Information Tilt Causes Game Over

How many times have you seen an old-hand on a publishing list telling a newcomer that it's impossible to publish a book using Word or that shelling out a few thousand for a unique cover design is a must? How many times have you read on a website that registering a copyright isn't important or that book reviews and traditional media publicity should be the prime concern of a publisher? How many times have you seen a blog stating that Amazon requires a 55% discount from self publishers and Barnes&Noble will never stock self published books? Is the moon really made from library discards? Somebody could create a television series based on publishing industry myths, apocryphal stories, and outright falsehoods.

The problem isn't with the Internet media, it's with the authors of this "information", and it applies to many books on the publishing subject published by major trades. Unfortunately, newcomers to publishing are so overloaded with information that it would be a miracle if they could sort wheat from the self serving and often bitter chaff. What I've come to call information tilt often results in breaking the bank of new publishers either through direct expenses or by leading them in unproductive directions that result in long delays and despair. The saddest part for me is when I fail to convince new publishers that something they've been told is factually wrong because they've heard it from too many people who've done an effective job of playing on their fears. Hopefully, this graph will clear things up:

I chose the term "tilt" from my long-ago pinball days because I think it's very applicable to a process where new publishers frantically turn in every direction, just like a steel ball banging around on flashing bumpers, until a convulsive effort in one direction or another results in: Tilt - Game Over. If you're an author who has already written a book and just wants to see it in print, by all means, sign up with a service for a few hundred dollars and get it off your plate. But if you're approaching publishing as a business, slow down, step back from the table and get your ducks in line. Remember, there are plenty of good reasons to write a book for which there's no market, but there are few good reasons for a business to publish one.

I came across a real gem the other day for content publishers who want to start building a marketing platform with the help of screen capture video. It's called CamStudio, and it's a great piece of software after you tweak it a little. A few minutes after I downloaded it, I began a quick tutorial for another piece of free software, free in the sense that it comes with every copy of Windows, the much maligned Paint (from the Accessories menu). I often use Paint to knock out quick graphs for this blog, starting with making the graph paper. The third of the screen capture videos I made is the most colorful, so I'll paste it in here:

I'm not using an external microphone, I'm just talking into the air and the built-in microphone of my laptop is picking up my voice. The rest requires nothing besides a little imagination and the ability to babble on. If anybody sits through the whole video you get the prize of your choosing, providing you can find somebody to buy it for you:-)


Anonymous said...

That's a very amusing little clip you've done - made me laugh anyway. I note that as I'm reading your blog my success as a publisher is more or less assured. (I'm working on the content - 2nd novel in which things are said that you definitely can't say about real people either to them or behind their backs!)

I guess you regard New York = Mars?


Morris Rosenthal said...


No, I meant the planet. Which brings to mind an original Bob Newhart episode (1970's), in which he gets a patient who confesses to murder (or something equally dire) that has Bob in an ethical tight-spot with doctor-patient confidentiality. At the end of the show, the patient admits that he didn't do whatever the deed was, he was just testing Bob, before reveailing that he was from another planet.

But I could be from Mars. It was only fairly recently that a friend convinced me that women don't actually like guys with grease under their fingernails or cuts and abrasions on their hands from working. He said something like, "Dude! Women don't dig dirt, they dig Brooks Brothers." So I may as well be from another planet for all I know:-)


Gary Roberts said...

or as my favorite author, Christopher Morley, once wrote...

"I'ld rather read a good book, than write a poor one."