Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another publishing expert publishes silly mistakes

Some people have said that I "pick on" other writers and publishers.

I'm not picking on them, but maybe I'm picking at them.

I read a lot, and I read closely and carefully. I try to write that way too, but I readily confess that I'm not perfect.

I am frequently upset by errors that get published online or on paper that could have and should have been avoided, by either better editing or better fact-checking.

Many self-published books have no editors, so the authors get all of the blame.

Stupid mistakes sometimes show up in professionally edited books, perhaps because the editor assumes that the author knows everything about a subject, or because an author who really does know what's right, yields to an editor who is wrong.

As a relatively new self-publisher, I've been reading a lot of books that try to advise self-publishers. A lot of these books have errors.

One book says that Amazon.com owns POD-printer Lightning Source. Sorry, Helen. That's not true.

Another book says that a writer's website can cost $6,000 to develop. Sorry, Penny. That's not true.

Another book confuses a foreword with a preface and says that Roget's Thesaurus was written by Peter Mark. Sorry, Brent. "Mark" was really the middle name of Peter Mark Roget.

Charles Jacobs is a book coach and author of “The Writer Within You.” He's been writing professionally for over 50 years and has a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He's been a reporter, editor and publisher, and won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

In yesterday's SellingBooks.com, Charles said: "Library of Congress Cataloguing is another necessity... but is not always available if you have written only a single book."

Sorry Charlie, that's not quite right.

LOC cataloging is nice, but not a necessity -- especially for books that are not likely to be bought by libraries.

(However, at least one of my books that lacks an LOC number has been bought by at least one library.)

Any American publisher should be able to get an LCCN (Library of Congress Catalog Number).

If you've published only books by one author (which could be yourself), you can get a Preassigned Control Number (PCN).

If you've published books written by at least three authors, you can get Cataloging in Publication (CIP).

Either system will provide the LCCN, which Charles says is a necessity, but really isn't.

Charles's website retirement-writing.com has ugly blocks of centered text. It's difficult to read and violates a basic and important rule of design.

The site says, "Choose from Traditional, POD, or Self-Publishing."

Sorry, Charlie. Lots of self-publishing is POD publishing, and even traditional publishers use POD at times.

The site also says that POD stands for "Publish-on-Demand."

Sorry, Charlie. There's no such thing as Publish-on-Demand. Despite what sleaze-press PublishAmerica wants you to believe, publishing is not done on demand.

“Publish-on-Demand” is an unnecessary and confusing misnomer using the same initials as Print-on-Demand.

Llumina Press, BookSurge, Lulu, Outskirts, and others have run ads featuring the meaningless phrase aimed at ignorant writers who don’t know the difference between printing and publishing.

They’re not the same thing. Printing is part of publishing. Printing can be done on demand. Publishing can’t.

Publishing is a complex, multi-stage process that takes a writer’s words from manuscript to books being sold. The end result of a publishing project -- which may be a million books, 10,000 books or just one book -- can take days, weeks, months, or even years.

With Print-On-Demand, books are printed one at a time or a few at a time, as orders are placed by readers through booksellers. That does not mean that a publishing company starts the entire publishing sequence when an order arrives.

Charlie should have known better.


  1. I really enjoyed this article. Thank you.

  2. God save us from the experts. Thanks for another good one, Michael.