Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Consequences of Crap Editing -- cannegardner

I was doing my weekly small press research, looking at submission guidelines, genres accepted, and other items of note, when I stumbled upon an interesting and very honest guideline for all writers. I will leave the press unmentioned, but it is a literary press, specializing in mystery and thrillers.

Here on the peeps, we often discuss the necessity of editing. Why? Bad Editing equates to Bad Writing. Nothing is simpler to understand than that. And yet, many self-published authors just don't get it. This doesn't only apply to manuscript submissions, either; it applies to every piece of written communication you put out into the world that might affect potential readers: emails, blog posts, query letters, review requests -- you get the idea. We hear a lot of buzz about editing, mostly of the snark variety, but rarely do I come across, not only a clear set of rules, but the true reasons why those rules exist in the first place. Now we are not talking about the occasional typo or missing comma here -- that happens to everyone -- but if you don't know what we are talking about, I would suggest taking a refresher course in grammar/editing. I think the points below explain why in no uncertain terms:

The Negative Impact of Typographical Errors
• Implies the writer doesn't care about his own book.
• Shows a lack of respect for those who are asked to read the manuscript.
• Implies the writer may be difficult to work with.
The Negative Impact of Improper Punctuation
• Implies the writer doesn't care about his own book.
• Shows a lack of respect for those who are asked to read the manuscript.
• Proves the lack of a proofreader.
• Implies laziness or ignorance or both.

And yes, acquisitions editors do take into consideration the differences in punctuation styles, British vs. American for example. Consistency is the key in those cases.

Monday, March 30, 2009

And the Winner is ...

The winner of the free book friday this month is: 5webs at comcast.

I will be sending you an email shortly.

Thanks to all who participated.

Stick around for our news and reviews and stay tuned for next month's free book Friday on April 24th.


The Peeps

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Twain, Poe and Sandburg started out as self-publishers
By Sarah Long Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 3/8/2009 12:01 AM

One of the questions often asked of librarians is, "How can I get my book published?" Unfortunately, the unwanted answer is, "In your dreams" or "Not easily." But being mannerly people, librarians steer would-be best-selling authors to books such as "Writers' Market Place" or "Writers' Market." Both are annuals and you can find them at almost any library or bookstore. Both books offer good advice about agents, preparing a book for submission to a publisher, researching likely publishers, etc. Still, it is very hard for a first-time author to get a book published by a commercial publisher who will be absorbing the cost of publishing with the hope of recouping the money from book sales.
If you are willing to underwrite your publishing effort you can self-publish. Publishing companies who do this work are sometimes called vanity presses or vanity publishers. Typically, these are traditional publishing companies specializing in producing books on offset presses at the author's expense. All the copies produced are the authors and can be given away or sold. The term, "vanity press" now has a negative connotation based on the assumption that if the book were truly worthy, a commercial publisher would have accepted it. But given the difficulties of getting a commercial publisher to look at the work of a first-time author, this is not always the case. In the past, many famous authors self-published in order to have more control over their work, and perhaps, with the hope of larger profits. Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Carl Sandburg, and Henry David Thoreau, among others, went the self-publishing route. Read Full article Here.

As inspiring as the article is...this article features a new ebook DIY site called Readerjack.com, and under their publish your work section, I found:

Here is how it works Register as an Author and Sign In and go to MY eBooks and click Get Published. It’s easy. Features and Benefits publishing with readerjack.com:

  • FREE hosting solution for your ebooks
  • 50% royalties for each sale
  • you retain 100% ownership of your work
  • you set the price of your ebook
  • FREE ISBN for your ebook
  • valuable writer’s resources – Events, Awards and Classifieds
  • FREE Classified Ads
  • valuable writer’s links and networking tools

There is no cost to up load a work on readerjack.com. It’s FREE. PRICE YOUR WORK You can choose the amount you wish to sell your ebook. Give it away free or sell it for the price you set. You can change the pricing of the book at anytime. Set a new price and promote your book for a “this week only special.” Then change the price again. You have the flexibility. All pricing is in U.S. dollars ISBN Do you have an ISBN? You can enter your own ISBN or we will provide you an ISBN for FREE. Your work will also be archived at Library and Archives Canada, (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca ), a Canadian Government Department as a permanent record of your work. ROYALTIES Royalties of 50% are paid for each sale of your work. Royalties are paid 4 times per year and you must have sold at least $25 to receive a royalty payment. Sales continue to accrue, until you receive $25 in royalties and at the next pay period you will be issued a royalty payment.

-- Edited to Add:

Chris Gerrib brings up a good point about the “inspirational” aspects of the article in question. Chris very clearly explains the fact that Mark Twain started his own “imprint” in order to publish the memoirs of a friend, not his own work. Edgar Alan Poe paid a printer to run off copies of his first manuscript, and I think all this leads into the definition of self-publishing, which is blurry at best. If you pay a publishing house like Wheatmark or Xlibris or any one of the many so-called “vanity” presses, are you really self-publishing? Some say yes, and some say no. Some say the word “self” implies autonomy, that you are doing it all yourself. You might pay a printer and a distributor and maybe even a publicist, but everything else belongs to you from formatting to cover design. Some argue that if your ISBN doesn’t list you or your imprint as the publisher of record with Bowkers, then you are not self-published, you are subsidy published. I don’t know what difference it really makes to the reader. DIY or Subsidy Press really boils down to intent, involvement, technical skill, Legal Rights, and money. Would Poe have paid a Wheatmark versus just a printer if such technology existed at that time: Who knows? But whatever your definition of Self-published is, we should be mindful of media spin.

I completely agree with Chris on this matter, but the article, I think, was deliberate, as they were plugging a new self-pub service. So, the semantics can be argued and also very deliberately obfuscated based on intent. We all know what the intent of the article was: to sell a service using inspiration as the hook. So again I say, all Indies need to do their research, and as far as the inspirational media spin, take it for what it is.

Anyone who has experience with this company, we would love to hear from you. -- cannegardner

Friday, March 27, 2009

Free Book Friday -- Down to the Sunless Sea

This month I am giving away my copy of "Down to the Sunless Sea" by Mathias Freese.
My review of the book can be found here. I really liked this one, but the subject matter is very mature, which means adults only.
To win the book, make a comment on this blog post by Midnight, Sunday March 29, 2009. A winner will be selected and announced on Monday the 30th.

Good Luck to all!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Interesting ... Very Interesting

Xlibris to Promote Self-Published Books with Publishers Weekly
Xlibris links up with the highly respected Publishers Weekly to promote self-published titles.

March 5, 2009 (FPRC) -- Xlibris, the self-publishing industry leader, has announced the launch of their Publishers Weekly Marketing Packages to help self-published authors in promoting their books.These packages enable authors to maximize the full potential of their marketing campaign by promoting their self-published book on the different Publishers Weekly services that cover both print and online media.Publishers Weekly is a well-respected international news magazine that serves all segments in the creation, production, marketing and sale of the written word. On print, their presence is made known through the Publishers Weekly Magazine. Online, they are known through the www.publishersweekly.com website where they feature five niche-oriented e-newsletters namely the PW Daily, Cooking the Books, Children’s Bookshelf, Religion BookLine, and PW Comics Week.Combining online and print advertising, these marketing packages from the self-publishing leader gives authors the opportunity to reach out to not only the niche markets of their books, but also to literary agents and publishers looking for the next big thing in books.
Now you might remember a post here on the peeps site talking about The Publishers Weekly Review It Yourself Program. I wonder how this all ties into that, especially, how it ties into the self-published author's wallet. Xlibris site says: Reach out to every major publisher worldwide with Publishers Weekly – the industry’s periodical of record. WOW, for a cool $ 2,799 you can get a single print ad in Publishers Weekly ... oh wait, you get a press release with that that is sent to 100 media outlets. I guess this is why the self-publishing industry is doing well right now -- at the author's expense, of course. I would love to hear from authors who have used paid marketing campaigns. Please comment, our readers would love to know if the money spent actually increased the sale of your fiction book so astronomically that it was worth it in spades. -- cannegardner

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Against All Odds, Small Presses Prosper

Against All Odds, Small Presses Prosper

Indies find ways to work through a tough economy

By Lynn Andriani and Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 3/2/2009

Despite brutal economic conditions, several independent publishers managed to find ways to grow both their sales and profits in 2008. How did they do it? They are not afraid to be frugal—forgoing advances in favor of offering higher royalties, for example; and they practice innovation—“mining data” for new audio prospects, in the case of Tantor, or teaching authors how to self-promote, as Morgan James does. These 11 presses have adopted a combination of strategies that have helped them not only survive in the recession, but prosper. Full Article Can be Read Here.
This article is supposedly talking about Small Indie Presses, not self-publishing DIY sites or subsidiary publishing sites, but I thought the article was appropriate to post so that indie authors can get a better handle on what changing in the publishing world ... What makes the article even more interesting is that two presses mentioned also deal in the "vanity/subsidiary press market." So take what you will from the article. -- cannegardner

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Completely Novel.com -- cannegardner

It's a nice playful site, and they exclaim that they take no fee or commission, the author just pays the printing charges. Ok?

The only reason I noticed them at all was because of a press release stating that they have contracted CPI as their UK printer. Yes, that's right, you select your printer???

Their claim to fame is that they connect you to pod printers all over the globe. And it says their platform takes the complexity out of self-publishing, without having to worry about margins, page sizes, embedded fonts, etc. Must be one hell of a system, because we all know that Lightening Source and many other pod printers have very specific specifications for file uploads. The faq section is set up like a Q&A board and is rather random trying to hunt information down, which made the overt cuteness just irritating to me. I am certain there are specs somewhere on the site, but I couldn't get much information simply because in order to search the shambles of a help section, they make you log-in. So, take it for what you will. They say they are: A Great Fun Stepping Stone to Getting Published. Along with: Agents and Publishers on Completely Novel will see the best books ... all commission free. HHHHMMMMM???? Yes, that was a big skeptical hhhmmm.

Info can be found here. And a more in-depth interview with Anna Lewis can be found on SPR's site here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Peas Publishing -- cannegardner

From the Two Peas Publishing Website:

You‘ve Written It. What Now?Anyone can publish a book these days. The advent of POD (Print On Demand) technology has removed the cost barrier that kept many talented authors from seeing their work in print. Self-publishing web sites have brought publication within the reach of many talented writers.
However, in many cases the end product turns out to be a disappointment. Most POD sites use standardized templates to design books. The result is a low-quality, cookie-cutter product that will not attract booksellers to stock the book, nor book buyers to purchase it.
Two Peas Publishing was created to provide top-notch writers with the top-notch design their books deserve.
If you’ve always wanted to publish your own book, but were unhappy with the quality of the offerings in the self-publishing world, Two Peas is the solution you’ve been searching for.


Services, again, seem comparable to most of the subsidiary publishers I have looked at. But...and this is a big but, because they are a full service publishing company, they have very specific formatting requirements for their manuscripts, and they do not accept all manuscripts for service. I quote from their website:

To help us create the book of your dreams, it is important that you read and adhere to the following guidelines before submitting your manuscript to us for editing and/or formatting.
Two Peas Publishing accepts manuscripts of most genres, including educational books, books of poetry, and children’s books. We do not publish blatantly exploitative works, pornography, or personal/political manifestos. Two Peas Publishing reserves the right to reject any manuscript that we feel does not fit our company's image, needs or goals, at any time, for any reason."

They also charge an Ingram Catalog listing fee of $20.00 for one year, and Lightening Source's Catalog Listing Fee, we know, is $12.00 per year. Not to mention the proof printing charge of $40.00 for a paperback. So, all in all, they rank more as an on the pricey side subsidy press than a DIY self-publishing company, since they take your manuscript and do all the rest from formatting to editing to cover design, for a fee, that is. --cannegardner

Thursday, March 12, 2009

REVIEW: Love Unlimited Magazine (RIP)

Title: Love Unlimited
Editor: Marsha Norton
Genre: romance
Price: out of print
Publisher: Twin Sisters Publishing Company
Point of Sale: None
Reviewed by: Emily Veinglory

Late last year I became interested in the idea of self-published magazines. I am very fond of magazines but most of them irritate me by being obsessively girls, geeky or clearly intended for men. Self-publishing would allow small and more quirky readerships to access material that interested them.

So I had a search through Lulu and picked up a few magazines, on of which was "Love Unlimited" which was intended as a tri-annual publication. I did not review it until now for the simple reason that it is hard to write a constructive review to express the opinion that a publication is entirely without any redeeming qualities. But as it seems the magazine is now defunct, I suppose one little review won't make any difference.

However it is a sad truth of the self-publishing arena that choosing a book from an unknown could be charitably be described as something of a risk. As a romance magazine Love Unlimited suffers from the following major failings: 1) none of the stories in it were genre romance, 2) it is not a magazine (including the failure, perhaps fortunately, to release any further issues after this November 2008 effort.)

On top of that the writing is poor, the editing is largely absent, the formatting is bewilderingly arbitrary in every aspect (every kind of paragraphing, line spacing, justification and font appears at one place or another). More than half the (un-numbered) pages are taken up by banal "advice" columns devoid of anything I found at all helpful--not was I expecting this in "a magazine for romance writers and readers".


Dog Ear Publishing -- cannegardner

"DogEar boasts a more transparent and responsive process. DogEar claims to be the only self publisher "offering a financially viable model for self published authors. While it admits to higher up-front costs, it says that this is balanced out by lower printing costs and higher profit margins. One unusual aspect of its business plan that might prove attractive to authors is that DogEar does not pay royalties; instead, it only charges for printing, allowing authors to keep the profits from their work."

I took a look at their site and the Compare the Competition Page is quite nice and refreshing. The specs are pretty typical of the books produced in the trade category at any of the self publishing companies. Self publishing costs are derived from the web sites and companies listed.They admit to higher costs than say a Lulu but tout that their costs are on average $300 less than most subsidiary/self-publishing firms. This information is directly from their website. With their quoted package you get:

  • 6X9 trim size, 150 pages, one color interior, 4 color cover, 5 interior images- Paperback or hardcover
  • ISBN and bar code included,
  • Library of Congress Control number
  • Custom cover and interior
  • PDF or laser proofs delivered to author,
  • 100 additional paperback units purchased- Available at Amazon and most major online retailers
  • Available through major distributors like Ingram and Baker and Taylor- Available for order at over 25,000 retail bookstores.

Let's start with the numbers... more in-depth comparisons will follow below. Here's how the major self-publishing companies stacked up as of January 2008.

Self publishing companies - Dog Ear Publishing:
Every publishing service outlined above is included in this package - no hidden fees or chargesDog Ear Publishing is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana. All Dog Ear operations are based in the United States. Dog Ear Publishing allows authors the complete freedom to set their retail price and profit at any level. Dog Ear has the lowest per unit costs of any publishing company. With Dog Ear, you receive 100% of your Net Sale (no other major self- publishing house offers that level of profit for authors.)Basic Publishing Package - $1099 (hardcover or paperback)Printing Services - $4.28 / unit (any number of copies) x 100 units = $428Total Expenditure: $1,527

On Royalties:
"Book Royalties"
We don't call them that, because we let you set your OWN profit margin - the only money we receive from sales of your book is the printing cost (and some handling & freight fees). You may price your books at any price you wish and make as much or as little profit as you like. That is NOT the case with ANY of the other self publishing companies.

More info and a nice Compare Publishers menu can be found here. As always, any author should price and compare the services before selecting a POD company. We should always get the best value for the buck and that means not getting screwed out of your hard earned money in the process. --cannegardner

Monday, March 09, 2009

Read an ebook Week March 8-14, 2009

The Lulu Book Review has a very nice article and interview with Mark Coker from Smashwords speaking about Read an ebook week and the future of e-publishing.

We have mentioned Smashwords several times on this site for its ease of use and viability in the marketplace due to the number of formats offered. Check out the article here on the Lulu Book Review and read an ebook this week.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Indie Bands, Writers Perceived Differently -- Eric Danton

Independent Bands, Writers Perceived Differently
By ERIC R. DANTON The Hartford Courant
March 1, 2009

New York indie-rock act Clap Your Hands Say Yeah built a considerable fan base without help from a record company.

There's a curious divide in the pop arts world over the do-it-yourself ethic and the different, and opposite, ways it applies to books and to music.In music, DIY is a source of credibility for acts that take pride in circumventing the music machine and the compromises often required to release an album through a record company, especially one of the major labels. With books, by contrast, do-it-yourselfers are usually regarded with skepticism, if not outright derision, when they pay to publish their own work through what is disdainfully referred to as a "vanity press."

"In the book world, it's so fragmented, with so many publishing houses out there, that somebody doing something on their own has more of a stigma because it suggests that everybody else passed on it," says Josh Jackson, editor in chief of Paste magazine, which covers music, film and books."
I am and have always been a huge fan of Indie Bands, Indie Film, and Indie Art in general. If music can rise above the stigma, I find it difficult to understand why Indie authors face such resistance. It can't be entirely about quality simply because I have read some exceptional Indie work. I think where some of the stigma might arise is that in a practical sense indie authors are perceived as niave and easily taken advantage of in their quest to circumvent the system. Any serious Indie author knows that is just not true. Not all of us are looking for shortcuts, and really, are there any???? considering that some of us take on the entire enterprise from front cover to press release. But,with the rise in subsidiary presses who are more than willing to part a novice author from their money with gimmicks and unrealistic claims to fame, it's easy for the rest of the world to assume we are all illiterate idiots willing to pay ridiculous fees for crap editing, stock cover art, shit layout, and marketing services that only amount to spam email. I don't think there is an easy answer to this dilemma, but a first step could be for all Indie authors to be on their game, produce a quality product, and have faith in your art. We all know what the second step is, and that one is not for the Indies to take. I have met quite a few people willing to give Indie authors the time and respect so many other artists enjoy, and I can't thank them enough. Now I am not saying that all vanity presses are bad -- I do hate that word vanity, mind you -- some of those presses are very good and have qualified staff on hand to deliver, but some are no better than many DIY sites. An Indie author must be diligent in their research. Are you really getting what you pay out the nose for?
Full Article can be read here.

Cheryl Anne Gardner

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Free Book Friday Winner

Thanks to all who entered, the winner is: Delorezb

REVIEW: Every Inch A King

Title: Every Inch A King
Author: Harry Turtledove
Genre: fantasy
Price: $25
Publisher: ISFIC Press
ISBN: 978-0-9759156-1-4
Point of Sale: ISFIC Press
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

In 1913, Albania was regaining its independence from the failing Ottoman Empire. Allegedly, Otto Witte, a circus performer, managed to convince some local Albanian troops he was the Ottoman prince they had asked to come and be king. He was so convincing, in fact, that he was crowned and ruled as king for five days. When he was found out, Otto fled, taking as much of the royal treasury as he could carry. To his dying days in 1958, Witte stood by his improbable tale, in part because he made a living telling it. In 2005, the science fiction and fantasy author Harry Turtledove was guest of honor at Windycon, a Chicago-area science fiction convention. ISFIC Press, the publishing arm of the convention, had started a tradition of publishing a book by the guest of honor. Out of those two facts, a rollicking and entertaining novel was born, entitled Every Inch A King.

Turtledove tells the story (or a story) of Witte, thinly-disguised as Otto of Schlepsig, and his adventures in “Shqiperi,” a fantasyland version of Albania. In Turtledove’s world, magic has substituted for technology, with, for example, sailing ships relying on weather-wizards to get wind in their sails. Dragons and giant sea serpents roam the Nekemte Peninsula (Balkans) and surrounding waters, making travel interesting, and crystal balls are used in place of telegraphs.

The novel is a very humorous rendition of events, and full of “Easter eggs” for the discerning reader. For example, the three faces of the men on the cover are Harry Turtledove, Steven Silver (chief cook and bottle-washer at ISFIC) and Bob Eggleton, the cover artist. The word “Shqiperi” is Albanian for Albania, and many other such hidden gems can be found. A key part of Otto’s story (both “real” and in the novel) is the enjoyment of the royal harem, and the fictional Otto gets help from a wizard’s potion (a wizard named Zog, same as Albania’s 20th century king). The potion includes a “little blue pill.”

Some of Turtledove’s humor is less subtle. Speaking of the Croatians, who speak a language notably deficient in vowels, Turtledove notes that they hadn’t had a kingdom of their own since they “suffered through their disastrous vowel famine.” Or, speaking of the Tvar, AKA Russian ambassador, “[He] was thinking. It took a while. You could watch the wheels turn, like the ones on a milk wagon pulled by a lazy horse.”

I really could go on for pages, but that’s not fair. Every Inch A King is a wonderful comic novel, and a rarity to boot. Only 1,000 copies were printed, and I am told the only copies still for sale are those signed by the author. So go order a collectable piece of humor today.

RATING 10/10

Monday, March 02, 2009

Here Comes the e-book Revolution -- Mike Elgan

From the Reseller News
By Mike Elgan, Framingham Monday, February 23 2009

Here comes the e-book revolutionAt what temperature do electronic books catch fire? We're going to find out sometime this year because e-book sales are about to ignite, says Mike Elgan: Full Article can be read here.

"For authors, it can take months to even find a literary agent willing to represent their work. Then the agent takes months to find a publisher. Then it takes ages for the publishing company to get the book out there.

People are already circumventing all this by self-publishing. The self-publishing industry is the only area of paper-book publishing that's thriving right now. Soon enough, a huge number of authors are finally going to get fed up with the publishing industry and just self-publish electronically. They'll hire their own freelance editors and do the marketing themselves. The publication of a finished manuscript will take minutes, rather than months.

Old-school thinkers in the publishing industry will lament the slap-dash nature of self-published e-books, and sniff that books are no longer published with the quality and care that they used to achieve. (Never mind that book publishers abandoned high standards years ago in previous cost-cutting initiatives.) The world will pass them by as the book industry undergoes the same transition that happened with the media and blogs.

First, the media didn't understand blogs. Then they invalidated them. Then they accepted them. And now blogs are where the credibility is. Every columnist and reporter has a blog, and now major TV news programmes are built around the opinions of bloggers. A similar transformation will take place over the credibility of self-published and electronic books."