Monthly Archives: November 2013

Reflections on Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, 1989

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

A Great Holiday

Thanksgiving 19890004

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and always has been.  How can you beat a holiday where all you really have to do is eat Turkey and watch football?  It’s a fantastic day to have the ones you love around you and share home and hearth with friends you haven’t seen for a good portion of the year.

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The Young Book Kahuna

In 1989 I was about six years into my career in publishing.  I was working for a small company named Gordon and Breach where I was a production editor working on books and journals.  I started dating a woman named Sharon who I met through a coworker at an after work event.  Sharon was originally from Alabama, grew up in the Huntsville area and had come to New York seeking better job opportunities then she could find near and around her hometown.  Sharon was all about culture but also all about being frugal.  She would seek out the free nights at the various museums in Manhattan, and we spent countless hours at the Whitney, the MOMA, the Guggenheim and the Met.  Sharon liked to do things that were strictly New York-ish events.

In November 1989 Sharon and I decided that we would go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Now Sharon worked in midtown Manhattan at that time, while I was working in the Chelsea neighborhood, around 23rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.  Sharon’s office was on the parade route, and this was great information for us because we always had a place to go to use the restroom.  Those of you have never been to New York will not understand, but the search for a clean restroom is preeminent in your mind when you are at an event in the city (NYC).  As Thanksgiving got closer the weather report was not encouraging.  As a matter of fact the weather report was predicting a snowstorm.  Being the New Yorker that I am, I brushed it off as being a dusting at best.

Thanksgiving 19890003

Be Prepared:  As the Boy Scouts Are!

I honestly report that I did not prepare adequately for this event.  I did bring a heavy coat, gloves, and thermals, but I did not bring boots, instead electing to wear my sneakers.  The sneakers were a tragic flaw.  Since we were leaving directly from Sharon’s apartment, she was set with adequate clothes and layers to make sure that she stayed warm throughout the day.  We got up early on Thanksgiving morning, probably about 4:30 AM, and the first thing that I did was look out the window.  I’m sure my eyes must’ve grown wide as I saw roughly 4 to 6 inches of snow already on the ground with heavy snowfall still occurring.  Since this was my first time going to the parade I was ready whether my feet were comfortable or not.  We set off on the F subway train to take us up to midtown Manhattan.  Now Sharon worked in the Mony building, which has long since lost that moniker, but was immortalized in song by Tommy James and the Shondell’s with the original version of Mony, Mony.  Billy Idol covered this song and had another hit with it in the 1980s.

Thanksgiving 19890001

We got to the parade route early enough so that we were in the front row with no one ahead of us.  This parade is one of those events like New Years in New York that brings tourists from all over the world to watch.  We had German tourists Heidi and Helga, standing next to us as we watched the parade.  Sharon and I had a great time, but it was cold, frigid, freezing and snowy throughout the entire parade.  My feet have never been that cold.  If you want to experience cold, stand in a snowdrift for 4 hours wearing sneakers.  It doesn’t matter what kind of sneakers you want to wear: Air Jordans, Nikes, Addidas, or New Balance.  I guarantee your feet will be cold!

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Fast Forward: Thanksgiving 2013

I just saw on the news tonight that they are filling up the balloons for the parade tomorrow but were worried about the wind gusts.  The best part about this report was the Spiderman balloon was being filled up in the background while they were reporting.  One of my pictures is the Spiderman balloon 24 years ago.  I’m glad to see that Spidee is still flying 24 years later!

My advice: If the weather is cold and icy, wear boots and not sneakers!

Happy Thanksgiving to all and please remember the homeless and unemployed this holiday season.

Also, remember our troops, all who serve and those on deployment away from their families this Thanksgiving!

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“The Next Big Thing”

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

What are we Talking about?

What is “The Next Big Thing”?  This is something that always gets asked.  I’m still waiting for a good answer to this question, but I think “The Next Big Thing” can be defined as something that is indefinable.  “The Next Big Thing” is what you build.  “The Next Big Thing” is a creation of your mind waiting to occur.  “The Next Big Thing” is something that you feel so strongly, you will do anything to realize this event’s fruition.

Tonight we’re Gonna Party like we failed 9,999 Times

There are many things that can encapsulate your ego and mind.  There is nothing more inductive of paralysis than being afraid.  “The Next Big Thing” is always the result of someone who has thrown off the shackles of fear and decided to strike out on their own.  I posted a Twitter Tweet the other day about how Thomas Edison had failed 10,000 times before completing the electric light.  Did Edison give up after try number 9,999?  No, he persevered and kept trying until he reached his goal of the successful electric light.  The fear of failure is one that can make someone give up on their dreams.  Failure is a part of reaching your dreams.  If you do not fail, you’ll never have the toolbox necessary to make it to your final destination.  The learning process is continuous and can be looked at as steps of a ladder that get you ever closer to a successful conclusion.

Failure IS An Option!

I’m a firm believer that adversity and failure are not opposites of success, but are the building blocks necessary to reach a successful conclusion.  Without change from your original predisposed pathway, you make inroads toward success and never make it to the ultimate conclusion.  I look at business the same way.  There are company executives out there who do not take advice or ask for input from their employees.  These are companies that are run by people who are basically immature and think that they are the smartest knife in the drawer.  In actuality, they are just scratching at the surface of business success.  They may have a year or so where this plan of attack will create some modest revenue gains, but since they are so afraid of other people showing them up they cannot take information and input from their subordinates and will ultimately fail. The company will be bought or go out of business as a result of this misguided hubris.  Again, an agent of fear is retarding the growth process of a corporate and business structure.  Failures are feared and admonished; successes are marginal but lauded to an inappropriate extent.  It is the thinkers, the dreamers, the leaders who take advice and information from their troops, who ultimately reap the rewards of successful business ventures.

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The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing:  History, Industry Perspective (Print and E-book) and “How To” Publish Your E-book for Amazon Kindle

Dream it, Do it, Be it!

“The Next Big Thing” is what keeps us alive.  Striving to reach a goal or dream is the essence of what makes us human beings.  We are at our most creative when we are thinking about building future success no matter what the steps necessary might be.  We are Sir Edmund Hillary plotting the steps to our own successful destiny.  We climb with various stopping and resting points on the way.  We lose our grip, we slip and fall, but we do not hit bottom.  We keep scrambling no matter how long it takes, no matter what obstacles are in the way; we keep climbing.  We know what the summit is, we know what the risks are but we continue to make strides for the final destination.

What are you building toward?

What obstacles are you overcoming?

Have you slipped and scrambled back on track?

Can you see your summit?

Stay on target and never deviate from your final destination.  The journey will be worth it when you reach the summit and look back on where you have come from.

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The Five Worst Things You Can Say to a Blogger

I found this blog extremely witty!

A Morning Grouch

So, I’m no blogging genius.  When I first started blogging I had zero idea of the etiquette, cultish followings, or blogging cliques that existed.  I pretty much started this as a procrastination tool.  I’m still half-assed and hardly an expert; I have been dragging my feet even getting my self-hosted site up and running (does that even make sense?) because I have almost zero clue where to start (but dammit, I will learn, eventually.  I will).  But even with all that, I am starting to get some idea of what the blogging world is all about.

There are some phrases non-bloggers may or may not realize are not a good idea to say to someone who blogs:

1.  I read your blog. With no follow-up.  Oh. Thank you? You read it. But you didn’t say what it was exactly that you read. Or if you liked it. Or hated it. Or if it…

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How do I get a book published?

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

How do I get a book published?

“I am fourteen years old and I have always been told I write very well. I love writing fiction and fantasy novels, I am currently working on one that should be better than all of my previous stories. I intend on publishing it when I finish, but I do not know exactly how. Please just outline all of the steps and requirements for me, thanks!”

1. CreateSpace

CreateSpace was acquired by Amazon in 2005, and similar to Lulu, it provides book publishing and digital media development. Because CreateSpace is a subsidiary of Amazon, it’s easier and quicker to sell your book through Amazon. Like the other sites, you are able to choose between making your book open to the public or private. The only format accepted during the submission process is PDF, which is for both text and images.

What makes it unique: CreateSpace is the only one of the self publishing services that provides you the ability to create your book in Kindle format. Additionally, you are able to immediately assign an ISBN or use an existing one.

What it’s missing: There is no option to create hardcover books. Also, while users can participate in the CreateSpace message boards, it’s lacking some of the social media tools, groups, and messaging that other self-publishing services provide.

Pricing: Standard B&W starts at $3.66 per book; Standard Color starts at $6.55. You can also upgrade to their Pro Plan, which is $39.00 per book. The Pro Plan allows you to keep more from each sale, and pay less when ordering copies.

2. CafePress

CafePress provides a way for people to sell their creations in “shops.” It is a marketplace with over 150 million products (i.e. clothing, gifts, books, etc.). They also provide you with the ability of self publishing your books. Like the others, CafePress also has private and public options. While you are able to upload your book in PDF format, it has to be less than 100 MB. There are different templates you can use based on the type of book you are trying to publish, and you can tailor it the way you see fit.

What makes it unique: CafePress sells a variety of items, such as books, cds, clothing, art, etc. You do not have to be a member to use their self-publishing service.

What it’s missing: There is no option to create hardcover books and it doesn’t have the ease of site navigation like the other services.

Pricing: Prices start at $0.045 per page and a $4 binding fee.

3. WeBook

WeBook combines the joys of self publishing with social media. You are able to write a book alone or collaborate with other writers. The site provides an online text editor for you to write, and you are able to add images from image-hosting sites like Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, etc.

There are two levels of privacy: You can choose who is able to view your writing, and who is able to write the story. Throughout the year, WeBook has submission periods in which you are able to submit your book for consideration for publishing. You can choose to share your royalties with people who have given you helpful feedback and assisted in the development of your book.

What makes it unique: You are able to collaborate with different writers, and be part of various groups. Writers rate and review submitted books, and the ones with the highest ratings are published by WeBook. Additionally, you can share your royalties with selected reviewers who have provided you with helpful feedback.

What it’s missing: There is no option for you to publish your book, if you desire. It is all dependent on the rating you receive. Also, you are not able to import from another word processor or PDF.

Pricing: $0

4. Xlibris

Xlibris was founded in 1997 and is one of the first self publishing services in the industry. You start the process by having a consultation with one of their consultants about your needs and the correct package to fit those needs. They create the full design of the book and send it to you for feedback and approval. After that, the book is yours and you are able to sell it wherever and to whomever you want.

What makes it unique: You get a free consultation to ensure that you are on the right path. Additionally, they offer leather-bound editions of your book.

What it’s missing: Competitive prices and private/public options.

Pricing: Prices start at $299

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When it Pours, it Rains: Lay-off Reflections 9 Months After!

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

In the Beginning, there was a Layoff…

This blogpost has nothing to do with publishing and everything to do with someone who works in the publishing industry.  Back in February of 2013, I was laid-off from my position as Production Manager at ABC-CLIO after almost nine years of dedicated service.  The time since February has been spent on new learning, new experiences, and sending innumerable applications and resumes for various positions within the publishing industry.

The line that I was given for my lay-off was that the company was producing fewer books.  Since I had just completed a very intensive master’s in publishing science program that completely revamped my skill-set to attack problems in the new digital/electronic phase of the book publishing history, I am still scratching my head as to why this decision was made.  I have my own conclusions that I will keep to myself but having been in the industry for 30 years and having taken the time and personal expense to go back and increase my knowledge and academic experience base, I might have thought that that would weigh heavily in the balance for keeping me on to take on new responsibilities

The Unemployed Club:  One We Want to Leave

I am not alone in this endeavor.  I know that there are so many people that are unemployed right now, that the country is yearning for an economic boom.  Since this appears to be a pipe-dream in the political climate that we find ourselves the only thing that we can do is actually position ourselves as the experts.  The most important lesson that I’ve learned is that you must continuously get up in the morning think about the mortgage payment that you have to make and do something that will get you some cash flow coming into your household.  Unexpected events like a hot water heater dying or an external hard drive crashing with all of your important information become flashpoints of complete anxiety.  What little money you have is budgeted, and every extra expense is a killer on the emotional psyche.  My retirement money is gone, I was forced to use it to stay in my house, and unemployment insurance will not kick in until all of the money is exhausted.  I’ve started to think about tasting the Friskies pate that my cats get in the morning since this will be my staple when I am 75 years old!

Time to Pay the Mortgage…

Every day I think about that mortgage payment.  I think about losing my house.  I think about why I’m in this position when I did everything right.  I think about not having the money to be able to pay for COBRA to have Health Insurance.  I think about all of my brothers and sisters as Americans who are in the same dire consequences or even worse.  We did not choose to be in this position, but waiting for the government to help us is not going to happen.  The overriding mental image is that you have to care for yourself.  You have to build an empire based on your experience and academic credentials.  You have to stand up and look adversity in the face and stare it down.  It’s not easy and it’s going to test all of your mettle, but this is the circumstance that we find ourselves.  We can only find our way out through personal initiative.  Depending on someone else or some other company to come in and save the day is not realistic.  In this age of social media the ability to reach more people in a single minute then all the speeches that have ever been given to an audience is your ticket to a better life.  Think differently and build your own vision of a future, not one handed to you by someone else.

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The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing:  History, Industry Perspective (Print and E-book) and “How To” Publish Your E-book for Amazon Kindle

Gifts From God Will See You Through

I was blessed by God with the ability to put together sentences, paragraphs, chapters and thoughts in a structured semblance that is easily read and understood.  I will use this ability to build a better life for myself and I have already started the process in structuring digital reference materials for the publishing industry.  I will not be a victim.  I will not sit and wait.  I will build a future based on my terms and my gifts.  As we enter this time of Thanksgiving, I implore you all to think about your fellow Americans.  Think about those who are hurting.  Think about those who do not have a job and have not had work for months and years.  Think about those who are agonizing over their mortgage and rent payments.  These people are one step from homelessness.  These people are your fellow brothers and sisters.  These people are Americans.  Think about what you can do to help them.  If this blogpost can push one person to help another person in dire circumstances, then it was successful.

Help me, help all of us in the ranks of the unemployed, and help yourself!  We’re not looking for a hand-out; we’re looking for a HAND-UP!

My best wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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New Production Workflow? Only at the End, or Not…

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

Building a better Production Beast…

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/how-ebooks-have-changed-book-production-and-workflow/

I recently read the interview on the digitalbookworld website conducted with Matt LaBlanc, Director of Digital Workflow at F + W Media, How Ebooks Have Changed Book Production and Workflow, and thought deeply about the changes I had spearheaded while I was Production Manager at ABC-CLIO.  Now to give you a little background, when I started at ABC-CLIO back in 2004, we averaged roughly 60 to 65 book titles per year in our publishing plans, and this was roughly 100 to 115 volumes.  At the end of 2008, ABC-CLIO purchased the license from Houghton Mifflin to produce all of the Greenwood/Praeger/Libraries Unlimited titles under the ABC-CLIO umbrella.  Also added into this mix was the purchase of Linworth Books which occurred roughly at the same time.  In a matter of four months, ABC-CLIO was now producing 500 + titles and 600 + volumes.  I was tasked with making this work and revamping our production department to keep a revenue stream continuous to ensure company survival.

Every Title, Ebook Worthy

Every book that we published was also published as an E-product.  When we started the process of changing over we had to take the domestic freelance-based system which was more man intensive and change it to an outsourced project management system where most of the functions were completed offshore.  Going from a domestic model to an offshore-based model allowed an incredible arena for savings.  Also, since the individual production editors had always been the ones to outsource the material to the domestic functionaries they became more of the backstop of the production functions as pages and files trafficked back to our department via FTP and emailed receipt.  Although some in the department were not happy about this changeover, it was one that needed to be done to save time and money.

Yes and No…

Mr. LaBlanc has laid out a scenario that most publishers should begin to replicate.  That scenario being that the end product needs to drive the process and the process should change based on the requirements of the new and technologically different format distribution type.  I heartily agree with this point.  Where I have a disagreement with Mr. LaBlanc is in the implementation of changes that may be needed to get to a final E-book product without using outdated print production processes.  The only area where there is a divergence should be at the end, especially if you are using InDesign and the Adobe Suite of products to finalize your print and E-products.  When we were working with Cadmus, this company was using a layout program with their offshore compositors called 3B2.  3B2 was an HTML based layout program that allowed you to simultaneously have final printer PDF files and convertible HTML for your E-book format without much of a hassle at the end of your production cycle.  Once the HTML files were finalized they were handed off to a conversion vendor who would set up the files based on a prescribed D-T-D.

To Infinity and Beyond…

With the advent of EPUB3, the conversion from InDesign to a format that is HTML compatible will be a much simpler and easier task.  The one question that I do have would be whether the raw InDesign files can be automated with the required D-T-D so that once the conversion to EPUB3 is completed the files are already formatted with the requirements of the individual production variants.  I am hoping that this is the case, and I am sure that I will have ample opportunity to talk to Anne-Marie Concepcion about whether this automation is a possibility.  Having one file easily convertible with a flick of the switch will go a long way toward making everyone’s functions that much easier in the production/manufacturing realm.  As with everything else, I’m sure there will be a much easier process evolving than what is currently the norm, we just have to wait and see what that process will be.

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An Online Alternative if Cash is Tight: Fiverr.com

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

I know this post is going to be controversial, but starting a dialog is part of having debate.  My goal is to start discussions on topics that can have an impact on a small business that is in the startup phase.  Some of you may not know anything about Fiverr.com and for those of you let me give you a little primer on what this website is all about.  Individual vendors will perform tasks for $5.00, that’s it.  There is no haggling, there is no bidding, and the controversial part about this particular website, that seems to upset many, especially in the publishing world, is the fact that most of these vendors are offshore in countries where they can provide services that would cost infinitely more money if they were contracted in the United States.

Ebook Cover—Fast and Good

The_electronic_digital

My first job with Fiverr.com was back in April of 2013 when I needed a book cover designed for the Ebook that I was uploading for an Amazon Kindle download.  When I happened to mention this in a chat forum on LinkedIn, I was lambasted for not using a domestic designer.  My response to that is, “Well Excuse Me!” My information is timely and I’m not waiting for an indeterminate amount of time until I can afford to get the cover designed and pay $400 to $600 dollars when I can get it done for $5.00.  People in the publishing world have to realize that we are now living in a global economy that is heavily interconnected and has broken down the walls of geo-political borders.  Someone in the Philippines can provide a file just as easily as someone in Arkansas.  If the quality of the work were poor, I would not even be writing this blogpost.  The quality is not poor and in some respects the turnaround is faster and more efficient than if the work we’re done domestically.

The Book Kahuna Logo

Since this initial work on Fiverr I have gotten my logo designed for $5.00.  Now I am not putting my logo out there for discussion because I personally think my logo is great.  I told the graphic person through Fiverr exactly what I was looking for and they delivered to a level that I am very proud of; I have now put this logo onto my business cards and letterhead as well.  When I was working at McGraw-Hill back in the 1990s, the company decided that they needed a new branding initiative.  Instead of having a contest internally to design the new logo for the company they outsourced the work and it ended up costing them a couple of million dollars to get the new logo designed and completed.  The reaction of the employees at the time was one of stark amazement because the lack of originality and the cost behind this logo did not match-up in the final product.  Everyone thought the same thing: “Why were no internal designers used to come up with this new logo?”

Money Doesn’t Always Equate to Quality

My reasoning for bringing up the McGraw-Hill story was to show that paying an exorbitant amount of money does not necessarily mean that you’re going to get a quality product.  Once I had my logo completed for The Book Kahuna, I took the next step and went back onto Fiverr and had my logo animated and turned into an MPEG-4 file.  Every video that I produce and upload to YouTube now has my animated logo in the beginning and also at the end.  Not bad for five bucks, huh?

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The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing:  History, Industry Perspective (Print and E-book) and “How To” Publish Your E-book for Amazon Kindle

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Think Global

We need to compete in this global economy.  We don’t need to be protectionist, we need to innovate and invent and be the leaders in the tech world for the rest of the globe to follow.  I would much rather work with domestic craftsmen, but if my ROI is in doubt, I, as well as many other people, have to take the path that will keep the most money in my wallet.

The $400 to $600 would have a much smaller impact on the life of the domestic designer, then that $5 might have on a designer in Thailand, or The Philippines or Nicaragua.

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