Tuesday, November 9, 2010

You only get to lose your virginity once.
Be prepared!

The American Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared." For Scouts, that includes such things as knowing first aid and water safety and being able to tell edible from poisonous plants. The motto is also important advice for non-scouts, particularly writers.

Tom Lehrer is one of my literary gods, and has provided me with inspiration and entertainment for more than half a century. He claims he “went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity.” Tom graduated from Harvard Magna Cum Laude at age 18 and made Phi Beta Kappa. He taught at MIT, Harvard, Wellesley and the University of California, but is best known for hilarious songwriting, much of it political satire in the 1950s and 60s. His musical career was powerful but brief. He said he performed a mere 109 shows and wrote only 37 songs over 20 years. Britain’s Princess Margaret was a fan and so am I. I can still sing Tom Lehrer lyrics I first heard in sev­enth grade, in 1958.

One of my favorite Lehrer songs is "Be Prepared." Here are the lyrics (presented with admiration, but without permission):

Be prepared! That's the Boy Scout's marching song,

Be prepared! As through life you march along.
Be prepared to hold your liquor pretty well,
Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell.

Be prepared! To hide that pack of cigarettes,
Don't make book if you cannot cover bets.
Keep those reefers hidden where you're sure
That they will not be found
And be careful not to smoke them
When the scoutmaster's around
For he only will insist that it be shared.

Be prepared!

Be prepared! That's the Boy Scouts' solemn creed,
Be prepared! And be clean in word and deed.
Don't solicit for your sister, that's not nice,
Unless you get a good percentage of her price.

Be prepared! And be careful not to do
Your good deeds when there's no one watching you.
If you're looking for adventure of a
new and different kind,
And you come across a Girl Scout who is
similarly inclined,
Don't be nervous, don't be flustered, don't be scared.
Be prepared

Eighty-year-old New Jerseyan Alfred Pristash wrote a memoir which was published for him by AuthorHouse. Pristash spent 18 months writing the manuscript in longhand, and then dictated it to a son who typed it. The book received extensive and complimentary coverage in NJ.com and in a major New Jersey newspaper. The article mentioned that the book sells for $73.99 and is available at Amazon.com.

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

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


Andrea Constantine and Lisa Schultz claim to be Self-Publishing Experts. I won't argue with their self-description (but I will snarkily point out that they apparently have self-published exactly TWO books, and I've self-pubbed  a dozen).
The two ladies operate an author assistance service and have a book coming out tomorrow, and sent out a press release to promote it.
The release has a line of text that says, "Visit Our Site" -- but it's not a link.
It also has text that says, "Ask the Experts" but it's not a link.
Their website has a link labeled "Offer," -- but no offer is offered.
The Self-PublishingExperts.com site has a link labeled "reviews." I expected it to display some reviews of the new book, but it merely promotes the guy who did the Kindle conversion.

That site also displays this:

The link goes to PayPal. I offer this tip: It's fine to charge for advice and to offer free advice, but begging for tips is tacky, and demeaning for a professional.

Lisa's site that promotes the book has text saying "Starting November 10th, Grab Your Book on Amazon Here." and "Already Purchased? Claim Your Bonus Package Here." Clicking on the "here" words does nothing.

Folks, pay attention to the Boy Scouts and Tom Lehrer. BE PREPARED!

I did order the book, because I buy just about every book about self-publishing.

I was surprised and disappointed to find that it sells for $19.95 and has just 144 pages. I don't mind paying a lot of money for important information or advice, but the book just doesn't seem competitive.

I'll insert some snarkism here by pointing out that my own upcoming Independent Self-Publishing: the complete guide has 516 pages for the same $19.95 cover price.

The pages in the ladies' book are a little larger, however, and they offer "over $200 in author bonuses" to people who order books tomorrow.

Strangely, although the book was published by Amazon's CreateSpace, there is no "look inside the book" on the Amazon site -- which is normal with CreateSpace books.

"Publishing experts" should have taken advantage of this free service, which usually helps to sell more books, and maybe they should have priced their book more competitively. For comparison, POD for Profit by well-known self-pub expert Aaron Shepard, has 282 pages, is selling for just $14.40, and is on two Amazon bestseller lists.

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