Back to previous post: Smokin’ spam

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Saint’s day

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

December 13, 2004

The power of the press, sort of
Posted by Teresa at 05:33 PM * 142 comments

If you follow the link from Particles that says Don’t touch with a ten-foot pole, you’ll find the suddenly squeaky-clean website of Profitable Publishing, which as of today says:

Incredible books available from Profitable Publishing at
BOOKS TO BELIEVE IN
Great books by fantastic new authors!!!!

A Division of Thornton Publishing
And a little further down:
Hey Bloggers,
Check out these books-you don’t need a 10-foot pole to read them! LOL! Please, scroll down past this top text to view all the books. They’re awesome, interesting, enjoyable and informative. Most were written by first time published authors who truly enjoy their relationship with their publishing company! Judge for yourself!…
Just for the record - the bloggers who have recently negatively targeted my website have never done business with me. Their opinions are strictly their own and do not originate from an informed position. This blog thread originated from someone being mad at an entirely different publishing company.
Yeah uh-huh.

So what’s going on? Well, as of yesterday, or possibly this morning, Profitable Publishing’s main page looked like this.

Blinding, ain’t it? And if you’re wondering whether “partner publish with us” means what you think it means, you’re right: this is a vanity/POD operation. Their minimum charge for publishing your book is $549 up front, or three payments of $200. That’s not quite the way their main page put it, though, in the previous instantiation of the site:
Partner publish with us to get your books in print fast, easy, economically and profitably!
But not grammatically.
Created by an author for authors, Profitable Publishing can take you and your book where you want to go!
Assuming that where you want to go is a vanity POD with a startlingly high initial fee.
Want to see your book in Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com?
Profitable Publishing is an:
Official Barnes & Noble Vendor since 1999
& an Amazon.com Advantage Member since 1998
That means the book’s ISBN is listed at Amazon and B&N, and that they’ll order a copy if someone comes by and asks for it. Whoopee.
Listed by Writer’s Digest November 2002 - October 2004 in their Exclusive Resource Directory as one of the top Subsidy Presses in America! Listed as one of the nations top Subsidy Press Companies by Writers Digest 3 years in a row!
Well. Er. Hey, anyone here want coffee? I’ll put on a fresh pot.
When you “partner-publish” with Profitable Publishing, most authors see a complete return on their investment with the sale of their first 100 books!!!
If they incurred no other costs whatsoever (which is impossible), and priced their books at least $5.50 above the per-unit cost, the authors might at this point start to break even.
Easily making 10 times what would be made by commercially publishing or self-publishing the old conventional offset way, the Staff at Profitable Publishing will guide you through the publishing process from start to finish - until you have a successful and profitable book project!
“Ten times what would be made by commercial publishing” is so vague that there’s no use refuting it on specifics. However, a successful POD title does not make ten times what a successful conventionally published book would make. POD doesn’t get economies of scale. It’s meant for books that sell in trickles, though it’s greatly favored by publishers whose books don’t sell at all.
Our success depends on your success! We set up the process so that it is a win/win proposition!
Given a vanity/POD publishing model, minimal pre-press input, no distribution costs, and a $550-$600 minimum fee, PP’s success can get along just fine without your success.
When you follow the profitability plan created just for your project, you’ll see success right from the start! We work together to turn your book project into a self-supporting, profitable endeavor - usually, with the first 100 books sold!
I doubt it. I most sincerely doubt it.

Have I ever mentioned that when scamhunters are checking out a publisher’s website, the first big test is whether the site is primarily pitched to the bookbuying public, or to authors who want to get published? It’s true; and very effective it is, too. Scammers and vanity operations don’t make their money selling copies of their books, so that’s not where they focus their effort. They make their money off wanna-be writers, so that’s who they pitch to. A reader-oriented main page is no guarantee that a publisher is legit, but a writer-oriented one is a very bad sign.

Profitable Publishing is all the wretched hopeless things I’ve come to expect from vanity PODs: no real distribution, no sales force, no editing as such, dreadful covers, and a publishing model that couldn’t make a success of Harry Potter and the Bridges of Pokemon County by Susanna Clarke.*

Like so many of its kind, the company grew out of the inability of its founder, Ms. E.J. Thorne, to get anyone to publish her first book.

She, like so many of her kind, has also written a book about how to achieve success in publishing. Honestly, they all write them. It amazes me. I wouldn’t write a book that claimed to do that—I know I don’t know how to guarantee publishing success, though I do know ways to improve your chances—but there are all these people out there who’ve never been conventionally published, aren’t sure what Ingram does, and wouldn’t know corrugation from Ian Ballantine’s left shoe,* but nevertheless think they know all about it.

They never mention the real secret of how they’re making money via self-publishing, which is to rook other writers into paying them money to hopelessly publish the authors’ largely hopeless books. Maybe they’re honestly starry-eyed when they first set out to publish their own work, but by the time they’re bunco-steering other writers in wholesale quantities … nah. They’ve become something else by then.

Here’s from PP’s page about things you won’t have to do any more, assuming you go with them:
Now you NO LONGER have to:
  • Spend thousands of dollars to buy thousands of books for a print run, just to make the project cost eventually cost effective. Using the latest print on demand technology and consulting with Thornton Publishing�s marketing department, together we�ll turn the book project into a self-supporting, profitable endeavor.
  • Live with mistakes. If you�ve gone to the expense of printing up your books - and then found an edit error - you�re stuck. Using the digital printing on demand, mistakes can be corrected with each new run. You�re never out of luck or out of date with this technology!
Hopeless.

They offer seminars, too.

Back to the story. This all got started over at Absolute Write’s Bewares Board, in their extremely long-running discussion of PublishAmerica. Jim Macdonald—a member in good standing of SFWA’s scamhunting crew, and a man who’s looked at a lot of bad-news publishing setups, posted this:
Re: Linking it all back to PublishAmerica…

I’ve been looking at the PublishAmerica thread, How Did You Discover PA?

A depressing number of folks just Googled on “Book Publisher,” came up with PA as the top hit, didn’t bother to do any other research, submitted there first, and the rest is history.

But others … I’ve looked at some of their prior publishing credits, and I found….

Profitable Publishing

All I can say is “Oh.”

Oh, my.

Oh. My. Ghod.

Compared to those guys, PA probably does seem like a good deal. Compared to those guys, PA probably is.

I still wish that those authors had started their publisher search at the top rather than at the bottom of the heap. Just because you published with a bottom-feeder doesn’t mean that you’ve written a bottom-feeding book.

I weep for the humanity.
Another poster there, Underthecity, observed that PP’s now-former site had a curious resemblance to a site called The Cavalcade of Schlock—you know, just sayin’. In the meantime, Jim passed the Profitable Publishing link on to me, and I put it up on Particles. All normal.

Around a quarter past eleven, Jim noted that Profitable Publishing had redone their main page, so he posted a link to the Google-cached version of the previous version. The board briefly took note of this, then went back to discussing the shortcomings of PublishAmerica. Then, around mid-afternoon, E.J. Thornton Herself showed up on the board to denounce the denunciations and explain that for her, this episode was an opportunity, not an embarrassment; but she was ticked off anyway.

I know there’s grand opera. Is there tiny opera? This is tiny opera. The drama would have played better if E.J. Thornton weren’t under the impression that posts to a public bulletin board are called “blogs.” Reconfiguring the front page would have worked better if EJT hadn’t opened her mouth on the Bewares Board and said, “My business is to sell publishing contracts to authors.”

Right. If she knew what she was doing, she’d have a different job.

Update, 12/14/04: E.J. Thornton has reconfigured her page yet again! There’s still a malediction against bloggers in tiny type at the top of the page, but the book catalogue has been moved elsewhere, and the page is now devoted to quoting nice things people have said about her in correspondence.

Further update, 12/15/04: The malediction against bloggers has now been removed. I’m going to stop reporting her changes. This is getting circular, and with the holidays coming up, she’s got to have other things she needs to be doing.

Comments on The power of the press, sort of:
#1 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:05 AM:

(laughed out loud at the Gertrude asterisk, and I'm betting very few others get the whole story [and maybe I don't!])...

So, now you're obviously Famous. Fame (in my definition) is when more people know you than you know. EJ is clearly scared of you. Cool.

#2 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:08 AM:

I will admit to being boggled by their new-front-page-listed book, Accounting Through The Eyes of Faith, a "highly inspired book which teaches not only accounting, but its spiritual heritage." Accounting's spiritual heritage? I've heard of the Lord tallying up people's sins, but I didn't think He needed to use double-entry bookkeeping... and who would be His auditor?

In other matters, you do realize, I trust, that the individual pictured in the Festive Arthropods link is the previously-mythical Santa Claws.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:18 AM:

Damn! That's what I should have used for my display line. Thank you, Jordin.

PP has a lot of odd titles.

Thomas, that's as much of the story as I know. Big Tom will surely know more.

#4 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:22 AM:

Jordin Kare:

"He's making a list, and checking it twice..."

Sounds like spiritual auditing to me.

Oh, different "He." Never mind...

#5 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:23 AM:

Jesus taught the moneychangers to do what?

#6 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:50 AM:

Hey, c'mon, there's a fine tradition of faith-based accounting. The Bush Administration has been using it for the past four years.

#7 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:52 AM:

I admit: I find this kind of tiny opera compelling. It's addictive. I can't stop looking at it.

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:00 AM:

And posting about it too, unless that was some other Harry Connolly in PW's online comment threads.

#9 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:27 AM:

I find it at least somewhat interesting that the publisher in question is willing to admit they were wrong, at least in terms of web design. Similarly, when they first put up the new text, it had some glaring infelicities which have since been removed.

There isn't anyone who's going to be happy if their life work is mocked, even when said life work is a vanity press trying hard not to be called that. Similarly, I doubt that anyone is going to move from a vanity press model to a small press model unless they really want to; vanity presses aren't generally hugely profitable enterprises, but they don't bleed money like a small press can.

Still, I do find the ability to change in response to criticism a heartening one. E.J. Thornton, I have no doubt that you're going to read this thread; it's about your company, after all. And, I have little doubt that you're going to respond to it; it's only natural.

What'll follow won't be pretty.

But once the thread dies down, and people here have turned their attention to other things, you might want to consider finding out a bit more about the traditional publishing model; at the very least, you'll be able to explain more clearly why you aren't doing things that way.

And, honestly, you can do worse than looking through the archives here. Making Light isn't exclusively a publishing industry blog. It isn't even primarily a publishing industry blog. But when it talks about publishing, it's written by someone who knows the industry, and can talk about it, and it's commented to by people who know the industry and can talk about it.

(I realize that it's not fun to learn things from people who are mocking you. It'd probably be best if you skipped the bit where you post here, as that's what's going to happen. I do realize that you have a perfect right to post in defense of your business, and I realize that you're going to want to. It's just not a good idea.)

(Y'know, an index of publishing related posts here might be a good thing to have. And as the alternative is to write, it's possible that I'll take a stab at that today.)

#10 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:42 AM:

Jordin: the spiritual accounting thing creeped me right out too. "I knew ye in the womb; and I entered ye as a credit to account 010101, making sure to enter a corresponding liability to account 1010101."

Teresa: That "Festive Arthropods" link is simply the best thing I've seen all year - but I do agree with Jordin that the proper label is "Sandy Claws". Or maybe "And they call him Sandy Claws".

#11 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:44 AM:

I know I was at an iteration of "Harry Potter and the Bridges of Pokemon County" as apparently-to-me spontaneously generated on a panel at . . . Arisia? Boskone? One of them, a few years ago.

Incidentally, a friend suggests that Dan Brown would be a better authorial choice for it. It would be one way of assuring the quality of the writing was in keeping with the vision.

#12 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 04:46 AM:

At the Festive Arthropods particle, I love Rudolph the Red Nosed Prawn.

My suggestion for a caption: Lobster Nivôse.

"and all around the world children lie awake in bed, listening for the eldritch clicking of chitinous claws..."

#14 ::: Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:06 AM:

Jordin:

Previously mythical? Just dead...

(mind you, looking at a picture, perhaps "lying eternal" might be more appropriate.)

#15 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:22 AM:

I note that Profitable Publishing (aka "Books to Believe In," I suppose in contrast to books to read) is "a division of Thornton Publishing." I'm kind of wondering what the other divisions are - does this woman run multiple vanity presses with different pitches, or what?

I would also like to note that Woo Woo Chronicles by "Debra Havermann (aka) White Heart Turtle Woman" should probably win some sort of Honest Title of the Year award.

#16 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Just a quick note -- the quoted section which begins "Now you NO LONGER have to:" has had its apostrophes turn into question marks for me. I guess they were using smart quotes of some strange variety that don't work with firefox.

#17 ::: Magenta ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:26 AM:

Just out of curiousity, what would be a good way to self publish? There are times when you would like to publish a book, but it isn't commericially appealing. My mother is turning 80, and I'd like her to see a copy of her poems in a bound volume somehow. Maybe make a dozen copies to give to family members. It's the only thing I can think of to do as a gift for her. What would you suggest?

#18 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:37 AM:

Magenta: for a dozen copies--your local copy shop will do certain kinds of binding. If you want paperback-style binding, I hear good things about CafePress's quality. They take their cut out of the sale price of the volume, and there's no setup fees, rights issues, contracts, etc.

#19 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:38 AM:

Magenta, have you considered making a book by hand? I did that for my mother one year, with some old family photos of her mother's, and she loved it. Advantages: you can really spread yourself with different inks and pens and papers. Disadvantages: if one's dream is to be published and have copies for friends and family, this quickly becomes the sort of thing one needs trained monks for.

#20 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:39 AM:

A collation of the 'Best of' publishing links would be hugely useful.

I could point people there and say, "Go visit. Then go visit the SFWA scambusters page. That company you're thinking about vanity publishing with? Google for their name, scam, fraud, etc."

It is rather distressing the number of writers who pack brilliant prose when they get down to it. But from the publishing side of the brainpan, just disconnect their critical thinking skills.

Meep. So resources of any sorts, filled with the voices of Experienced Authors, Editors and Sundry Folk would really help. I've got a small collection, but usually I just have to grab the company name and run a Google on them to show people who their getting in with.

Honestly, vanity publishing is all fine and good (I suppose) but at least go into the process informed. Knowledge of How Things Should Work will keep you from getting fleeced in most industries.

Sorry if not making sense, migraine has it's Elder God tentacles in my brain. I'd like to simply put up a "Yes, please." for the idea of a collation of Making Light/Electrolite publishing particles, posts.

#21 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:42 AM:

In legitimate book new online:

No library books were harmed during the making of these digital copies.

About Google Print (Beta)

What is Google Print?

"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Since a lot of the world's information isn't yet online, we're helping to get it there. Google Print puts the content of books where you can find it most easily – right in Google search results."

"To use Google Print, just do an ordinary Google search. For example, when you search on 'Books about Ecuador Trekking' or 'Romeo and Juliet,' and we find a book that contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book at the top of your search results. Click on the book title and you'll see the page of the book that contains your search terms, as well as other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click 'Buy this Book' and you'll go straight to an online bookstore selling it. If the book was scanned from a library, click the library link to find a local library that has it."

"Right now we're just testing this program, so you may not see books in your results for every search. But you can expect to see more and more books popping up in your search results in the coming months."

"If you're a book publisher and you'd like to have your books included in Google search results, look into the Google Print program for publishers...."

#22 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 10:44 AM:

Magenta -- for a dozen copies? Go to your local independent print shop and see what they can do for you.

#23 ::: A. Nonny Mouse ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Heh. And people think fanfic is a waste of time. I suspect fanfic has made me more money that Profitable Publishing would. After all, it's always better to break even than go into the hole...

;-)

#24 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Kate Nepveu writes:

"If you want paperback-style binding, I hear good things about CafePress's quality."

I've used CafePress a couple times to bang out personal copies of manuscripts and have them in readble form. So long as you yourself format the book well, it's not bad at all. It's expensive, though: Upwards of $15 a copy for a novel-length manuscript.

#25 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:47 AM:

Magenta --

It is also not unknown for a biggish city to have some bookbinders. They're generally going to be restoring valuable books for libraries or those fortunate persons able to maintain their own library, but they can as easily sew new signatures together. If you can find one, you could ask them what they can start with.

Cafe Press will be much less expensive, but if you want an archival grade book, sewn binding and all, this approach will do it.

#26 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:48 AM:

Magenta,

I looked into CafePress a while ago. Their user agreement says that you give them a perpetual license to any works you upload, which means you can't force them to stop selling a work.

I ended up using a POD company called Lulu. They require no money up front. You upload your book, and they take a piece of each copy sold. If you only want to buy one copy, then that's all you buy. And their user agreement allows you to takedown your stuff if you want to.

The cost of a book is $4.53 plus 2 cents a page plus whatever royalty you add on. (plus S/H). That's all you ever have to pay to Lulu.

I'd been working on my sci-fi book for years and bought a bunch of copies to give to all the people who had read it over the years and given me feedback. My book was 300+ pages and I could buy one copy for $12. (I had a bunch of people to give 'thank you' copies to, so I got a box of 50 for $8.50 a book)

You can upload a MS-Word document and buy a single copy, and if you don't like it, take down your book and never send them another cent.

#27 ::: dsquared ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:48 AM:

There's really no way to make small volume production of books work as a commercial proposition. I've spent the last couple of months looking at it, and I have the advantages of a) lots of spare cash b) lots of spare house space c) mates who upgrade their Docutech machines every year and flog off the old ones cheap. I still can't get it to add up; the paper, ink, binding and distribution costs add up to less than the price of a book. It looks to me as if books are intrinsically mass-produced items.

A religious history of accounting could in principle be very interesting. Double-entry bookkeeping was invented by monks, and there are an awful lot of accounting principles which are actually quite general philosophical principles about time, space and causation in disguise.

#28 ::: dsquared ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:50 AM:

By "less than the price of a book" above, I obviously mean "more than the price of a book"; it's financial analysis like that which has made me a millionaire today (ie: I inherited a billion dollars).

#29 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 11:56 AM:

Greg London: CafePress's TOS says

"You hereby grant to CafePress.com a royalty-free, worldwide, transferable, nonexclusive, right and license to use such Content, in all media existing now or created in the future, as CafePress.com deems necessary to enable you to use the Create & Buy Service to create, manufacture and purchase Products for so long as your Content remains uploaded to the Web Site."

(My emphasis).

Their publishing FAQ says,

"If I publish my book through CafePress.com, will CafePress.com own the rights to my book?
NO. You retain all rights to your book, but grant a non-exclusive license to CafePress.com. Once you cease using the CafePress.com service, CafePress.com will cease its use of your book."

I don't know Lulu, but your description of them sounds quite similar to CafePress's service.

#30 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:08 PM:

Kate,

Back when I was considering using them, I emailed CafePress support to clarify what their contract means.

I told them I read their contract to mean that "perpetual license" means they are not required to take the work down if they do not want to. And I wanted to confirm this is what it meant.

They replied that they can take down works when the author requests it, but no, their contract does not require them to do so.

That was straight from the horses mouth. They also said they were considereing changing their contract to drop the perpetual license piece, but that it wouldn't happen anytime soon.

Lulu neither makes no claims of copyright, nor requires nothing like a "perpetual license" to uploaded works.

If cafepress has changed its ways, great. But as long as the phrase "perpetual license" is on their website, I don't care how they explain it, I'm going to avoid them.

#31 ::: iJames ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Teresa:
"The drama would have played better if E.J. Thornton weren’t under the impression that posts to a public bulletin board are called 'blogs.'"

In fairness, this is the sort of nuanced distinction that may not be obvious to someone who isn't already connected to the culture. Now that "blog" is finally entering the public consciousness, it's surely going to get attached to everything, just like "Web" is overgeneralized and "Champagne" is overgeneralized. If you aren't a connoisseur of the form, it largely doesn't matter to you what the differences are.

I give Ms. Thornton mighty props just for finding the right thread of the right Absolute Write board, logging on, and posting. I am not being sarcastic. At a certain level of technical consciousness -- say, the level at which people create Web pages like the first iteration of her site -- that's a genuine achievement. What she calls it after that is really of lesser importance.

#32 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:16 PM:

I am a slave to my prejudices. Were I looking for a vanity press, the visual incoherence of the Profitable Publishing page would send me fleeing. I can't even get past the look of the thing to consider the business practices.

#33 ::: Adrienne Martini ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:18 PM:

Just as an additional point of info, last I heard Dorothy Deering was out of jail. Not that I'm implying that there is a relationship between E. J. Thornton and Deering. Not that I'm not implying it either.

#34 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Just checked CafePress. They changed their TOS as of August this year. (several months after I had decided to go with Lulu.) The word "perpetual" isn't on their new contract, though I didn't read it enough to see if they had the same effect with different language.

#35 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:26 PM:

Tom,

So, by your definition, anybody with Alzheimer's (or just a plain bad memory for people) is famous?

#36 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:31 PM:

In fairness, this is the sort of nuanced distinction that may not be obvious to someone who isn't already connected to the culture.

She operates an internet-based business, and her statement about "blogs" was made in connection with that business. I don't think it's unfair to expect some minimum level of awareness greater than that expected of someone whose work is conducted entirely off-line.

#37 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:40 PM:

BTW, in an effort to answer my own question above, I looked at the Thornton Publishing site. No other divisions, it looks identical to the original eye-searing Profitable site.

#38 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 12:46 PM:

Re: the spiritual heritage of accounting: As an accountant, I can tell you that for what it's worth, the first published description of double-entry bookkeeping comes from a Franciscan friar, Fra Luca Pacioli. Beyond that, I got nothing.

#39 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:05 PM:

JVP, what's that got to do with anything?

iJames, if she were just a private citizen, I'd give her props for being able to find a thread that mentions her name on a publicly accessible bulletin board. The trouble is that she's set herself up as a publisher, encouraging writers to give her the stewardship of their books. She's told them that she knows what she's doing.

Also, she's got to know by now that her authors' books aren't selling. Amazon rankings are imprecise, but you can use them to get a rough idea of a book's sales. Many of PP's titles have the kind of Amazon ranking that says, "Your mom and your grandma bought copies, but the rest of the family balked." Some have been in print for years and have no ranking, meaning that in all that time, not a single copy has sold through Amazon. Some aren't in the Amazon database at all, which either means you don't have an ISBN, or you don't have a book.

Yet her website even now trumpets the idea that her authors get "a complete return on their investment, usually in the first 100 books!" That's twenty or thirty copies over the average number sold to the author and the author's family and friends. They're not selling through online bookstores, which is PP's only distribution system. I very much doubt they're getting onto bookstore shelves; you know the problems there.

If shes's emphasizing how easily they'll make their money back, and offering to let them vanity publish on the installment plan, she's pitching her publication scheme to people who can't comfortably afford $600.

Tell me again how sympathetic I'm supposed to feel?

#40 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:09 PM:

She's redone her page again, btw.

#41 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:18 PM:

It's possible for a book to get an Amazon sales ranking without them ever having sold a single copy.

I'm blanking on the name of the person who told me. He used to work for WotC, and wrote a book for them. When it went out of print, they gave him the remaining copies. Some time later, Amazon asked WotC about it; WotC referred them to the author. Out of curiousity, he checked the book on Amazon and found a sales ranking.

#42 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:20 PM:

I've been told that Lulu's books are superior in quality to those of CafePress. I haven't seen either myself, though. I do know that Lulu allows you to restrict access to your book so it is not publicly available. This year, they're offering one free book (with free shipping) to any NaNoWriMo winner, and they're promoting it as a way to get a free bound proof of your draft without "publishing" the novel. To me, this speaks highly of their honesty; there's no sales pitch claiming that you'll be successful if you publish through them, and they acknowledge that most people will want to publish with a traditional publisher instead. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume that getting one bound copy of your first draft isn't something real publishers will care about later.)

Also, anyone who won NaNo, or who knows someone who won NaNo and isn't planning to use the offer, could use this to test the quality of Lulu books. They're not going to check the content of submitted books, as far as I know, so you could use it for a family cookbook, poetry collection, whatever.

#43 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 01:43 PM:

Jordin, "...who would be His auditor?" Why, the Adversary, of course.

Magenta, "Just out of curiousity, what would be a good way to self publish?"..."My mother is turning 80, and I'd like her to see a copy of her poems in a bound volume somehow."

What you want to do, I think, is printing rather than publishing--publishing implies distribution. So talk to a few printers. Before you do this, I suggest you think about what kind of book you want both visually (design) and physically (printing and binding). Before talking to printer, have some ideas about size, binding, and paper. If you capable of doing your own design, choosing fonts and layouts and so on and perhaps producing art as well, it is easy enough to produce electronic masters using widely-available software (do NOT use MS-Word, however!) If you don't want to do design, you can go to a local design firm to have the pages made up.

So look around; what you want to do is fairly straightforward.

#44 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:07 PM:

TNH: Is there tiny opera?

Operetta?

#45 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:08 PM:

TNH: Is there tiny opera?

Operetta?

#46 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:16 PM:

Sorry for double post--got weird error message the 1st time. BTW, the "Why writers go berserk" link now says that the post has been removed from Craig's List. What was it?

#47 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:23 PM:

Forget everything about the actual service offered; I just can't get over that web page design. I don't think I could do business with anyone with a web page that looks like that.

#48 ::: iJames ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:38 PM:

Teresa:
"Tell me again how sympathetic I'm supposed to feel?"

If that was directed at me, I never said once how sympathetic you're supposed to feel. She's taking money from writers and giving them nothing but horrible colors. That's uncool.

My point was only about her misuse of "blog." I still feel that's a frivolous offense. On her actual offenses, ayup, hangin's too good for 'er. I say let her serve time as a PoD machine. Make her copy out every book in her catalog, by hand, at least 100 times or until all of her authors "see a complete return on their investment," whichever comes last.

#49 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:46 PM:

Robert L:
TNH: Is there tiny opera?
Operetta?

Perhaps she means the nearly massless, weakly interacting form of opera: the operino.

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Leptoperon?

#51 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 03:39 PM:

Teresa:

I do hope that I've not given any indication that you're supposed to feel sympathetic toward the person in question. I'll admit to being somewhat sympathetic myself, but that's mostly sympathy towards someone I've constructed in my head, rather than the actual vanity publisher.

It's probably worth noting that the business model that seems to be in play is the author sells books to friends and family directly, rather than pointing them at Amazon; hence the talk of buying shipments of books on the tribute page that's now the house's front page. Thus, low Amazon sales figures aren't going to be seen as evidence for failure. I still think that gormless, rather than evil is a likely explanation, but I'm perfectly willing to accept the fact that I might be wrong.

On an unrelated note, a bit of comment spam got into this entry before the great shutting of threads.

Not that I'm re-reading the whole archive. Er, yeah. Not that at all.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 04:17 PM:

I hate to say it, but for some reason I kinda like that one. I'll leave it up for now.

#53 ::: Richard Cobbett ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 04:40 PM:

I did an article on Lulu a few months ago and they sent me some samples. Pretty good quality. Decent printing, binding that resisted my attempts to shake out the pages and good quality paper stock. If I were going to POD anything at the moment, I'd certainly use them rather than Cafe Press (whose books I've also seen and were okay, but not great). Haven't tested out the other PODs though.

As for Lulu in general, I like the fact that they're upfront - a straight case of "Want your book? Okay, we'll print it for you, and anyone else who wants a copy." No ludicrous hype, money-grubbing setup fees, insane hidden costs or false promises of fame and glory. Was impressed with what I saw.

ASS COVERING DISCLAIMER: This was a few months ago now, although I haven't heard any horror stories.

#54 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 04:41 PM:
And posting about it too, unless that was some other Harry Connolly in PW's online comment threads.

That's me. Usually, I'm content to lurk but sometimes I can't resist.

I so don't have time for these tiny operas and they have nothing to do with me whatsoever. I need some serious soul-searching to figure out why I can't let go of it.

#55 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 04:51 PM:

Leptoperon is tempting, but operino will fit more easily into my backpack. Operino it is.

#56 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 05:06 PM:

I need some serious soul-searching to figure out why I can't let go of it.

Kraue, schóner Schadenfreude,
In der Weblog Heiligtum;
Schlag in Ruhe, mit Verständnis
Das Sie nicht im Schwindel kam.

#58 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 05:40 PM:

In that thread that just got the kinda likeable comment spam, Teresa wrote: There was one I read when I was in high school — Sarah, I think its title was; the cover was mostly magenta-purple — that was published by Warner as a sort of quasi-Regency bodice-ripper, back when bodice-rippers were getting big but there weren’t enough of them yet to feed the pipeline. But it wasn’t anything of the sort! Not only was it full of authentically unromantic period detail — the Corn Law Riots made a major appearance — but it wasn’t properly a romance at all. The heroine turns down the handsome and eligible young man who proposes to her near the end, and instead marries his very old and very much smarter uncle. The uncle dies in due course, leaving his money to her instead of the eligible young man. When we last see her, she’s making plans to move to Wales with her best girl friend and use the money to start a school. Young Teresa thought that was pretty cool. I wish I still had a copy.

This description intrigued me so much when I stumbled across it recently that I went and found the book. The title is indeed Sarah, and it's by Diane Pearson. The copy I read was a hardcover from the library, and some of the details are slightly different, but close enough that it's got to be the one.

Comment spammers are good for something; without this one, I wouldn't have found the thread again. ;)

#59 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 05:48 PM:

In re: the comment spam.

It's hard not to be at least somewhat charmed by a website whose menu options are: "Company", "Glory", "All Product", "Catalog", "Sale Net", "Contact" and "Login".

People looking to spruce up their website -- adding a button labeled "Glory" is probably the way to go.

#60 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 06:14 PM:

Alter S. Reiss wrote:
People looking to spruce up their website -- adding a button labeled "Glory" is probably the way to go.

"So the button...is Glory... And Glory is the button?"

(My friends and I still throw that Buffy line at each other.)

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 06:25 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

"JVP, what's that got to do with anything?"

Major redefinition of the relationship between author, publisher, library, and reader -- which is what online POD entities purport to be.

Also, timely: it was front page of today's New York Times, looked on-topic to me, and hadn't (that I saw) been mentioned on Making Light, where discussions of publishing, libraries, copyright, and the like seem to be of interest.

The rest of the story deals with specific libraries, such as those of New York City, University of Michigan (which has lot o' Science Fiction, I think), Harvard, and Oxford.

I'm not shilling for Google -- heaven knows they don't need my help to make money -- but it looked like Big News to me. Am I wrong that real news of publishing/web/books trumps false news? As always, I Could Be Wrong, and if so, I'm sorry.

#62 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 06:30 PM:

Hmmm.

Kraue, schóner Schadenfreude,
In der Weblog Heiligtum;
Schlag in Ruhe, mit Verständnis
Das Sie nicht im Schwindel kam.

is beyond me, I'm afraid.

And http://translation2.paralink.com/ gives me:

Kraue, schóner malicious pleasure,
In the web log sanctum;
Blow in rest, with understanding
You did not come in the dizziness.

"Blow in rest, with understanding" heh. Somehow, I don't think that's what Mr. Ford wrote. Also, I have not come in the dizziness. At least not recently.

Babelfish gives me this:

Kraue, schóner damage joy,
in the Web log Heiligtum;
Impact in peace, with understanding
you in the swindle did not come

So I have to admit--this went way, way over my head.

Dangit.

#63 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 07:00 PM:

I've been singing that bit of verse to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

I hope that was on purpose, Mr. Ford, or I shall feel remarkably silly!

#64 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 07:04 PM:

I'm not going to try and make the translation rhyme:

"Scratch your head at the lovely pleasure of others' misfortune,
In the sanctuary of the weblog;
Post in peace, with the understanding
You didn't get caught in the swindle."

["Schlag" is a highly idiomatic word; it does mean to strike a blow, but anschlagen is to nail up a poster or bill, and it also means "whipped cream," as in the Schlagobers that tops a Viennese coffee. I'm not sure it is actually the common German term for "post to the Net," my schooling and my dictionary being both too old, but it seemed like an acceptable usage.]

#65 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 08:58 PM:

Thanks, John.

#67 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 09:47 PM:

Corrugation is the collective term for all those counter display units, bookshelf displays, freestanding displays with six or nine book-pockets, fancy bits of printed cardboard that stick up from the displays, etc. etc. etc. It's part of the arcana of mass market.

#68 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2004, 09:48 PM:

John M Ford - You made my day with that one, although I think "Das" in the last line should be "Dass," which, post spelling-reform, is no longer written with the ess-tzet, and that "Kraue" should be "Kratze" nicht wahr? I also believe that the preferred word for "post" in the web context is "stellen." "Im Betrug" might also be better than "im Schwindel." (Any German speakers to confirm this?) Thankfully, none of these would change the scansion.

Of course, I'm just applying my not-so recent Mittelstufe skills, so I could be totally wrong, except for the dass thing, which I'm sure of.

BTW - you can supplement your musty German dictionary with leo.org for translations and Canoo for conjugation and declension of just about everything. Both of those sites have my hearty endorsement.

#69 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 02:12 AM:

TNH writes:

Corrugation is the collective term for all those counter display units, bookshelf displays, freestanding displays with six or nine book-pockets, fancy bits of printed cardboard that stick up from the displays, etc. etc. etc.

Ah. I knew the word "dump," but a dump is presumably just one species of the order.

By the way, Alyse Middleton's dad is in the corrugated-paper business (which comes in handy when a Chicago fan wants to move), and she is careful to point out that our common brown boxes are properly described not as cardboard, but as corrugated paper.

(This is not to quibble with your description, simply to note a related factoid. I'm sure that at least some of those book-flogging gewgaws incorporate authentic cardboard...)

#70 ::: liz ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 03:21 AM:

I know there’s grand opera. Is there tiny opera? This is tiny opera..” Tiny opera? All the time, just go to any church altar guild (or similar) or PTA-type organizations.

Sometimes the only way to not run howling out of the meeting with bleeding ears is to imagine the tenor....

Having a brain fade I couldn't remember what to call sewn bindings and found Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, which is a branch of CoOL, a project of the Preservation Department of Stanford University Libraries,, which is a full text library of conservation information, covering a wide spectrum of topics of interest to those involved with the conservation of library, archives and museum materials.

#71 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 11:03 AM:

Robert L., the Craig's List post was a help-wanted bit. Guy with fabulous SF franchise idea wants to hire writer who will, for a flat fee ($2000, I think) actually write the thing for him while Idea Man takes meetings with movie studio suits. Idea Man retains rights, will collect all royalties, etc.

#72 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 11:43 AM:

nerdycellist, I feel certain that it was. But I also think you should feel silly, mostly because everyone should feel silly once in a while...

To finish out the tune, though:

Schwindlersträumen wachen wieder
Unser Wirtin, die viel schläft;
Alle Leute lachen mit ihr
Vor den Dummheit hier geträft.

My grammar may have problems too. Please correct if your German is better than mine.

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 11:45 AM:

Oh, and: Teresa, I believe an operino is made up of leptoperons, but I haven't consulted the local physicists on the topic...

#74 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 11:59 AM:

Oh, and: Teresa, I believe an operino is made up of leptoperons

Don't be ridiculous!

An operino is a member of the leptoperon family. There are six leptoperons, pairs of messy and messless particles. Messy particles have no substance, and are not known to interact with brain matter.

---- increasing mass/energy --->
messless: operetta, comic opera, opera
messy: operino, soap opera, space opera

(By formal naming conventions, soap operas and space operas ought to be soap operinos and space operinos respectively, but the names were codified in the 1930s and 40s, before modern naming standards arose.)

#76 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:11 PM:

$5,000, it was, which is still ridiculous if you're actually doing that kind of project; and the actor said he'd be "writing" the majority of the episodes -- any time he didn't have work as an actor, that is. I can imagine what kind of writing that would be.

Beware of projects whose promoters are describing them as franchises before a single [entertaining object] has shipped.

#77 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:31 PM:

James D. Macdonald:

"It pays to advertise in Making Light."

That page nicely shows a big spike in page views and visitors over a couple of days, but oddly does not show WHAT page is being hit. I can infer that it has something to do with something in Making Light, and maybe involving a page of yours, but I'd like to know more. I use Urchin for webstats on my domain, and don't get nearly as pretty a graph.

#78 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:37 PM:

WRT Craig's List ad:
Plus, the guy didn't know much about Sci-Fi, but he was teaching himself. And it was gonna be a real big-budget thing, kinda Pitch Black meets Star Wars. And you had to be an experienced Sci-Fi author, and also not someone who was just about the money. And he would supervise everything you wrote, and tell you if it was okay or not, and you would only be writing in between his acting projects, you know, when he had the time to supervise, unless he really grew to trust you and then it might be okay if you did a little on the side as long as he approved it...

#79 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:39 PM:

If I'm not mistaken, Jonathan, those are the site statistics for Thornton Publishing and thorntonpublishing.com. Thornton's homepage has a link to their statistics, which are hosted by sitemeter.

Why? Who knows?

#80 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:41 PM:

Jonathan Vos Post: but oddly does not show WHAT page is being hit.

My address bar shows Thornton Publishing.

#81 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:45 PM:
An operino is a member of the leptoperon family. There are six leptoperons, pairs of messy and messless particles. Messy particles have no substance, and are not known to interact with brain matter.

---- increasing mass/energy --->
messless: operetta, comic opera, opera
messy: operino, soap opera, space opera


Well, that can't be right. What about horse opera? Or opera boffo? Clearly experimentation is called for. I have a grant proposal here to fire a beam of protons at a production of Tosca...

#82 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:52 PM:

Where do horse operas (and the anti-particle oaters) fit into this diagram?

#83 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 12:53 PM:

Criminy -- always remember when making an easy pun to check if it's been done already.

#84 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 01:04 PM:

The misleadingly named "horse opera" is actually a member of the hadroperon family, along with Danielle Steele made-for-TV miniseries, the Three Stooges, and Dr. Who. Hadroperons obey what is colloquially known as "Pauly Shore's Exclusion Principle," which is that no one can like more than one of these particles at the same time.

There's no such thing as opera buffo. Uhh... look! A monkey! *scram*

#85 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 01:28 PM:

Opera buffo? Opera bufo, maybe...

Oh, Froggy went a-courting and he did ride,
ding dang dong go the wedding bells
With sword and pistol by his side,
ding dang dong go the wedding bells

#86 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 02:20 PM:

Andrew Willett and Tracina:

Thank you! This provides additional support for the statement: "there is no such thing as bad publicity."

Similarly, the simplest way to have a big Science Citation Index, i.e. to have lots of scientific papers reference one of your own, is to get a paper published in a prestigious scientific journal, which is very very WRONG. Then lots of people publish papers to prove that you are wrong, and you can cry all the way to Tenure.

#87 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 02:21 PM:

Alex Cohen wrote:
There's no such thing as opera buffo.

I saw an opera buffo once. All I can say is, there's a reason most operas have so much costuming.

(And the entire audience winced every time the tenor hit a high note.)

#88 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Accounting's spiritual heritage:

20. Rabbi Akiva used to say: All is given against a pledge, and
the net is cast over all living; the shop stands open and the shopkeeper gives credit and the account book lies open and the hand writes. Every one that wishes to borrow let him come and borrow; but the collectors go their daily rounds and exact
payment from man with or without his consent
; for the collectors have that on which they can rely; and the judgement is a judgement of truth; and all is made ready for a feast.

From the Pirkei Avot translation available online at http://www.shechem.org/torah/avot.html . Not my favored translation, but it's available online.

#89 ::: EmilyB ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Coming from a different faith tradition, the Sri Guru Grant Sahib - the central scripture of the Sikh faith - includes a number of mentions of accounts or accounting. This is my favorite, of the ones I've read so far: "He did not take my accounts into account; such is His forgiving nature." (page 619, any standard printing of the SGGS; also available online at srigranth.org, among other places)

Actually, searching for "account" on srigranth.org turns up 173 occurrences, including
"Everyone's account is kept in the True Court, and through the Beauty of the Naam, they are saved." (p.109)
"They are called to account for each instant and each moment. Every grain, every particle, is weighed and counted." (p. 127)
"In the Sanctuary of the spiritual warrior, the account books of the Messenger of Death are torn up." (p. 196)

#90 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2004, 09:20 PM:

EmilyB: I first read that as "Beauty of the Naan". I shouldn't read Making Light while hungry, I guess.

#91 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 12:46 AM:

Of course there's no such thing as an opera buffalo. They were all killed off...

Oh. Buffo.

Never mind.

#92 ::: Jim Flannery ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 01:58 AM:

It's sort of late, since her page has changed, but I did want to point something out. The "Hello bloggers" message made specific reference to something along the lines of her "books you don't need a ten-foot pole for" so it would be a reasonable assumption that she was addressing people coming from Making Light. This is a "blog", nicht wahr?

#93 ::: Jim Flannery ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 02:16 AM:

Ack, never mind, I finally found her post on the PW board and she thinks that's a blog too. Sorry.

#94 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 02:44 AM:

Well, since 10 feet = 3.04800 meters, approximatly, how many meters of pole DOES one need to touch She Who Thinks Everything On The Net's a Blog, and Anything That Loses Money is Profitable?

Or, if her "service" will not be good for long, 10 feet = 0.0151515152 furlongs?

Or, if she thinks that we have really microscopic intelligence,
10 feet = 30 480 000 000 angstroms?

Or, since she's really in the dark,
10 feet = 3.22180736 × 10^-16 light years?

I just handed in my final course grades for 60 Intermediate Algebra students to the registrar, and my dog refuses to do any Math homework. Good thing I have collaborators on the net.

#95 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 03:11 AM:

Well, since there's a micro-sub-thread set to "Ode to Joy", it's worth noting that 12/17 marks the 234th anniversary of Ludwig van B's baptism. Let's all join Schroeder in wishing Beethoven a happy 234th!

#96 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 08:22 AM:

Thornton Publishing on Absolute Write, to James Macdonald:

So please admit, that you just don't know what it would be like to do business with me, because you NEVER have and maybe, just maybe, there is a subsidy publisher out there who might be different, dare I say better, than the others you've dealt with!

I want you to publically say that! I need you to get that makinglight woman to say the same thing!

I am...stunned. Does she truly believe you can order someone to change their mind, and order them to order someone else to change their mind as well? Am I reading this wrong? If not, can someone with more experience than I in psychology tell me if this is a common belief?

#97 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 08:34 AM:

Tracina,
If not, can someone with more experience than I in psychology tell me if this is a common belief?

These aren't the droids you're looking for...

#98 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:12 AM:

"That makinglight woman?" Some people get all the cool epithets. *jealous*

I can just imagine it being used in some homeschool class: "Now stop asking about evolution! Or you'll end up like", in a hushed voice, "that makinglight woman."

;P

#99 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:16 AM:

E. Thornton, via Absolute Write, via Tracina:
I want you to publically say that! I need you to get that makinglight woman to say the same thing!

Was anyone else suddenly hypnotized by visions of a Making Light alternate universe fanfic? Evil Jim sways Teresa to the side of evil, and Evil Teresa and Chaotic Neutral Patrick remake the Tor Web site as they cackle wildly and begin taking ads for Ashcroft 2008...

#100 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:20 AM:

"Makinglight Woman" sounds like one of those woo-woo fake Indian names.

#101 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:26 AM:

Where is the bit about "that makinglight woman"? I can't find it at Absolute Write.

#102 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:38 AM:

Teresa: The "makinglight" post is on page 3, the second entry.

#103 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:39 AM:

Larry, it is in fact Beethoven's actual birthday today. Also Arthur C. Clarke's (he's 87) and my friend Lenore's (her age remains undisclosed at this time).

<pout>No one seems to have noticed my completion of the German verse, even enough to ask for a translation, or even correct the grammar.</pout>

#104 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:41 AM:

Gah. I meant to add -- in the "Bewares and Background Check" forum, in the "Profitable Publishing" thread.

(I need more coffee. Lots more.)

#105 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:47 AM:

Xopher, I didn't have any trouble with the German, but I thought the scansion in the third line was a bit weak.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:59 AM:

Yeah, Jim, you're right, it is. Getting something to come out in line 4 that rhymed with 'schläft' was the problem...or even coming up with something to SAY that rhymed with it!

I'm no Mike Ford, you know. I still think it's pretty good for a non-genius doing it at work in 5 minutes or so.

Any suggestions?

#107 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:01 AM:

My mom also shares a birthday with Beethoven. And she's a 5th grade teacher, so she's way cooler to kids (and, incidentally, more influential)

#108 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:13 AM:

"Makinglight Woman" sounds like one of those woo-woo fake Indian names.

That reminds me of a recurring (and OT) thought I often have. Have you noticed how the internet and technology in general has made some old magical beliefs new again? Like the belief that names have power, and if a sorcerer gets your true name you are scr*wed. Today it's known as identity theft. A sorcerer can do magic via your hair strands or nail clippings -- not too far fetched via DNA testing.
So it's part of that mosaic that people now get the kind of descriptive nicknames that older societies used to have.
And the evangelicals will probably say that it all ties in to us living in the end times, when "all things shall be made new."
Maybe I should go lie down until these thoughts go away.

#109 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:27 AM:

Any suggestions?

Xopher: gekraft.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:29 AM:

mayakda, I've had fannish and/or Wiccan names for years. (In Wicca they claim that it wasn't so much other magical types you kept your name from, as the Witch-hunters. Not using real names ensured that if one was captured s/he couldn't easily incriminate others. There are many, many things wrong with this story, but I find that using a different name helps with the transition into Sacred time, so <shrug>.)

#111 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:44 AM:

Mayakda:

Excerpt from: Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide: Authors: F
James Frazer, full name Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941): important
anthropologist in systematic study of the nature of magic in numerous
cultures:
* The Golden Bough [1890, 2 vols; expanded 1900, 3 vols; expanded 1911-1915,
12 vols,; cut to 2 vols in 1922 abridged edition] is unique in Anthropology.
It attempts to give anextended description of magic, religion, cults, and
folk-lore. An indefatigable collector of information on ancient and
"primitive" beliefs, practices, and social institutions, Frazer attempted
to weave all this data into a series of integrated pictures of various
cultures. By laying out the logical axioms of Magic, he set the standard
for rigorous works of Fantasy forever after.

I've written 3/4 of a novel manuscript entitled "Axiomatic Magic." It's a "Harry Potter" meets "A Beautiful Mind" (if I were pitching in Hollywood.

You are referring explicitly to the notion of "True Names" in Magic and the Net, and as first popularly used in SF by Vernon Vinge.

A few other of the parallels you and I consider:

Law of Similarity: Two things that are very similar in form are able to influence each other. This led to the dotcom boom/bust.

Law of Contagion: two things that were once touching remain able to influence each other even after physically removed from each other's presence. So if I take my diskette out of my PC and put it in yours... Cf. "Quantum Entanglement."

Voodoo Dolls combine Similarity (doll shape like human shape) and Contagion (hair, nails still connected to person from whom they were cut).

#112 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Xopher, I bragged about it to David Hartwell. Does that count?

#113 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 12:42 PM:

Xopher wrote:
mayakda, I've had fannish and/or Wiccan names for years.

So have I. I believe this supports mayakda's hypothesis. Wicca, fandom and blogdom are all coming out of the same Id Horizon -- one in which you're interacting on the edges of a world you can't fully see. There is a sense of magic about it. And changing your name makes you a magical being.

(On a less serious note, I am under a geas never to let any mention of Wiccan names go by without bringing up Lady Pixie Moondrip's Guide to Craft Names.)

#114 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 12:55 PM:

To me, "Makinglight Woman" sounds more like some eleven-minute rock odyssey from the seventies. The kind that they play late late at night on college radio.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Xopher, I bragged about it to David Hartwell. Does that count?

Oh. Oh my, yes it certainly does. But you didn't mention it here ('til now) so how was I to know?

(Hmm...brings up thoughts like "would you rather have people think you're fabulous and never tell you, or continually tell you you're fabulous and not mean it?")

#116 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 01:26 PM:

Not using real names ensured that if one was captured s/he couldn't easily incriminate others.

Eh, they just swiped that idea from Vernor Vinge.

#117 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Xopher - I saw your OtJ continuation, and found it wonderful, but I didn't feel the need to ask for a translation...

#118 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Tracina asked, "Does she truly believe you can order someone to change their mind, and order them to order someone else to change their mind as well?"

Of course you can. Proof: she did.

As to how effective doing it will be, well, all I can say is BWAHAHAHAHA.

#119 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 03:56 PM:

Seth Breidbart: Thank you. That is absolutely correct, and somehow had slipped my notice. I tip my hat. Well, it's a knitted cap, so I flop my hat, but I mean it respectfully.

#120 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 04:33 PM:

GLENDOWER
I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR
Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

(Henry IV pt. 1)

#121 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 07:47 PM:

Mayakda, several years ago when I volunteered for OMNI magazine on AOL, I attended all the chats. We had a regular chatter in the SF room who suddenly disappeared. I sent email, asking if there was a problem, and his son replied (I was able to verify all this later). Ish, a Native American, was dying of leukemia, and he was sure that he could upload his soul to the net. He had developed some NA rites to work with the computer. His son let us know that the laptop was connected and on his dad's lap when he died.

I don't even believe in souls, but it's nice to think of Ish out there somewhere.

#122 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 08:14 PM:

And changing your name makes you a magical being.

skookum!

that makinglight woman

There's worse things to be called, for sure.

Why on earth is Thornton so bothered? She herself has said her job is to sell publishing contracts to writers. All Teresa has done is to say that this is indeed the sum total of what Thornton does. That it's the equivalent of selling (overpriced) moonbeam to dreamers is hardly Teresa's fault.

#123 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:22 PM:

I think Ms. Thornton honestly is clueless. I think she really has confused a printer with a publisher. On the bright side, she has made some very welcome improvements to her web site.

People are surprisingly clueless about this kind of thing; we have a friend with a Ph.D. in English, two scholarly books published from two reputable academic presses, a good selection of peer reviewed journal articles, and he got suckered into doing two books with Publish America.

So Teresa, you, and James McDonald et al are doing a good thing, just in case you had any worries.

#124 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 10:55 PM:

Thanks. Jim and the rest of the crew at AW have put in a lot of work on this one. Did you catch the moment where someone quoted posts from the PA boards about the Big Eight who are part of the conspiracy against PublishAmerica, and how miffed the AW regulars were who didn't make the list?

#125 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:11 PM:

Is being "that makinglight woman" like "that Respectful of Otters chick"?

#126 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2004, 11:46 PM:

We know about "a prophet without honor..." and now we know more about "a profit without honor."

Good work, Teresa, James McDonald et al!

Is "makinglight woman" some sort of geometric mean of "Holly Golightly" from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and Owl Goingback?

I can see Teresa played by a young Audrey Hepburn, which would make Patrick necessarily played by Spencer Tracy. Or maybe Cary Grant?

It would be a Screwball Comedy, maybe a sequel to Desk Set, 1957, said film having been Directed by
Walter Lang from the Phoebe Ephron & Henry Ephron screenplay adaptation of the William Marchant play. In that film, Spencer Tracy plays Richard Sumner, and Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, with Ray Kellogg's special effects of the mainframe for computerizing the research department of a big TV network. In the sequel I imagine, the characters would be a generation later, as that TV network is bought by a huge ISP, and Teresa and Patrick are brought together as initially squabbling bloggers unable to convince either the TV network or the ISP that their business model is obsolete.

The comic relief is episodic, as based on the targets of various threads, i.e. politicians stupider than dirt, clueless POD publishers, and the like.

John Ford: can you pitch this quick? I'll give you $5,000 to pitch it and write the screenplay from my idea, and I'll steal all rights from everyone and franchise the sucker. Just kidding. Bwahaahaaahaaaaaa.


#127 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 01:28 AM:

Andrew: Rock odyssey was very much what I was thinking when I first read it. The fact that I'm a big fan of The Doors sort of clinched it in my mind.

#128 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 07:07 AM:

JVP - if Teresa is young Audrey Hepburn (a la Breakfast at Tiffany's), then Patrick would have to be George Peppard.

Spencer Tracy and Audrey Hepburn never did a film together (per IMDB). Tracy and Katharine Hepburn did do Desk Set and plenty others, as you say.

On another note, do I even want to know if there is a significance to the fact that you have only named dead actors to play our gracious host and hostess? I suppose speculation is okay, just as long as nobody signs on with the Craigslist Actor in order to Write the Franchise Property of the Story of their lives.

#129 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 11:17 AM:

I can't think who could play Teresa, really. Katherine Hepburn had the right sort of elegance, but she was a little too...manic? No doubt she could have pulled it off, but I've never seen any actor, male or female, accomplish Teresa's trick of convincing others (well, me anyway) that she always knows more than she's saying, and could comment devastatingly if she chose to -- but is too discreet. And she does this with nothing but a quirk of the eyebrow and a slight upturning of the (closed) mouth.

Patrick's a tough call, too. He has this ability to comment on the ridiculous, use EXACTLY the terms a True Believer would use to describe it, and make it sound as stupid as it really is. Christian Slater, maybe? Need someone who can carry off sarky and sincere with equal facility.

#130 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Upthread, Teresa wrote: "Corrugation is the collective term for all those counter display units, bookshelf displays, freestanding displays with six or nine book-pockets, fancy bits of printed cardboard that stick up from the displays, etc. etc. etc. It's part of the arcana of mass market."

Small correction: It's part of the arcana of book publishing in general, not just mass-market book publishing. Hardcovers and trade paperbacks have dumps and counter displays as well.

#131 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2004, 06:31 PM:

Respectful of Otters is a known conspirator with Significant Otter and is an operative for the Nandy-Cline Fisheries Protection Service.

(As in, "Nice fishery you've got here, it'd be a shame if anything happened to those tasty fish.")

#132 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2004, 11:13 AM:

Teresa played by Meryl Streep; Patrick played by Kevin Bacon.

#133 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:39 AM:

The New Publishing Paradigm, part the next.

"At Elderberry we judge each submission by one standard:
Either a MS leaves the reader a better person and the world a better place, or we don't publish it."

Assuming, that is, that in addition to leaving the reader a better person and the world a better place the author has $5,500 plus two cents a word. Fortunately, Elderberry takes most major credit cards.

"Publishing The Smart Way -- Elderberry Press, LLC publishes new UNAGENTED authors," the page title says. Happy, happy UNAGENTED authors! How smart they are to have found these guys! How joyful they must be to discover that "ELDERBERRY PRESS, INC. MAINTAINS A PERFECT BUSINESS RECORD WITH THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU." How dazzled they must be by the thought that these "editors read submissions and made it their goal to encourage writers in their craft" that they don't wonder why Elderberry Press finds it necessary to mention the Better Business Bureau at all, let alone on their first page.

New publishing paradigm? Not hardly. Same old vanity paradigm that we've seen over, and over, and over again.

"Who will print and distribute my book?" the happy UNAGENTED author asks.

"Your book will be printed on demand by Lightning Source Inc., a subsidiary of Ingrams Book Company. POD books are printed one at a time...as they are sold," says Dave St.John, published author who founded Elderberry after discovering that New York Publishers (the elitist snooty bastards) wouldn't even read his book.

Printed on demand by Lightning Source? Kinda makes me think that these books won't be on bookstore shelves either.

Yet another publisher who falls in that vast grey area between being a Very Bad Idea and a Total Scam.

#134 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:15 PM:

Teresa played by Meryl Streep; Patrick played by Kevin Bacon.

[bows in awe at Jim's casting ability]

#135 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:22 PM:

Teresa played by Meryl Streep; Patrick played by Kevin Bacon.

Hmm. I was thinking a young Rip Torn for Patrick.

#136 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Nobody ever casts Walter Matthau as me.

#137 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 08:02 PM:

New casting suggestion: Johnny Depp as Patrick.

#138 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 10:18 PM:

Okay, that's startling. I'd never thought of Mr. Depp in that context, but he could do both the verbal delivery and the idiosyncratic movement.

#139 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:07 PM:

Teresa: well, there was that LiveJournal sitcom thing that cast you as Alyson Hannigan and Patrick as Mark Hamill...and Pamela Dean as James Doohan. (I got Danny Glover.)

#140 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2004, 11:54 PM:

Tracey Ullman as both.

#141 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2004, 01:28 AM:

TNH as Alyson Hannigan, or Alyson Hannigan as TNH -- my mind boggles in the very nicest way thinking about that....

#142 ::: Naomi Parkhurst sees probable spam at 142 ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2011, 07:22 AM:

I would be happy to be wrong.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.