Would You Really Want to Do Business With This Outfit?

What I'm talking about is Kevin Trudeau's "publishing company," Alliance Publishing Group Inc. (not to be confused with Alliance Publishing Group of Birmingham, AL, a legitimate publisher).

I read this post over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler, not believing that someone would be interested in this, um, endeavor (or whatever you want to call it).

Folks, Kevin Trudeau is out to get your money, nothing else. The info he has in his books could be had anywhere on the Internet. But, you say, it's nice that he's put it into one package. That would be true if he didn't keep charging you and charging you and charging you...

I'm sure you get the picture.

In case you don't, paste your eyeballs on this.

And this same guy wants to publish your book? HAH! What kind of money are we talking about here? Because you know for damn sure you'd have to cough up plenty'o'dough for good ol' Kev to print your book.

RESPECT YOURSELF, PEOPLE! From my perspective, I took a year or so to write my WIP; it then collected dust for at least another two years. It's on the backburner again, but do you think I'm going to go this route?

Hell, no.

If, at some point, I've exhausted all the avenues, I might consider self publishing. Then again, I just might put that particular book away again and write something else.

But by all means, RESEARCH your options. Don't just sign with the first thing you see - because the first thing you see might be some scumbag vanity press (or a place, a la Publish America, that insists it's a "traditional publisher" when it's nothing of the sort).

If it takes a week or a month or two months to do your research - so what? You spent a lot of time and energy on your story, so why should you skimp on the research? You shouldn't, especially as the publishing world isn't exactly like Corporate America. (Check out the threads on the Water Cooler on how publishing really works; if that doesn't make your head hurt, I don't know what would.)

Write and finish your story. Revise it. Then do like I did and research your options - agents and publishers. Only when you're well armed should you then proceed into the wacky, weird world of commercial publishing.

~Nancy Beck


Patry Francis' Book

I hate to see info like this, and I wish her all the best:
Community Will Blog for Ailing Author
The paperback of Patry Francis's debut THE LIAR'S DIARY releases tomorrow and a large coalition of authors, agents, publishing professionals, journalists and bloggers has formed to publicize the release following Francis's recent diagnosis of an aggressive form of cancer.

This is Ms. Francis' debut, and instead of just being excited about that...she has to deal with cancer. So, so sad. If you're a murder mystery fan, why don't you consider picking it up off Amazon or at your local bookstore?

The synopsis is here, while the home page of her official site is here.

Peace, Ms. Francis.

~Nancy Beck

I Got Your POD Right Here

Today seems to be Print On Demand (POD) day over at Publisher's Lunch. Two, count 'em, two articles on POD.

I'll say right up front that POD, as a technology/business model is good for some projects: If you're a seminar leader and have books to hand out; if you're a poet; and genealogy-related books/projects, for instance.

e If you want a mainstream, traditional career (especially where fiction is concerned), then go with literary agents or smaller publishers (because most of the majors just aren't handling slush anymore).

Here's the first article:
New POD Options: Perseus and Edwards Partner on In-House Printing
The Perseus Books Group is returning to print-on-demand via its own facility with a new partnership with printer Edwards Brothers to set up a digital print center in the publisher's Jackson, TN distribution center. The in-house operation should be set up by this fall, and in the meantime they will use Edwards Brothers' outside machines to "ramp up titles in the program."

Perseus will offer the service to all of their distribution clients and use the capability for their own imprints. CEO David Steinberger says it's "the first of a range of digital services that we are making available to our independent publisher clients."

Steinberger says they are able to offer digital printing solution to clients "on attractive terms" drawing on the scale of their overall operation. Client pricing is designed to cover the company's direct and related costs. "The only way we will make money is if this leads to greater sales for the independent publishers we represent. Those greater sales will mean more money for independent publishers, for us and for booksellers."

The offer is non-exclusive, so nothing prevents clients from continuing to work with other vendors such as Lightning Source and Booksurge at the same time. Steinberger notes, "our in-house publishers currently print tens of thousands of units per month through digital print. We expect that volume to increase significantly with clients joining in."

Perseus was an early player with in-house on-demand printing, at one time running their own facility in Boulder, Co. After closing that operation they moved to a Donnelly-based short-run printing solution.

I know the major publishers also use POD for short runs.

Here's the other article:
More New POD Options: Ingram Works on ABA Store-As-Publisher Program
At a session at the ABA's Winter Institute, representatives from Ingram and Carmichael's Bookstore in Louisville presented an experimental program designed to make it easier for member stores to set up their own publishing programs in conjunction with Lightning Source.

The vision is that independent stores can serve as "niche publishers focused on regional and local interests," leveraging relationships within their communities and using their expertise to identify public domain material appropriate for reprint. Conceivably, stores can also offer their own "self-publishing" services to patrons looking for a place to launch and sell their manuscripts.

Ingram projected set-up costs of approximately $150 to $200 to make a book ready for print-on-demand fulfillment. While stores can elect to publish for all customers by setting the retail and wholesale prices, the p&l is clearly most advantageous when the store is selling the books directly at retail as well as publishing them.

As presented, the hope is to formalize a program by this year's BEA. Moderating the panel, the ABA's Len Vlahos underscored that it's an idea that "bears further investigation" though the organization is not sure yet if the concept "really works economically yet" for member stores. There are also a number of questions about rights, clearances, royalties, liability and other components of the publishing process that the organization may or may not provide formal guidance and guidelines on.

But for stores excited by the possibilities, Ingram made clear that they offer such services already, even without a formal ABA program. For that matter, though Lightning Source is not trying to aggressively compete with the pod self-publishers that comprise a significant part of their customer base, the company does already deal with individual customers on a direct basis.
ABA in this instance standing for American Booksellers Association (since I work for a corporate lawyer, I knew it wasn't American Bar Association, heh).

I think I'd still go with Lulu if I were interested in self publishing.

~Nancy Beck


Those Amazing Lawyers

From Publisher's Lunch:
Joke Book Editor Settles Leno Lawsuit
Author Judy Brown and publishers Andrews McMeel and Sterling settled a lawsuit brought by Jay Leno, NBC Studios and other comedians in late 2006 alleging copyright infringement in her joke book collections. The AP says they will "pay damages, stop producing the joke books and make efforts to pull existing copies from bookstores." Leno, Rita Rudner and NBC are donating their proceeds to charity and even the attorneys are kicking in part of their fee, which lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. says will comprise "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

At least the publisher is doing the right thing, by stopping the publishing of the books and pulling any bookstore copies.

But what really made me sit up and take notice was what the lawyers did here (and I work for a lawyer): They actually kicked in part of their fees for charity.

Will wonders never cease? ;-)

It's also nice to see the celebs donating to charity, but I kind of expected Jay Leno to do that; he comes off as a nice guy. (I know OF Rita Rudner, but I haven't heard her comedy routine in many, many years, and I assume she's a nice lady.:-))

If you found this article or my blog useful, please favorite me at Technorati.

~Nancy Beck


Why My Novel Is On Hold At the Moment

Got to thinkin' about why I haven't had much enthusiasm for fiction writing lately.

Then it whacked me upside the head yesterday: Concerns about money.


I'm not into get-rich-quick things (because they obviously don't work, except for the person putting forth such stuff), so I'm looking to make some extra money to at least pay down some of the credit card debt. I want to build something on a week-to-week basis. There'll be some planning involved, but not a hell of a lot.

Because I figure if I get stuck at the planning phase...nothing will go forward.

Anyway, my current WIP is not dead; in fact, in the past 2 weeks, I bought (with cash) a couple of maps of the L.A. area. One is about 1938, the other 1943. They also show rail lines, which is important, as I have my characters hopping aboard some, here and there. I'm thinking that this will help in my figuring out how long it'll take those characters to get from one spot in L.A. to another, and to other environs, too.

This was what I lacked: Knowing how long it would take to go from one place to another. (And you thought you didn't have to do research for fiction - hah!) At least now I feel I'll be able to sounded intelligent in getting these babes around town.

As I continue to research non fiction avenues and formulate a plan, don't think I'll just give up on this blog.

Ain't gonna happen.

It's just that right now, I have to work on getting extra money into our coffers. Once there's some kind of stream coming in, THEN my brain can start to have fun again with my WIP.

If you found this article or my blog useful, please favorite me at Technorati.

~Nancy Beck


Self Confidence Booster

While those closest to me and my situation (yup, Marc and Terry, I'm talkin' 'bout you :-)) know that I need to come up with some more dough to pay the bills, I decided for fun to see what a Tarot reading would do.

I know, I know; some might think it means nothing, yadda, yadda, yadda, but hear me out: If it's a free reading and provides a confidence boost of some sort, wouldn't it be worth it?

For me, yes.

Someone on the Absolute Writer Water Cooler does free, online Tarot readings (and she does paid ones, too; I'm sure it brings in some next extra income, and more power to her). She goes by the name of Miss Michele, and, in case you haven't noticed, I tend to ramble in a lot of my posts. ;-) Well, I rambled a bit in my request to Miss Michele, so she nicely brought down my ramble to something more succinct: Career stuff in 2008.

What she came up with was more than I could hope for! :-) (Her answer is here.)

I'm currently suffering from low self confidence, especially in my fiction and non-fiction writing ability. (Violins not necessary! Although you can cry if you want to, with apologies to Lesley Gore. ;-))

Anyway, it's quite heartening to see that writing wise, good stuff will happen. And that there's going to be a major change, career wise. (Hmm. How'd she know that? As something major is beginning to happen already, although this is something that can be good or bad; only time will tell.)

Think about it, though. Do we really know all the mysteries of the universe? Scientists can talk about matter and anti-matter and black holes and such. But that's the physical part; what about the unphysical part?

Because I'm starting to believe that there's something to this self motivation stuff, and, yes, stuff along the lines of Tarot. Remember my post of the other day, wherein I said how much I enjoyed singing? That I focused on becoming part of the special little group with all my heart and soul (not to mention action, as in learning the song lyrics for the regular chorus) - and became part of that group?

Too, hubby and I in the past, whenever we decided on getting a car or going to a particular destination for our vacations - those happened! Once you set your mind to it and - even more importantly - take ACTION to get those things...those things come your way.

Here's a quick way of looking at it. Decide on a goal. With all your heart, visualize receiving that goal (money, writing, inventing something, whatever), then WRITE DOWN THAT GOAL. Decide on a specific date that you want that goal fulfilled. WRITE DOWN THAT DATE.

With all your passion and desire, speak that goal and date when you get up in the morning, and before you go to bed at night.

Even more importantly, focus on an ACTION PLAN. It might not come to you right away; in fact, it probably won't. But it might come in a flash of inspiration; don't diss that inspiration, but write it down and ACT ON IT as soon as you can.

The mind, she is a wonderful thing. Use it, act on what it serves up. You might be pleasantly and happily surprised at what's sent your way.

If you found this article or my blog useful, please favorite me at Technorati.

~Nancy Beck


Choose Your Details

Another of my takes on the sporadic series, Evanovich - How I Write.

Yeah, I know, it's been, eesh, how many months? But I think this is as good a time as any to go back to this book.

Someone asked Ms. Evanovich how much detail should be used when describing settings. My take is that you shouldn't over-describe, or eyes will start a-glazin'.

Ms. Evanovich agrees. Here's a little more of what she has to say:
The reader doesn't need more than a few details when reading about a character or setting. For example, if your character walks out of his apartment house, pulls up the collar of his coat, and goes searching through the pockets for his gloves, you don't have to tell us it's freezing outside. -pg. 50

Exactly. Why have the character think, or have another character say, "Jeez, it's frickin' cold out here." Duh. ;-) Use the smallest, simplest amount of words to get your point across.

And you don't have to describe every single step a character takes; we're not talking about a how-to manual here. If you skip a few steps, most people will understand that those steps are a given.

So if you have your character getting out of bed and eventually heading for the kitchen for a cup of tea, decide which details are important; not every last one is going to be necessary. You might have the character stretch, stumble to his feet, take a pee, then have him shove a mug with water in it into the microwave. Then again, you might decide to just have him get up and get to the kitchen right away, with the bathroom as something that's understood.

Always assume that most of your readers have brains and that they'll understand stuff that people do every day. Unless, of course, your character does something weird/fantastic/unorthodox, like hopping into a helicopter after he wakes up, or something. :-)

If you found this article or my blog useful, please favorite me at Technorati.

~Nancy Beck


Unnamed Publisher For Canseco? Let Me Guess...

From Publisher's Lunch:

Canseco Moves to Unnamed Publisher; Hires If I Did It Writer

Jose Canseco's strange path to publication continues. Following the resignation of his first co-author, who couldn't figure out how a second book would have anything to say, Berkley withdrew from the project yesterday. Spokesman Craig Burke says it was "by mutual agreement," adding, "after much consideration, we have agreed to part ways due to editorial delays that made it impossible to maintain our original publishing schedule."

Meanwhile, IF I DID IT collaborator Pablo Fenves has joined the project as co-author, while IF I DID IT instigator Bret Saxon says he has "secured another publisher and that the book would come out in time for opening day." But he wouldn't name the publisher.

Hmm..."secured another publisher."

PublishAmerica? :snark, snark, snarkity-snark::

~Nancy Beck


A Free Something-or-Other

This isn't exactly writing related, but it does have to do with blogs.

The folks over at Simple.ology are giving away a course on making money with your blog. Now I probably won't want to do that with this blog...although I can change my mind, you know. :-)

I've been looking into making extra money, what with oodles of credit card debt, the lawyer's bills, and 2 car payments (oy) to contend with. Hubby can't help at the moment, so I have to look at different things. I'm currently researching home equity loans (not a home equity line of credit, as I'd want to pay back the darn thing as quickly as possible and not have to flip out with the variable rate). I'm also researching freelance opportunities, but that's ongoing, as well.

In the meantime, since I haven't yet received this course, I can't recommend or diss it at this point. But if it's free...what the hey? The spiel follows this para.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

~Nancy Beck


Motivating Yourself

Yesterday, I did a review of The Writer's Book of Hope, which was specifically geared towards writers.

Which got me thinking about motivation in general.

One of the nice things about receiving gift cards to bookstores - especially online ones - is that you can pick up whatever books you want (within the $ restraints of the gift card). Big deal, you say, you can do that whenever you want.

But, somehow, it feels kind of special going the gift card route; I can't explain it. For me, though, I tend to get books I wouldn't normally think of getting (as I usually pick up fantasy novels when I'm traipsing through a bricks-and-mortar bookstore or just going through my Wish List on Amazon). Maybe it's just me.

Anyhoo...I've been a bit in the doldrums lately (for good reasons), and one thing that was kind of getting to me was concern for my day job. I'm doing my job, of course, but it's been quite a drag for the last few months. Oh, I enjoy the people here and all (especially my bosses), but the work itself? Let me put it to you this way: I just finished slapping together the chronological file (chron file in Officespeak) for my boss...from October 2007!

Yeah, filing bites, but it's necessary if you want to find something from a couple of months ago, ya know? ;-) Now I have November 2007 to look forward to. Meh. I also have a bunch of bills that have to input into the online billing system, which then has to be approved through my boss, and then his boss.

Snoozing yet?

A Motivating Book...No, Really!

Well, one of the many books I've ordered online lately was this one:

(Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging something today, as I'm too lazy to do the neato image only stuff. :-))

It's by one of those motivational gurus (stay with me) named Steve Chandler. I think what drew me was that this is not one of those "This is the only way you can be motivated - TRUST ME!" books. Some of the 100 "ways" (little snippets, actually) made my eyes glaze over, others have stayed with me.

This is not just for would-be writers. This is to motivate you - using your brain and everything that's inside of you - to become a more motivated person. Instead of just living from day to day, bored out of your skull (unfortunately, like I currently am at my office job), his suggestions make it clear that it doesn't have to be this way.

No, I haven't lost my cynicism of most of these types of books - read 'em and forget 'em, usually - there are some things in here that are staying with me. True, I'm re-reading this stuff every day, a little at a time, but some of it is quite interesting - stuff I haven't seen before.

Then again, maybe it's because I don't read every new motivational book that comes out. So this stuff might be old hat. But not to me.

For instance, in (I think) Number 22, Mr. Chandler talks about finding your soul. One of the anecdotes he provides is about Arnold Schwartzeneggar. When he was growing up in Austria, his father prominently displayed, in a fancy frame, "Joy Through Strength." That's all it said. Arnold must've taken that to heart, huh? ;-)

He also talks about remembering the happiest day of your life, of rewinding that every so often (every day, if necessary) to remind yourself of what made you happy. How can you get that back? What can you do to get that happiness?

For me, it might've been getting married, moving into our first (and so far only) house, or something similar. With apologies to my hubby, nope.

Singing and Happiness

You read that right.

Back in third or fourth grade, I joined chorus. I always enjoyed singing the hymns in church, even if my dad and I went to Mass alone.

So I figured, why not? It sounded like fun. Of course, it was a bit of work, too, because I had to learn lyrics to some cheesy pop songs (fun ones, but still kind of cheesy). What did I do? I would come home from school, close the door to my room, and then go over and over the lyrics until Mom said dinner was ready. I'd eat dinner, finish up any homework, then go back into my room for another 1/2 hour or so to again go over the lyrics. Sure, there were times when I wanted to quit, but I didn't: My love of singing and the idea of showing others I could do it (in a group, but still...) kept me on track.

On track for what? Well, the music teacher one year said she had a special singing group she was getting together to sing Christmas songs. We would sing at a special get-together outside of school, at a local restaurant.

Was I scared at the prospect of singing in front of a whole bunch of people? Probably. But my first overwhelming thought was...OMG, I want to do that! I don't know if the music teacher felt my enthusiasm, but, you guessed it, I became part of the group!

We stayed after school for about 1/2 an hour to an hour each day. This was in addition to regular chorus. One song in particular we harmonized well on, and I can still sing it in that way today:

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green
Here we come a-wassailing
So fair to be seen

Love and joy come to you
And to you
Your wassail, too
And God bless you
And send you
A Happy New Year
And God send you
A Happy New Year

It's a traditional English carol; the music teacher substituted "caroling" for "wassailing" as she figured no one would know what the heck a wassail was. (And it was possibly related to alcohol, so that was definitely a no-go.) Anyway, we harmonized very well on this song, so it's no wonder that I can still remember this particular verse.

The other songs we sang...not so much.

Must've frustrated the heck out of the music teacher, because she decided to name our little group. What did she call it? The Dingalings. :-) And here's the difference between the time I was growing up (the 1970s) and now: Not one single kid complained to his/her parents about it, nor did any parents sue the teacher and/or school because it brought down their kid's self esteem or something. Most of us shrugged it off or had a good chuckle, while the parents did the same.

I mean, c'mon...except for that one song, we couldn't harmonize for anything. Ditzy and dingy, indeed! :-)

To Get Back to the Point

But do you see what I mean? Just thinking about that in the shower this morning made me want to blog about it, so it accomplished its purpose of getting me to write something. Yes, I'll probably futz around with my WIP, and write down some stuff on other project (a possible series) that I'm thinking about.

Definitely worth buying, but if nothing else, give the two ideas above a whirl. Maybe they'll help you out of a writing slump or out of a boring routine at work. It's got me thinking in a direction I never thought I would (writing related, but non fiction).

If you found this article or my blog useful, please favorite me at Technorati.

~Nancy Beck


The Writer's Book of Hope, by Ralph Keyes

The Writer's Book of Hope
Owl Books, 240 pages

I'm sure every writer has been discouraged from time to time, and I'm no exception. That my personal life is turned upside down doesn't help, but I'm hanging in there. (And I managed some revising the other day.)

So where does this book come in?

Mr. Keyes came out with an earlier book, and, apparently, many who read that book (The Courage to Write) wanted something to help them after they'd written their Magnum Opus. He came forth with The Writer's Book of Hope: Getting From Frustration to Publication, and I think it's a real winner.

The style it's written in is neither pie-in-the-sky nor doom-and-gloom. (Nothing like a couple of cliches on a Wednesday afternoon to get your eyes to glaze, hmm? ;-)) But what I liked was his encouragement, his "you can do this" and "look, other people have dealt with frustrations and anxieties, but they got through it." One of the most amusing - and saddening, for Mr. Keyes - was the time he wrote a non-fiction book, which went nowhere. It was remaindered, and he found a couple of copies at some furniture store! (Think IKEA.) I kid you not. Imagine walking in and finding your book in such an unlikely place - definitely cringe-worthy! (And depressing.) But it shows that Mr. Keyes knows what it's like to be depressed and frustrated and anxious over your baby.

Think of it as a pep talk with a moderately-peppered (and funny) cheerleader. It'll get you hunkering to write stuff down, or revise, or endure yet another rejection. No, he won't tell you it doesn't hurt, but he will point out how famously-published (and not-so-famously-published) authors persisted/refused to be bowed/went forward.

Because if you don't go forward, how will that book ever get published?

So, if you're disheartened, not writing, and need a pick-me-up, this might just be what your brain and your soul need.

~Nancy Beck


To Be Read - The New Year

I'm still in the middle (or maybe it's the beginning?) of The Innocent Mage from Karen Miller, and I'm not sure at this point when I'm going to finish it. I've found it a pretty dense novel (for me, anyway), and I've found the changes in POV to be somewhat distracting. I might have to put this one off (and start again at the very beginning) to give it its due.

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, mostly inspirational/motivational. Why? Well, when you've got bills up the wazoo, not much money coming in, and a court date looming, one needs all the inspiration and motivation one can get. (I be that one.)

One that I've read, and it's related to writing, is The Writer's Book of Hope, by Ralph Keyes. Inspiring, funny, and I actually got a bit teary eyed at some of the stuff he said, as if he were talking directly to me. (Sounds cliche, but I swear I felt that way!)

Anyway, I'll probably post that review tomorrow.

As for what's in my To Be Read pile...lots! :-) I want to get back into Maria V. Snyder's great Study series, plus I'd also like to start on Diana Pharoah Francis' (don't you just love her name? :-)) The Cypher, the first novel in her new trilogy. I just happened upon that book when I went to the bookstore a couple of months back, saw the cover, and bought it on the spot. It's a fantasy with a seafaring background, and I've always loved the water.

There are plenty of other ones, but I think I'm going to start off with those two, probably by this weekend (when I'll probably need a bit of an uplift).

~Nancy Beck

List Your Manuscript For Sale?

This blog post, which talks about a writer listing her manuscript on Publisher's Marketplace, is quite interesting.

You should avoid YADS (Yet Another Display Site) like the plague, as no one worth their salt in the publishing world looks at them (usually the only ones who peruse them are bottom-feeding agents and the like). Publisher's Marketplace is a bit different, as it's used by a lot of legit agents to announce books they've sold.

It was optioned as a movie, BTW, but as of this date, it still hasn't been sold to a publisher. Methinks that might happen sometime soon. :-)

Would I go as far as this woman did in order to get her manuscript noticed by the Publishing and/or Movie Gods and Goddesses? If you're truly desperate or are just intrigued, the paying version of Publisher's Marketplace is only $20 a month (I get the free, lite version, Publisher's Lunch, delivered to my email daily).

Still not sure I'd do it, but maybe at some point, I'll consider it.

~Nancy Beck