Friday, November 30, 2012

WTF? A very strange blog mentioned my publishing company

I have the room, and it would be nice having him around. About silver sands books is a small, independent publisher concentrating on helpful books which make technical subjects easy to understand. the problem for entertainers is they have to decide if they want to entertain all the people or if its worth offending the other half of the country. the milk river near glasgow montana has about a 90 percent chance of exceeding the major flood stage of 27 feet. if she were anyone else, you Thomas Gibson wouldnt care.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Simon & Schuster made a deal with the devil and has gone to hell.

(news release) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Nov. 27, 2012 – Simon & Schuster, Inc., and Author Solutions, Inc., (ASI) today announced the launch of Archway Publishing, a new self-publishing service with a focus on fiction, nonfiction, business and children's categories.

"Through Archway Publishing, Simon & Schuster is pleased to be part of the rapidly expanding self-publishing segment of our industry," said Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster. "Self-publishing has become a viable and popular route to publication for many authors, and increasingly a source of content for traditional publishers, including Simon & Schuster. We're excited that we'll be able to help more authors find their own path to publication and at the same time create a more direct connection to those self-published authors ready to make the leap to traditional publishing."

According to Bowker, self-publishing is one of the fastest growing sectors in the publishing industry, with 211,269 self-published titles (based on ISBNs) released last year, up more than 60 percent from 133,036 titles in 2010. Through ASI, a leading provider of professional self-publishing services, Archway is offering the premier publishing solution for authors interested in achieving their publishing goals and reaching their audiences through self-publishing.
Archway Publishing will offer a wide range of editorial, design, distribution and marketing services, provided by Author Solutions to help authors create the highest quality self-published books. In addition, the following services will be Archway Publishing exclusives:
·         Concierge Service – Authors will have the option to work with a dedicated publishing guide who will coordinate each step of the book production process. 
·         Bookseller Catalog – Archway titles will be included in Edelweiss, the leading, industry-wide online catalog available to major retailers, wholesalers, libraries, bloggers and thousands of industry professionals.  
·         Archway Speakers Bureau – The Archway Speakers Bureau, powered by Speakerfile, helps authors connect to a world of potential speaking opportunities and establish themselves as credible voices in their fields.
·         Premier Video Production and Distribution – Archway authors will have the opportunity to create high-quality videos and book trailers for distribution to major online video networks.

"The collaboration between Simon & Schuster and Author Solutions brings an entirely new level of expertise, experience and opportunity to the marketplace. It truly is the best time in history to be an author," said Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss.


So, what's wrong?
left-click to enlarge chart

  1. Like the other ASI brands, Archway LIES about providing "free" and "complimentary" books. How the hell can a book be free if the author paid $24,999?!?!
  2. Author Solutions is deceptive and dishonest in other ways.
  3. Author Solutions is a massive pay-to-publish empire which has grown by acquiring and combining such former competitors as AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay and Xlibris. It has a Spanish-language division called Palibrio. "ASI" also operates the self-publishing businesses for traditional publishers Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and Hay House, and has a self-publishing alliance with Writer Digest magazineASI is one company with multiple seemingly competing brands providing similar products at various prices. It's like General Motors. If you bought a Pontiac instead of a Buick or Chevy, GM still made money. 
  4. If an author has a bad experience with Hay House or iUniverse, she may try Xlibris or AuthorHouse -- and work with the same people and receive the same bad service.
  5. ASI was recently bought by huge publisher Penguin, with many brands that compete with Simon and Schuster (owned by CBS). Who will be loyal to what? Will Penguin-owned ASI help S&S to compete with Penguin?
  6. Archway services are so expensive ($1,599 to $24,999!) that it is extremely unlikely that any Archway author will make a profit on publishing.
  7. Many ASI books are TERRIBLE
  8. Many ASI customers are angry with the company.

Devil mask from Thanks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I don't complain only about publishing

In the mid-1960s, I bought an old GE refrigerator for my college apartment. I paid $35 for it, and sold it three years later for $50.

It had to be defrosted manually, did not dispense water or ice through the door, never needed a repair, and always did its job.

More recently, my wife and I spent about two grand on a beautiful stainless steel top-of-the-line GE "Profile Arctica" fridge.
  • This "frost-free" freezer sometimes needs to be manually defrosted.
  • The fridge sometimes dispenses water and ice through the door and often dispenses water onto the floor -- causing people to slip, slide and fall.
  • It sometimes dispenses water onto the wood cabinetry -- causing it to rot. The fridge is destroying my kitchen!
  • It needs three or four service visits each year.
  • The water dispensing feature had to be fixed a few months ago, and stopped working last week.
  • When I open the freezer, ice cubes fall on the floor. 

The fridge is a beautiful and expensive PIECE OF SHIT.

I recently bought a water filter for it. With tax, it cost me $42.27. That's more than I spent to have my fail-proof GE college fridge for three years.

Progress? HAH!

GE: "Imagination at work." YEAH, SURE. A refrigerator that pisses on the floor is very imaginative. My dog is smarter than my fridge -- he goes outside the house to piss.

GE: "We bring good things to life". BULLSHIT. Not to my life.

GE: "For more than a century, GE has been committed to producing innovative products that change the way people live." I'M LIVING WORSE.

GE: "The result of thorough research and rigorous testing, GE appliances are designed for years of dependable performance." BULLSHIT.

GE: "advanced appliances to improve people's lives." BULLSHIT. 

GE: "Leading the Way to a Better Future."  FUCK YOU.

(old fridge photo from "markrto" on

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

American Express makes it easy to make deductible donations

As the year ends, you have only a little while left to make tax-deductible donations to charity. It's not a big deal to write a couple of checks, and lots of charities accept credit card donations and have convenient websites. However, if you want to spread money around, American Express makes it extremely easy -- and personally profitable.

The Members Give program (formerly "Giving Express")  connects you to over a million charitable organizations! You can search for them by name, keywords, location, or use an extensive list of categories such as performing arts, education, health care, housing, human rights, disaster relief, religion and much more. The AmEx website has financial reports, mission statements, contacts, and other information regarding the organizations.

Donating online helps nonprofit organizations reduce administrative costs so that they can do more with the money. Your dollar donations are tax-deductible and you’ll receive an e-mail receipt for your records.

• Give to one or more charities and nonprofit organizations
• Donate dollars with your American Express Card
• Donate Membership Rewards points
• Set up recurring donations

When you make a donation, you'll get an immediate e-mail confirmation for each transaction. AmEx will post a detailed record of all your donations on your password-protected Giving History web page, if you need a record for an IRS audit in the future.

This is also the time of year to engage in some intensive house cleaning and office cleaning. I recommend the one-year-test (or six-month test, or pick another appropriate interval). If there is something you haven't used in a year, there is a good chance that you won't use it in the next year... or decade.

Gather these things together and take them to your nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army "store." You'll get rid of clutter, get a tax donation, provide employment, and help someone less fortunate get a bargain on something she needs. While you're there, you may find some bargains to buy, too.

Although not specifically a year-end reminder, think about getting a credit card that will help an important charity or organization with your normal spending. For example, Bank of America works with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® to provide co-branded credit cards, debit cards and checking accounts, encouraging people to "Make every purchase pink." For each new Susan G. Komen for the Cure branded credit card account opened and used, Komen receives a minimum of $3, and a minimum of 20 cents for every $100 you make in purchases with the card. Komen also receives $1 for each annual renewal of the card. CLICK for info.


Monday, November 26, 2012

You're not stuck with stock photos, or even custom photos

Stock photos, from such sources as Fotolia, ShutterStock and iStockPhoto are an excellent alternative to expensive custom photography for book covers and interior pages. Millions of photos and illustrations are available from skilled pros and amateurs for a tiny fraction of the cost of hiring a photographer and models and renting a shooting location and paying for travel and food.

Prices range from a laughable 14 cents to about a hundred bucks, depending on size, resolution, and what the photographer feels like charging. I paid $60 for one cover shot, but most of my pix cost $4 or $6 each. I'd have to sell many more books to pay for a $1,000 photo than a $6 photo.

Some $1,000 photos don't turn out as expected. Also, sometimes a title or design
concept may change and it's easier to abandon a $6 photo than a $1,000 photo.

Unlike some "stock photo house" policies aimed at periodicals rather than books, you are buying a license for nearly unlimited use. You don't pay more money based on the readership/viewership of your media, or the purpose of your project. All the files available I've used are royalty-free, meaning they can be used with no limits on time, number of copies, or geographical location.

Most of them were absolutely perfect, and could not have been more perfect if they were shot just for my books.

Since they're not mine exclusively, I check to see if any competing or related books have the same or similar illustrations. There is no guarantee that one won't go on sale in the future (there's also no guarantee that another book won't have the same title as mine), but I'm willing to take the risk.

About the only limitations are that you can't put any person in a photo in a bad light or in porn or a violent situation, or use a photo to support a political party or religious organization.

One other possible limitation is that despite a nearly endless selection from Fotolia and its competitors, you may not find a photo that's exactly right for you. Read the contract, but you are probably allowed to modify a stock photo to make it 'more custom' (and more perfect) by flipping, cropping, changing lighting, removing or adding background, etc. 

That's where someone skilled with Adobe Photoshop can remake a stock photo into a custom photo.

The photo in the book cover at the top was nearly perfect, except for a generation gap. I needed a picture of a father speaking to a child, but the original man (in inset on the right) was obviously old enough to be a grandfather, or even a great grandfather.

Carina, my ace cover artist, gave him a hair transplant, eliminating the effect of decades.

In the second row, Carina doctored my 1971 wedding picture, to remove my wife and remove a reddish cast from the photo.

In the bottom photo, Carina removed a cluttered background, straightened out my tilted head, and removed my right hand that looked like the deformed appendage of a Thalidomide baby.

WARNING: some collections of stock photos and "clip art" are not supposed to be used for commercial purposes -- like books -- so read the fine print carefully.

OTHER WARNING: Stock photos are often purchased with "credits" that you buy in batches using a credit card or Paypal. Credits don't last forever, and can expire before you have a chance to use them. Be careful. BigStockPhoto has a "pay as you go" plan that allows you to buy what you need when you need it and not risk having credits expire.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Response from the boss of Bookpal

I previously slammed Bookpal, a pay-to-publish company based in Australia. 

Here's a response from the company's boss:

Hi, my name is Terence Tam and I'm the CEO and founder of Bookpal in Australia.

Firstly, I would like to thank you Michael for taking the time to post this blog as we value what the community thinks of us, good or otherwise.

Secondly, I would like to present our side of the story, as I believe it is only fair for people to see both sides of the coin and evaluate us for themselves.

Thank you for pointing out some inconsistencies with our communication which we have rectified on our website.

With the bestseller program that we advertise, I totally agree with Michael that it's a marketing push to help authors hit the bestseller list for a short period of time.

It is not something that people who want to sell hundreds or thousands of books should participate in. We make this very clear that it is a profile/personal branding exercise.

The objective, as we communicate clearly to customers on, is to help authors who desire to build credibility and open more doors for their career or business.

Most of the authors who we have helped in this are delighted with this because it helps them tremendously in their speaking and business careers.

We do not mislead people into thinking this is a program that will help make them a bundle from selling books. It is not a program for your regular author.

Secondly, with our 5 star amazon reviews.

We don't get customers to pay for this service, it is part of our publishing package that includes this.

The truth is, every self publisher needs all the help they can get in getting more books sold. Some 5 star reviews on Amazon will always help your regular Aussie battling author to hopefully sell more books.

Let's face it, large publishers engage in these practices all the time to gain an unfair advantage, they have even been known to put negative reviews on competitor's books. That is the ugly truth of the matter.

That is the rationale we came up with when introducing this. The fact is many authors also get their friends and families to post positive reviews about their book on Amazon. And a lot of our authors are older people who are not so computer literate, so this is something we help them with.

However, since this puts us in a negative light as per your blog post here, we will remove this service from our standard packages effective immediately.

Like I said, we want to listen to what the writer community wants.

Finally, Michael you mentioned that all we do is send out spammy emails. Yes I agree that was the case a few months ago.

In the last 3 months, instead of sending out spammy emails we are focusing on good weekly content for our subscribers. And instead of advertising periodic specials, we have revised our packages so that we have 'everyday better prices'.

In fact the feedback has been good writers' associations have been requesting to reprint our articles, which has been very satisfying.

In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank you once again for putting in the effort to point out some flaws in our business so that has allowed us to improve ourselves to serve the Australian writer community better.

PS. There was an Anonymous post saying that they had paid us money and we had done nothing to assist them. We have a dedicated live online chat line and a full time customer service person to ensure our customer service is top notch, with a refund policy in place. Wished we could talk to 'Anonymous' to find out his/her gripe. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Thanksgiving Day Wish

I hope I live long enough to witness a Thanksgiving Day when no dopey newscaster for a New York TV or radio station refers to the "Macy's Day Parade" instead of "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

[above] HOLY TURKEY SHIT! It's worse than I thought. I like Macy's. I'm a third-generation Macy's customer, but this is ridiculous. 

The selling of "naming rights" like "Citi (Bank) Field" and "Staples Center" is common for buildings -- but are holidays next? Will we see "Disney July Fourth," "Manischewitz Passover" or "Bud Lite News Year?"

[above] While I'm at it, I'd like to throw some mud at the media dimwits and ordinary New Yorkers who refer to the "Port of Authority" (really the "Port Authority of New York and New Jersey").

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Publishing terminology, Part One

Advance: a measly few bucks paid to an author by a publisher when a contract is agreed on. It's probably not enough to buy Happy Meals for your kids at Mickey Dee's.
Agent: A bloodsucker who takes a 'piece of the action' if she is able to convince a publisher to give a contract to an author.
Back-of-the-room sales: Book sales made at a table, usually in the back of or just outside an auditorium, at an event such as a conference where the author is speaking. You can get rich selling this way because you steal the sales tax and don't report the income.
Bookland: A country created to reserve an EAN (originally European Article Number) Country Code for books, regardless of their country of origin. Bookland is located between Lower Slobovia and Grand Fenwick, and is north of Chelm and south of Oz. The country codes for Bookland are 978 and 979.
Bricks-and-mortar retailer: A physical store, as opposed to an online business (even if it's made of metal studs and Sheetrock, not bricks and mortar). These stores are quaint, amusing relics from the 18th century where you can often buy expensive coffee and use the rest room. Nobody buys books from them.
Chick lit: A dirty book aimed at women
Consignment: A business method common in book publishing that allows booksellers to return unsold books to the publishers. It adds to the cost of books and lowers your profit.
Copyright: Government-backed protection of creative work. The feds can’t protect anything, so it’s a waste of money.
Co-venture: A business entity where expenses and responsibilities are shared by more than one person or business and one gets screwed
Crowdfunding (crowdfinancing): A method of raising money for a project, such as book publishing, by pathetically begging lots of people for small donations. It’s often done through social media such as blogs and Facebook.
Discount: A percentage taken off the retail price of a book that is retained by a distributor, wholesaler, and retailer. Try not to give a discount. Booksellers should be glad to have the privilege of being associated with you. They don't need to make money on your books.
E-tailer: An online retailer like -- the future of book sales
Genre: General Reinsurance Corporation
Ghostwriter: A writer, paid by a publisher or another writer, to write or co-write a book for someone who is too stupid, lazy or busy to write a book. Frequently used by politicians and celebrities.
Hand selling: A personal book recommendation in a store -- a good way to get an infectious disease.
ISBN: International Standard Book Number, a unique, 13-digit number that identifies a version of a book. You can save money by copying the ISBN from another book.
ISPITA: Industrial Strength Pain in the Ass (much worse than a mere PITA), common in publishing

Keyword: A secret word you use to get the key to your locker at the gym
Permission: Agreement from a copyright holder to permit another person or entity to use copyrighted material. Not necessary
PITA: Pain In the Ass (not limited to publishing)
Publication date: The official date on which a book is allowed to be sold. It is often fictional and arbitrary because many books are sold before their “pub date.”
Remainders: Books that are discounted to low prices, often one dollar, because they are outdated, damaged, selling poorly or excess inventory. Authors whose books are remaindered can buy them for a dollar and then resell them on eBay or Amazon for their original price and make a lot of money.
Returns: Books sent back from a bookstore to a publisher for a refund because they did not sell. DO NOT allow returns. It's not your fault that a store failed to sell your books.
Royalty: Payment to an author after books are sold, usually a percentage of sales in the 8 to 15% range. Authors who publish their own books can make MUCH more money, even 20,000-50,000% per book.
Rule: A silly custom a modern author can ignore
Self-publishing: A writer’s becoming the publisher of her or his own books to quickly become rich and famous like Mark Twain
Short discount: A smaller-than-usual discount from the cover price of a book. A standard discount is usually 45-50%. If you want to get rich, allow as small a discount as possible. Booksellers need you much more than you need them, and will gladly accept a discount in the 2-5% range.
Signature: Your name written in the front of the book so you can sell a book for $20 - $100 more than a book without a signature. You can actually have the signature printed in the book to save you time and avoid muscle ache. No one will know.
Trade paperback: What you can do with a book you no longer want
Wholesaler: A “middleman” company that buys books from a publisher and sells them to a retailer, raising the price of a book and stealing money from the author.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Optical delusions and other marvelous manipulations

The optical center is a concept that demonstrates that it can be better if you use what looks right rather than what measures right. Because the true vertical center often looks too low, if you want something to appear equidistant from the bottom and top, position it a little bit above the true center. (The dot on the right is probably a bit too high.)

[above] Sometimes what you see (or think others will see) is more important that what you measure. The upper line shows normal letterspacing. The lower line shows that some adjacent vertical letters benefit from increased spacing, and that adjacent round letters, which diverge from their closest points, look better with less spacing.

[above] The upper line has normal letterspacing. The lower line looks better because letterspacing was decreased ("kerned") to compensate for the diverging letterforms.

[above] Parentheses and brackets may be too low to look right in large sizes. Change the vertical alignment (within Font settings in Word). There is probably no need to do this in text sizes.

[above] You may have to add additional space to keep a letter, number or symbol from crashing into a parentheses or bracket. Height and spacing adjustments will vary with character, typeface, case and tilt (roman v. italic or oblique).

[above] Hyphens, em dashes and en dashes may have to be raised a bit in large type.

[above] The height and relative size of the “@” symbol varies greatly among typefaces. In large type sizes, experiment with lowering and/or enlarging the symbol so it aligns better with adjacent text.

Today's material is updated from my upcoming e-book, Typography for Independent Publishers

Monday, November 19, 2012

Indents, Outdents, Pilcrows, WTF?

[above] Half-inch indents are a holdover from 1960s-era typing classes, when kids were instructed to indent five spaces. They’re OK in a letter, but generally look bad in a book. Half-inch is Word’s default. The ‘proper’ indent is an aesthetic decision, and varies with typeface, type size, page size, margins and more. I generally use .3-inch for books with 12-point type.

Back when type was set from pieces of lead, an em quad was used to insert a blank space of the same width as an uppercase “M.” A one-em indent is generally safe for book text, but as far as I know an em indent is not an easy option if you are formatting with Word.

[above]  Missing tooth? Most paragraphs in most books will be indented, but I don’t indent a paragraph that starts parallel to the top of a graphic element, or the first line at the beginning of a chapter or section, or after a large white space, a chart, a diagram or a photograph. These are aspects of personal style, and can change from book to book. Do some experimenting, look at lots of books, and maybe ask for advice or hire a designer.
Keep in mind, however, that paragraph’s indent signals the beginning of the paragraph, so if the beginning is obvious without the indent, there is no need to indent.

A new paragraph can be introduced by a skipped line, an indent, an outdent, an initial cap or a symbol such as the pilcrow [above]. Although there is generally no need to use more than one indication, it is sometimes necessary to use a skipped line to provide space for an initial cap (which I'll discuss in a future blog) or a  decorative symbol.

Today's material is updated from my upcoming e-book, Typography for Independent Publishers

Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't let your flips become flops

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. A few years ago an irate reader of the New York Daily News complained about an allegedly reversed photo of a uniform-wearer -- but the letters editor did not know the proper response.

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, eye patch, 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. (I really wish that Cindy Crawford and Barack Obama would get rid of their zits.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This could be English...but maybe it's not


Self-publishers need to think

Food Products Manufacturers are marketing experts. After the launch of new products, they hire Cruz of merchandisers to pass out samples and coupons while buying vegetables in peak times. The result of???? “A large proportion of buyers, because buyers first time after receiving free samples of their incentives to purchase. Many of these buyers after loyal customers., Self-publishers need to think like Frito-Lay. This identification, such as hardware, publishing and (probably) a relatively unknown author, have to give your customers the opportunity to buy your book, your readers by giving free samples may only need to increase sales. The point of the plots are concerned that dona???? No need to hire merchandisers or resources to empty your free choice in a study of writers is easy or free, thanks to network with current printing technology. If you have your web page (not recommended), give your readers a summary chapter or a free download. Your bill is probably ready. PDF format If youâ???? Have jobs and housing subsidies. Extract the contents of your table, a copy of your insurance development of the first chapter of your book, build relationships with them on your site. Be sure to link back to your sales page, or regions of the Amazon, Alibris, or other sites offer your book for sale. As you but on the Internet, is literate, you can submit the first chapter of the content directly with Amazon. com, BarnesandNoble. com, or on FirstChapterFree. com. Any use of???? Click-to-hitsâ???? Plans to move your pieces. If these programs are targeted, you can use words to establish a sales source, which increases the possibility that someone might buy your book. If youâ???? Ve written a lie idle like to establish yourself as a writer best expert in your field, send short articles for other web sites or ezines cover your area of expertise. SUMMARY You can use one of your chapters in your articles readers peek subject (s) in your address book. Some Web sites actively seek short, the article was written properly dress a number of topics, some of the most popular are: to improve the home, family and relationships, law, business (Traditional Internet), financial management and investments, and religion (a practical perspective, rather than theoretical? ??? homiletically discussion.) Make sure to include your school name link to your site in sales???? “Authorâ???? It Biographyâ???? Region. If you’re a poet or a screenplay written by, to provide free entertainment for your work. Indianapolis, one Starbuckâ???? For musicians and performance artists, offering the opportunity to provide one night a week. libraries, community playhouses, and even some restaurants may be open to this proposal. Finally, if you already have a familiar pattern book, consider increasing the first chapter of your book again, with sales data prepublication discount or purchase, as it is???? Then he added attractionâ???? in (your second later) prints. If your readers love your first book, theyâ???? Re sure to love your second one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Inspiration is overrated, and may be unnecessary

Albert Einstein said, “Genius consists of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.”

If you show up at your keyboard and sweat a lot, you’ll do better than writers who took the day off, or don’t sweat much.

(Einstein photo by Yousuf Karsh. Allen photo from, photographer unspecified.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Terrible publishing advice from an ignorant 'expert'

While doctors need education and licenses before they can prescribe drugs, and professional organizations have standards for people who want to call themselves Realtors or Chartered Life Underwriters, anyone with a mouth or a keyboard can offer bad advice, biased opinions and inaccurate information.

I published STINKERS! America's Worst Self-Published Books, and was both amused and disturbed when I realized that the majority of the books I included are from ignorant authors who try to advise other ignorant authors. Some of these self-styled experts don't know their asses from their elbows, recto from verso, or a recto from a rectum.

However, there may be even more bad advice on the web than in books.

I had the misfortune to discover an online article titled "SELF PUBLISH/PRINT-ON-DEMAND: What They Don’t Tell You" by Alana Cash (apparently the mother of actor Cameron and a distant relative of Johhny). Alana is said to be "an award-winning filmmaker and author. She taught writing at the Univ. of Texas and Jung Institute in Austin, Texas."

While Alana may be qualified to teach writing, she is NOT qualified to teach about self-publishing. Here's some of what she got wrong:

(1) "I’ve spent time researching two other publish-on-demand (POD) companies." There is no such thing as "publish-on-demand." Publishing is a complex process which can take months or years, and can't start anew every time someone clicks a mouse to order a book. Printing can be done on demand, but publishing can't. Printing is part of publishing. They are not the same thing.

(2) "Because the copyright office is backed up for about a year or so, I wasn’t able to provide an actual copyright number." Books generally display an ISBN and an LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) but not a copyright number. While a book is copyrighted at the moment of creation, the Library of Congress normally issues a formal copyright after publication.

(3) "The colophon is not included on the copyright page of a POD book. A colophon is a 10-digit line of numbers of [sic] letters that indicates the 'print run' of a book." A colophon is often a page in the backmatter with details about the production of the book, such as typefaces used, the paper, the designer, printer, etc.

(4) "Kern the wording – meaning balance the spaces between caps and small letters." Kerning is the adjustment of spaces (regardless of uppercase or lowercase) so letters fit together attractively, without large gaps between them. HERE'S something I wrote about kerning.

(5) "Lightning (Barnes & Noble’s POD division) has a written agreement." Lightning Source is part of Ingram Industries. LS supplies books to B&N, but is not part of B&N. (In one book cited in my STINKERS! book, we are told that LS is owned by Another 'expert' got it wrong.)

(6) "The POD company states a minimum price that an author must charge for the book to make sure to cover their overhead." While self-publishing companies usually suggest cover prices, Lightning Source is a printer and does not care how much a book sells for, or even if it is given away, as long as the printing and shipping is paid for. Also, if a self-publishing company did specify a minimum price, it would be calculated to provide profit, not just overhead.

(7) With POD, the author provides [the title page and copyright page]. Some POD companies may tell you this, some do not. I learned the hard way by getting a proof copy of TOM’S WIFE [printed by CreateSpace] with the title and copyright pages missing. Not a pleasant surprise. This should not have been a surprise, and the mistake should have been avoided.

(8) "POD companies are not really publishers, only printers." Some are publishers only, some are printers only, some are both. The term "POD company" is ambiguous and should not be used.

(9) I tried to arrange book-signings at Barnes & Noble and found it was impossible because in order for B&N to purchase my book for their stores, TOM’S WIFE has to be in inventory with a wholesale distributor and has to be returnable. Maybe the local B&N store simply did not want to get involved with the book. Maybe the book was not properly offered to B&N. Maybe it does not have the proper discount. The returnability requirement should not be a surprise.

(10) POD companies do not stock inventory and they do not allow returns. Some do.

I don't know everything, but I know more about publishing than some other people who want to give you advice or sell you advice.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is urine really like brie, provolone and cheddar?

I have long been fascinated by euphemisms.
  • Some euphemisms, like "gay," have become so common that the earlier use of the word has largely ended.
  • Some euphemisms seem nastier than the words they replace. "Son of a bitch" was devised to replace "dog" -- a horrible epithet in England. In the USA, "bitch" is a bad word, unless you're talking about a female dog.
  • Some euphemisms, like "SOB" and "son of a B," are euphemisms for other euphemisms.
  • Some euphemisms are just plain confusing.
"Pissed off" is common American slang for "really annoyed." Some people find the reference to the ubiquitous yellow liquid unpleasant and avoid the phrase even if they can't avoid the sentiment. One common euphemism uses what may be an abbreviation: "P'd off" -- but maybe it's really "pee'd off, using a gentler synonym of "piss."

We also have people who move one generation farther away, using a rhyming euphemism for the the gentler synonym. They say "tee'd off" instead of "pee'd off." Would Tiger Woods be tee'd off if someone else tee'd off at Tiger's tee time?
  • And then we get to the really silly euphemisms like "ticked-off," "torqued-off," and the silliest of all:

The Brits, who drive on the wrong side of the road and gave us the classic "son of a bitch," use "piss-off" not to mean "annoy" or "bother," but as a gentler alternative to "fuck-off" or "get the hell out of here."

Euphemism fans, slang aficionados and more generalized language geeks will enjoy Euphemania by Ralph Keyes. I learned things on almost every page. Ralph claims that Midwesterners say "sack" instead of "bag" because they perceive "bag" as slang for "scrotum." Folks in the northeast, where "sack" (nut sack) may mean "scrotum," feel safe with "bag."

I'm not sure if Ralph is right about this, but it's interesting to contemplate. Southerners avoid both "bag" and "sack" by saying "poke."

Y'all be careful now. Don't you be buyin' no pig in a poke. Y'hear?

And men, don't get poked in your bag, or your sack.

And speaking of "nut sacks," I'd long suspected that the "heavenly coffee" Chock full o' Nuts got its name because someone was reluctant to call it "full of beans," although coffee is made from beans, not nuts.

Alas, I was wrong. It turns out that the company's founder William Black opened a nut shop in Manhattan in 1926, and later started selling coffee but used the nut shop's name on the coffee.

When I was in junior high school, we verbally combined the two images above to produce "jock full of nuts."

CLICK for more about the coffee and NYC history.


Brie photo from Southport Grocery & Cafe. Urine sample photo from Mountainside Medical Equipment. Jockstrap photo from Calvin Klein. I thank them.