Archive for October, 2007


First you’re an unknown, then you write one book and you move up to obscurity.

–Martin Myers

Introducing (TA DA!) The Book

This has been around for awhile on You Tube, but it’s always good for another laugh.

Make your book work for you

Publishing a book can produce direct and indirect income for the author. Direct income results from sales of the book itself: retail sales; course adoptions; subsidiary rights (book clubs; movie, television, stage, and audio adaptations; serializations; premiums; translations; large type books; international reprints); as well as from back-of-the-room sales at in-person presentations.

Indirect income might come from the increased business that the writing of a book produces. This is what I have done on occasion when I have pitched my services as a writer to a potential client: After the meeting’s opening pleasantries and a brief discussion with the client about what the assignment entails, I have reached into my bag and pulled out a book that I wrote and laid it before the client.

Human nature is such that the client will inevitably pick up the book and begin leafing through it. That’s when I mention a few characteristics about the book––its content, the circumstances that led to its creation, any recognitions it has received––and then I allow a few moments for questions or comments (usually complimentary–again, human nature) before leading the conversation back to the client’s need. I limit this presentation to only a couple of minutes of the client’s time. I have nearly always received the assignment. That book has power!

A published book equates with believability, trust, and confidence. If you’ve written a book, the perception, if not the reality, is that you are an expert––perhaps the expert––in your field. At the point when you place your book in your client’s hands, you’re no longer selling your services. Your book sells you.

The same phenomenon attaches to books sent to a physician’s patients or the clients of an attorney, accountant, financial adviser, engineer, or any other professional. Customers of salespersons, regardless of what they’re selling, are especially impressed to learn their representative has written a book.

Corporate or association histories are worth their weight in gold. They can be enormously effective in building goodwill and introducing, renewing, and cementing relations with customers, donors and members.

Public speakers earn extra points for credibility and helpfulness when they have a book to offer their audience following presentations. Attendees like to have an authoritative book to take away with them after a program. Even a slim volume can enhance the reputation of a speaker or trainer and lead to invitations for more appearances or workshops. JK

Planning your book

As you plan how you’re going to write your book, think about maximizing its market value (and your profits!) by structuring it as free-standing chapters, each one of which could become a magazine article. There are several advantages to writing discrete chapters:
Full exposition. You’re more apt to cover a chapter’s content thoroughly and clearly if you think in terms of beginning, middle, and end––thesis, discussion, and conclusion.
Logical development. Flaws in continuity and elements that are missing and could weaken your premise are easier to spot and correct.
Work flow. Focusing on a single topic means that you can wrap up one manageable portion of your book at a time before moving on the next, giving you a comfortable sense of completion at the end of each chapter.
Flexibility. Publishing chapters in magazines or journals before your manuscript is entirely written allows you to incorporate comments from editors and readers into your book, thereby strengthening its position and timeliness.
Coherent organization. Preliminary feedback may convince you to take a somewhat different tack, one that is more measured, reasoned, or reader friendly.
Market value. It is not only possible that you may earn fees for submitting chapters as articles, but you can also request that periodicals identify you as the author the forthcoming book (title) to be published in (date) by (publisher).
Prepublication promotion. You may want to make copies of a particular article(s) and send them to interested parties along with a note saying your book will soon be available.

Don’t be too concerned about evenness and flow at the time you’re writing your free-standing chapters / articles. Once you have everything done, you can go back over your work, smooth it out with appropriate transitions, and insert chapter-to-chapter cross references. JK


When audiences come to see us authors lecture, it is largely in the hope that we’ll be funnier to look at than to read.

–Sinclair Lewis

Libraries of tomorrow . . . today

Imagine having instant access to 15 million books! That’s the plan once Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo scan entire libraries of books, compile and organize them, and make them available through their Web sites.

The widest possible dissemination of knowledge is always a good thing, right? Or is it?

The New York Times says: “Although Google is making public-domain books readily available to individuals who wish to download them, [Brewster Kahle, founder and director of the Internet Archive,] and others worry about the possible implications of having one company store and distribute so much public-domain content.

“‘Scanning the great libraries is a wonderful idea, but if only one corporation controls access to this digital collection, we’ll have handed too much control to a private entity,’ Mr. Kahle said.

“The Open Content Alliance, he said, ‘is fundamentally different, coming from a community project to build joint collections that can be used by everyone in different ways.’

“Mr. Kahle’s group focuses on out-of-copyright books, mostly those published in 1922 or earlier. Google scans copyrighted works as well, but it does not allow users to read the full text of those books online, and it allows publishers to opt out of the program.”

This is an issue of major importance to authors (royalties, distribution); domestic and foreign researchers (access, security); public and private libraries (costs, collections); publishers (copyright, piracy). My guess is that a lot of lawyers have a lot of work ahead of them. JK

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Watch the short movie at Open Content Alliance to see how books can be accessed through internet storage systems. The film also describes the process for creating a “ten-minute book,” that is, a bound book printed on-site at a library from down-loaded files.

Upper and lower case

We take for granted that typesetting is done by operators at keyboards tapping (typing) out all the text that appears in the books we read. While technology has changed, much of the terminology we use today had its origin long before anyone dreamed there would someday be computers.

Take upper case and lower case, for example, as terms for capital and small letters. When compositors (craftsmen who composed pages of text) set type by hand, they physically picked up each letter with one hand and placed it into a device called a stick, which was held in the other hand. Composition was done upside down and backward because the printed impression appeared in reverse.

Upper and lower case refers to boxes of compartmentalized trays, one positioned over the other, that held individual letters typesetters picked from as they set words, punctuation, and spaces into type. Capital letters were located in the upper case of trays; small letters were in the lower case. JK