Monday, June 25, 2018

Self-Publishing: Some Harsh Criticism!

I'm back from sunny, cool and dry Lake Tahoe! So far, a little humidity actually feels good, but I'm sure I will be back to whining later in the summer.

A couple of articles caught my eye today:
"A lot of people should never be published. It’s a harsh thing to say, but there are people who simply don’t know how to convey an idea, an image or an emotion ... There are plenty of writers who should be published but don’t believe in their own words enough to approach publishers. In a similar way, there are a lot of writers whose writing isn’t up to scratch, who believe nothing better has been written under the sun."
I will say that I know my clients get their books edited, and some pay a lot of money and devote a lot of time to that process. The author is mainly talking about people who write and immediately publish afterward - no editing, possibly no revision. Like I do when I click "Publish" on this blog! 😀

Read Steven Mehler's take on whether self-publishing is ruining the art of writing.

* * *

How has self-publishing changed? Nicole Dieker writes about how the industry has changed between her first and second book. From the article:
"The book industry is partly kept afloat by a shadow economy in which the main currency is bullshit."
Read her entire article.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hybrid Publishing Advice from Jane Friedman

From her post:

  • Some services have started calling themselves “hybrid publishers” because it sounds more fashionable and savvy, yet offer low-quality results and service. 
  • Most marketing and publicity service packages, while well-meaning, are not worth your investment. 
  • Avoid companies that take advantage of author inexperience and use high-pressure sales tactics, such as AuthorSolutions imprints (AuthorHouse, iUniverse, WestBow, Archway, and others). 
  • To check the reputation of a service, search for Mick Rooney’s Independent Publishing Magazine website.
Read the entire article, which also contains advice regarding traditional big-5 and small press publishing:

Monday, June 11, 2018

More Evidence People Suck: More Scams to Fleece Writers

Two articles caught my eye today during my daily scan of various blogs:

So-called hybrid publishing

"Because of indie publishing, the old vanity presses are reinventing themselves to look like hybrid small publishers or publishing service providers."

Your book could be a movie!

"These people are asking an indie author to pay a huge amount of money to a screenwriter to write a screenplay based on a self-published book."

Read the entire article.


"Bad players in our industry prey upon unsuspecting independent authors by disguising themselves as traditional publishing houses and using deceptive marketing tactics ...  They take advantage of new authors’ naivete, peddle false promises, sometimes even swindling them into signing away the rights to their manuscripts. Then, they leave the author with a fat bill ... Some companies will host faux writing or book contests for big cash prizes or the chance of a lucrative publishing contract. These contests are usually a front for piracy or for trying to get their marketing hooks into you. Don’t buy into them."

Read the entire article.

Please, think before you sign up.

P.S. - I say more evidence people suck because I read about a dog-fighting ring that kidnaps people's pets and heard a podcast about human trafficking (someone in the area tried to buy a 14 year old girl for sex!) right here in my own backyard. So, I have a somewhat sour view of people right now.

Saturday, June 9, 2018


I've expanded my presence on Goodreads. I beefed up my profile description, indicated my preferred genres (cheap, trashy novels wasn't one of the options, but I did the best I could) and found some more friends. I've struggled with the marketing side of self-publishing since I formatted my first book 5 years ago. I've read that authors (and publishers) need an active social media presence. But where? Some "experts" say Facebook, some Twitter, and some Instagram. Goodreads is rarely mentioned. As of September 2017, Goodreads reported 65 million members. That's only 3% of Facebook's 2.19 billion users. But, those 65 million users are mostly readers, prone to buying books - and reviewing them. (How many of your Facebook friends are avid readers?) I have read books about advertising that say you should go where your customers already are to get the word out. It seems apparent to me that authors, publishers and readers should spend more time interacting on Goodreads. I don't mean you should abandon other social media outlets, but shift some time toward Goodreads. If you love books and reading, the conversations are bound to be more stimulating that yet more posts about President CombOver! 😃

Writers: Too Easy to Fleece

Writers, especially those desperate for publication and validation, are easy targets. There is a business model based on this! Two examples of this business model in action: hybrid publishing and writing contests.

Hybrid Publishing

It used to be called vanity publishing. The 21st century name for it is hybrid publishing. A friend of mine sent his manuscript out looking for an agent or publisher. So far, one has responded. They claim his book has been reviewed and chosen, but really they have chosen him to be a customer. For around $2,400 they will publish his book. The price itself is not outrageous. I've been through this process a number of times now and believe it's difficult to adequately self-publish a book for less that that. Even though the number sounds right, there is still more work to do before you sign up.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau website ( and search for the company. Check the Writer Beware® website ( I check both of these, in addition to a google search, to see if their offer is a scam or if there are lots of complaints about their service. 
  • Can the publisher execute? Look closely at their website. Is it well done? Do they do a good job promoting their own books on their own website? Look at their books on Amazon. How do the covers and the marketing descriptions look? Buy one of their books, or at least check out a few pages using the "Look Inside" feature, to see how well they edited the book. Just because it's a low price doesn't mean it's a good value.
  • Finally, pay close attention to the terms of the deal, the fine print. What rights are you giving up? For how long? What is your cut? How often will you be paid (Createspace pays monthly)? Is everything clearly defined? For example, my friend's deal stated he would receive 50% of the net profits. We could not find any definition of net profit. I would want to know. How much, if any, control will you have over the final edit and the cover?
My bottom line: If you are going to spend that much money self-publishing anyway, why not get all the profits and have all the control over the finished product? What value is there in going with a no-name publisher who is charging you for the privilege?


Poets & Writers magazine had an article in the May / June 2018 edition about writing contests. P&W studied 651 contests held in 2017. 514 charged a median entry fee of $20. The remaining 137 charged no fee at all. The 514 that charged a fee paid out $1,855,875 in prize money. The 137 that charged no fee paid out $5,154,660! The big difference: 77% of the sponsors of the no-fee contests were non-profits or universities. The majority of the fee-charging contests were sponsored by private companies seeking to profit. My bottom line: never, ever pay a fee to enter a writing contest. Just don't do it. Let's boycott the fee-charging contests and make them go away.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018, Architecture Foundation Tour

I went downtown today to take the Chicago Architecture Foundation Modern Masterpieces:
Marina City and the IBM Building tour. The weather was quite variable. Nice on the train ride down and the walk to lunch at O'Briens on the riverwalk, The clouds darkened at lunch and the beginning of the tour, getting really nice again at the end of the tour and walk back to the train station.

Looking northeast from my seat at lunch on Chicago's riverwalk.

Looking northwest at lunch. Note the darkening skies. Marina Towers are the
round buildings on the left and the IBM building is the black monolith on the right.

The State Street bridge is raised to let some sailboats through while I ate. The bridges
are massive and awesome when raised.

Looking southwest from Marina Towers.

Straight up at the east tower of
Marina Towers and the IBM
Building east of it. 

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail