Friday, November 29, 2013

Erich Duncan's publishing advice sounds like Borat wrote it

Although the following sounds like it was written by Borat  (Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), it actually comes from Erich Duncan. Erich probably should not be giving advice about publishing -- at least not in English.

Just how with Select a Self Publishing Hit

For brand-new writers without agency representation, it has become increasingly hard with break into main publishing houses. As more and additionally more editors become uneager with take chances on untried skills, authors tend to be turning with regard to better numbers toward the actual self-publishing path. Not just does this particular give them better control over the actual completed product and additionally its pricing, it additionally invites them with participate on to a better degree with regard to the creative (and additionally aggressive) marketing of their titles. Here tend to be a number of methods on exactly what to take into account with regard to choosing the actual self-publishing entity that is right for a project.

Within the example that your needs will actually need to be able to economize much more with regard to the event that shopping from the internet try using barnes & noble promo code.

1)Determine how much time your needs can reasonably commit with the actual self-publishing process once a book is completed. While the actual turnaround at multiple of today’s self-publishing companies is very fast once you possess submitted a material, it’s going with take a a good deal of legwork on your own piece with promote its launch, solicit book reviews, do podcast interviews and additionally give talks.

2)Define a target market for the actual book. The particular amount of money and additionally time your needs program with invest is based on regardless of whether your needs program with give the actual book away with friends and additionally relatives because sentimental keepsakes, make use of with regard to combination alongside a great ongoing workshop and / or class that you are teaching, and / or take it on to a broader mass media system.

3)Assess that self-publishing business is going to give your needs the actual best contract based on the projected amount of duplicates your needs want to market plus the in-house distribution mechanism with regard to put (i.e., Amazon, Ingram, Barnes and additionally Noble, etc.).

4)Research the actual various pricing packages granted through various self-publishing companies. Various of them, by way of example, is going to publish a book at no charge but yet the actual completed product is going to probably be of inferior high quality and additionally make use of generic covers. A few is going to provide titles only with regard to a great ebook/downloadable formatting while others provide choices for hardcover, softcover and additionally sound versions (see Resources below).

5)Determine regardless of whether the actual companies assign ISBN numbers, make the books accessible through main distribution channels, and additionally provide ongoing creator support/resources without additional charge.

6)Visit author talk rooms and additionally solicit feedback from fellow authors whom possess gone the actual self-publishing path. Familiarize yourself alongside sites for instance Preditors and additionally Editors that delivers comprehensive scuttlebutt on publishing companies that will not be worth a time and additionally cash (see Resources below).

7)Order sample titles for review once you possess narrowed down a list of self-publishers with three and / or four and additionally compare their respective high quality with regard to terms of size, cover design, layout, paper and additionally binding. Don’t be shy regarding asking queries that will assist your needs make a great informed choice.

8)Compare the actual various bills associated alongside set-up, proofreading and additionally modifying services, visual design/photo uploads for covers, etc. Should you program with work modifying and additionally design jobs yourself, your needs can conserve a a good deal of cash.

9)Examine the actual pricing and additionally royalty structure of each self-publishing package. Conventional publishers regularly never exceed a 10 % royalty. Alongside self-publishers, however, the actual price tag that your needs set for a book (based found on the page size and additionally format) put together alongside the discount your needs provide with bookstores can easily cause a royalty because high because 65 %.

10)Read the actual fine print of the self-publishing contract with ensure that you are retaining every one of the rights because the actual creator and additionally you’re not locking yourself into a great inextricable relationship with regard to the event your needs choose to withdraw the actual book and / or market it on to a traditional publisher.

Contrary with prevalent belief, a conventional publishing apartment isn’t going with do that much buzz on your own brand-new book should you tend to be a genre and / or mid-list author; their focus is going to be found on the main names that tend to be already creating them cash. Accordingly, editors is going to regularly ask how much your needs program with participate with regard to the marketing of the book if they even choose to buy it. If you are going to be performing that hard with regard to promotions anyway, the benefit of controlling your product and additionally pricing structure through self-publishing additionally ensures that your book is accessible for purchase longer than it would certainly if put with regard to bookstores by a conventional publisher. (The particular average lifespan on a bookstore shelf for genre and additionally mid-list books by beginners is just regarding 6 weeks unless of course there’s a very high demand for it.)

While a conventional publisher is going to cover the actual expense of copyediting, layout and additionally cover designs and additionally piece of the total production cost, they additionally remove control of the layout and additionally design from the hands of the authors. Within many instances, they can easily even change the actual title of the book without the actual author’s permission. This isn’t going with result if you are the actual you who’s calling all of the shots.

The particular higher the actual discount your needs make accessible with bookstores, the actual more receptive they is with carrying a title. If a focus is primarily going to be online sales and additionally book fairs, bookstore discounts aren’t going to be because significant a factor with your needs.

Should you don’t already possess you, develop an url with help buzz a brand-new title. This could consist of a photo of the cover, a short synopsis, a great excerpt, and additionally reviews.

Set up a great account through PayPal thus that you can process orders online.

Be wary of self-publishers whose right discount contract is based on your own buying 100 plus duplicates of the title yourself and additionally taking responsibility for storing them and additionally delivery them out with consumers. Unless of course your needs teach classes and / or conduct workshops where the actual book is necessary reading for participants, selling 100 plus duplicates on your own own is going to be tough.

If a self-publisher is just going with make a book accessible through its own web pages, a book isn’t going with receive the actual exposure it deserves.

(Yes, I know that this word salad was probably assembled by a computer to attract search engine traffic, and that Erich Duncan may not exist.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today is not Macy's Day, dammit!

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 27, 2013

Does Google love you? Can you make it love you?

In the 21st century, if you have something to sell, or merely want to be noticed, you need to have a website and the website needs to be positioned high up in the search engine sites, particularly Google.
  • If you search for "self-publishing" on Google, you'll find links to nearly 22 million web pages. There are 12 links on the first page. Four of them go to my websites (when I last checked).
  • A search for "self-publish" (no "ing") has links to more than 34 million pages. Two of my sites are on the first page (when I last checked). A great many millions come after me. Wow!
According to experts, many people who use search engines never look beyond the first page of links, so I am positioned very well. My websites that deal with telecommunications and other topics have similar high search engine placement -- and I didn't pay a penny to achieve it.

(left-click to enlarge.)

There are books and businesses that specialize in SEO (search engine optimization), the process of getting a website into a good position in Google, Bing, Excite, Yahoo and lesser search engines. The SEO experts charge for their services. One company charges up to $4,500. Another reduced its maximum fee from $10,000 to $8,000. Some charge by the hour or month. I’ll gladly give you some free tips based on personal experience.
  1. People search for “keywords” and it’s important that your website include all relevant keywords, used as often as possible, without seeming obvious, artificial or awkward. Keep in mind that many potential readers or customers don’t know your website, book or other product exists, but may simply be searching for information about buying or using a product. If you have published a book about bicycles or amateur beer making, you want to attract people who are shopping for bikes or hops or need advice about fixing a flat or deciding on dry vs. liquid yeast.
  2. A keyword may actually be a phrase, not just a single word. If you think that people will be searching for “dirt bike” or “comfort bike,” and those phrases are appropriate for your book, they belong in your website, too.
  3. Google’s legendary algorithm that determines a website’s position has been subject to much speculation, and it’s protected as carefully as the formula for making Coca-Cola. One key ingredient in Google ranking is the number of inbound links to a website. Google assumes that the more sites that link to a particular site, the better that site is, and the higher it deserves to be in the Google list. Google interprets a link from Susan’s website to Charlie’s website as a vote by Susan in favor of Charlie. So, make a useful website.
  4. You should create inbound links in any legitimate way you can. If you post a comment in an online forum, put your website address in it. If you’re listed in Linkedin or active in Facebook and other social networks, promote your website there. Every email you send can list your site, and, of course, the web address belongs on your business cards and letterheads. If you have multiple websites (as I do), each one should promote the others. You can also ask the operators of other compatible but not competing websites to exchange links with you.
  5. There are lots of schemes for getting other sites to link to yours, but some businesses do very well simply by having a good site with useful information presented in a pleasant way.
  6. To judge your progress, you can use websites such as These are the results for one of my websites: Google PageRank: 4. Google Links: 54. Yahoo Links: 2,940. Bing Related: 309.
  7. Older sites tend to rank higher than newer ones. Even if your book won’t be out for a year, get a preview online right away so you can gradually make your way upward in the lists.
  8. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Never get a URL (web address) with a hyphen in it, unless the hyphen is part of a term like
  9. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Short URLs are better than long ones.
  10. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Avoid long URLs with a high potential for misspelling, like
  11. Track your traffic (“hits”). If few people visit your site, maybe you don’t have enough of the proper keywords or maybe you chose the wrong subject to write about.
  12. Use search engines to find what people are saying about you, your book or other product. Negative comments may keep people away from your site.  If you find an error, try to correct it.
  13. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) While URLs can end in a variety of ways, including the ubiq­uitous dot-com, as well as dot-net, dot-USA, dot-CA, dot-TV and others, it’s generally best to use dot-com. If your website is, many people will go to They may find nothing—or a competitor.
  14. I spelled the sample URL as The web doesn’t care about uppercase and lowercase (and neither does the email system), but by spelling your URL with uppercase letters where new words start, you make the URL easier to read, remember and type.
  15. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Avoid URLs with consecutive identical letters such as They can confuse potential customers and cost you business because people may think you were being cute and you chose to spell it as “whatoeat,” or they’ll just mistype.
  16. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Avoid URLs with am­biguous word breaks where it’s not obvious which word a letter belongs to. These URLs can confuse potential customers and might cost you business. Whenever I see, I automatically pronounce it as “releasey our writing.”
  17. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Resist the temptation to use the dot-net version of a URL that’s already in use as a dot-com.
  18. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) while it’s been said that all of the good URLs have been taken, if you want to promote a book, your book name is probably unique, so you have a pretty good chance of getting it as a URL. If you want a URL with your personal name in it, you may face some competition.
  19. (Not vital for search engine inclusion, but important for traffic and referrals) Pay a few bucks so you will own similar URLs to capture bad spellers and to lock out potential competitors. Direct them to your site. I met a man who was planning to develop a website called I suggested that he also register “sfixus” and some other variations. You can register the alternate “phantom” URLs at and have traffic forwarded to the real website address.
  20. A sitemap will help both humans and bots (robot indexers) discover all of your site’s pages. A template may create it automatically.
  21. Keep your site hierarchy relatively “flat.” Each page should be just one to three clicks away from the homepage.
  22. At least once a day, check to see that your website is really “on the air.” There are services that will check for you, such as 
  23. In addition to search engines, there are online directories for resources in every imaginable field, from farming to diabetes. Search for them, and submit your URL. Check often, and if your site drops out, resubmit your information.
  24. Sooner or later the bots or web crawlers used by the search engines should find your website, but it can’t hurt to tell the engines that your site exists. You may get emails from services that promise to Submit Your Website to 300,000 Top Search Engines for only $299. There are not 300,000 top search engines, or even 30. You should care about only a few. When you launch your website, notify the major search engines.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Silly 'professional' errors should make good amateur publishers feel wonderful

I've often pointed out that self-published books are suspect -- often assumed to be substandard even before their front covers are flipped open.

To counter this prejudice, I've preached that self-publishing authors should make their books as good as the books produced by professional editors, typesetters and designers employed by the major "traditional" publishers.

Sadly, sometimes, the work of the pros should not be emulated.

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters was published by Portfolio, an “imprint” of the Penguin Book Group. Penguin is one of the largest book publishers in the world, and started in 1935. It recently merged with competitor Random House and bought shitty self-publishing behemoth Author Solutions.

A publisher with vast size and long experience should know what it’s doing, but it doesn’t always do the right thing.

A few years ago, Penguin's Riverside imprint published a phony autobiography, Love and Consequences. Before the hoax was revealed and the book was recalled, it received an excellent review in The New York Times.

Bob Lutz’s “Car Guys” book exhibits a much smaller sin -- a silly typesetting error which should have been noticed by one of Penguin’s experts before printing. It’s mostly a good book, otherwise.

In this case, "professional quality" is not good enough. Amateurs should do better.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Authors need copyeditors -- and should also try being copyeditors

Regular readers of this blog know that I sometimes write lengthy critiques of books. In addition to the critiques I publish here, I sometimes critique books for authors -- privately and for free -- if I think a book is worthy of 'fixing' but don't want to embarrass the author. I've formed some nice online friendships this way.

I even have a business called Rent A Book Reviewer that provides pre-publication critiques. (Yes, I know that the site needs to be updated.)

I recently posted an online critique for a book on a website that announced the book. Although some may see my critique as 'unmerciful,' the author realized that I was right --  and hired me to be a copyeditor. 

Back in the 60s I became the copyeditor on my college newspaper, the Brown & White, at Lehigh. While my initial motivation for becoming "copy ed" was to keep others from butchering what I had written, it turned out that I really liked copyediting, and apparently I did it well.

The skills I developed editing in college helped me later in the 'real world' when I worked as a magazine editor, advertising copywriter, journalist -- and author.

There is probably no page, paragraph or sentence that can't be improved by chopping or shifting some words. That's part of what a copyeditor does. Other duties include fixing grammar and spelling errors, and maintaining editorial "style" -- such things as making sure "5:30pm" is not on one page but "7:15 AM" is on another page. The copyeditor has to have a good memory, and sharp eyes to notice a missing close-quote, wrong font, oversize or undersize indents and extra spaces between words.
  • While every author must edit her own work, I think you can become a better writer if you try editing someone else's work. Without your ego protecting the sanctity of the words, you can be unmerciful, and the techniques and tools you develop will improve your own books.
  • I'm an American currently copyediting a very interesting memoir written by an Irish businessman. In addition to my correcting the usual errors and inconsistencies, I must recognize and preserve U.K. spelling and local idioms. It's great exercise for my brain and eyes, and I've learned that an Irish punt is money.
Pick almost any book and start marking it up or make notes on your PC. If you can get a text in editable form, that's even better. Even a Kindle book viewed on your PC allows you to make notes. You can also work on blog posts and websites, and even advertising.

This exercise may not lead to a second career as an editor, but you'll probably become a better writer.

I've written a (bestselling) book about editing your own work which should also help you edit others' work. It's called Self-Editing for Self-Publishers: What to do before the real editor starts editing or if you're the only editor. If you find it useful, I'd appreciate a complimentary comment on Amazon. If you hate it, write an unmerciful critique. I can take it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What word on a book cover can hurt the book's sales?

If you saw a sign like this one in a store window, and you hoped to get a job in the store, but the sign did not include the archaic "inquire within" phrase, would you do anything other than inquire within?

Of course not.

If you saw a book cover with one person's name on it, but the text did not include "by," "By:" or "Written by," wouldn't you assume that the name is the name of the author?

A phrase like "Written by Stevie Jones" may be forgivable on a report about dinosaurs written by a child in third grade, but DOES NOT belong on a book. It instantly brands the book as pathetically amateurish. The book may be dismissed by potential reviewers and purchasers -- even before the cover is flipped open.

So, say goodbye to "by."

If you are evaluating book cover designers and the designer's portfolio includes book covers with "by" on them, that's an indicator that the designer does not know enough about designing books.

If you are considering a self-publishing company, take a look at the covers of books it has produced. If you see the word "by" before an author's name, you'll know that the company employs ignorant folks who have no business being in the book business. Stay away!

The cover of the overpriced book shown at the right comes from AuthorHouse. The cover gets extra stupid points for having "by" with a colon.

Even if an author designs her own cover, or employs an independent designer, and submits a cover design with the horrid monosyllable, a knowledgeable publisher should say "NO WAY."

AuthorHouse tells potential author-customers: "
you maintain creative control of your book. From editing and proofreading to cover design . . . you choose what you want for your book."

Creative control is nice -- but it can be self-destructive. Many authors need the guidance that an experienced publisher should be able to provide.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The new brag line from Author Solutions is as dubious as its old one

In advertising, a tag line is a slogan that often accompanies a company name, such as "we bring good things to life" (General Electric) and "better living through chemistry" (duPont). Some tag lines are in use for decades; others vanish quickly.
I like to use the term brag line to describe a particularly empty -- or even dishonest -- tag line.
Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI) is a massive pay-to-publish empire which has grown by acquiring and combining such former competitors as AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, Wordclay and Xlibris. ASI has a Spanish-language division called Palibrio, operates the self-publishing businesses for traditional publishers Harlequin, Thomas Nelson and Hay House,  and has operations in the USA, England, India, the Philippines and maybe elsewhere. In 2012 ASI became part of giant traditional publisher Penguin Random House.

Until recently, ASI claimed to be "the world leader in indie book publishing—the fastest-growing segment of publishing."
  • That's bullshit. A writer who pays ASI to publish books is NOT indie, but is merely a customer of a huge company.
Fickle, ever-morphing ASI has recently adopted a new brag line. Perhaps as a response to criticism, it has abandoned "indie" and now claims to be "The leading supported self-publishing company in the world."
  • That claim of leadership is as hard to prove as the previous one.
ASI publishes crappy, overpriced books and pisses off its customers. STAY AWAY.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Don't order your pizza with tombolo topping

Words can be fun, and even funny.

I've previously written about flongs, dingbats, pilcrows and other strange publishing terms. Today, I'd like to introduce you to the TOMBOLO.

Although the word came to English from Italian, it's definitely not something you'd enjoy on top of your pizza or inside a calzone.

A tombolo is like a sandbar, but it is perpendicular to the shore, not parallel to it.

Here in Milford CT, we have a famous tombolo (but everyone calls it a sandbar).

At low tide, it connects Silver Sands Beach with Charles Island -- which may contain buried pirate treasure. I named my publishing company after the beach (which is also a state park). 

Charles Island was allegedly cursed three times.

(1) The first curse was brought in the 17th century by an Indian chief, whose tribe fought for the island which they felt was sacred ground. After settlers defeated the Indians, the chief said, "Any shelter will crumble to the Earth." No building on the island has lasted more than a few years.

(2) The second curse was supposedly brought by Captain Kidd in 1699 when he buried his treasure there. Captain Kidd cursed with death anyone who attempted to dig it up.

(3) The third curse was supposedly brought in 1721 by five sailors who stole Mexican emperor Guatmozin's treasure. Guatmozin put a curse on the stolen treasure. After four of the five sailors suffered tragic deaths, the last sailor hid the treasure in the basement of a Milford tavern. When it was discovered by a drunk searching for beer, the fifth sailor transported it to Charles Island, moving the third curse with it.

Legend says treasure hunters discovered an iron chest in 1850. As they attempted to open it, a "screeching, flaming skeleton descended from the sky. It lurched into the pit where the chest was, sending forth a shower of blue flames." The treasure hunters dropped their tools and fled from Charles Island. They returned the next day and their tools were gone and the digging site had been smoothed over, as if they'd never been there.


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Pepe's pizza photo from

Tombolo photo by Randal Ferret

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When did "in" become out?

I've previously bitched about the disturbing tendency of Gen-X-ers and Gen-Y-ers (and Michelle Obama and Dubya Bush) to use "was like" as a synonym for "said."

I've recently become aware of another linguistic abomination.

Young people are saying "shit my pants" and "peed my pants" instead of doing it "IN my pants."

It's interesting that the use of the immature phrase coincides with an immature activity. What's next for these kids? "I'm through, Mommy. Come wipe me."

Does it take too much energy to utter the simple two-letter monosyllable, "in?"

I have a solution: just say "said" instead of "was like," and use the conserved brain power to restore the missing preposition, "in."

(The photo above shows the genuine J-Lo, but the poop stain may have been faked.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Itz tuff two tawk Inglisch ryte

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

(Apparently excerpted from The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Don't give your book a hickey

When I was a teenager, a hickey was bruise caused by sucking skin, usually on the neck. On Mondays, kids proudly displayed their hickeys as indicators of intense passion over the weekend.

In printing, a hickey (also known as a bull’s eye or fish eye) is a spot or imperfection on a printed paper caused by dirt.

(above) When newspapers were “pasted up” by hand it was common for extraneous strips of paper with text on them, or nothing on them, to get dropped onto what would become the printing plate—and their images would be printed. (Newspaper article above was written by yours truly for the Brown & White at Lehigh University in 1966 -- when college students used slide rules, cigarettes cost 27 cents a pack and there were no iPads. However, sex had been invented.)

(above) It’s unlikely that you will encounter those problems in a book made with word-processing software, a PDF and print on demand or e-publishing -- but there is a 21st century version of the hickey.

If you use the Print Screen function of your computer, or software such as
Snagit, you might accidentally capture an image with a cursor or pointer in it. Be careful.


top photo from Janek B. Thanks.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Publishing advice from someone who can't write

Text copied from

Borat's English is much better.

Almost everyone who write any books or even ebook are need a copyright. Moreover, you’ll recommended to obtained an ISBN as soon as possible. If you have considered all your choices and have decided that “self-publishing” makes the most fit for you. Please get ISBN to your as soon as possible. You may know that there is an extra in the need to “self-market” your eBook or books, but you must know that it’s also have correlation to boost your profits.

Do you Know about ISBN ?
Yeah..!! ISBN is stands for: “International Standard Book Number”. Most people aren’t know and understand what is an ISBN. ISBN is a number (commonly 10 digit)that would helps to recognize your book, ebook or even brand. The ISBN is commonly placed on the back of the book or product. This is look like a bar-code in a supermarket, wholesale and retail store. It’s capable to identify any products. It’s typically used to identify a book by the author or publisher. It’s so useful for any instance like booksellers, universities, libraries, wholesalers and many more as it’s capable to identify book or products easily and rapidly. Furthermore, it’s also applied on internet, I have seen ISBN search on That’s means you’re enabled to get books and any product rapidly and simply online.

Is it Important For Me ?
The answer of this question is depending on your needed. You would really really need ISBN if you are wanna sell or distribute your products like ebook or even book on major websites. However, it would be useless if you just purposed to distribute your ebook or books on your own sites. In a few case, this is needed to be one point of products qualification, some retailers and store won’t accept any products that doesn’t contain an ISBN. So, do you know whether or not it’s important for you ?

How To Obtaining an ISBN Number?
If you decide you’ll like to get an ISBN for your eBook or books, you could easily get it. There are various ISBN agencies in the worldwide that could aid you to joining your ebook or books to ISBN. If you’re published your book by a book publishing deal, you’ll most likely obtain the ISBN. You could also get the ISBN by self publishing agency especially through internet, if you wanna sale book yourself. Typically ISBN already provided for the publisher.

The cost
The price to buy an ISBN may seem to expensive for most people. The cost of getting an ISBN is about $80 to $ 500 or even more, it’s depending on the amount that you’ll purchase. In the worldwide, there are plenty resellers that provide and sell a single ISBN for about $50 to $ 65. Other way for the buy of an ISBN is by your book printer. The printing company usually give this as a service to the customers because they understand that you may not require a lot of ISBN numbers.

Self-publishing may looked so daunting, but if you know and understand about the strategies needed, it’s potentially could be successfully done. Furthermore, an ISBN is needed, you’ll also require to manage copyright issues.

In other words, you actually need to get an ISBN if you have a goal to market and sell your eBook on major sites, in store and many more. But, if you just wanna sell books on your sites, you could ignore this on your consideration. Firstly on your publishing, please ensure that you have already deciding your goal, so that you could prioritize the budgets for your publishing like the budget for getting ISBN.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Save words. Save energy. Save time. Save space. Reduce stupidity.

Since the end of the last century, many words have been written and said about minimizing the use of vehicles, fuel, heat, power, water, food, packaging, building materials and more. We are supposed to SAVE vital resources.

I think it's time to say a few words about using fewer words.

The archaic phrase "Inquire Within" has been pissing me off since I was a teenager. The sign shown above does not display a phone number or a web address. If the sign did not say "Inquire Within," and you wanted to get hired, exactly what the hell would you do but open the door, walk in and inquire?

I bought gas from a pump that said, "Product Contains Up to 15% Ethanol." If the first two words were deleted from the sign, would the message be less clear?

The same principle applies to writing. Almost any page can easily shed a word or ten -- and be improved by the pruning.

I tend to be pedantic (a trait I inherited from my father). I naturally give lots of examples to prove a point. I recently self-imposed a rule to limit examples to THREE -- and my arguments are no less forceful.

Print-on-demand and ebooks are certainly efficient. But if every writer would eliminate two, three or ten pages out of every 100 pages, book printers would use less paper, ink, toner, glue, energy and time; and the trucks that move the books would save fuel, and the UPS driver might last longer.

AND... the books would probably be better if they were briefer.

In an electronic medium like a blog or ebook, writers have unlimited space to spew all of the words they want to -- and the lack of limits encourages sloppiness.

Advertising is very different.

If a copywriter writes too many words to fit in a one-page ad, he shouldn't use tiny type and can't assume that the client will pay $30,000 extra to run a two-page ad. If she writes too many words to fit into a 30-second commercial, she can't decree that the actors must speak faster, or that the client must pay for more air time.

Impose some limits on yourself. It won't hurt, and will probably help. People are busy and don't have endless time to read. When you think you've finished a book, try to chop out 10%. Briefer is often better.

Help Wanted photo from I forgot where the gas pump photo came from.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Your work can go on even if your mouse dies

Most computer mice are quite reliable. Today's models that use lasers instead of rolling balls should last for years.

A wireless mouse will need new batteries every month or so, depending on how often the mouse is used. Some mice will warn you when your batteries are running low. Some won't.

However, even the best of mice will stop working unexpectedly, either because of a malfunction in the PC or mouse -- or even because of some wacky stuff built into the page you are trying to copy from.

Sometimes mice can be brought back to life by thumping them on the mouse pad, briefly removing batteries, or re-booting the PC.

If you're in the middle of some important copying-and-pasting, and don't want to take the time to re-boot or hunt for batteries or do other techie stuff, you can always revert to keyboard based functions.

Here are the basic Windows commands:

CTRL+A; select All
CTRL+C: Copy
CTRL+V: Paste
CTRL+Z: Undo
CTRL+B: Bold
CTRL+U: Underline
CTRL+I: Italic

I actually had to use shortcuts to paste the list into this page. There may be similar shortcuts for the Mac, but I don't speak Applish.

Photo from Thanks

Monday, November 11, 2013

The year is almost over, but it's not too late to reduce your income tax

It's still early November, but April 15th is getting closer every second. 

What you do today -- and every day -- will affect what you pay and what you keep next spring.

There's a lot to misunderstand about income taxes. However, my birthday is April 15th, so I am particularly qualified to give tax advice. I don't know everything, however. If you need help in setting up bank accounts in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, ask Mitt Romney.

Years ago, when I lived in New York City, I had a simple formula that worked very well (i.e., no audits ever, and refunds every year):
  1. No more than 10% for the feds.
  2. No more than 5% for the state.
  3. No more than 1% for the city.
For 12 years I've been in Connecticut. There are no city taxes, but life is more complicated. I pay my accountant about $700 for a few hours work necessary to produce my annual business and personal federal and state returns. After much scientific number crunching, he still comes up approximately with the same percentages I established 40 years ago.

I'll pass on a tip for a deduction I developed while working as an advertising copywriter and have continued to use as a webmaster, writer and publisher.

EVERY piece of media you consume should be deducted in the range of 25% to 100%. Deduct movies, CDs, games, concerts, artwork, vacations, MP3 players, big TVs, books, magazines, newspapers, iPad, smart phone, museum visits... all that stuff that helps you stay aware of trends in culture.

Years ago my father owned a chain of clothing stores. He once considered deducting his subscription to Playboy (which did provide news and advice about men's fashions among the airbrushed large-breasted babes). Alas, he was afraid to list a skin mag on his tax return, so he sent too much money to the IRS.  I have no such reluctance -- and may have bigger cojones.

With proper classifications, you can probably get Uncle Sam to subsidize porn, booze and hallucinogens.

Here's some more advice of uncertain value:
  1. A successful small business is one that breaks even each year, with a slightly higher gross income.
  2. Big profits are nice if you're trying to sell the business, but not when you're filing your income tax return.
  3. Write about stuff you like, whether it's wine, sports cars, clothes, travel, cameras, horse racing or sex. Then you can deduct everything you spend on fun -- if you classify it as "research."
  4. There's almost nothing that's too crappy to donate to Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army and claim an appropriate deduction for. Bill Clinton was criticized for claiming a deduction for donating used underwear. I'm not the president and don't care what Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh will say about me. I lost a lot of weight a few years ago, and I donated lots of oversized underwear. Washed, of course.
  5. If you are bad about saving money for a rainy day, it’s tempting to let Uncle Sam save money for you. I did that for years, and even earned interest on the money that was due me. Now there is a limit to how long you can let your money sit in Fort Knox (or wherever they keep the surplus) and the IRS may assess a penalty just for filing late, even if you don't owe anything, so check with a pro. Also: your state tax people may be tougher than the IRS.
I am  not a professional tax adviser  I'm more of a professional wiseass (who usually gets away with his wiseassing).

I put a lot of what I've learned into an ebook. It can save you many times its low cost. 

Writers Can Get Away With Apparently Absurd Tax Deductions That Ordinary People Can't

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ban meaningless words from your book titles and websites

I recently encountered the website of author, artist, athlete and entrepreneur Angela Lam Turpin. The title of the site, strangely, is "The official website of Angela Lam Turpin." If this is the official site, I have to wonder if there are unofficial Angela Lam Turpin websites.

Angela is a wonderful, accomplished person worthy of admiration; but is Angela important enough to inspire fakers to produce websites not certified by Angela?

I think not.

Google shows more than eighty-fucking-million links for the term "official website."

  • Some, appropriately, are government-sanctioned websites. (The official site of Singapore's Prime Minister was hacked yesterday.)
  • Many belong to performers such as KISS, The Who, Madonna and Cher -- who apparently don't want fans to think that websites published by other fans are actually sanctioned by the stars.

Is Angela as big a star as Madonna? I think not.

Most things that claim to be "official" something are not official anything. Use of the label is evidence of unchecked ego (or maybe just ignorance). shows more than 140,000 links to books with "official" in the title or subtitle.

Some, such as a book for diabetics produced by the American Diabetes Association, can logically claim to be "official." Others, like a book of instructions for speaking Spanish like a Costa Rican, is official nothing.

Unless your book, blog or website is officially blessed by some important person or institution, restrain your ego and don't claim that your work is official.

If you are important enough to attract copycats, then you can claim your work to be officially yours -- but copycats can claim that you approved their work too. Fame is not all fun.

"SECRET" is another extremely popular word. It's an exciting and meaningless word. Keep it o
ff your book covers.

Apparently, lots of authors and publishers think that lots of readers want to know secrets, especially "dirty little secrets." lists more than 206,000 books with "secret" in the title (up from a mere 150,000 or so 18 months ago). Some are fiction, and many are nonfiction. "Secrets of success" is a very popular book title cliche. Thousands of books use the phrase in their titles.

Here's a dirty little secret: none of the books promising secrets actually reveal secrets because no secrets are secret after even one person reads the secret.

The author of Secrets of Self Publishing 2 is so proud of his secrecy that he put the title TWICE on the cover of the horrible book. The slim volume is badly written, badly formatted and apparently unedited. I found exactly one alleged secret in the book: "The secrets of self-publishing are the same as the secrets of success. One must be willing to research all outlets, and find a method which fits your program."

That's not much of a secret.

Find some way to attract readers to your book without putting "SECRETS" in the title. Avoid "OFFICIAL," too.