Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Errors can hide anywhere. Look very carefully!

No matter how many times you read, re-read and re-re-read, you're bound to find mistakes in anything you've written. It's best to find them before the book is published.

Yesterday, while going through the latest proof of my new Internet Hell, I found a few silly errors--and one really mysterious error!

In the headers (A.K.A. "running heads") on some, but not all, of the pages, there is an unintentional space in the word "Internet." The space did not appear in previous printings of the book and is not in my MS Word file. [below]

The error, however, is in the FDF file. 

I have no idea why the PDF shows a space that is not in the original Word document. For my early books, I used Adobe software to create PDFs. For the last two dozen or more book I used the PDF creator included in MS Word. I never had a problem before.

I will re-create the headers and re-upload the files. This time I will carefully examine the PDF file.

  • I failed to obey one of my major rules about publishing: Carefully examine your book in multiple formats. Some errors will appear on printed pages that are not obvious on a PC screen. Some errors will appear in a PDF that will not be obvious in a word processing doc. It's also important to magnify the page images on your screen. Maybe a period really should be a comma, and vice versa.

Back in 2009, just minutes before I had planned to send a book to the printer, I decided to check my table of contents. I had a feeling that as I changed the length of some chapters, a page number might have changed.

I actually found three wrong page numbers, and two chapters were missing from the table.

Apparently, I didn't learn the lesson well enough. Another time I was trying to find a chapter in one of my books that has many chapters. I couldn't find it by flipping through the pages, and I couldn't find it by studiously scanning the table of contents.

When I looked even more carefully, I realized that the last entry at the bottom of one page of the TOC was Chapter 51, but the first entry on the top of the next page was Chapter 53.

There was no listing for Chapter 52.

I felt like a blind idiot.

A few months ago I uploaded the first version of my new Typography for Independent Publishers for sale on Amazon. Then I realized that it had the wrong version of the cover, with a missing word and an ugly empty space--a dreadful error for a book about typography.

  • IMPORTANT WARNING: Any time you fix an error in a book, you may create more errors.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Facebook's censor-bot says funny Trump photo violates "community standards" and banished me for 30 days. This is the 5th time I've been hurt by Facebook, 4th time I've been banished.

Although Facebook is "The Social Network" and it facilitates communication by others, the company is a notoriously lousy communicator. Despite all of the company's advanced technology it is nearly impossible to reach any of its 10,000 employees when a problem--even a serious problem--arises. 

Many complaints to Facebook are dealt with by robots, and a robot is often an unresponsive judge, jury and executioner. Serious problems are allowed to fester and hurt victims for a month or more, yet people who cause no real harm are punished immediately and severely, with no opportunity to appeal.

1. Back in 2010 Facebook published libelous and threatening posts about me.

(left-click to enlarge for easy reading)
There was a phony and dangerous petition aimed at having me put on the Connecticut registry of sex offenders. The petition was signed by a non-existent Mike Josephs and signed by seven non-existent supporters, and several real human beings who were scammed into supporting the cause.
'People' signing the petition called for my caging, castration and killing; and my Facebook friends were notified of the petition.

I complained to Facebook immediately, and frequently, pointing out that false identities were used in violation of Facebook policy, and the attack page had copyright violation, libel, lies and calls for violence. 

In 2010 Facebook took more than a month to remove the false statements about me--but Facebook's reaction in August, 2015 for words I did not write was instantaneous. 
- - - -

2. I am the "administrator" of more than a dozen Facebook discussion groups. Most members of my groups are very well-behaved, but sometimes there are trouble-making trolls who must be ejected.

I did exactly that on August 13th, 2015. Group members supported my decision and the troll soon disappeared--not just from my group, but from all of Facebook. I thought that was the end of it, but no.

On August 15th I was unable to use Facebook and I got a series of useless and infuriating messages. The posting quoted below was NOT posted by me. It is NOT written in my writing style. It was apparently written in response to my post about ejecting a troll from the group.

Then came the trouble. I was blocked from all access to Facebook for 24 hours, and then blocked from posting for 24 more hours.
It was nice of Facebook to offer me the opportunity to tell its robots that a mistake was made. Alas, my message was instantly rejected by the useless "Help Center" even before it could be analyzed:

- - - -

3.In October, 2015, with no previous warning, I was notified that I would not be allowed to post on Facebook for 72 hours because I was guilty of violating those Community Standards once again.
Apparently, somewhere in Facebook, Thomas Moore said "fuck you" to me. I responded with an appropriate (but mild) "fuck you, too."
The "f-bomb" is common in nearly every 21st-century medium, except maybe in the newsletters of religious institutions.
I did not commit libel. I did not threaten anyone. I did not show nude pictures or pictures of violence. I did not offer to sell drugs, brag about a bank robbery or advocate mayhem or the violent overthrow of anything.
I questioned my punishment and got a meaningless robotic reply:

Soon after, the robot closed my complaint with no explanation or comment:

  1. In the challenge to my exile I pointed out to Facebook that that my wife recently had a traumatic brain injury, is in the hospital with pneumonia, is awaiting throat surgery and I was recently diagnosed with heart trouble. Relatives and friends expect medical reports from me via Facebook and get very concerned when I am incommunicado.
  2. I use Facebook to communicate with a doctor.
  3. As a group administrator, one of my duties is to remove abusive content, but if I'm locked out, I can't do it.
Facebook disapproves of the word "fuck"--but doesn't give a fuck.

- - - -

4. On January 8th, 2016 a man, disguised as a woman, posted a lengthy, racist, pornographic excerpt from a book he wrote, in a group I operate for authors. He violated an important rule of the group (don't promote your own books).

I criticized him for violating the rule and for being a lousy writer, using language milder than what he used.

He responded:

  1. "Lmfao you nothing but a fucking white hater that's cool bye"
  2. "All this bullshit just because one violation to a virtual group wow grow the fuck up its only Facebook"
  3. "I think its just that you don't have no self confidence so putting others down and acting like a kid with all this bullshit name calling makes you feel more like a man than so be it."
  4. "kindly just stat up off my statuses." [I have no idea what that means, and he refused to translate it.]

He complained about my criticism and I was kicked out of Facebook for a week.

I think this is unjust, unproductive, unkind, damaging and silly.

- - - -

5. A few days ago I responded to an attack by Trump-supporter Adam Avinbruchwho accused me of being a Nazi. I posted the photo shown below. This photo has been posted a great many times on Facebook and elsewhere.

With no warning at all, I was suspended from FB for 30 days for violating "community standards." I violated nothing! I wonder if the censor bot thinks Trump is raising his middle finger, not his index finger.
I am appealing but am not optimistic.

FB was recently accused of manipulating its "trending" news items to suppress pro-conservative items. Is the company over-reacting by punishing people who post anti-Trump photos?


Terminator image from FanPop.com 

The story of my 2010 Facebook attack is in this bestselling book:  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mood music, mood lighting, mood rings, writing moods, writing muses

"I'm in the mood for love" has been used as an album title by everyone from Frank Sinatra to John Lee Hooker. There are also recordings specifically intended to enhance love-making. Scented candles are supposed to help. Maybe alcohol and marijuana will do it. And chocolate. However, If someone is "moody," she or he may not be in the mood for love.

Popular in the mid-1970s, a "mood ring" contains a thermochromic element, such as liquid crystal that changes colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. Most new rings come with a color chart indicating the supposed mood of the wearer based upon the colors indicated on the ring. [from Wikipedia]

I'm not sure what kind of mood a lava lamp enhances, but it seems that lots of companies and people think that moods can be enhanced, and maybe even provoked. Muzak has done extensive research to determine what music increases worker productivity.

I don't require any specific lighting  or music for writing. Classical music "feels" good, but I'm not sure if it actually helps me to write. Sometimes I start typing to match the beat. Music with lyrics is distracting.

I have to be in the right mood to write books in general, and even specific books.

In the last six months of 2012 I churned out about a dozen books. And then I just got out of the mood. I have not even been in the mood to make some minor corrections in books I've already published. I know that's ridiculous, but that's the way it is.

I never stopped writing for the web, but I did stop writing books. I'm always reading at least six books, and I come up with ideas for books to write every few weeks.

I'm getting back in the authoring mood. I've published two books this year, so far.

The book shown above was supposed to be published in July of 2011 (or maybe 2010). It should be out in September. of this year.

In ancient Greek mythology, the muses were goddesses or spirits who inspired the creation of literature and art. There were originally three muses, but the group later grew to nine.

In Renaissance and Neoclassical art, the muses were equipped with specific props to help identify them.

Calliope (epic poetry) carries a writing tablet; Clio (history) carries a scroll and books; Erato (lyrical poetry) has a lyre and a crown of roses; Euterpe (music) carries a flute; Melpomene (tragedy) has a tragic mask; Polyhymnia (sacred poetry) often has a pensive expression; Terpsichore (dance) is often portrayed dancing and carrying a lyre; Thalia (comedy) is usually portrayed with a comic mask; and Urania (astronomy) carries a pair of compasses and the celestial globe.

The word "muse" is used in modern English to refer to an inspiration, but also exists in "amuse", "museum" (from muselon -- a temple where the muses were worshiped), "music", and "musing upon."

Traditionally, muses have been beautiful goddesses. So far I've had three muses, and they are all women.

I don't know if women writers, artists and musicians have male muses. Would Fabio be amusing to J. K. Rowling or Yoko Ono?

Sometimes a live muse may provide active encouragement, but sometimes a muse may just be lurking in the background of the mind. Sometimes a muse will be hovering above, always observing, visible and inspiring.

Creativity often includes an innate desire to please, perhaps going back to infancy and childhood when we want to make mommy happy so we get fed.

There can be a courtship aspect to bemusement -- perhaps not planned or thought about. Even if there is no feedback, a writer can be stimulated to do better and better, to win the heart of the goddess (or god). A writer may even imagine having sex with the muse, and words become a subconscious gift, like flowers or candy or jewelry while dating or trying to seduce. Elton John wrote, "My gift is my song and this one's for you." I'm not sure who the song was written for.

For most of my writing career I wrote about things and about how people related to things. Around 2005 I became comfortable writing about people without the things, and writing fiction as well as non-fiction. This coincided with my reconnecting by email with "D," a girlfriend from college whom I thought would become my wife.

After a while she lost interest in communicating with me, and I stopped writing the book she inspired me to start. I later reconnected with "P," one of the first females I was attracted to. I shared my cookies with her in second grade. Her presence helped me finish the book.

In 2008 I finally became comfortable writing about emotions.

This important evolutionary development coincided with my reconnecting with "R." She was a very important girlfriend from high school, and the first woman I thought about marrying. She became my most powerful muse and is responsible for what I consider to be my completion as a writer.

However -- I've been married to Marilyn for over 44 years, but I never thought my wife was my muse. Perhaps because I did win her heart and we did marry and are still together, there’s less urge to please her. Perhaps her daily physical presence weakens the more spiritual connection necessary for musing. I don’t know. Maybe she really has been one of my muses but I just didn’t realize it.

(some info from Wikipedia)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Many names get nicked. Scarface is scarier than Alphonse. Bill is friendlier than William. I am not, however, Mike or Mickey.

Sly Stallone could kick the crap out of Sylvester.
We all have the inalienable right to be called what we want to be called. If we don't like our birth names, we can change them.

It's particularly important for authors and others in public view to enforce their rules. Garrison Keillor doesn't want to be confused with some less-important Gary Keillor. Michael J. Fox is not the same guy as Mike Fox.

If Joanne Rowling thought she could sell more books as J. K. -- it's her right to be called J. K. CLICK for more about author names.

I CAN'T STAND IT when people online or on the phone assume that I like being called Mike. If someone calls my office and asks to speak to "Mike Marcus," I know he never met me and is probably trying to sell me Wall Street stock, oil wells, retirement property, printer toner or website optimization.

I think only one person who actually did know me called me Mike. That was my father, so I didn't correct him.
  • I've twice been to conventions where someone tried to change my image by putting "Mike" on my badges. I rejected them.
  • For online commenting, some websites insist on using my first and last names -- ONLY. My middle initial is important to me so I insert "Michael N." into the box for my first name. 
  • There are some wonderful people called Mike. I'm not one of them.
  • I'm related to a Mike whose son is called Michael.
  • NOBODY calls me Mick or Mickey. One stranger tried to get friendly by calling me Mickey. I didn't buy anything from him.

During the endless 2012 GOP primary season with two Ricks, a Mitt and a Newt, I thought a lot about nicknames. This year the two Ricks returned; and we had a John called Jeb, a Rafael called Ted, a Piyush called Bobby, a Benjamin called Ben, a James called Jim, a Christopher called Chris, a Cara called Carly, a Randal called Rand, a Michael called Mike,  a Bernard called Bernie, and others. 

Some past presidents have insisted on using their nicknames. William Jefferson Clinton is just plain Bill. Some enemies called him Slick Willie. 
On a campaign button or in an ad or headline, Ike fits much better that Dwight. Ditto for TR, FDR and LBJ.

Ike's veep -- and later a president -- Richard M. Nixon was both Dick and Tricky Dicky. Jimmy takes up about the same space as James (Carter), but sounds much friendlier. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was called Jack, but JFK takes up less space and is more specific. O.J. takes up much less space than Orenthal James Simpson, and everyone knows who O.J. is and what he apparently did. O.J. spawned a secondary nickname: Juice.

A primary nickname may have a secondary meaning. Some people who hated Richard Nixon wore pins that said "Dick (i.e., "fuck") Nixon." I don't know if it happened with Richard Cheney.

Nicknames may be more poetic than full names, as in the "LBJ for the USA" button above. Later on, war critics chanted, "Hey, Hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?"

don't know if the present POTUS has a nickname (maybe Barry), but the New York Daily News frequently prints Bam. Bush can refer to either of two presidents (so far), but Dubya is specific to #43.

Why do some really wussyful names like Melvin, give us such manly names as Mel? Les is more (not less) manly than Leslie or Lester, and Sly Stallone could kick Sylvester's ass.

Tony Soprano sounds much more macho than Anthony. Anthony Anastasio was Tough Tony, the younger brother of Albert "Mad Hatter" Anastasia. Machine Gun Kelly, Muscles and Sammy the Bull invoke much more fear and trembling than George Kelly Barnes, George Futterman or Salvatore Gravano. Crazy Joey Gallo is not someone to mess around with. Neither is Scarface (Al Capone, above).

On the other hand, Baby Face, Skinny Joey, Fat Dominic, Hymie, Louie Ha-Ha, Louie Lump Lump and Little Nicky are much less intimidating than Kid Blast, Killer Twist or Grim Reaper.

Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, played by Vincent Pastore on The Sopranos, may have been more intimidating with a more macho nickname.

Click for more mobster names.

Winnie or Bulldog?
  • British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had two nicknames with opposite implications: Winnie and The British Bulldog.
  • Why do some names seemingly never get nicked but others (e.g., Richard) spawn many nicknames, (Rich, Rick, Dick).
  • Some nicknames even have nicknames (Richie, Ricky, Dickie).
  • Why so some nicknames like Peggy sound nothing like their full names (Margaret)?
  • I know a Rosemary who preferred to be called Ricky as a teenager, and later reclaimed Rosemary as an adult. Other Rosemarys (Rosemaries?) are called Ro, Rose and Rosie.
  • My father was called Bud or Buddy, but his legal name was Bertram. No one called him Bert.
  • Why do some nicknames -- like Josh, Luke and Matt -- sound contemporary, even though the full names (Joshua, Lucas and Matthew) go back thousands of years? Isaac and Izzy both sound old-fashioned.
  • Max may be a nickname for Maximilian, but stands on its own. Most current Maxes are merely Max.
  • Why do some people never outgrow their childish names, like Sammy Davis and Stevie Wonder? (And why isn't it Sammie and Stevey?)
  • Nicknames have flexible spelling. I dated an Abigail who went back and forth between "Abby" and "Abbie."
  • Some names apparently never get nicked. A shortened Cynthia sounds like sin. 
  • I know a man who was born Charlie (not Charles) and a Jake who is not really a Jacob.
  • Some nicknames cross the gender barrier. Jack and Jacky(ie) can be nicknames for Jacqueline or John. Chris goes with Christopher and Christina (who may also be Tina). Samantha and Allison are called Sam and Al.
  • Some names like Gregory, Oliver, Frederick, Allison, Charles, Leonard and Timothy are most often said by parents and teachers -- but friends say Greg, Ollie, Fred, Freddy, Al, Alli, Charlie, Chuck, Len, Lenny, Tim and Timmy.
Sometimes a nickname for one person becomes a full name for others.
  • Alexandra has given us Alex, Alix, Alexa, Allie, Ali, Lexy, Lexi, Sandra, Sandy.
  • Elizabeth has a long list of spinoffs:  Betty, Bettie, Bet, Bett, Bette, Betta, Betsy, Betsey, Betsi, Beth, Bess, Bessie, Bessy, Bettina, Elsie, Elisa, Elsa, Eliza, Ellie, Elly, Ilse, Liz, Lizzy, Lizzie, Liza, Lisa, Lise, Lisette, Lizette, Lisbet, Lizbeth, Libby.
My name is Michael N. Marcus. I hate being called "mister." Plain Michael is OK, but please don't call me Mike, Mickey, Mick -- or late for lunch.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Evolution of a book cover

I'm Michael, not Michelangelo. I won't call myself an artist.

I went to art school on Saturday mornings for two years when I was in grade school. I was good with still lifes, vehicles and architecture, but lousy with people pictures. Our teacher told us that an adult human male should be 6.5 heads tall. No one in my family looked like that.

Over the years I won prizes in art classes in school, and enjoyed working with art directors when I was an "award-winning Madison Avenue advertising copywriter." Without any art directors to partner with I've designed packaging, posters, brochures, websites, ads, logos and book covers.

When I started Silver Sands Books back in 2008 I initially planned to publish one book and I found a convenient, talented and reasonably priced artist to work with.

Later on I started doing most of the cover designs myself. I won't say that they're better than what Carina Ruotolo produced, but they're good enough and I get what I want with unlimited variations and no charge for revisions.

[above] Carina designed the original ebook version of my Internet Hell, back in 2012. I decided to make it squarish rather than the normal vertical book shape so it would be more distinct online. My contribution was suggesting that Carina line up the first and last letters of "internet" with the vertical strokes that start and end "HELL." I particularly like the way that the "t"s in "Internet" suggest Christian crosses, which might seem Hellish. The dot over the "i" balances the two "t"s.

[above] Earlier this year I decided to update the book and publish a paperback edition. My first impulse was to simply adapt Carina's design with an added brag-line about bestseller status. This cover is not very interesting or compelling.

[above] Then I decided to make a true rectangular design, rather than the previous square-within-a-rectangle. I stupidly forgot that it's nearly impossible to properly plan for borders around a cover in a print-on-demand book.

[above] The text on the printed covers was a bit blurry because of my enlargement from ebook-size. I did not have Carina's original work so I re-did the text with Microsoft Word.

I also added a contrasting black bar and some hellish flames at the bottom to provide a bit of drama.

[above] I next decided to change the top brag-line from black to yellow, to mimic the color of the flames at the bottom. I also decided to have that line flush-left rather than centered like the rest of the cover. Sadly, some nincompoop at CreateSpace unilaterally decided to center that line by moving the entire cover image to the right. Aaaarrrgghh!

[above] In the next version, I centered the brag line but put it against a block of black, to mimic the bottom of the book. 

[above] In what I think will be the final version I abandoned the hellish red in favor of deadly black. The red and yellow text pick up coloring from the flames. I like this design a lot and may re-do the ebook cover like this.

It's possible that a professional artist could have produced a perfect cover without all of the intermediate experimentation I went through. It might have been finished faster, but would be more costly and not much fun. I'd rather do than watch. 

[above] If you want to try designing a book cover, this ebook will help.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Today's post has three titles:
(1) A book about book covers shouldn't be ugly.
(2) Even a flawed book is worth more than zero.
(3) Keep evangelism out of books for a general audience.

(Number One) Charity Milan's How to Make a Kindle Book Cover: Step-by-Step Instructions to Make High-Impact e-Book Covers with Photoshop Elements 11 has excellent -- and needed -- help for using Photoshop Elements. 

Sure, we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there's no accounting for taste. However, I think the cover of this book looks like shit and I doubt that I'm the only one with this opinion.

The author (whose name is not really Charity Milan) says, "A good cover is your book’s calling card." It seems like she's calling on me to throw up.

With unintended irony, she tells us that books "that purport to teach me how to create covers for Kindle devices and have crappy covers themselves, those I skip."

Maybe "Charity" deliberately tried to make the worst-looking cover possible, possibly to attract attention and elicit comments.

Here's one comment from someone on a Facebook group for authors (the prime audience for the book): "A dreadful cover, too busy and relies on very poor Photoshop techniques."

Message to authors: a books about graphic design should have good design.

(Number Two) The book has a "Digital List Price" of $2.99. I paid zero dollars and no cents for it. It's been available for free for several years.

I'm human. I like to save money -- but I have mixed feelings about free books.

Lots of authors have used freebies to build readership and to achieve high positions in Amazon sales rankings. I think free books are appropriate to elect a candidate and maybe to convert 'heathens.' Jehovah's Witnesses have apparently achieved success by giving away millions of free publications.

However, I think that free books generally demean their authors, and maybe authorship in general. My books have sold for prices ranging up to $29.95. I sell a group of small "samplers" as buck books. I also offer a couple of samplers at 99 cents each. I hope they'll entice readers to buy other books I've written. 'Selling' for zero just seems too pathetic and desperate to me. I'm not that desperate, yet.

There's at least one serious error in Charity's book. The author says that Amazon doesn't want hyperlinks in Kindle books. My Kindle books have lots of links, and Amazon has never complained. Linking is a great advantage of ebooks over pbooks. Charity provides links for Fiverr.com and her own author page on Amazon. Maybe she intended to delete them.

This book apparently was not edited by anyone other than the author. That's not good for a book about publishing. The author says she spent $128 for a stock photo. It would have been better if she bought an $8 photo and paid a college journalism major $120 for copyediting.

There are some easily fixed page formatting problems, too.

And there was a silly problem in the Amazon promotional text. The author said she has "printed plenty of Kindle books under a plethora of pen names." Publishing Kindle ebooks does not mean printing them.

The book is worth much more than the free price, and even more than the regular $2.99 price. It's certainly worth $4.99 -- but it needs to be cleaned up a bit.

If authors think that people won't complain about books they got for free, they're wrong.

Message to authors: a good book doesn't have to be given away, but make good books.

(Number Three) The author says she is "a God-fearing Christian." That's OK, but not not all readers want to hear preaching about the power of the Holy Ghost or Christ Jesus while learning how to use software.

It seemed creepy and made me uncomfortable. I want to get more out of Photoshop Elements. I'm Jewish. The strong subconscious message is that this book is NOT FOR ME.

Message to authors: if you want to attract readers and get good reviews, eliminate  religious and political preaching that may turn people off.

For what it's worth, Charity Milan's other book includes her history as a masturbator and has lots of links. Maybe "Jane Jerkoff" would be a more appropriate pseudonym for that book.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hickeys belong on people, not on your book pages

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 I first saw the online proof of my new Internet Hell, I thought that an unintentional hyphen was a bit of dirt on my computer monitor. My finger nail could not remove it and then I realized that it was on the actual cover image. I 'painted' it over with white.

(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 paste-up 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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Authors: ban meaningless words from your book titles and websites

A while ago I 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 about one-point-four-fucking-billion links for the term "official website."

  • Some, appropriately, are government-sanctioned websites. (The official site of Singapore's Prime Minister was hacked a while ago.)
  • 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).

Amazon.com shows about 150,000 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."

Amazon.com lists over 300,000 books with "secret" in the title (and the total has been escalating). 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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Don't be discouraged when gatekeepers say "no" -- but don't self-publish crap.

Many writers turn to self-publishing companies or independent self-publishing or even stop writing after being rejected by agents or traditional publishers.

(Some writers -- like me -- have not been rejected but prefer the control, speed and income of independent publishing.)

While rejection can be depressing and discouraging, the failure to be approved by the media gatekeepers is not necessarily an indication of bad writing or an uninteresting idea.
  • Books are rejected for many reasons (not only bad quality)
  • Books are usually accepted for one reason: because someone thinks they will make money.
Sarah Palin's Going Rogue and the endless stream of celebrities' addiction/abuse/confession/recipes/weight-loss books are not published in anticipation of glorifying the publisher by winning Pulitzer prizes. They are published in anticipation of making money.

Professional judgment is imperfect!

Many books that are rejected by one publisher -- or by many publishers -- are later accepted by another publisher.

Joanne Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected by TWELVE publishing companies. More than 400 million Potter books have been sold, and the Potter movies have been seen by many millions.

I wonder if any of the publishing executives who rejected that first book were fired for bad judgment.

Most books published by traditional publishing companies with highly paid experts having years of experience, do not sell well. After a few months they are doomed to be sold on the buck-a-book tables or recycled into the raw materials for more books.

My taste in books apparently puts me in the minority of book buyers. Often I eagerly buy a new book as soon as it is released. As expected, I love the book. Alas, few others care about the subject, and the book is soon available for almost nothing at Barnes & Noble or Dollar Tree. This has become a running joke in my family, and my wife would strongly prefer that I wait a while and pay just one dollar instead of $25. But I won't wait.
  • There may be many people like me who are waiting for what you are writing. Find a way to reach us.
If you can't get a contract from a publisher, self-publish... on paper, online, or in ebooks. Don't be stopped. Don't be silenced. Don't skip professional editing and design. Don't publish crap. Readers are ready. Get to work.

(gate photo from http://www.123rf.com)