Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday Morning Muffins (High Fiber)

Welcome (once again) to the POD-dy Mouth Cafe, where we typically don't sneeze in biscuit batter. Typically.

Here is a tasty little treat that I stumbled upon over at
Agent007's blog: It is the NY Times Book Review:Book Cover review. How very cool. Here you will find how graphic artists/designers are doing it right--and how often they are doing it wrong ("move the font this way", "should have muted the color", etc.) And for someone who has to look at some of the worst book covers known to mankind, it is a breath of fresh air.

If you are going to do your own cover, you can learn some things here. It's like a free tutorial on imaging, kerning, text placement and the works.


In case any of you missed this excellent article in yesterday's Publisher's Lunch, you should check it out. The article is called "Slush Pile Superstars" which should be a big tip-off as to where they are going. It discusses all sorts of goodies: self-publishing, the Macmillan New Writers program among others, and small/independent presses--and most notably how the current system with mainstream publishers isn't working--for them or anyone else.

The independents are rising.

More amazing stats from the "management" over at PublishAmerica.

A faithful reader here at the cafe sent to me a copy of PublishAmerica's latest [promotional e-mail to their authors] regarding hype of the company. Here is my favorite part:

"We are also happy to announce that PublishAmerica has recently intensified its cooperation with and book printer Lightning Source. Together with Amazon's headquarters in Seattle where, at their invitation, we visited earlier this summer, we are investing in developing new marketing tools for our titles. Together we have also streamlined supply procedures, and for a good reason: readers are buying a PublishAmerica book at Amazon every twenty minutes, every hour of the day, day and night, every day of the week!"

Uhhh . . . let me do some math here:

A book sells every 20 minutes, that's three per hour.

3 * 24 (hours per day) * 352 (days per year) = 25,344. Now divide that by the ever-increasing number of PublishAmerica authors (let's say today's number is 13,000.) That means each PublishAmerica author (on average) will sell 1.95 units on Amazon in any given year. And considering that Amazon and BN are probably the only places you can find these titles, that it's not only depressing, it's embarrassing.

Also of note over at PA, is how well (*snicker*) the $25 PublishAmerica Pamphlet is performing. My friend with access to a Bookscan subscription tells me they are up to three copies sold!


Better still is the fact that ATLANTA NIGHTS by Travis Tea (a book written by more than a dozen authors, and which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever (intentionally--to make a point) yet was still accepted for publication by PublishAmerica*) is out selling the Meiners title exponentially.

*The book was accepted by "traditional publisher" PublishAmerica, then later rejected when someone realized what was going on (supposedly one chapter is just random words strung together.) It was later published through Lulu and has been on their Top 100 Bestsellers list since the book was released. It will give you a true idea of how PublishAmerica culls. (*snicker again*)

Well, that's it for this week, folks. It's summer after all.

You should really go out and get some sun.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Captain Kirkus (the downfall revealed)

Yowza - here's your daily five:

P5 for Thursday, July 28th, 2005:

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE : 12,396
(2) COOKIN' FOR LOVE : 17,587
(4) THE CIRCLE OF SODOM : 105,383

I've had a surprising number of emails regarding the Kirkus scam/thing from yesterday--all of them defending Kirkus.

I'm confused.

People are quick to jump on the bandwagon of "there is no prestige/pride in paying to publish" though I would suggest you get something in return (even though you may have paid too much): a book.

When you pay Kirkus, however, you get nothing--except a three paragraph statement about your book being tied solely to the fact that they're Kirkus. No one pays me to review books. Why? Because I'm not Kirkus. They have built a name for themselves by having been objective reviewers for almost 80 years. Having a hybrid version that can be procured sucks the life out of the credibility (for the Discovery portion, at least.)

Even Amazon does not treat Discovery and Traditional equally (Discovery reviews are usually submitted by the author and then limited to the 20 word entry as other self-submitted editorial reviews.)

If anyone--anyone--feels it was worth the $300, please email me, and I'll post our discussion right here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Can Kirkus be trusted?

First, here is your P5 for the day:

(3) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 48,798
(5) RATED F: 299,105

What has happened to Kirkus? The long esteemed objective reviewer of books (and has been doing so since, like, 1930 or something) has gone down the long dark path of revenue-centered promotion. Almost, dare I say, doing for reviews what POD has done for publishing.

They take your money and you sort of get something in return.

Firstly, there was the Discovery series, where Kirkus agreed to review self-published/non-traditional (sorry--they call them overlooked) books. They promise to give a full, accurate and unbiased review of any book, POD or otherwise.

For $300. Paid by the author.

How unbiased can they be? So far, I have read maybe 60 or 70 Discovery reviews and though I agree with some of them (as in the case of WAITING FOR THE WORLD TO END) I have yet to see a glimmer of negativity in any of them.

Secondly, we have the VIRGINIA KIRKUS LITERARY AWARD. Here's the deal: Submit your unpublished book to Kirkus by November 1st (bound, no less) and you have the chance to win publication. From the website:

"The winner will be awarded a standard publishing contract with Back Bay, the trade paperback imprint of Time Warner's Little, Brown. The book will be published in the fall of 2006." Wow. Sounds great!

Just don't forget to include the $150 entry fee.

So, by the time you are done making a copy of your manuscript, binding it, shipping it and including $150 smackers, you'll be out about $200.

Insane. Let's say 1,000 people enter (they'll get more). That's $150,000. Nice.

What is the author really winning? Publication with an admirable publisher.

With no advance.

And no hardback release.

It's just like the Macmillan New Writers program, except you have to pay $150-200 to get in the game. At least Xerox/Lulu are giving away $5,000 to the winner of their contest (with no entry fee!)

And people say POD publishers are scammers. Kirkus should be ashamed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The POD-dy Five

Introducing the POD-dy Five: that is, the day's top selling POD books (that I have recommended) based on Amazon's Sales Rankings, however algorithmically-challenged they may be. I am just about half-way through the year regarding book reviews (still looking at 50 total) and that means I am halfway to picking the Needle Award nominees.

Here is the POD-dy Five list for July 26th, 2005:

(3) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 51,838
(5) RATED F: 216,829

I've had a few folks already pushing for certain titles to be nominated for the highly prestigious (and highly forgettable) Needle Awards. And they're not even the authors. Just fans (I guess.)

What's the big deal about getting Needled? Well, there isn't any. No money, no handsome statue, no after-awards party where you can get wasted and experience genuine, life-changing embarrassment and regret.

The author does get this: a big plug with (so far) six agents and five editors. I am going to put together a handsome little promo that will showcase the winners (mostly the grand prize winner). And why? God, if I know. Like I have nothing else to do. But here I am, promising.

The funny part is this: three books I would have considered as Needle nominees are already in the hands of agents and editors and may very well be disqualified anyway. How complicated.

Anyway, there will certainly be more to come on this. And--agents and editors--if you want to be added to the list of who receives the award info, send me an email (all you'll get is a .PDF; I am not an agent, nor will I ever be one. I'm just a girl who likes some books no one would take a chance on.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

SUFFER IN SILENCE by David Reid (VirtualBookworm)

Anytime you tie a title like SUFFER IN SILENCE to the POD world, well . . . I'm not sure they should be paired up at all, really.

But in this case: Wow! David Reid has penned (computered? keystroked?) an excellent tome about going through Hell Week as a Navy BUD (Basic Underwater Demolition)/SEAL-in-training. Sure, we've all read the books and seen the movies. A few of us managed to make it through G.I. Jane. But the descriptions and flowing narration make it stand out. And linger.

SUFFER IN SILENCE tells the story of Ensign Mark Grey as he enters the most gruesome phase of SEAL training: Hell Week (it sure ain't Heaven Week.) As the pressure mounts and strength diminishes (try going 120 hours without sleep or enduring repeated misery in freezing water) we get a true insight for what is going on in the minds of these determined folks. Throughout the story Ensign Grey pulls himself above the rest by showing his sensitive nature, one that makes the reader question whether or not he'll make it.

SUFFER rings very true with every sentence, but please note: it is descriptive--near horror level--and in a few places actually made me woozy. There are certainly enough nasty characters in this book (and, no, not a single one of them says, "may-o-naaaise") to freak you out for some time.

If you like anything in the war/military genre and want to feel the pain, then I highly recommend Reid's compelling book.

And here's another amazing thing: This book in hardcover format is only $23.95 at 340 pages. How rare. (Paperback is $15.95.)