POD Myths Dispelled–Get the Scoop Here!

This post is in direct response to something I saw on the Internet that took POD publishing to task.

I will be the first person to admit that not all POD publishers are created equal. Some are more reputable than others. Some offer more services than others. Some call themselves publishers when they are really just printers. And some go above and beyond in service to their authors. So, please, don’t think we all use “duct tape and coat hanger wire” to create your book. We don’t.

It all started a few days ago when one of my clients sent me a link to a blog that had a scathing review of POD publishers. My client’s email just said, “Your thoughts?”

After clicking in to the blog, I was taken aback by the blatant misinformation about POD (Print On Demand), but I calmed down and created a reply.

Here’s what started my blood boiling: “Any “publisher” who asks you to pay for services is not a publisher, but a book service provider” (her bolding, not mine).

Well, I’m here to dispute just about everything that blogger said in her post.

Understand that I do not have any issue with her posting it—I only have an issue with the truthfulness of it. Coming from someone with her credentials, it’s sad to see such misinformation put forth as gospel. I have to assume the author considers it gospel from the very way she titled her post, “POD Publishing Companies Very Profitable – But Not for the Author.” Also, it should be known that I left a comment on her blog, describing POD companies that actually do the things she says we don’t do, and I did recommend that she do more research next time. My comment was summarily deleted.

Here are the inaccurate ‘assertions’ if you will, and my replies:

Assertion: Quoted from paragraph two—“Any “publisher” who asks you to pay for services is not a publisher, but a book service provider.”

My reply: As a POD owner, I publish books. Authors pay me—and many, many companies as professional as mine—a fee to create a professional product. The fee covers far more than printing. Yes, we’re services providers, but in the end we are also publishers. Serious POD publishers do not make enough on their services fee to earn a profit. To earn a profit, we need to help the author sell books. The ‘we’ includes such publishers as Infinity Press, Booklocker, my own company (WME), and Outskirts Press, to name a few. We get the book to market faster, we pay higher royalties, and we support our authors better and more personally than any NYC publisher.

Assertion: “POD “Publishers” are making a lot of money because authors think that:
a.) they know what they are doing and will be able to professionally produce and market the book; b.) they are getting a good price for a package of services. Wrong on both counts . . . ”—so she says.

My reply: That blogger accuses POD publishers of using mediocre book design (Boy, would our cover designer and page layout professional like to talk to her about that!), and says that POD publishers use templates to create their books. Patently untrue for myself and many others. We DO pay attention to font and readability and justification and to creating something that is not only pleasing to the author but to the reader. We are professionals, in the truest sense of the word. Shame on that blogger for lumping all POD publishers into one sorry group. —Oh, and we do not make “a lot of money” publishing books. If only!

Assertion: “…very few POD published books ever sell more than a few hundred copies. Part of the key is the ISBN . . . many review services and almost all bookstores won’t accept a POD published book for review or sale – and they are very familiar with these “publisher’s” prefixes on that bar code, so they know who “published” your book.”

My reply: IF authors don’t sell enough books with their publisher, POD or otherwise, the author isn’t trying hard enough. I’ve worked with traditional publishers, and they require an extensive marketing plan from authors before they will consider publication. And research shows that books published by traditional publishers sell around 150-300, on average. Book marketing is a task and time intensive process – for any and all writers and publishers. At professional POD firms, author interaction is crucial. The publisher and author have to work together to get the books noticed. The firms I’ve mentioned here all consider marketing part of their work. Some have extra marketing packages, but that’s in line with the traditional world where authors are encouraged to hire a publicist.

To the idea that a POD’s ISBN number keeps an author’s book out of bookstores, this is shocking news to me! Books that are for sale in retail establishments, online or off, require an ISBN number. That’s a fact of life. Perhaps POD’s authors’ books don’t get included in Barnes and Noble’s physical stores, but they’re in B&N’s online database. The ONLY reason B&N won’t stock our books is because we don’t take returns. At Amazon, one doesn’t have to worry about that. They don’t take returns either. At WME, we personally work with colleges and universities to see if we can place our authors’ books with professors (and have successfully done so). We also have had luck with independent bookstores and selling books at conferences. The ISBN number is intended for retail sales, nothing more. That it can keep an author from achieving success is pure nonsense.

Assertion: The misinformed blogger’s diatribe ends with this — “Either truly self-publish or sell your rights to an established commercial publisher, but don’t combine the worst of both worlds with a POD “Publisher”.” (I could take issue with her punctuation here, but why bother?)

My reply: When you work with a professional POD firm, one that does project work and approaches projects from the author’s viewpoint, one that is NOT merely a printer, you are contracting for expertise and for personal attention. And you retain ALL rights to your work, forever. Your book never goes out of print, as it will at the “established commercial” publishers, and you do not have to buy large quantities to lug around in the trunk of your car, or clutter up your basement, as you had to do in the ancient days of vanity publishing. Plus, you receive all the respect and acclaim any writer receives when they realize their dream of being a publisher author. People look at books and choose to buy based on content, along with design (yes, a book is often judged by its cover). They do not buy based on who published the book.

Here’s a truth that blogger left out of her faulty advice:  In today’s emerging digital world, if you truly want to attract that big name publisher, use a professional POD firm to self-publish because the big name publishers are watching.

When Random House or Simon and Schuster or Penguin, to name just three, come calling, your POD publishing firm will do you proud – and likely work with you to agent your work and protect your rights. Because in the POD world, it’s not about us or them, it’s always about you.

Author: Yvonne DiVita
  • http://www.wmebooks.com Tom Collins

    Hi Yvonne,

    Happy Valentine’s Day! (Full disclosure – Yvonne and I are partners in business and in life.)

    Now, on to your post. Here’s another tidbit for anyone who thinks you were too hard on Ms. King (who seems to have taken her post down):

    ALL publishers require authors to pay for their publishing services.

    Repeat: ALL publishers require authors to pay for their publishing services.

    Now, I can walk you through why my statement is true, but just go back to that old Fram oil filter commercial where the mechanic says, “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

    Authors who delude themselves that they are getting a “deal” from a traditional publishing model are really pessimists who decide to bet against themselves. They take the measly $5,000 advance against the measlier 10% royalty and hope the publisher follows through and actually releases the book. Then, if it sells out the advance and becomes a moderate success, who wins?

    Let’s say the book sells 5000 copies at an average selling price of $20 (we focus on nonfiction trade/professional books) for a total of $100,000. The author’s 10% royalty would be $10,000 (half already received as the advance).

    If the same author had self-published and paid a quality author services provider $7,500 upfront, with a 30% royalty, and sold the same 5000 copies at $20 average selling price, she’d end up with $22,500 ($30,000 minus the upfront investment of $7,500).

    The disparity gets much bigger the more copies you sell. And of course, since the production costs per book are higher in the POD model, the publisher makes a smaller share than in the “traditional” model.

    In the end, the author in the example above would have paid the “traditional” publisher $12,500 in reduced royalty income for the service of publishing the book. “Pay me now, or pay me later.”

    Tom

  • http://www.managingwithaloha.com Rosa Say

    Interesting. My own book is self-published (and though not a bestseller has sold way, way more than that 150-300 average) and I can offer this from my experience: I published it in 2004, and I wish that I had known Yvonne and the other reputable and highly professional POD publishers then who I know now. I was able to get a nod from a "traditional publisher" then, but decided to self-publish instead because all things considered it really was a better business decision in my situation – and though I probably paid more for some things with mylimited knowledge, today I have no regrets about my decision. A huge determining factor for me was this: "you retain ALL rights to your work, forever. Your book never goes out of print."

    Since then I have entered the "authors network" somewhat and have heard many many of their stories, and I am very confident that every single one will tell you this: You better be prepared to be your own best publicist and marketer and work hard at learning to self-promote. Your agent and your publisher – whatever the model is – is carrying a number of titles to gain any kind of profit whatsoever, and if you aren't a best-selling household name you are largely on your own.

  • http://www.managingwithaloha.com Rosa Say

    oops… hit submit comment too soon…

    I must say this about Yvonne: When she says she loves your book she will be one of the biggest evangelists you could hope for! I have repeatedly counted my blessings that my own book resonated with her, and purely from her love for the written word – not because she felt she could get future business from me. As an author herself, she has a lot of empathy and respect for other authors and publishers.

  • http://www.lipsticking.com Yvonne DiVita

    Thanks, Rosa. That’s what makes it worthwhile. To know that you know I do it for the authors, not for me. (not that I’m adverse to profit, mind you!)

  • http://www.susanreid.typepad.com Susan L Reid of &quo

    Full disclosure: I am a first time author and WME Books is my POD Publisher.

    I don't know what it's like at other POD Publishing places, nor do I know what it's like at traditional publishing houses. What I do know is that I had a tremendous experience bringing my book to life with Yvonne at WME Books.

    If all the POD Publishers were as integral, focused on their author's success, and supportive in their marketing endeavors as WME Books, we'd all be choosing to self publish.

  • Yvonne DiVita

    Yvonne here – My apologies to readers – the author of the blog post I am quoting from seems to have removed the post. Understand that it is not my intent to do more than take misinformation to task.

    Please review and research your options before you choose a publishing method for your work. Consider your goals and do include POD as an option.

  • Lee Goldberg

    How much did it cost you to be "published" by WME, Susan?

    I'll tell you what it cost me to publish MY first, non-fiction book UNSOLD TELEVISION PILOTS through a small publisher when I was just eighteen years old:

    Zero. Zip. Nada. Not one penny.

    And to date I have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties, sub-rights sales, TV options, and the producing & scripting fees for two network specials (on CBS & ABC) based on the book. (I also appeared on Entertainment Tonight, Charlie Rose Nightwatch, PM Magazine, etc. and my book got an on-air rave from Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. It also led to articles in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, among others).

    I'll tell you what it cost me to publish my non-fiction book SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING. Zero. Zip. Nada. I have made tens of thousands of dollars since then in advances and royalties.

    I'll tell you what it cost me to publish my two dozen novels. Zero. Zip. Nada.

    I have been published by large publishers (Penguin/Putnam, St. Martin's Press, John Wiley & Sons) and small ones (McFarland & Co., Five Star Mysteries). None of them ever asked me for a penny. Instead, they paid me.

    *Real* publishers pay you, not the other way around. Real publishers promote your books and distribute it nationally to brick-and-mortar stores as well as listing it on Amazon, etc.

    What POD vanity presses offer you is a printing service and, sometimes, editing as well, all at a price. They make their money off authors, not booksales.

    Anyone who in the POD industry who tells you that POD printing is the path to success in traditional publishing is misleading you and lining their own pockets.

    Lee

  • Tom Collins

    Lee,

    You stay it cost you nothing to publish. Oh, really? Do you have an agent?

    If so, then the publishing of your books is costing you $15,000-$20,000 on the back end for each of those "100s of thousands of dollars" you brag about.

    Did you hire a proofreader before submitting your manuscript to an agent or "real" publisher, as almost every professional in the industry advises?

    Same for a professional copyeditor?

    Depending on how those professionals charged and the length of your manuscript, those would have run you another $1000-$5000.

    Oh, and those prep costs are upfront, before you found out whether your work would be published.

    If you're claiming your first book got published by a "real" publisher without an agent and without any of those other prep costs, then congratulations, you won the lottery.

    But if you're running around claiming that every author who writes a worthy book will have that same experience, who's the one misleading aspiring writers?

    We're very open about the services we provide and the investment that's involved in our publishing model. With POD, as we practice it, that investment goes into quality editorial, design, and pre-press values, instead of printing thousands of books that may or may not sell.

    Have you looked at any of our books? Susan's wonderful new book, Discovering Your Inner Samurai? God Spare Life (the autobiography of the first black female orthopedic surgeon in the U.S)? Leadership: Thinking, Being, Doing (New and Revised Edition), by Lee Thayer? (Dr. Thayer has multiple previous books published by "real" publishers; he brought Leadership to us after he self-published the first edition at xLibris.)

    We also don't use the xLibris/Lulu model that accepts any book an author offers us. We don't use a small number of design templates and we don't charge extra for true editing.

    Not that those simpler POD models are inherently wrong (as you seem to think about every approach but yours), but from the beginning we've limited ourselves to providing individual service, including full editorial, layout, and design. That commitment, sadly, means not all authors can afford us. But we're very proud of the work we produce and the people who choose to work with us.

    Returning to your back-end costs (yes, one could find a double entendre there), your "real" publishers paid you, what, a 5% royalty on the first book? Maybe, 1/2-1% on the sub-rights?

    Sticking to the book royalties, if you've made $100,000 on the 5% royalty, you'd have made $600,000 on our 30% royalty system if you'd had the entrepreneurial stomach to self-publish.

    That money went to your "real" publisher; that's what they charge for their publishing services.

    So your book actually cost you half a million dollars in lost opportunity costs. If you don't think that's a real cost, check with any competent investor.

    (You might say, oh but it wouldn't have sold so many if you self-published. Your book? What happened to your claim that all you need to do is write a "good" book to have it immediately recognized and snapped up?)

    Lee, you really do live in lottery-land if you actually believe that all a writer needs to do is write a good book and a major publisher will offer him/her a deal. You don't do authors any favor by spreading such nonsense.

    And you don't do yourself any credit with your dogmatic, reactionary attitudes toward new publishing models.

    Join us in the new millenium, huh?

    Tom

  • Mary Hunt

    Lee – I totally agree, I could print a book on my own and it would cost me nothing if I did all the work. What I paid for and got wasn't just the book, I became part of Yvonne's network of friends and that has been the ultimate gift of business and pleasure.

    People write books for different reasons. I wrote mine to go on the record about women making the decisions in consumer products and how they think about a friendly exchange. I wanted my voice heard and the book was a starting point. My blog continued the conversation.

    Yvonne believes that everyone deserves to be published. Big publishing houses don't, I went that route the first time.

    Time to let this one go, Lee. By the way, what do you drive? I'm guessing it's not the cheapest car on the block, and you lost $4000 the moment you drove it off the lot. Why did you do that? For that matter why don't you take public transporation and save yourself more money.

    It's all about choices. I'm happy Yvonne provided me an option and inspired me to get book one behind me, 230 blog posts later, I'm still talking.

  • Mary Schmidt

    Well Yvonne!

    You certainly stirred the pot – as evidenced by the comments at Lee Goldberg's blog. (And I just posted a comment in response to his response to my first comment…if you follow that ;-) I couldn't let it pass – people can say many things about me – but "naive" isn't one of them.)

    Two things:

    1. I seriously doubt he would say such things to your (or my) face. (posting om somebody's blog is easy – it's just you, your monitor and your keyboard.)

    2. I think Goldberg – along with some of the other commenters on his post – are spewing their frustration regarding the changes in publishing. Instead of learning and adapting – they're attacking. Just as most newspapers are whining, kicking…and dissing bloggers.

    I'd love to think that all I had to do is write a good book and publishers would flock (as Goldberg implies.) But then how do we account for the absolute dreck that gets published by "legitimate" publishers?

  • Yvonne DiVita

    Funny, little ole' me making big ole' him so angry. I'm working on a response, Mary. Name calling isn't part of my repertoire, however, so I think I'll just stick to the facts. Stay tuned.

  • Lee Goldberg

    Mary,

    You wrote: "What I paid for and got wasn’t just the book, I became part of Yvonne’s network of friends and that has been the ultimate gift of business and pleasure."

    If you believe that was worth what you paid, that's great. But I am assuming you could still be part of her network of friends without having to pay for it.

    You wrote: "2. I think Goldberg – along with some of the other commenters on his post – are spewing their frustration regarding the changes in publishing. Instead of learning and adapting – they’re attacking. Just as most newspapers are whining, kicking…and dissing bloggers."

    I have nothing against print-on-demand technology. What I am opposed to are authors being taken advantage of by the false claims of vanity presses. I am opposed to writers being conned into thinking that paying to be published is the path to success, and that you have the same shot at success today with a POD book as you do with a traditionally published one. It's misrepresentation and its designed to seperate you from your money.

    Think about it, Mary. What do I possibly have to fear from POD? What do I have to gain from criticizing vanity presses and people who give biased "advice?"

    Here is my position — that the "advice" and "news" offered by beneaththecover.com is actually aimed at steering people to the marketing and self-publishing services of their so-called experts. In Yvonne's case, she's hyping her vanity press, so when she advises writers about the wonders of self-publishing, she's a really trying to sell her product. It's a sales pitch masquerading as advice and news…which, in my opinion, is an attempt to fool aspiring writers for personal gain.

    I also believe that it's a mistake for authors to pay to be published (because 9 times out of ten, they are simply throwing their money away), and that it's miss-representation for any vanity press to claim to be a "publisher."

    Unlike Yvonne, who gives biased "advice" to sell people on her vanity press, I am merely sharing my opinion.

    Lee

  • Lee Goldberg

    Mary wrote: "Lee – I totally agree, I could print a book on my own and it would cost me nothing if I did all the work."

    What work!? The same work would be involved whether you went to a vanity press or not.

    What extra work do I have to do when I am PAID to be published that I am spared by PAYING someone to publish me?

    Lee

  • Lee Goldberg

    Rosa,

    You wrote: "You better be prepared to be your own best publicist and marketer and work hard at learning to self-promote. Your agent and your publisher – whatever the model is – is carrying a number of titles to gain any kind of profit whatsoever, and if you aren’t a best-selling household name you are largely on your own."

    I agree 100%.

    Lee

  • Zane

    Lee and Jan, etal:

    Reading your posts I’m reminded of myself watching SOTU speeches and campaign debates.

    I like your passion and your outspoken, blunt, direct, in the moment style. It’s clear your passionate about your success as an author and the means you’ve used to achieve that success. I admire your success.

    I’m not an expert in book publishing of any means. I hope to be in the future and achieve even a bit of your success.

    But one thing I am an expert on is the target of your commentary: Yvonne Divita. I’ve know her for 3-4-5 years now. I’ve met with her, worked with her in several settings, shared blog content and ideas and disagreed with her. If she was a guy, I’d say she’s a “stand up guy”. She’s one of the people you can trust, whose friendship and partnership you’d value as one that expands your world in a positive way, one whose email you value and you reach to reply to it quickly because it always adds to your day. Working in the blogging community together with her over these years I’ve found I’m only one of many who feel the same way based on their experiences in work and friendship with her. Many have had more experience working with her than I and their commitment and respect for her is even greater. And were it not this way, her community of readers and clients and friends would not be as large nor would they stand silently over the years if she had some of the qualities, any of the qualities you’ve assigned to her in your passion for your vocation.

    I hope you follow her success and get to know her over the months and years.

    Regards,

    Zane Safrit

    CEO

    Conference Calls Unlimited

    877-227-0611, ext. 12

  • Tom Collins

    Lee,

    You haven't had the courage to answer one of my questions: Have you looked at any of our books?

    Do you have the slightest personal knowledge to support your attacks on the value or quality of what we do, let alone the honesty and integrity of our business?

    Quite a number of the wonderful people we work with and for — and count as friends — have offered you their personal knowledge that your accusations are false, as well as unfounded.

    Tom

  • Mary

    Lee, What's next? Are you going to take on those who teach others to blog, too? That's free, anyone can do it. How about a University? Everyone has access to books, who needs teachers? Let it go Lee, take that anger and go stop Global Warming instead.

  • Shel Holtz

    Hey, Lee, you stick with your antiquated thinking. And I'll bet you believe the only way a musician should get his music distributed is through a contract with an RIAA label. And YouTube should never have any success because they're not professionally produced videos that people are uploading there.

    The world is changing, Lee; it's why Blurb.com is doing gangbuster business. But you stick with Andrew Keen and Harlan Ellison and all the other Luddites who think things should never change, especially those things that have worked for them. It appears to work for you.

  • Holly Buchanan

    I hope that this exchange has been a learning experience for aspiring authors. I hope that something good comes out of it.

    There's just one thing that bothers me – this comment:

    "In Yvonne’s case, she’s hyping her vanity press, so when she advises writers about the wonders of self-publishing, she’s a really trying to sell her product. It’s a sales pitch masquerading as advice and news…which, in my opinion, is an attempt to fool aspiring writers for personal gain."

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But I'm curious,Lee – how did you gain this omnipotent access to Yvonne's head and heart? How do you know her intent is to "fool" writers.

    I've known Yvonne for three years and always found her to be upstanding, honest, and willing to go to bat for people and causes she believes in.

    I have zero desire to argue with anyone. But I know Yvonne would go to bat for me – which is why I'm going to bat for her.

  • Tom Collins

    I've posted my last comment on Lee Goldberg's blog rant, partly because there was one especially nasty exchange with his brother Tod that needed to be addressed. Because so much of the discussion has been cross-posted here, I'm going to add to it (with apologies to those of you who must be tired of it by now):

    "Okay!

    "Now I think we got enough denials, retractions, corrections, and revisions of everyone's accusations against Yvonne and WME that we can just agree to disagree about our "beliefs" and "opinions" and get on with the real work of publishing, whatever role you play in the industry.

    "Lee, Tod, and many of your readers despise self-publishing in general and those of us who work to make it a real option for many authors in particular.

    "We and our authors find it a useful, valuable way for them, among other benefits, to get published, keep ownership and creative control of their books, get to market a lot faster than most "real" publishers can, and earn a much bigger share of book sales (and no, we are not going there with you, it's none of your ___ business).

    "Tod, however, is a special case:

    "Aside from your inability to even acknowledge, let alone apoligize for, your classless attack on the work of an autistic teenager, your response did prove two things about you.

    "First, you have not the faintest, foggy notion of what it takes to scan original artwork and process the digital files for placement in InDesign, nor of the layout and design work that goes into turning text into a book.

    "Your flippant remark that it's worth $25 makes it clear you envision sliding a piece of paper through your desktop all-in-one phone/fax/printer/copier/scanner and then pasting the resulting file into one of those un-proofread, un-edited (but carefully spell- and grammar-checked by the infallible software in Word) manuscripts that Lee apparently spews out.

    "If you have any interest in understanding what those parts of publishing are all about, I recommend Marshall Lee, Bookmaking (3d ed. 2004) (see chs. 2, 6-8). An even closer, more hands-on examination of the process can be found in Dr. Douglas Holleley's beautiful book, Digital Book Design and Publishing (2001) (written from a Mac/Quark viewpoint, but easy to translate to InDesign).

    "Second, you seem unable to focus on or respond to more than one sentence at a time. You pull out the brief, grossly oversimplified sentence about what we did for the author of Darryl's Daring Deed (obviously not in our publishing niche) and generalize as if that's how we handle all our books.

    "I know it's beyond your ability, but you'd benefit from just one day with Lee Thayer (we're on our third book for him). But only if you could let go of the notion that you know everything, as he does not lightly suffer folks like that.

    "If you could ever get to the place he starts ("it's what you learn after you know everything that matters"), he'd then be able to walk you through this inescapable logic about humans:

    " 'Everything we thought we knew will eventually be proven wrong.'

    "So I'll sign off and get back to work and let you Royals get back to your emotional and intellectual in-breeding."

    Tom

  • Lee Goldberg

    In response to Matt, a reader on my blog posted this:

    ———–

    Matt says "Your post failed to address my valid points and focused only on

    "inaccuracies." Why don't you try addressing the rest of my valid points?

    Not up to that? Doesn't fit your real purposes?"

    No offense, but that's because I don't think you've made any valid points. I think most of it is hooey.

    Matt says "Lee's past

    comments have shown that he doesn't really understand the book industry at best he has a sliver of an idea about fiction writing, but not much more."

    Come on, Matt. That's just silly. We will have to agree to disagree there. I have been reading this blog for many years and there's no question that Lee not only understands the industry, but is a respected part of it. The guy has been in the publishing business for a couple decades, has written twenty-some books for real publishers, and seems to have earned the respect and admiration of his peers, enough (as someone else pointed out) to have been voted to the board of the Mystery Writers of America and chairperson of the Edgar Awards. I've also seen him quoted talking about the publishing industry in the Los Angeles Times, The Writer, Publishers Weekly, and a number of other highly respected publications. They obviously see him as knowledgeable.

    Your disrespect for Lee's obvious experience and accomplishments in the publishing field lead me to ask the obvious question:

    What are your qualifications? What experience do you have in the publishing industry? What books have you published (and I don't mean "paid to have printed" by a POD press)?

    Matt says "As for Lee (and your contention) that Drew's purpose in the site is to

    generate leads, first, let me say, so what? What's wrong with that?"

    Nothing, but you seem to be the one taking umbrage at Lee mentioning that. Lee's contention is that the majority of the site's contributors are selling PR or self-publishing services and that it taints the objectivity of the advice they offer. Seems to me all you have done with your lengthy comment is prove Lee's point for him. You haven't demonstrated any inaccuracies on his part.

    Posted by: Steve Samson

    —————-

    Matt replied:

    "What I do is irrelevant, I'm not touting my industry expertise. I am simply using simple research to indicate your bigotry (what else is your opinions, but open bigotry. It is clear from your original posts that you did little to no research on beneaththecover.com and you simply had a knee jerk reaction, that amounted to bigotry, and only now, are you making feeble attempt to justify that initial knee jerk reaction)."

    And later Matt said:

    "LOL, no, I don't work in the book industry.

    I have never written a book."

    So, as another reader on my blog pointed out, Matt has "neither the experience nor the education" in publishing to know the first thing about what he is talking about. He is clearly the perfect prey for a vanity press.

    Lee

  • Lehi Drew

    This thread is now closed. Current comments will remain. Future comments will be deleted regardless of content or commenter. An explanation will be issued in a post within a few hours.

    Thanks!

    -Admin

  • Lee Goldberg

    Beneaththecover.com purports to offer authors inside news and expert advice about the publishing industry when, in fact, it’s just a front for a bunch of vanity press and book promotion hucksters selling their wares. This point is driven home by this post, written by a vanity press publisher, that offers this outrageous falsehood:

    In today’s emerging digital world, if you truly want to attract that big name publisher, use a professional POD firm to self-publish because the big name publishers are watching.

    The best way to attract a publisher is to write a good book, not blow thousands of dollars having it printed in POD form by a vanity press. If anything, printing your book in POD is more likely to prevent a publisher from taking you or the book seriously.

    DiVita is one of a pack of POD vanity press hucksters who prey on the gullibility, desperation, and ignorance of aspiring authors. She argues that vanity presses aren’t merely printers but real publishers because they pay more attention to their authors than real publishers do. What she neglects to mention is that vanity presses like hers make the vast majority of their money off their authors, not from booksales, and that all that attention they slather on their clients (not authors, ladies and gentlemen, clients) is to convince them to spend even more on their worthless services. She writes:

    IF authors don’t sell enough books with their publisher, POD or otherwise, the author isn’t trying hard enough. I’ve worked with traditional publishers, and they require an extensive marketing plan from authors before they will consider publication. And research shows that books published by traditional publishers sell around 150-300, on average.

    That’s right, blame the author for the fact that their POD vanity press books aren’t sold in stores and are unlikely to sell to anyone but the client… and then back it up with pointless “facts.”

    I’ve had over two dozen books published by real publishers. No editor has ever asked me for an “extensive marketing plan” before considering my books.I’ve also asked a few published friends…and they have never been asked for marketing plans, either. But they are novelists, and perhaps they would be asked for one if they wrote non-fiction. So let’s give DiVita the benefit of the doubt and say publishers want marketing plans along with non-fiction book proposals. To which I say… So what? How is that a persuasive argument for going to vanity-press of a real publisher? You’ll need a marketing plan either way. The key difference is that a real publisher will pay you and a vanity press will ask for your credit card number.

    I’ve scoured the web and I can’t find any “research” that backs up her outrageous claim that most books published by genuine publishers sell only 150-300 copies.

    The closet statistic I could find to her numbers was a 2004 Bookscan study that tracked sales of 1.2 million books sold that year (it was not broken down by genre, like fiction or non-fiction, large publishers or small ones, etc.) According to their figures, the average book of any kind published in 2004 sold 500 copies. The study noted that only 25,000 titles sold more than 5,000 copies each, 500 sold more than 100,000 copies and only ten sold more than a million copies.

    But lets pretend her figures are right. How is that an argument for going to a vanity press? Authors whose books only sold 500 copies in 2004 were still paid to be published. They earned money, though not as much as they’d hoped.

    By comparison, most vanity press authors will lose money because they paid to be published. But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the 2004 sales figures from iUniverse, the biggest name in self-publishing:

    18,108: Total number of titles published

    792,814: Number of copies printed

    14: Number of titles sold through B&N’s bricks-and-mortar stores (nationally)

    83: Number of titles that sold at least 500 copies

    Out of 18,000 titles and nearly 800,000 copies printed, only 83 authors sold more than 500 copies. Good God. Think of all the money that authors lost …and how much iUniverse made. That’s the business that DiVita is in…and it’s a profitable one. For the printer, not the author.

    So what is the truth about POD self-publishing companies? It’s obvious. Vanity presses are in the “author services business”, not the publishing business which, in a rare bit of candor, even DiVita concedes on her vanity press website:

    Windsor Media Enterprises specializes in author services. We offer idea development, manuscript critiquing, editing, proofreading, formatting and cover design, for new and existing authors.

    And for that, they charge you a price and that’s how they make their money. That is their business. And if your book, by some miracle, manages to sell a few copies, they make a little more.

    A vanity press will tell you any lie they can to convince you that they are real publishers (when they are merely selling editing and printing services), that self-publishing is the route most successful authors take (it’s not), and that you have as much of a chance to sell books with them as you do going with a traditional publisher (you don’t).

    Is Yvonne DiVita really someone qualified to give writers sound advice? Or is she someone with a clear conflict-of-interest hoping to coerce naive authors into buying her product? The answer is obvious, and it came right from the founders of Beneaththecover.com when they tried to solicit my brother Tod Goldberg into being one of their experts:

    Beneath the Cover is a cooperative venture for building marketing platforms of everyone involved.

    That’s what should be written on the masthead of their home page, not “Where book industry professionals who know almost everything go to discuss news, insights, and evolving industry issues.” And it should be stated in big print on each every piece of “advice” that they give.

  • Lee Goldberg

    Tom,

    You wrote: “You say it cost you nothing to publish. Oh, really? Do you have an agent? If so, then the publishing of your books is costing you $15,000-$20,000 on the back end for each of those “100s of thousands of dollars” you brag about.”

    I didn’t pay him anything out of my own pocket, Tom. He got a percentage of what I earned from the deals he found and negotiated for me. He got paid by the publisher and so did I. I didn’t pay him.

    There is a HUGE difference between giving an agent 15% of the $15,000 advance that a publisher is PAYING ME to publish my book than to PAY a vanity press $5000 up front out of my pocket to publish my book that will probably never earn back my investment.

    In the agent scenario, I am MAKING MONEY. In the vanity press scenario, I AM LOSING IT. The agent gets paid when I get paid. I am not taking ANY financial risk.

    You wrote: “Did you hire a proofreader before submitting your manuscript to an agent or “real” publisher, as almost every professional in the industry advises? Same for a professional copyeditor?”

    You should cancel your subscription to Writers Digest, they are miss-leading you. I have never, ever, hired a proofreader for any of my books. Why? Because I have this newfangled software called Microsoft Word that has a spell-check and a grammar check. And my agent also reads the book. And the publishers, the ones who PAY YOU, also have a team of copyeditors and proofreaders.

    My Microsoft Word came bundled with my computer, so what have I spent on proofreaders and copyeditors?

    Nothing.

    I don’t know of any authors who hire professional proofreaders to read their books before they submit them. Because most writers I know can write.

    You wrote: “Depending on how those professionals charged and the length of your manuscript, those would have run you another $1000-$5000.”

    Only if you have been suckered by the horde of vultures who prey on the gullibility and desperation of aspiring authors. The vanity press industry thrives on the ignorance and credit card limits of their clientele.

    You wrote: “Oh, and those prep costs are upfront, before you found out whether your work would be published.”

    The only “prep costs” an author might have are:

    + Time spent writing the book
    + ink cartridges for a printer
    + reams of printer paper to print out drafts
    + travel, book purchases, etc. associated with researching the subject matter of the book.
    + phone bills (calling your agent and/or editor and/or looking for one, a broadband connection for surfing the web)
    + stamps and envelopes (for sending your manuscript to agents and editors)
    + coffee, Diet Coke, and large quantities of junk food (to keep the creativity flowing)

    Tom wrote: “Returning to your back-end costs (yes, one could find a double entendre there), your “real” publishers paid you, what, a 5% royalty on the first book? Maybe, 1/2-1% on the sub-rights?”

    I got a 12% royalty on my first book and split the sub-rights, if memory serves, 50/50 with the publisher. I owned 100% of the TV & Film rights. The publisher earned — and deserved — every penny they made from the sale of the book because they took the initial financial risk of publishing and distribution (my book wasn’t POD, by the way, it was a hardcover…so the publisher actually did more than create a PDF file). The book was also unagented, I made the sale by sending the manuscript to the publisher myself. (The subsequent TV options, producing deals, and script fees arising from the book were agented)

    So there goes your silly “back end” costs argument for blowing your cash with a vanity press.

    Whether you want to believe it or not, most vanity press books don’t sell anywhere near what even a poorly performing, traditionally-published book does.

    It would have been foolish and costly to have gone the vanity press route with my first book instead of signing with a real publisher…I never would have made the money that I did nor had the national exposure that I received.

    Lee

  • Matt Knox

    I just posted the following comment on Lee Goldberg’s site, lets see if he posts and responds to this post:

    Lee,

    I will do my best to show you that you don’t even half of the facts. The
    problem with this is that it has required me to spend several hours reading,
    and rereading your several posts and comments, and then researching the
    facts, as they are publicly available.

    It irritates me—I shouldn’t have to do this because you shouldn’t be
    giving such erroneous, knee-jerk reactions to people and things.

    I expect that you will fully publish and respond to this post, as I didn’t
    waste several hours of my day to for you to lipstick my comments.

    But before I get into the details of my research, let me first commend you
    — you have a unique way of generating traffic to your site.

    It’s worked — by picking fights with sites with greater traffic than your
    own, you have successfully generated more traffic to your own site.

    Bravo, I commend you for a great marketing ploy.

    But what’s really interesting to me is that, if, as you claim,
    beneaththecover.com is of no consequence, that you would pay attention to
    them at all.

    If anything, your “rants” (as some have called them) simply bring attention
    (and publicity) to a site, and its contributors that you would prefer not to
    be promoted. But the mere fact that you’re addressing it at all is helping
    to promote their site and their cause.

    Which is why, if you’re being honest, your only reason for criticizing and
    harassing contributors to beneaththecover.com is to create traffic to your
    own site.

    From what I can tell, the purpose of beneaththecover.com is to create
    conversations around book industry issues. Your willingness to dive head
    long into a discussion about POD and self-publishing is only furthering
    their cause.

    So, do you intend to help them accomplish their goals, by engaging in
    conversation? If so, to what end? You accuse beneaththecover.com of existing
    for purely marketing reasons. Are you not doing the same by engaging them,
    and their followers in discussion?

    Let’s examine the facts that you have misrepresented—Beneaththecover.com,
    by my count, has 19 contributors and a half dozen guest contributors.

    Of those 19 contributors, 1 contributor, Yvonne Divita, specializes in
    self-publishing. 1 set of contributors — the Greenleaf Group — is a
    “co-publisher,” a hybrid of traditional publishers (able to generate
    distribution akin to any New York publisher) but paid for at the expense of
    the authors (which you may call a “vanity press” if you insist, but for an
    entrepreneur or business owner is a perfect model, in fact, according to
    their website they had 2 New York Times best-sellers in 2007—how many POD
    or supposed “vanity presses” can claim that?).

    Thats 2 out of 19 contributors that could potentially be construed as POD or
    self-publishing experts.

    Let’s look at marketing and PR service contributors. By my count, there are
    three Publicists/PR firms on the site. Rick Frishman has one of the oldest
    and largest PR firms in the book industry, PTA (Planned Television Arts);
    the fact that you don’t recognize his name is irrelevant, though it does
    show that you are not very conversant with heavyweights in the book
    industry. And the lesser known but successful Annie Jennings. Third, you
    have Nessie Hartsock who does PR specializing in blog and online PR.
    Nettie’s background and list of credentials is incredible — you want to be
    critical of her because she contributes educational articles to a site, and
    the only payment she expects in return is hoping to get a client?

    It’s interesting that you haven’t attacked either Rick, Annie, or Nettie –
    is it because you know that they are established experts and you don’t wish
    to pick fights with someone you know would knock your block off?

    Let’s look at marketing — there’s the site’s founder, Michael Drew, who,
    according to his bio, formerly was a publisher, and in his current business
    is responsible for helping 36 authors become New York Times best-sellers. So
    he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about (though, let’s take your
    position at face value that the site only exists to get him clients — I
    would ask you, so what? Is it wrong for a business owner or consultant to
    use education to get more clients? The authors he’s worked with appear to
    have been published by New York publishers, so he’s apparently not targeting
    self- published or POD authors).

    Then there’s Jim Barnes. He’s the editor of Independent Publisher, one of
    the largest trade publications for small and independent publishers. I
    suppose you would discount him because he doesn’t discuss industry news
    about New York publishers but, rather, focuses on small and independent
    publishers. Did you know that he runs the IPPY awards at BEA? The IPPY
    awards is one of THE largest book award ceremonies and everybody, including
    New York publishers, attend. In fairness, Independent Publisher is owned by
    the self-publishing company the Jenkin’s Group, and they clearly use their
    publication to help promote their services. Again, I’d ask you, so what? Kim
    Dushinski is a co-owner of Marketability (which has been in business for
    more then 10 years), a Colorado firm that specializes in educating authors
    and “directing” authors to other industry experts.

    Out of the 19 contributors, 6 are involved in PR or marketing and 2 are
    involved in self-publishing. At this point, less than 1/2 of the
    contributors on the site have anything to do with self-publishing, POD, or
    marketing and PR. On its face, your assertion that the point of this site is
    just to generate clients for PR/Marketing firms or POD or self-publishing
    vanity press is, at best, inaccurate, and, at worst, intentionally
    misleading.

    At this point, more then half of the contributors have nothing to do with
    vanity publishing or marketing.

    So, what do the rest of the contributors do? What is their purpose? This,
    to me, is where beneaththecover.com gets impressive.

    In your comment on beneaththecover, you said there were no published
    authors. Wrong, hotshot! Just goes to show that you didn’t take the time
    to read the bios of ANYBODY on beneaththecover.

    First, though, let’s look at journalists—beneaththecover.com has three
    journalists, including a pulitzer-nominated business investigative
    journalist, Dean Rotbart.

    First, there’s Evan VanZelfden, whose claim to fame is writing about the
    video game industry. Why he chose to write on beneaththecover.com is beyond
    me, but I can’t see what he possibly has to benefit from writing on this
    site. Then we have Dean Rotbart, an investigative business journalist for
    the Wall Street Journal who was nominated (albeit in the 1980′s) for the
    pulitzer for an investigative piece he did. I suppose you could argue that
    Dean’s reason for contributing is that he offers consulting advice to
    business owners about how to get media (though this seem like a stretch
    because everyone knows that a publicist is only as good as his/her contacts
    and Dean’s contacts in the media for business owners won’t easily translate
    to PR for book authors).

    Finally, there’s Andrew Grabois, a book industry insider for 20 years. Until
    the summer of 2007, he was the journalist and research on staff for R.K.
    Bowker, the company that issues ISBN’s. Andrew doesn’t own his own
    consulting firm, and has no products or services to sell, Lee, so what is
    Andrew’s reason for writing for the site? The mere fact that Andrew is a
    contributor to beneaththecover.com adds huge credibility to
    beneaththecover.com within the book industry. The fact that you may or may
    not know who he is, is irrelevant (except, of course, that it shows you
    don’t know or recognize important people in the book industry), as you are
    merely an author, not a publisher or a publishing industry insider.

    Then, we have two agents (albeit I don’t recognize their names), one of
    which is formerly a publisher at major New York houses in Judy Katz and Paul
    McCarthy ( Paul is a former New York publisher). I suppose you could claim
    they are looking for clients, but as we both know, it’s tougher to get an
    agent than it is to get a publisher, and I truly doubt that they are
    trolling for clients (again, having agents on this site only boosts its
    credibility).

    Let’s move on to authors.

    There’s Bryan Eisenberg, Roy H. Williams, Ivan Misner, and Bill Stephens.

    Bryan Eisenberg, along with his brother Jeffrey Eisenberg, is the New York
    Times bestselling author of two books, Call to Action originally published
    by a tiny publisher in Austin, Texas, owned by Roy H. Williams (I can’t
    confirm this, but it may just be a self-published book) called Wizard
    Academy Press. Their second book, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark, was
    published by Thomas Nelson, the 5th largest publisher in the US and a
    Christian publisher (apparently they made a big enough splash with Call to
    Action to justify a major publisher picking them up). As far as I can tell
    from their business site futurenowinc.com, they offer a high-end,
    super-expensive website service that they call Persuasion Architecture
    (which I could barely understand), and it appears corporations spend
    hundreds of thousands of dollars for. I don’t see any reasonable
    applications to authors, and unless they’re developing some less expensive
    products or services specifically for authors, I don’t see any reason for
    them to contribute to beneaththecover.com, except that they believe they
    have something valuable to impart to authors and publishers. Future Now Inc.
    also has one of the top business blogs in the market place today with
    grokdotcom.com, so apparently they care enough about authors hearing their
    message that they not only write on their blog, but on beneaththecover.com,
    as well.

    Roy H. Williams also has two New York Times best-sellers, Secret Formulas of
    the Wizard of Ads and its sequel, Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads. This
    book was published by some tiny publisher in Austin, Texas, called Bard
    Press (sounds like it should be publishing plays and fictional literature,
    not business titles). Roy owns an advertising agency called Williams
    marketing and a non-profit educational organization called Wizard Academy.
    From all I can tell, Roy’s business is helping small and medium-size retail
    businesses with their advertising campaigns. He is known as the king of
    radio advertising. It appears his passion is writing and communication,
    which is why it appears he launched this non-profit Wizard Academy. From
    what I can tell, his only benefit for contributing to beneaththecover.com is
    promoting his ideas on communication and writing (how many authors and
    wannabe authors own small-to-medium-sized retail businesses, not many, and
    it would be a waste of his or anyone’s time to hope to get clients from the
    site). The only conclusion I can come to is that he is passionate about
    what he does.

    Ivan Misner owns BNI (Business Network International), a business networking
    organization whose goal is generating sales leads for its members. Ivan is
    also the New York Times best-selling author of Masters of Networking (a Bard
    Press Book), Masters of Success, and Masters of Sales (both published by
    Entrepreneur Press), and Truth or Delusion by Thomas Nelson. It also appears
    that members of BNI contribute to beneaththecover.com. I suppose you could
    argue that both Ivan and his BNI members who contribute to the site are
    contributing as a way to generate members to their various chapters. The
    problem with that assumption is that selling books, POD or traditionally, is
    not very profitable, and, according to their own site, is highly regimented
    (they charge for membership, and if you don’t generate leads for members of
    your chapter they kick you out).

    Thus far, these three authors account for 8 New York Times best-sellers.
    Sounds like they have more credibility than you do, Lee (how many New York
    Times best-sellers do you have?).

    Then you add in Bill Stephens, who has one of the top 10 blogs on Publishers
    Market place (which is well-read and accepted by book industry
    professionals). He is a world-renowned food and wine columnist, and his
    novel Horizons Past is currently being considered for adaptation by a major
    Hollywood studio. No, he’s not a New York Times best-seller, but, like you,
    Lee, he makes his living as a full-time writer. In your earlier post about
    beneaththecover.com, you mentioned that no writers were contributing —
    what about Bill?

    These are the facts, Lee. Anybody who goes to beneaththecover.com and reads
    the bios can confirm them. Gee, I think maybe even YOU could confirm them
    – that is, if you were honest enough to do so.

    So, out of all of these contributors you pick on Yvonne? Why, because she is
    one of the lesser known contributors with a smaller business than the other
    contributors? Less likely to sue you? Less likely to destroy you in the
    blogosphere?

    You pick on Drew because he invited you to contribute to his site?

    Clearly you didn’t do any research into the site—you simply had a
    knee-jerk reaction and dismissed it out of hand. As my detailed analysis of
    the contributors to beneaththecover.com demonstrates, you would be so lucky
    to have your name considered along most of the contributors on the site.

    As for the Association of Author’s Representative’s Canon of Ethics, first
    off, who are they? Who runs them? Who died and made them king? Are they an
    association sanctioned and run by the New York Publishers, or by the US
    government? Or, are they “old school” agents, who created a system, 25+
    years ago before the digital revolution? I don’t know, I’m asking you. But
    my real point is, your setting up phony straw men. That is to say, you’re
    looking for other industry insiders to support your position. You’re being
    intellectually dishonest. Instead of having an open intellectual
    conversation, you’re making accusations without any substance and picking
    fights.

    It is clear to anyone who reads your blog that you are a successful fiction
    writer who makes his living writing. You tout this as your proof that POD
    publishers are incorrect. You point out your success as an author who was
    published at the age of 18. After further research, I discovered your first
    book was published in 1990, 18 years ago. To tout this example as living
    proof that POD doesn’t work is ludicrous. According to R.K. Bowker, in 1990
    there were 90,250 books published, one of which was yours. In 2007 roughly
    296,000 books were published. Essentially, there were 3 times as many books
    published last year than when your book was published. According to R.K.
    Bowker in 1990, roughly 2,000,000,000 books were sold. In 2007, roughly
    2,000,000,000 books were sold (exact estimates won’t be available until BISG
    releases the data at Book Expo in June in LA). In both 1990 and in 2007,
    roughly 80% of all sales were backlist titles. Which means that newly
    published books both in 1990 and 2007 accounted for the sale of 100,000,000.
    In 1990, that’s an average of 1,108 copies sold per new book published, but
    in 2007 that’s an average of 338 books sold per book published.

    Furthermore, the average retail bookstore only carries 100,000 titles, and,
    the distribution of those titles reflect actual sales numbers, 80% are
    backlist titles, 20% are new titles. In 1990, of the 90,250 books published
    20,000 books had significant retail distribution. This didn’t change in
    2007, but what did change are the number of books that had little to no
    distribution. In 1990, 70,250 books had little to no distribution, and in
    2007, 276,000 books had little to no distribution.

    Additionally, any New York publisher will tell you that for every one book
    they publish, they turn down something like 100 manuscripts. Certainly there
    is duplication between publishers, but if you take the number of books
    published multiplied by the number of rejections by New York publishers, the
    number of “wanna be” authors, each year, is a staggering 29 million authors.

    I bring this up to point out that the number of people writing in today’s
    market place is more than three times what it was when you were first
    published. The fact that you attempted to be published and successfully were
    published in 1990 is no small feat, but it pails in comparison with the
    daunting task of any current first-time author.

    You have already broken into the industry, they have not.

    What advice would you have for the 29 million wannabe authors out there who
    can’t possibly get published by a traditional publisher?

    Would you tell them to give up?

    As you yourself point out, POD exists to serve very specific needs (you kept
    your first book in print through IUniverse).

    While there are disreputable POD publishers out there, you’re simply writing
    off the entire POD industry for a few bad apples?

    The issue you’re not addressing is the barrier to entry — by your logic,
    any author who fails to find a traditional publisher shouldn’t be published
    and should just give up.

    In reality, in today’s market place, publishers are looking for author
    platforms first, and the authors writing ability second. You’re a proven
    writer (and your screen writer friends have an existing platform, so their
    situations are not indicative of the industry as a whole) who has proven
    yourself, publishers already know that your books will sell.

    What about the author who doesn’t have a platform, or doesn’t have a proven
    track record, and who isn’t attractive to publishers?

    Lee, your welcome to sit up on your high horse and judge authors, and POD
    and self publishing firms, but, your judgement is based on your own pride
    and not on the realities of the market place.

    So, either you really don’t know what the hell you’re talking about —
    which goes hand-in-hand with the fact that you certainly misrepresented the
    contributors and the purpose on beneaththecover, as I’ve shown above, here,
    is so — or your an elitist who would tell wannabe authors to not even
    attempt to get published. In either case, you just lost any credibility on
    this matter.

    Matt Knox

  • Tom Collins

    Good morning, Matt. What a pleasure to wake up to your point-by-point dismantling of Lee Goldberg’s rants, along with whatever shred of crediblity he had left.

    One point, however, needs further demolition work: his accusations of dishonesty against Yvonne and her business — starting with his assertions that she engaged in “a raging conflict-of-interest” and ethical violations of the AAR Canons of Ethics.

    You and others have pointed out that the AAR doesn’t really apply to the small amount of agent work we do. But Lee’s accusations are false and libelous and require correction. I attempted to post the following on his blog last night, but he seems to have declined to publish it:

    “Lee, Just to be really clear, as you dig yourself deeper, your chosen excerpts from the AAR Canons and your earlier statements that Yvonne (snd thus WME) are guilty of ‘a raging conflict-of-interest’ are claims of fact that in acting as Shel’s [Holtz] agent on two deals with different publishers:
    – we have represented both buyer and seller in the same transaction (Canon 5);
    – that we have received a secret profit in those transactions (Canon 6); and
    – that we charged Shel reading or evaluation fees in connection with those transactions (Canon 8).
    “Those claims are false and you could not have any reasonable basis for believing them to be true.
    “More to follow. Tom”

    Both of the deals where we acted as Shel’s agent involved books solicited by major publishers. The first, How to do Everyting with Podcasting (McGraw-Hill 2007), came when an editor asked Yvonne if she had any other book ideas similar to Jeremy Wright’s Blog Marketing (Yvonne served as technical editor on that one). Yvonne suggested that podcasting was the next logical step, connected with Shel and his co-podcaster, Neville Hobson, (For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report), and became their agent. Coming at it from that end, we felt obligated to shop the idea around and got 2-3 contract offers, from which Shel and Neville chose McGraw-Hill.

    The second deal came directly through Shel being asked about writing a book on business/media transparency. But since the majors won’t deal with an un-agented author, Shel asked us to fill that role again. The deal got done and he’s working on the manuscript with co-author John Havens, of BlogTalkRadio (check out their blog about the book, http://www.transparencybook.com).

    In neither case did Yvonne or WME commit any of the ethical violations Lee accused us of. His accusations of business dishonesty are false and constitute libel per se.

    We’re wondering if he has any capacity at all to recognize and admit when he’s wrong and then act to correct it.

    On to the “more to follow”:

    Lee, here are a couple more examples of the false, malicious, and libelous statements you’ve been making about Yvonne and her business.

    In your main post on your blog and initial comment here, you label Beneath the Cover as a “scam” and offer Yvonne and her business as your example. The word scam is defined and commonly understood as being “a fraudulent business scheme” (American Heritage Dictionary). Thus, you have accused Yvonne and WME of fraud in our business dealings.

    Such accusations are false, malicious, and libelous. You had no reasonalbe basis for believing them to be true.

    As several commenters have pointed out to you (people with first-hand knowledge of Yvonne and our business), we have never misled anyone about the nature of our publishing model, the investment involved, or the services we perform.

    You can form an opinion about whether our publishing model is the best (or worst), though I don’t know how you could do this credibly without considering the individual needs and publishing goals of a specific author.

    But claiming that Yvonne’s business is a “scam” is a statement of fact about the honesty of the business and, applied to Yvonne or WME, it is absolutely false, malicious, and libel per se.

    Once again, do you have the integrity to admit you are wrong and post the correction prominently, everywhere you’ve published and republished it?

    One more example of your false accusations and then on to some things you may need to consider worrying about.

    In your main post on your blog and initial comment here, you accuse Yvonne of telling “an outrageous lie” when she notes that self-publishing with a “professional POD firm” is a way to get noticed by a “big name publisher.”

    Again, you may have an opinion about whether self-publishing is the best route, or whether hiring a professional POD firm like ours to produce a better quality book is worth the money. (Speaking of which, for the third time, have you ever actually looked at the quality of the books we produce, either in terms of our authors’ writing or the books themselves?)

    But self-publishing has proven the ONLY route to getting picked up by a “real” publisher for the likes of John Grisham, James Redfield, Richard Paul Evans, and many, many others. I doubt you can be unaware of that fact, which makes your false accusation that Yvonne was “lying” all the more malicious.

    Are you capable of admiting your error, Lee?

    Doubtful. I really enjoyed Matt’s list of the industry heavy-weights who write here and how he pointed out your lack of courage to take on any or all of them.

    Roy Williams provides, through Wizard Academy, services to “improve the results of advertisers, architects, artists, authors, businesspeople, educators, entrepreneurs, inventors, journalists, ministers, musicians, salespeople and speech writers.” When he’s helping authors, since he’s not a major publisher, are you saying he’s engaged in a scam? Not your style to take on someone like Roy, is it?

    No. You pick on Yvonne. You cast out false and libelous accusations.

    So here’s what you ought to do, Lee: Take it back. Publicly. Prominently.

    I suggest that what you’ve done on your blog is prohibited by your TypePad Terms of Service:

    7. Content and Conduct Rules and Obligations

    You agree that you will not:
    (a) upload, post, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that is … abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory … libelous … hateful … or otherwise objectionable ….

    Probably the same goes for Amazon. I’m guessing your publishers and producers require you to “represent and warrant” that nothing you write for them is libelous. I wonder if they might be concerned by your malicious accusations and, at the least, reckless disregard for the truth.

    On your blog, you go on about the AAR Canons of Ethics and someone suggested that the POD industry could benefit from adopting some (a good suggestion, by the way). Does your profession have a code? Does it say anything about libel? About checking facts before you accuse someone of dishonesty? Do you care?

    Time to step up, Lee. Be a big boy and admit you are wrong about Yvonne and have no basis for your accusations about her or her business. Is it in you?

    Tom

  • Matt Knox

    I posted this comment last night on Lee’s blog.

    His response was hillarious. You really must read it.

    As promised my comment:

    Steve,

    By the time I got around to writing my blasted post, I was both tired and
    irritated about Lee’s prior posts.

    That led to me paraphrasing and being directionally correct in my writing,
    but inaccurate in my word choices.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Yes, you are correct, Drew’s bio does indicate that he “played a key role
    in.” And, yes his job is in marketing books—so what? Do you have a problem
    with an author marketing a book? The fact that Michael worked for various
    publishers as marketing director somehow negates his role working for a
    publisher (which Lee hasn’t, and I’m guessing you haven’t either)? My guess
    is that Michael knows a hell of a lot more about publishing and the
    publishing industry than anyone commenting on this site (I’m going to email
    him and urge him to comment, I’m surprised that he hasn’t).

    Again, I ask you, what’s wrong with anyone being a book marketer or book
    promoter?

    You are correct about Lee using his own book to “prove” that first-time
    authors can get paid to publish with traditional publishers, but he is using
    that as an example with the purpose of trying to devalue POD or
    self-publishing.

    In reality, as I pointed out in my original post, Lee’s first book is not a
    good example of what other authors can expect.

    Your post failed to address my valid points and focused only on
    “inaccuracies.” Why don’t you try addressing the rest of my valid points?
    Not up to that? Doesn’t fit your real purposes?

    As for Lee (and your contention) that Drew’s purpose in the site is to
    generate leads, first, let me say, so what? What’s wrong with that?

    Secondly, go back and read Lee’s post carefully. Todd asked Drew how much
    the site paid for writers. Drew’s response, let’s quote directly from Lee’s
    post “and they said not a dime because “Beneath the Cover is a cooperative
    venture for building marketing platforms of everyone involved.”

    Wow! So what? Drew is saying isn’t that the site is set up for the sole
    purpose of creating leads, that the “payment” contributors received was in
    brodening their marketing platforms, not financial compensation.

    Excuse me — what is the difference between being paid to write an article,
    and getting leads which generate sales? Have either you or Lee actually read
    the articles on beneaththecover.com? Lee’s posts have actually resulted in
    me reading a lot of articles on beneaththecover.com, which has proven
    enlightening to me. They are educational, and not promotional. As far as I
    can tell, the only things that might–by a stretch–be considered marketing
    pieces on the site are in the contributors’ bios.

    Again, beneaththecover.com doesn’t pay its contributors to write; the only
    benefit, beyond having your words printed by a publication, is the chance
    that a contributor might eventually get a client. My gosh–people are
    building their fanbase, their marketing platforms! Horrible! Look around,
    Steve — why do you think Timothy Ferriss has a blog site? For the fun of
    it? Mr. 4-hour workweek blogs for the fun of it? C’mon! If you believe
    THAT–what can I say.

    You’ll find the same with every other successful writer, too — they have
    blogs or websites to increase their marketing platforms so they can
    encourage people to buy their current book and their next books. Same as
    beneaththecover.com and the people who contribute to it. In fact, there are
    hundreds — actually, probably thousands — of book publicists out there
    that recommend doing that very thing — build your marketing platform
    through giving away free content in a blog or website. Many give away free
    e-books. Horrible thought! And they just might, thereby, encourage people
    to buy their books. What do you say to that fact of marketing on the
    Internet? I know what you’ll say–nothing. Because you can’t cherry-pick
    the truth of that, can you? Haven’t you noticed that going on? Apparently
    not, which is a commentary on what you DON’T know about what’s going out
    there in the book industry, or even on the Internet. In fact, just about
    EVERY industry has some sort of
    give-something-away-for-free-in-order-to-attract-customers program. Can you
    deny that? C’mon! Get real! You gonna take on every industry that gives
    things away in the hope of encouraging people to eventually buy from them?
    Good grief! Get real!

    Furthermore, as I pointed out in my post last night, most of the
    contributors to the site don’t seem to have any easy or obvious way of
    getting clients from the site. You failed to address this point.

    If Drew’s only goal is to get him clients, why then does he have 19
    contributors? Why do more than half of those contributors contribute when
    they apparently have nothing to gain, except broadening their fanbase? Why
    would Drew allow so many contributors on the site, when it “dilutes” the
    attention he and his posts receive (from watching the site the last couple
    of weeks, Drew’s post goes up like everyone else’s and gets no preferential
    treatment). Lee’s answer was to add credibility to his site. There may be
    something to that, but, again, what’s wrong with that? You have something
    against people adding credibility to their sites? You and Lee don’t do
    things to add credibility to your sites? And, besides, there is a point of
    diminishing returns, and it sure does appear at 19 posts Drew has already
    surpassed that point.

    Now, while it may be true that Lee is on the Board of Directors of the
    Mystery Writers of America, his only comments of talking to other authors
    recently (in his posts) have been about screen writers. But I’ll concede the
    point that he may have spoken to “traditional” authors. What you’re not
    addressing is the history of those authors. Who are they, what type of book
    did they write, when were they published, what is their marketing platform?
    In reality, you dismissed my point because of a potential inaccuracy of
    Lee’s. In reality, my point still stands — for most authors, especially
    non-fiction authors, getting published is incredibly daunting. Lee’s past
    comments have shown that he doesn’t really understand the book industry –
    at best he has a sliver of an idea about fiction writing, but not much more.

    His opinions aren’t based on facts, and they’re not based on the realities
    of the book industry. Why don’t you go back and address the factual details
    I point out about the number of books published and sold each year, and how
    the industry has greatly changed since 1990 when Lee was first published?
    Doesn’t fit in with your cherry picking, does it?

    Why don’t you and Lee address the fact that beneaththecover.com is credible
    because of the content they create and based on the authors and writers that
    are contributors to the site?

    Why don’t you and Lee admit that he was wrong about there not being a single
    published author on the site? There are, in fact, several published authors
    on the site, with 8 bestsellers among them. Lee admitted that he didn’t
    recognize any of them and so he concluded that none of them were published
    authors. He didn’t bother to do a simple Google on them or a query in
    Amazon.com. Either of those would have taken, what, about 45 seconds? Naw,
    that wouldn’t help the cherry-picking, now, would it? If Lee had any real
    knowledge, expertise, or experience in business, he would at least have
    noticed Ivan Misner, who has been called “The Father of Modern Networking”
    by CNN. Misner is world famous — and Lee didn’t recognize him? And
    Misner’s got several bestsellers, too, which somehow escaped Lee’s notice.
    Can Lee admit he was wrong?

    Stop cherry picking inaccuracies — by doing so you’re either implicitly
    conceding you were wrong or you’re just trying to “win” a “fight,” which is
    childish.

    Captain,

    It is true that most books published POD are garbage — but, you know what,
    most books published by traditional publishers are also garbage. It’s the
    old Sturgeon Law — “90% of everything is crap.”

    Saying so proves what? That none of the books should be published?

    Writing, first and foremost, is a labor of love. What you, and apparently
    Todd, are saying is that, “Your baby is ugly, so let’s kill it”. Literally,
    to most writers, writing a book is like having a baby.

    Now, I agree, most books shouldn’t be published by traditional publishers,
    and most books don’t deserve shelf space, but thats a far cry from not ever
    being published.

    Does it cause you some problem, does it hurt you some way, that poorly
    written books are published, POD or otherwise? Is that not the perfect
    vehicle for those authors?

    Also, you’re assuming that all the best written books sell, which simply
    isn’t the case — the best-marketed books sell, and sometimes well-written
    books. POD or traditionally published books can create a life of their own.

    But the quality of writing has nothing to do with how well a book sells, or
    whether a publisher should publish a book.

    Books should exist, simply to exist as an outgrowth of an author. But the
    current barrier to entry into the book industry makes it difficult for even
    the most succesful writer to break in. POD and self-publishing is not the
    end-all, be-all — it is simply a solution for some.

    Again, the fact that you think a book should or should not be published is
    not the question. The question is, what would you tell those 29 million
    wannabe authors? Out of those 29 million wannabe authors, how many are
    authors that are the next John Grisham (not implying he self-published or had a book POD), or authors who simply need to build
    their marketing platform, and their POD book is their first step in doing
    so?

    To assert 29 million wannabe authors should just stop writing is insulting,
    and, frankly, wrong — are you some sort of elitest, Captain?

    Perhaps everything you have written doesn’t deserve to be published by a
    traditional publisher, but does that mean it shouldn’t exist at all? What
    does it hurt you to make your writing available as ebooks, or POD?

    Couldn’t one of your stories touch or move a potential reader in ways
    unknown to you? Aren’t you then depriving readers of the magical worlds you
    create? That brings up another point, ultimately, isn’t writing books about
    meeting some want/need/desire of readers?

    Also, your post asserts that Yvonne DiVita hides what she does and doesn’t
    do. This isn’t fair — have you gone to her site, have you spoken with her
    clients? How do you know she isn’t better than iUniverse? She’s had several
    clients comment here indicating that they are more than happy with what she
    has delivered. No comment from you on this, right? But you’re not
    interested in being fair, right? You just get a kick out of kicking other
    people.

    Lee, Steve, Captain and Tod

    My point is, you’re all making broad, unsupported generalizations about an
    industry, and you’re taking those broad generalizations and indiscriminately
    applying them to beneaththecover.com, Mike Drew, and Yvonne DiVita.

    And, when you actually take the time to investigate each, and look at what
    each are doing, none of your contentions hold any water. It simply comes off
    as, at best, insulting hyperbole, at worst, intentional deceit so you can
    parade yourselves as “experts” in order to build your own marketing platform
    at the immoral expense of others.

    I don’t expect any of you to address the actual details of either of any of
    my posts, as it doesn’t “fit” your worldview.

    Just understand, that makes you bigots. Anybody who reads your comments can
    plainly see that.

    Matt Knox