Archive for the ‘Traditional Publishing’ Category

To Book Publishers (Traditional & Self) Who Just Don’t Get It

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In reading a response to a discussion I started on a writer’s group on LinkedIn, I was struck with the thought that it isn’t just self-publishers who need to pay attention to the quality of their products. Some very big names are guilty of foisting-off crap.

The kind of food you'll find at Cracker Barrel.

Recently I visited a Cracker Barrel Restaurant with my wife. For those who may not be familiar with Cracker Barrel, it serves southern style comfort food at reasonable prices. We like to go there when we just want foody-food. Nothing fancy.  No cooking with exotic spices like saffron or curry. On the menu will be dishes like meatloaf, country fried steak, and catfish. You can choose your sides from a menu that includes fried okra, turnip greens, and corn. For desert there are various cobblers, pie, and ice-cream. Yum.

Before you get to the restaurant part of the place you have to wend your way through kitschy collections of merchandise that change with the season. My wife loves to peruse their tables of nick-knacks, music boxes, and stuffed animals. Now, as I am writing this it is three days from Christmas, so they were all decked out in a torrent of red and green. Santas and gift items were stacked nearly ceiling high. My eye caught an illustrated book of The Night Before Christmas. The illustrations were beautiful. I wish I could say the same for the book. The workmanship, especially on the cover was a disaster. Both covers, front and back, bowed outward from the spine. It was not only ugly, but made it impossible for the book to lay flat on a table. Here was a book that I wanted to buy, wanted to take home and treasure, wanted to read it to future grandchildren, but I couldn’t get past the cover. This was not an heirloom piece; it was a piece of carnival crap. I looked at the spine and was surprised to see that Simon & Schuster allowed this mess to go out under their banner.

I believe that books are a treasure. They last decades and centuries even. It saddens me to think that the noble business of publishing, especially the giant houses like Simon & Schuster, may be more focused on profit than quality.

I have heard authors complain that their traditionally published books were an embarrassment to them. That the cover designs didn’t truly represent the book, and that cheap cost cutting methods were implemented. Authors who have sold their rights to the publisher have no claim on how the book is manufactured. As for The Night Before Christmas I’m guessing it was sent to a sweat shop overseas to be printed and bound for the lowest price possible, a price guaranteeing maximum profit but sacrificing the honor of the book. I didn’t buy it. I’m hoping no one does. If enough customers reject poor quality the publisher will have to ask why. Why didn’t this book sell?

I plead with self-publishing authors to realize that they have total control of their children. Dress them up in their Sunday best and send them out to play. The day may come when the marketplace will select a self-published book over a traditional one because of the value added that comes from your care.

What’s Next–Debtor’s Prison?

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Okay posts on printing and Self-Publishing are going to have to wait once again. It seems that the last post, We Sure Swallowed the Health Care Lie, I seriously stirred the pot. If you go back and read my post and the attached comments, you will find that sentiments are all over the place. The truth is we don’t know what to do about the corporate Godzilla’s wreaking havoc in our lives. We know who they are, and there is plenty of finger pointing to go around, but our backs are against the wall and there isn’t a rescuer in sight.

Does this sound a tad dramatic? It is, but unless we see the monsters for what they really are we won’t muster the will to fight them. Tracy commented on my post, and I quote, “I emphatically agree with you regarding your views on health insurance…perhaps because I, too, am self-employed and have been for 31 years. My Blue Shield plan just increased about 3 months ago by 22% and is going up another 18% in December (when I enter a new age bracket). I worked in the housing industry and my income is down 90% while my health insurance will have increased 40%. I have been charging my health insurance premiums since January of this year because I am afraid to cancel it because, as you stated, it will be impossible to get health insurance then. Something has GOT to change!”

Tracy’s example is representative of the trouble many of us are finding ourselves in; let’s look at the the history of the unholy trio: US Congress, Health Insurance Companies, and the Financial Industry; and discover the careful step-by-step path that led us into this unconscionable position.

  • 1920’s Health Insurance created by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  • 1929 estimated annual average health care expense for American families totaled $108.00.
  • 1933 Federal Government passes Glass-Steagall Act wherein “banks, brokerages, and insurance companies were effectively barred from entering each others’ industries, and investment banking and commercial banking were separated.” Post by Kitty Wampus
  • 1940′s saw the entrance of commercial insurance companies into health insurance  after seeing the success of Blue Cross/Blue Shield (source EHNet).
  • 1960 Health Care expense rose to an average of 6.6% of a family’s annual income. It was no longer a luxury–it was now a necessity.
  • 1973 the last year middle-class and poor Americans saw an increase in real earnings–only the top 20% saw gain–the bottom 80% has been stagnant for 36 years.
  • 1980 congress passed Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control which broadened lending powers and banks rushed into real estate lending and speculative lending.
  • 1980 Ronald Reagan elected president, took office 1981 (note: Regan didn’t start banking deregulation).
  • 1981 Economic Recovery Act spurred a boom in real estate.
  • 1982 Garn-St.Germain Act authorized money market savings accounts in banks and savings and loans. Seriously undermining their security.
  • 1999 President Clinton, Republicans agree to deregulation of US financial system effectively nullifying all of the protections of Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
  • 2001 Health care insurance premiums risen three times more than wages. With company health care the average person paid $2,827.00 including premiums and deductibles. Health Reform.Gov
  • 2005 Bankruptcy laws changed to protect banks at the expense of customers. Banks who encouraged consumers to participate in reckless free-spending credit card lifestyles feared to face the results of their own actions.
  • 2006 Average spending on health care including premiums and deductibles rose 30% in five years to $3,744.00. For those without company sponsored group insurance the costs were even more. HealthCare.gov
  • 2008 ushered in the biggest financial failing since the Great Depression. US Government offers bailout money to head off economic collapse. Banks promise to renegotiate home mortgages, instead raise credit card interest rates by double or more

So here’s the bottom line as I see it:

  1. The way to unimaginable wealth is to create and market a product that becomes a necessity, like cigarettes and cocaine. The health insurance industry did just that. How? By allowing costs to spiral up. Since medical providers have had unrestrained ability to charge outrageous fees, i.e. the ten dollar dose of Tylenol, ancillary costs and services have skyrocketed too. Who now can afford treatment for even simple procedures without insurance? Furthermore, should a policyholder contract an illness or suffer an injury while covered, their options of changing insurance companies becomes impossible. Pre-existing condition clauses keep people stuck. Drop your insurance with a pre-existing condition and you may never qualify for coverage again.
  2. The financial industry has manipulated the government into lifting all of the protections that were implemented to prevent the collapse experienced during the Great Depression. What happened? Is it any surprise that the country is experiencing a deep recession? It is okay with the CEO’s because they take their bonuses whether the company makes money or not. It is the workforce and small businesses are hit hardest. Big banks are recovering nicely because of bailout money, higher credit card charges, and tougher bankruptcy laws.
  3. People like my commenter, Tracy, find themselves charging their rising
    New & Improved Card

    New & Improved Card

    health insurance costs on credit cards that can, and do, double interest and fees without restraint. If she can’t find another way to pay those usurious interest rates and outrageous policy premiums she will lose everything she has.

  4. Congress, the health insurance, and financial industries have us just where they want us. We have become slaves of the system just as surely as blacks were plantation slaves over 200 years ago. If you want proof, just try to get away without paying income taxes. Go to a hospital without an insurance card. Refuse to pay exorbitant credit card fees. Do all of those things and see what happens.

What’s next, debtor’s prison?

Greenwise or Green-Foolish (Continued)

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Electronic Communication or Paper What’s Greener?

I promised to continue with the subject of International Paper’s brochure that asks the question, “Are pixels greener than paper?” As I said in my last blog, before reading their information I would have answered, “Of course, pixels are greener than paper.” After all, no trees have to be sacrificed to create electronic blips. Now I see that there is an argument to be made. You may disagree with International Paper, it’s no skin off my nose. I’m only serving as a purveyor of information.  When it comes to hot potato issues like the environment, I tend to run to the middle ground myself. The hostility that surrounds such issues tends to be fierce and in the end neither of the more radical views will prevail anyway. That being said, I think it wise to listen to all points of view so I can find  the middle ground for myself.

The previous post discussed energy use.  From I.P.’s  brochure Down To Earth I quote, “Every decision to communicate has some impact on the environment. For example, whether we email or send a letter, we consume energy and resources. There are environmental trade offs in every choice we make, and there is no simple ‘right answer.’ Effective stewardship requires a careful examination of the larger picture that compares the entire life cycle, from raw materials to energy use and end of life, to fully understand the impact and performance of both electronic media and paper. The facts may surprise you.”

Negative Carbon Footprint

More Planted than Harvested

More Planted than Harvested

In this post we will focus on sustainability. “One of the great things about paper is that its primary raw materials are renewable. The paper and forest products industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forests by planting 1.7 million trees every single day, more than three times what is harvested. And the U.S. Dept. of Energy has stated that the carbon sequestered on forested lands in 2006 was greater than the carbon released from harvesting wood over the same period.”

Side-by-Side Comparison

Is it recycled? Paper is biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable. Nearly 60% (57.4%) of paper used in the U.S. is recycled and more than 63 percent of fiber used to make paper products comes from recycled paper. Paper waste won’t kill you unless a skid falls on your head, but that isn’t true of electronics, according to earth 911, “Electronic waste accounts for 70 percent of the overall toxic waste currently found in landfills. In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials like mercury…in 2005 alone, almost two million tons of e-waste were landfilled. While toxic materials comprise only a small amount of this volume, it doesn’t take much lead or mercury to contaminate an area’s soil or water supply.”  There is even a report that says the dust collecting on our computers can be harmful to our health (see CNET). Sources say 150 million PC’s are expected be discarded annually, with only approximately 3.6 percent recycled.

Is it sustainable? The great thing about paper is that its primary raw materials are renewable. In fact, as stated earlier, three trees are planted for every one harvested. We may be in more danger of being crowded out than we are of risking barren landscapes. To create a computer for example “typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, including gold, silver, and palladium as well as the extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. (DTE brochure)” Plus computers are short lived. A five year old computer is about as productive as a paperweight, which is partially the reason that “electronics have become the fastest growing waste stream in the world. (DTE brochure).

I could go on, but there are massive amounts of information available to anyone who wants to research these matters further. International Paper in their brochure would refer you to the following resources: ipsustainability.com; iplifeoftheforest.com; abundantforests.com; epa.gov; fsc.org; iea.org; pefc.org and sfiprogram.org.

The Author Platform

Remember if you are an author or want to become one, you will be well served to learn the realities of book marketing. Whether self-published or traditionally published today’s writers are expected to do much of their own marketing. The Author Platform is a self-training tool to learn the in’s and out’s of social networking, blogging, selling on Amazon, using centers of influence to drive traffic and sell books, and much more. There is even a 15 day FREE trial period to check it out–what more could you want? Click here for more information.

The Easy Way To Reach Bill Ruesch
He's available to help you with any of your printing, or publishing needs. Please contact him if you need a book, marketing materials, or anything else printed. His thirty-five years of experience, and thousands of happy customers is your guarantee of satisfaction.

An Interview With Bill Ruesch
100_0133
Successfully Market Your Book
learn how to sell a ton of books with The Author Platform A practical, easy to use, Internet marketing education in four simple-to-follow modules. Contains everything you need to know to make your self-published book a smash.
Read in Your Own Language
    Translate from:

    Translate to:

Locate posts easily
Where in the World are my Readers?
Copyright
© Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.