Monday, November 30, 2009

Overcharging, Deception and Ineptness in Self-Publishing

Many writers who think they are "self-publishers" are really customers -- or victims -- of vanity presses, and they pay a lot for bad books that few will read. This new book explains how to become a real self-publisher, to publish a better book faster, make more money, and have more fun.

According to a new book, many companies that charge authors to publish their books overcharge for their services and are deceptive and careless.

One company charges $249 for copyright registration -- which can be obtained easily by anyone for $35. Another charges $1.99 for promotional postcards which are readily available for about 10 cents each. The Library of Congress charges Zero for a book's Control Number and it takes about five minutes to request one. One publisher charges $99 to get the number.

Some publishers claim to be "joint-venture," "co-op" or subsidy" publishers -- but the authors pay 100% of the cost of publishing. Others claim to publish books for free -- but no books are printed unless the publisher gets paid.

Websites and books that publicize these publishers have bad grammar, bad typography, bad spelling, and factual errors. The founder of one of these companies misspelled "misspell" and said, "We publish a huge number of really bad books."

Most of these businesses claim to be "self-publishing companies," but a newly published book explains that they are not.

According to Michael N. Marcus, author of Become A Real Self-Publisher, "Just as no one can eat lunch for you or take a bath for you, no one can self-publish for you. The companies that call themselves ‘self-publishing companies' are really vanity presses that make most of their money by selling services to misinformed and naive writers, not by selling books to readers."

Marcus has been writing professionally for over 40 years. In an effort to have more control, produce better books faster, and make more money, he formed Silver Sands Books in 2008. He initially planned to publish just one book, but this book is his fifth, and it shares what Marcus learned while publishing the first four.

Reviewers have called it "the most up-to-date, definitive book for self-publishers," "amazingly complete and detailed," and "a must-read for anyone considering self-publishing." One reviewer said, "This encyclopedic book is vital for anyone with aspirations of becoming a published author. It has detailed analyses of many companies that masquerade as self-publishing companies, and valuable tips for every writer, even those who use a traditional publisher."

There is lots of confusion about self-publishing, particularly caused by vanity presses that hide behind popular buzzwords such as "self-publishing," "print-on-demand," and "indie." This book will help writers sort out the misstatements and misunderstandings. It will guide them from first word to first sale. It can help a frustrated writer make a quick and painless transition to become a less frustrated writer and publisher.

According to Marcus, "Anyone with a few months and $600 to $1,000 can publish a book that looks as good as books published by the companies that have published books since the 19th century. For better and for worse, all creative people can now compete on a level playing field, and the ultimate judges of quality are readers — not the gatekeepers of traditional media businesses."

Writers often decide to self-publish and use a "self-publishing company," "print-on-demand company" or "subsidy publisher" with the thought that the writers will become self-published authors.

According to Marcus, "They're not self-publishing. They're really just customers --  or victims -- of vanity presses, and they give up a lot. The writers who use them will often wait longer for books to be sold, have less control over the appearance of the books, spend more money, make less money, wait longer to get their money, and have a lower quality book than if they became real self-publishers."

The new book provides detailed advice and instructions on title selection, book design, page formatting, sales, advertising, and publicity. It even includes a test to help writers decide if they are good enough to have commercial success, plus tips on forming and naming a publishing business, and publishing for others. The book discusses hiring designers and editors, compares the costs and earnings for different methods of publishing, and covers eBooks, copyrights, sources of inexpensive high-quality photographs, pricing a book, setting up a website, and getting book reviews.

According to Marcus, many books on self-publishing are out-of-date and out-of-touch. He says, "There's a lot of misinformation that can unnecessarily discourage potential self-publishers, and cause them to waste time, waste money, and have inferior books." In his book, Marcus reviews more than a dozen other books, and points out which ones have good or bad advice for prospective authors.

Although aimed at self-publishers, the book has considerable information and advice that will be valuable to every writer -- including those who use a traditional publisher or a vanity press — including publishing terminology, a discussion of various booksellers, marketing, royalties, and tips on grammar and spelling. Marcus even offers a trick for beating "writer's block."

Become A Real Self-Publisher, is subtitled, "Publish a better book, Publish it faster, Make more money, Have more fun." The 432-page book, published by Silver Sands Books, has a $19.95 cover price. It is available from, Barnes & Noble, and other online and terrestrial booksellers. The ISBN is 9780981661742.

Move Your Favorite Authors and Books Into Your Pocket

Over the past few decades libraries have promoted literacy by taking books to the streets and local neighborhoods using retrofitted RVs or trucks. Today, you can download books to small hardware devices called ebook readers, about the size of a typical paperback.

The Internet and digitization of documents, including books, has changed the entire publishing and book distribution landscape. Thousands of digital versions of books, called ebooks, can now be downloaded and often at no charge. Paradise Publishers, a company behind one of the world's largest online ebook libraries, at has thousands of titles available for free. Readers easily search on the site to find fiction and non-fiction titles. There's a huge global audience and writers now reach millions of potential readers.

Book hunters simply go online to conveniently download their favorite books from anywhere in the world via any internet browser. The ebook readers, like the compact Amazon Kindle, allow you to carry a literal library of your favorite authors with you on the go. A standard format dubbed "Mobipocket" also works with Blackberry, Palm and other ‘smart' mobile devices. This means catching up on your reading anywhere at anytime, whether you're on a beach, in a bus, or waiting at your doctor's office.

Recently, added the very popular Mobi format. It's included, along with other additional services in their new V.I.P. program. While site visitors get all their ebooks for free, when they make a small, nominal donation, they can grab their favorite authors in a "Mobi" format for downloading and enjoy them while travelling for business or pleasure, daily commuting or hanging out at a coffee shop.

Paradise Publishers' President Martin Wales claims, "Everyone wins here. Readers have more mobility and convenience than ever before." With digital versions of books, costs are so low, that actually gives them away and earns their revenue through online advertising.

"Avid readers can enjoy the pleasure and excitement of books for free or choose to donate for premium V.I.P. services, like Mobi. The donations people make on the site contribute to improving the site, developing new features for all and more importantly, let us contribute to literacy worldwide. Schools, charities and non-profits are given unlimited free access to our entire library, services and the whole site," adds Wales. "We're proud to be part of the World Literacy movement."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Writing - Using Genealogy Software to Discover Your Characters

Writing a book and got a storyline that covers generations and a sprawling set of characters? Lost in the sauce trying to keep them all straight? Forgotten who was married to whom and where and when? Or have you just run out of ideas about how to individualize your characters?

Try organizing them by using genealogy software.

Good genealogy software will not only help you keep your characters straight, but prompt you for more details about them. Where did they go to school, when and what did they study? When were they baptized and/or buried. Who did they marry, divorce, have children with, when, where and how many?

There's usually room for photographs, too, images you can generate yourself or find elsewhere. By the time you're done entering birthdays, death days, graduation days, you'll have generated a lot of information about your characters. Good software helps the writer write books by also offering a history window that tells you what was going on in the world during any given character's lifespan. You'll might suddenly realize that your storyline happens to coincide with the time period John Lennon was shot. Your character, you suddenly decide, was a Beatles' fan and therefore would've felt something when the news came out.

So in addition, to helping you flesh out your characters, genealogy software can help you anchor your story in history. A specific event might not be immediately relevant to your story, but it will flavor your character. There are certain events, for example, that freeze time. Many people remember exactly what they were doing when they learned that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, and now many can say the same about Michael Jackson. Most will have a favorite song that, when heard, reminds them of their high school prom, or freshman year in college, or the girl that got away. A program that offers such convenience as a world timeline can help an author tease out the events that might or might not have impacted or influenced his or her character, i.e. ground a character in his or her period.

If you're a writer looking for a unique way to not only organize but add sparkle to your writing, consider genealogy software. There are a lot of good one's out there. Download a demo and try it, from the writer's point of view.

Persia Walker, a former news writer for The Associated Press, is the award-winning author of HARLEM REDUX and DARKNESS AND THE DEVIL BEHIND ME. Visit her online at She is also senior editor at Gentle Pen Editorial Services (

New Web Site Offers a Vast Assortment of Educational Literature

Hanna Roth has been a book lover all of her life and has decided to turn her passion into an online business through her new Web site With its launch, the site has provided the public with a new marketplace for all of their literary needs.

The Web site focuses on providing quality, reliable educational resources on a variety of topics, but also has a wide selection of fiction and children's titles. Roth has been an avid fan of non-fiction writing her whole life, especially history and biographies. She wants her Web site to be a destination where other people can have access to these valuable resources.

"Reading is the best way to educate yourself, and books are a great source of information on most anything," Roth said.

In order to keep the public informed about the latest releases and newest additions to her Web site, Roth has recently launched a new blog, The blog will not only have information about her Web site, but Roth will also be posting tips and advice for providing eldercare. Over the last 12 years, Roth has devoted a large portion of her time to volunteering at her local retirement home.

"Eldercare is a big topic nowadays and it is important to ensure that the elderly are taken care of," Roth said. "We are all going to grow old someday, and it is nice to have someone there for you."

Currently the Web site boasts an assortment of instructive gardening, photography and business books, and Roth plans to add full line of eBooks and a section devoted to seniors in the near future.

Lulu Adds 200,000 eBooks to its Digital Marketplace

Lulu, the leader in open publishing, today announced a vastly expanded selection of eBooks, adding 200,000 titles from authors such as Dan Brown, Malcolm Gladwell and Emeril Lagasse to a catalog of content already among the Internet's most diverse.

"It's time for a new era in publishing, one that treats all content equally and gives all authors an equal shot at success," said Harish Abbott, Senior Vice President of Products at Lulu. "We've built an open content marketplace that lets everyone get their ideas to all readers in all forms, print and electronic. And we mean everyone."

The addition of the 200,000 eBook titles marks the first time traditionally published content has appeared on Lulu and advances the company's mission of creating a one-stop shop with content from all authors, in all styles and in all formats. The goal is to give readers access to the best knowledge, ideas and entertainment and to give authors access to the best audience for their works.

In addition to the expanded selection, Lulu also has enhanced its tools for authors to create their own eBooks. It all ties back to Lulu's goal of breaking down barriers to publishing. Lulu believes in the power of ideas and the potential of everyone to create something powerful. It is giving everyone an equal voice in the market.


Monday, November 16, 2009

"Kindle for PC" Now Available, Inc. announced the availability of "Kindle for PC," the free application that lets readers around the world enjoy Kindle books on their personal computers (PC). The U.S. Kindle Store ( currently offers more than 360,000 books, including New Releases and 101 of 112 New York Times Bestsellers, which are typically $9.99 or less. The Kindle Store is the only place to find some of today’s most popular books in digital format. Kindle books can now be read on the Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch and PC. Kindle for PC is now available as a free download to readers in over 100 countries at

Kindle for PC features Amazon’s Whispersync technology that automatically saves and synchronizes bookmarks and last page read across devices. Whether you read Kindle books on a Kindle, Kindle DX, or one of the free Kindle applications, you can always have your reading with you and never lose your place. With Kindle for PC, you can read some on your PC, read some on your Kindle, and always pick up right where you left off. Whispersync helped make the Kindle for iPhone application the most popular books app in the Apple App Store.

"Kindle for PC is the perfect companion application for customers who own a Kindle or Kindle DX," said Ian Freed, vice president, Amazon Kindle. "Kindle for PC is also a great way for people around the world to access a huge selection from the Kindle Store and read the most popular books of today even if they don’t yet have a Kindle."

Kindle for PC is available for free download at

Publishing pros reveal how to start home-based companies and publish non-fiction books

The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit: Start Your Own Home-Based Publishing Company and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book With CreateSpace and Amazon by Christy Pinheiro and Nick Russell provides readers with information on how to effectively self-publish.

According to the Bowker Books In Print database, for the first time, the number of print on-demand books has exceeded those being published by traditional publishers. But how does self-publishing work, and how can it be a smart and profitable choice for those wanting to see their writing in print? Publishing experts Pinheiro and Russell aim to share the ins and outs of the publishing business in The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit.

This guide works to show readers how to self-publish their book, list it on and promote it completely online, all without the expense of inventory or pricey writing services. The book also includes contributions from well-known, published authors who are experts on how to focus on niche markets in order to maximize self-publishing profts. Says Aaron Shepard, author of Aiming at Amazon, "This is a fine book for self-publishers set to take advantage of today's best entry to self-publishing."

The Step-By-Step Guide to Self-Publishing for Profit: Start Your Own Home-Based Publishing Company and Publish Your Non-Fiction Book With CreateSpace and Amazon is available for sale online at and other channels.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Nielsen BookScan to Produce Bestseller Book Charts for The Wall Street Journal

The Nielsen Company has launched its book sales monitoring and analysis service, Nielsen BookScan, to supply its world-class information to create customized bestseller charts for the world's leading business publication, The Wall Street Journal.

Nielsen BookScan will produce three weekly book charts for the Journal -- Hardcover Fiction, Hardcover Non-fiction and Business -- which will run in print and on every Friday. Nielsen BookScan has also agreed to create additional, customized charts for around specific genres such as travel and cooking, or current topical interests such as presidential memoirs.

Nielsen BookScan (, which monitors the English-language book industry worldwide, provides the most comprehensive charts data in the industry. The service provides weekly point-of-sale data with the highest possible degree of accuracy and integrity. BookScan tracks approximately 75% of general retail sales within the U.S. on a weekly basis including chains, internet retailers, discount stores, as well as large and small independents.

BookScan enables its subscribers to access comprehensive reports from a wide variety of perspectives organized by title and author, by category, by region or by DMA. In a typical week, sales of over 400,000 different titles are collected, coded and analyzed, producing complete market information for retailers, publishers and the media.

BookReader makes reading eBooks on iPhone simple

Readdle today announces BookReader 1.0, a stylish e-book reader for iPhone and iPod touch. BookReader lets people read digital books from their collections like the paper ones. It opens TXT, FB2, RTF, EPUB, HTML, and PDF e-books that could be copied from reader's computer to the iPhone as well as searches and downloads books from Project Gutenberg. BookReader has number of small handy functions like animated page flipping, night mode for reading in the dark, and more.

BookReader has number of small handy functions like animated page flipping, night mode for reading in the dark, locking book orientation and adjustable text size. It also provides everything that people need to quickly navigate through the book: configurable bookmarks, full text search and fast scroll slider. It's very natural to read e-books with BookReader.

BookReader is designed to work with non DRM protected e-books in TXT, FB2, RTF, HTML, EPUB and PDF formats. eReader, iSilo, MobiPocket, Kindle, Plucker e-books are not supported. Also, people who don't have wireless connection between their Mac or PC and iPhone could transfer their e-book to BookReader using USB cable and ReaddleWire software available at Readdle's web site.

BookReader 1.0:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adobe and Barnes & Noble Join Forces to Standardize eBook Technology

Adobe Systems Incorporated  and Barnes & Noble, Inc.., the world's largest bookseller, today announced advancements for eBook distribution by joining forces to standardize the open EPUB and PDF eBook formats and collaborating on a content protection standard based on Adobe and Barnes & Noble technology. The collaboration makes Barnes & Noble the most portable and compatible eBookstore, and provides customers of nook, the new Barnes & Noble eBook reader and other compatible devices, as well as users of Barnes & Noble eReader software for iPhone, PCs, BlackBerry and other smartphones the ability to access digital content from thousands of content providers that is protected with Adobe technology. In addition, customers with devices that use the Adobe Reader Mobile software development kit (SDK) will soon be able to purchase and read content from, the world's largest eBookstore.

"By standardizing on EPUB and collaborating with Adobe on a content protection standard based on Adobe technology, Barnes & Noble is delivering the richest range of content available, across a broader array of devices than anybody else," said William J. Lynch, president of Barnes & "Consumers can feel confident that when they buy their digital content from, they can read it on more devices than any other bookstore. This collaboration with Adobe further delivers on our commitment to provide the digital content our customers want, anytime, anywhere and on whatever device they choose."

Barnes & Noble is adopting Adobe(R) Content Server, a server software solution that copy protects eBooks downloaded to nook, mobile phone applications and other dedicated eBook reading devices that have integrated the Adobe Reader Mobile SDK. Additionally, Adobe is integrating Barnes & Noble's eReader social content protection technology into Adobe Content Server, Adobe Reader Mobile SDK and, eventually, into Adobe Digital Editions.

"Adobe's end-to-end eBook platform enables consumers to access an array of PDF and EPUB content on PCs, mobile and dedicated reading devices. Publishers benefit from the reduced cost and improved efficiencies that Adobe's comprehensive eBook solution offers, while meeting the needs for eBook customers and protecting copyrights," said Paul Weiskopf, senior vice president of corporate development at Adobe. "Thousands of online booksellers, publishers and libraries have adopted Adobe's content protection technology, and we're excited to be working with Barnes & Noble to expand eBook distribution."

Barnes & Noble will support PDF and EPUB, a reflow-centric, XML-based open standard with broad support from the publishing industry and the Association of American Publishers. With this enhanced version of Adobe Content Server, publishers and booksellers will be able to protect EPUB and PDF eBooks through either social password or identity-based authentication options, allowing their readers access to interoperable eBook content across diverse platforms.

Stop Thinking About Your Book, and Start Writing

Many people procrastinate starting projects, even though they know it's good for them. Everyone knows the benefits of writing and publishing a book. For speakers, consultants, coaches, and self-employed professionals, a book is the ultimate business card. Being an author establishes expertise, attracts a following of ideal clients, and opens up new opportunities for making more money.

But if books are so great, why doesn't every expert have one? In reality, many people just don't know where to start. To help more would-be authors get their books done, The Writer's Sherpa, LLC, is now offering aspiring business and self-help authors a free Write Your Book Quick-Start E-course. The e-course contains seven lessons on planning and writing a book, all delivered by e-mail, with the goal of getting people started on the path to becoming a published author.

The lessons guide writers through strategic decisions about audience and content; give tips for managing common challenges, like writer's block; and show how to create a book that brings in new business and income. Laying the foundation for success, the Write Your Book Quick-Start Mini E-course, makes starting a book easy.

“Writing a book about your experiences and expertise is a great way to help others,“ said Melinda Copp, founder and executive editor of The Writer's Sherpa, LLC. “People are hungry for solutions and information, and this mini e-course is designed to help aspiring authors take that first step and start writing their book, so they can share their message and solutions with the world.“

Melinda Copp is a writing coach and ghostwriter who has worked with authors from a variety of backgrounds. She specializes in helping professionals establish expertise and communicate their story in a way that attracts ideal clients and readers. Through her company, The Writer's Sherpa, LLC, she offers group and one-on-one coaching programs and publishes The WRITE Path E-zine, a weekly newsletter with tips for helping experts write and publish their way to the peak of success.

Aspiring authors can sign up to get the free Write Your Book Quick-Start e-mail course at