Friday, September 23, 2011

The best of the worst

“From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down
  I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.”
Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

I am an undeniable and proud nickpicker. Through some genetic defect (or maybe a sense of justice) I am attracted to -- and I publicize -- grammatical malfunctions and literary disasters. I've used this blog to warn readers about some really terrible books. Last year I instituted Bad Book Week to further honor the horrors.

 “It is far better to be silent than
 merely to increase the quantity of bad books.”
Voltaire (1694-1778)

Although it has become relatively easy to self-publish, it’s also easy to make serious mistakes in writing, design and marketing that can seriously limit the acceptability and sales of a self-published book.

“We publish a huge number of really bad books.”
Bob Young, founder of

While there is great satisfaction in seeing your name on the cover of a book, I hope that you will write what other people will want to read, and that they’ll like what you write. I believe in absolute freedom of the press. I don’t believe in prior censorship or the licensing of writers or publishers.

Unfortunately, the ease of publication means that a lot of junk gets published. It’s sad -- and perversely funny -- that some of the worst self-published books I’ve found, and the majority of the books I criticize, are books that try to provide advice to other authors.

I collected my favorite failures in a new book, STINKERS! America's Worst Self-Published Books. I've finally stopped tinkering with it, and am now pleased to announce that the book is available for immediate shipping from

The book is important, educational, and funny; and its price is just $9.99. In addition to the stinky reviews, the book includes a sizable appendix with information that should be useful to all writers, regardless of their path to publication.

This book will help you avoid the worst mistakes of others, so you can publish a book that you can be justifiably proud of, and perhaps enlighten, entertain and inform others -- and maybe you’ll even make some money.

What makes a book a stinker?
1. Most stinkers are ugly.
2. Most stinkers are poorly written.
3. Most stinkers violate the rules and customs of book design.
4. Many stinkers are inaccurate.
5. Some stinkers make promises they do not—or can-not—deliver.
6. Some stinkers are padded—including unnecessary information, information that is readily available elsewhere for free, or too much empty space.
7. Some stinkers are really advertisements—even bad advertisements—masquerading as books.
8. Some stinkers are absurdly overpriced.
9. Some stinker authors either got help from the wrong people or got no help at all.
10. Some stinker authors are extremely careless—or just don’t care about producing good books.
11. Some stinker authors don’t accept the advice they give to others.
12. Some stinker authors know less than they think they know.


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