Monday, July 30, 2018

It's time to pick on Outskirts Press again

Regular readers of this blog know that I have scorn, disdain, contempt, hatred, etc. for Outskirts Press. It's either the worst "self-publishing company" in the world, or the second-worst. It exists to extract often-huge sums from wannabe authors, and produces some of the lowest-quality books I've ever seen. In addition to blog posts warning people away from the company, I even published a book about Outskirts back in 2010.

I'm amazed that Outskirts still exists, but as P. T. Barnum allegedly said, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Not all of Outskirts's author/customers are suckers, but they are certainly fools for ignoring the abundant complaints online.

I have not paid much attention to the company lately, but this morning I received a press release touting a review of one of the company's recent books, One Last Season by T. Richard.

So, what's wrong with the book?

  1. The book is hard to find at and Barnes & Noble—but other books with the same title are there. Book titles cannot be copyrighted, but it's best to try to be unique.
  2. The subtitle uses a small script typeface that is unreadable when the cover is shown in small size online.
  3. The author chose to use the initial "T" instead of a first name. This has been a common strategy for female writers such as J.K. Rowling who thought that young male readers might reject the Harry Potter books if they knew that they were written by a woman. The author of this book is a man who chooses to hide behind an initial. I don't know why. There are plenty of fine T-names. Tyrannosaurus Richard would be very memorable. Ted, Tom and Theodore are OK, too.
  4. A new author must work hard to sell books, and the publisher should help. Sadly there is no online preview available on the Outskirts site, or any bookseller site I could find. Readers should be able to sample a few pages before making a purchase—especially a very expensive paperback from a new author.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Authors: Can you speak Typish?

[above] A typeface is a distinctive type design, often named after its designer such as Goudy, Caslon or Lubalin. Sometimes a typeface is named to honor a person, place or event.

Some names imply a mood or genre. “Harlow” implies glamor. “Asylum,” “Trashco” and “You Murderer” do not. Typefaces named “Goofball” or “Comic” are probably not suitable for the annual report of an insurance company. Strangely, “Grotesk” type actually looks nice.

Some typeface names are humorous even if they were not intended to be so like “Zapf,” “Friz Quadrata,” “Bodoni Bold” and “Harry Heavy.”

[above] The varieties within each face, such as bold, italic and roman (i.e., not italic) are fonts. Rockwell is a typeface. Rockwell bold is a font. Sometimes “font” is used to mean all of the varieties within a typeface (e.g., “The Rockwell font has 832 characters.”) — or even the typeface itself. The terms “font” and “typeface” seem to be merging. I'm not happy about this creeping imprecision.

Sometimes “font” is used for a very specific typeface description like “24 point Century Gothic bold italic.”

Millions of people who probably never thought much about "typefaces" have to make daily decisions about "fonts" because of the ubiquity of computers, e-readers and tablets. “Font” takes up less space than “typeface,” and spatial efficiency is important on a small screen.

[below] Lots of software, including Microsoft Word and CorelDraw call typefaces “fonts.” It’s probably an irreversible trend. Adobe sometimes uses “font” to mean “typeface,” but also explains the difference between the terms.

[below] I was pleased to see that my Kindle Fire differentiates between “font” and “typeface—but the Nook and iPad use “font.”

A font family is a group of similar typefaces, presumably based on one face. For example, Arial and Helvetica are in the Swiss font family. Adobe uses the term more specifically: “font families are collections of fonts that share an overall appearance, and are designed to be used together, such as Adobe Garamond.”

[above] At one time, a character was the image of a letter, number, punctuation mark or symbol produced when a  piece of type made of metal or wood, with ink on it, came in contact with a sheet of paper. Today, a character is a bunch of data bits that describe the image to be produced, or the printed image, or the image on a screen. "CPI" is the abbreviation for “Characters Per Inch” — a general indication or a precise measurement of how many characters are put into a line of type.

A letterform is the shape of a letter, but it can have several more specific meanings:

[above] “Letterform” may mean the basic shape of a character, regardless of the typeface. You could say that “the letterform of a zero is oval.” Almost every version of the uppercase “A” has the same letterform: two converging vertical (or almost vertical) lines with a crossbar.

[above] Sometimes a minimalist “A”—in such faces as Pirulen, Mars, Mari and Mogzilla—will have no crossbar but is still recognizable as an “A” because no other letter has a similar shape.

[above] The farther a letterform evolves from its traditional shape, the more likely it is to be unrecognizable, or confused with another letter.

[above] “Letterform” may also mean the specific design of a character, or characters, within a typeface. You could say that “the lowercase letterforms in Calibri are much easier to read than in ITC Snap or Braggadocio.”

[above] The basic letterforms for the same character may be entirely different from one face to another. The lowercase “a” in most faces is like the ones on the left, but others, both in script (cursive) and conventional (block letter) faces, resemble the handwritten “a.” Strangely, some dollar signs have one vertical stroke, but some have two.

[above] TIME OUT:  Sometimes an individual letter may be hard to identify, but it makes sense as part of a word — especially if viewed from a distance.

Glyph rhymes with “stiff” and is related to “hieroglyph” and comes from the Greek word for “engrave.” It may be used to mean the same thing as a character or a general letterform. I prefer to think of a glyph as a specific letterform—the shape that represents a character in a specific typeface.


(From The One Buck Indie Author's Type Book, which really costs two bucks) 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Software is not enough. Books need human intervention.

When I started my publishing company in 2008, I had a lot to learn so I bought about 40 books about publishing.

Many of the books about self-publishing were self-published and many of them were extremely ugly.

They had terrible typography.

The worst sin was bad justification.

(above) Type is said to be "justified" (or "full justified" or "fully justified") when all of the lines of type in a paragraph (except for an indented first line and a short last line) are the same width, and extend from the left margin to the right margin.

The lines of type in this blog are like most blogs and websites, a growing number of magazines and some books. The type is flush left/ragged right. "Rag-right" is much easier to produce, and many people accept it. 

Justified type has a more formal, polished look. Ragged is obviously less formal. People can rightfully claim that justified type is abnormal and artificial, and ragged right is normal and natural. Text from typewriters (remember them) is normally rag-right. Some typewriters can justify, but the result is usually ugly.

A lot of very ugly justified type gets printed, particularly in newspapers with narrow columns (below). This old newspaper clipping shows lowercased "avenue" and "street." Apparently it was deliberate, not accidental, and was the official 'style' for the paper.

The problem exists in narrow book columns, too (below). Sometimes the only way to improve the word spacing is to switch to rag-right, or make the column wider. You can also experiment with changing some words. This can take a long time, may be futile and may not be an option. The paragraph in the sample has nothing to do with today's topic, but may be interesting.

Below is a bad example of justified full-width text from Release Your Writing by Helen Gallagher. Helen's pages are just five inches wide, and that size leads to pages that are often uglier than the six-inch pages used for most "how-to" paperbacks. It would be better to have wider pages or go rag-right.

Despite lots of recent changes in publishing, justified type is still the dominant format for book printing. It can look beautiful, but takes more time and money to do right. The block of text shown below is from one of my books. I won't assert that it's beautiful, but it's better than a lot of text from self-publishers -- and it's easy to produce with Microsoft Word. If I can do this, so can almost anyone.

Some self-publishers are content to merely dump words onto pages and rely on their software to arrange the words properly.

That's not enough.

A book needs a human touch.

You must carefully examine each line in each paragraph on each page so you can improve justification by changing words, spacing and hyphenation.

It's a lot of work and takes a lot of time to do it right--but it's the right way to produce a book. (See exception at bottom.) There's no easy way. There's no shortcut. You must invest the time to go line-by-line, over and over again, or your book will look like crap.

Compromises are often necessary and every book I've seen has some problems with justification. Self-publishers seem to have many more problems with justification than professionals do--and the self-pubbers may not even know that they goofed.

I purchased 5.0, co-authored by the late Dan Poynter. This book has no hyphens, and the word spacing (below) is atrocious.

Dan boasted that he was “the father of self-publishing,” “the leading authority on how to write, publish and promote books,” and was “on the leading edge of book publishing.” I don’t claim to be the leading authority on anything, but I could have made the paragraph much nicer:

A self-publisher has an extra burden to produce a high-quality product. Self-pubbed books are initially suspect and must prove their legitimacy, and a bad self-pubbed book reflects badly on other self-publishers. Ironically, the ugliest and worst-written book I’ve ever seen tries to give advice to self-publishers. It was apparently never edited, or checked by a human being at its publisher.

The limitations of the Internet create the need for typographic compromises. As people get used to typographic abominations online, those abominations may become more acceptable in print. However, just because you can get away with ugliness, it doesn’t mean you should.

IMPORTANT EXCEPTION: Most ebooks allow the person reading to manipulate the text, so there is probably no point in trying to achieve nice justification.
 Ebooks designed for reflowable text and user-selectable type size can produce some terrible-looking pages. Shown below is part of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, from a Kindle edition.

TIP: Be careful if you are justifying a book that was already completed with ragged-right type. Most lines will expand to the right margin, and sometimes words that used to fit on one page will "creep" onto another page. You may have to change the page numbering for chapter beginnings, or cut words or make illustrations smaller to get what you want.

TIP: Sometimes the spaces between words will look lousy, and you'll have to experiment with hyphenation, and sometimes switch to shorter or longer words, or add or subtract words, to make things look right.

TIP: Be very careful to check the last line in a paragraph (as shown up at the top of this blog post). Sometimes even two or three words will be spread out full-width, and they'll look very stupid. You can just select the line and re-do it as flush-left, or (in MS Word) tap the Enter key after the last word in the line.

A while ago I got flamed in a discussion about book design by someone I'll label as ignorant, egomaniacal and belligerent. He insisted that pages of text that are full-justified are harder to read than text that is ragged-right. He also insisted that it's proper to have two spaces--not one space--between sentences (an obsolete artifact of ancient typewriters).

At one point he tried to bolster his argument for the extra space between sentences by pointing out that he had typed his flames with the extra space, which made them easier to read. Despite his vast (half-vast?) experience, he did not know that web browsers ignore the extra spaces which he deliberately inserts.

He backed up his minority position by citing his alleged 30 years' experience writing and editing. I saw no point in continuing to argue, and bailed out. With great restraint I resisted the urge to encourage him to perform an act of self-copulation.

I found a good comment about justification by Shannon Yarbrough in "10 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing" published on The LL Book Review: "I have never, never, NEVER seen a traditionally published book that lacked right margin justification and I’m tired of self-published authors telling me that they did it that way because it’s easier to read. No, you didn’t follow the rules because you didn’t do your homework, or you don’t know how. I know that’s harsh, but it’s the truth and it’s one reason I will turn down a book for review right away." 

I could not have said it better. Thanks, Shannon.

More about typography in my wonderful Typography for Independent Publishers.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A fake book can look real and be real useful

This is a cover for a book that does not yet exist.

These cover designs existed long before the books did.

It’s important to have a realistic "3D" picture of a book before it exists—for publicity, seeking orders, and evaluating titles and cover designs with more impact and realism than a flat printout or monitor image can provide. 

Also: A picture of a printed book can help to sell ebooks.


(above) If you have a flat cover image, it can magically become a realistic picture of a book at I've been a happy customer for years. TV shows apparently use the service to provide fakes to accompany author interviews.

You can choose from a huge selection of book types, and even CD-ROMs, loose-leaf notebooks, iPads and multimedia packages. You can pay $14.95 per month or $99 per year for unlimited downloads. 
If you don't want to pay for a membership, you can pay a one-time download fee of $4.95 for a cover. (Prices shown here may not be current.)

The tech support folks respond quickly and have the right answers. Help is also available from users in the online forum.

The service is extremely easy to use, and an image takes less than a minute to render and download. There are nearly 100 designs available. New devices (Nook Color, Kindle Fire, MacBook Air) are added often, and there are format variations (back of book, stacks of books, books lying down and standing up, iPads and iPhones horizontal and vertical).

You can also "make" non-books like DVDs and DVD packages, and you have various editing options including cropping, re-sizing, text formatting and choosing background colors. Images are stored online and you can download both 2D and 3D images for different purposes. The site provides many background images, plus links to free illustrations.

The company even offers business cards and a membership card format. I'm not sure how useful it is, but I had to try it. 

I was able to create the image of a video showing my faces. It's not particularly useful, but it might stimulate some thought.

I've had "photographs" of many books long before they were printed, and realistic renderings helped me avoid major mistakes and make major improvements. 
(above) I designed these covers while I was writing the book. The title and design evolved and I ultimately used the covers shown below. 

My publishing company could not function without MyeCoverMaker. Try it.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Don't pick crappy/creepy names for your company or its products

Whenever I read "Moleskine," I think MOLE SKIN and visualize dirt-digging furry critters with extra thumbs, or the zits on the faces of Cindy Crawford and Barack Obama--not expensive notebooks.

If you are considering names for a company, product or website, do your best to make sure the name's pronunciation is unambiguous in the countries where it will appear and that the name does not have incorrect or unpleasant connotations.
  • Mr. Toyoda decided that "Toyota" sounded better than the family name.
  • "Bich" can be pronounced "beesh" in France but when the company decided to market its lighters and pens in the USA it chose the "Bic" name which would probably not be pronounced "bitch." 
  • At its American debut, Korea-based Hyundai announced that in the USA the company name rhymes with "Sunday."
  • Mr. Morita thought that "Sony" would be easier to pronounce than "Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo." He was right. However, I dated a young woman in New York who insisted on pronouncing the name "Saw-nee." I cringed whenever she said it and the relationship was short-lived. Sony once ran an ad campaign with the tag line "Sony. No Baloney." This was too late to save my relationship.
  • International meanings can be as problematic as pronunciation is. The Chevy Nova caused snickering in Spanish-speaking countries where "no vaya" means "no go."
  • I frequently get email from Maybe I have a powerful fixation on Chinese noodles. I always read it as Lomein--not log me in.
  • Watch out for hidden words that may stick out, as in

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Authors and book designers: be careful & creative with clip art & stock photos

While it's possible to design an attractive and powerful book cover with nothing but words—or mostly words—most covers have pictures, either photographs or illustrations.  

An illustrator will provide paintings, drawings, graphs, etc. and you can pay anywhere from $5 to several thousand dollars for original artwork.

photographer could be you or another amateur, or a professional. A pro will probably want from $250 to $3,000. Renting props and hiring models will add to your cost. For the front cover, it’s really important that a photo be first-class. This is an area where an author with a contract from a traditional publishing company has a big advantage over a self-publishing author.

Stock photos and clip art are alternatives to just-for-you photos and illustrations. They cost much lessmaybe even nothingbut are not exclusively yours One instant indication of a self-published book is obvious clip art on a book’s cover. (It's more likely to be obvious to people in the book business than to readers.)

The term “clip art” (or “clipart”) goes back to the time when illustrationsoften for use in newspaper adswere printed on glossy sheets of paper and could be “clipped out” by the person designing an ad.

Today, most clip art is digital, and is purchased in large collections on CDs or DVDs or downloaded from the Internet. Clip art photos, illustrations and cartoons are ubiquitous, but be aware that some clip art is NOT supposed to be used for commercial purposeslike books. There’s no need to risk an embarrassing and expensive lawsuit when high-quality art is available for very low prices, or even for free.

Free photos are available at various state and federal government websites ranging from New Jersey to NASA. Military services, the Library of Congress and the White House have plenty of pix, too. Many corporate websites have excellent free photos, but be sure to follow the rules for using and crediting photos. The Microsoft and Apple websites have fine free portraits of Bill Gates and Steve Jobsbut don't put either photo on the cover of a book attacking Bill or Steve.

While most self-publishing authors do not have the budget to hire a photographer to provide custom artwork, you are more likely to get high quality pix from stock photo suppliers like Fotolia or iStockPhoto than from the mammoth clip art collections. Prices range from under a buck up to about $100. I usually pay $10-$20. Do your best to not choose a photo or illustration that resembles a widely known logo or one that has already been used on a competing book.
My newest book uses a stock photo of Donald Trump by Joseph Sohm, licensed from Fotolia. I think it's a perfect choice, and it was inexpensive.

The cartoon on the cover of this book also came from Fotolia, but it’s so perfect that a custom-made cartoon would not be any better. If you want to write a book criticizing this book, go ahead. Co-author Sheila M. Clark and I can stand it. We’re tough.

Books about the same subject tend to use similar cover illustrations. In the case of publishing, it's usually a photo of someone writing, someone reading, or one or more books. All four book covers shown below use similar photos of books with their pages fanned out. The illustrations are very large and the pages open upward.

When using a stock photo, particularly for a book in a field where similar or identical stock photos may be used, have it modified so it looks a bit different. For this cover, the fanned book is inverted and tilted along with the text to suggest action, motion or flight. The illustration is much less important than the title. It is reduced to become a decoration and does not dominate the cover. Carina Ruotolo, my cover artist, even changed the color of the fanned book's cover to match the purple of the text.

The amazing Carina is a magician with Photoshop and changed a white-haired grandfather into a black-haired father for this book cover.

If you have an unlimited budget, you can hire a famous photographer or artist to enhance your book cover. The cover of the book shown below has art by Leonardo da Vinci, but I didn't pay anything to Leo or his estate.

[below] Carina cropped and flipped the Mona Lisa—one of the most famous pieces of artto give it a new look. We may have violated "The Da Vinci Code," but so far, da Vinci has not complained.

Later on, I ditched Mona and changed the title, too.

Some of my recent ebooks have no artwork at all, so the type can appear as large as possible in the small online "thumbnail" illustrations.

Monday, July 9, 2018

A quick critique of Page Publishing

Last night I saw a commercial on CNN for Page Publishing. It's one of dozens of companies that have appeared and disappeared during recent decades to serve authors who are unable or unwilling to be published by conventional/traditional book publishers.

Originally they were known as "vanity" presses or publishers, and then "self-publishing companies," "publishing-services providers," "hybrid publishers" or other things.

One thing they have in common is that they make most of their money by selling services and overpriced trinkets to wannabe authors—not by selling books to readers.

Book quality from those companies varies from excellent to abysmal, and pricing ranges from fair to confiscatory. I've analyzed a bunch of these companies over the years and found most to deserve a STAY FAR AWAY warning. (The worst are probably Outskirts Press, Xlibris and America Star Books, formerly PublishAmerica.)

I was intrigued by Page Publishing for two reasons:

  1. I had never heard of the company before.
  2. It was advertising on television. This is undoubtedly extremely wasteful. Despite the legend that "everybody has a book in them," the TV audience desiring publishing services is much smaller than prospective purchasers of cars, food, vacations, clothing, movie tickets and medication. If a publishing-services company advertises to a mass audience it must be (a) extremely profitable, (b) extremely foolish, or (c) both.
So, I took a look at Page's website, and here's what I found (and didn't find):
  • The company doesn't seem to offer anything significant that its competitors lack. It does have ties to a New York City radio show with possible publicity potential—if your book's genre appeals to the folks who happen to be tuned in at the right time. (It's possible that the show is aired elsewhere. The website does not make this clear.) A much-more focused PR campaign would probably be more fruitful for selling books.
  • Page says: "We publish and distribute our books through online platforms such as Apple’s iTunes store, the Amazon Kindle store, Google Play, and Barnes & Noble." While Amazon Kindle is mentioned, are Page's printed books sold by Amazon? Prospective authors should be told the answer on the website. (I found some Page p-books on Amazon.)
  • Page says "We are located in New York City" and shows its address as "101 Tyrellan Avenue, Suite 330, New York, NY 10309." While out-of-towners might think that's in Manhattan, it's not. The company is based in (on?) Staten Island. That island is part of New York City, but it is not in the heart of the world's foremost media center. I worked in publishing in Manhattan in a previous life, and it was no great joy. I'm sure there are real advantages to working in Staten Island. It would be better to mention some of them rather than trying to hide reality.
  • I could not find any price list on the site. That's very unusual. Is this an effort to hide the fact that authors have to pay for publishing by Page? The site mentions "a manageable investment" and "a minimal investment on your part and 20 cents per book sold," but what is that investment? One person's "minimal" may be someone else's "HUGE."
  • The top of the website says, "get published today." That's not realistic. The FAQ page says, "We strive for a maximum timeline of 8-10 months, but most authors see their books available through major print and online distribution channels within 6-8 months." That's a loooooooooong time. Three months is definitely doable.
  • The site displays a press release prepared for a new book. The brief release includes FOUR mentions of Page Publishing. These plugs are unusual and unprofessional. The author paid Page to promote the book—not the publisher. Page says that the press release "was disbursed to over 8,501 newspapers, magazines, radio shows, web blogs, and journalists" and provides a poorly edited partial list. That 8,501 number is meaningless. Zillions of press releases are distributed to media every day. The number of media sent-to is not meaningful. What counts is how many and which of the media provided useful publicity because of the press release—and an ad for a publisher disguised as a press release for an author does not help the author.
  • The company has a blog—last updated in 2015. This lapse does not inspire confidence.
  • The "news" page, however, is up-to-date. That's a good sign that someone is paying attention.
  • The company's Twitter and Facebook pages are also up-to-date. Good work!
  • Some of Page's cover designs are very appealing. Most are at least adequate. None are terrible.
  • Page can provide a "Custom Author Web Page" "hosted on the Page Publishing website." I think it's much better for an author's website to be independent of a publisher. The author needs to control her or his media platform. I don't know how much Page charges for web services, but better deals may be available. I use for my book websites.
  • Page warns that " We know that authors need to be free to create—not bogged down with complicated business issues like eBook conversion, establishing wholesale accounts, insurance, shipping, taxes, and the like." I established my own Silver Sands Books ten years ago. It was not difficult and I have not had to do ebook conversions, establish wholesale accounts or deal with shipping. Insurance and taxes are not big deals.
  • Page touts a "FREE Author's Submission Kit (we'll send some information immediately via email)." I waited about 40 hours so far. That's not "immediately."
  • Some book prices seem too high, and are possibly noncompetitive. Will people pay $14.95 for a 143-page paperback from an unknown author, or $9.99 for the ebook version? Maybe. Maybe not.
  • The website has typographical problems including oversize spaces from non-hyphenated full-justified text, and some very strange characters. I hope Page's books don't have these problems.  
I looked at some of the books online and found no fatal signs (but "first originally published by ..." in several books is an inexcusable lapse in editing).
I read a comment by one author who is a happy Page customer.

(UPDATE) I received two follow-up mailings from Page, but no prices.

Without knowing the cost of publishing with Page, I can't make a definitive recommendation or warning. The company is far above the worst in its field, and maybe that's all that authors need. If you want to get published, Page is worth investigating. The more companies that compete for authors' dollars, the better it is.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Printing is not publishing, dammit.

(Above: advertising something that doesn't exist. Would you like to buy a unicorn?)

For a business that depends on communication, publishing often has terrible communication. Terms for basic functions are misused and misunderstood by people in the business—and certainly by 'civilians.'

I was reminded of this long-standing problem when someone complimented my for the "fine penmanship" I demonstrated in an online posting a few days ago. He meant to compliment me on my expression, not my formation of letters with an ancient handheld device.

I've been guilty of a similar offense.

When I was a teenager in the summer of 1963 I had a job working in a clothing store. One time I was talking to a customer and she told me that her family owned a well-known local company. I responded with something like, "oh yeah, the publisher." She corrected me saying "we're not that important. We're a printer, not a publisher." 

More than half a century later, the confusion continues.

Publish On Demand is an unnecessary and confusing misnomer using the same initials as Print On Demand. There’s really no such thing as Publish On Demand. It makes no sense. But companies still want you to think they’ll do it for you.

Despite its use by major traditional publishers, the Print On Demand process has been subject to some unfortunate and unjustified stigma because of its association with sleazy companies that print books on demand mostly for their authors rather than for readers.

Therefore, some companies have sought to give a new meaning to the "P" in POD.

Llumina Press, Booksurge, Lulu, Tate, Outskirts, CreateSpace and others have paid Google to run online ads for the stupid phrase aimed at ignorant writers who don’t know the difference between printing and publishing. There have even been stupidly named websites called (now apparently defunct) and (also apparently defunct).
  • Some critics describe and deride "self-publishing companies" as "POD companies" -- which makes the situation even more confusing.
  • Sleazy and dishonest PublishAmerica said, "PublishAmerica is not in any way a POD, vanity press, or subsidy publisher. . . . In the most commonly used context, POD indicates "Publish On Demand." BULSHIT.
Publishing and printing are not the same thing. Printing is often part of publishing. Printing can be done on demand. Publishing can’t

Publishing is a complex, multi-stage process that takes a writer’s words from manuscript to books on sale. The end result of a publishing project, which may be 10,000 books or just one book—whether pbook or ebook—can take weeks, months or even years.

With Print On Demand, books are printed one at a time or a few at a time as orders are placed by readers through booksellers. That does not mean that a publishing company starts the entire publishing sequence whenever an order arrives. With POD, a book is produced (i.e. printed, not published) in minutes, not months. (Of course, with ebooks, publishing occurs without printing.)

So, what's the point of all this?

If you see the phrase "Publish On Demand," be very careful before you spend your money. There's a good chance that the company is fooling around with more than the English language. The shady operators in the publishing field have already distorted the meaning of "self-publishing" and "indie" and now they are demeaning and devaluing "POD."

When I checked, the new Ingram Spark was keeping a much bigger chunk of a publisher's money than corporate sibling Lightning Source did for the same work.

What word or phrase will be the next victim? I don't know, but I'm not optimistic.

Remember what Bill Clinton said: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." And Humpty Dumpty said: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean."

I sure wish publishers and printers would be more careful with the language they and we depend on.

(Clinton photo from the White House. Humpty drawing from Thanks.)