Friday, October 26, 2007

Rant on Subsidy Publishers, Part II

I’m still thinking about what is going on in the publishing world and trying to make sense of all it.

The Publishers Weekly ad/article mentioned how the subsidy presses were “drawing entrepreneurial investment and top editorial talent.” These people knew that they needed to change the perception of a subsidy publisher into something far more tempting. Thus, as vanity became subsidy, subsidy became self-publisher.

I had read an article by the subsidies geared towards the publishing world, now I needed to read their advertisements to authors. Looking through the current issue of Writer’s Digest, I noted how each publishing company offers something slightly different. (Or uses phrases that make them appear to.)

Outskirts Press allows the author to contribute to the making of the book, like using their own cover design. Lulu lets the author set their own price. Trafford guarantees its method is the best way to publish the author’s book.

The only company honest enough to use the word subsidy was The Vantage Press, established in 1949 and probably just getting over referring to themselves as a vanity press.

Concurrently, a number of the subsidy publishers are merging and each publisher will offer something slightly different to authors. Just like the different imprints at the big, traditional publishing houses do.

There were many ads for subsidy publishers in Writer’s Digest, but I did not see any ads for book printers, graphic designers or book cover designers.

For the uneducated aspiring author, there appear to be two choices: publish with a traditional house or “self-publish” with a subsidy publisher.

The other point I want to make is that I find it interesting that there are seasoned author/publishers agree who with the statement that subsidy published authors are self-published. The following comparison between the three types of publishing companies will illuminate why they are not. Please note that hybrids of the three exist, but these are the three main types of publishers.

Traditional Publisher

An author who is accepted by a traditional publisher will receive an advance on royalties. If their book fails to sell enough copies to cover their advance, they will have to return the portion of the advance. In this way, the publisher helps to mitigate financial loss.

The publisher owns the ISBN, but the copyright is in the author’s name. The publisher pays for and decides on the editing, cover, size, price and publication of the book.

VIP’s aside, the author is expected to do most of their own promotion and publicity (although this is often not explained to an author until it’s too late). If the author does exceptionally well, the publisher will kick in some money for further promotion.

This generalized business model of the traditional publisher has not proven to be all that effective, as publishers often lose money on unknown authors. I am guessing that in the past few years, large traditional publishers have reduced the amount of unfamiliar authors that they accept, making it even more difficult for authors to get traditionally published.

Subsidy Publishers

An author who is accepted (99%?) by a subsidy publisher pays to have them publish their book and receives royalties if the book sells.

The publisher owns the ISBN, but the copyright is in the author’s name. The publisher pays for and decides on the editing, cover, size, price and publication of the book. (With minor exceptions, see above.)

The author is expected to do all of their own promotion and publicity. If the book sells exceptionally well, some publishers, like Wheatmark, offer promotional services. (The book must sell 2000 copies, which 1% of their books do. This is brilliant! Not only is this an attractive come-on to potential customers, but if a subsidy book actually sells 2000 copies, it is in their best interest to promote it.)

As opposed to the risk-taking traditional publishers, subsidies get paid up front for their services. Since they make money up front, there is no incentive to make a stand-out cover, or be particularly careful about fixing typos. If an author wants to do some of the book production themselves, great—cheaper for the publisher. Finally, if the book actually sells, this will make the publisher even more money and everyone is a winner!

Self-Published Author

An author assumes all financial responsibility for the book. Profits from book sold are 100% the author’s.

The author owns the ISBN and the copyright is in the author’s name. The author pays for and decides on the editing, cover, size, price and publication of the book.

The author understands that they must do all of their own promotion and publicity. If the book sells exceptionally well, traditional publishers will offer to buy book from author and promote it.

I hope this comparison makes it clear that subsidies are simply another way of doing business in the publishing world. Authors who have used a subsidy press have simply paid a publishing company to publish their book.

Subsidy publishers have ruined the self-publishing name. Hence forth, I am referring to myself as an independent publisher.

For more information, go to: Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday Afternoon Rant: Publishing World 2007

Last week’s Publishers Weekly , (October 15), had numerous articles (and an 8 page ad) on how the book publishing world is changing.

The issue begins with an article called “Can Small Press Distributing Survive?”, citing the recent demise of Book World Companies and National Book Network’s recent statement that they were phasing out Biblio, their small press distributor. (Biblio distributes my book and it’s in the clear until at least next September.)

Barnes + Noble just gave their online store a makeover and Borders released a BETA version of their new site.

Barnes and Noble is a major shareholder of iUniverse and Amazon acquired Booksurge. Books printed by subsidy presses like Booksurge and iUniverse rarely make it into bookstores. Clearly, Barnes and Noble didn’t become a stockholder because it counted on stocking iUniverse books; it did so because iUniverse makes money off the authors and the books sold online.

On a different note, I’ve also noticed lately that Barnes + Noble and Borders have less books and more sidelines. Sidelines make good impulse buys. In my local B+N, books on tape have replaced several bookshelves of books.

Clearly, the chain brick and mortar booksellers have learned that they sell mostly blockbuster titles, impulse items and coffee. People seem to go into a store knowing what they want or are only willing to browse the new titles stacked on tables.

But online, buyers do shop differently. With search words and listmania lists and other tools, the buyer can and does find a wider variety of books. Specialized subjects can be searched for and found—titles that would never fit into a physical store.

Online B + N and Amazon know that there is a place for specialized books. So do the executives who have come from the traditional publishing world and other professions. These executives run the vanity presses that were renamed subsidy presses and are now called Self-Publishers.

Which leads me to an 8-page advertisement in this week’s Publishers Weekly called “Self-Publishing Comes of Age” that includes a 4 page advertorial. The subtitle of the article is “Leaving vanity behind, today’s top self-publishers achieve success and offer models for the future.”

The article coyly suggests that this is a profitable and smart place to be if you are the publisher. “The category [self-publishing] once so aggressively cordoned off by other participants in the industry, has over the past decade turned into a booming market, drawing entrepreneurial investment and top editorial talent.”

The article discusses how in the 1950’s, the term vanity press came to be and that an author would spend lots of money to have books printed only to have them collect dust in their garages.

The article says that now it’s all different. “Self-publishers” help authors market their book and they don’t have to sit on them because they can be produced one at a time with Print on Demand (POD). They also site the Internet as being a huge factor in getting these books to marketplace—something I do agree with. What really irks me here is that they’ve also dumped the word “Subsidy Publishers”, which is what they are and replaced it with Self-publishers—which they aren’t.

My company, Lingham Press, is a self-publisher. But, now that the subsidy press has taking over the word, to call my company that makes it sound bad.

All of us true self-publishers aside, the real danger of this article is to naïve wannabe authors. (Of course, subsidies' deception in advertisements and practices are legendary.) Aside from the phrase “striking out entirely on their own” nowhere in this article is there any information that talks about true self-publishing. Your choice as an author is to either make your book with a traditional publisher or a subsidy publisher.

Geared towards the industry, the wanna be author would benefit from a close reading of this article for a reality check. Some of my favorite examples:

· “While there’s no guarantee of success—and the top providers have become savvy about keeping reality in check for their author, since referrals and satisfaction are critical to their business models.”

· “That means that hopeful authors—who remain self-publishing companies’ primary revenue stream.”

· “Our sales of self-published authors are minimal overall, but some rare, self-published authors sell exceptionally well.”

· “Today’s top self-publishing companies are heavily invested in the idea that a happy customer is a valuable customer, which leads to the management of expectations, along with the provision of services that can genuinely help author achieve success.” [Gosh, how swell are they!”]

· “…in an industry almost categorically populated with demanding customers.”

Essentially, this article appears as a self-congratulatory orgy over this fast growing phenomenon called self-publishers to the traditional publishers. To say we are as good, if not better than you guys, because we embrace technology and the future. What’s more we charge our customers/authors and make money when we do manage to sell a book or two.

Check out Wheatmark, who describes themselves as both a traditional and subsidy publisher: when a book sells over 2000 copies through author’s efforts (1% of books) it is enrolled in the company’s Great Expectations program, offering all kinds of services. I would think if you sold 2000, you wouldn’t need them?

What ticks me off most about this article is the gleeful presentation that this “new model” of publishing is making oodles of money for these cutting-edge publishers, while admitting only a fraction of the authors will make anything more then a trophy book.

For more information, go to: Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to Make Your Home Toxic Free

Virtually every object used in building your home and the objects within it—the insulation in your house, your sofa, food storage containers, floor cleaners and even fabric softener—impacts both your health and the health of the planet.

You may be shocked to discover that many seemingly harmless household products contain dangerous chemicals. However, most of these products can be easily removed and replaced and some will lose their toxicity over time, so you needn’t panic and think everything in your house must be replaced.

Indoor pollution greatly increased after the end of World War II, with mass-produced housing. These new houses were made with new, lightweight materials, materials that were produced by the petrochemical industry. These products, made from petrochemicals, release chemicals into the air—through a process known as outgassing. Outgassing is the slow release from the material of chemical residues used in the manufacturing process into the atmosphere. They include VOC’s and many other petrochemical derivatives. Materials made from petrochemicals include plywood, particleboard, carpeting, vinyl flooring, adhesives, paints, fabrics and much more.


The biggest source of pollution comes from the use of petrochemicals, which causes both environmental damage and damage to the earth’s inhabitants. A non-renewable resource, the use of petrochemicals is so pervasive in our lives that the removal of them overnight would result in an unrecognizable world. Petrochemicals heat our homes and transport people and products. Plastic products are derived from petrochemicals. Many cleaning supplies, paint, clothing, furniture, building materials, packaging materials, toys, carpeting, appliances, automobiles, planes, trucks, makeup, grooming products, soap, detergent and pesticides contain petrochemicals and require the use of them during the manufacturing process.

Guidelines for Eco-friendly and Healthful Purchasing Choices:

· Replace products that are made from petrochemicals with products that are made with natural, non-hazardous and preferably renewable products. For example, use bamboo flooring that is finished with natural wax and tung or linseed oil; and purchase natural paints, lime plasters and cork floors.

· Purchase raw materials near production sites to save on transportation expense and fuel waste.

· Purchase materials that were processed using renewable energy.

· Extend product life by reuse and recycling of components.

· Recycle waste to become ingredients in other products. Called “biomimicry,” these are manufacturing processes that take one product and turn it into something else. For example: carpets that are made from recycled plastic bottles, paints that are made from vegetable extracts, tiles that are made from ceramic waste and rubber flooring that is made from recycled tires.

· Support companies that employ safe and clean methods to produce products or that use recycled products.

· Support companies that sell healthy, organic, sustainable products.

The following products are toxic and cause pollution and should be avoided when possible:

· Most commercial cleaning products and other household chemicals

· Garden pesticides

· Carpets glued with solvents, treated with fungicides and containing residual pesticides

· Fabrics treated with chlorine, benzene and/or formaldehyde

· Most plywood and particleboard, which contain formaldehyde, urea and other dangerous glues

· Many paints and stains, which contain fungicides, VOC’s and other chemicals

· Vinyl flooring, furniture and plastics that contain VOC’s such as bromides and chlorine

· Dry cleaning and dry cleaning solvents

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

While the dangers of the most commonly used individual chemicals have been documented, there have been few attempts to study the effects of combining one or more chemicals.

Fortunately, there are many non-toxic, natural cleaning products that are on the market or you can make your own. For example, use baking soda and distilled white vinegar: Combine when ready to use—mixing creates a science-project like foam. This mix cleans all kinds of things, including:

  • Stubborn stains (let sit, then rinse)
  • Stainless steel
  • Water fountains
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Stained glass
There are a number of natural cleaning products that you can purchase at natural food stores or online. In your grocery store, Bon Ami is all natural and works especially well on stainless steel and borax is a natural laundry booster and multi-purpose household cleaner.

Greener Choices for Your Home

  • Purchase refurbished furniture and building materials when possible.
  • Buy items secondhand.
  • Purchase products made from sustainable woods and grasses, such as bamboo.
  • Look for natural, not synthetic products.
  • Buy the best quality that you can afford so that items will not have to be replaced often—or ever.
  • Purchase only what you need.
  • Buy locally harvested or manufactured products and save on transportation costs.
  • Recycle whenever possible.
  • Revamp. For example, buy good quality throw-pillow inserts and replace the covers, when they become worn or you tire of them, instead of the entire pillow.
  • Look for eco-labeling on products that you buy.

Finding good products for your body, home and planet is easier than ever! You will discover how deeply satisfying it is to clean your home of toxic and unsafe products and to replace them with safe and healthy alternatives that are good for you and the planet.

For more information, go to: Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Eco-Friendly, Quick Cleaning Tips

Cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do, so I like to make it a quick as possible.

Here are some tips:
  • Get rid of clutter, because it will take less time to dust.
  • Choose sustainable bamboo or wood floors or locally harvested stone or ceramic for your floors instead of environmentally unsound carpet. Payoff is faster and less strenuous vacuuming...and the floors get super clean. Even washing the floors is much easier than the steam cleaners needed for carpeting.
  • Use microfiber cloth and lambswool for dusting, as they naturally collect and hold dust--no need for unhealthy dust removers.
  • Buy the best vacuum you can afford, with a HEPA filter, especially if you have carpets. Top quality vacuums (like Meile) make cleaning faster because of a superior sucking action. Plus with a HEPA filter, you trap the microscopic dirt and particulates and are left with cleaner air.

For more cleaning tips, go to:
Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Harmonious Environment is the Grand Prize Winner of the 15th Annual Writer's Digest Book Awards

Last week I got a phone call that Harmonious Environment is the Grand Prize Winner of the 15th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards!

I'm still in a bit of shock, as there were over 2400 entrants! I get some money and the best part is that Writer's Digest puts an ad in the industry magazine, Publishers Weekly, announcing it! There will also be an article in the March edition of Writer's Digest.

It was wonderful to hear how the judges loved it, because it means many of the topics are becoming more mainstream/accepted. For example, I criticize the government and big business for their part in degrading the environment; discuss the rise of the Industrial Revolution and the "Uber-consumer" and I urge people to take a proactive role in purchasing only natural/organic non-toxic products. I wrote about negative and positive energies and clearing negative energy by dowsing. And the Medicine Wheel...

Times are A-Changing!

For more information, go to:
Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Killer BBQ Sauce

For the past few years, I have used natural BBQ sauces and mixed them up with additional ingredients. Then I discovered a recipe for homemade and made it. It is FAR superior to anything else I've ever used and with much less sweeteners. The recipe is below, somewhat modified. I don't have a sweet tooth, so I cut honey in half. This makes a generous amount of sauce. Use what you need and refrigerate the rest.

½ cup oil
1 1 /2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
½ cup Worcester sauce
1 cup Dijon
½ cup soy
1 cup hoison
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
½ t red pepper flakes
Heat oil under low. Add onions and garlic and sauté until clear. Add paste, vinegar, honey, Worchester, mustard, soy, hoison, spices and simmer 30 minutes.

Place ribs in oven 350 with sauce, 1 hour.

Grill 5 each side minutes till brown.

Place ribs on platter, brush with more marinade and wrap tightly in foil. Sit 10-15 minutes. Serve extra sauce for dipping.

Lots more recipes in Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Conscious Design Conference and Expo

I attended, spoke and signed books at the Conscious Design Conference and Expo this past weekend in Parsippany, NJ. The conference gathered together professionals in green design, Feng Shui, interior design, architecture, Bau-Biologie and sacred geometry for a weekend of workshops, book signings, exhibitions and more.

I wrote Harmonious Environment to put in one book what has never before been put together: the subjects Conscious Design was covering. So, I was very excited to attend this event and see how the parts fit together in a conference.

What I discovered was very interesting. Over 10 years ago, when I took Feng Shui classes, nothing but Feng Shui was offered in the certification programs. Chatting with Amy Mims, the director of The New England School of Feng Shui, I found that the school is offering all kinds of Feng Shui related classes; personal clearing, clearing clutter, dowsing, "The Secret of Miracles" by Denise Linn, , aromatherapy and more.

I was chatting with one of the employees of The International Feng Shui Guild and she asked me if I was a member. I said no, that my approach to Feng Shui wasn't traditional. As an example, I told her I use 4 elements like the Native Americans, not 5, like Feng Shui practitioners. The director overheard me and chimed in that the Guild supports all approaches to Feng Shui.

For me, this was huge! I never liked the strictness of many of the Feng Shui schools, especially when they related to ancient practices in China, because they make no sense for 21st century America. Because of this, I created a system called Harmonious Adjustments™, which combines the best principles of Feng Shui, the application of the Four Elements based on your birth date, color, Vastu, energy work, creative visualization and good design, with the use of non-toxic products.

Feng Shui has been practiced for thousands of years without concern for the detrimental effects of pollution on the environment or its inhabitants because there were no toxic chemicals, pesticide-laden food, electricity or other contaminants until recently. Today, these issues are relevant, but are still not addressed in Feng Shui. To achieve a truly harmonious environment, one’s home must be as clear of toxic elements as possible.

Another issue on which I disagree with Feng Shui is the principle of applying specific colors to each of the eight Bagua sections. The colors have a historical significance to the Chinese culture that do not translate to Western modern times. For instance, the center of the Bagua, which represents health, is yellow. If I were to assign a color to the health Gua (a single section of the Bagua), green makes more sense to me, because green is about balance, nature and healing. Furthermore, the idea of using all colors in every room is a designer’s nightmare! Yet, that is what Feng Shui advises. Harmonious Adjustments™ goes beyond these rigid boundaries by incorporating the science of color theory which includes the physiological and psychological impact of color, intuition and good design principles. Harmonious Adjustments™ uses color theory in its application of appropriate colors for the Bagua sections. In essence color is used in decorating to create greater harmony and for psychological well-being.

In Feng Shui, the elements fall into five categories: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. The object is to create balance among the five elements and to use the elements in a particular way to create either a “generating” or “overcoming order”. I believe this is unnecessary and overcomplicated. Harmonious Adjustments™ aligns with Earth-based spirituality and uses four categories: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Harmony and balance of the elements is achieved based on the needs of the individual occupants.

Harmonious Adjustments™ provides guiding principles that will help you get started on your journey of creating a harmonious environment while encouraging your creativity and intuition to blossom. Additionally, Harmonious Adjustments™ includes the principles of good design, which is not addressed in Feng Shui.

On another note, Stephanie McWilliams, from the new HGTV show, Fun Shui spoke on Saturday night. A TV show about Feng Shui! How cool is that?

For much more information on Feng Shui, go to:
Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet


For years, I have used zip-lock freezer bags to keep food fresh, recycling them until they got dirty and then throwing them away. I just discovered Bag-E-Wash and now I can wash them and keep the bags going even longer! According to Jeannie Piekos, President of Bag-E-Wash, "just one box of gallon size bags (30) washed and dried with Bag-E-Wash and reused 50 times each saves the consumer $150 and keeps 1,500 bags out of landfills and oceans!"

If you don't have a dishwasher, you can buy a Bag-E-Wash that dries your plastic bags on the counter.

For more information or to order, go

For many more green tips, go to:
Harmonious Environment:Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet