Friday, July 30, 2010

A couple of tips for using Lightning Source and Amazon

(1) Lightning Source is the major print-on-demand printer, and is used by independent self-publishers, self-publishing companies and traditional publishers. When you set up a new book in the LS system, you supply various information about the book (such as page count, publication date and cover price), and also have the opportunity to provide a long  book description (formally called  the "annotation").

The description is provided to booksellers, such as, and will be on their websites. If you simply type in normal text, it will lose paragraph breaks, and appear as one long and unwieldy paragraph online. Although Lightning doesn't say, so, you can format your text with at least some HTML commands, for paragraphs, boldface, etc.

(2) Here's a little "cheat" to get a book listed on Amazon before you are ready to sell it, perhaps to generate some pre-orders and to get visibility in search engines.

As soon as you have produced a version of the book that, while not quite ready for prime time, would not embarrass you if someone read it, approve it for printing through Lightning Source.

It should appear on within a few days. When that happens, upload a revised file to Lightning Source. Lightning will notify booksellers that a revised version is coming, and the bookseller sites will soon indicate that the book is temporarily unavailable The sites should allow people to place advance orders to be filled when books become available.

While it's possible that one or two substandard books may get sold with this strategy, it's not likely if you act quickly to suspend availability and have not done any publicity. Of course, you should complete your corrections ASAP and approve the final proof so you can start selling some books.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Kindle eBook readers due from Amazon. One model will sell for just $139.

The first-generation Kindle eBook reader was introduced by Amazon in 2007 with a 6-inch display and 250MB of internal memory that could hold approximately 200 non-illustrated books. Its price was first $399, but came down to $359.

That Kindle was replaced by the $259 Kindle 2 in 2009, which dropped to $189 in mid-2010 as the field became more competitive.

Yesterday Amazon announced a new generation of Kindles that will be available in late August. These Kindles have a new electronic-ink screen said to provide 50 percent better contrast than any other e-reader,  a 21 percent smaller body with the same 6-inch-size reading area, and a 15 percent lighter weight at just 8.7 ounces.

The new Kindles also offer 20 percent faster page turns, up to one month of battery life, double the storage to 3,500 books, and built-in Wi-Fi

The top of the two new models (apparently called simply Kindle) will sell for $189 with free 3G wireless. It will be available in graphite or white color.

A less expensive model, the Kindle Wi-Fi Reader, lacks 3G and is priced at  $139. It will be available in graphite color, only. That price is $10 less than the Wi-Fi-only Nook, an e-reader sold by Barnes & Noble Inc. It's also priced $11 below the Sony Reader Pocket Edition, with no wireless downloads.

Both models can be pre-ordered now at

The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 630,000 books, including new releases and almost every New York Times bestsellers. Over 510,000 books cost $9.99 or less, including 80 New York Times bestsellers. Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle.

Kindle lets you buy your books once and read them everywhere--on Kindle, Kindle DX, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Mac, PC, BlackBerry and Android-based devices. More than 235,000 books have been added to the Kindle Store in just the last six months. Amazon's Whispersync technology syncs your place across devices, so you can pick up where you left off. With Kindle Worry-Free Archive, books you purchase from the Kindle Store are automatically backed up online in your Kindle library on Amazon where they can be re-downloaded wirelessly for free, anytime.

  • All New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen, Read in Bright Sunlight: The new Kindle uses Amazon's all-new electronic ink display with 50 percent better contrast for the clearest text and sharpest images. No other e-reader has this screen or this level of contrast. Unlike LCD screens, Kindle's paper-like display looks and reads like real paper, with no glare, even in bright sunlight.
  • New Proprietary Screen Technology--Faster Page Turns, New and Improved Fonts: Kindle's all-new, high-contrast electronic ink display is further optimized with Amazon's proprietary waveform and font technology to make pages turn faster and fonts sharper. Waveform is a series of electronic pulses that move black and white electronic ink particles to achieve a final gray level for an image or text. Amazon tuned the new Kindle's waveform and controller mechanism to make page turning 20 percent faster. In addition, this waveform tuning combined with new hand-built, custom fonts and font-hinting make words and letters more crisp, clear, and natural-looking. Font hints are instructions, written as code, that control points on a font character's line and improve legibility at small font sizes where few pixels are available. Hinting is a mix of aesthetic judgments and complicated technical strategies. Amazon designed its proprietary font-hinting to optimize specifically for the special characteristics of electronic ink.
  • New Sleek Design, Lighter Than a Paperback: The new Kindle has a 21 percent smaller body while still keeping the same 6-inch-size reading area. At only 8.7 ounces, the new Kindle is 15 percent lighter and still 1/3 of an inch thin, making it lighter than a paperback and thinner than a magazine. With Kindle you can read comfortably and naturally with just one hand for hours. The new Kindle Wi-Fi is even lighter at just 8.5 ounces.
  • Double the Storage, Holds 3,500 Books: The new Kindles have double the storage so you can carry up to 3,500 books.
  • Up To One Month of Battery Life: The new Kindles have up to one month of battery life with wireless off. Keep wireless on and your Kindle will have battery life of up to 10 days.
  • Free 3G Wireless: Kindle offers free 3G wireless, which means no annual contracts and no monthly fees.
  • Global Wireless Coverage: Kindle is the only e-reader that lets you travel the globe and still get books in under 60 seconds with wireless coverage in over 100 countries and territories.
  • New Built-In Wi-Fi: In addition to free 3G wireless, Kindle now has built-in Wi-Fi support. Kindle owners will now be able to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots at home or on the road. Readers who don't need the convenience of free 3G wireless can purchase the new Kindle Wi-Fi for only $139 and download content over Wi-Fi. Amazon is offering Kindle customers free Wi-Fi access at AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S. for shopping and downloading Kindle content--no AT&T registration, sign-in, or password required.
  • Quieter Page Turn Buttons: Quieter page turns means you can read all night without disturbing your partner.
  • Share Meaningful Passages: Share meaningful passages with friends and family with built-in Twitter and Facebook integration.
  • Simple to Use: Kindle is ready to use right out of the box - no setup, no software to install, no computer required.
  • Books in 60 Seconds: With fast, free wireless delivery, you can start reading books on Kindle in less than 60 seconds.
  • Improved PDF Reader: The new Kindles have an improved built-in PDF reader with new dictionary lookup, notes and highlights, and support for password protected PDFs.
  • New WebKit-based Browser (experimental): The new Kindles  use a new web browser that is faster, easier to navigate, and provides a new "article mode" feature that simplifies web pages to just the main text-based content for easier reading. Web browsing with Kindle over 3G or Wi-Fi is free.
  • New Voice Guide: With Text-to-Speech, Kindle can read out loud to you. New Text-to-Speech enabled menus allow customers to navigate Kindle without having to read menu options. In addition to listening to books aloud, users now have the option of listening to content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, and all menu options.
  • New Lighted Leather Cover: The all-new Kindle cover features an integrated, retractable reading light that lets you read comfortably anytime, anywhere. The light is a permanent part of the cover, so it's always with you, and hides away into the cover when not in use. The LED light illuminates Kindle's entire paper-like display, adding brightness without adding glare. The patent-pending hinge system secures Kindle in place and conducts electricity from Kindle's battery to the reading light, eliminating the need for batteries. The conductive hinges are gold-plated to ensure a reliable electrical connection. Gold is used because of its ability to make good electrical contact even with low force and for its corrosion resistance. The Kindle cover is sold separately.

On "Black Friday" in November, expect to see one or more sub-$100 e-readers, probably at Walmart, BestBuy, RadioShack, Target and Amazon.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy 70th birthday, Bugsy!

Bugs Bunny's appearance in A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is considered to be the first appearance of both Bugs and Elmer Fudd in their fully developed forms. It was in this cartoon that Bugs first emerged from his rabbit hole to ask Elmer, "What's up, Doc?" It is also the first cartoon where Mel Blanc uses a recognizable version of the voice of Bugs that would eventually become the standard. (info from Wikipedia)

TV Guide (and lots of fans) have "wated" the "wascally wabbit" as the top cartoon character of all times, beating that wimpy Mickey Mouse.

Bugs has balls. He's a wiseass. He kicks ass. He fought the Nazis and Japanese during World War Two. He's an American hero, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Someone once said that the difference between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones is that the Beatles sang, "Let it Be" and the Stones sang "Let it bleed." That's like the difference between the bunny and the mouse.  Go, Bugs!

"That's All Folks!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

A plea for help from someone who should probably forget about a literary career

(re-posted without alteration from, 7/24/10)

i wrote a novel about a month ago and well, obviously i want to publish it but the thing is- i am clueless about it all.

first;y, i checked online on tips and how-tos but they all are confusing and gibberish, often contradicting.

i am hoping a person in here with expertize on the field can tell me a thing or two about publishing a novel.

i am ready to print it and re-read it.
what are Print on Demand? do i need to do it? do i need an editorial still? do i need to see a copyrights person for this? (there is an office building with such department near where i live, or do i need to file papers of Copyrights and send, ect…)

how does the process go and how long it takes and when do i start earning my royalties? do i need a cover artist or i can use my hand and submit my own art work (yes, i can draw GOOD)? do i need to pay for some the these things? how do i know my publisher is trustworthy? do i need a publisher or i can do it myself? because i read of those who well, relinquish your ownership of your work and i dont want that.

i have checked the sites; and im not so sure… i checked with Vertigo but well, they say ‘to go to a Con and check with some guys and see if they are intersted…

BTW its is a written novel, sci-fi and it has mature contents and ’super heroes and villains’…

help-y plz and thnx ^.^

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

When is a book not a book, and a funny way of counting pages

The United Nations's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared 49 pages to be the minimum length for a book.

A publication with fewer pages can be a leaflet, pamphlet, booklet or brochure. Call it a book, and you risk offending nearly 200 nations. (When I was in college, I rented a room from a family that called TV Guide, "the book.")

The maximum page number is determined by printing equipment and what people are willing to pay, carry and read.

Despite the UNESCO decree, no book has 49 pages. Books have an even number of pages--even if some of the pages don’t have numbers printed on them ("blind folios"). An individual piece of paper in a book is called a "leaf." Each leaf has two sides, called pages. A 100-page book contains 50 leaves. Or leafs.

Although I'll attack Outskirts Press for claiming that its books contain 161, 163 or 225 pages, publishers probably won't be attacked by United Nations soldiers for breaking UNESCO rules.

Outskirts Press can make “books” with as few as 18 pages, the minimum from CreateSpace is 24 pages, and Lulu can do 32 pages. Most printers can produce books with as many as 800 to 1,000 pages, but books with more than 500 pages are unusual. Tolstoy’s War and Peace is about 1300 pages long, and some of Rowling’s Harry Potter books have over 700 pages.

(soldier photo from

Friday, July 23, 2010

Publishing advice I never finished reading

Benefits of Self-Publishing (from

Many years ago writers have to go through several difficult steps to get their books published. After going through the difficult task of imagination and writing, many have to acquire a sort of Writer’s directory and send lots of letters to potential agents and publishers which...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Maybe Aaron Shepard and Brent Sampson were right

Two of my previous books about publishing, Become a Real Self-Publisher and Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy, made a distinction between books published by “real” or “independent” self-publishers, and books published by author services companies. Those businesses often call themselves "self-publishing companies," and are less charitably known as vanity publishers.

Those two books urge writers to avoid those companies, but they acknowledge that “real” self-publishing is not right for every author and that there may be legitimate reasons to use those companies.

I will not cease my support for “real” self-publishing, but I started re-thinking my position as the self-anointed/appointed Guardian of Language as I prepared to write what became my new book, How to Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company (which should be available around 8/15/10).

For the last two years, I've expended a lot of effort and a lot of words combating (or combatting) the term "self-publishing company." I frequently attacked the companies that used the label, pointing out that THE TERM MADE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE, because no person or company can self-publish someone else.

While I still believe that, I recognize that, for better or for worse, the meanings and implications of words do change—and I can't stop the changes.
  • "Radio Shack" stores aren’t shacks and they sell much more than radios.
  • “Don we now our gay apparel” gets a different reaction now than when the words were written years ago.
  • At one time, a "girl" could be a boy.
  • "Bad" can be good.
  • Fifty years ago, no one would want a mouse near his notebook.
In Lewis Carroll’s famous Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Humpty Dumpty told Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.”

Aaron Shepard, a widely recognized authority on self-publishing and a big help to me when I got started, criticized my "Real Self-Publisher" title for being "tendentious" (i.e., espousing a particular point of view). That's OK. The title, the book and my life are tendentious.  Apparently Aaron thought that my position on the use of the "self-publishing" term was too restrictive. (BTW, Aaron's new POD for Profit is extremely good, and belongs on the bookshelf of every self-pubber who hopes to make money.)

Brent Sampson, the boss of Outskirts Press, made an effort six months ago to distinguish "self-publishing" from "self-publishing companies." Brent wrote, "Self-publishing companies are service companies who provide valuable (and convenient) services to writers for a fee. This is no different from any other service industry. For example, I can either choose to do my own taxes, or I can pay H&R Block to do them for me." That's true. However, Brent also came up with some preposterous bullshit about self-publishing companies using that term to warn—rather than to attract—potential customers.
Brent is not alone in his interpretation of "self-publishing." His competitors and their customers, and media ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Writer' Digest, agree. Much of the world has accepted "self-publishing company" for what used to be called a "vanity publisher" or a "vanity press," so there's not much point in my continuing to bang my head against an unyielding concrete wall.

THEREFORE, I will no longer debate the semantics and illogic of the term "self-publishing company"—but I will continue to let you know which of them lie, produce crappy books, overcharge their customers or do a bad job promoting books.

MAYBE, there's really not a hell of a lot of difference between a writer who hires separate designers and editors and publicists, and a writer who gets them all in a convenient package from one source.

I DOUBT that I'd ever go for convenience over control, but I recognize that convenience could be the right choice for others—especially if they learn from my new book, Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company: Make a better deal. Make a better book.

The theory behind this book is that it’s possible to get a high-class book even from a middle-class or low-class publisher, at a reasonable price, if you carefully supervise them and do some of the work yourself, and perhaps purchase some services and supplies on your own.

Don’t buy services and trinkets that you don’t need. Pay the right prices for what you do need. Let the publisher do the nitty-gritty tech stuff that you don’t want to get involved in, and concentrate on the creative process to make a good-reading, good-looking book which you can be proud of and perhaps make money from.

(Shepard photo from

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My father died a year ago

My father, Bertram "Bud" Marcus, died a year ago at age 87. He was one of the world's greatest storytellers and is a big influence on my writing and I miss him a lot. Here's what I said at his funeral:

About 30 years ago, my father was anticipating today.

Pop said that he wanted to get drunk on Canadian Club, smoke a Garcia y Vega cigar, and make a tape recording to be played at his funeral.

I don’t know if he wanted to reveal a secret or tell people off. Maybe he just wanted to sing some songs and tell some jokes to insure that we would be properly entertained.

I don’t think he ever made the recording. So in lieu of a cassette, you get me, Buddy Marcus’s first-born son.

My father had a very full life. It was so full, in fact, that by last spring, after 87 years, Pop had done all that he had wanted to do. He had checked off every item on his “Honey Do” list, and had simply run out of things to look forward to.

He had seen it all, done it all, heard it all and read it all. He probably even ate it all. Even lox wings. Even snails.

Pop was tired, worn down and worn out. Life was seldom fun anymore, and he frequently upset those of us who love him, by telling us that he had lived long enough.

It’s hard to argue with Dad about anything, and extremely hard to win the argument.

When I last visited my father, he asked what day it was. I said it was Saturday. Dad responded that Sunday would be a nice day to die. I couldn’t argue with that. I couldn’t even find words to say to him.

We could not convince Dad to hang on a while longer. A brand-new pill or a new injection or new exercise wouldn’t help. There’s no miracle cure for my father’s feeling that “enough is enough.”

In his jokes, Dad frequently spoke of “taking a dirt nap.” Today he gets to start his. And it’s exactly what he wants to do.

For my first few years I was Buddy Marcus’s only kid and despite his long hours at work I got plenty of attention. Dad wheeled me all over the Bronx in a huge heavy baby carriage.

We’d hang out on an overpass to watch trains pass under us. He’d stop at a barber shop and schmooze in Italian, or talk Greek to the owner of a luncheonette, or tell jokes in Yiddish to pals and to strangers.

Starting when I was three years old we’d schlep from the Bronx to Montauk to go deep-sea fishing.

I remember the first car Dad brought home to our apartment in the Bronx. There was a strange noise coming from under the hood. Dad opened it up and found a nearly new pliers rattling on the air cleaner.

It was an important part of Dad’s tool collection until I borrowed it to build a fort in the swamp at Brooklawn Circle years later. I dropped it into the ooze and we never saw it again.

Dad loved to go for rides when we lived in the Bronx. I remember trips to Jones Beach and Peach Lake, and deep into Pennsylvania. And deep into Brooklyn.

That’s where I got to meet my father’s grandfather, my Great Grandpa Joe. All I remember was that he wore long underwear with a flap in the back. Until I saw Grandpa Joe, I thought butt flaps existed only in cartoons.

In first grade Dad and I built a telegraph set, and he taught me how to splice wires to fix my bicycle horn. They were my first lessons in what has turned out to be a life-long love of technology.

Almost every sentence from the mouth of Buddy Marcus was part of a lesson.

Dad was driven to explain things, but he was also driven to keep talking long after the point was made.

I’m the same way. I’m pedantic like my Pop. I don’t like listeners who cheat and figure out the ending before I perform the finale.

Last year, with Dad’s guidance, I investigated the origins of the Marcus clan in Sopotskin.

Since 1991, Sopotskin has been in Belarus. When our family left town in 1906, it was in Poland. It’s also been in six other countries. Its address depended on who had the most powerful army, or who made the map. Back then, the name that would later be Marcus, began with DZM and ended with SKI. It has many more consonants than vowels. Today you can’t find even one Dzmichivitski in a Google search. But there are lots of Marcuses.

I inherited a lot of things from my father and the Sopotskin genes.

When I was in high school Dad gave me a hard time when he discovered that I was collecting street signs. He stopped his tirades after I discovered a photo of young Buddy Marcus with his collection of signs.

I was the bad kid who stole signs, lost or broke Dad’s tools and got lousy report cards. I was the son of two super-scholars and I was the chronic underachiever. Dad graduated from college, with honors, when he was just 19. I’m 63 and am still an undergraduate.

When I was a teenager, I fought a lot with my parents.

One time Dad said, “I know you think I’m a schmuck, but when I was your age I was a pretty smart kid.” I’m sure he really was a smart kid and a smart adult, but I could not appreciate it until years later.

It was like Mark Twain, who said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”

When I was around 16, my parents sent me to a psychiatrist. After a while, the shrink said that he wanted them to come in so he could hear their side of the story.

My father refused to go. He said, “I’m not going to pay $25 an hour to be told it’s MY fault that you’re messed up.” I never found out whose fault it was.

Pop taught us great songs like “The Sheik of Araby,” where we’d insert the phrase “with no pants on” after every legitimate lyric in the song,

And he taught us the song about a herring salesman who was frozen in the snow, and far above his carcass, the herring breezes blow. And another favorite was “A personal friend of the tsar was I. A personal friend of the great Nicolai. We frequently slept in the same double bed. I’m at the foot and him at the head.”

Despite Dad’s love of singing, he never did much listening to music at home. Mom and Dad frequently went to Schubert Theater for drama and musicals, but the only phonograph record (those were kind of like big black CDs) I can remember him buying was “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”

It was a hit in 1953 when Dad was 31 years old. I was seven at the time. When I was 31, I listened to the Stones and Dylan and the Doors. Now my iPods have the Stones and Dylan and the Doors, a dozen versions of "Rumenye, Rumenye," and, of course, that doggie in the window. Thanks, Dad.

In addition to music, Dad shared his discoveries in language, history, science and math.

He showed me how the digits in the nine times table always add up to nine.

Nine times three is 27. The two plus the seven equals nine. Not very useful--but definitely cool.

And do you know that if you scrunch up the paper wrapper from a drinking straw in a restaurant, and then pull it off the straw, put it on the table, and let a little bit of soda drip on it, it will wiggle like a worm?

Dad was very creative. He made up his own knock-knock jokes that included the family. Dad also taught some more useful things. I helped him finish the basement on Brooklawn Circle, which prepared me to improve my own basements.

I may have surpassed Pop’s carpentry skills. When we lived in the Bronx he drilled a hole to hang a picture on the wall in the master bedroom. The end of the drill came out in the middle of the living room wall.

I’ve never done that.

Dad’s retail business connections gave him powers and abilities far beyond those of other kids’ fathers.

I got the very first Daniel Boone coonskin cap in all of New York. I even posed for pictures in a book about boys’ clothing.

Back then I wasn’t such a sexy model. But the clothing manufacturers knew that if they wanted to sell pants and shirts to McCreery’s department store, they’d better butter up Buddy Marcus by using yours truly as a model.

Dad’s connections easily got me into the audience of Captain Video and Howdy Doody--something that the sons of dentists had to wait years to accomplish.

In New Haven, Dad had an endless supply of movie passes, and my buddies and I spent almost every Saturday afternoon at the Roger Sherman or Lowes Poli theater.

I thought my father was important and famous.

One time when I was a kid, we went to Alpert’s hardware store on Legion Avenue. The owner, Herman Alpert, came over to help Dad get what he needed. Herman addressed him as “Buddy,” and I was very impressed.

I was less impressed a few minutes later when Herman called his next customer "Buddy."

My life as the son of a retailer was different from other kids in other ways.

During Chanukah, most kids got clothes on a lot of nights. Since I had an almost unlimited clothing budget throughout the year, there was no point in giving me a sweater for Chanukah. I usually did pretty well for the first three or four nights, but not for all eight.

One year on night-seven I got a beautifully-wrapped pair of my old man’s old underpants. On night eight I got a roll of string.

I started campaigning for a toboggan when I was about 12. I got it when I was 17--the same time my friend Howie got a little green sports car.

Dad and I love hoaxes and pranks.

When I was a kid and there was a bad snow storm, he'd call a radio station to have them announce a cancellation of the Fafnir Society meeting at the Hotel Taft. There was no such organization. Fafnir was the name of his partner's dog.

Another time Pop was in a department store in Manhattan and convinced employees to move pocketbooks from one counter to another. It wasn't his store and he wasn't their boss.

This taught me valuable lessons. If you act like you have authority, you have authority. And most people would rather accept authority than challenge it.

Dad, like Mom, was an avid reader. He’d frequently fall asleep leaning into a book, and he had tall stacks of unread newspapers. So do I.

My father is the source of my interests in business, building things, technology, travel, history, maps, music, food, collecting, cigars, pranks, photography, law, language, tropical fish, and probably everything else I care about.

Dad was one of the world’s funniest story-tellers and a major influence on my writing. We both include lots of details.

The Catskill Mountains--the Borscht Belt--are where such comedians as Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis first got famous, and where Buddy Marcus worked as a waiter.

Pop told me that if he was “waiting a table” with eight people who ordered steaks with a mix of rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well-done, he’d tell the chef to make them all medium. His scam made all the meals ready at the same time and made it much faster and easier to pass out the plates. Only a small percentage of guests would notice and none would want to wait for a replacement. If anyone complained, Pop blamed the chef.

Although he was hauling trays of food from the kitchen to the tables, Dad was funny enough to have been on the stage.

There was a lot of laughter in our home even before we got a television, and we were one of the first families to get a television. Pop introduced me to MAD magazine. All fathers should do that. It’s as important as teaching about the birds and the bees.

I felt sorry for Pop when he taught me the facts of life.

My old man was obviously and uncharacteristically nervous and he badly messed up my sex lesson. He skipped the fun part.

He never told me how the “pollen” got from the daddy to the mommy. I first thought it flew through the air and I couldn’t figure out how it reached the right mommy. I eventually figured it out.

Buddy Marcus was a great story teller, with perfect accents in whatever language the joke called for. My accents are not nearly as good, and it would be an insult to try to mimic my father’s delivery, so I’ll give you this one straight.

One of Dad’s greatest hits involved a transaction between a lady of the evening and the great actor Boris Tomaschevsky of the famed Second Avenue Theater in Manhattan.

After their physical encounter, the beautiful young woman asked Boris for her money, but he gave her a ticket to see his show.

She was greatly disappointed and said, "But Mr. Tomaschevsky, I need money to buy bread."

Boris responded, "I am the great Tomaschevsky, star of the Second Avenue Thee-ay-ter. I am an actor. I pay with tickets. If you need bread, go bang a baker."

Pop was my best teacher and best resource and I felt both deprived and deserted when he retired to Florida, because I had so much more to ask him about business and about life.

But it was his right to decide to move on then, and to move on now.

Goodbye Pop. Enjoy your nap in this fine Connecticut dirt.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kindle books outsell hardcovers at

Over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books. This is across's entire U.S. book business and includes sales of hardcover books where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.

Amazon sold more than three times as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as in the first half of 2009.

The Association of American Publishers' latest data reports that eBook sales grew 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May. Kindle book sales in May and year-to-date through May exceeded those growth rates.

On July 6, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million eBooks to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books.

Five authors--Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson and Nora Roberts--have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books. says its KindleeBook format offers the largest selection of the most popular books people want to read. The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 630,000 books, including new releases and 106 of 110 New York Times Best Sellers. Over 510,000 of these books cost $9.99 or less, including 75 New York Times Best Sellers. Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our language is infested with baby talk
(and other poopy stuff).

Like many old farts, I detest the degeneration of American English which I frequently witness on streets, in offices, in stores and restaurants, on the phone, in classrooms, in movies and on TV.

I'm particularly pissed off about the substitution of "HEY"  for "hello." It seemed to make a rapid transition from playgrounds to CSI Las Vegas and then to the rest of the world. When I was a child, If I used that word, my proper mother would scold me with, "Hay is for horses--not  for people!"

I'm even more pissed off by the use of "WAS LIKE" as a replacement for "said." It seemed to start with Hollywood's dimwitted blonde bimbettes and even spread to the White House! Time magazine quoted George Dubya Bush using that stupid phrase.

Both Dubya and Barack regularly say "gunna" instead of "going to." That's not the way English used to be spoken at Yale and Harvard.

I'm also annoyed by what I see as the rampant infantiling of speech. Baby Talk is creeping into adult conversations.

I confess to sometimes ending phone conversations with "bye-bye," but I refuse to say "my mom" instead of "my mother."

I reserve "boob," "pee," "poo," "poop" and "tummy" for jokes or for conversations with kindergartners.

Southern "speech" is a topic for a future posting. For now I'll just say that I find it very difficult to take people seriously if they sound like they just climbed out of some "holler" in the deep south. My ears and brain shut down when someone says "poke" for "bag" or "done" for "did" or "Coke" for all brands of soda--or TYPES "y'all" in emails.

OTOH, northeast speech often pisses me off, with the cliched "Pock yaw cah in Hahvid Yahd."

The beloved Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard recently died at age 99. He was known as "the voice of God" and was complimented for his expert elocution. Although he performed in a stadium in daBronx, he sounded like he was in Fenway "Pock" in Boston--never pronouncing a final "R." Derek's last name should NOT be pronounced "Jee-tuh." The boss's last name was NOT "Steinbrenn-uh."

Not only do many New Englanduhs (and some New Yawkuhs) drop R's, sometimes an R gets put where it doesn't belong. My ninth-grade English teacher in N'Haven said, "Ameriker."

In Manhattan, you can meet someone at the intersection of "toity-toid and toid."

And back in daBronx (and in Brooklyn), you can hear "fill-im" for "film," "kern" for "coin" and "terlet" for "toilet."

Pitcher Waite Hoyt played for the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers (among others) from 1918 through 1938. He was hit by a ball and injured in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. A spectator yelled, "Hurt is hoyt!"

A bit east of Brooklyn is Lawn Guyland, and if you travel west you'll reach New Joisey. If you go far west, you might hear Governator Ah-nold say "Cally-fawn-yuh."

At some time I'll have to deal with "Feb-you-erry," "nook-you-ler," "terr-ist," the silent second "c" in "Connecticut," "the Macy's Day Parade" and "The Port of Authority."

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another great reason to use a UPS Store to print book proofs

On Monday I wrote about the savings in time and money that come from using a local UPS Store to print book proofs.

The first time I did it, I didn't realize that UPS could work from a PDF file and I uploaded a Word doc.

My doc is formatted for 6-by-9-inch pages, and UPS printed 6-by-9-inch copy blocks anchored in the top-center of each 8.5-by-11-inch page.

Yesterday I uploaded a PDF, and was pleasantly surprised with the results for two reasons:
  1. When the Word doc was printed, certain visual images, including "drawn" elements and text box borders, shifted to the right. It was annoying, but not a deadly defect. When I submitted the PDF doc, everything was in its proper place.
  2. When I submitted the PDF doc, each page block expanded to fill the piece of paper. It was much easier to read the bigger print--and I found many errors that I had missed when reading the proof with smaller type.
I uploaded the file around 11:30 a.m on Thursday. The robot responder said my printing would be available at 9 a.m. Friday (i.e., today). I could live with that, but I asked the robot to try to have it ready on Thursday so I could start reading and correcting last night.

At around 1 p.m. I received an email saying the job was ready. Since this was the third print job I had in four days, apparently I've become an important customer and am receiving super-special service. I really appreciate this.

OTOH, I'm pissed off that I did not think about using UPS for proofs before now. I could have saved hundreds of dollars and published books weeks sooner.

Oh well, live and learn.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Aging baby-boomer's low-tech secret weapon

As you write, be conscious of your habitual errors, which may increase as you get older.

I have many “senior moments” (also known as “brain farts”) while typing. Don’t laugh at me if you’re just 30 years old. The 20-year-olds are laughing at you!

It takes just about 15 minutes to go from age-30 to age-50. It takes five minutes to go from 50 to 60.

I’m a proud member of the first cohort of the Baby Boom. I was born in 1946--along with Cher, Georgie and Laura Bush, Billy Clinton, Dolly Parton, Candy Bergen, Donny Trump, Linda Ronstadt, Lisa Minnelli, Patty Smith, Jimmy Buffet, Reggie Jackson, Ilie Nastase, Sly Stallone and Oliver Stone.

In the new system, we are all still middle-aged, and we will remain middle-aged until dirt is shoveled on top of us.

Lately, I’ve stupidly held down the shift key as I pressed the key to insert an apostrophe, and ended up inserting a colon. I often type “i nthe,” “hsould,” “nad” and “fro ma.” I now tap the Caps Lock key a lot by accident, the semicolon instead of the apostrophe, and the “Page Down” key instead of “delete.” I’ve also degenerated from being the world’s fastest six-finger typist to a pretty-good two-finger typist. (I actually have ten fingers but I’ve never used them all for typing.)

If I live long enough, I’ll probably develop even more bad habits that I can’t control. I hope sloppy typing is not an early sign of dementia. I guess having to fix typos is better than dying young and perfect. When I start drooling on the keyboard, someone should take it away from me.

If you remove the Caps Lock key,
you can’t tap it accidentally.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The danger of typos

A  911 operator in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, whose typo sent paramedics to the wrong address for a call about a dying infant, was suspended from her job.

The typo resulted in paramedics taking an extra seven minutes to reach a three-week-old baby. She died an hour later. Autopsy results to determine a cause of death are awaiting lab tests. A medical examiner said no evidence indicates that the delayed response played a role in the baby's death.

The call-taker served a five-day suspension without pay and had 32 hours of remedial training. She had nine years of experience but failed to verify the address before and after it was sent to emergency dispatchers.

The operator initially entered the right address into the computer system, but missed a keystroke when she added an apartment number--causing the computer to change the name of the street. Union officials called a suspension premature and unwarranted.
County officials are still trying to resolve the computer problem and nobody knows yet why the typo led the computer to change the street name. (info from

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The young geniuses at Google have no common sense and no sense of decency. Google stupidly refused to remove a lying, harassing blog. Now I am fighting back, using Google, of course.

Left-click to enlarge for easier reading. Brin, Page and Schmidt are the three big bosses at Google.

The retarded robot translator strikes again

(Re-published without modification from

Print on Demand: Publishing Revolution or Hype-filled exploitation?

Down and dirty on Publishing???? s Over-Promoted
Technology (Adapted from the well-fed self-Publisher: How to turn a book into a full-time life, by Peter Bowerman. Fanove, 2007. ).
In a recent year, Xlibris, one of the great names of POD (Print-On-Demand), celebrated their dollars to pay a millionth of a royalty. The previous year, they have helped authors publish more than 7,000 titles and sold more than 300,000 pounds. Impressive, eh? Well, Leta???? S do the math. million euros for 7000 shares at an average charge out of 9 each. Not exactly worth bragging Abouta??

How POD Works
In recent years, POD has generated enormous buzz in the industry, promising a???? Provide keys to the kingdom for serious editing all these authors hitherto locked out of the gameâ???? and other claims raised. Not really. Remember, POD na???? T â???? Miracle???? or â???? publishing revolution ????; ATI???? just a printing technology, nothing more. Letâ???? S try to separate reality from the hype …

With POD, you submit your book to a publisher POD (AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford and Xlibris and PublishAmerica are major players) in an electronic format, pay a fee (usually 0-1500 according to the company and marketing options chosen, see below), theyâ???? It â???? producer???? your book and load it onto their system. No physical books are printed until someone orders one (ie through a library).

POD â???? THE upsides

POD makes sense for three scenarios include:

1) Authors whose objectives are to have in print, eg a???? AI???? Am an author???? and the book available for friends and family, but without the funds necessary to finance an offset print.

2) The authors taking the long term. Meaning, they are willing to be a successful writer, knows the limits of the POD model, but I know how difficult it is to attract a publisher, and want to start building a platform for themselves. In these cases, they use POD to create the best (aesthetically speaking) possible book they can, knowing that it may take 2, 3 or 4 pounds to finally build a name (and perhaps attract a publisher). And POD can help them cut to the chase.

3) leading publishers with titles out-of-print which now, thanks to POD can be reactivated and start to earn new revenue.

POD â???? Disadvantages

By definition, traditional publishers have to be selective about the books they take because their gain doesnâ???? Not come until they sell a bunch. However, because the POD publishers do Liona???? S share of their income in advance of a fee???? and because that NA webspace???? t exactly a shortage???? they have every incentive to sign up as many sponsors as possible, regardless of the quality of the manuscript, and, once signed, virtually no interest in promoting them. Heck, theyâ???? Have made their money! They know most books Wona???? T be effective, so why spend more effort on the return will likely be minimal?

The hype

POD publishers will no doubt not you on their aggressive plan to market your title???? at an additional cost, of course. Donâ???? T get your hopes. ATI???? Will an impressive menu of its facade. theyâ promise???? ll send a press release to thousands of potentially interested parties â???? a piece standard cookie-cutter, mass-mail to people who receive too many anyway. Even if they do read it, once they are on itâ???? POD Book SA, unfortunately, thatâ???? Ll turn against you. And liena???? S whyâ??

No Respect

Why most POD books not taken seriously by the bookstores, the media and commentators? To begin with printing costs generally higher, the lower print quality and usually a â???? No return???? policy (ie, less hassle and more profit), the large bookstore chains arena???? t exactly falling all over themselves carry POD books. More importantly, POD is regarded as relatively â???? Barrier freeâ???? edition.

Letâ???? S to examine the hierarchy. At the top is a classic book published. A book with a reputable publishing house???? Imprimatur s is passed through many hoops before finally up to par. Â???? Book-sale before profitsâ???? equation ensures that the best survive.

A step down is a book like mine???? â???? conventionallyâ???? : self-publishing (AI???? have paid for the design, composition, offset printing, etc.) Yes, as the author, thereâ???? no selection process other than my decision to publish, but on the positive side is: a self-published author is fully finance the business???? Generally, 12K-to convey an impression of 2500-5000 units on the market. Presumably, this implies a grip at least marginally on reality. Few people drop that kind of dough on a lark unless they know theyâ???? have a good product.

Then thereâ???? S Edition POD publishing a decision left entirely to the author and the other with a minimum financial investment. So, quite legitimately, the lead examiners and chain bookstores ask â???? What???? S arrest any Tom, Dick or Harriet to get published? R???? Not much. Thus, the low compliance barrier = low.

self-published a book???? is the same as a luxury???? already battled hard for the respect and credibility. Why? Because, in truth, most are lower in content and quality production. With POD, ATI???? It’s a double shock.

fees, not profits

In the self-publishing as I do, after expenses, all profits are mine. However, most POD publishers will have you sign a contract that pays your fees and in many cases, has to give you the rights to your creation???? at least for a certain period of time. And these fees are often based on net revenue (after rebates to wholesalers, etc.) and not the retail price, reduce further.

Not Your ISBN

When you self-publish a book, you want to be â???? Editor-in-record.â???? If youâ???? Are not, then that wouldn book???? T technically be self-published, it would be? Yours???? Re â???? Editor-in-record???? only if you have your own ISBN number. Most POD publishers own the ISBNs for their authorsâ???? books, so theyâ???? re â???? Editor-in-record.â???? Who, incidentally, is the only reason they can get away with calling themselves a???? Publishers, â???? and in the process, the authors confuse the unsuspecting into thinking theyâ???? new???? publishersâ???? on equal footing with real.

You need books Cheap

The commercial success of your book requires a lot of book marketing and promotion and that means sending many examination papers. With POD, buy your own copies of, say, a book retail, will cost around -10 each (like, incidentally, to traditional publishing, where authors usually buy their own books for 50% off retail). Add some more press kit, and postage and you could go bankrupt in a hurry. My books? About 0.50 each for a package overhaul under each.

Not to mention youâ???? He missed all those juicy personal book sales at events, seminars and trunk of your car. With costs of around each book, you can afford to discount books 25-50% and still make a good profit. With POD, none can.

According to your objectives, POD may be just the ticket or it could be a stalemate. Do your homework. Understand its limits and be realistic about its potential. Read contracts carefully and ask questions about fees, fees, minimum purchase of books and artistic control. You might save a truck full of disappointment. And keep in mind: if you just want the POD technology, less hype, youâ???? Re better with a digital printer as Fidlar Doubleday (

You have a book in you? Cana???? T land a publisher? Why not do yourself, and live by it? Interesting? Next, see the free report on self-publishing, home of the 2006 version of The Self-nourished Publisher: How to turn a book into a full-time living. Author

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thanks to UPS and, I found a way to save money and time on book proofs, and found a better way to make corrections

While you'll spot many errors in a book manuscript when it's displayed on a computer screen, you'll probably detect even more when it's printed on paper--like a real book.

Two years ago, when I started in self-publishing, POD printer Lightning Source charged $30 for each generation of a proof that I submitted. The fee included next-day shipping (after about three days of their working and waiting), and seemed fair. The Lightning Source website mentioned that a $40 fee could be applied for each file revision, but I was never charged the $40 in those days.

My books typically required about six revisions, and I was glad to be paying $30 each, not $70.

This year, one my books went through THIRTEEN generations of proofs, and I was shocked to be charged $30 for the first plus $70 for the next 12. I'll have to sell a lot of books to make up the additional  $480 in revision fees. That's equal to the profit on about 60 books!

I got smarter for my new How to Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company. The book has 366 6 x 9-inch pages, and I paid just $11.82 for printing (much too high for normal books but OK for a proof) and $16.99 for "expedited" shipping. (Other shipping options range in price from $3.99 to $36.99, so if I was not in a hurry, I could've gotten a proof printed and delivered for just $15.81.)

On Saturday, after three brain-numbing read-throughs of my second-generation Lulu proof, I figured  I was ready to upload my PDF files to Lightning so I'd have a proof this week.

I realized that it was destined to have as-yet-undiscovered errors, but I had not yet seen a proof with my "real" cover (l let Lulu print the proofs with a quick-and-dirty temporary cover) and was willing to make the investment to see a more-finished book.

Then I had a thought.

If I could get a printout on paper, I could give it one more read-through and make corrections over the weekend, and then upload the PDFs on Monday or Tuesday and still get a $30 proof from Lightning Source by the end of the week.

I was vaguely aware that some of the copy-and-ship franchised stores could print from a thumb drive. I did some checking online and was both surprised and thrilled to learn that UPS Stores (formerly Mailboxes Etc.)  could accept files as online uploads, and that there was a UPS store just seven  minutes from me.

I quickly established a UPS account online and uploaded the file. This was around noon, and I was informed that my print job would be ready by 4 p.m. The price was just $27.31, including three-hole punching and sales tax and file storage. At a little after 2 p.m. I received an email notifying me that the work was ready for me to pick up. $27.31 was more than the minimum $15.81 that I could have paid Lulu, but I received the "book" in hours--not ten days. It was less expensive--and faster--than the $30 proof from Lightning.

I want to publicly thank Nayan Parikh at UPS Store #0171 on Cherry Street in Milford, CT for his fine work, quick service and fair price. The store is in a shopping center where I frequently spend time and money in other stores and restaurants. I had previously passed Nayan's store hundreds of times without being aware of its capabilities, and I wasted time and money. I will probably use its services with all of the books I publish in the future.

Unlike a Lightning or Lulu proof, the UPS proof didn't include a coated and colorful bound-on book cover. However, I quickly discovered that the three-hole-punched format is MUCH BETTER for proofing.

When put into a binder, the pages stay flat for reading and marking. And since my pages are formatted for 6 x 9 but UPS used 8.5 x 11-inch paper, there was plenty of extra space for my proofreader's marks and even for copy revisions. I really liked being able to insert tabbed dividers, and quickly started to use the pocket in the front cover to hold my red Sarasa editing pen, Post-Its, bookmarks and a small pad.

I had to go out of town yesterday and knew I'd spend some time in my car waiting for my wife. I took the binder with my proof, propped it up on the steering wheel, and got to work. It would have been much more difficult to do this with a normal bound book.

I am now up to page 173 and have found at least 200 things to fix which I had not noticed on my monitor or in the Lulu proofs. If all goes according to plan (HAH!), I'll finish my revisions tonight, upload to Lightning on Tuesday, receive the Lightning $30 proof on Thursday or Friday, approve it, and books will go on sale on Saturday.

I hope it works out on schedule. I want to start selling books soon to make up for the money I wasted with the $40 revisons from Lightning Source.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chop chop

This weekend I expect to complete the editing of my How to Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company.

I had assumed that the book would have 366 pages, and my cover artist produced the cover PDF with a template having a spine width based on 366 pages.

As of this afternoon, the book had 376 pages.

I could have simply requested a new template. It's free from my printer, Lightning Source.

However, I'd have to pay my artist to revise the cover, and she might not get to it for a while--which could delay the book's publication.

I decided to start chopping words, pictures, paragraphs and pages to get down to the prescribed 366 pages.

All books have fat. By cutting out some of it, I made a better book, lowered the printing cost by a few pennies and may have saved part of a small tree.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Important facts of life for self-publishers

  1. You’ll probably see advertising proclaiming “FREE PUBLISHING” and you’ll discover publishing packages priced under $200. Here’s the truth: (1) No company will print and deliver a book for free. (2) Unless you are prepared to spend $1,000 or more ($3,000 or more would be better) you will probably not get a professional-quality book and will not be able to tell many potential readers that the book exists and why they should buy it.
  2. Don’t assume your first book will make money. It probably will lose money. Most books—even those published by the media giants with huge staffs of highly paid and experienced experts—lose money. Million-sellers are very rare in the book business. In self-publishing, thousand-sellers are very rare.
  3. We all dream of wealth and fame, but few people get rich from writing. Learn as much as you can about writing and publishing and work as hard as you can—but don’t quit your day job and don’t remortgage your house to finance a book.
  4. Most writers love to write. Write your first book for the joy of it, or to impress your friends and family, or maybe to change some minds, or as a learning experience or as a business builder. Over months and years, as you improve your writing skills and learn more about the publishing business, the profits may come in. If it’s not fun or profitable, stop writing books.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Making rules, breaking rules, changing rules, changing minds

One of the great joys of being a writer and publisher is the freedom to do what I want.

I can pick a book's subject, title, length, price, cover design, page size, fonts, margins, paper color, publication date, everything--even spelling and punctuation.

George Bernard Shaw avoided possessive apostrophes, James Joyce used dashes in place of quotation marks and e. e. cummings shunned uppercase letters.

A self-publisher can fight against pet peeves, rebel against the constraints of tradition, try to start traditions--and willingly risk the slings, arrows and snickers of critics, readers and competitors.

My first self-pubbed book came out in the fall of 2008. It's now the summer of  2010. I've just finished book #10, am nearly finished with book #9, and have written and formatted nearly 70 pages of book #12--which was started last weekend.

In my first two books I fought tradition with fervor and naivety.
  • It had always seemed stupid to me that the first pages of books had no numbers ("blind folios"), and were followed by pages with Roman numerals, which were followed--eventually--by good old Arabic numbers. In my first two books, there was a familiar "1" on the bottom of page-one.
  • I didn't like the spaces surrounding em-dashes. I thought that by attaching the dashes to letters they united only specific words, not complete thoughts; and I wanted to unite thoughts. Most book publishers shunned the spaces but the New York Times used them. I followed the Times style.
  • Speaking of the Times, in my first book about publishing, I put the The in The New York Times in italic type because I considered the "The" to be part of the paper's name. This policy led to abominations like "the The New York Times bestseller list." (Actually, that was just a theoretical abomination. I never allowed the "double-the" to be printed, which resulted in inconsistency.) In my next book about publishing, I treated the "The" as an ordinary word. It is not ucased (journalists and programmers know what that means) or put in itals. (Anyone should be able to figure out what ital means.) Unlike the New York paper, the Los Angeles Times does not include a "the" in its nameplate (official logo at the top of page-one). The LA paper, founded in 1881, is 30 years younger than the NY paper. I changed my rule and decided to follow the example of the younger, presumably hipper, west-coast medium when referring to the old "gray lady" published in the east.
That points out another great joy of being a writer and publisher: the freedom to change my mind.

Not only did I change policy on "The," I modified both my rebelliousness and my adherence to tradition in other style issues.
  • Starting with my third book, I had blind folios in the beginning, followed by Arabic numbers.
  • Books 9-12 have no spaces surrounding em-dashes. I now think that this style looks just fine and don't understand why it bothered my before.
  • I originally decreed that I would use serial commas in serious books but not in casual books. The newer books have serial commas only when needed for clarity or when I want the reader to pause.
  • In the first books I used numerals for numbers starting with 10 (i.e., numbers composed of multiple digits). Starting with book #11 (or maybe it's really #12), I spell out ten and even eleven. Many other books do this. I would not spell out "eight-million, four hundred, fify-six thousand, two hundred and twelve" or "nineteen eighty six." But when a number is reasonably low and part of normal text or, especially, part of dialog, I spell it out. I continue to use numerals when they have a more "number-like" function, like he ignored paragraph #14
  • I've always been troubled by the "headers" on the tops of book pages. They are an ISPITA (Industrial Strength Pain In The Ass) to set up and have dubious value. Many books have the book title, chapter names and even the author's name up at the top. Frankly, this seems pretty stupid. Do readers need constant reminders of the title of the book they are reading? If a reader forgets, couldn’t he just look at the cover? Despite the lack of logic, I kept up the tradition until around book #8 (I've lost track.) 
  • In my early books I boldfaced and underlined URLs (web addresses) so they'd look more URL-like. Unfortunately the underline masks underscores which can be part of a URL. I ditched the underlining in later books, but kept the URLs in boldface.
As a writer and publisher, I am also free to reverse my stand on issues of language and culture.
  • I have often (online and on paper) bitched about vanity publishers calling themselves "self-publishing" companies. Word usage changes over time. Radio Shacks are not shacks which sell only radios. "Don we now our gay apparel" has a different connotation than when the lyric was written. The term "self-publishing company" seems to be acceptable to most people, so there is little point in continually knocking my head against a brick wall. I've even written a book that grudgingly acknowledges the term.
I may change my mind again in the future.

A self-publisher can do that.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A few comments to the person who wants my books banned

CLICK for background on requested banning and threat to my printer.

If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. --George Washington

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen. --Tommy Smothers

The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book. --Walt Whitman

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. --John Stuart Mill

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. --Alfred Whitney Griswold

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books. --Sigmund Freud

Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end, burn human beings. --Heinrich Heine

Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself. --Dick Cavett

The test of democracy is freedom of criticism. --David Ben-Gurion

Every human being has a right to hear what other wise human beings have spoken to him. It is one of the Rights of Men; a very cruel injustice if you deny it to a man! --Thomas Carlyle

Books won't stay banned. Ideas won't go to jail. --Alfred Whitney Griswold

You can cage the singer but not the song. --Harry Belafonte

The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty. --Adlai E. Stevenson

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. --Thomas Jefferson

The press is not only free, it is powerful. That power is ours. It is the proudest that man can enjoy. --Benjamin Disraeli

Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory. --Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. --Salman Rushdie

The first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum. --Adlai E. Stevenson

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wise words for today from Thomas Jefferson

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Col. Edward Carrington, Jan. 16, 1787

For change, I'm writing a novel

I majored in journalism in college. I was trained to be a reporter. Like detective Joe Friday on TV's Dragnet, I wanted "Just the facts, Ma'am."

After college I wrote for a variety of magazines and newspapers, and then worked for advertising agencies, and later wrote books, blogs and websites. While I tried to make my work entertaining as well as informative, it was fact-based.

My recent funny memoir is a notable exception. Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)  promises to be "AT LEAST 80% TRUE."

A couple of chapters in that book -- while inspired by reality -- are largely fiction. In was invigorating not to be constrained by a journalist's respect for the truth and to have as my objective providing laughter, not information.

My current wacky attacker has shown absolutely no respect for the truth, and seems to be having a good time trying to make my life miserable.

In the past, I've had a good time producing creative and believable April Fools' hoaxes.

So... yesterday I started writing the Not-So-Great-American-Novel. Like many novels, it's based on a true story, but I am free to stretch the truth or revise or invent history to make the book more entertaining.

Strangely, although I buy about 150 books per year, I can't think of even one novel I've read since college -- and I was in the class of '68. I enjoy fiction on TV and movie screens, but I've unconsciously reserved book-reading for reality. Reality is interesting, and can be entertaining and highly stimulating.

Now I'm reading my own novel as I write it. I wrote about 40 pages yesterday and I'm loving every minute of it. Maybe I should have tried writing a novel years ago, But maybe the time just wasn't right until yesterday when I answered the call of my muse. Watch out Dickens, Hemingway and Fitzgerald: here I come.

For those of who who have been stuck in a literary genre or any kind of niche: BREAK OUT!

I'm having a ball so far. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

If you buy an eBook, you may win an eBook reader

In an effort to introduce more customers to digital reading, Books-A-Million will give away one eReader each day during July. Every customer who purchases an eBook at during the promotion will be automatically entered to win.

Popular eBooks are priced from about $7 to $15. It seems unlikely that someone who does not already own an eReader would buy an eBook, but maybe the prospect of a freebie will excite people presently reading on a PC..

Customers can choose from hundreds of thousands of downloadable titles on These eBooks are compatible with a wide variety of reading platforms including PCs, Macs and various eReaders. A complete list of compatible devices can be found on Downloaded books can not be read on a Kindle, but can be read on a Nook or Sony Reader. I'm not sure about the iPad. shoppers can also store and organize their purchased eBooks in a personalized download library.

Books-A-Million sells on the Internet and operates 227 stores in 23 states and the District of Columbia. The Company operates large superstores under the names Books-A-Million and Books & Co. and traditional bookstores operating under the names Bookland and Books-A-Million.

I have previously criticized the company for phony list prices, slow shipping and other problems, so follow the ancient Roman warning: Caveat Emptor.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Now my attacker wants to stop my books from being printed and has accused my printer Lightning Source of distributing pedophile books

My attacker sent the following emails to Lightning Source, the company that prints and distributes most of my books:

Sent using BlackBerry
From: Johnathan Hawking BULLSHIT

To: Inquiry
Sent: Sun Jun 27 07:14:36 2010

Subject: Pedophile at Lightning Source

Dear Lightning Source,

Lightning Source is aiding and abetting a known convicted Pedophile BULLSHIT Michael N Marcus, and allowing him and his company Silver Sands Books to use LSI as a weapon and recruiting organization BULLSHIT for an international pedophilia ring. BULLSHIT

1. Why are you allowing a convicted Pedophile BULLSHIT (Michael N Marcus) to distribute books to Amazon and Barnes & Noble using Lightning Source, Inc?

2. Michael N Marcus (AKA Silver Sands Books) is a Milford, CT resident and registered child sex offender BULLSHIT who has distributed books using your company LSI to booksellers under Silver Sands Books.

3. Legal Background on Marcus:  BULLSHIT

4. We BULLSHIT are campaigning BULLSHIT for a change in Megan's Law, so pedophiles BULLSHIT like Michael N Marcus can't move State to hide their crimes and/or publish books with Lightning Source, Inc to groom children on the internet. BULLSHIT

5. Read Facebook Petition To Connecticut Governor To Review Pedophile Michael N Marcus: BULLSHIT &v=wall ALMOST EVERY "PERSON" WHO SIGNED IS A FAKE

6. Earlier this year, he published a book defaming Outskirts Press using Lightning Source: ACTUALLY IT WAS NOT PUBLISHED BY LIGHTNING SOURCE, AND WAS COMPLETELY TRUE. OUTSKIRTS HAS NEVER CHALLENGED THE BOOK.

Yours sincerely,

Johnathan Hawking BULLSHIT
Secretary, Petition to Connecticut Governor BULLSHIT


From: Harold Bishop BULLSHIT []
Sent: Friday, June 25, 2010 5:21 PM

Subject: Pedophile BULLSHIT using Lightning Source, Inc.

Dear Kelly Guy and Natalie Mozingo,

Re: Silver Sands Books - Registered Sex Offender BULLSHIT Michael N Marcus (

We are writing to LSI on behalf of a group of concerned parents, BULLSHIT regarding the above named 'Silver Sands Books' which is a Lightning Source Publisher, and is currently distributing pedophilia-related material BULLSHIT to Amazon and well known online booksellers under an LSI contract.

Silver Sands is owned by a single convicted pedophile BULLSHIT, Michael N Marcus (, who has devastating convictions BULLSHIT for raping a young boy in California. BULLSHIT This man is a registered child molester BULLSHIT and sexual predator BULLSHIT who has served jail time BULLSHIT for extremely serious sexual offences against children. BULLSHIT He has destroyed a young boy's childhood and ruined a family's life. BULLSHIT


1. Why is Lightning Source, Inc. allowing Marcus, who is a lone-author, not a company, BULLSHIT to publish sexually horrific material BULLSHIT using LSI materials and/or digital facilities?

2. If Lightning Source claims not to work directly with authors; why have you allowed a pedophile BULLSHIT (i.e. Silver Sands Books) to distribute questionable materials BULLSHIT and slip through the net? BULLSHIT

2. For your information, Michael N. Marcus used LSI to publish a disturbing sexual book BULLSHIT involving school children BULLSHIT, with the tagline - "DIRTY PARTS ARE EASY TO FIND" in capital letters embedded on the cover file. Why is LSI distributing this book on Amazon? This is a demonstrable outrage that LSI is distributing this book. BULLSHIT

3. Please join us today by signing our petition to Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell asking that this pedophile BULLSHIT, Michael N. Marcus, be immediately put on the Sexual Offenders Register in CT, where he lives near schools and children's play areas.


Please remove Mr Marcus's evil and sick works of pedophilia BULLSHIT from circulation forthwith or face the consequences in a lawsuit BULLSHIT that our organization is planning against this pedophile's self publishing website, Silver Sands Books.

Harold Bishop BULLSHIT and Susan Fisher BULLSHIT

Protect America's Children

For the second day in a row, something light.

Presented for your amusement -- some words from publishing and journalism which may not be particularly useful, but I think are fun and/or interesting. More are in my book, Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press. 

Dingbat: Printers’ slang for small, icon-like drawings of hearts, snowflakes, and other shapes and items that can be used to dress up a document. Also, what Archie Bunker frequently called wife Edith on All in the Family.

Fleuron: A flower-like decoration used to enhance a book or to divide sections.

Flong: One of my favorite words! A flong was originally a dry, papier-mâché mold made from type text which could be curved to fit the cylinder of a rotary press. Later flongs were wet, and made of plastic or rubber. If you fling a flong, it may get damaged.

Folio: A page number. Also a leaflet, a page size, a typeface, and various other meanings.  It’s a feature on some luggage such as a “pilot’s case.”A drop folio is a page number in the footer at the bottom of the page. A blind folio is a page number that is counted, but not printed.

Kern: That’s the way some people born in Brooklyn (but not my father) pronounce “coin.” In typography, “to kern” means to adjust the spacing between two adjacent letters. It can also mean to squish two letters together so they overlap to avoid awkward white spaces. WA is one common use of kerning, and the two letters fit together unusually well. A kern is also a part of one letter that reaches into another letter’s personal space.

Lede: The first sentence or two in a news story, with the most important information. It’s pronounced “leed”, but spelled “lede” to avoid confusion with another typographic term, “lead,” which rhymes with “bread.”

Pilcrow: a symbol that looks like a fancy reversed uppercase "P" that is used to indicate where a new paragraph should begin.

Slush pile: Unsolicited manuscripts received by an agent or a publisher and often piled up on a desk, a shelf, or the floor, awaiting evaluation. These are also described as “over the transom” manuscripts. The phrase refers to the horizontal bar above a door and below a hinged window provided for ventilation in an office without air conditioning. Writers allegedly tossed their manuscripts over the transom of a publisher’s office, ran down the hall and hoped for the best.

Swash: An extra bit of decoration added to a printed letter, often an extended or exaggerated serif on the first letter in a paragraph

TK: In the graphic arts, it’s shorthand for “To Come,” a notation made on a layout to indicate that an element (such as a photograph or chart) will be provided later and space should be provided for it.

Virgule: A forward slash (/). It’s also the French word for “comma.”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's time for a writer who spends most of the day tapping a keyboard to recommend a pen

I've never bought "fine writing instruments." I've received some as gifts and several have remained in a drawer for lengths of time ranging from eight to 51 years. Maybe my heirs will use them.

(Ethnic humor time: I'm Jewish and my bar mitzvah was 51 years ago. At one time, fountain pens were common bar mitzvah gifts, and a joke was told that a nervous bar mitzvah boy started his speech with, "Today I am a fountain pen." That's also the title of a play. )

OK, back to work. The main reason I don't use expensive pens is that I know they'll get lost. I'll drop them in a parking lot or on the lawn or leave them in a bank or restaurant.

If I have to lose a pen, I don't want it to be a $40 Cross or $300 Montblanc.

I could easily tolerate losing an 11-cent Bic pen, but I could not tolerate using one.

My upper limit for pen-spending is a buck and a half, but a buck is better.

For the last decade or so, my standard pen has been the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine rolling ball. I generally pay between $12 and $18 per dozen. My standard color has varied between blue and black over the years, and sometimes I've switched from extra fine to fine and back. I always have some reds for marking errors in my books and other authors' books.

I also use Sharpies in various sizes for writing on plastic, wood or metal. They're very smooth but no good for paper because they bleed through a page.

About six months ago I happened to accumulate a Sarasa Gel Retractable pen. I have no idea where it came from, but it found its way into the visor of my car. It was a click-top retractable pen, which seemed very retro in 2010, and I never lost it because I never used it.

One time it was the only pen in the car, and I needed it to endorse a check for depositing at the drive-up bank teller.

I was immediately impressed by the ultra-smooth writing.

I left the bank and drove to Staples and bought 12-packs in both red and blue, for $14.99 -- less than the normal Staples $17.99 price for Pilots.

When I got my office I found requests for a few autographed books. In the past I would have used a Pilot, but I opened up and tried one of my new Sarasas. It was love at first write.

I have never encountered anything this smooth -- except maybe for a baby's ass or a timeshare salesman.

Red Sarasas quickly became my standard book-editing pens, and I use blue Sarasas for pretty much everything else. I generally lose them before I use them up, but I can afford to replace them when they're gone. One time I couldn't find Sarasas and tried PaperMate's gel pens -- they're not nearly as smooth. Pilot and some other companies have gel pens, too. I can't imagine they'd be better than my Sarasas, and have not tried them.

Sarasa medium-point pens are made in 10 colors. Fine-points are made in blue, black and red. There's also a bold version. You can get a 10-color multi-pack, and single colors in 5- and 12-pen packs. The big bargain is the pack with 20 black, 2 blue and 2 red Sarasas.

Gel pens -- at least the ones I've tried -- are a little bit weird. The first time I tried to use one of my new Sarasas, it would not write. That's because the tip comes with a protective blob of something (maybe wax, maybe plastic) that you have to remove before writing by rubbing the pen on paper. Once I figured this out, the pen worked fine. The retro click-top is actually a blessing, because there are no tip covers to lose as wiith my Pilots.

Sarasa says the pens use a water-based gel ink that's acid-free and archival quality. Unlike the ancient click-top 10-cent ballpoints of my youth, they are not refillable. There's an enlarged rubber grip on the lower portion of the pen. It's very comfortable to write with. If I'm ever fortunate enough to have to autograph hundreds of books for my fans, I'll use a Sarasa.

My Sarasa pens are made by our southern neighbors in the land of tacos and chihuahuas. The factory is operated by the Zebra Pen Corporation, founded in New York in 1982 as subsidiary of Zebra Co., Ltd., of Tokyo. The American Zebra HQ is now in New Jersey and offers ball point pens, highlighters, mechanical pencils, gel roller balls and correction pens. I've tried only the Sarasa gels.

The Zebra trademark was adopted way back in 1914. According to corporate legend, Mr. Ishikawa, founder of Zebra, wanted a company name that would be memorable and also appropriate for use in other countries. He took an English/Japanese dictionary and, opened it -- Japanese style -- from the back, and started with the "Z" words and discovered "Zebra."

Apparently Ishikawa learned that zebras are gentle animals with a strong family herding instinct. This was an important attribute, since he wanted to build a business in which employees and customers were all part of a family-like culture. The fact that the zebra looks like it is decorated with large calligraphic pen strokes may have also made the visual image appealing.

Because of my location, It may be heresy for me to use a pen made in Mexico by a Japanese company.

I am writing this blog in Milford CT, a few miles away from  the site of a huge Bic Pen factory. Sadly, Bic moved their pen and single-blade shaver production out of the country, firing about 300 of my neighbors  four years ago. .A real estate development company paid $14 million for Bic's warehouse, factory and office space and is trying to fill it up. The Bic factory is said to have made about 3,000,000  ballpoint pens, 2,500,000 shavers and 1,000,000 lighters per day. The factory has left town, but Bic Drive is still here. The world headquarters of Subway is on Bic Drive.

A few more miles from me, but in the opposite direction, is the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. That's the site of Pilot Pen Tennis.
I don't care about tennis, but I still have a few boxes of unloved and untouched Pilot Precise pens that may never get used.. Now I'm a Sarasa guy!