Monday Madness: How to Succeed In Publishing Without Really Trying?

I Heard It Through The Grapevine:

At BEA 2012, Bowker vice-president for publishing services Kelly Gallagher released their newest self-published books figures.

For 2011, the number of self-published titles (based on ISBNs) was 211,269. The numbers for 2010 were 133,036.

Two Hundred Eleven Thousand plus self-published books were written and published last year?

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Among the other insights Gallagher shared on the self-publishing market: the most popular genre in terms of units is fiction (45%), but that nonfiction leads in sales (38%).

The average price for a self-published fiction book was… $6.94  Nonfiction titles commanded $19.32.

And while e-books accounted for 41% of self-published units, they only accounted for 11% of sales. The reason? The average self-published e-book sold for $3.18, while trade paperbacks had an average price of $12.68 and hardcovers averaged $14.40.

According to Bowker, Amazon’s CreateSpace was the largest player in the self-publishing space last year, publishing 57,602 titles; AuthorSolutions‘ various imprints did 41,605 books, and Lulu 30,019.

I don’t have the statistics at hand but I’d be willing to place a small bet that the percentage of first-time, first-book authors on that list exceeds ninety precent.

I’d  also suspect that over ninety percent of those authors will sell far less than one hundred books each.

Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics

I read eight (8) to ten (10) professionally published books a month. My completion rate (that means I read a book from front to back without tossing it because it was either awful or so boring or so badly edited I couldn’t stand it) is around ninety-five (95) percent.

Also, in any given month I read (or attempt to) somewhere between fifteen and twenty manuscripts. My completion rate is less than than five percent.

The number of self-published titles I read last year was twenty (20). I finished exactly six (6) of them. For the year 2010 the numbers were twelve (12) and three (3).

And the reasons for low completion rate?

More than one mis-spelled word per page over the first ten pages, characters changing names and/or genders from chapter-to-chapter, lack of cohesiveness to the story…

And the number one reason?

Plot Failure.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Paying Attention, People, Publishing, Reading, Things you might have learned had you been paying attention, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Friday Fishwrap: May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Words To Live By

There are a lot of words that, by themselves mean nothing, but in conjunction with other words can gain you followers… and some of them might be unwanted.  

There is a list of keywords that the United States governments Department of Homeland Security (DHS) scans the internet for. Find enough of them in the same Blogs or web-sites and you can bet that the DHS or some other TLA (Three Letter Acronym) Agency will be watching and/or analysing your pages to see if you are a threat to National Security.

Lifehacker has published a complete list here. 

… And although it may cause a tempest-in-a-tea-cup… No, reading this will not cause an epidemic… We Hope.

Kiss Your Internet (and personal) Privacy Goodbye

Despite efforts to the contrary, the U.S. House of Republican Zealots Representatives approved CISPA earlier this year and now the U.S. Senate has to analyze it. If CISPA passes,  federal agencies will have the right to invade and share the personal information and online correspondence of anyone living in the U.S.

..And those who already collect private information… like social network websites?

They’ll be protected by this law… and can freely share this type of information… with the government.

Meanwhile… Back at The Ranch

While everyone was busy paying attention to The Zook and the less-than-stellar FaceBook IPO, a non-profit group called Fight for the Future had a an insanely great idea… and created the Internet Defense League.

The Internet Defense League’s logo is a Batman-like alert signal: a perfect choice.

Any website, blog or even a YouTube channel can join this league and fight against anti-piracy laws.  You join the league by accessing their website and signing up to receive a “sample alert code.”

The next time there’s an emergency, the league will inform you and send new code. Then, according to the league, it’s your decision to “pull the trigger” and activate its emergency broadcast system.

An impressive group have already joined the league, among them: Reddit, Mozilla, WordPress, Chezburger, Craiglist, Imgur, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Cloudflare. 

and they’re just getting started.

And finally for this Friday, OFW Editor-In-Chief Carlos J Cortes takes a look at the increasing sales in export books and examines the topic of Ethical Censorship.

Have a great weekend, and Write Well.

Posted in Books, First Amendment, Freedom of the Press, Information Technology, Paying Attention, People, Pirates, Polly want a pint o'ale, Things you might have learned had you been paying attention, Thinking, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Terrible Tuesday: Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back.

A long time ago, when someone learned a trade they had to first learn to make the tools of their trade before they could apprentice with a master craftsman.

As a tradesman learned to use those tools in the pursuit of their chosen craft they would often discover better ways of doing things and would create new tools that allowed them to be both more creative and to work smarter. This sort of technological advancement worked well for a long time.

Then along came the industrial revolution. Standardisation became the key to mass reproducibility of products, and along with manufacturing standardisation came tool standardisation. Technological advancement continued, but craftsman still used, more-or-less the same tools.

With the advent of Distributed and Mobile Information Technology, companies continued the trend in standardisation. The advantage was that everyone in the same division or functional area used the same platform and applications.

From an infrastructure standpoint it meant easily supportable standardised configurations. If a system became not repairable, you could easily replace it. Most systems and software applications were were commodity items that could be bulk-purchased and licensed at a discount.

As the use of wireless networks has increased and commodity device prices to fall, the use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)… personal devices, owned by employees and contractors rather than the employer was seen by some as a way to reduce the cost of corporate computing overhead… but the technological and security challenges for companies that were never fully considered in the past have hit hard, and with it a whole new set of costs.

Network and data security, typically implemented around the centralised data-centre architecture had to be re-thought. Many companies were still struggling with those issues when the advent of cloud-computing… a still natal technology that is still experiencing the pains of juvenile immaturity…  tossed a monkey-wrench in the works.

New technology might be fun and exciting for those of us who are technologists and craftsmen, but from a business standpoint it is a double-edged sword.

With so many companies finding an ever increasing dependence upon eCommerce, the state of technology has only increased the potential for loss of data due to theft or network intrusion.

And because of this, the idea being promoted by some of BYOT (Bring Your Own Tools) … i.e. non-standardised applications, is neither a good or welcome idea right now. It’s like bringing your own books to the library because you don’t like whats on the shelves.

Posted in Blogging, Information Technology, Paying Attention, Tech-know, Things you might have learned had you been paying attention, Thinking, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Friday Fishwrap Returns With A Boatload

Happy Friday, dear friends and followers, and welcome to another edition of The Friday Fishwrap.

There’s been a lot of noise about the validity of Amazon Reviews. It comes down to ‘professional’ Critic .vs. Public Feedback. Critics say readers are biased, but it turns out that in many cases the paid professionals are more biased that they want to admit to and that the average feedback by consumers is more likely to reflect the true worth, or lack thereof, of a particular book.

Over at, Editor-In-Chief Carlos J Cortes does the numbers for us.

Editing, like writing, is an art, and it takes a lot of effort by both writer and editor… in-concert, to take that co-called “finished” manuscript and turn it into a book.

Publishers and agents have submission standards, and No, it’s not an IQ test to see if you, the writer, can follow directions. You can read more about it in my monthly column On Writing Well.

 In a sad note, we say a fond farewell to the University of Missouri Press, which  will be shutting down this July after more than five decades of operation.

The announcement was made by UM President Tim Wolfe this Thursday. The press published about 30 books a year. It will begin to be phased out in July, although no specifics have as yet been announced.

In the United States, this coming Monday is Memorial Day, the day upon which we remember those who gave their lives for their country.

Let them not be forgotten.

It also means that yet another three-day Weekend has begun. Many of us will be spending this time travelling on short holidays, so please: slow down, be safe and be careful out there.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Paying Attention, People, Publishing, Things you might have learned had you been paying attention, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Friday Fishwrap: A Moment Of Silence

RIP Maurice Sendak

Avengers on Parade
© 2012 – AgarthanGuide
Posted in Blogging, Paying Attention, People, Random Acts of Kindness, Remembrance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monday Musings: Once Upon A Monday Dreary

“It’s quarter to three, and there’s no one in this place, except you and me….”

Since we’re not in a bar, you’ll have to chose your own libation of choice.

This past Friday, the argument between The Authors Guild and Google over its book-scanning project came to head in the Manhattan courtroom of Judge Denny Chin.

It appeared that His Honour intended to see this case finally come to trial as a class-action suit, but after Friday’s legal wrangling that may be in doubt. It is now up to the judge to determine whether the guild will be eligible to proceed as a member of the suit.

The Authors Guild has promised that even if Judge Chin finds for Google and denies the Authors Guild’s standing, the case against Google will go on with the remaining three named plaintiffs: Betty Miles, Joseph Goulden, and Jim Bouton.

After more than six years, the case could at last go to trial as early as September.

Motions for Summary Judgment are due to be filed by June 14, with all replies set to be by August 13.

So, set ’em up Joe. It’s going to be a long, hot summer.

Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead?

The prognostication over whether books are dead continue unabated, with all manner of soothsayers and far-seers continuing to harp on the fate of physical books while having no earthly idea of the form their so-called replacement will manifest.

The form that published works have taken has continued to evolve since the day the first story was written upon a cave wall, so  whether it is upon a stone tablet or a Digital ‘page,’ a story is a story.

Revisionist History?

Throughout history, despots, psychopaths, religious fanatics and politicians have all tried to hide or destroy the truth whenever it hasn’t pleased them or been to their convenience.

A fact is and still remains a fact, regardless of whether it is written upon papyrus leaves or carved upon the walls in the depths of hell itself. The truth of history remains the truth, no matter how many libraries or books one burns, bans or otherwise tries to hide from the light of day.

Even if all books eventually became Digital in format, multiple methods will exist to retain their content and data in permanent archive format. No one is going to be allowed to decide that since what was written by others does not conform to their particular beliefs or morals or political persuasions that they are going to be allowed to erase them like a drawing done on an Etch-A-Sketch™.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Freedom of the Press, Paying Attention, People, Publishing, Things you might have learned had you been paying attention, Thinking, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just My Pure Dumb Luck

“We’re playing Author Tag, and you’re it.” 

My reaction? Yeah, right… like I have time to play when my world is crumbling and crashing down around me. When the fate of the free world, not to mention several deadlines are fast approaching expiration date… 

I was going to ignore it, but I soon discovered that the world hadn’t gone up in a puff of smoke or a cloud of dust, and no masked men or women where shouting “Hi-Ho Silver, Away,” much less ‘Reach for the sky, sucker.”

And then I got tagged again.. and again, and again … and it began to dawn upon me that at this rate I was going to be publishing most of my Work-In-Progress on-line.

So instead, I’m going to play along.  What follows is the instructions for this game they’re calling:

Lucky Seven Author Tag.

1) Go to page 77 of your current manuscript or WiP. For short fiction, go to line 7.

2) Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs and post them as they are written.

3) Tag seven other authors and let them know.

4) Change your name and your user ID. Move to a foreign country where no one knows you. Hide out under your new assumed name until you’re tagged again.

5) Repeat the above steps as necessary.

Step four is of course optional, although highly recommended, especially if you’re having legal or tax difficulties… or already hiding out under an alias.

And so, without further ado;

Drasel tried to push air into his wife’s lungs and to stir her heart into beating, but to no avail. The child wailed and screamed at the sudden coldness of it’s mother, at the loss of the heat and the beat of her heart.

In despair, he picked up their baby and looked. A daughter, a beautiful daughter with eyes as blue as the sky and hair the colour of wheat. The child’s hand waved about until he placed a finger within reach. She grabbed hold and held tight as he brought the baby close to his chest so that she could feel his heartbeat and feel the warmth of his body. The child seemed to sigh and stilled into sleep. For a long time he just stood there holding and looking at this miracle of life for whom his beloved wife had given hers.

And that’s all you get for now.

In order to avoid seven years bad luck… or having seven authors pummelling me for tagging them, let me just say in advance that I will shortly be moving to an unspecified location in an unnamed foreign country that has no extradition treaties with the US or the UK… so best of luck to you.

And the lucky seven are:

Victoria Hanley

Carrie Gordon Watson

Steve Pulley

Jeannie Mobley-Tanaka

Deborah Underwood

Mike Jung

Jean Menoni Reidy

Posted in Blogging, Paying Attention, People, Publishing, The Art of Self-Promotion, Things you might have learned had you been paying attention, Tongue-Firmly-In-Cheek, Writing, WTFO? | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment