Monday, 31 August 2009

Cold Tree Publishing - R.I.P. (Reflection & Celebration)

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Cold Tree Press was one of the earliest American POD publishers starting out way back in 2001. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, they were guided by the commitment of its entrepreneurial owner and president, Peter Honsberger. Cold Tree Press emerged into a changing world of publishing and quickly developed a reputation for nurturing new writers and still maintaining high quality book design and production more associated with commercial publishers.

“The company engenders a nurturing relationship with authors that now extends to underwriting the annual Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, as well as the recent launch of one of publishing’s richest writing competitions. The Parthenon Prize for Fiction includes an $8,000 cash award and a traditional publishing contract.”

Honsberger saw Cold Tree Press as a kind of ‘Hybrid’ publisher, offering author solution services, at a fee, as well as traditional contracts to authors with deserving books. He insisted on high standards of content which resulted in many an author with manuscript and chequebook in hand receiving a rejection from Cold Tree Press. Honsberger’s approach was to maintain the high standard of books for the company’s three imprints, content as well as form, and the process of author rejection was used as medium for authors to equally revise/rewrite and improve their submitted work. In some ways this approach to constructive rejection—Cold Tree Press always provided notes and explanations—is a practice of commercial publishing houses of a bygone era when publishers welcomed unsolicited submissions and were not prone to huge slush piles of manuscripts warranting the level of protection now afforded to them by literary agents. Yes, frustrated authors may say it’s all a racket, but the unfortunate agent seems to have inherited the thankless task of acting as the publishers’ literary version of the Cray Brothers.

In an interview with author Don Meyer last year, Honsberger very acutely pinpointed where he saw the serious business of self-publishing going. He was referring to the business savvy author rather than the ‘Aunt Maple’ of the self-publishing world who wanted simply to print a few books on home cooking recipes for family and friends and had no aspiring dream of world literary domination.

“This new version of self-publishing is ringing true with authors out there that want the highest quality possible in the publication of their work. We have seen that proven this year as we have strategically moved in that direction. The manuscripts we now receive, for the most part, are well written and have been well edited.”

In 2008, Cold Tree Press changed their name to Cold Tree Publishing to group their three distinct imprints under Cold Tree Press for trade paperbacks, Hooded Friar for literary fiction, and Moorsgate became their author solutions service.

They also commenced with a process of assessing their current list of self-published authors who were submitting new books, with a view to moving them across to the traditional publishing imprint. They assessed each author by looking at the author’s own commitment, sales success and track record to assess their viability for the traditional imprint. By the start of 2009, Cold Tree Publishing had greatly strengthened their promotional and marketing packages for both their traditional and self-published authors, an area they identified needed more work.

It would have given me great pleasure to tell you more about the publishing ethos of Peter Honsberger and their commitment to authors, the fact that they always offered return of books to retailers—something Honsberger knew Cold Tree had to offer if they were to be any way competitive in the book publishing industry—keeping retail book prices competitive, returning all book files to departing authors, offering royalties based on retail prices, and all round giving value for money through quality, commitment and client support particularly on their publishing packages priced $1400, $1600 and $2100. I may have baulked in my review at their top-end package at $9800, but it did feature complete editing and a full public relations marketing campaign through an agency.

Alas, the review of Cold Tree Publishing will never be.

“After almost ten years in the publishing industry, Cold Tree Publishing is closing its doors. We have enjoyed the relationship we have had with all our authors, and the trust they placed in us. It was a fun and rewarding run. We wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors!

To contact us prior to June 30th please call: 615-309-4984
After June 30th please call: 615-263-7771”

My own opinion—it is simply that—Cold Tree Publishing was either two to three years too early or too late to attempt the brave decision to become a traditionally-driven publishing house. Two or three years ago, they may have just about had the time to grow as a traditional publisher and consolidate their deserved position in what has been an extremely difficult time for publishing. There are many questions being asked of publishers at the moment and they are all faced with many changes and challenges ahead—recession aside. Some might easily quip that Cold Tree Publishing, in their decision to concentrate their business on more traditional models of business rather than entirely on author services, in effect, cut off the very life blood of finance they had grown to rely upon. It was this finance which helped Cold Tree Publishing enjoy the comforts and ability to be independent and selective about the books they published, and furthermore, allowed them to perhaps be a little more generous in helping and guiding authors. The same argument can also be applied to publishers who claim it is the JK Rowlings and James Pattersons of this world who provide the finance for publishers to take risks with so-called lesser authors. In two or three years time, I can see the larger author solution services further try to legitimise their business by offering traditional publishing contracts, and likewise, I see struggling, smaller commercial publishers decide to finance their continued existence by offering forms of partnership publishing.

Whatever our opinions about publishing and where it currently is—the simple fact remains—the centre cannot hold, and we must accept that varying forms of publishing; from digital publishing, fee-paying services and even commercial publishers; they are all going to merge in one form or another. It is as much about economics as it is about technology. The debate about it is merely a side issue and will change nothing.

For Peter Honsberger, a passionate, honest and committed entrepreneur, this will not be the end of his own personal adventure. A talented and award winning graphic designer he may be by profession—the authors of Cold Tree Publishing knew him as something more than that. There may be some Cold Tree Publishing authors who feel disappointed, even aggrieved at the demise of their publisher, but like Honsberger, the passion and lure of literature and publishing will see them all return.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Fail Again - Fail Better: Guardian UK Article

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Robert McCrum takes his sharp insight and wit to publishing blunder rejections of celebrated literature over the years in Sunday’s Guardian UK newspaper article.

For authors currently in the rounds of submission/rejection, submission/rejection, ad nausea, you might be heartened to know about the following remarks and observations on book classics which sit happily and comfortably on our shelves this reading Sunday.

"Absurd & uninteresting fantasy about the explosion of an atom bomb on the Colonies. A group of children who land in jungle country near New Guinea. Rubbish & dull. Pointless."

Polly Perkins, Editorial Reader for Faber UK on opening and reading William Golding’s dog-eared manuscript entitled ‘Strangers From Within’ – later to become ‘Lord of the Flies’.

...and this...

"The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help."

Unnamed Editorial reader of JG Ballard’s ‘Crash’.

...and this...

"will set publishing back by 25 years."

Unnamed editorial reader on Norman Mailer's , ‘The Deer Park’

"The whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy ... I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years."

An editorial reader on Vladimir Nabokov’s, ‘Lolita’.

And I will leave you with McCrum’s final anecdote in his article when he mentions my own favourite author, Samuel Beckett.

“Samuel Beckett kept a neat, handwritten list of the 42 publishers who rejected Murphy in his wallet for years. Beckett said that he kept the list because it comforted him to know that so many people were wrong about his writing. In Worstward Ho, he coined the perfect credo for the literary world: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Book Sales In Ireland - Results Pt3 From Eoin Purcell

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Eoin Purcell continues with the third part of his analysis on book publishing sales in Ireland.

Smashwords Announce Barnes & Noble Distribution For Premium Catalog Ebooks

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Smashwords have just announced an expansion in their ebook distribution network with online retailer Barnes & Noble. Ebooks included in Smashwords 'Premium Catalog' will be made available for listing and sale from the giant online retailer. This will come as a huge bonus to self-published authors who have signed up to Smashwords. authors should be aware that there are specific formatting criteria for listing as part of Smashwords 'Premier Catalog' and details can be found here.

"Smashwords is a publishing platform, online bookstore and ebook distributor for indepedent ebook authors, publishers and readers. We offer multi-format, DRM-free ebooks, ready for immediate sampling and purchase, and readable on any e-reading device. Authors and publishers retain full control over how their works are published, sampled, priced and sold. If an author wants to charge one dollar or ten thousand dollars, or give it away for free, they have that freedom. Smashwords began beta testing new publishing options for publishers who want to publish and centrally manage two or more authors. The Publisher solution went public and was announced in May."

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Lulu Clarifies Recent Distribution & ISBN Changes

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Lulu have made further clarifications today regarding their recent announcement about changes to their distribution and suspension of their popular 'Publish By You' option.

"We want to hear from you as much and as often as possible to improve our services to ensure you create the best products, have the most sales or achieve whatever goal drives you. That effort prompted us recently to announce changes to our ISBN and distribution offerings. Unfortunately, we unintentionally caused some confusion. To clear things up, I talked with Ben, our Distribution Product Manager, and wanted to share what I learned."

Nick Popio, Social Networking Team Leader.

While the announcement does bring considerably more clarity to things at Lulu, it does not change the fact that authors going to Lulu who want an ISBN in their own imprint name and extended distribution will be paying more for the services.

You can read today's Lulu announcement here.

Amazon - Booksurge Antitrust Lawsuit: Motion to Dismiss Refused

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Chief U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. has refused’s motion to dismiss's Antitrust Lawsuit against them. The lawsuit stems from actions and communications by Amazon early last year to instruct some publishers using print-on-demand digital printing to use Amazon's own printer, Booksurge.

You can read the official court documents on Judge Woodcock Jr's ruling yesterday here, (pdf file).
Your can also read up on our previous postings on this case here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Reader Device Wars Hot Up

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"Delivering on its promise to give consumers a variety of choices, Sony today announced the third member of its new Reader family – the Reader Daily Edition™, a highly-anticipated wireless model with 3G connectivity. The Daily Edition caps its new line of Reader products, joining the Reader Pocket Edition™ and the Reader Touch Edition™ which were announced earlier this month."

Full Press Release here.

Rumors persist today that Amazon have brought forward the release of the Kindle to Europe, originally slated for the Christmas market, and it may come as early as next week!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Last Block in Harlem - Self-Publishing Success

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Earlier this month we looked at Irish self-published author, Enda Murray, travelling around the midlands and west of Ireland selling his book, Doom and Gloom (Me Arse!!), an anti-recession book of poetry. Well, it seems self-published authors will stop at nothing to shift those volumes, though, Christopher Herz is a little different. Herz left his job as an Advertising Copyrighter to pound the streets of New York City selling 1100 copies of his self-published novel, The Last Block in Harlem, a fictional account of life in a Harlem neighbourhood, or as Herz himself describes it, ‘a love letter to my neighborhood’.

What is a little different about Herz is that he does not see himself as a self-published author of the future. Instead, he sees himself and Canal Publishing, his own imprint, as an independent publisher for other aspiring authors. Herz published the book in June and although a few stores in Manhattan have agreed to stock his book on consignment, all of Herz’s 300+ sales have come directly from the author selling to ordinary New Yorkers going about their daily business. Herz takes ten copies of his book out onto the streets every morning to sell and refuses to go home to his wife in their fourth storey apartment until he has sold all of them.

Herz hopes one day Canal Publishing will be as respected as City Lights Publishing, an independent publishing press he greatly admires. Herz believes in the his neighbourhood and the community attitude where an author can take 30 seconds of a passer-by’s time and sell a book for $10. It is with this New York style savvy Herz hopes to turn Canal Publishing into a success.

Here is Christopher Herz’s blog for Canal Publishing and a brief extract from his novel.

"With Namuna back, I no longer wanted to stop anything from moving. There was no need to capture moments because everything I needed was right next to me. Outside our drawn curtains the women in other bedrooms paced around looking for someone to look at them. Lonely men leaned outside of their windows and smoked cigarettes, while married ones took a look at the street to see if there was any excitement. Up 155th the graveyard stirred. Across the bridge, games were being played - but up here, in this 4th floor walk up, for the moment, we were still.

We were still."

-The Last Block in Harlem

Monday, 24 August 2009

Wingspan Press - Reviewed

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(Print on demand & Offset)

Wingspan Press is a US based author solutions service with offices in Livermore, Northern California, just a few miles shy of San Francisco. They were formed around a group of frustrated writers tired of the commercial sales-driven publishing world and the ‘agent/publisher loop’. So Wingspan Press began, (frustrations I assume finally cast aside) with a focus on quality and customer service and a desired not to be grouped with POD publishing and the negative perception that it is overrun with scam artists, hacks and well-meaning but inexperienced staff.

"Our focus is on quality and customer service. Our business rules are simple: Answer the phone, tell people the truth, and do what we say we'll do. We're willing to answer all your questions and help you nderstand the ins and outs of self-publishing before you sign an greement or lay out any money. We're constantly striving to provide services to assist you in positioning your book for success - distribution, marketing tools, website sales and support, and we allow authors to buy copies of their books at the lowest print prices in the industry - absolutely the lowest."

(Wingspan Press offer authors a 50% discount when buying their books - This does not equate to an industry 'lowest' price. Custom quotes are provided for orders of offset print runs.)

This is all very laudable from Wingspan Press and they make all the right noises for a reputable author solution service. I have seen better presented websites from companies, but Wingspan Press make it clear they are not about high impact to disguise lack of real substance and quality service. The Wingspan Press approach is simple; look after your authors and your business will look after itself. They have a selling by-line—‘Everything You Need To Publish Your Book in one place, for one price’. A closer look at the packages below does not quite hold entirely true on that one. There are three packages and three prices, but they are reasonably competitive. Their website is clear and filled with just the right information without the clutter and intrusion of hard-sell marketing. There could be a little more advertising of books on the main page but a rolling book preview window will just about suffice.

Here is what is provided in their packages, though some are included with all the packages, other options come with an additional charge:

ISBN, bar code, Library of Congress Catalog Number, required LOC filing
Set your own cover price
Full design and editorial services
PFD Proof
Manuscript analysis
Marketing and promotion tools
Monthly sales reports
Website development and support
Returns policy
Fulfillment support
Writing resources about self publishing and promotion
Offset printing available for larger print runs

Wingspan Press have an author bookstore and offer the standard online availability and distribution listing with wholesalers. But where Wingspan Press really surpass many other author solution services it in the finer, critical details that make such a difference to authors. Authors retain all publishing rights, including cover, layout and the right to republish anywhere else at any time. Book listings include Amazon.UK and printing is also undertaken by Lightning Source in the UK and Europe. Wingspan Press also does not engage in ‘net’ royalties or any complicated form of gymnastic math. The author gets 20% of the book’s retail price, more if it is bought directly from the publisher’s own online bookstore.

Wingspan Press actually provides three publishing packages but all above is at the core of them. The packages are the ‘Standard’ with basic cover template, ‘Choices’ is for more elaborate design options and illustration and images. The ‘Custom’ package option gives the author further expanded services and press release/sell sheets.

While I won’t split hairs with Wingspan Press, that one place-one price is really, eh, three places, three prices. Still, the prices come in below many of their competitors.

Standard Package: $499 (author supplies cover images, author photo and book description)
Choices Package: $899 (author supplies cover image, author photo, part-design support included)
Custom Package: $2499 (custom cover provided, Ingram Catalogue listing, Press Release, 5 review requests sent out, 500 bookmarks included)

I also note that the claim about ‘it’s your book and you own it’ was really meant, except those authors using the ‘Standard’ and ‘Choices’ are paying $100 and $50 respectively for the archive cd with all the proof materials!

Wingspan Press does provide other individual publishing services, including, professional cover design, various depths of editing etc. I should point out that all Wingspan Press books published through their packages are assigned Wingspan Press ISBN’s. There is an option to use you own ISBN and set up an imprint, however, this is where they fall back on other bespoke author solution services. The charge for their description of this is ISBN Acquisition & Maintenance and Imprint set-up. This will set the author back $550 and while that is ok if an author has not previously acquired a block of 10 ISBN’s (cost from Bowkers $240), it certainly is if they have already. Wingspan Press, though, to be fair, say will administer the same for all the ISBN’s if their services are used for other books through them.

In addition, authors receive a 50% discount on books they purchase directly from the publisher, with retail prices ranging on paperbacks between $14 to $17. With that working out at $7 for a 200 page paperback, there is a mark up from the print costs of approximately $4, but as an author you will need to decide if you can live with that. I'm relunctantly prepared to let that slide, but if you intend buying a lot of books for your own purposes to sell locally or at signing appearances then this could prove to be a serious obstacle and financial outlay. Any author considering buying large volumes of books might be better looking at a direct print on demand service like Lightning Source.

Authors can also purchase a ‘return’ option to increase their book’s chances of being stocked in brick and mortar stores. Wingspan Press, outside of press releases and distribution set-up, do not do much more in the way of marketing and promotion, though they do feature an option for inclusion in Ingam’s distribution catalogue.

Overall Wingspan Press offer two reasonably competitive packages (Standard & Choices) and include options in those other competitors do not include. They are upfront and frank about the publishing process and their website has plenty of information. They tick many of the boxes for a good author solution service, with their ‘Choices’ package offering the best value for money at $899.

RATING: 07/10

Books - The Shape of Things To Come?

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Are we witnessing the shape of books to come?

Quillr is an online platform that allows authors to use a combination of multimedia with text in their book. We talked last week about Thomas Pynchon’s novel and it’s soundtrack of 1960’s music as accompaniment. Well, Quillr maybe the next step in the future of the novel.

Nicola Furlong has used Quillr in her novel, Unnatural States. It fuses text with music soundtrack and video to create a sort of graphic novel on wheels. William S. Burroughs would have killed for this!

From the press release to Furlong’s novel:

“QUILLR ™, used by Furlong for her novel Unnatural States, is a controversial suspense story told using a combination of mashed up media. Possibly the “…future of content,” suggests Joe Wikert of Publishing 2020. The text is punctuated throughout with video clips and photographs of actors recreating the characters and scenes. Music and sound effects further enhance the novel experience. “…something completely different – and brilliant,” comments Tyler Reed in Scholastic Blogspot.

UnnaturalStates is an exhilarating and provocative suspense novel that explores the devastating consequences of combining religion, biotechnology and the paranormal. In addition to our unique QUILLR ™ multimedia version, UnnaturalStates (previously available in beta form) will also be released as an ebook.”

QUILLR Unnatural States Book Trailer: Who's Johnny Passion? - Click here for more home videos

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Coming Your Way...Soon

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Some of you will be aware that I have been concentrating much of my review efforts on author solution services in the UK for the past six months or so due to a book I am currently compiling on the self-publishing market there. Well, I have completed all the reviews I will be doing there for the foreseeable time and it's back to the other side of the pond.

Reviews of US author solution companies in the coming weeks include:

DogEar Publishing (never quite got why they thought it an appropiate name)
Infinity Publishing (one of the well established that got away the first time round)
Virtual Bookworm (we look at whether they are alive or dead)
Cold Tree Press
Lluminia Press
Universal Publishers
WingSpan Press
Wheatmark Publishing

...and many more. If you have your own experiences of these, feel free to share them with us.

We also intend to cointinue to highlight and expand on independent presses globally and how they run their businesses and carve out their own unique niches.

Stay tuned...

POD TV - Program 14: POD, Self Publishing's Promo Trailer

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POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing have had a Youtube presence in the pipeline for a while and finally this weekend we kicked it off aptly with a promotional trailer for the site.

Future video uploads will include workshop-style tutorials and advice on self-publishing.

Stay tuned for further uploads over the coming months.

Youtube channel for POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing

Friday, 21 August 2009 - A Case of Deja Vu?

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"Déjà vu is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously (an individual feels as though an event has already happened or has happened in the near past), although the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of ‘eeriness’, ‘strangeness’, or ‘weirdness’. The ‘previous’ experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience 'genuinely happened' in the past."

Yes, that pretty much sums up the feeling of publishers who received a recent email from about a proposed ‘fine’ for rejected deliveries. Catherine Neilan, writing in today’s reports:

[...]" is to start charging publishers £500 for ‘rejected deliveries’ and could introduce a range of other charges, according to a leaked email.

Starting 24th August, charges will apply to anyone who fails to meet the retailer’s compliance ‘requirements [as] detailed in the vendor manual’. In the email sent to publishers, the £500 fee is described as an "initial" fine, suggesting additional sums could be applied. also said that ‘the coming months’ would see this charge extended to ‘include fees for other critical operational requirements’."[...]

Have we not been down this byway with early last year when similar strong-arm tactics were used to make publishers using print on demand use Amazon’s own printer, Booksurge. This tactic also resulted, on occasion, the removal of ‘buy’ buttons on books.

While the threat of fines collected through publishers’ inventory payments may be directed more to smaller independent publishers – the crack of flexing muscles will still echo through the industry as a whole. This is a constant reminder of the extent publishers have lost control of their industry, in particular, to the retail sector. Amazon argue in the email that this is all about improving customer service quality and making the vendor processes as efficient as possible.

We will watch this one with anticipation, but right now, Amazon has served the ball, and it remains firmly in the court of the publishers together.

The full article is here.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

POD TV - Program 13: Bill Folman's Book Trailer

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For POD TV this week, something a little lighthearted. Author Bill Folman's decided to enlist the help of a friend to make a book trailer for his debut novel, The Scandal Plan. The mini-film book trailer has been doing the rounds of the internet for a few weeks. This gets funnier every time I watch it and shows just what can happen when your book trailer gets more famous than your book! Enjoy.

Barnes & Nobel Launch Rediscover For Out-of-Print Books

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Barnes & Noble continue, like Amazon, to move beyond the confines of just being a retailer. They have launched a new publisher program called Barnes & Noble Rediscovers. This program will allow them to work with publishers to reissue that are out-of-print in hardback format.

There are already 30 plus titles available under the new publisher program (through Barnes & Noble’s publishing subsidiary, Sterling Publishing) and customers can purchase them at two price ranges, $9.95 and $14.95. There are further plans to issue ebook editions and utilise print on demand technology.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009 Drop Their Popular 'Publish By You' Option

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Lulu have today announced further changes to their publishing process and distribution service, which on the face of it, is a further retrograde step backwards in their position as a brand-leading author solution services provider. The core change today is the announcement of the removal of the popular ‘Publish By You’ service. Here is part of the news release below from Social Networking Team Leader, Nick Popio.

[...]“At Lulu, we know that getting your book into distribution channels outside of the Lulu Marketplace is important to many of you. We also know that the current process can be confusing. As a result, we have taken steps to simplify getting your book set up with an ISBN, extending the reach of your book and enabling you to sell more. To facilitate this, we have removed Published By You (PBY) as a distribution package. Don’t worry if you already have a PBY package, nothing will change for you as we will continue to support you and your book(s).

If you do not have a PBY package but were thinking about getting one you can still purchase your own ISBN and apply it to your Lulu book. To purchase your own ISBN visit and create an account. You can then fill out the form and purchase an ISBN. We are aware that Published by You was a popular service, therefore we’ll be closely monitoring the response to this change. We are considering launching a service similar to Published by You that will still facilitate the purchase of an ISBN on your behalf, so if you would prefer something like that, then let us know.”[...]

Having published two books with Lulu over the past two years, I have been familiar with Nick Popio’s presence on the Lulu Forums and commenting here on this site with Lulu news. As Social Networking Team Leader, much of these recent announcements and changes at Lulu have been made by Nick. But Nick is fast becoming like the best mate you have who just happens to be going out with the worse b*t*h of a girlfriend in the world. You just can’t help feeling sorry for the guy every time one of these Lulu announcements comes round the corner!

There is an old adage that holds fast in most lines of business. If it’s not broken – don’t try and fix it, unless of course you believe you can actually improve it. The news today of the removal of the ‘Publish by You’ option for authors—allowing authors to have their own ISBN assigned, rather than one registered to Lulu—means authors will have to go elsewhere to purchase a single or minimum block of ten ISBN’s from an outside source. Lulu suggest, a US based company offering a single ISBN to authors. Critically, the USA is one of the few countries where an author can actually purchase a single ISBN. Most other countries will only sell a minimum of ten, including the UK, where Lulu has a sizeable amount of authors. Yes, in theory, those authors can contact an independent Bowker ISBN agent in the US for one, but it would be interesting to know exactly how much thought Lulu actually gave this before implementing the change.

Here is ‘s special offer for an ISBN.

Single ISBN Number

$125.00 base package


A block of ten, cheaper in the long run for authors, will cost $325.

One wonders if all this is really about nudging perspective Lulu authors toward using the full and more expensive publishing packages. Here is the other crucial piece of news announced regarding a ‘realignment’ of the distribution options.

[...]“If you choose Lulu’s new, free ExtendedReach service your title will be made available on, or you can purchase our GlobalReach service which lists your book on even more major online retailers worldwide and allows brick & mortar stores to order your book.”[...]

On the plus side, there is no doubt that not having to await your ISBN and add it to your book project by doing a revision will help to speed up the product to final proof stage of a book. Somewhere in all of this mess, I do actually think Lulu had the germ of an idea with a view to simplifying the whole production and distribution process. What puzzles me more is the this line in the announcement.

[...]“We are considering launching a service similar to Published by You that will still facilitate the purchase of an ISBN on your behalf, so if you would prefer something like that, then let us know.”[...]

Jez, guys! Wouldn’t it be better to carefully think these things through first before making the change, and then deciding to throw it out to the audience!

Book Publishing: 'Don't Get Me Started!' - Tom Matlack Article

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[...]Let's face it -- the whole chain bookstore, publishing house, agent, author thing is bankrupt. It's even more 19th century than newspapers and old-fashioned crank music records. Don't get me started on why the book business is worse off than television, radio, or magazines (all of whom are under extreme pressure). Of all these industries facing revolution, the book folks are the most arrogant. They just don't get it.[...]

Tom Matlack, writing in The Huffington Post, gets his teeth into the book publishing industry in this article. This analysis is just one writer's perspective on the industry, though, it didn't help that Matlack's book was turned down by fifty publishers before he decided to take thinks into his own hands.

Book Sales in Ireland - Pt 2: Analysis by Eoin Purcell

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Eoin Purcell continues with the second part of his analysis on what makes up the success of a book publish on the Irish market, coming up with a suprising result - or is it?

Authors' Chance Ltd: Son or Father of Diggory Press?

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While the next hearing in the Diggory Press court case in the UK is not set to go ahead until November of this year, there has been a very significant development on the publishing side of matters for Diggory Press, Exposure Publishing, their self-publishing wing, and all their contracted authors.

A quick browse through the online bookstores of, and will reveal that hundreds of listings of Diggory Press and Exposure Publishing titles are now showing the publisher of origin to be a company called Authors’ Chance Ltd. Some of the online listings, at best, cite Diggory or Exposure as simply an ‘imprint’, with Authors’ Chance Ltd as the primary publisher. What is perhaps even more disturbing is the amount of Diggory authors I have contacted since early yesterday who were entirely unaware of this change of listing or any ownership sale of Diggory Press and its self-publishing wing, Exposure Publishing.

I have included some of the online links below to former Diggory Press and Exposure Publishing titles. If you are a Diggory Press author you might want to also take this opportunity to log on to these online retailers and check your own book’s listing there. I will be waiting right here for your return!

Blackwell UK online store for Authors’ Chance Ltd.

So is your book showing under a different publisher listing? Were you made aware of these changes? Do you believe as a contracted and paid up author to Diggory Press that you should have been informed? I think it would have been nice if you were told. As of yet, there is no communication from Diggory Press about the sale of the business on their own website. I have contacted Diggory Press today and asked if they might like to enlighten their authors and us here at POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing. But, perhaps, even they were not aware of this change, and like Amazon’s ghostly hand in the night taking back its customer’s Kindle copies of Orwell’s books – it just happened and they are now mortified and soon to be filled with floods of woe and heartfelt apology. We’ll wait and see...

While we are waiting, we might as well take a look at these new kids on the block – Authors’ Chance Ltd. The UK Company Records (no. 05384346) list them as having an address at Haslemere, Surrey, and in fact the company only recently changed its name (July 2009) from Blueshack Ltd, a relatively dormant company since its first registration in 2005. The company has one director listed, Michael Thomas Gordon.

Incidentally, the fact that Authors’ Chance Ltd has chosen to list the Diggory/Exposure titles with their originally published dates does tend to give unfamiliar authors the impression that they are not a new author solution company. I may also be jumping the gun here in calling them this as Authors’ Chance Ltd does not have its own website as of yet, though, the Company Records do list it as ‘non-trading’ as of this time. This may very well be simply part of the gradual change over. They are also entitled to use the currently existing ISBN’s until a new edition of each book is actually issued, though, because they are almost all published through POD (print on demand) with a digital printer, there should actually not be any need to re-assign new ISBN’s, unless of course that it the wish of Authors’ Chance Ltd. Their unwillingness to do this is perfectly understandable. Making changes to a digital file can cost £50+ per title, and even on just 200 titles, which amounts to £10,000! It is an option publishers using offset print methods do not have if they wish to introduce a new edition. I have often wondered what happens when one publisher takes over another publisher’s lists. Here is the official take on it from Nielsen Bookdata.

“We have recently acquired a list from another Publisher. Can I put a sticker over their ISBN with mine?

No. Publishers must use the ISBN of the original Publisher until they reprint, at which point the ISBN and imprint can be changed, thus leading to a new edition and a new ISBN. Name & address changes, mergers and acquisitions should be notified to the ISBN Agency as soon as possible. Bibliographic Information providers should also be notified of changes to distributor arrangements.”

We can only hope that this new development with Diggory Press will take its authors forward and it will be interesting in the coming days and weeks to learn what the true relationship is between Diggory Press and Authors' Change Ltd.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Book Sales In Ireland - Results Pt1 From Eoin Purcell

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A couple of days ago Eoin Purcell hosted a poll on his blog and asked what was the measure of success for a book on the Irish market. Well, he has correlated the results and posted the first part of his findings and analysis here. The measure of success certainly appears to be a lot less in book units sold then many expected.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sony Electronics Forge Ahead With Universal ebook Format

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Sony Electronics are expected to announce on Thursday plans to sell ebooks in a standard ePub format making them compatible with other ebook reading devices. Ebooks generally have some restrictions built into the software to prevent multiple coping and file sharing. Sony look to have struck an agreement with Adobe in this regard.

Amazon play a dominant role in the ebook sales market and up till now ebooks sold from Amazon are only compatible with the Kindle and iPhone. There is growing pressure from both the buying public and many large publishing houses for there to be one standard ebook format with both HarperCollins and Random House rowing in behind the ePub format.

Sony Electronics's hopes are that by Christmas ebooks bought from their online stores will be compatible with a multiple range of readers.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Pynchon's 'Soundtrack' To Inherent Vice

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Following on from a posting we did earlier this week on Nick Cave's new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro - the possibilities ebooks can provide for enhanced interaction between author and reader - the reclusive and complexed American novelist Thomas Pynchon has just disclosed the 'soundtrack' to his lastest novel, Inherent Vice.

Inherent Vice tells the story of pot-smoking private eye, Larry "Doc" Sportello. The subject and setting of novel are something of a departure for Pynchon and the his 'soundtrack' to the novel is in fact a playlist of songs features heavily fron songs from the 1960's selected by Pynchon himself. The soundtrack listing can be found on here.

It is not the only such 'soundtrack' playlist for the novel with numerous fan-generated websites popping up by the week. Perhaps if his publishers had known of the Nick Cave iPhone release of The Death of Bunny Munro, they too may have released an interactive-styled ebook featuring the soundtrack to Pynchon's Inherent Vice.

Brief Thomas Pynchon Bio from Wikipedia:

Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. (born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist based in New York City and noted for his dense and complex works of fiction. Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon spent two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known: V. (1963), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Vineland (1990), Mason & Dixon (1997), Against the Day (2006) and Inherent Vice (2009).

Pynchon is a MacArthur Fellow and a recipient of the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Both his fiction and non-fiction writings encompass a vast array of subject matter, styles and themes, including (but not limited to) the fields of history, science, human sexuality, and mathematics. Pynchon is also known for his avoidance of personal publicity: very few photographs of him have ever been published, and rumors about his location and identity have been circulated since the 1960s.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Self-Publishing Successes From Outskirts Press

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Karl Schroeder, Manager of Author Services at Outskirts Press has much to champion this week. His blog puts the spotlight on Outskirts Press as well as Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, who chose to forgo the traditional route of publishing in favour of an author service company to self-publish his books.

"Late last week Covey introduced his first in a series of 6 self-published books expected to hit the market this year. Covey cites publishing time lines – at around just 2 months self-publishing – and content control critical in his decision. 'It would have taken at least a year if FranklinCovey [Covey's publishing management group] had gone to a traditional publisher,' he said.

books have sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages, according to FranklinCovey’s Web site. Far from mere lip-service, Covey’s action proves another strong statement to the future of book publishing."

It is heartening to hear this coming from an author solution service company and it suggests what I have believed for quite some time. More and more authors with a book and a message published traditionally are going to start to exploit the self-publishing option which allows them critically, editorial control and speed not offered by the current traditional publishing models - that is if they themselves have the ability to harness their own profile and marketing machine.

Corvey is not the only recent success out of the Outskirts Press stable. Gang Chen, who was a guest writer here on POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing earlier this year, posted this article for self-publishing writers. Gang Chen has has been in contact with me a number of times over the past few months and I can certainly underline the financial success he has had with his book.

Here is a piece from the Outskirts Press release:

Gang Chen, the self published author of Planting Design Illustrated and LEED AP Exam Guide, will receive a first-quarter royalty check in the amount of $77,611.88 for books sold between January-March 2009. This follows a previous royalty check of $33,679.56 that Chen recently received from Outskirts Press for books sold between October-December 2008.

"Earning $111,000 in six months is an amazing accomplishment for any author, self-published or otherwise," Outskirts Press CEO Brent Sampson commented. "Of course, publishing with Outskirts Press certainly helps. We extend heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Chen, and also want to thank him for graciously granting us permission to publicize his success."

Chen is an expert in the field of architecture, with a master’s degree from USC and over 20 years of professional experience and he was among the top-five performing Outskirts Press authors in the 4th quarter of 2008 and then went on to double his royalties for the first quarter of 2009. When notified of his earnings, Chen responded, "I’m in the process of publishing my next book in the LEED Exam Guide series through Outskirts Press, along with a book on architecture, so I hope to break this record soon."

After contacting hundreds of traditional publishers for his first book Planting Design Illustrated, Chen finally landed a deal with one major publisher, only to discover that he was dissatisfied with the substantial revisions they were suggesting. He promptly cancelled the traditional publishing contract and decided to publish the book himself. He compared various publishing options and chose Outskirts Press. "Their services do not end after the book is published," Chen stated. "They continue to provide excellent marketing advice, as well."

These are the self-publishing successes which often get lost in the day to day headlines, but before we get carried away on a tide of self-publishing success - it should be noted, both Chen and Covey are proffessionals, adept in business and marketing, and the fundamentals of a new product - they know how to sell it using all the channels available to them, and they know how to do it well.

Outskirts Press, Inc. offers full-service, custom self-publishing services for authors seeking a cost-effective, fast, and flexible way to publish and distribute their books worldwide while retaining all their rights and full creative control. Available for authors globally at and located on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado, Outskirts Press represents the future of book publishing, today.

Book Sales in Ireland - Eoin Purcell's Poll

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Eoin Purcell is carrying out an interesting poll over on his blog and asks the question, '...what people in Ireland THINK about success is in terms of booksales?' It is certainly a pertinent question not just for Irish authors but authors and publishers operating in any book market or country. As Eoin points out, pair together an author and publisher with very different expectation of sales and things can go tits up pretty quickly!

[...]"Mostly I suspect that both Irish authors and Irish consumers either have no clear idea of what a successful book would sell or THINK that they have a good idea. Much as nearly everybody I have met who doesn’t work in the industry thinks that editors, commissioning editors and publishers are paid large salaries (if only!). My sister is better off as a primary school teacher than most editors I know."[...]

You can take part in Eoin's poll here.

Polls aside, the question is certainly one every self-publishing author needs to give serious consideration. Over-estimate your potential sales on a first print run and you are in danger of ending up with a garage full of books. This is of course one of the fundamental reasons why Print on demand technology has led to an explosion in self-published books. For most authors self-publishing, without the backup traditional of widespread brick 'n' mortar shelf space and an well-oiled marketing machine - expectations are considerably pruned back. The exceptions are the authors who have the time, flexibility and knownhow to reach their target audience virally and who have a strong social network presence. This is an area some traditional publishers are still struggling to get to grips with.

Publishing Basics Returns From Summer Hiatus

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After a hiatus of six weeks or so, Publishing Basics Monthly Newsletter returns with some excellent articles this month on book cover design, 'why you should not self-publish', marketing your book on a limited budget and a lot more.

"The vanity press industry, headed by companies like Author House, Publish America and the likes, have done a huge disservice to authors, specifically, and the publishing industry, in general. The “If you can get it into the computer, we can make you a published author” mentality has so diluted the whole process and flooded the entire marketplace with so much junk, it is becoming harder and harder for a true self-publisher to be taken seriously or to be successful."

From this months newsletter article, 'Is there a good reason why someone should NOT self-publish their book?' by Ron Pramschufer.

You can subscribe to Ron Pramschufer's Publishing Basics Monthly Newsletter here.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Lulu Through The Looking Glass

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Lulu Lens was set up as an interactive forum for feedback from Lulu authors. While understandably, Lulu pitch this feedback forum as a means for them to improve their overall services—there is no doubt much of the impetus is to address a number of issues highlighted by authors in their own Lulu discussion forum as well as on other external writer’s forums and blogs. Here is an extract from the latest posting at Lulu Lens.

“This week we want to focus a little more on our distribution. We are looking at ways we can improve the process overall, and so any insight you can give us would be very valuable. Specifically, we want to know what aspects of our existing process have been confusing or frustrating for you? Hopefully, we can use your feedback to streamline the process and help you get your book into the distribution channels that are most beneficial to you.”

Nick Popio, Social Networking Team Leader

I was recently asked online about a month or so ago why POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing make particular focus of Lulu. In simple terms, regardless of quality and diversity of services, Lulu remain one of the flagship companies providing services to self-publishing authors and they remain a critical brand name in this area, despite their recent best efforts to shoot themselves in the foot. Even with staff layoffs, and rightly or wrongly, a perceived downturn in quality of customer service and administration—the Lulu publishing machine remains an attractive self-publishing monolith in the eyes of first time authors and authors still unwilling to take on the full rigours of all that entails self-publishing under their own imprint and personal steam without the aid of design widgets, editing services, promotional products and marketing services. If you like, Lulu are the Ikea of the self-publishing world—cut price self-publishing services under one roof and it is understandable why authors want to believe that their loyalty in ‘difficult’ times will ultimately pay off.

Let us not forget there have been notable recent author successes like Jeremy Robinson and Wil Wheaton at Lulu who have gone on to greater prosperity and still a number of significant small niche independent presses who use the services of Lulu like Etica Press. How long this lasts is very much in the court of Lulu.

Here is just a highlight of comments today from Lulu authors from the Lulu Lens comments:

Mario, Posted August 10, 2009 at 8:45 am
“... support is a dead zone for authors. I mean, my issue is REVENUE related and still dead in the water. I’m looking at competitors for a revision and another book because frankly, if sales on are not showing up in my revenue, it’s like taking a part-time job and at the end being told you were a volunteer.”

Nick Popio, Posted August 10, 2009 at 8:55 am
I am sorry you haven’t received an answer. Can you email me at with a summary of the issue and the reference id you were given by customer support? I will try to get you some answers as quickly as possible."

Heath Pfaff, Posted August 10, 2009 at 9:08 am
“ thing I’d like to see improved would be the communication between my Lulu listing and my Amazon listing. The retail markup can play havoc on book prices, if I understand it correctly. It is already difficult to get a Lulu book to a price that is acceptable to the general public.”

Michael Harris, Posted August 10, 2009 at 10:52 am
“... We have a following but the price you set for lulu and retail make them unappealing to public. i think me wanting $4.00 a books is fair. But selling for $16.90 is not worthwhile to the public for small books. You need to get them in the price of $6.95 or so. So if I have to take say $2.75 or $3.00 for each I would do it for a listing of $6.95.”

John Ross, Harvey, Posted August 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm
“... Everything else getting here is reasonable, but I’d prefer my $17 books to be $11, and my $11 books to be $6, it’s just not possible with the printing charges. Yes they are reduced with multiple orders, understandably, but they prevent our product from being a fair market value. We’re in essence selling apartments for the price of a wide lot 2 storey home, with a landscaped garden.”

Daniel Poeira, Posted August 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm
“Big strong cardboard boxes are great if you ordered a lot of books or magazines, but if a writer only needs a single proof copy for revision, it would be nice to have a simpler package that would cost less to go through the mail.”

Deborah, Posted August 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm
"I am an author who is based in Australia and I have several issues with your system. Your shipping costs are APPALLING and I sell very few books here in my own country of residence compared to my following in the USA. It is plainly ridiculous for a buyer here to order a $19 book and then pay an additional $19 in shipping!!!”

Tammy Suto, Posted August 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm
“If Lulu could manage to get a lower retail mark-up it would help with people choosing distribution and actually selling because no one is going to buy a paperback for $20 or more. Hardcovers I can see, depending on the page count but never a paperback. .. maybe offering the expanded package at a lower rate for a short time will draw people in who want more exposure and also to have the books in more than Amazon.“

Certainly the mark-up on Lulu books leaves authors trimming their own royalty to such a perilous amount—it leaves the act of publishing with any of Lulu’s packages nothing more than a ’hello, I have a published book. I’m here,, hello’. Wheaton and Robinson have proved that the Lulu model of publishing can work, not to become a millionaire by any means, but through deft self-marketing combined with a prominent online presence—modest profits could be made, and at the very least, enough to support the continued process of future self-publication through Lulu.

Lulu have taken some flack recently and deservedly so at times—they do have an innate ability to score own goals, but then so do the other monoliths, notably Amazon. I do believe there is a genuine endeavour by Lulu to consolidate, recuperate and redeploy their publishing brand. After all, they maintain their forum which contains as mush positive as it does negative feedback, and they do not engage in the antics of another well-known American pseudo-traditional publishing chameleon.

Lulu is a company with their thoughts and directions in the right place; are faced with the same adversities of layoffs and financial duress all of the publishing industry is faced with now. Yet, they must also retain the ethos of openness and the philosophy that publishing is for all authors whatever the personal goals and aspirations.

Lulu’s key areas of improvement remain, shipping costs (something they have begun to tackle) mark-ups on books and general administration faux pas with listings on Amazon. Much like the publishing industry in general, Lulu need to seize back the control they once enjoyed in offering self-publishing services.

For any company tested in these times, this is about retaining quality of service and trust with the customer. Lulu still has some work to do but few doubt their wish to address the issues. The question is - do they have the desire and resolve to put Lulu back on the map? We should not forget easily, Lulu were the original cartographers of that self-publishing map. I will leave the last words to Ken Umbach of Umbach Publishing who has extensively used Lulu’s services over the past few years and remained dedicated to the basic principles of what Lulu offer small press publishers. He commented today on AbsoluteWrite’s POD Publishing Forum on Lulu’s current position...

“My sense of it, from the conversations I have had, is that's management is attempting to address concerns and to improve services continuously. Sure, they want to make money, and they are pushing a lot of special deals to goose sales, but I think they want to do things right. They have made many improvements over the years I have been using Lulu, and that process is likely to continue, in my opinion. Until some issues are resolved, I would advise caution regarding using Lulu to print any confidential or highly sensitive materials.

I have had a recent telephone conversation with some Lulu consultants, and explained the issues that had triggered concern (the sending of a book into distribution without the final approval, no responses to urgent attempts for assistance, arbitrary placement of books for sale via, and also described the sorts of use I have made of Lulu, some of which I gather are not what they had foreseen. I am hoping to have a follow-up conversation.

I think the folks I talked with were paying attention. As I bought some ten grand worth of books from them last year, they might consider my views... worthwhile.

Whatever its imperfections might be, Lulu offers a unique set of services. I'd be hard pressed to find a replacement.“

Ken Umbach, Umbach Publishing,

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