Have a plan

January 23, 2012

“If you don’t have a plan for yourself, you’ll be a part of someone else’s.”

I love this because it’s simplistically brilliant and sage. I bagged it off one of my author’s manuscripts that I’m editing. It resonates because I see so many authors, excited by a story, sit down to write…only to finish and begin bumping into walls. Many of those walls are filled with publishers who don’t provide authors what they’d hoped for.

And this is because those authors haven’t created a plan and became a part of someone else’s…like an inferior publisher, or crummy agent.

Dear, dear authors, you MUST have a plan for your literary career. And I’m not talking about the one where you sell your book for a gabajillion dollars, buy Hawaii, and sip margaritas all day long while cabana men peel you grapes and tell you how utterly brilliant and beautiful you are.

No. The plan I’m talking about focuses on researching the industry (I hear The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box is a stellar choice) so you have enough information that allows you to make informed choices. There has to be a reason why you query those particular agents, or those particular editors. Authors who send me cookbook or fiction queries don’t have a plan. They’re little pinball machines that bump up against any agent or editor that happens to be in their current field of vision. And that can spell disaster for you and your book if one of those are scams.

Don’t be a part of someone else’s plan. Have your own. That’s the only way you can publish on your own terms. And who knows…maybe you will buy Hawaii…


Ripoff Artists – Scribd

April 8, 2011

There is nothing publishers and authors hate more than ripoff artists, and Scribd manages to remain at the top of the list – despite owner Trip Adler’s claims that he’s honest. Oh yes, he would never screw with our copyright infringement.

Bull.

I knew darn well the abuses would continue and he would merrily upload books in which he has no rights to. And it appears as though I was right. I heard from two fellow publishers who discovered some of their books had been illegally uploaded to Scribd. They immediately sent them a DMCA (Digital Management Copyright Act) and are keeping their fingers crossed Scribd takes down the offending books.

But wait, it gets even better. These publishers told me that apparently the only way we can protect our books from these pirates is to upload our entire book to Scribd and register them so they can scan subsequent uploads against the database.

WTF? Why do WE have to jump through these hoops, wasting our time and labor, just to protect our work from these scum-sucking thieves? We have to take time out of our day to chase these bastards down and protect our author’s books.

Didn’t Trip insist that Scribd would be a cleaner system? Seems the only thing he’s good at is stealing books.

Please, dear authors, check these sites and make sure your books aren’t up there if you or your publisher haven’t given their permission:

Scribd.com
ebookpart.info
ebooksx.com – EDITED TO ADD – a friend of mine tried to check this site: ebooksx.com  When I check out this link I got a danger warning
confirmed malicious software or has been involved in online scams or fraud Click here: Website Blocked by Trend Micro™ Titanium™ Maximum Security

ebookee.net

All of these thieves offer unlimited “free” downloads of PDFs with a monthly subscription fee.

Here is what one publisher had to do to get satisfaction. Her DMCA complaint letters went nowhere until she notified their ISPs, and then they took them down. The problem with this is that they can turn right around a week or two later and put them right back up, so you have to keep checking.

To locate the ISP for a site, go to http://www.whoishostingthis.com. The publisher suggests that you includ a copy of your DMCA notice to the site, and they will make sure it gets taken down. But remember, it might not stay down, so be sure to keep checking.

This is a disgusting, illegal practice, and it makes me beyond cranky to be ripped off in this manner. Please be sure to spread this post around to make people aware  of these sites and make a big stink. This is money being stolen from publishers and authors.

And PLEASE, do NOT do business with these sites. They are making illegal profits.

Please read Lev Raphael’s personal story regarding Scribd here


“Psst…wanna make me famous?”

November 19, 2010

So answer me this -would you write a book only to give away virtually all your rights, including your copyright, use of your name, and ability to sign other contracts for fear of being “in conflict,”  control over your own publicity for a mere $250? And more importantly, would you be willing to incur a $50,000 penalty if you  admit to working with this someone who offered you this book deal?

No?

Well then you’d be saying no to James Frey’s latest dalliance with gasbaggery. Yes, that James Frey is trekking around the country stumping his self-aggrandizement by asking students in MFA programs if they’d like to make him famous. I guess being infamous has gotten tedious, and he says achingly disturbing comments like, “I should have never fucking apologized to Oprah,” while wandering around the classrooms in his stocking feet.

In return for a chance at immortality,  students/authors allow Frey to review rip them off by having them sign contracts that force them to give up their rights for a pittance. What hurts the heart is that he’s getting takers; so desperate are they to be published.

There are a lot of eloquent blog posts that detail Frey’s horrible contract and his ability to be little more than spittle from a diseased aardvark. But one thing I hope you take away from this is that publishing deals have to be right for everyone. Allowing someone to steal your work and take away all your rights and control isn’t an opportunity – it’s abject insanity.

You can’t use this as a publishing credit because, hello, does anyone believe that Frey will give anyone their due by using the author’s real name? Not in this lifetime. He wants all the glory for himself, which is ironic considering that he’s known for being a liar and costing people millions in lawsuits.

Don’t you think it’s right to honor your hard work, your imagination, your talent by putting your story into the hands of those who will pay YOU, distribute YOU, market and promote YOU? This isn’t a stepping stone, it’s a brick wall. And it has only one direction – straight into a brick wall. You write not for the purpose of making someone else rich off your hard work. You deserve full credit and all the compensatory benefits of having belched out a great book. Isn’t the world tired of this weasel yet? The naivete scares the ever-livin’ stuffing outta me.

Note to self: get thee to the MFA programs and hand out copies of The Writer’s Essential Tackle Box because these folks need to learn the publishing business.

 


Disgusted, disillusioned, and damned angry – shame on you, Amazon.com

November 10, 2010

This new release was brought to my attention, and I have the sudden urge to be sick to my stomach. My very soul hurts. The product description says this:

This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught.

And this is what I have to say to author Phillip Greaves:

I weep for your victims because I know people who have suffered greatly at the hands of demented, twisted, vile minds like yours. One woman took her own life because the memories of her childhood abuse haunted her into her adult life. What do you have to say to her husband and two beautiful children, Mr. Greaves? That her abuser “appealed to his better nature” when she was all of six years old?

That twisted bastard took her childhood away in the most insidious way, yet your answer is that we shouldn’t hate these predators, that they shouldn’t do hard time for ruining a child’s ability to trust?

Are you trying to say that children – some as young as two  – want their little bodies violated? I weep at the knowledge that people like you lurk in our world, that you prey on our children, that you breathe the same air. What’s more is I weep that Amazon. com would allow such trash as your book to grace their site. Your lack of writing ability is my only saving grace – however I don’t delude myself into believing that twisted minds like yours care about syntax, spelling, or finesse.

You’re a pox on society, and I intend on letting Amazon.com know that I find you and your book an insult by sending them a comment in their Feedback section at the bottom of your page.

You want to know how your victims really feel? Try reading something good, something honest, a book of a brave woman who survived and thrived after a decade of abuse by the clergy and nuns. Kim Richardson’s successful life is her revenge. You, however, are a menace and a reflection of everything that’s wrong about our society. You’re an aberration, and I hope readers band together to tell Amazon.com exactly what they think of you and their decision to sell your filth.

Edited to add:

According to GalleyCat, Amazon’s response is that removing this garbage is tantamount to censorship. As a publisher, I’m the first one to defend the right to free speech, but where does this include advocating something that’s a federal crime? I guess clear thinking went the way of the dinosaur. Pity.

Don’t comment on Amazon…CALL THEM! and demand they take this disgusting book down. 800-201-7575. Call!


This is how the sleazoids do it

March 10, 2010

As I’ve mentioned any number of times, POD and vanity presses will stop an nothing to get you to buy your own books. Why? Because YOU are their source of income. You are the golden goose. These folks aren’t open to bookstores and exist solely to make your book available to you in print format.

The options are limitless, but there is one sleazoid who does it better than most:

[Vanity masquerading as a POD] will send your book to Oscar winner Sandra Bullock!

Sunday night’s Best Actress won the award for her role in The Blind Side, a movie based on a book that she read before she agreed to play the role. We will now submit your book to Sandra Bullock and ask her to read it.

Here’s how we do it for authors who choose to have a few extra books on hand: Go to [sleazoid’s website], find your book, click on it, then add to cart, indicate quantity, and use this coupon: SandraBullock25. Then click Recalculate and finish the transaction. Minimum volume is only 6 copies.

You will receive your books at a 25 pct discount, and we will print an extra copy that we will send to Sandra Bullock at no cost to you, or more if she requests more, also at no cost to you.

In the Ordering Instructions field, you may write a note for Sandra if you want. We will include your note when we ship your book to her.

Note that [sleazoid publisher] will keep your note confidential, and that Sandra Bullock may treat your book and your personal note in any way she chooses.

Full-color and hardcovers excluded. Offer expires this weekend on Sunday night.

What’s particularly sickening is that they make these mahvelous offers on a regular basis. The unwary, uninitiated, and just plain gullible fall for this stuff all the time.

Show them the money!

Let’s say that just 100 gullible authors [mind you, these folks have authors in the thousands] take up sleazoid publisher’s offer. Think they’re really going to send ol’ Sandy 100 books? Not without facing a call from Sandy’s bank of lawyers telling them to shove off in all sorts of colorful ways.

So while you forked over a minimum order of six copies for your overpriced book – and really, who can stop at just six? – they’re raking it in hand over fist because they fooled hundreds of their paying customers to do just the same thing. WoOt! Cha-ching!

What a steaming pile of yak droppings. Don’t be fooled.


Save me from the FTC, and pass the chips

October 7, 2009

Warning: This is a commentary, and Lynn is breathing fire.

Oh dear god. Once again, our government works its magic in order to meddle in affairs for which it has no experience or knowledge. What am I talking about? I’m talking about how the Federal Trade Commission has seen fit to revise their “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.” It states that bloggers who review books or video game systems must now disclose if they got those books or video games for free. Why the necessity for disclosure, you ask?

Because the FTC trembles in fear that those freebie copies we send out – called Advance Reader Copies – are the equivalent of an endorsement – that we send out books with the “expectation of a favorable review.” If these idiots at the FTC knew anything about publishing, they’d realize that we have absolutely zero expectation of a favorable review. Heck, we don’t even know if we’ll even get reviewed. It’s a crapshoot.

I’d sure like to see the FTC’s proof that freebies = favorable endorsement because I don’t know of a single publisher who has seen this be the case at all.  In fact, I’ve seen any number online reviews that were anything but laudatory about books they’d read, and we all know the books were sent for free.

This is just all kinds of stupid because it lacks any scintilla of logic. For one thing, book review bloggers are no different from the trade magazines and newspapers who review. But Bureau of Consumer Protection representative, Richard Cleland, insists that newspaper and magazines are exempt because “the newspaper receives the book and it allows the reviewer to review it, it’s still the property of the newspaper.”

Now Cleland has no problem with a blog review provided the blogger doesn’t keep the book after h/she’s done reviewing it. In Cleland’s mind, hanging on to the book is paramount to the blogger being compensated, and this requires a disclosure. Good grief, I can see bookslut.com saying, “Hey, dudes, we got this book for freeeee…” Well no shit, Sherlock. Every reviewer gets free books, and no one is complaining. If no one cares, why does the FTC? Furthermore, why won’t they even listen to those who are in the business?

Does the FTC presume to know more about the publishing/review business than we do? Apparently so, since he told Edward Champion in an interview, “You simply don’t agree, which is your right.” Well, dang my buttons, Mr. Cleland, thanks for at least allowing us to disagree with you. But I’d like to know why is it when someone disagrees with a government action that we are dismissed, rather than consulted as to why we don’t agree. We don’t agree because we know our business – something Cleland clearly lacks.

And get this; if those bloggers don’t comply, they can receive an 11K fine. I’m curious as to how the FTC plans on implementing this policy. Have they hired a bunch of brown shirts to invade the homes of thousands of blog review sites and verify whether those books are sitting on the shelves or have been properly disposed of?

Who the hell is the FTC to make distinctions about what is “compensation” and what is simply going about the course of performing one’s job? You want to talk about an industry dirty secret, let’s talk about magazines who strenuously peddle their ad space? It’s a well-known fact that buying ad space increases your chances of getting a book review. Ad space is far from free. But do we all go running to the government because we don’t like it? Of course not. It’s the nature of doing business.

Just who is getting hurt here? If Cleland spent a week sitting in my chair, he’d realize that bloggers are as far from paid endorsements as the beagle is finding sobriety.

And speaking about those newspapers and magazines; does he really think those books don’t disappear off the shelves once they are reviewed? Puhleeze.

Why is the blogger injudiciously accused of being compensated when there are very big trade magazines that offer paid reviews? They don’t disclose which reviews are paid for, so anyone reading the review section is none the wiser. All the publisher or author has to do is fork over some hefty cash and get a guaranteed big-name review. To me, this is far more compensatory than some blogger who keeps a freaking book because the author or publisher does have the expectation of a favorable review.

Lastly, I wonder why the FTC cares? Cleland’s answer to this is predictably anemic.

“If a blogger received enough books,” said Cleland, “he could open up a used bookstore.”

I really, really want what this guy is smoking.

My god, when I think of all the paid graft that takes place in the entertainment industry, attacking bloggers makes as much sense as sending the beagle to the Betty Ford Clinic. They have some real problems to deal with, like e-book piracy. Attacking a segment of the review industry for some trumped up grievance is pathetic at best.

Why does the government feel the need to “fix” what ain’t broken? I know, I know, the answer is “because screwing things up is what they do best.”

There are some very good articles that articulate the facts far better than I. I excel at righteous outrage.

http://www.edrants.com/interview-with-the-ftcs-richard-cleland/

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/lit_crit/ftc_blogger_rules_carry_11k_fines__139253.asp

After reading about this latest gasp at government intrusion, I’m reminded of one of my favorite lines; who is John Galt?


Book launch part-ay rant

March 25, 2009

I love a good book launch. There’s always good food, plenty of wine, great people, and of course, great literature springing into the mix. What’s not to love? It’s part-ay time, and no one has a better time than the beagle and I.

Then there is the flip side, the dark side, the Darth Vader side whose evil personage hisses, “Luuuuke…I’m trying to be just like the real book lauuuunch…” I’m talking about [cue the music] the online book launch.

The online book launch is a WTF moment for me. I understand cyber friends, cyber cards, and reading online [though I will never understand cyber sex. I mean, helloooo?]. But I do not get a cyber book launch; especially when it’s spammed to me. Reader Views [readerviews.com] is one such animal that spams anyone with a pulse. The worst part of this is authors PAY for this service. I’m talking a lot of bananas for their various packages. This site feeds into RebeccaReads.com, where she lists the book launch – and other things – on her site. She also has a nice price list. I singled them out because they seem to be the most prolific spammers I’ve had the non-pleasure of filling my inbox.

And this gets me to the meat of my rant. When you’re paying for promotional services, make sure you’re fully aware of what those services entail. Ask yourself if you get all gooey-eyed over spam and whether some poor slob will stop and think, “Oh golly gosh! Spam! Yes, let’s take a lookie-loo at what they have to say.” Puh-lease. They roll their eyes, belch out a few colorful metaphors and hit the delete button.

Can you really see yourself standing on the top of your barstool to announce that you got a special spammy invite  to a book launch party of an author you’ve never heard of? People would start throwing peanuts and empty beer mugs at you.

These online book launch spams are hacker noob stuff that scream “desperate loser,”  which is uncharitable of me – I know. But come on, is the author so desperate that he’s willing to fork over big bucks to basically throw a dart into the great yonder, hoping he’ll hit the board? How is this more effective than approaching your defined readership? The insidious thing about the online marketers is that one can never be sure of the results since all marketing and promotion is a crap shoot. The online folks can take your money and shrug their shoulders saying, “gosh, we sure tried. Here’s what we did.” Can we verify any of that? It’s very hard. Yet their sites draw you in like the beagle to a chocolate martini. The headlines scream:

Make Your Book an Amazon.com Best Seller!

cost…$275
Anyone advertising this is certifiably insane since there are no guarantees – especially in publishing.

eParty!

cost…$180 [ includes sending an invitation to your mailing list]
I’m fairly suspicious of the mailing list bit because I have never known any of these authors, so how could I be on their mailing list?

Meanwhile sales remain stagnant.

Lordy, Lordy, their services have no end. And all this bugs me because it does little but separate authors from their hard-earned cash. If you’re into dartboards, then go for it. But I recommend that you put your money into a solid promotion plan that puts you in front of a live audience of like-minded readers. You’ll sell far more books and get people talking about your book. Learn the internet so you can make it work for you. There are many excellent online reviewers you can query.

My inbox has had invitations so many times by Reader Views [that feeds into Rebeccas Reads], that I decided enough is enough and used their form email to tell them to remove my name from their spam list. In a blast of irony, they have you fill in the word verification form so they can cut down on the spam THEY receive. As a final insult their word verification was “nospam.”

Beagle, fire up the blender, I feel a migraine coming on…


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