sleeve and USB cable. Sony’s eBook Library software 3.0, which now includes support for many Macintosh computers as well as PCs, makes it easy to transfer and read any Adobe® PDF (with reflow capability), Microsoft Word, BBeB files, or other text file formats on the Reader.

Through The eBook Store from Sony (, users can now access more than one million free public domain books from Google. These titles, which Google has digitized as part of its Google Books project, are available in EPUB format and are optimized for current models of the Sony Reader.

The new Readers and accessories will be available at the end of August at and SonyStyle stores, as well as Best Buy, Borders, Costco, Staples, Target, Wal-Mart and other authorized retailers.

This is a preview, not a review.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What goes between the covers?

The main parts of a book are the spine, front cover, front matter, body (or body matter), back matter and back cover. There’s no anti-matter unless you’re writing sci-fi.

The front matter may seem utilitarian and as boring as a real estate lease, but it can be very important. Potential buyers, both in bookstores and online, often read or skim these pages as part of a buying decision, so pay careful attention to them. They should be written as well as your main text, and should help to sell the book.

What follows is a typical sequence for front matter. Sometimes pages are skipped or sections are combined or switched around. Pages in the front matter traditionally have no page numbers printed on them, or have Roman Numerals. Since I publish my own books, I make my own rules, and I like numbers on almost every page and avoid Roman Numerals. When you publish your book, do what you prefer, but prepare to be criticized if you vary from tradition.

The half title (or bastard title) page is the first right-hand (“recto”) page and has nothing other than the title of the book. Half titles are often added to create an additional page with something on it as opposed to a blank page. The half title page is not necessary, is somewhat archaic, and its use seems to be declining, particularly in less formal books. It’s a pompous waste of paper. Why the heck should anyone have to read your title THREE TIMES (four if you count the spine) before starting to read the book? If you have a half title page, the back of it (the first left-hand or “verso” page) is usually blank.

Sometimes the first recto page will have comments from readers or reviewers to help sell the book. Some books have several pages of comments. I think one is enough. Three pages of glowing and gushing endorsements may help to make a sale if someone is browsing in a physical store, but they are wasted on a reader who has bought the book online and wants to skip the “commercials” and start reading. One page may help reassure customers that they made a good choice, but don’t waste any more trees.

Sometimes the first verso page will have a list of the author’s other books, blogs, etc.

The title page may be the second recto page if you have a half title before it, or it may be the first recto page. It may even be farther back if you have a comments page. It has the title, subtitle, author’s name and publisher’s name. It may also have names of other people involved in the production of the book, such as a co-author, editor or illustrator. The address of the publisher can go on this page or the next page.

The back of the title page is usually called the copyright page. It has the copyright notice, the ISBN to identify your book, Library of Congress catalog information, and the printing history or revision or version. It may also contain disclaimers or legal notices, and contact information. Tip: If your book is published after September, use a copyright date for the next year. This way your book will always seem to be one year fresher as it ages.

The next recto page is often a dedication, where you get to thank or kiss the butts of some important people in your life, whether or not they were involved in making the book possible. I often push this page a bit farther back, after the table of contents, because it’s usually less interesting to potential purchasers. Traditionally the page will not say “dedicated to,” but just “to” or “for.” Don’t forget to thank your parents.

The table of contents can be an important sales medium, so make it complete, clear, informative and well-written. If chapter titles don’t explain what the chapters are about, put in some explanation. Although I hope you are not self-publishing a fiction book, if you are, you can skip the table of contents, unless it’s a collection of short stories. The sequence of chapters and the numbers of their starting pages will frequently change as the book evolves, so make sure the final version is accurate.

It’s frequently recommended that you call it simply “contents” and leave out “table of.” However, James Felici, author of The Complete Manual of Typography, one of the best-looking and most informative books about the publishing business, has a full-fledged “Table of Contents.” I would never criticize him, and if you put out a book as good as his, I won’t criticize your table of contents either, no matter what you decide to call it. James came up with a nice innovation that you may want to emulate. Ahead of his complete 10-page table of contents he has a one-page “contents at a glance” to make it easier to find the major sections. If you have a large complex book, try it.

If you have charts, tables or illustrations, you can put a list of them and their pages after the table of contents. If you don’t think people will be impressed by the list, or will look for specific items, it’s probably a waste of paper. As with the table of contents, make sure the page numbers are accurate.

The foreword (not “forward”) is an introduction, but it’s not written by the author. It’s often written by someone who knows the author, or—even better—by someone famous. If the writer of the foreword is famous enough to possibly increase sales, the name can go on the book’s cover and title page. The foreword generally includes a reference to some interaction between the foreworder and the author (“The first time I met Pete I was arresting him for smoking crack. I had no idea he’d become a brilliant business consultant.”) The foreword should explain why the book is important, innovative, well-written and tastes good.

Unlike the foreword, the preface (pronounced “preffis”) is written by the author. It’s an introduction to the book (but some books contain both a preface and an introduction). This is your first opportunity to talk to your readers. You can say a bit about yourself, why you wrote the book, what you went through to write it, and what you hope it will accomplish. The preface is usually signed by the author (in type) and the date it was completed and the city (but not the state) where it was written. The date and city seem a bit fuddy-duddyish to me so I don’t include them.

Sometimes the preface is followed by an introduction if the book needs a more formal explanation of what comes ahead.

The acknowledgment (or “acknowledgement”) is the section where you thank the people who helped you to research, write and complete the book. You can just have a list of names, but it’s more common to have at least a sentence to explain what each person did. I sometimes combine the dedication, thank you and acknowledgement into one section. I even thank the people who buy my books. This is a good place to flatter your seventh-grade English teacher if she was not listed earlier on the dedication page—especially if you think she’ll show off the book and help to sell more copies.

The prologue only goes into a fiction book, which I hope you will not try to self-publish. It usually introduces a character, event or back-story that’s important for understanding the book. Prologues are a bit old-fashioned, and often what is put into a prologue could function as your first chapter.

Now, at last, the front matter is finished and you get to the part of the book that matters most — the body matter, or just “body.” It’s usually divided into chapters, but the chapters may be included within several sections or parts. The body typically takes up 90% or more of the book.

Next comes the back matter, usually starting with the epilogue in a serious literary work (not a book on motorcycle maintenance). It may relate the fates of characters after the end of the main story, tie up some loose ends, or even prepare readers for a sequel. The tone of writing is usually the same as the body of the book.

An alternative or additional way of wrapping up is an afterword. This is a section where the author addresses the readers, as in the foreword many pages previously.

An addendum seldom appears in a self-published Print-On-Demand book. It’s a section where the author can provide additional material, explanations or corrections that couldn’t be in the body of the book because those pages were printed already. It may be an actual printed page bound into the book, or a separate piece of paper, a CD-ROM, or even an online file.

Endnotes are pretty much like footnotes, but they’re gathered together at the back of the book. Endnotes may be numbered to correspond to reference numbers in the text, or just refer to specific pages. They can offer information or explanations or cite the sources for statements in the text.

The glossary is an alphabetical listing of terms used in the book or related to the subject of the book, with definitions. Don’t bother to include common words.

The bibliography is a list of books and other reference sources consulted while writing the book. It may also suggest further reading, even if the recommended books were not consulted by the author.

The index is an alphabetical list of words and phrases used in the book, with the pages they are found on. Indexes can be constructed by a PC, or manually by the author or a professional indexer. If you make any changes that could cause words to shift from one page to another, you'll have to redo the index.

The term “colophon” comes from Latin and Greek words for “finishing,” and usually explains why the book looks the way it does. It may include a list of typefaces used, and indicate who designed and printed the book, and possibly some technical details of the printing. A colophon is not mandatory nor common, but I like to use one because it gives me a chance to sound off about bookmaking.

It’s common for a book to have a paragraph or a page or two “about the author.” It should be written in the third person, even if you write it yourself. Make it interesting and entertaining, and convince potential readers why they should trust you and your book.

If you have graphic images in your book, you should have a list of photographs and drawings, with the names of the photographers and artists who produced them. Try to list them in the same sequence they appear in the book, but page numbers are optional.

Finally, after all of the printed pages, most books have one or more blank pages. Books are printed from large sheets of paper called “signatures” that are cut to provide different quantities of different size pages. It’s unusual for a book to be designed with a number of printed pages that perfectly matches the number of pages provided by the signatures. Consult with your printer to find out the possible number of pages you can have. By slightly stretching or cutting your book, you can minimize the blanks at the back. It looks really stupid—and wastes trees—if you have half a dozen blanks. Some printers and vanity presses such as Infinity Publishing even put blanks in the front of the front matter. That’s unforgivable.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to reserve the last verso page for a bar code, an identification number and “Printed in the USA” or another country.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A new computer needs a test drive while you can still return it.

Over the past decade I've bought one, two or three PCs each year. When my office was in my house I alternated between getting a new desktop and a new laptop each year, so my oldest machine was never more than two years old.

Lately, as technology reached a plateau, there was less need to make the biennial replacements. I've been quite happy with three-year-olds.

Four years ago I moved my office out of the house, and put my main office PC and main home PC on the same replacement schedule. My system was interrupted a year ago when the office was hit by a MONSTER lightning surge that killed a bunch of PCs and other equipment. I replaced my office machine sooner than I planned to, but my home machine is still fine.

Although the machines are not identical, I minimize my inconvenience by having identical keyboards in each location.

Last spring I decided it was time to get a netbook, I got a nice little Acer that was much easier to schlep on weekend getaways when I wanted to check email and do some webbing, but no major creative projects.

This past weekend I had to go to Florida and planned to do some book-editing, that would not be practical on the baby Acer. My full-size Toshiba has had a chronic keyboard problem (letters are inserted in random places in a document), so it was time for a replacement.

I quickly found a really nice Acer laptop at Sam's Club for $600. It has a huge and bright screen, big keys, plenty-o-ports, and is thin and lightweight. I thought it was perfect.

When I started working with it, one imperfection became obvious. It has no Caps Lock LED indicator to let me know that I've hit the stupid and useless Caps Lock key.

I've been typing for many, many years. I don't think I've ever deliberately used the Caps Lock feature -- but I engage it unintentionally several times each hour.

Years ago I had an IBM keyboard that allowed me to yank off the useless Caps Lock key to avoid accidental locking. Some of My current keyboards don't allow that and I don't know of any software hack to disable the annoying key, but at least the telltale LED lets me know what's happening.

But not on the beautiful new Acer. It's going back to Sam's.

I will be more careful selecting its replacement.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Maybe it's a computer translation.
I can't believe a human being
writes this badly.

Text copied from

Borat's English is much better.

Almost everyone who write any books or even ebook are need a copyright. Moreover, you’ll recommended to obtained an ISBN as soon as possible. If you have considered all your choices and have decided that “self-publishing” makes the most fit for you. Please get ISBN to your as soon as possible. You may know that there is an extra in the need to “self-market” your eBook or books, but you must know that it’s also have correlation to boost your profits.

Do you Know about ISBN ?
Yeah..!! ISBN is stands for: “International Standard Book Number”. Most people aren’t know and understand what is an ISBN. ISBN is a number (commonly 10 digit)that would helps to recognize your book, ebook or even brand. The ISBN is commonly placed on the back of the book or product. This is look like a bar-code in a supermarket, wholesale and retail store. It’s capable to identify any products. It’s typically used to identify a book by the author or publisher. It’s so useful for any instance like booksellers, universities, libraries, wholesalers and many more as it’s capable to identify book or products easily and rapidly. Furthermore, it’s also applied on internet, I have seen ISBN search on That’s means you’re enabled to get books and any product rapidly and simply online.

Is it Important For Me ?
The answer of this question is depending on your needed. You would really really need ISBN if you are wanna sell or distribute your products like ebook or even book on major websites. However, it would be useless if you just purposed to distribute your ebook or books on your own sites. In a few case, this is needed to be one point of products qualification, some retailers and store won’t accept any products that doesn’t contain an ISBN. So, do you know whether or not it’s important for you ?

How To Obtaining an ISBN Number?
If you decide you’ll like to get an ISBN for your eBook or books, you could easily get it. There are various ISBN agencies in the worldwide that could aid you to joining your ebook or books to ISBN. If you’re published your book by a book publishing deal, you’ll most likely obtain the ISBN. You could also get the ISBN by self publishing agency especially through internet, if you wanna sale book yourself. Typically ISBN already provided for the publisher.

The cost
The price to buy an ISBN may seem to expensive for most people. The cost of getting an ISBN is about $80 to $ 500 or even more, it’s depending on the amount that you’ll purchase. In the worldwide, there are plenty resellers that provide and sell a single ISBN for about $50 to $ 65. Other way for the buy of an ISBN is by your book printer. The printing company usually give this as a service to the customers because they understand that you may not require a lot of ISBN numbers.

Self-publishing may looked so daunting, but if you know and understand about the strategies needed, it’s potentially could be successfully done. Furthermore, an ISBN is needed, you’ll also require to manage copyright issues.

In other words, you actually need to get an ISBN if you have a goal to market and sell your eBook on major sites, in store and many more. But, if you just wanna sell books on your sites, you could ignore this on your consideration. Firstly on your publishing, please ensure that you have already deciding your goal, so that you could prioritize the budgets for your publishing like the budget for getting ISBN.