Zoe Sharp is in town

Zshr02gun My friend Zoe Sharp is on the West Coast leg of her U.S. signing tour for SECOND SHOT and will be stopping by Mysteries To Die for in Thousands Oaks on Monday at 1:30 and at Mystery Store in Westwood at 7 pm. If you live in Southern California and don’t show up at one of her signings, she will hunt you down and kill you.

Lori’s Mission from God

Lori1 Lori Prokop has offered humanity so many things. She’s shown people how to get cheap car leases,  to achieve "bestseller celebrity status," to live in the upper energy levels of life with her "Life Guidance System," to awaken their "million dollar intuition," to "Podcast for fun and profit," to "awaken your child’s genius," and she’s even helped chiropractors to become authors (and what greater calling is there than that?).

It’s hard to top those amazing achievements (are you listening, Nobel Prize Committee?)…but Lori Prokop has.

Now, with The Keyboard Culture Blog Community, she is on a mission from God to improve your search engine rankings.

In 1996, Lori and her husband sold their business. After it sold, Lori woke up with no “purpose.” She asked for a repetitive dream to reveal her purpose. In between the sleep and wake states, Lori began hearing and seeing “You are the publicist for Love and Light and Forgiveness and Gratitude.” Even though, at the time, the dream did not make much sense to Lori, she remembered it. In 2003, Lori Prokop received intuitive messages guiding her to learn and master search engine optimization, programming, Google algorithms, pay-per-click web site promotion and sophisticated web site linking strategies.

Apparently, despite her intuitive and total mastery of search engine optimization, she hasn’t been able to get rid of all the posts about her hucksterism from a simple Google search of her name.

It will only cost you $500-a-month to join her Keyboard Culture community, have her host your blog, and benefit from the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to glean spiritual enlightenment from her profound guidance and wisdom in one-on-one counseling sessions.

Who knows, she might even throw in a cheap car lease, too.

But the real news here is the story behind the demise of Book Millionaire. Now the truth can finally be revealed. Lori Prokop was the victim of a vast conspiracy.

Lori Prokop launched a reality show that rocked the publishing world with excitement. She didn’t realize it at the time, but she was first to market with a powerhouse of an idea and some of her competitors were furious she had the jump. Instead of approaching Lori to see how they could be included, they launched a paid online hate campaign to tank her and the project — if they couldn’t have it, they didn’t want anyone to. Lori discovered this was not the first time this group hired and paid online attackers to use false claims and hate attacks to take out competitors.

I had no idea I was a paid agent of the New York Publishing Cabal. That certainly explains why I’ve written so much about Lori Prokop and my tirades against the vanity press industry, doesn’t it?

I have been outed.

The only question I have is…when do I get the money for all of my hard work?

The Best of Lori Prokop

I love Lori Prokop. My favorite online huckster never quits. She has re-invented herself yet again and is offering you the benefit of her enlightenment…and another chance to get rich!

But before I share her amazing new self and her astonishing new business venture with you later today, I thought we should celebrate all the great things Lori Prokop has done for humanity before. So now, after the jump, I offer a look back at The Best of Lori Prokop.

(Note: she has since gone back and removed many of the links I reference in the posts…and who can blame her?)

Read more

A Cautionary Tale

An article this week in the San Diego Union Tribune about Martell Publishing, a vanity press scam that bilked authors out of thousands of dollars, should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who is considering paying to be published. The article reads, in part:

Ed Johnson operated Simon & Northrop Publishing, formed in 1998, and created Martell Publishing in 2005, according to state records. Both ventures were housed at different times in a one-room unit at 3333 Midway Drive, a complex that appears to be an old motel converted into offices.

Lynn Karstens, a former Martell employee, said Johnson purposely deceived potential clients about the scale of his one-room operation. He used pseudonyms when answering the telephone or in correspondence to potential clients to “make it seem like he had a staff.”

Karstens also said Johnson instructed her to tell clients who telephoned him that he was “on the other side of the building” so they’d think the company was housed in a large facility.

Karstens said she was hired as an office manager. But Johnson soon had her editing manuscripts, a job for which she had no qualifications, she said.

Most aspiring authors found the San Diego publishing houses on the Internet or by answering ads placed in small regional newspapers and out-of-state Yellow Pages.

[…]Johnson was unapologetic about taking money from Perry and others even as he failed to pay his rent and other bills.

“Is it a crime not to pay your bills? I tried to keep the company rolling and it didn’t happen,” Johnson said. “I didn’t try to cheat anyone. I sold some books for some people. Authors are all unhappy unless they have a best-seller.”

Sadly, scams like this are NOT the exception but the norm in the vanity press world. If you are still intent on throwing your money away, at least go with iUniverse or Lulu, which are about as reputable as you can get in the self-publishing POD business.

I Suck

I am at that horrible, seemingly inevitable stage of writing my novel when I become convinced that my plot doesn’t work, my characters are lost, and that I am a talentless fraud and that this will be the book that outs me (I know there are many of you reading this blog who believe that already happened long ago). Coincidentally, today the royalty statements for my first three MONK novels arrived along with the contracts for my next two. It didn’t help. It only added to my anxiety.

My brother called me tonight just to say hello… and I unloaded on him.

He just sighed and said "You say this shit every two months. You said it when you were at this same point in your last book and the one before that and the one before that and the one before that. And they all turned out fine." 

I know that he’s right, but it doesn’t help or make the writing any easier. Tonight,  I suck. But I will keep writing and rewriting and agonizing and procrastinating (by posting on my blog) until it becomes fun again.

I guess that’s what makes me a professional. Or a fool who is deluding himself.

Praise Whores

Chicago Sun-Times book critic David Montgomery offers some good advice for anyone who is foolishly contemplating paying Kirkus Discoveries $300 to jerk them off with a positive review of their books.

Folks, I can’t tell you enough what a mistake it is to purchase a book review. A Kirkus Discoveries review is like a real Kirkus Review in the same way that chicken salad is like chicken shit. A purchased review has less than no credibility; it actually diminishes the reputation of the work and the author, rather than bolstering it.

The only real discovery at Kirkus Discoveries is how gullible and desperate some authors can be…

Blog Action

There’s lots of good stuff on my favorite blogs lately…

Saddlebums, a blog dedicated to westerns, has more than lived up to its promise. It has quickly become the best, and most entertaining, resource anywhere about western literature in print and on film (far outshining the dull and irrelevant magazine published by the Western Writers of America). So far, Saddlebums has offered fascinating interviews with authors like Brian Garfield, Johnny D. Boggs, Jory Sherman, and Robert Randisi, as well as reviews of new novels and up-to-the-minute news about what’s happening in the genre. If you love westerns, this blog is a "must-read!"

Over at Murderati, my friend Paul Guyot is talking about How Television Series Are Created, from idea to pitch to sale (or no sale, which is usually the case). It’s very entertaining, informative, and frighteningly accurate. He should really write a book about this stuff. Between this essay, and the posts on his old (and dearly missed) blog, he certainly has the material.

Ken Levine compares the promos for the 1976 BIONIC WOMAN and the new one premiering this fall. I’m actually looking forward to the new BIONIC WOMAN…the promo I saw in the movie theatre a few weeks back was pretty good (as opposed to the one on Ken’s blog, which isn’t).

And author  Sandra Scoppettone pointed me to this interesting essay by bookseller Jim Huang about — what else? — bookselling.

The Mail I Get

I get lots of emails every week asking me about the benefits of self-publishing (quick answer: there are none). Here is a typical one that I received this week:

I am in the process of finishing my book. While I have some interest from publishers, I am interested in exploring self-publishing to make more profit off the sales. A friend and fellow writer mentioned in passing about a company that will take your manuscript and upload it into a database. Then, when your book is ordered by someone, it is then printed and shipped…and a royalty check is then sent. Do you know anything about these companies, such as who they are? Also, as a writer who has been involved with actual publishers through the mainstream means of publishing, what are your opinions on going with a “regular” publisher vs. self-publishing?

No offense, but I don’t buy thatyou’re motivated by making more money…because there is no money to be made in print-on-demand self-publishing…unless you are the publishing company. My guess is that you’re afraid of rejection from mainstream publishers and are looking for an "easy" way into print. There is no profit to be made from going to a vanity press…it’s a blatant swindle. The vanity press industry feeds off the desperation and ignorance of aspiring authors. Don’t become one of the suckers. Save your money.

HBO Embraces Tie-Ins

When you think of tie-ins, you probably imagine one movie novelization or one of the hundreds of STAR TREK original novels. But now tie-ins are going up-market. Publisher’s Weekly reports that HBO is aggressively developing it’s TV tie-in publishing program. They are hoping to repeat the success of cleverly-packaged and hugely successful books like SEX AND THE CITY: KISS AND TELL, which was sold in a fake alligator shoebox.

HBO v-p of licensing and retail James Costos, who joined the company
in July 2006, said he has a mandate to “raise awareness for all of our
licensed merchandise, which certainly includes books.” Costos said the
cable channel is looking to highlight the HBO book line by taking
advantage of its midtown New York retail store, Web site and
newsletters, as well as through its broadcasts.

Almost all of the HBO titles come from Melcher Media and the distinctive packaging of their tie-ins come with a hefty price-tag for consumers. But that hasn’t slowed sales. In fact, it’s a selling point.

Melcher Media president Charles Melcher contends that HBO titles
“reinvented the TV tie-in, which used to be priced under $20 and mostly
filled with old scripts.” HBO titles like Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills or Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Book,
said Melcher, can sometimes feature scholarly research but, most
importantly, they all have the complete involvement of the shows’ casts
of actors.

“HBO wants the books to be more than just a way to make
money,” Melcher said. “They want their creative people to be happy.
Like the TV shows, these aren’t just books; they’re HBO books.”

Upcoming HBO tie-in titles getting the "high-end" treatment are The Sopranos: The Complete Book,Entourage: A Lifestyle Is a Terrible Thing to Waste, and Rome.

“The books are an extension of the
shows and a natural must-have for fans and viewers. The revenue will
follow if we continue to deliver quality books,” said Costos.