Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The world is ready and waiting for my new book, and I'll reveal a secret for FREE

(Left-click to enlarge)

Last year I wrote and published Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don't be a victim of a vanity press. It warns writers about the companies that produce lousy, overpriced books that few people buy or review, and urges writers to form their own small publishing companies, like I did.

I recognize that not all writers want to become publishers, and a few days ago I finished a new book that will help people to get decent books from what I used to call "vanity publishers."

At some time in the next few hours (or days), Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company: Make a better deal. Make a better book should be available for shipping to the customers of Amazon, B&N and other booksellers. It has been online for advance ordering for several weeks, and has already earned an Amazon sales ranking close to 100,000. That's pretty damn good for a brand new book that nobody has read or reviewed yet.

There are already over 4,000 links for the title on Google. That's a lot of links for a book that doesn't actually exist. And while those links are for the book's title, the high "searchability" means that people who don't know that the book exists but want information about self-publishing can find links to my book, and maybe buy it.

But--even better than those 4,000 links--is the book's amazing placement on Google Shopping, the sub-site where people go to find books about various subjects, even if they don't know the title of a book or if there is a book about the subject.

A search for the key phrase "self-publishing company" shows my brand-new book in the NUMBER ONE position. The next position is held by Aaron Shepard's great POD for Profit, which has been out since the spring.

My "Real Self-Publishing" book has the third position.

I can't deposit search positions in my checking account, and I don't mean to gloat (I will smile and giggle a bit). But it's pretty amazing that my books about self-publishing have two of the top three positions in a Google Shopping search--and I did not pay a penny to achieve this visibility.

And on the mighty Amazon.com, a search for books about "self-publishing company" shows my new book in the number three position out of over 2,000 books.

My other book about self-pubbing, on sale for nearly a year and with ten great reviews, is much farther down on the list.

Unlike some others, I'm not going to try to sell you a package of secrets, I do wish you success in publishing and I'll gladly share what I've learned, for free: promote early and often!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Outskirts Press says you should write reviews of your own book

For two years I've frequently commented on the incompetence and dishonesty of Outskirts Press. I even wrote Stupid, Sloppy, Sleazy about the company.

Now Outskirts is recommending that authors become just as sleazy as Outskirts.

On a strange, poorly written and nearly useless blog called "Amazon Book Kindle," Outskirts boss Brent Simpson posts "Top 5 Book Selling Tips."

Tip-Number-One is: "Online reviews are paramount in importance when it comes to drawing attention to your book. And the best part is, you're in control of your own destiny! If you haven't yet submitted your own review on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, what are you waiting for? This should be one of the first steps for every published author...Post a review for your book today.

This blog post details how Outskirts author Sally Shields kisses her own ass in a review.

Brent has frequently demonstrated his limited intelligence (one of his books shows the wrong author of "Roget's Thesaurus" and he boasted about an award from a company that makes money by selling vanity award trophies). In this new blog posting he stupidly reveals that he knows that self-reviewing is dishonest, because he says, "don't underestimate the effect of any honest review."

Here's my honest review of one of his horrible books. I hope he didn;t underestimate its effect.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More advice for writers from someone who can't write

Two-Minute Guide to Book Publishing

Have you written a book you wish to share with the globe? New York is that the capital of the book publishing world, however bear in mind tiny and midsize independent publishers in alternative locations will also be elite and do business with unpublished authors.

It's not fully necessary to have interaction the services of an agent, however it usually may be a sensible idea. Today agents who understand their manner round the publishing business have thousands of books to select from to present to publishers.

Some agents will provide encouragement and suggestions to enhance a shopper's work. Additionally bear in mind that with new clients agents have extra prices such as duplication, mailing/shipping and alternative incidental costs. Terribly rarely will an agent lay out expenses for starting writers who are expected to pay these prices and fees.

Large publishing homes typically solely accommodate literary agents.

Several public libraries have copies of the LITERARY MARKETPLACE on their shelves. This book lists publishers, agents, and submission requirements. The sensible author will spend time reading requirements publishing houses have specified. Entries are usually listed by subjects.

Have you already tried the traditional route and submitted your manuscript to numerous publishing homes, and gotten solely rejections?

You're in the corporate of the most famous authors, several of whom have received rejection once rejection of now best selling books. What's a new unpublished author to do? It often looks that solely celebrities or relatives of book publishers get book deals these days.

That is where self book publishing comes in. Many famous authors got their start through self publishing books that later became best sellers.

One such author is James Redfield, who self revealed his blockbuster spiritual novel "The Celestine Prophecy" when he received rejections from many typical publishing companies. He was so successful selling copies of his self published novel out of the trunk of his automobile that Warner Books paid him $800,000 for it and "The Celestine Prophecy" went on to sell over 5 million copies.

Often, as with James Redfield's example, self publishing your book is the only avenue left you. Whereas many unpublished works do deserve rejection, there's a viable amount that will have potential marketability. If you are feeling strongly about the benefit of your work, the following step is to seek out the best methodology to induce your book in print.

Some publishers are giving Print On Demand services. They settle for your manuscript and for a fee can print the manuscript. After the author pays the price of putting in the book for printing, she or he may order as little jointly book or as several copies because the author wants.

It's a comparatively new method of publishing a book. The downside of this service is since you're not bulk purchasing copies of your book, your price per book at a one book level greatly reduces your profit.

You must ask yourself: do you want a token book, or do you would like a actually marketable book? A marketable book is one that has a conservative production cost that allows you to sell it at honest market price, and realize a cheap profit. A token book is one with such a high retail worth that solely your family and friends would purchase it, creating it a token publication for your ego only.

To work out a projected honest market worth for your book, visit your local book store and worth the selling worth of books similar to what you are coming up with for your own manuscript. If the going value for similar soft-cowl books is $7.ninety five, then your out-of-pocket value to self publish your book in the same format ought to not be a lot of than fifty% or $3.ninety eight for this example of a $7.ninety five selling price.

If you employ the services of a Print On Demand service, you may realize your out-of-pocket cost to be at least $12 per book, regardless of what the going market rate is. That exorbitant production cost and consequent too high selling value required, would then classify your book a token book.

To help you in your book publishing quest, many self publishing book services offer self-publishing guides at a tiny fee or perhaps for free. Lessons in vogue also are offered by net companies. If you want everything in hot water you, from artwork to editing services for your manuscript, these services will be provided for a fee.

No matter the route you go, if you persist you may see your manuscript published, either through a serious book publisher or self publishing.

Publishing, but, is only the first step. The key issue to how successful your book can be is how aggressive it is marketed. Often that depends on your own enthusiasm and tireless promoting to appreciate initial success. However, on the opposite hand, word of mouth may explode your book sales and catapult it to the next blockbuster, where it will go on to sell millions of copies.

Author Resource:- Conrad Sanders has been writing articles online for nearly 2 years now. Not only does this author specialize in Publishing, you can also check out latest website about Vinyl Printer Cutter Which reviews and lists the best Vinyl Lettering Machine

Friday, August 27, 2010

A morbidly light-hearted blog about death

If I don't start a new blog or website about every eight weeks, I get itchy.

I was born in 1946. I am a proud member of the first cohort of the Baby Boom, along with Dolly Parton, Donny Trump, Billy Clinton, Georgie Bush, Candy Bergen, Reggie Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Cher, Sly Stallone and Oliver Stone. Goldie Hawn is a year older and Rob Reiner is a year younger--but I'll grant them honorary cohortship. Both Barbara Streisand and Paul McCartney were  born in '42 and are holding up well; but they're too damned old for honorary membership in the forty-sixers.

When I was a young teenager, I felt invincible. I thought I could live FOREVER.

Now, at age 64, I'm much more realistic. I know that I won't last forever. Some of my high school classmates have died. One is in a nursing home. Some friends have had knee replacements. I had a lens replacement a few months ago and will need another one. Other body parts don't work as well (or as frequently) as they once did. I'm contemplating cosmetic surgery for my wrinkled old-man's neck, and I watch TV commercials for items that I previously ignored (NO--not adult diapers, thankfully).

As a teenager, I was focused forward. I contemplated getting a driver's license, getting laid, going to college, voting, drinking legally, making money, seeing a new century, seeing the world, and maybe even seeing other planets.

At 64 there's not that much to look forward to.

If I'm still around on 4/15/2011 (and if the Federal treasury is still around), I'll start receiving a big Social Security check each month. Unless the politicians fuck it up, Medicare should pay for a big chunk of my growing medical bills.

I am not looking forward to retirement, because I love my work. I'd still like to travel some more.

I have no children or grandchildren to see graduating or marrying. I probably won't go back to school.

There are no foods I haven't tasted yet that I want to taste. 3D-TV doesn't impress me. (It might, when the geeky glasses are eliminated). I'll probably never own a Ferrari or go sky diving or water skiing or bungee jumping. I've done enough snow skiing, and even went SCUBA diving under the ice. I already live with the best dog in the world and have been married to a very sexy woman for a long time.

So...it seems like the next big event after my 65th birthday will be my death.

Based on one online calculator, I should die when I'm 88 years old. My father died last year, at 87. Supposedly we should live five years longer than our same-gender parent, which should give me 92 years. Expecting to go beyond 90 seems a bit piggish, so I'll settle for 89 years. That's conveniently 25 years from now--a quarter-century--which gives me a good title for the new blog.

So I'll blog about getting old and getting dead. It should be an interesting ride--even if it's all down hill.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Weakness of Word,
and some tips to avoid it

Microsoft Word often makes mistakes with hyphens. Sometimes it seems to guess, or follow a rule based on recognizable patterns rather than consult an internal dictionary. It sometimes makes bad guesses. Word 2010 is a little bit better than 2007.

“The-rapist” is my favorite abomination sanctioned by Microsoft. I also like “of-fline” “who-lesaler,” “books-tore,” “upl-oad,” “wastel-and,” “proo-freading,” “apo-strophe,” “li-mited,” “identic-al,” “firs-thand,” “fru-strating,” “whe-never,” “foo-ter,” “miles-tone,” “grays-cale,” “distri-bute,” “percen-tage,” “prin-ter,” “fami-liarity” and “bet-ween.”

Word often assumes that the letter “e” indicates the end of a syllable as in “be-come” and causes errors like “cre-dit.” Word recognizes that “par” is a common syllable, which leads to “par-chment.” Maybe Bill Gates retired too soon. Someone has to fix this stuff.

Terms that can have two meanings and can be pronounced in two ways cause problems. Word 2007 won’t hyphenate either “Polish” or “polish” and can’t distinguish between “minute” (the noun) and “minute” (the adjective). It gives you “min-ute” when you want “mi-nute.”

Automatic hyphenation can give weird results with proper names. Word broke up “Panasonic” as “Pa-nasonic.”

So no-w you hav-e anot-her re-ason to proo-fread very ca-refully, an-d neve-r to hav-e co-mplete fai-th in robo-ts.
  • Someone who uses Word for Mac said he does not have the hyphenation problems that I've had with Word on three PCs.
  • You can buy Word 2010 for $140, or buy MS Office 2010 (which includes Word) for $130.
  • In the course of normal editing, glance down the right-hand margins of every page or column of text to find defective hyphenation.
  • Before you decide your manuscript is ready to become a book, do a "Find" search for hyphens and examine them all.
  • I once decided to change a real name to a fake name in a book I was writing, to avoid embarrassing someone who might not want to be written about. I used Word’s Find and Replace feature, which quickly made about a dozen substitutions in a chapter. But when I read through the chapter I was surprised to find a few instances of the old name which had escaped the Find function. It’s important to do a manual verification, because Find might not find hyphenated words or words with apostrophes or in their plural form as targets for replacement. Don’t risk a lawsuit by leaving in a wrong name or word.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Publishers Weekly will allow self-pubbed authors to ride in the back of the bus, if they'll pay $149 for the ticket

I recently gave up a linguistic crusade/tirade and stopped using the term "vanity publisher." I became convinced that "self-publishing company" is an acceptable term for a business that publishes books when an author pays for its services.

But now a magazine--a formerly respectable magazine about the book  business--has announced that it will accept money from self-publishing authors to publish information about their books. That sure sounds like vanity publishing all over again.

Publishers Weekly is the dominant periodical of the book publishing industry, formed way back in 1872 to announce the availability of new books and to circulate news about the book business. An online version is also published, plus various email newsletters.

Like much of America, and the book business in particular, PW has been going through hard times recently, and also changed ownership. In April, Reed Business Information sold PW to a former PW publisher, George W. Slowik, Jr.

George has been looking for ways to increase revenue as advertising sales have fallen off. He decided to follow the example of book publishers Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and others who set up vanity publishing...OOPS...self-publishing businesses to extract money from authors who lack contracts from traditional "trade" publishers.

In the past, PW's influential book review section was off-limits to self-published books. PW just announced a "second class" book review section that will cover books from self-publishing authors. However, unlike the "first class" review section that gives a free ride to Simon & Schuster and the like, second-class seats in the back of the PW bus will sell for $149.

Here's some of what PW said on Monday:

We have decided to embrace the self-publishing phenomenon in a similar spirit. Call it what you will—self-publishing, DIY, POD, author-financed, relationship publishing, or vanity fare. They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade.

To that end, we are announcing PW Select, a quarterly supplement announcing self-published titles and reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment. The first supplement will appear in our year-end issue in December. Each quarterly will include a complete announcement issue of all self-published books submitted during that period. The listings will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information provided by the authors, who will be required to pay a processing fee for their listing. At least 25 of the submitted titles will be selected for a published review. There will also be an overview of the publishing trends that can be identified from among the titles from that reading period. We will also focus on the opportunities that the self-pub world offers. A resource directory will accompany the section offering names of companies providing services in the DIY space.

The entire PW editorial staff will participate in a review of the titles being considered for review, and we'll likely invite a few agent friends and distributors to have a look at what we've chosen. No promises there, just letting some publishing friends take advantage of the opportunity to see the collection.

The first reading period for self-published books will be from September 1 until the end of October. All submitted titles will be registered online by the publisher at www.publishersweekly.com/diy; a processing fee of $149 will be charged. Once the registration process is completed, shipping instructions and a confirmation code will be issued. Additional copies of the supplement will be available for distribution.

We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy. The processing fee that guarantees a listing and the chance to be reviewed accomplishes what we want: to inform the trade of what is happening in self-publishing and to present a PW selection of what has the most merit.

Titles submitted for our first supplement must have been published in 2010 and have a valid ISBN. We will not accept manuscripts or e-books (this time). Only final bound galleys or finished books will be accepted. Books cannot be returned; once finished the copies are donated to Housing Works Thrift Shop, a worthy local charity.

We look forward to finding the gems worthy of attention, the sleeping indie giants—after all, books are our business.

PW says, "We are returning to our earliest roots." Apparently those roots were whores.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Outskirts Press brags about Inc Magazine award--but has much less to brag about than last year

A year a go, perpetually and pathetically inept and dishonest Outskirts Press proudly announced that Inc. magazine named Outskirts to its annual “Inc. 500” list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately-held businesses.

I pointed out  that Outskirts had lied about the nature of the award ("fastest-growing self-publishing company") and may have been listed in the wrong category (is publishing really a consumer service?"

On its website and blogs and in press releases, Outskirts frequently described itself as "an Inc 500 Company."

Three weeks ago, Outskirts boss Brent Sampson blogged, "...the annual Inc. Magazine Fast 500 list is announced at the end of this month....We placed #268 last year among all private companies and #1 among participating self-publishing services. We’ll see where we are this year when they’re announced later this month…"

In the words of  the frequently unimpressed Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons, Ha ha!

The new Inc list has just come out. Outskirts is bragging again--but has much less to brag about!

Here's the first paragraph of the new Outskirts self-congratulatory press release: Denver, CO, August 24, 2010 --(PR.com)-- Outskirts Press, an Inc. 500 company in 2009 and the fastest-growing full-service self-publishing and book marketing company, was recognized once again by Inc. Magazine in 2010 in its annual "Fast 5000" list of the nation's fastest-growing private businesses.

Unless you read closely, you might not notice the additional zero in the 2010 recognition. Pathetic Outskirts has dropped out of the Inc FIVE HUNDRED and now is one of the Inc FIVE THOUSAND.

And of course, Outskirts continues to lie about the award with its claim to be "the fastest-growing full-service self-publishing and book marketing company." That description comes from Outskirts--not from Inc!  Also, the ranking from Inc: (1) applies only to private companies, and (2) applies only to companies that applied to be ranked.

Outrageous Outskirts fraudulently chooses to ignore a competitor which ranked much higher.

Blurb is another self-publishing company on the Inc list. Blurb is several years younger than Outskirts, has nearly 10 times the sales of Outskirts, and is ranked 1219 positions higher than Outskirts.

According to Inc, Outskirts had three year growth of 234% and Blurb grew 4829%. The Outskirts claim to be the "fastest-growing full-service self-publishing and book marketing company" is a GODDAM LIE.

"We are honored once again to be recognized by Inc. Magazine on this annual list," said Brent Sampson, Outskirts Press president and chief executive officer. "To appear on this list once is a feat; and twice in a row is a true testament of our commitment to quality, customer service, and value for our authors."

Sorry, Brent. Your listing is not a feat--it's an embarassment!

What Outskirts is not bragging about is that its Inc RANKING DROPPED BY NEARLY ONE THOUSAND PLACES IN ONE YEAR. Also, the Outskirts three-year revenue growth reported in 2010 is LESS THAN ONE THIRD of the figure for 2009.

Apparently sales increased a bit, but the company STILL HAS JUST THREE EMPLOYEES, and the year of the company's founding has strangely changed from 2002 to 2001.

You have probably been advised that, "If you have lemons, make lemonade." Outskirts takes the advice a bit further, believing that, "If you have a lump of shit, squirt some whipped cream on it, drip on some syrup, stick on a cherry, and call it a Chocolate Sundae."

Sorry, Outskirts, but bullshit, even sweetened-up bullshit, is still bullshit. 

Maybe next year, Outskirts will brag about being listed in the "newly expanded Inc Five Billion."

As before, Outskirts competes in the "consumer products and services" category. It would be much more logical for a publisher to be in the "media" category. However, if Outskirts was listed in media, it would suffer in comparison to the much more successful Blurb.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

If you have even a small publishing company, booksellers may set up stores that feature your books

(left-click to enlarge images)

(I'll be in No-Computer-Land Sunday night and Monday morning, so this posting will have to serve as Monday's edition of the blog.)

I formed my little publishing company, Silver Sands Books, in 2008. I planned to write and publish exactly ONE book, mostly as a gift for friends and family.

I liked publishing so much, I quickly got addicted, and have just finished my tenth book. Two more are nearly finished, one is about one-third finished, and some others exist only as concepts or fantasies.

While my output certainly doesn't compare to Simon & Schuster--or even Outskirts Press--it's a lot of titles for a part-time hobby-business, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I've gotten good reviews, I've helped and entertained my readers, I have not missed any mortgage paymens, and the monthly checks keep getting bigger.

Once a self-publisher has more than one title, bookselling robots treat the business as a REAL publisher. Yesterday, while Googling the name of my company, I was surprised to see that Tower Books had set up a mini-store for my titles. I poked around a bit more online and found similar set-ups at Amazon and other booksellers' websites--even a Spanish-language site, iguama.com, and a weird couol.com--which I had never heard of.

I have no idea how much business these pages generate for me, but I didn't pay a penny or even click a mouse to cause them to exist.

I fully realize that these pages were assembled by robots, not by publishing experts who have recognized and validated my accomplishments.

Nevertheless, when things are not going exactly the way I planned (I'm 64 years old and some body parts don't work as well as they used to, and I've been accused of some terrible crimes by a cyber-psycho), I can look at a page full of books I've produced in just two years, and smile. In my first two years in business, I've probably published more titles than some "real" publishers did in their first two years--and I've bad a ball doing it.

If you enjoyed writing and publishing your first book, don't stop. Later books should be easier to publish, and will probably be better books.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A term whose time has passed

Within the book business, "subsidy publishing" is frequently used as a nicer alternative to "vanity publishing"--by publishers, authors and trade journalists. The term also shows up in mass media like the New York Times.

The term "vanity publisher" is fading away, being replaced by "self-publishing company," "pay-to-publish company," "fee-based publisher" and a dozen or more alternatives.

The industry is long overdue to replace "subsidy publishing" and "subsidy publisher" because the terms are almost always misused.

In other fields (e.g., subsidized housing, subsidized daycare, subsidized farming, subsidized education, subsidized transportation) the “customer” pays part of the cost of the service. Another entity such as a government agency or employer provides a subsidy to pay for the rest.

In most “subsidy” publishing, the author-customer pays 100% of the cost of publishing. There is NO subsidy.

Friday, August 20, 2010

PublishAmerica is even stupider and sleazier than I thought.

(posted by "Book Reviewer" on http://www.speakwithoutinterruption.com/site/2010/02/publish-america-scam-or-not-to-trust-or-not-to-trust/

I am a book reviewer and columnist who has something to add to this discussion. Prentiss Gray said “There are columnists, book review editors, and lots of other people who may think your book is worth selling.” I believe every writer deserves a chance and I contacted this publisher about doing reviews for my column. They gave me the runaround for about a week and then sent me an email saying my request was denied (without an explanation) but with a sales pitch! They offered to let me buy a copy of the book I was interested in reviewing! I kid you not. Traditional publishers routinely make review copies available. The news media does not pay to review books. Sorry. Learn from this. Authors, put PublishAmerica out of business in one easy step. Stop buying copies of your own books.

Some of my previous posts about PublishAmerica:



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Advice for writers
from a writer who can't write

I don’t know about Publish America, I have heard they don’t edit their books and you won’t find them on the shelves of Barn and Noble.

I think they sound good and they excepted my manuscript too, but I have to make sure how they do business.

But I can tell you NEVER pay a Publisher any money at all. They are to pay you royalties from your work. Your the author.



(from http://www.speakwithoutinterruption.com/site/2010/02/publish-america-scam-or-not-to-trust-or-not-to-trust)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More publishing advice from someone who should not be giving advice

Always think of quality, not quantity. A well written content doesn’t mean that you have to elaborate each and every character and/or plot of the story. Instead, provide a brief summary and a reason why they should get a copy of your book. Be descriptive yet engaging but not exaggerated.

A promotional copy is a summary of your book. It should provide a thumbnail sketch of the self published book. In writing promotional copies, make it brief yet descriptive and engaging. After you have written the first draft of the promotional copy, run through it again and check for misspelled words and grammar. Revise and polish. Once you have the final draft, include it on the jacket and back cover of the book.
  • NONONO! You're confusing "promotional copy" with "a promotional copy." PROMOTIONAL COPY is words you write to promote your book. A PROMOTIONAL COPY is a free copy of your book which you give away to get publicity.
Book reviews are considered as one of the best promotional tool in marketing your book. However, having your book reviewed is no easy task. The best way to have your book reviewed is by using your promotional copy as a Press Release and send it to individuals and entities who you think might be interested in your self published book. Don’t forget to include information about yourself and where you can be contacted.

Flyers are not only great marketing tools, they are also easy to make. Have one created (creating one yourself is recommended). Photocopy them and give them to your friends, family and acquaintances. Pass them out (at work, local bookstore, to your reading group, etc.). Include on the flyer the ordering information and where to buy the book and the price.
  • NONONO! A "flier"is a leaflet or someone who flies (not “flys”). It’s also a golf ball that goes too far. Airlines frequently say “frequent flyer.” They’re frequently wrong. "Flyer" can be part of a proper name for transportation (“Radio Flyer,” “Flexible Flyer,” “Rocky Mount¬ain Flyer”) or a sports team (“Philadelphia Fly¬ers” and “Dayton Flyers”), or even sneakers (“PF Flyers”).
The Internet is one of the best marketing platforms of today. With it, you could reach out to a much wider market. Just imagine marketing your book worldwide. Use your personal webpage to advertise your book. Post the promotional copy, the cover image of your book and ordering information on your webpage. Also, don’t forget to include the address of your webpage on your promotional copy and flyers.

The publishing house answers all the expenses including the promotion of the book

In promoting your book, the most important factor of its success are hard work, determination and basic understanding of book marketing. If you want to take your book marketing campaign to another level, the best way to do so is to hire the services of a self publishing company.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A flip that flopped

In designing books, ads, websites and other graphic projects, it's common to do a left-right "flip" to make a picture or layout look better. Unfortunately, it is also common for photos to get accidentally flipped, and sometimes no one notices the flopped flip until publication--when it's too late.

If you flip a photo, watch out for a text reversal in such things as name tags, keyboards, initial jewelry, clocks, wristwatches or signs or license plates in the background. Watch for reversed flags or logos. Make sure wedding rings are on the correct hand (usually the left in the U. S.)

Some products, even if made by hundreds of different manufacturers, have standard formats. Don’t reverse a telephone and end up with the handset on the right side instead of on the left, as shown above. On old televisions, knobs were almost always on the right.

Be careful if you flip a photo of a car or a truck. Remember which side the steering wheel is supposed to be on.
Sometimes a flag is supposed to be “backwards.” When the American flag is on the right side of an airplane (including Air Force One) or on the right sleeve of a uniform, the stars go on the right. This mimics the way the flag would fly from a mast on a moving ship or when carried into battle.

It’s important not to have a person or a vehicle looking or traveling “off the page.” It’s natural for the reader to follow the eyes of the person (or the headlights of the car), so don’t direct a reader’s eyes away from the page. If you are using stock photos or clip art, you can easily flip the photo to keep the readers’ eyes focused inward. Be careful of the effects on your flipping if you change pages from recto (right) to verso (left). If you use a photo of a well-known person where the flipping would be noticeable (such as moving a pimple, wart, pierced eyelid, missing tooth, tattoo or nose ring from the left to the right), rearrange the page so the eyes lead into some text instead of off the page.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rede, reed, raed, reda, raed, rdea, dear, read!

Typos, misspellings, grammar glitches and other embarassing errors can hide in tiny type on the back cover of your book, and on giant signs. READ CAREFULLY.

Friday, August 13, 2010

More ways to waste money on a copyright

(left-click to enlarge image for easier reading)

A copyright determines who has the right to copy what you write. It is commonly believed that a creative work must be registered with the government to be protected by copyright. That’s not true. Your precious work is legally protected from copycats from the moment of creation without your having to fill out any forms or having to pay even one penny to the Feds. Your work is copyrighted even if you don’t put the © copyright symbol on it.

However, there are still advantages to going through a formal copyright registration, particularly if you end up suing for copyright infringement.

LegalZoom.com is a widely advertised website which tries to help people create their own legal documents. It can handle wills, divorces, incorporations, name changes, bankruptcies, prenups and copyrights. One of the founders is Robert Shapiro, who helped get O.J. Simpson acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. Shapiro has also represented Darryl Strawberry, Johnny Carson,  Linda Lovelace and the Kardashians.

Radio talk show hosts Howard Stern and Sean Hannity have been touting the company. Howard wants us to believe that LegalZoom can save "bundles of money" and "tons of hours." Howard is a funny guy but doesn't know much about filing for a copyright.

Using the "eCO" electronic copyright office provided by the Libriary of COngress, anyone can register a book for copyright for $35. Self-publishing companies often charge much more to get a copyright. CrossBooks charges $204. Schiel & Denver charges $250!

It took me six minutes to register to use LegalZoom, enter the information about one of my books and use a credit card. For $149, LegalZoom would submit my information to the Feds ($35 for the Fed fee, $114 for LegalZoom's service).

For comparison, I went right to the government's eCO page, and set up an account and provided the information on one book in 12 minutes. The Feds require some information to be typed on multiple screens, and asked for information--such as the ISBN--which LegalZoom strangely did not ask for.

SO...is it worth $114 to save six minutes by having LegalZoom handle the copyright registration? NO WAY.

Is it worth $250 to save six minutes by having Schiel & Denver handle the copyright registration? NO WAY.

LegalZoom says, "You save $661 with LegalZoom! A lawyer would charge you approximately $780 to create and file a copyright application" (based on average rate of $266 per hour).

Is it worth an estimated $780 to have a typical lawyer handle the copyright registration? NO WAY.

It's interesting to consider that I, a non-lawyer with no previous copyright experience, was able to handle the registration in 12 minutes, but LegalZoom estimates that a lawyer would need nearly three hours to do the work--at $265 per hour.

Based on the $780 estimate, LegalZoom's copywriters apparently think that real lawyers are slow, stupid or dishonest. Bob Shapiro is neither stupid nor slow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another one bites the dust

The spectacularly successful Apple iPad scared Hewlett-Packard into canceling plans for its tablet computer and go back to the drawing board. On Tuesday, Plastic Logic canceled its pending e-reader.

In January, Plastic Logic Ltd. showed off its Que ProReader: a large, thin, touch-screen-enabled e-reader aimed at business users. It was supposed to go on sale this year, but the company is killing that device because of delays it faced in a rapidly changing market. It will work on a new, more advanced ProReader instead.

At $649 or $799, depending on connectivity and amount of memory, the Que would have been expensive--maybe too expensive.

The Que was to have a 10.7-inch plastic display and could be used for reading e-books and documents in various formats including PDF, MS Office and ePub.

Since the initial Que announcement, the e-reader business has changed dramatically. Apple started shipping its iPad in April, starting at $499. Amazon.com is shipping new models of the Kindle this month, priced from just $139.

Plastic Logic said it no longer made sense to release the planned Que. Instead, the company will "refocus, redesign and retool" for its next e-reader. AT&T had planned to support the Que over its wireless broadband and Wi-Fi hotspot networks.

Plastic Logic is based in Mountain View, California., and has R&D operations in Britain. It was formed in 2000 by researchers from Cambridge University. (based on info from the Associated Press)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mamma mia!
Nobody alliterates like the Italians

(above, Fiat Cinquecento/500)

Alliterations are very appealing. They show a bit of creativity in a tiny space--like haiku and Tweeting. They can be memorable and effective book titles and names for people and products. Even without an effort to be cute, a real name can be alliterative, like publisher Doubleday, General William Westmoreland, sing-alonger Mitch Miller and me--Michael Marcus. My brother Marshall and sister Meryl are alliterative, too. So are Mommy Marcus and my father--Mister Marcus. Mom's father was Dr. Jay Jacobs. One of my author buddies is Barbara Barth.

The United States is responsible for Blonde Bombshell Marilyn Monroe ("va-va-va-voom!"), Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Piper Palin, Gordon Gekko, High Heavens, Blues Brothers, Baby Boomers (now becoming Senior Citizens), Social Security, Beach Blanket Bingo, Hamburger Helper, Big Bang, Big Box retailers like Circuit City, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Fortune Five hundred, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse,  Betty Boop, Beatle Bailey, Sad Sack, Roger Rabbit, GooGle, Mutated Monsters, Biker Babes, Sailor Suit, Derring-Do, Double-Dare, Nightly News, Swinging Singles, Sylvia Sidney, Moms Mabley, Motor Mouth, Bird Brain, Meow Mix, Corn on the Cob, Elephant Ears, Triple Treat, Ice Cream Cone, Denizens of the Deep, Cap'n Crunch, Dragon's Den, Tonka Truck, SuperSonic, Tony the Tiger, Fred Flintstone, Janis Joplin, Helen Hunt, Mad Max,  Chuck E. Cheese, Krispy Kreme, Intel Inside, Pizza Parlor, Johnson and Johnson (sorry!), Minute Man, Minute Maid, Friendly Frost, Sweet Sixteen, Sin City, Seven Sisters, Star-Studded, SuperStar, the Seventh Seal, the Great Gatsby, Great Gildersleeve, Wild Women, Chevy Chase, the great White Way, Mad Men, Lady Levi's, Big Balls, Ball Breaker, Best Buy, Paypal, Palm Pilot, Pink Panther, Rocky Road, Coca-Cola, Boing-Boing, Party Pooper, Pig Pen, Piss-Poor, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Braves, Black and Beautiful, Crispy Critters, Colby College, Kurt Cobain, Killer Kowalski, Ku Klux Klan, Seven & Seven, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Weight Watchers, Wendell Wilkie, West Wing, Department of Defense, Ronald Reagan, Roy Rogers--King of the Cowboys, Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake, Chainsaw Charlie, Lucky Lindy, Janet Jackson, Holly Hunter, Martin Mull, Frankie Fontaine, Son of Sam, World Wrestling Entertainment, World Wildlife Foundation, Sex Star, Solar System, First Family, Family Feud, Ford Falcon, Toyota Tundra, Dodge Dart, Mercury Marauder, Mitsubishi Montero, Ferarri F-50, Olds Omega, Hudson Hornet, Master Mechanic, Family Physician, Family aFfair, Road Rage, Road Rash, Cool as a Cucumber, Crystal Clear, World War, World Wide Web, Wonderful World, Wild Wild West, Wild One, Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sid Caesar, Danny DeVito, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bra Burning, Vivid Video, Samantha Sterlyng, Savanna Samson and too many other other porn stars to list here.

The United Kingdom has given us Big Ben, Big Brother, Enery the Eighth, Herman's Hermits, Mannfred Mann, King Crimson, Merry Men, Peter Pan, Peter Piper's Pickled Peppers, MG Midget, and the Vauxhall Victor.

The Spanish are responsible for con carne.

From France, we get cherchez la femme, Brigitte Bardot, and the Franco-American Michelin Man.

Sweden was the source of the Saab Sonnett.

Germany was the location of Checkpoint Charlie (but it was named by English-speakers), and made the Volkswagen Vanagon.

But Italian--the most musical of languages--is il campione del mondo (the champion of the world) in alliteration.

My three favorites:

Mille Miglia (pronounced mee-luh meel-yuh) means "Thousand Miles," an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy from 1927 to 1957, with time out for Word War Two.

Cinecitta (pronounced cheena-cheeta) means "Cinema City," a huge movie studio in Rome founded by Mussolini in 1937 and used by Federico Fellini for La Dolce Vita and Satyricon. The studio was also used for "American" films including Gangs of New York.

Cinquecento (pronounced cheenkwuh-chento) means "500"--Fiat's popular minicar, first made in 1936, and due in the USA in late 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why is proofreading your book like wiping?

When I was being toilet-trained, one of my parents told me to keep wiping until the most recent wad of toilet paper (I was only allowed to use four squares at a time) came up clean.

Even at that young age I had an analytical mind. It seemed wasteful to have wiped when there was nothing left to wipe.

I suggested to my father that it would be more efficient (more "green" in 2010 terminology) if I stopped wiping after I reached the point of diminishing returns, and that I should stop when I could be reasonably sure that the next sheet would be pristine even after use.

Pop did not approve. He insisted that a pristine bottom was more important than saving paper.

Pop also did not accept my waste-reduction plan to save the final clean wad so it could be used as the first wad the next time I needed to wipe.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I finished proofreading and correcting the seventh printed proof of a new book about using a self-publishing company. The book has 366 pages and while it is an excellent book, I started writing it 18 months ago and am growing tired of reading it over and over and over again. While not perfect (no book is), the seventh proof was "good enough" to be published.

Theoretically, I should keep proofreading until I make it through all 366 pages without finding anything to fix. But if I didn't find anything to fix, that would mean that the last boring read-through was just as wasteful as the last wad of Charmin.

But, even if I find no errors, there's always something that can made better--and further delay publication. I ordered proof #8 to be printed by my local UPS store, and a few hours later I started wiping again.

I'm beginning to feel wiped out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Some people should not be allowed
within 100 feet of a keyboard

(Re-published from http://www.bibilog.com/)

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

The eBook reader is now
as mainstream as the bagel

For many years, the bagel was a Sunday-morning treat enjoyed mostly by Jewish families.

A while ago, McDonald's tested the crunchy roll with the hole, found it acceptable, and served it with such non-Jewish toppings as (GASP!) ham and (Oh My God!) bacon-and-cheese. Middle America gobbled up Mickey Dee's bagels.

Just as McDonald's acts as an indicator of which foods are acceptable to millions of Americans, Walmart serves the same function with other products.

It is therefore important to note that eBook readers--once sold mainly by Amazon.com and bookstores--are available at Walmart.

They are also being sold by Sears, Kohl’s, OfficeMax, Office Depot, RadioShack, BestBuy, Staples, Kmart and Target. In stores, and online.

As distribution has broadened, prices have plummeted. Expect to see e-readers below a hundred bucks on Black Friday and for the Christmas season.

If the most powerful retailers in the world have declared that the eBook is a mass-market product, authors cannot afford to limit themselves to books made from trees.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Always have at least two books "in the oven"

"In the oven" has become a humorous euphemism for pregnancy: "Suzie has one kid in kindergarten and one in the oven."  The child has been conceived and is in production, but is not yet ready to make its appearance before the public.

Authors often think of--and refer to--their books as babies.

The "in the oven" image is appropriate for publication as well as procreation.

But unlike a human womb or a home oven that finishes everything at around the same time, the publishing process is more like the oven in a pizzeria. It may contain a dozen pies that will be ready to pop out within anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.

While it's great to concentrate on and finish a book, there are also advantages to having several books in the oven at the same time.
  • If you get bored or encounter a writer's block on one book, you can switch to another and be productive--especially if the other book is in a different genre.
  • Sometimes when you don't feel like writing, you can be productive by editing, fact-checking, finding artwork, doing interviews, planning publicity, or proofreading.
  • One book may suggest another book.
  • One book may influence another book.
  • Something you write for one book may be used in another book.
  • You can write multiple versions of the same book for different markets.
  • A book that's far from completion can become an inexpensive or free preview edition.
  • There is always downtime during book production, such as when you are waiting for blurbs or a cover design or a proof. Use that time to work on another book--a new one or an update of an existing book.
  • The things you learn about the writing and publishing process on one book can improve your other books.
  • It gets you in the mood to think as the operator of a publishing business--not just a writer.
What's in my oven:
  • One book that will be published about 9/1/10
  • One book that will be published about 11/1/10
  • One book update that will be published about 11/1/10
  • One book that will be published about 1/1/11
  • One book update that will be published about 3/1/11
  • One book that will be published about 5/1/11
  • Six books that exist as tentative titles and concepts with no tentative dates.
Keep a list of your titles and subjects and tentative pub dates (and past pub dates). Even writing this blog post reminded me of a book that needs updating. It's 3:12 a.m. Time to go to work--or back to bed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reviewer of Outskirts Press book kisses her own ass. Book has copycat title and cover

Sally Shields loves a book about Sally Shields.

In the past I've complained about mutual ass-kissing in the publishing business, where authors write complimentary blurbs for each other.

I've also complained about a book that uses a blurb from an executive at its publishing company, and contains glowing reviews for authors who supplied blurbs.

And I criticized an author whose Amazon page includes a review from her editor.

But just when I thought I'd seen the lowest depth of literary corruption hell, I discovered something from even farther down. Not surprisingly, it involves inept and incompetent Outskirts Press.

Outskirts has just published the Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors (with no identified author). Its subtitle is: "How They Beat the Self-Publishing Odds, and How You Can, Too (and How to Publish a Book and Excel at Book Marketing)."

The skimpy 100-page book with the absurdly long subtitle sells for $9.95.  An eBook version is priced at $5. The book is basically intended to help Outskirts sell publishing contracts to more writers. I'll post a full review of it soon.

Depending on your outlook on such things, the title is either an homage to--or a ripoff of--The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a self-help book by Stephen R. Covey.

The Outskirts book came out last month and Amazon shows no sales ranking for it. It has just one review--but it's a five star review.

Reviewer Sally Shields says, "This book is really inspiring for anyone that has a book in their heart! Although getting published may seem like an insurmountable obstacle at the beginning, this book profiles 5 people who overcame any objections and created a book and followed their dreams! Learn what these 5 authors did - all in their own styles, to get their messages out into the world. You will laugh and cry reading about how both having a passion for your topic and a sincere desire to help others can propel one towards your own dream of authorship. This book is a reminder that we can all do it - by simply doing the little seemingly insignificant things each day that can eventually bloom into a pond that is filled with beautiful water-lilies - that will eventually be your book, and more importantly, your message to the world, and even, your legacy! "

There are three problems with the review:
  1. The writing sucks.
  2. Sally-the-reviewer is one of the five people profiled in the book she is trying to convince us to buy! She even "contributed to" the section about herself in the book.
  3. Sally was too stupid to use a fake name in her review so people would not realize that she was kissing her own ass.
Sally wants people to buy her home-study course: "Sally's Publicity Secrets Revealed." It appears that one of Sally's special secrets is to write positive reviews about books that tell about how wonderful she is.

Both the title and the cover design of the Outskirts book were copied from the Covey book. Some lawyers are going to be very busy.


UPDATE: Ronnie Lee, one of the other Outskirts authors included in the book, wrote an Amazon five-star review for a book he wrote. Is there a pattern here?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Outskirts Press doesn't know what "free" means, or what "publishing" means

I've said some nice things recently about frequently inept and dishonest Outskirts Press.

Now it's time to slam them again:

  • A few days ago Outskirts announced that authors who begin their publishing process in August can receive three times as many "free" author's copies with their publishing package. For authors choosing the most popular Diamond publishing package, this promotion delivers 30 "free" paperback author copies when the book is published.
Of course, none of those books are really free. Authors have to pay $999 for the package.

  • In July, the Denver Business Journal held its annual Fastest Growing Private Companies awards banquet, and for the fourth year in a row, Outskirts Press was recognized. On the Outskirts boss's blog, a headline proclaimed, "Fastest Growth Among Self Publishing Services."
Take a look at the other entries shown in the image of the projection screen up above. Business may be done differently in the Rocky Mountains, but here on the East Coast, travel agencies, ad agencies and pork-pullers do NOT provide publishing services.

Outskirts boss Brent Sampson wrote, "...winning an award helps establish some prestige and PR, and those are valuable commodities in this day and age."
The award might have more value if Brent had not improperly described his competitors. He published similar distortion with last year's INC 500 award.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wanna own some bookstores? Whupped by Amazon, Barnes & Noble is for sale

Barnes & Noble, the number one U.S. book store chain, is putting itself up for sale as business suffers in the battle for a leading role in the digital books market.

Company founder and top shareholder Leonard Riggio is considering bidding for the company as part of a larger investor group.

An auction for Barnes & Noble could draw interest from others, including billionaire investor Ron Burkle, and raise speculation about a combination with smaller rival Borders--which has been retrenching.

But valuing a deal for Barnes & Noble, beset by competition from Amazon.com and Apple in the electronic books market, could prove difficult. The company's share price has lost more than half its value in the last year.

"How do you value an asset for the future when the entire market is being essentially turned upside down?" said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom said the company was already trading close to his fair value estimate of $13 per share before it made the announcement. "This could make strategic sense for them, yes. But I don't want to exactly say it's a good decision," Wahlstrom said. Going private would allow Barnes & Noble to accelerate its investment in its digital book platform, he said.

B&N has recently cut the price of its Nook eBook reader, and announced that more retail floor space would be devoted to the product.

Burkle sought a controlling interest in Barnes & Noble earlier this year and is suing the company for blocking his efforts through a poison pill that makes it harder for B&N to be sold.

Burkle accused Chairman Riggio and directors of a "self-dealing scheme" to block  him from mounting an effective proxy contest or amassing significant voting power.

Hedge fund manager William Ackman, who holds a large stake in Borders, has in the past suggested the two companies could combine.

The pressure on Barnes & Noble to realign its strategy became clearer in June, when it reported a larger loss as it spent money to develop its Nook electronic reader, which is outgunned in the market by Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad.

Sales at B&N stores open at least a year had fallen 3.1 percent during its most recent quarter and the company gave a tepid sales outlook for this year. Potential  profit from the mass adoption of e-books is great. Chief Executive William Lynch said recently the company has a 20 percent share of the e-books market, a position that could lead to sales of $3 billion to $5 billion by 2013.

The more difficult part for the likes of Barnes & Noble has been managing its sales through the transition. Goldman Sachs estimates e-books will make up 12.8 percent of overall book sales in 2015, up from about 3 percent now.

I love to walk through my local B&N store a few times each month. Unfortunately for them, the store often functions as a showroom for Amazon.com.

I always buy a few magazines, and if I find a book that I absolutely must have immediatley, I'll buy it. But if I can wait two days, I'll order several books from Amazon at a lower price and avoid sales tax, and not pay for shipping.

Big, expensive bookstores have become dinosaurs. There are plenty of other places to buy coffee (and I'm not a coffee drinker) and I don't need a store to download eBooks. I'll miss the B&N stores, I feel sorry for the employees and landlords (my local B&N is in a new shopping center with a shuttered Circuit City), but I will not cry at the funeral.

Frequent B&N buyers can save money by spending $25 per year for a B&N “membership” that provides discounts online and in the stores. You’ll also get email notifications of special deals.

B&N offers a MasterCard with special benefits. After your first purchase they’ll send you a $25 Gift Card. You’ll also get an extra 5% back at B&N stores or the website (in addition to any other discounts you may receive). And, to sweeten the deal, you’ll earn one “Reward Point” for every dollar you charge anywhere else. Every time you reach 2,500 points, you receive a $25 B&N Gift Card.

Borders has a loyalty program for frequent shoppers, but unlike the B&N program there is no fee to participate. Members earn $5 in “Borders Bucks” for every $150 of qualifying purchases. There are also emailed coupons and special offers.

With the Borders Rewards Perks program, Borders cus-tomers can save with special deals from brands including Anne Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Dell, Sony, HP and Kohl’s.

Even with the membership benefits, B&N and Borders pricing can't match Amazon.com. People shop at these stores for immediate gratification or ambience--and that may not be enough to keep the stores open. (some info from Reuters)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Advice for writers from Lady Gaga
and Dr. Strangelove

Female writers who think they are not as creative as they used to be, may be having too much sex.

In the September issue of Vanity Fair (on sale tomorrow), flamboyant pop star Lady Gaga says, “I have this weird thing that if I sleep with someone, they’re going to take my creativity from me through my vagina.”

She did not  explain why creativity would not seep out of her vagina while not engaging in sex, or why it would not leave through other bodily orifices, or how men might lose their creativity.

In the 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Sterling Hayden played  Brigadier General  Jack Ripper. He was obsessed about losing his "vital bodily fluids" to women and to the communists. Some Asian monks share his concern.

Monday, August 2, 2010

OMG! Outskirts Press does something smart

Several years ago I got friendly with the owner of a self-publishing company (the kind of company I used to call a vanity publisher) and I suggested that he offer some of his book preparation services to people who were not buying complete publishing packages.

As long as the company has the staff to handle the work without neglecting the "package" customers, this would generate additional revenue, act as sampling for potential bigger purchases, and provide services to people who need them.

He wasn’t impressed with the idea, but now some of his competitors are.

AuthorHive is is  part of giant Author Solutions, Inc. It began offering à la carte marketing assistance in early 2010.

Outskirts Press--a company not known for doing smart things--followed a few months later, selling both marketing and editorial services.

Outskirts boss Brent Sampson wrote: "Out of the gate, the Marketing Solutions “aisle” of our new site featured 7 items:
  • 5 hours of Personal Marketing Assistance with one of our professional marketing experts
  • 5 Celebrity addresses and pitches with our Celebrity endorsements option
  • 500 customized bookmarks
  • 500 customized postcards
  • 500 customized business cards
  • 5 large posters
  • 25 small posters
We quickly added the Amazon Kindle Edition within a month after launch, since it is one of our most popular marketing services month in and month out. To encourage authors to publish with us, we offer deep discounts to our authors on all our new à la carte services. For instance, authors who have published their book with Outskirts Press can get an Amazon Kindle edition for 25% less than someone publishing elsewhere.

Even still, at $135 it’s the lowest price I was able to find for what we deliver (although I didn’t spend hours and hours looking around). And the best part of the deal, and one few of our competitors can match, is that the author keeps ALL their profits. Amazon pays them directly, so they know Outskirts Press is not taking any of the Kindle revenue. We’re not even involved in the financial loop at all. This alone is enough reason for many authors at competing publishers to eschew their publisher’s Kindle edition (if they offer it all) in preference for ours."

While no writer needs Outskirts for business cards and other promotional paraphernalia, some of the services, particularly the Kindle edition, seem to be useful and fairly priced. Quality, of course, remains to be seen.

I'd brush my teeth with dog shit before I'd trust Outskirts to prepare a press release, and some Outskirts authors have complained about Outskirts editing, but I think I'll see how well the company can format a book for Kindle reading. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I expect more publishers to start selling services as needed. It's the literary equivalent of buying a "take and bake" pizza, where someone can share the food-prep work with experts.

Similar processes exist in other fields.
  • A Sears automotive center will gladly provide you with a complete oil change--or sell you oil, a filter, a filter wrench and even a pan to drain the old oil into. They'll make money either way.
  • My own company, AbleComm, changed the phone system business by offering to sell and install phone systems, or sell equipment and tools and provide tech support for do-it-yourselfers.
  • Some homeowners go to Home Depot and order a complete custom kitchen. Some go there and buy ready-made cabinets and counters, take them home and set them up. Others buy lumber, paint, hardware and tools—and do all of the work. Home Depot will make money either way.
It makes sense for book publishing, too.

This could even be a way for the Big-Six publishers to hold onto their experienced and expensive employees instead of firing them when business is bad.

A self-publishing author could probably have a better book and maybe get a better reaction with a design by someone from Simon & Schuster and editing by a Random House editor.