Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"I read it on the Internet so it must be true."

When words appear as text (on paper or online) they have apparent authority and truthfulness that is not implied when the same words are merely spoken.

The Internet and self-publishing have made it possible for anyone to say anything about anything to anyone or everyone. If the packaging is realistic, blatant bullshit can seem like gospel (assuming that you believe the gospel). If the phony message is powerful and gains supporters, it can spread like the gospel.

  • For about ten years I produced elaborate online hoaxes for April Fools' Day that fooled many who should have known better.
  • I have a website, 99 Buck Books, that is a parody of self-publishing companies. It is so well-done that it fooled at least one expert in the business.
  • In the 1950s radio raconteur Jean Shepherd (one of my literary gods) was pissed off about dubious bestseller lists. He motivated fans to go to bookstores to request the none-existent I, Libertine. The stores pestered their distributors for the book, which was put on the New York Times Bestseller list even though it did not exist. (To meet the demand, a book was actually published to make money for charity.)
  • PublishAmerica (probably the worst publisher in the world) was fooled into publishing deliberately awful books written to demonstrate that the company will print anything with no effort to evaluate or edit the material.
  • The false "news" published by The Onion is done so well that several websites report on the people who believe the baloney. Onion suckers include folks on Facebook as well as journalists and politicians
There is a big difference, however, between deliberate inaccuracy disseminated for humor or to make a point, and accidental inaccuracies disseminated because of ignorance.

Regular readers of this blog know that I frequently target people who provide bad advice or inaccurate information about publishing.

Just this morning I read an elaborate comparison of three on-demand book printers.

Author Nick Thacker tells us that Lightning Source is "the printer of most of the material you’ll find [in] a bookstore at least here in the States." That's absolutely untrue.

Nick is also wrong in interpreting "LSI" to mean "Lightning Source International." The company uses "International" for its operations outside the USA. Inside the USA, the "I" is understood to mean "Incorporated."

I strongly disagree with Nick's description of Lightning's setup process as "frustratingly difficult" and "close to the worst thing in the world." I've used Lightning for multiple books with no trouble, and my IQ is several points below the genius level.

Nick also says that "if you’re here for price alone, you’re going to be happiest at CreateSpace. Lulu is close in price . . . ." As of this morning, the price for printing a 300-page 6-by-9-inch paperback is $4.45 from CreateSpace and $10.25 from Lulu. Sorry, Nick, but more than a 100% difference in price is not "close."

And, as long as in a critical mood, I'll point out that while Nick says his first novel is "professionally-designed," having "written by" above the author's name is absolutely not professional.

Those words may be tolerated on a fourth-graders report about Abraham Lincoln, but do not belong on a real book. The phrase is unnecessary. S
omehow people just assume that a name on the bottom of a book probably belongs to the author. Nick's phrase is like the silly signs on stores that say "Help Wanted. Inquire Within." What the hell would people do if the signs did not say "inquire within?"

Still being picky (and maybe pricky), I'll also point out that Nick's cover states that the book is "a novel." I HATE THAT FUCKING PHRASE. Dickens and Hemingway didn't need to point out that A Tale of Two Cities and The Son Also Rises were novels.

Sadly, Nick Thacker is not alone in publishing bad information about Lightning Source.

I had the misfortune to discover an online article titled "SELF PUBLISH/PRINT-ON-DEMAND: What They Don’t Tell You" by Alana Cash. Alana said 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. She wrote that "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 a division of B&N.

Another self-styled publishing expert wrote that Lightning is owned by Amazon.com. Ain't so, either.

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

Image from http://www.know-christ.com/online-bible. Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. You do know lots about publishing, that's for sure Michael. I enjoy reading your posts; but would just like to comment that, although my son also rises, I don't think he was the one Hemingway had in mind!