The 50/50 Publisher That Never Launched

When things start going well for a self publisher, when the bills are getting paid and the bank account is growing, many of us start casting about for a new mountain to climb. Back in 2005 I decided I would take the big leap and start publishing books by other authors, but of course, I had to try a different approach. I came up with the name New Deal Press for three reasons. First, the domain was available. Second, I believed I'd be offering authors a genuine new paradigm in publishing. Third, I thought it would be professional to have themed cover art like so many successful publishers, and I wanted to base it on public domain works created by artists for the government during the Great Depression.

I designed the contract around the premise that I had to pay authors a royalty rate of 50% of the net and a modest advance on signing. I also insisted (to myself) that it was to be a paying business, rather than a charity or a write-off. Unfortunately, when I combined this model with my other cherished notion, of outsourcing the design and editorial work and giving the contractors both cash payments and points in the book (a percentage of the net), I quickly realized that without extraordinary luck, it would be a charity project. Probably a full-time charity project at that. I still might have gone ahead with it if not for some of the negative feedback I got on the web when floating the idea, namely that I was an evil person looking to rip-off authors.

A couple days ago, I put the New Deal Press domain back online because I'm planning to use it for book selling business, and I put the original website back online just as a placeholder. A couple fun quotes from that somewhat idealistic business model:

"How much money do you hope to earn if we publish your book? We want to know if you're a nut. If you believe you're going to make a million dollars, maybe you will, but not with us."

"We truly believe that anybody intelligent enough to write a good book is intelligent enough to bypass all publishers (ourselves included) and self-publish their own books. However, we also believe you have to be willing to work at it full time if you expect to succeed."

"If you've stolen parts of your book somewhere, deceive us, and we publish it, we are going to get sued. When we get sued, you get sued. Even if we don't get sued, if we find out you've been stealing, all bets are off. There's no room for plagiarism in the publishing industry, try academia if you must."

That last quote is from the expanded version of the author contract in which I tried to explain why it had to be written the way it was. I may have gotten the idea from the commentary on the O'Reilly contract, on there So You Want To Write For Us page.

The funny thing is that I still think the basic premise was a pretty good idea, I just concluded that I don't have a thick enough skin to deal with nutty authors like myself. Investing lots of my time in something that wouldn't pay nearly as well as authoring more trade books or self publishing more titles would have been worthwhile if the whole enterprise had been a modest success, which I suppose means I'm hungry for recognition. The price I was unwilling to pay was price of stress, when things go wrong and authors go ballastic. I can't control Amazon, Google, Ingram, or any of the other players in the publishing world, and I don't want to take the blame when they make mistakes or change the rules. Besides, I'm sure I'd have made enough mistakes of my own to keep me in permanent apology mode.

In the two years since I dropped the idea, I must have corresponded with at least a dozen authors who followed the POD model for self publishing that I advocate, and who immediately proceeded to publishing other authors books. All of them that I can think of did so on a subsidy publishing basis, which is interesting, since a couple of them were subsidy press refugees at the beginning of the process. I don't envy them the role of having to deal with authors who've paid to have a book published and are dissapointed by the results.

Star Trek Publishing

It's easy to forget that we live in the space age, what with all the Neanderthals I encounter. But I remember getting a day off from school during the first moon landing and we must live in the space age because I mainly run into the Neanderthals in cyberspace. It was during the 19060's that television produced it's one contribution to a better future, then promptly tried to cancel it. The show was Star Trek, and the original series dished out worldly moral lessons in a way nobody's dared to repeat since. Plus, lots of stuff got blown up or vaporized.

There's something miraculous that goes unremarked about the Internet, word processors and laser printers because they are omnipresent objects in our every day lives. Yet all of these appeared well after the heyday of the space race and the airing of Star Trek on prime time. The basic tools of the publisher today are so far beyond those of the 60's an 70's that it makes you wonder why the books haven't improved. Clearly, I don't consider graphical "elements" and highlighted tips and reminders in books a giant leap for mankind.

There's an apocryphal story that NASA spent millions of dollars developing a pen that could write in zero gravity while the Russians used a pencil. The basic analogy serves well for publishing approaches today. You can spend a lot of money on the royal path or a little money on the toll road and both will get you to words on paper. What's interesting about publishing is that the road you take has a substantial impact on how must you walk it.

The high budget road in publishing which consists of large offset runs and a strong push to get fresh books onto store shelves forces most publishers into a run, or at least a brisk trot. The low budget path in publishing, which consists of print-on-demand and Internet marketing, allows publishers to proceed at a comfortable walk. The offset model forces new publishers to run before they can crawl, while the POD model encourages frequent naps at the expense of overnight success stories. Offset is a great way to occasionally get rich and frequently go into debt. Print-on-demand is a great way to pay the bills, or at least not generate too many new ones.

I know that a newspaper scale offset press costs as much as a starship while you could trade a used shuttle for a print-on-demand production line, but the POD process is a better example of Star Trek publishing. Publishers can beam up digital files to Lightning Source, which can replicate (mixed series metaphors) books one at a time to meet customer demand. The offset model involves lots of warehousing, up-front costs and enough shipping and handling to keep two transporter rooms busy. Of course, you have to give the offset engineers credit for their own pen trick, transfering words to paper upside down and backwards!

Libel and Slander and Bears, Oh My!

I always forget the difference between libel and slander, though I remember they're both bad. I just looked them up on Wikipedia (so you know it must be true:-) and the difference, as seen through a writer's eyes, is that slander is speech and libel is writing. Both are forms of defamation, which I crudely interpret as the dissemination of potentially damaging lies. For some reason, I get regular e-mails from writers and self publishers asking me to offer an opinion on whether they're likely to be sued for defamation for publishing a given book. I always start by telling them that it's a question for a lawyer, but I'm likely to add two personal opinions. First, that telling the truth is probably less risky than lying, and second, if you're really worried that you may be libeling somebody, that's a bad sign.

So, are concerns over libel and slander a good reason to invest thousands or tens of thousands of dollars into insurance and legal consultations before publishing your first book?

My advice, for the record, is never to take legal advice from a blog. In fact, I wouldn't suggest taking legal advice from a book written by a lawyer either. The problem for those of us who aren't lawyers is that we really don't understand the application of the law. Getting a legal opinion from anybody other than an attorney you've retained is a form of fool's gold, or fool's consolation. In fact, I recently read IRS publications until I was blue in the face, but as confident as I was in my understanding of what I read, I wasn't comfortable until I paid a CPA who works with writers and publishers for an opinion.

And that's where I see insurance and legal help fitting into concerns over libel and slander. I may have slipped in a question here and there when having lunch with my lawyer, but I'm comfortable with what I've written and published, so I haven't seen the need to start hunting for bears in the woods. If you've written something that sets the back of your brain tingling and you have assets to protect, I think you have to consider editing out those concerns or paying a lawyer or insurance company to have them alleviated. Those tingles may just be your Spidey Sense, but they might also be your conscience doth'ing you a dose of well deserved cowardice.

Large organizations often practice structured risk management. For any new activity the organization gets involved in, a manager or team leader might be asked to draw up a list of the ten greatest risks facing the project and how they can best be ameliorated. My feeling, for new self publishers, is if you're spending all of your time on risk management, you may be choosing the wrong subjects to write about, or even the wrong reasons to write. I think my mother (a known quoter of epitaphs without attribution) summed it up best with, "If you don't have something nice to say..."

Mom never got sued, but she never won a Pulitzer either.

The Best Books Are Already Written

How many times have you heard somebody say that the best books have already been written? Probably not that often, we're a forward looking culture, if culture can be used to describe us. I'm not comfortable saying it myself because they stone false prophets in my neighborhood and there's no profit in that. I will say that the very best books I've read were written more than a hundred years ago.

Part of the difference is the language. I think people used to savor reading more than we do today. Sitting in a cottage or a row house with a novel illuminated by a gaslight or whale oil lamp in the mid 1800's was a major escape from life when escapes on a small budget were limited. Most of the early literature also had the advantage of staying out of the bedroom. I know some people think a lot of skin in today's books and movies is a step up from a lot of talk, but I've turned into my father, preferring a scene that ends with a curtain blowing in an open window to one that looks like a zoology experiment.

Take this description of how one-sided love grows from the Thomas Hardy classic, "Far from the Madding Crowd."

However, he continued to watch through the hedge for her regular coming, and thus his sentiments towards her were deepened without any corresponding effect being produced on herself.

You can find the same expression in relatively modern music, which may say something about how the arts develop, peak, and then dissolve into noise. The Doobie Brother's hit "What a Fool Believes" probably kept me from sending a postcard or two that would have made the woman on the receiving end search her memory, and then wonder if she was on the road to a restraining order:-) Never mind X degrees of separation, we're all just a Zaba Search apart.

I was discussing serialized literature with a newspaper friend of mine, who insists that it's a dead form because people don't have the patience to read a chapter a week. He clearly knows more than me about newspapers and probably about human nature as well, but I think part of the blame goes to the authors, who can't produce the prose or characters that would keep people on the edges of their seats for the next installment. I suppose it's telling that today's top Google result for "serialized literature" is a dead link.

Maybe the authors of 18th and 19th centuries also benefited from being at the end of the line. They weren't writing books in the hopes of selling the movie rights or the action figures, marketing wasn't that omnipresent. An author who mastered both the language and the art of oratory could make decent coin on the lecture circuit, but it wasn't the sort of required public clowning that so many authors are dependent on to sell books today. What kind of person would make a career out of mixing together snippets of their personal life and blatant attempts at marketing a book!

So, does anybody have a good recipe for greasepaint solvent?

Instructor Of Dead Publishing Languages

Some of my regular readers expressed a concern about my mental state after yesterday's depressing post about publishing exhaustion, so I thought I'd take today to write about my healthy perspective on the business. I'm reminded of an old Doonesbury cartoon (so old that I'll have to paraphrase from memory) in which a university instructor, angry over his treatment, threatens to quit and take a post in private industry. "You teach Latin," his colleague reminds him, "I'm not sure there's much demand for instructors of dead languages in industry these days."

Sure, Sunday was rough. I spent a good 11 or 12 hours sitting in front of the computer screen, cutting and pasting away to fix problems that never should have appeared. But let's compare with Monday. Monday I worked construction, the only activity that's taken more of my hours than publishing the past six or seven years. It was six degrees (Fahrenheit, my metric friends) when I left in the morning and sixteen degrees when I got home at night. The sixteen felt positively balmy. The job was in the hills where it's colder, and although we were working "inside" some of the day, the windows aren't in yet, so the house was a wind tunnel. I probably tweaked my back again picking up a jointer/planer and putting it in the tractor bucket. One of the joys of never learning to operate heavy equipment is permanent laborer status:-)

Back to publishing. I did have to unload a truck full of 55 lb. boxes of hardcovers once and distribute them between the attic and the second floor, but I was in pretty good shape at the time. I got in shape moving around slabs of oak weighing as much as ten times that, thanks to a multi-year foray into chainsaw-mill sawyering. And there is that right shoulder injury from three months of photo cropping on an old 486 that changed me into a left-handed computer user, but it doesn't quite compare with the time a log same off a hydraulic splitter and hit me in in the, I don't even want to remember.

Publishing has its ups and downs, but roofing a 14 pitch timber frame last year instilled in me a fear of the all the way downs!

That's my boot, I'm taking the picture.

Unlike our disappointed Latin professor, I suppose I could go back to writing for a large trade publisher if I gave up on self publishing, since going to work for somebody else as a self publisher would be a contradiction in terms. As I've written many times, I've never been attracted to the idea of selling my time consulting. I'm not thick skinned enough to send people a bill for advice without regard to whether or not it works. I'm afraid it would be a little too much like working as a diet coach. You can tell people how to lose weight, but you can't not eat for them.

I guess I'll just have to adopt Steve Martin's attitude, which beats the heck out of being the guy in the Fool's song "fixing the hole where the meteor hit the barn." At the end of a comedy routine, Martin would pick up his banjo, pluck out a tune and sing, "The most amazing thing of all, I get paid for doing.....this."

Internet Publishing Fatigue

My surprise for Friday was seeing that Google had dropped my blog (just the main page) from their index. It's somewhat annoying since it ranked in the top 10 for the phrase Self Publishing on Google, but the real draw of the blog is the 200+ individual posts, so it's not a total disaster if it stops there. The problem is, I don't know why it happened, and I'm running out of energy to figure it out.

One thing readers may have noticed is that I published the last half dozen or so posts with labels, a new Blogger feature that I believe is intended to help the search engines categorize the posts for better results. What I didn't realize is that the software was saving multiple versions of all of these new posts to my site with different titles. There's something about that approach that strikes me as wasteful, not to mention potentially looking suspicious to the search algos, so I republished all my articles without labels and deleted the directory.

But there's a certain sameness to the problems that repeat with publishing on the Internet that really gets me down. I've always been a content publisher, my writing is the draw, and I don't want to have to spend several hours a day trying to keep up with the latest twist and turns of Google's indexing practices. I've seen some of my most popular pages with high authority rankings and years worth of mentions all over the web lose their places to newcomers whose only authority appears to be their links to my pages!

Rather than "publish or perish", occasional waves of "publish and perish" roll through the web. The agony of it all is there's nobody (in authority) to ask, "What's going wrong?" When these things happen, I turn to those Google branches I have business relationships for those pages with in hope of gaining insight, but since none of them are directly involved with search, it's a long shot. Some day, before some poor publisher blows his brains out and leaves a note blaming lost visibility on the web, I hope the major search engines set up some paid "White Hat" line, where Internet publishers who are sure they aren't doing anything underhanded can call up, give a credit card number, and pay $100 for fifteen minutes of help figuring out what's wrong.

Maybe the reason Google hasn't done this yet (aside from the aggravation) is for fear of being accused of selling results. It's not paid placement I'm looking for, I can get that with advertising. I value my own time, and I'd rather pay to figure out if I've made some mistake than to spend a hundred hours spread out over the year trying to guess how I may have offended a computer algorithm. In this instance, some of the Google Books results for my excerpts are coming up before my own website pages, but that's just as likely to be a symptom as a cause.

Well, I promised myself that I'd never rant on this blog, but the truth is I'm too tired to care. I just finished editing down the January archive to make sure that's not causing a problem through duplication, even though I know that's crazy. Maybe I shouldn't have written the Blogger help people last week and told them what I thought of being forced to adopt the new version:-)

Update: I may have figured out this one myself. For some reason, Blogger has seen fit to start adding a "No Index" tag to my blog! Last thing I would have looked for, but here it is:

Who knows, maybe I'm misinterpreting it and it means something else, but I'm going to edit it out right now and we'll see what happens. Crazy times.

Books About Collecting First Editions

I've bought a half dozen new books in the last couple weeks, subjects ranged from web stuff to buying and selling books as a vocation. Apparently I've got the first half down pat. Two books that I enjoyed were "Antique Trader Book Collector's Price Guide" and "Book Finds, 3rd Edition: How to Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books." Both were very enthusiastic about a business I have no desire to get involved in, that of buying and selling first editions. It's a different world for me, but one that was interesting to visit.

Here's what I took away from it. If you can find a first edition from an author who wasn't famous when the book was published so the run was limited, but got famous later so people care, you might have something valuable. That *might* caveat is a mighty might. Despite the fact that the first editions of published books are often indistinguishable in any way from many later editions except for the magical identifier showing it's first, the later editions aren't valued at a tenth (or a hundredth) of the first. Also, a first edition in otherwise perfect condition with a library mark is considered worthless, and a mediocre dust jacket will knock 80% of the value.

It all strikes me as pretty obsessive, though not it a good way, like my own obsessions:-) I'm a book lover who reads books, but in the first edition collection community, it's not unusual to buy reading copies of books you own, just to keep that first edition fresh. It reminds me of an earlier post about collectible European books, except they sell those by the pound. One telling anecdote by the author of one book (I forgot which) was that he felt guilty about paying high prices for a series of books he'd read as a child because they had no inherent value. That strikes me as pretty backwards. Sure, they don't show up in the first edition catalogs and they don't have a set "everybody knows that" value, but if an expert book buyer is stuck paying a high price for them, doesn't that say something about supply and demand?

The type of books I'm interested in working with are classic literature in nice editions (they had some great illustrators in the 19th century) and old how-to books that are long forgotten. My feeling is that the really dated how-to books, like old cookbooks, offer a more natural approach to their subjects. Not because they were trying to turn back the clock to simpler times, but because they were working with what they had. Like my favorite food additive - salt.

If I Held A Publishing Conference

I recently received a catalog for the 2007 Publishing University put on by the PMA. I was a PMA member for a couple years, contributed an article to the newsletter about a few years back, but left due to irreconcilable statistical differences:-) I have to admit the catalog is as impressive as all get-out this year, eight different tracks and over 70 individual sessions (I counted rather than taking their word for it) to choose from. I recognize many of the presenters from the books they've authored or from occasional correspondence, and in some cases, both. Ironically, I don't know the three people putting on #403 "The Truth About Print on Demand (POD)" though I see one of them is from iUniverse, which seems like an odd choice for a speaker at a publishers conference. Me thinks the dice may be loaded on this one. PMA's Publishing University is scheduled immediately before BookExpo America in NYC for those who want to attend both events. I suppose it also makes them easy to avoid for those who plan to attend neither, so it's a perfect plan. I doubt I'll make it again this year, but you never know.

The catalog did remind me that I had the subject of publishing conferences on my blog to-do list. I asked myself the question, if I was to run a publishing conference, what would it be like? Keep in mind this is a speculative post written by a guy with an inner ear problem looking at a screen that keeps moving, and bite your tongue if your rhetorical answer was "A disaster." I'm nothing is not sincere, and I don't believe that the best way to do something new is to copy something old and change it a little. So, for starters, I'd get out of the "Publishers meet in big cities" mindset and go with a writer's conference location, like a camp in the Berkshires or the Connecticut River Valley. Not by coincidence are both locations within an hour's drive.

Next, I'd only have one track. While I appreciate all the work that goes into multi-track conferences, I've always found at the conferences I have attended that the majority of the sessions in any given track are made-up topics invented to meet the track title. Conference organizers can always find speakers willing to tilt a presentation this way or another, but it doesn't fool the experts, and the beginners shouldn't be in a special track to start with. More importantly, a large array of choices will reduce the number of people who will sit one or more sessions out and socialize with fellow publishers, which is the real value of any conference. Unfortunately, it's human nature, when we've paid for something, to look for value in exchange, and with several (or eight) tracks running at once, it's hard to avoid thinking that one might be a good fit.

Besides, I'm an author as well as a publisher, and I tend to think in terms of book structure. Not some fiction work written from the perspective of multiple personalities, but a nice linear progression that takes the reader somewhere. My one track, three day publishing conference would fill in sessions around the daily concepts, "you write da book, you print da book, you sell da book." I think three sessions a day is the maximum most people can really benefit from, I'm more of a two session man myself, but three provides leeway to skip one without feeling guilty. I wouldn't plan any formal sessions at night, but I would line up "true stories" speakers to talk about their ups and/or downs in publishing and to bat around questions over the hum of bug zappers and jet skis on the lake.

Day One - You Write Da Book

Session One - Before you write the book, or otherwise commission or acquire a manuscript, you have to do the market research. My panel of experts will discuss methods of market research for publishers with different levels of resources (budgets) and do some live performances of Internet market research on an LCD projector, taking title ideas from the audience. It will be pretty funny after the conference winds up and every rushes to publish the same book.

Session Two - Before you write the book, you got to have the knowledge and the platform. This means either finding the right author, matching an existing manuscript with the market research conclusions, or finding the platform under your feet and writing the book yourself. I know a lot of authors feel they can write a book about anything if you just point them in the proper direction and give them a few competing titles to emulate. While a sincere form of flattery, it's not a path I want promoted at my conference. The panel of experts will offer tools you can use to determine if you really have the knowledge and the platform.

Session Three - While the book is being written, you got to deal with the author. I think author relations is one of the most neglected areas in publishing education, in terms of writing a contract that works for both parties, and in terms of giving weight to the author's input. Too many publishers who know their business model inside-out make the mistake of thinking this means they know more about the book being written than the author. The only way that can be true is if the author is a complete idiot, and if that's true, the publisher was a real dummy offer a contract. The panel will offer examples of author relations gone good and gone bad that illustrate this point, even if they have to stretch the truth a little.

Day Two - You Print Da Book

Session One - Before you print the book, you got to do all that production stuff. Editing, proofreading, fact checking, book design, cover design, layout, etc... Lots of publishers really get into this stuff, I prefer to hire out or do it the easiest way possible myself, but I know I'm in the minority here. The panel will include cover designer, an interior layout and page designer, and an editor. I figure one of each is best so they won't step on each other's toes and argue about whether or not you can produce a book in Word or when it's permissible to end a sentence with if. They'll all bring examples of work they've done, and take questions about the choices made.

Session Two - Before your print the book, you got to decide on the technology and any subsidiary issues, like quantities for offset and discounts for POD. I'm a big case study nut, so I think the best way to present this subject for experts and beginners alike will be with a series of case studies for trade paperbacks and hardcovers covering the whole gamut of basic choices. Keeping an eye on the dollars, everything from paper choice (if you have a choice) to box quantities and weights will be covered. This is the one session I might be inclined to sit on the panel myself, but only as a last minute substitution.

Session Three - Once you print the book, you got to store the book, pack the book and ship the book. Lots of small publishers fall into the line of thinking that marketing is so central it would be a waste of time to price envelopes or buy a postage meter, but it depends entirely on your business model. There's also the question of dealing with returns, whether you print offset or POD, and when it's better not to accept returns as a matter of policy or based on discounts. In any case, it pays to put in a weak session in the last slot of day two when people are wearing down and would benefit from a good nap or a swim and a coffee. I'll save the presenter slots for people who bug me to speak at my conference but don't have that much to say.

Day Three - You Sell Da Book

Session One - Before you can get on a bestseller list, you have to sell your first hundred books. That's sell through, not convince a chain or distributor to put them on the shelves. Most small publishers I correspond with take it for granted that they'll sell hundreds of copies just by publishing a book, they have their eyes on the tens or hundreds of thousands. My panel of experts will will tell them stories about failed publishers that will make their hair stand up, maybe I'll toss in my own hardcover disaster. The panel will then terrorize the new publishers in attendance by making them stand up and describe exactly how they intend to sell their first hundred books. The session will conclude with a handout card with a 10X10 grid for new publishers to check off the blanks. For each card with a new ISBN that they fill up, I'll give them a dollar off at the next years conference and offer them an evening story slot.

Session Two - Once a publisher proves they can sell some books, the next stage is to sell a lot of books. The panel will include an Internet marketing expert who focuses on organic growth websites, an expert who focuses on paid promotions online and in print, an expert on Amazon and the chains, and an expert on press releases and corporate (bulk) sales. After a brief introduction to how they do what they do, the panel will offer marketing advice for specific titles from the audience, and offer blunt advice over whether or not it would be cost efficient to apply a particular marketing approach to a give title.

Session Three - Once a book starts selling, it's as if it has acquired a life of its own, and the job of the publisher becomes life cycle management. Some of the biggest trade publishers are guilty of assuming that every title's life cycle should look like a wave form, with peak sales at release dropping off to a trough, at which point a new edition will be released to try to repeat the peak. Remainder issues get swept under the rug and the overhead of churning out new editions is what pays the salaries of many employees. Small publishers have the option to manage the life cycles of their titles with more personal attention and care, recognizing when downturns are due to reasons other than aging. Small publishers following the print-on-demand model also have the luxury of giving titles longer to make it in the marketplace, and often see sales rise for several years before decay sets in. The panel will take the audience through the full and partial life cycles of several published titles, after swearing one and all to secrecy. Those with an aversion to swearing will be asked to participate on the panel instead.

That pretty much wraps up my publishing conference, except to point out that friendly dogs and moderate drinking will be welcome. Please sign an insurance waiver on your way in.

The Publisher's Jig-Saw Puzzle

I was having dinner with Mick Jagger the other night (or it might have been Keith Richards) , and he said, "Me, I'm waiting so patiently, lying on the floor. I'm just trying to do this jig-saw puzzle, before it rains anymore." I may have made up the part about dinner, but I do remember Mick singing it in my car, or on the radio, one of the two. It's all a fine allegory for the job of a publisher, which could be summarized, "Patience, lying, jigs-saw puzzle and rain." We don't have to spend too much time on rain, it's obviously bad for books, but many new publishers may not get the bit about lying on the floor. That's what happens when you get so stressed about the proof copy coming off the Linotec (at $10 per page) kearning differently than the pages on the computer screen that you get dizzy and have to lie down. That pretty much sums up my first experience in book production, back in the mid 80's.

Waiting patiently can be a virtue or a sin for a publisher, depending on the situation. If you follow an Internet based approach to publishing for both manuscript development and marketing, patience is a virtue, as long as you keep working as you wait for your site to build visibility. You can hurry the process along by letting people know you exist, but there's no point pushing your website before you have enough content on it to attract word-of-mouth and linking. It takes patience to build a real resource before trying to promote it, and patience to wait for quality to win out over crud. On the other hand, it's a sin to publish a book and wait for the world to beat a path to your door. The only people like to come knocking in that case will be creditors, and if you went on the street for the money, the knocking may portend a beating.

But the important concept hidden in the Stones song, if you play the CD backwards while running behind a bus, is that publishing is a jig-saw puzzle. One difference between publishing a book and assembling a jig-saw puzzle is that the publisher doesn't have a picture on the cover of the box to serve as a guide. Another important difference is that the publisher has to assemble the pieces in the correct order, so that the market research which informs the title selection comes before the writing and the marketing campaign is prepared before the book is printed. It also pays to do the editing and proofreading before the book is printed for that matter. Perhaps the most critical difference is that the publisher doesn't start the game with all of the pieces on the table. It's important to identify the missing pieces of your publishing company, to budget for them, and to schedule them in with the overall assembly of the book.

To recap, lying is bad, whether in conversation or on floors. Rain is bad for books, but good for trees in moderation. Publishing is a jig-saw puzzle, except when it isn't, and with patience, time is on your side. Yes it is:-)