Friday, 26 June 2009

Different Industry - Same Mistakes: Susan Piver Article

Print Friendly and PDF

The comparisons about what is happening in the publishing world and the music industry over the past 15 years continue to be made. Here is an insightful perspective on the issue from Susan Piver following her attendance at an O’Reilly’s Tools of Change in Publishing conference.

"What offed the music business—and what the publishing industry is facing—is a corporate structure built to churn out hits to subsidize an entire product line. Rather than developing artists, exploiting regional marketplaces, and building financial models that can support a mid-range list, both industries sold their souls out to entertainment at the expense of art and expression. Both are in the business of selling many copies of a few items, not a few copies of many items—the kind of product that can be shot out of a cannon, dominate the retail market, and then basically disappear—because anything else is simply too complicated for a similarly bulked up corporate retail environment to track. The appearance of downloads and file sharing could almost be seen as a desperate measure on the part of consumers to listen and read in an un-mandated manner."

About Susan Piver
Author of "How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life", winner of Books for a Better Life's best spiritual book of 2007 and the NY Times best seller, "The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say 'I Do'".

I'm extremely interested in the dharma, the Enneagram, and anything & everything regarding love. And creativity. I teach meditation retreats for writers. [close] Author of "How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life", winner of Books for a Better Life's best spiritual book of 2007 and the NY Times best seller, "The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say 'I Do'".

You can read all of Susan Piver's excellent article on the comparisons between the music and publishing industries on the link below.

PODTV - Program 9: The Recent Google Book Digitalization Agreement

Print Friendly and PDF
We are going all cerebral this week for PODTV and featuring an indepth discussion on the Google initiative to freely digitize books against the wishes of many authors and publishers.

In this program, ITIF brings together different sides of the debate to discuss the settlement, its implications and the broader issues of orphan works and digital libraries.

Featuring Allan Adler (VP of Government Affairs, Association of American Publishers), Peter Brantley (Director of Access, Internet Archive), Dan Clancy (Engineering Director, Google Book Search), and Alan Inouye (Director, Office for Information Technology Policy, American Library Association).

Lulu Launch Mini Book

Print Friendly and PDF

Lulu has just launched a new pocket-sized paperback format they are calling 'Mini Book'. The format seems more suited to brochure and promotional books than a full book project. They are running a contest at the moment to help to promote and launch the format and you can check out the full details at

The format does seem ideal for self-publishing authors who are considering book signings or appearances at their local bookstores as a promotional guide to the author and their books at a till point or as a hand-out at a writer workshop group. I am thinking of something along the lines of including an author bio and excerpts from their books.

Have a look and see what ideas you might come up with to to put this format to use. They also have a not so great video to go along with it.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Blurb Launches PDF Upload Facility

Print Friendly and PDF

Blurb have finally made a critical step forward in their development as a DIY self-publishing company. Users can now design and layout their own books and load them up to Blurb's on line system as PDF's. This opens up the choice for authors to use programs such as Adobe and Indesign for their book layout and load directly up to the website. I have not done any tests on the new system but wonder if saving and 'importing' your file back to your local PC converts it back to the Booksmart file. If not, then Blurb really have taken a huge step forward.

More news when I take a closer look. In the meantime here is the full announcement from Blurb's site.

"Exciting news – Blurb now accepts PDFs! We think this is some of the biggest Blurb news ever … introducing our new PDF to Book workflow. You can now print a Blurb book using your own PDF, whether it’s from InDesign® or your favorite design tool. You can use our free, downloadable, ready-to-use InDesign® templates or get measurements using our specifications calculator to create a PDF using your own program. Bleeding an image from front to back and over a spine is now possible. Full creative control, like never before. And after uploading your PDF to Book, you’ll experience all the same features Blurb offers whether you’re promoting your book in the bookstore, participating in Set Your Price, or creating Blurb Badges.

We know that accepting PDFs has long been a request from you design pros out there. So, we’d like to extend a big thanks to a lot of the folks in our forums community who helped test the program over the past month – your feedback has been extremely supportive and helpful, and the books you created were amazing.

For our Blurb BookSmart® fans – BookSmart isn’t going anywhere. In fact, we’re already busy working on the next release.

Now, get busy and let us know what you think. We cannot wait to see how far everyone takes their new book designs.


Here is a link to Blurb's PDF Publishing Guide.

The 'Indie' Publishing Debate

Print Friendly and PDF

This debate certainly seems to have struck a chord with many of you, and indeed the debate rages on over on Writers Beware blog, becoming quite heated at times, particularly regarding the benefit of Publitariat Vault and IndieReader. It should be borne in mind that these sites are new and only time and the testimony of self publishing authors will tell the true story of their use and success.

I would like to flesh out further this notion of ‘indie’ and specifically what it really means. Thank you all for your invaluable comments and views on the topic.

“I'm a musician who been in a lot of "indie rock" bands so I very much identify with the indie label being about the style of content as much as the means of production. When I set out to write a novel I very much want to write something that is independent of something that's existed in the past. And given that I mainly put books out on small presses or self-publish, I identify with the term indie for publishing.”


I have worked in the music industry for more than five years during the 1990’s and I entirely agree that there is much similarity between what is happening now in publishing and what happened during the recessionary 1980’s with the emergence of ‘indie music’. So much so, that I wrote three articles over the last year about this very subject.

But while I agree with Henry’s sentiment, in that a writer wants ‘to write something that is independent of something that’s existed in the past’, it is rather more about a writer striving for originality than trying to do something ‘independent’ or ‘indie’. The implication now is that the term moves toward ‘content’ rather than the approach or circumstance the author takes to publishing their book. But then, to strive for originality and to present an original voice in a book is nothing new in literature, popular, experimental or academic. While small presses and self publishing may provided a more suitable platform, as well as easier access for niche and esoteric work, it is by no means the native homeland of such material, and does not need the self-appointed ‘badge of honour’ label of ‘indie book’ or by such and such ‘indie author’.

I do agree with Henry in his thinking that as time passes we will adopt whatever phrase or description people most easily recognise. Much as we seem to have adopted ‘Traditional publishing’ and ‘Self-Publishing Companies’. The latter is a particular dislike of mine, simply because the phrase is an oxymoron in itself!

"And you're wrong about every author would give their eyetooth to be published by Random House. I don't want a NY publishing contract at this time. I may not EVER want one. I don't know. There are too many variables involved but it would have to be a damn big contract for me to want it.”


Ok, so let’s not split hairs. Most authors, if not all authors, seek/dream about a publishing contract with a large publisher. Certainly that is the starting point for authors. Their view may change having gone through the experience. It would be absurd to say, ‘I don’t like fish’ without ever having tasted fish. No more than saying, ‘I’m not going to submit my work to a major publisher because I won’t get the kind of deal I want’. Pamela Aidan, as Zoe Winter’s relates, turned down 3 offers from Simon and Schuster; yet, eventually signed a contract. If the terms and price are right, an author will sign for whatever publisher best preserves their idea of a good publisher, independent or traditional.

“Really, not every author wants a NY contract, shocking as it may be. I don't want that kind of pressure and lack of control over my work for one thing. In 5-10 years my goals/wants/needs may change, but I can honestly tell you if Random House called me up tomorrow (and there is no reason why they would) I would politely decline the offer.”

No, it’s not shocking at all. What is more shocking is the repeated NY, NY, NY, mantra and the belief by many authors that NY (New York) is at the centre of the publishing universe! Is ‘NY Publishing’ and ‘NY Contract’, yet more terms we will have to deal with. New York is not, never has been, and doubtless ever will be at the centre of the publishing world. It is a part of a nation and a single publishing territory. Historically and in regard to literature, London and Paris have perhaps far more stake in being considered publishing capitals. To be fair, I suspect Zoe’s reasoning is based on New York being a central business hub of the world and publishing and media play very vital roles in business. However, the underlining implication is a belief that book publishing’s first native language is English.

“You are an Indie if you make all the decisions. That's the bottom line. Some of us just want to make all the decisions, and that includes whether or not to pay for listing or marketing services. This is not cynicism; it's Indie pragmatism.

"Every Indie is different -- different reasons and different business models. Every Indie should be an independent thinker. Jumping on bandwagons or wanting what everyone else wants seems contradictory to the Indie philosophy. Don't ya think.”


Here is the money shot when the camera is pointed close-up to the term ‘indie’. I agree with Cheryl. If we are going to use the term, then we can surely only apply it for functionality and control reasons. It can of course be an author’s self-publishing business model or a small press to medium size publisher’s business model. The key will always be about who owns, controls and decides. And that goes for ISBN, copyrights, design etc. The fact is, there is a growing undercurrent of ‘indie’ as being some kind of whimsical post-punk – ‘authors doin’ it for themselves’ movement which seems entirely directed at established authors and publishers, who until recently, turned their snobbish noses up at self-publishing and small presses as if it were some unsavoury and unfortunate ailment you picked up if you had to mix with the riff-raff of the publishing slums.

I thought it interesting that it was Victoria Strauss who actually went straight to the very heart of my posting yesterday and spotted the real issue about the term ‘indie’. I will leave the last world to her comment.

The ‘indie’ revolution is starting to become about books of ‘perceived content’ over actual content. [from original POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing article]

“A really interesting point, and one I hadn't considered. So it's starting to be about "indie" content--braver, better, bolder than the stuffy old crap churned out by commercial publishers. It changes the ground of the argument by changing the definition of quality.”

Victoria Strauss, Writers Beware

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Indie Publishing - To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Meaning

Print Friendly and PDF

Over on Writers Beware Blog there is a posting and comment discussion about IndieReader and April Hamilton’s launch of Publitariat Vault. These are places for self publishing authors to list their books for sale and expose them to a wider industry audience as well as the buying book public. It got me thinking about the term ‘indie’ which seems to have slowly over the past six months or so crept into the self-publish stratosphere.

If I remember correctly, my senses were needled some time ago when AuthorSolutions Vice President of Marketing, Keith Ogorek, jumped on the ‘indie’ bandwagon and much espoused the term in conjunction with what his company were doing for self-published authors. That particular article is here. I took a quote back then from Ogorek’s PR statement. Let me quote it again;

“Now, through indie book publishing companies like AuthorHouse and iUniverse, authors can let the readers decide if their book is any good or not.”

So AuthorHouse and iUniverse are in the same boat on the publishing river as David R Godine, Faber, Canongate and the University of Nebraska Press. I don’t think so. It has fuelled my thinking again on the term, ‘indie’ and what exactly it means in the context particularly of self-publishing. I use it myself in the name of this site, POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing. My own deliberate reference to it is to do with including publishing companies who are considered traditional publishers, but are not tied to the large mainstream global publishing groups, ie, Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre etc. My term used on the site is not a means of exclusion. In many ways, I meant independent more than just to be a company/imprint owned and tied to a large publishing group, that is, independent in business strategy as well as catalogue listing.

The fact is, no author, whatever their humble beginnings and by whatever means or methods they initially gain publication, wishes to remain ‘indie’ by the definition of ASI’s Keith Ogorek or the owners/administrators/profiteers of websites like IndieReader, Jexbo or Publitariat Vault. Most authors using these sites/services are actually charging headlong in the opposite direction. They would give their eye-teeth to land a contract with Random House.

My beef is not necessarily with the ‘badge of honour’ approach which seems to go with being described as an ‘indie’ author who has fought in the wars of the publishing world at the ‘frontline’ of battle, but rather the connotation that what this author writes is somehow different or alternative to the norms of what authors have always written. Does an author sit in the secrecy of the garden shed or loft late at night and say to himself/herself; my next book is going to be an ‘indie’ novel! The ‘indie’ revolution is starting to become about books of ‘perceived content’ over actual content. The attempt of the ‘indie’ movement, driven predominantly by marketers, on line business developers and author solution companies is to metamorphosis the ‘indie music’ template onto publishing. But the fact is that music is and has always been an art of performance and reading and writing will always be a practice of self indulgence and solitude – certainly to be shared, but only when we have tasted the cream.

From Wikipedia
indie is a shortform of "independent"; it may refer to:
 Independent circuit, professional wrestling independent promotions
 Indie design for niche and often handmade products
 Indie role-playing game, published outside mainstream means
 Independent music, subculture music that is independent of major producers; music of any genre can be labeled "indie", but especially indie pop or indie rock
 Indie pop a genre of alternative pop music
 Indie rock, a genre of alternative rock music
 Independent film, a low budget film by a small studio
 Indie Literature, a book published outside of mainstream publishing.
 Independent video game development, video games created without financial backing from large companies
 Indie Publisher, a small press
 Independent record label, operates without major corporate funding
 Independent soda, made by small privately run companies
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Pomegranate Press - Reviewed

Print Friendly and PDF

Amazon UK Titles Listed - 74

Pomegranate Press is a small UK local press based in Sussex, initially specialising in books about the Sussex area. Pomegranate has since expanded its listings to include other non-fiction and fiction titles. Pomegranate also offers a personal self-publishing service for authors.

Pomegranate Press was founded by former newspaper journalist and BBC producer and presenter, David Arscott. He has worked as a freelance author, broadcaster, publisher and editor for many years and has written some thirty books on Sussex, for various publishers apart from Pomegranate Press. His published fiction includes two novels written with David Marl and published by Allen & Unwin and Celtic Cyprus. He is also the founder of The Sussex Book Club.

David now specialises in taking other authors through the self-publishing process, bringing out their books under the Pomegranate Press imprint or alternatively using the author’s own imprint.

“The mainstream publishers turn down perfectly good books which they don't appreciate or which don't fit comfortably into their portfolios. The answer is to go it alone - although not quite alone. The worst kind of 'vanity publisher' will charge you too much for very little. At Pomegranate Press David will work with you at every stage of the process to make your book the best it can be. The costs are clear and uncomplicated from the very beginning, and your work will get the care and attention it deserves. All the books on this website were self-published by individuals or organisations.”

While this remains a small operation, what appeals to me is the ability for an author considering self-publishing to approach Pomegranate Press and receive feedback and advise from a proven self-published author without the necessary commercial trappings of Vanity Presses. Pomegranate Press advise an initial email approach which should include an introduction and outline of the author's’book project.

“[David Arscott] will be happy to give you initial advice without any obligation at all.”

Pomegranate Press provide what they describe as ‘a light and accurate’ edit to an author’s manuscript and will prepare the file by formatting and designing the book under the direct input of the author. Depending on the book subject matter, Pomegranate will decide if it will fit with their publishing imprints. If not, the author will have to purchase a minimum block of 10 ISBN’s from Nielsens, the UK ISBN agency. Though Pomegranate Press will advise on copyright, library registration, as with most author solution services, marketing and promotion is entirely in the hands of the author and Pomegranate’s fee does not cover this area.

“Who is the Publisher?
In some cases Pomegranate Press will be the publisher, registering the book under one of our ISBN numbers. If you wish, however, you can publish under your own imprint – and we may suggest this approach to you if your title doesn’t sit comfortably in the Pomegranate portfolio.”

Pomegranate do not provide some of the services which larger UK author solution companies supply, however, they offer a very specific personal ‘hands on’ touch to aid and guide an author through the self-publishing process. They do hold a small amount of the author’s books for local sales to bookstores and for fulfillment of orders from wholesalers and direct customers through their on line bookstore.

“Our chief service is in responding to orders from the trade. Promotion is the most difficult part of publishing, and you will need to study the market and approach likely purchasers of your book. We can help you devise promotional material.”

Pomegranate offers a 50% wholesale discount, but less discount for retail sales. Depending on what extent authors intend using Pomegranate to aid with the sales of their book – authors should ascertain the full breakdown of costs per unit before entering any agreement and commitment on book design and production. Pomegranate does not charge authors a mark up on the books they have printed. Books available to purchase on their own website range from £4.99 to £8.99 which is average for standard paperback editions.

Pomegranate charges two specific fees. One for the pre-print services and the other for the actual print run. The print run can be offset or Print-on-demand.

“We will seek a competitive quote from a printer and will add nothing to it, but you are of course free to find another printer if you wish. The norm is for Pomegranate Press to be paid on delivery of the job to the printer, although for longer term projects we may ask for payment in instalments. Printers usually invoice on delivery.”

Pomegranate Press is an ideal publishing solution for author’s unfamiliar with the self-publishing avenue and would also be ideal for book clubs and associations considering a book project with localised appeal rather than large nation or international reach.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Independent & Small Press Publishers - Submission List & Resources

Print Friendly and PDF

I spent the last few weeks doing the final proofing on Trees and have been looking to put together a suitable submission list of publishers to work through. I came across and this site is invaluable for any writers looking at US/Canadian based Independent and Small Press publishers. The site also includes a list of literary magazines and plenty more writer resources. The list of Independent, University and Small Press publishers will be of particular benefit to poets.

Walking The Camino - Pilgrimage To Heresy

Print Friendly and PDF

I rarely do book promotions her but this one did catch my eye over on June Austin's blog Plodding along Nicely about Tracy Saunders's, Pilgrimage To Heresy, published in 2007 through iUniverse. This is a fact/fiction adventure about walking the Camino De Santiago.

Reviews for Pilgrimage to Heresy

"This is by far the best book that I have read all year. Part fact, part fiction, the book is borne from the author's own experience of walking the Camino, the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain, loosely based on her own experiences, interwoven with 2 love stories, that of the 2 main characters, and that of Priscillian, the first Christian martyr, and his maybe (?) fictional love.
This is much more than a work of fiction, and comparisons to Dan Brown are unfortunate, since the book is nothing like his work, but so much more in depth.
This is a tale of love and beauty, a tale of triumph over adversity, but most of all, a tale of intrigue, which I heartily recommend."

June Austin, Author of Genesis of Man: Life, the Universe, and Everything in Between

“Pilgrimage to Heresy is essential reading for all Pilgrims bound for the Camino de Santiago, and those who have completed the Pilgrimage and still wonder why. I would be surprised if you don’t find yourself here.”
Mervyn Street, Alternative Faiths

“I was looking for an excuse to go back to the Camino, and now I have one!”

Liz Callahan, Ohio, USA

"A different look at the Camino and the idea of pilgrimage in the 21st century. The story of Priscillian of Avila, though well known in Spain, is virtually unknown to most modern pilgrims outside of it. Pilgrimage to Heresy introduces us to Priscillian with the teasing suggestion of a mystery. Well worth a look." TopicsCraze.

"While I was walking the Camino, I had so many questions. By the time I reached Santiago de Compostela, I realised I had answered most of the personal ones. But one questioned remained: what about the "myths" of Santiago? How much was true? Why did I make this walk? This book did not provide me with answers: in fact, it opened up more questions, and some I wasn't entirely comfortable with, even now. But it gave me the opportunity to view my camino as just that: "My Camino". In it I realised that I only had to believe in what I had experienced. It didn't matter what my guidebook told me. It only mattered what I had arrived with."
Name withheld.

"Pilgrimage to Heresy offers a fascinating insight into the turbulent times that transformed Christianity from personal belief into organized religion. Beautifully written, the story weaves between the ancient past and the modern day pilgrims on the route to Santiago in a way which clearly illustrates the relevance the ancient martyrs have to our troubled world today.

Comparisons between this book and suspense novels such as The Da Vinci Code are inevitable, but unfortunate and misguided. Pilgrimage to Heresy is a work of much greater depth and complexity and in a totally different genre altogether. "

T.L. Hurst, Author of "Chasing Calvini"

(Pilgrimage to Heresy) succeeds in raising serious concerns about the authenticity of the remains revered as those of Saint James while reminding us that the identity of the relics is secondary to the undeniably good influence of the act of pilgrimage itself. The book is written with passion, but without brow-beating the reader; she points out inconsistencies in the evidence for Saint James being buried at Compostela, while suggesting sound political reasons why the pretence has been allowed to persist so long. The central character, Miranda, is a likeable heroine, and her fellow pilgrims are equally agreeable. There is no adversary – the challenge is the Camino itself, with all the doubts and despairs which are the real stumbling blocks for the pilgrims.

William Beatty, Andalucian Life Magazine

"If you are fascinated by Compostela and you are seeking a novel approach to the mystery then Tracy Saunders´ Pilgrimage to Heresy is the book for you."
David Eade, Costa del Sol News

"If you like mystery, intrigue, history, religion, philosophy, spirituality, travel and romance, then you need to read Pilgrimage to Heresy. The narrative centres on a real-life controversy about whose saintly bones actually lie buried in the Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, a cathedral dedicated to St. James the Apostle. The action takes place along the Camino, an ancient pilgrimage route, and the drama unfolds amidst a colorful backdrop of the stories of various pilgrims from around the world, the challenging terrain,the spiritual journey of the main protagonist, Miranda, and a mysterious manuscript about Priscillian of Avila, an early Christian condemned to death on charges of heresy by the Catholic Church. Although a fictional account, the book raises many serious questions about church dogma, early Christian history and gnosticism and is based on extensive research. Well worth the read."

Sylvia Baago, Brock University, Canada

Lulu Lens - Adversity to Pro-action?

Print Friendly and PDF

Nick Popio has posted on Lulu's blog today about a new initiative by the Lulu development team. They have launched Lulu Lens.

"Last week we decided to try something new, and actively talk to our users about what we’re discussing internally. To get your feedback I posted to the forums and asked, “What would you like to see more of in the Lulu Community?” We’ve received some great responses so far, and I encourage everyone to continue participating. This gave us the great idea of having a weekly post called the Lulu Lens which asks you for your opinion on a specific topic. Of course, we won’t be able to do everything, but we will be listening to you more and taking your feedback into account.

Each week, we will be posting a new topic, and looking for your feedback so we can gather data and make decisions based on what you have to say.

This week, we want to know: What trim size not currently available on the site would you like to see us offer?"

This is the first initiative by Lulu which suggests the recent criticism about changes to Lulu's services may indeed be starting to strike a chord with the successful DIY publisher's heads of state. While Lulu have had their forum for authors for many years - forums sometimes can be simply talking shops like a committee of donkeys designing the perfect horse. Laudable, but like the lone voice in the forest - never heard.

Time will tell. The questions may be a-commin', but are the answers?

Friday, 19 June 2009

Better Discounts For Authors - Milnes-Smith

Print Friendly and PDF
Philippa Milnes-Smith is president of the Association of Authors Agents. Today, she spoke to and expressed the growing frustration authors have with their publishers when it comes an author having a heavy influence on sales and promotion of their own books. Milnes-Smith is quoted as saying;

"If an author can make significant sales on his/her behalf should this not be actively facilitated?".

An author taking direct responsibility for sales of their books maybe the cornerstone for self publishing authors, but the traditional fraternity of authors - more and more of them are finding that their publishers are reworking their marketing model and how they reach the buying public and it means the author being more of a fundamental part of the marketing strategy. While small poetry presses and partnership publishers have long recognized the strength of having an author directly involved in the promotion and sales of a book, through signings, readings, blogsites and a full 'face-book on' viral presence, there remains a reluctance in the traditional publishing world to embrace fully all the available new avenues of social connection to the buying public.

Milnes-Smith suggested that author discounts should be in line with those given to the bookselling industry.

"It used to be the case that authors received favourable discount terms on author copies—i.e. terms above standard trade discounts. But while publishers have extended further discounts to trade customers they largely haven't done so to authors, with the result that many authors now get worse discount terms than most customers."

While companies offering self publishing services to authors make most of their revenue on initial charges to authors, the increased profit of steady book sales on a listed author cannot be ignored. Discounts on author copies is something the discerning and critical self publishing author has always been clued into.

POD TV - Program 8: Literary Agents & Editors

Print Friendly and PDF
For program seven in POD TV, we are going to look at pre-book submission and the critical steps required if you want to approach traditional publishers. Algonquin Books Executive Editor Chuck Adams and literary agent Sally Hill McMillan discuss the challenges and paths forward for author on their tentative steps into the publishing industry.

The following feature is courtesy of Stacey Cochran's

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Penguin Introduces The Publisher's Office On Line

Print Friendly and PDF

Penguin US have improved their web site and introduced The Publisher's Office which features video and audio segments on authors and their books, as well as a reading preview segment.

While there is perhaps nothing groundbreaking about Penguin's improvements with these new on line features, it does emphasise the need for tradition publishers to use on line marketing and viral interaction to reach out to modern readers.

Bezos On The Future of Amazon's Kindle

Print Friendly and PDF

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos has been speaking about plans to expand the Kindle reader across other ebook formats. Bezos spoke recently at Wired magazine’s ‘Disruptive technology’ conference held in New York and also to the New York Times newspaper.

Recently Amazon released the larger DX device, which supports Adobe PDF, unlike its smaller Kindle sibling. In the New York Times Blog, Bezos, "We are going to give the device team competition. We will make Kindle books, at the same $9.99 price points, available on the iPhone, and other mobile devices and other computing devices."

Amazon also plans to bring Kindle ebook in line with the $9.99 price available on other devices and is committed to a policy of keeping the Kindle device separate rather than tying the buyer into the purchase of ebook content or monthly subscriptions.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Thomas Wins IMPAC Dublin Literary Award With Debut Novel

Print Friendly and PDF

American writer, Michael Thomas, has won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his debut novel, Man Gone Down, published by Grove / Atlantic. Speaking this morning about his win and prize money, he quipped, "I'm still overwhelmed, I haven't got round to the financial scheming!"

The IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is billed as the richest literary prize in the world for single works of fiction which shows literary excellence. The winner was selected from 146 novels nominated by 157 public libraries in 117 cities around the world. Thomas will receive the winner's prize of €100,000.

This book is an extraordinary debut that tackles race, wealth and family head on as a young black man finds the American Dream dissolving around him. On the eve of this thirty-fifth birthday, the unnamed black narrator of "Man Gone Down" finds himself broke, estranged from his white wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friend's six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep his kids in school and make a down payment on an apartment for them to live in. As we slip between his childhood in inner city Boston and present-day New York City, we discover a life marked by abuse, abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what it's like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life and the urge to escape that sentence.

POD TV - Program 7: Jeremy Robinson Profile

Print Friendly and PDF
For POD TV Program 7, we look at modern self-publishing success, Jeremy Robinson in his own words, videos, and recent book promotion for his novel 'Pulse'.

"I self-published my first three novels, The Didymus Contingency, Raising the Past and Antarktos Rising. The success of the books led to a three book deal with Thomas Dunne/St. Martins for three new novels, the first of which will be released in 2009. My success as a self-publisher (via my small POD press, Breakneck Books) also led to an investor taking note in my business and investing in a new parent company, Variance, which I co-own. We are now publishing authors like Steve Alten, Steven Savile and Joseph Flynn, along with three more novels by myself (including a republication of Antarktos Rising), to be released in coordination with Thomas Dunne."

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Lulu Announce Customer Service Improvements

Print Friendly and PDF

Today Lulu announced some improvements in their customer care in another effort to re-address the imbalance created by recent changes to Lulu processes and staffing cut backs.

Whatever you argue about how recent changes at Lulu have been detrimental to customer care and business - Lulu do good apologies!

On the Lulu blog, Sandra Parker, Customer Support and Services Manager, stated;

"One of the things we have consistently heard is that our support has not been sufficient and we want to assure you that this is not our intent. All of our customers are important to us and it is always our goal to provide you with a positive and successful publishing experience. I would like to personally apologize for the experiences many of you have encountered with untimely responses."

"Lulu’s business is growing at a rapid rate. Self-publishing is no longer a novelty and more of you are interested in connecting with someone at Lulu to better understand our business, our site and our policies. Unfortunately the support and services team has not implemented measures quickly enough to meet this demand. We are working to accommodate this growth, and have already taken steps towards rectifying the situation."

Lulu are proposing the following changes and improvements to address some of the issues which have been raised here on this site (see Lulu - Acting The Teapot With Amazon's Marketplace and Nick Popio from Lulu and his comments to that posting), and elsewhere on the Internet.

"We have analyzed our growth data in order to effectively scale our team to support the demands of the Lulu customer base. Lulu is actively seeking the talent that is necessary to support you."

Great business speak, but already Lulu have forgotten who the message is supposed to be addressing. Are Lulu intending to 'scale' up or down to support customer demands, and does this mean Lulu are going to re-recruit any staff let go in their first 'scaling' exercise.

Customer Relationship Management
"We are implementing a new CRM system that will allow us to view our customers at a glance. This will enable us to learn more about each of our customers and allow us to tailor our support based on your needs."

So, the customer relationship is going to be based upon a 'glance'. Impressive. Having worked in the customer services industry for many years, I always though a company managed their products, services and staff, rather than their customers. Get the first three elements right and you don't need to 'manage your customer relations'. Certainly gaining as much information about your customers is critical, but I would have thought engaging with them through the now defunct 'Chat Support' was actually the best way to do that, as well as their on line Lulu Forum. Maybe Lulu have come up with a better method of gaining this information at a 'glance', but they are not telling us what it actually is.

Customer Messaging
"We are in the process of creating a page on our site that will provide you with your rights as a customer of Lulu. This page will be provided by the support and services team to include information about our support policies, order policies, shipping methods and times as well as up-to-date notices about volume and response times."

Helpful to have this all in one place but it does sound like more of a 'Terms & Conditions' page.

Top 10 List and Support Knowledgebase
"We are creating a page within Help that will provide you with an up-to-date list of our top 10 inquiries in Customer Support and the resolutions for them. We do realize that this may not help every customer but it will address many of the most frequently asked questions. We are also creating new tutorials to help you navigate the Lulu site and assist with the creation of your projects. Please let us know what you would like to see from us by commenting to this post."

This may help, but I suspect it is as much about taking the direct pressure off the CS team, than providing immediate answers to customers.

Feedback-Based Decisions
"We value your feedback and realize that, without it, we cannot improve. We have implemented a process that allows us to take your feedback and use it to structure plans for improvement. Please continue to provide honest feedback so that we may continue to evolve into the support organization that you need us to be."

It seems to me many of the difficulties Lulu have had in developments have been caused by their own implemented changes which lacked long term foresight and planning.

"We believe that all of the above will help Lulu’s Customer Support and Services to serve you quickly and accurately. This is an ongoing project, and we will continue to look for new ways to improve your experience with Lulu. We appreciate your business and your patience and apologize for the difficulties you have encountered up to this point. Here’s to the future!"

I am in no doubt Lulu are sincere in their efforts to fully develop into the leading author solutions company they were, and still should be, but it is often the very changes they speak of above which have tripped them and their services up in the past.

We can only wait and hope that these changes will bring about the improvements Lulu have at least identified.

Diggory Press: The Journey So far & The Quest For Truth

Print Friendly and PDF

It is a story of intrigue, deception, fraud, defamation, theft, forgery, religious persecution, death threats, hatred, subterfuge and much more, culminating in investigations by the British Police Force, Scotland Yard, An Gardai (Irish Police Force) and I have even encountered unsubstantiated claims of Interpol being involved; resulting in, at first, small claims court actions, and now, potentially, a civil court case early next year.

The entire three year-long events about this case could have come straight out of an Ian Flemming book or the latest espionage offering from Tom Clancy. As far back as those dark winter days of 2007, when we witnessed the unfolding drama on the Book & Tales Forum about Diggory Press.

(WARNING: Grab yourself a coffee or tea – you’ll need it if you delve deeply.)

It was, in particular, the exchanges of posts between Stephen Manning and Rosalind Franklin, which took us into the wee hours of the mornings—this almost had a book written all over it—from the moment the very first written word was penned. Indeed, it is a book I might just take up writing. One of the reasons the whole issue intrigued me was how many of the issues furiously and tirelessly debated touched upon all that was critical about the pro’s and con’s of an author embarking down the self-publishing pathway. These issues are going to be eagerly argued next year, such as; who owns/or should own an ISBN when a book is self published through an author solutions company?; is that company responsible for/how the book is listed on line?; how does an author really get their publisher/author solutions company to provide details of sales and royalties?; is an author paying for a service or entering into a form of publishing contract?; what avenues of arbitration/mediation do author solution companies and authors have? Many of these issues in the traditional world of publishing have long been hammered out and we have the benefit of author and publisher guilds and associations, as well as literary agents. In the self-publishing world, we are all at sea.

The principle parties in this case are Rosalind Franklin, proprietor and owner of Diggory Press, Stephen T. Manning, an academic in Counselling Psychology and Comparative Religions and owner and proprietor of Checkpoint Press, and five other individual authors of books submitted for publication to Diggory Press over the past three years. There were some one hundred individuals who expressed grievances against Diggory Press over this time frame; some 20+ proceeded with claims through the courts, being refered to mediation, some cases have been dropped through expense of civil action, legal frustration or weakened cases and others were struck out. A few remain pending or have reached settlement. The court case of March 2010 pertains specifically to Diggory Press, Stephen T. Manning, and five other individual authors.

I have long held my opinions (right or wrong) on the Diggory Press legal action on this site by a number of authors which has been on-going since 2007 and remained objective in my views. Most visitors who have left comments have acknowledged this objectivity, a small few disagreed that I was being objective (Hi, Wordsmith!). Make up your own minds; the link below includes most, if not all, postings and comments made on this website. I might also add that several of those authors involved in this dispute posted here, and by actual name, which I respect. Others, I have met on writer forums, and about a half-dozen or so have corresponded with me privately.

Over the past three years, I have seen whole web sites and blog sites appear, almost entirely given over to discussion on Diggory Press and the comments and actions of some of its disgruntled authors or the complete and utterly irreverent espousing on the virtues of Diggory Press (rightly or wrongly). The only sizeable equivalent of sustainable comment and discussion I have seen is that of Publish America. Few of these sites and blogs gave any real balance. To me, they may have started well, but they degenerated into simple mouthpieces for either party. It seems you had to be in the Diggory Press/Franklin or Manning/The Authors (original seventeen) camps, and dare you thread the waters in between!

Well, in the last couple of weeks, the debate has kicked off again, more ferociously in fact than ever. Links are provided below to the current commentary. I won’t provide the specific links, as those involved, affected and interested will already be aware of the debate enough to delve deeply into the sites to find the ‘true’ story. Some of the evidence which will prevail on the upcoming court case is present, though, I suspect, not nearly as much as will transpire early next year. The case was recently reset to go ahead in March 2010.

(WARNING: Grab yourself a coffee or tea – you’ll need it if you delve deeply.)
Ah! Another new one pops up as the Bravejournal site bites the dust - June 10th.
as of June 9th, this link was now directing to Bravejournal homepage
suspended by Wordpress

Weighty and sharp stuff, I think you will agree. But I must add an additional thought about the recent above links. There has always been an unsavoury undercurrent of ‘religious’ belief and discussion just under the surface of all this. In my mind, it has never had anything to do with the actual case, yet, it remains central in the passions and ideology stirred to some degree in all of us. There is one thing which comes across as very clear about the two principle figures in this case, Rosalind Franklin and Stephen Manning, regardless of where you stand or what you believe/disbelieve about either of them or what has been said or claimed by either party.

They are both highly intelligent, centric individuals, well educated, and deeply passionate about what has shaped their beliefs, academically, theologically, religiously and have been effected greatly by their own life’s experience. Yet, look back on all that has been said, and it is clear both are charging headlong toward what each believes is, in both their own words, at various times, ‘THE TRUTH’. It has been a mantra for both of them. For one, it is ‘The Colour of Truth’, for the other; it is ‘The Word of Truth’. If they are both right and they continue like this, around about late March next year, they will both reach the same singular point and violently bump heads.

It is a little rudimentary, but then, searching for the ‘Truth’ often leads one onto a singular path which misses much of the universal perspective, thereby, removing the individual far from what actually made them what they are and what they are to become. No righteous indignation or facts written upon a piece of paper take us any closer to the ‘Truth’ because none of us have any ownership on the ‘Truth’ no matter what our proof. Believe, just for a moment that you own it, and it becomes ephemeral.

I wish all parties well and they both find contentment and wealth of spirit whatever the outcome.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

When Publishers Become Animals, Birds & Plants!

Print Friendly and PDF

Over the weekend the New York Times presented us with their unique evolutionary chart of publisher insignias which have appeared on book spines over the years. Take a look for yourself.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Celebrations & Explosions of Self Publishing

Print Friendly and PDF
You see the books and authors listed all over the place when you first delve into the world of self-publishing. Here is a few celebrated and rightly exploded.

James Redfield – The Celestine Prophecy
Redfield certainly did self-publish. He gave away the first 1500 copies to promote the book and his self published edition sold well into the 10’s of thousands before he sold the second print rights to Warner Books.

L. Frank Baum – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Another one that is pedaled out continously by some of the big 'Dream Lade' author solution companies as a self-publishing success - though, I am not sure why. It was first published by George M. Hill Publishing in 1900. Baum did self-publish a book, but it was a manual about chicken farming - major genre then!

John Grisham - A Time to Kill
First published by Wynwood Press. Publisher went belly up and Grisham bought the remainder of stock and sold them out of his car boot. Selling the remainder of your own publisher's books, I'm afraid, doesn't count as a self-publishing success.

Robert James Waller - The Bridges of Madison
First Published by Warner Books. Complete self publishing myth. Pops up in many lists of self-publishing success for some bizare reason.

Christopher Paolini - Eragon
Published by his parent’s small press Paolini International, first print run 10,000 copies. One of the most recent 'claimed' modern self-publishing successes, but I'm afraid not. It's not so much that mammy and daddy went doing the bank-rolling, but that they provided all the where-with-all an independent publisher provides.

Tom Clancy – The Hunt for Red October
Published and financed by an unusual publisher, the Naval Institute Press. Nevertheless, certainly not a self published book. No matter how unusual the publisher, it was still traditionally published.

GP Taylor – Shadowmancer
Published by Taylor with a print run of 2000 before it was later picked up by Faber UK. Taylor himself went on to become involved in Grosvenor House Publishing, a UK based author solutions company as a promotional figurehead.

Beatrix Potter - The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Self-published in a limited edition of 250 copies in 1901. OK, yes, but this was at a time when publishing was a very different business and at a time when the ordinary common man and woman couldn't write their own name.

Dan Poynter - Self-Publishing Manual
Self published by Poynter in 1979 selling 130,000. Poynter described it as “the book that launched a thousand books.” Don't F**k with the Poynter! He may be an extraordinary business man and entrepreneur with skills beyond most of us, but he did self publish with his own companies.

Michael Baisden - The Maintenance Man
The author uniquely self-publishes his hardcover print novels and then sells the paperback rights to Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint. Very novel, but if he can get away with it - what the hell!

Jonathan Bayliss – Gloucesterman
Self publisher of a series of novels since 1992. Local and niche, but highly successful.

David Brody - Unlawful Deeds
Using iUniverse, Brody may only have sold 3000 copies, but it was one of the first significant successes for a print on demand book. A man after every POD publishing author's heart!

Perhaps a few more next time...

POD TV - Program 6: DIY Self Publisher Tutorials

Print Friendly and PDF
For program six in POD TV, we are providing the following video links for setting up books with these author solution companies. Unfortunately Createspace do not provide such a tutorial link.

Lulu Tutorial:

Wordclay Tutorial:

Blurb Tutorial:

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Blurb Release Booksmart 2.0 Software Update

Print Friendly and PDF

In our previous article on Blurb's services for self-publishers, we reviewed Blurb and also interviewed Eileen Gittins, CEO of Blurb here.

Back in April, when we did the Adventures with Blurb series of articles, Axicom, Blurb's PR representatives in Europe contacted me and made clear that they had noted our review of their services and that there were improvements in the pipeline due by early summer. Well, those improvements have arrived with the launch of Booksmart 2.0.

Here is the full press release sent to us today:

Blurb® Introduces Blurb BookSmart® 2.0, New 12x12 Large Square Book Size
Upgraded software provides more control over book design process, elevates bookmaking experience for creative professionals

London, UK – 2nd June, 2009 – Blurb®, the creative publishing and marketing platform that enables anyone to design, publish, share and sell bookstore-quality books, today announced the release of Blurb BookSmart® 2.0, and introduced its new 12x12 Large Square book offering, available immediately. The 12x12 Large Square book is available in Hardcover and Hardcover ImageWrap, and can be ordered with Premium Paper. BookSmart 2.0 is available for download now at

BookSmart 2.0 includes many new features that give creative professionals full control in the customisation of their book layouts, down to the pixel. The introduction of flexible containers allows bookmakers to control the size, location, layers and content type of all elements on the page. Precision tool bars, gridlines for quick visual guidance, and the ability to save designed pages as custom layouts for reuse all elevate the bookmaking experience and offer extended flexibility for advanced users and consumers alike.

“Extending the photographic process into bookmaking is a natural progression,” says Dan Milnor, professional photographer. “I’m a photographer, not a designer, but from time to time I need more flexibility in my book design. Having the ability to move things around using flexible containers without having to buy, install and learn a heavy-duty, expensive design program is perfect for my bookmaking needs.”

“The flexibility of the new 12x12 book size is ideal for photographers who shoot square format, as well as those who have a mix of portrait and landscape images,” said Eileen Gittins, founder and CEO of Blurb. “We are particularly pleased that the new BookSmart 2.0 also enables folks to expand, move, and add text and image containers on any layout – a degree of flexibility that our customers have been asking for. Both of these innovations have been under development for several months, and when coupled with many performance and stability improvements in BookSmart, represent a big leap forward for Blurb.”

BookSmart 2.0 has improved workflow with the new option to save custom book templates for use on other book projects, greatly improving the workflow for professionals who want to reuse custom templates on similar projects. BookSmart 2.0 also features improved image and text handling, including the ability to find and replace text, and faster loading and caching of images. Additional features include 24-bit color support, and support for Vista.

Blurb will be showcasing samples of the new 12x12 Large Square books at the HOW Design Conference in Austin, TX in June. Blurb BookSmart 2.0 is available for download immediately at

About Blurb
Blurb® is a creative publishing and marketing platform that unleashes the creative genius inside everyone. Blurb’s platform makes it easy to design, publish, market and sell professional-quality books, using Blurb’s free, award-winning Blurb BookSmart® software. Use Blurb’s bookstore and online marketing tools to market and sell your books, and keep 100% of your profit. Use Blurb’s social and community features to create and share Blurb books with your friends and colleagues with ease.

Blurb was founded by Eileen Gittins in 2005, and includes a team of design, Internet and media veterans who share a passion for helping people bring their stories to life. Blurb is based in San Francisco with offices in London, and is funded by Canaan Partners and Anthem Venture Partners. For more info, visit

Over the coming weeks, we will be revisiting Blurb and taking a closer look at the improvements.

POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing - Some Technical Revisions

Print Friendly and PDF

Please excuse the brief respite over the past day or so. The site has been undergoing some revisions and these should be completed in the next twenty four hours. I felt a growing need to re-organize links and some layout concerns raised through feedback from many visitors. Much of these concerns focussed on visitors having difficulty finding older resource information and general difficulties with navigating the site.

While we seriously considered moving service provider and starting from scratch with a new web address, ultimately, late yesterday, we decided to stick with Google's Blogger platform in spite of its restrictions. So much so, an entire mirror site was created on Wordpress and all material was ported over there since Monday evening.

The overall look of the site remains the same, but it has been re-coded and upgraded to allow more space (a third column on the left), and the Publisher Reviews and Resources have been re-jigged and organised in a more user-friendly way.

Followers will know this is the third revision over the past two years for the site and each one has been prompted by suggestions from visitors and the growing volume of information available here. We will be introducing more links on Articles and Interviews and any links existing on Monday evening should be fully restored before the end of this week.

While these changes are going on, we have turned off the AD Links until we decide how they can best fit in a little more subtly into the layout of the site.

Again, thank you for your patience. Normal service has been resumed.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Or Books - New, OR Kind of New?

Print Friendly and PDF

This promotional snippet is doing the rounds at the moment. Featuring Colin Robinson and John Oakes who will soon be launching OR Books, billed as an 'alternative publisher'. Like many who have viewed and hosted this promotional video on their websites, I'm all for alternatives to traditional publishing, whether that is out and out Self Publishing by an author, Subsidized Publishing or Partnership Publishing. All these forms of publishing ventures and paths utilize print-on-demand digital technology for the most part, and what is more, they have being doing it for more than ten years.

So, I'm not sure what Robinson and Oakes feel is 'new' about their publishing entity beyond perhaps not charging authors to have their books published. Their publishing model seems closest to an Ebook publisher who choose the much in-demand titles to issue paper editions of books.

Without further's Colin and John...

OR Books from OR Books on Vimeo.

OR Books

The above website doesn't give away too much, does it? Still, we await the full launch of OR Books, coming autumn 2009.

Here is a further review of OR Books as of July 2009 with a few more detailed snippets.

Hachette Livre UK Kiss And Make Up With Amazon

Print Friendly and PDF
The Hachette Livre UK Publishing Group have finally ended their dispute with Amazon UK after nearly one year. Back last year on June 6th, 2008 this site reported the following:

Hachette Livre, the second largest publisher in the world, is in dispute with Amazon UK regarding contractual terms. Amazon UK have sanctioned some of Hachette’s lead titles by removing the ‘buy new’ buttons and promotional leaders from their online retail site. Authors affected by Amazon’s sanctions on the Hachette Group titles include, Stephen King, James Patterson, Kate Mosse and Chris Manby.

Tim Hely Hutchinson, Hachette Livre UK CEO, in a letter to authors explained the publisher’s position and effects it is having on them. Hely Hutchinson believes the continued dispute will ultimately result in Amazon losing popularity with the general buying book public. The dispute seems to particularly focus on Amazon’s aggressive low pricing on lead titles which is having an effect on ordinary high street bookstores.

see the full article from last June.

No details were released by either parties as to what the terms of agreement were, but in spite of the twelve months which passed - Hachette had the stronger bargaining hand.

British Book Industry Awards (BBIA) 2009

Print Friendly and PDF

The British Book Industry Awards took place on June 1st, 2009 and the following were the catagory winners, with particular note to Independent publishers Atlantic Books and Canongate.

Frankfurt Book Fair Rights Professional of the Year

Lucy Vanderbilt, HarperCollins

Orion Publishing Group Literary Agent of the Year
Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown

Sue Butterworth Award for Young Bookseller of the Year, sponsored by HarperCollins
Joint Winners: Max Porter of Daunt Books and Lisa Bird of Foyles South Bank

StoraEnso Design & Production Award
The Big Fat Duck Cookbook (Bloomsbury)

Baker Tilly Imprint & Editor of the Year
Ravi Mirchandani, Atlantic

Arts Council England Diversity Award in Literature

The Daily Mail Marketing Campaign of the Year
Devil May Care Jane Rose, Penguin

PPC Publicity Campaign of the Year
The Outcast, Louise Rhind-Tutt, Random House

Independent Alliance Independent Bookshop of the Year
The Hungerford Bookshop

Lightning Source Independent Publisher of the Year
Atlantic Books

Harlequin Mills & Boon Direct Bookselling Company of the Year
The Book Depository

BDS/ehaus Chain Bookselling Company of the Year

Publishing Technology Publisher of the Year

You can read the full awards detail at The British Book Industy's website (BBIA) here.

Google Set To Go Head To Head With Amazon in Ebook Stakes

Print Friendly and PDF

One of the more interesting items to come out of BookExpo America last week is news that Google is currently in negotiations with some book publishers with a view to setting up a program on line which will allow publishers to sell digital ebooks through Google.

If Google do strike some deals then it will pit the massive resources of the on line search engine directly against Amazon. Significantly, it will allow buyers to download different versions to suit their Ereader platforms.

Google is expecting to launch the digital ebook program towards the end of 2009.

BookExpo America 2009

Print Friendly and PDF
Jim Milliot of Publishers weekly has a concise round-up of BookExpo America here which concluded at the end of last week.

TIPM Live Facebook Stream