Saturday, 23 November 2013

Day 2 - Bandages

As a child, reading about King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and, from my parents' bookcase, Tell England, (which I read, though scarcely understood),  I used to fantasise about being wounded in battle. A head wound, with white bandages, was what I wanted. I didn't think that it would hurt as much as wounds elsewhere - I had suffered painful scrapes to my knees and elbows but never my head. I had no idea at all what would actually happen in terms of bone, tissue, ligaments and muscle. An arrow or a bullet would graze the side of my head and blood would flow and I would  fall (gracefully, of course) and be lifted by a brave comrade and carried to safety. A period of unconsciousness might be involved but that sounded pleasant, like drifting off to sleep and then hazily waking again. Hmm.

This is Day 2. I am writing about a process which began with surgery to get rid of my varicose veins. So at last I have wounds, and plenty of bandages. Both legs.  The back view is not so pretty (bloodstains!)

Friday, 1 March 2013

The digital savvy of the Geneaologist

Angel Delight

Olympia teemed with genealogists...

many of them  professional - offering research expertise to those tracing family histories. Enthusiasts crowded the vast hall and it hummed with purposeful pilgrimage. As you can see, I had fallen into a raspberry Angel Delight.

 I am impressed by how clued up these people are. Among the stalls offering research facilities there were sophisticated marketing niche stalls. Some  offered bespoke kit for people who are archiving family history documents - sleeves, made of clever polythene which won't damage photographs or leach their chemicals out,  for example. Some offered  ... well I'm not sure how to describe them but they were quite computer-y looking and one was selling a handheld scanner the size of an iPhone that would enable you  to come away from an archive visit with digitally scanned images of all the old documents you needed to prove your ancestor was Rob Roy or whatever.

Since then I've been struck by the interconnectedness of this network. Their websites are smart, they have Facebook pages and blogs and are on Twitter. The hashtag  #wdytyalive was zinging with lively tweets.

So I was wondering which group is the more digital media enhanced - writers or genealogists?
One writer who leaps to mind as an icon for the coming age of digitisation of all we hold dear (goodbye, dusty tomes!) is Kate Pullinger. Her blog is essential reading for any writer who is happy to face the future digitally brave.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Who do you think you are? LIVE

The young Bobbie Neate, with racing driver Graham Hill

On Friday Saturday and Sunday, Feb 22, 23, 24 

Bobbie and I will be manning a stall at the WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? - LIVE! SHOW at Olympia.
Bobbie, of course, will be signing books.Who is Bobbie? You ask.

Well I've been pretty involved in the story of how author, Bobbie Neate  wrote the book Conspiracy of Secrets and now that it is published (by John Blake Publishing) and out there garnering admiration and praise from astounded reviewers, I am taking part in its doings once again as an organiser of publicity and events for it. It is great fun and I am really looking forward to being at Olympia.
The people attending the show will be serious family history enthusiasts and so we hope that Conspiracy of Secrets will be a big draw - because what Bobbie did was delve bravely back into her past, unearthing, in the process, the most astonishing secrets which had been deliberately concealed all these years. The book is amazing - part detective story, part memoir and part biography. So if you are going to the Who Do You Think You Are? show, please come and find our stand - it is number 201 and we will be delighted to see you.
Wish us luck!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ouch, Amazon, That Hurts!

A cream tea did much to ease my pain
Why would Amazon start listing my book as being published by Vesta Publishing when it isn't? But they do - see previous posts - and so I have been taking them to task. They helpfully emailed me the other day with the information that there is a handy 'suggest changes to product details' button at the foot of the page. I was pleased and also felt a fool because you would think I might have scrolled down to the foot of the page to see what else lurked. Although I don't find those pages inviting. Do you?
I made my change. I clicked 'submit your changes' and I arrived at a screen which said...

 If you don't hear from us right away, 
don't despair; 
we tend to review corrections for more popular items first, 
but we take them all seriously 
and will reply as soon as possible

Ow ow ow! OK, I am not a popular item as well as being too foolish to check for ways to amend the listing at the foot of the page. But  all the same - OWW!!!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Attacked by the Penguin

I got in touch with Author Solutions by completing their online form. My message to them asked the following question: why is Vesta Publishing listed on Amazon as the publisher of my two titles in paperback when this is not the case?  It also asked: why, since Vesta Publishing is an imprint of AuthorHouse (and AuthorHouse is part of Author Solutions) did AuthorHouse deny all knowledge of Vesta, when I rang them up to enquire?
To date I have received no reply.

I rang AuthorHouse – see previous post – and now I have received an email from them. Marcus Montegrande (for it is he) ignores my issues however. His reply bears no relation at all to the discussion I had with Chanel (see previous post). It behaves as if I have asked to be published by them (far from it). Obviously I can't disseminate the email but this paraphrase is the gist:
OK, Marcus, over to you:

Dear Frances,
Welcome to AuthorHouse, the world's most experienced and trusted leader in the self-publishing industry.
Hello, Marcus.  As you are a senior Publishing Consultant
 and also a Supervisor, I hope that you can sort out this disturbing muddle.

You requested information on publishing  ...

No I didn't.
Based on the information you provided, we were selected as a good match for what you are interested in.
Er... probably so - I'm sure you are a very good publisher - 
BUT -  I rang your number from the website and spoke to Chanel 
and she was concerned at the problem I raised
 and said someone would get back to me and clarify the situation.
AuthorHouse is one of the world's largest self-publishing companies.... AuthorHouse who has pioneered self-publishing for the past 15 years, have earned...
Hang on, your subject is singular and your verb is plural in that last bit, Marcus...
 ...the trust and confidence...
Marcus! Stop! What about my question 
and the issue I raised about Vesta Publishing?
...of over 90,000 authors, giving birth to over 140,000 book titles... authors are first time authors and others have already ...have an undying passion for ...deprived the chance...politicians and experts of their field who want to share...rejected because "not good for our business". AuthorHouse is a self-publishing company. We will turn...
Yawn. I saw this on the website...
 ...your manuscript into...investment on your part...retain full ownership and copyright of your work. You will make the key decision from... the book to look like. AuthorHouse uses print-on-demand technology...
...  books will be delivered fresh to...eliminates the need for substantial ... inventory, distribution and warehousing. Here's what's in it for you:
Zzzzzzz What? Sorry - drifted off there. 
This is nothing to do with what I talked on the phone about, Marcus. 
Chanel said someone would get in touch to sort my problem out; 
the problem that one of your imprints - Vesta Publishing
(well Amazon says so) claims to be my publisher. 
You are not actually sorting it out, Marcus.
  • .....personal attention with your own professional team of designers and consultants.
Yikes! Bullet points!
  • control and experience you want for publishing.
  • ...retain the rights to your work so you are not tied down to any strings...

Good point Marcus! Being tied down to any strings is always a thing I have feared. 
  • Your book will be in print forever because of Print-On-Demand technology.

Forever? How ghastly! 
Marcus - they have trained the common sense out of you 
and you have let them do it for the money. 
Wake up and resign and go to work for your local independent  bookshop...

 ...Please let me know when a good time/ date would be to review this information ... with you. Alternately...
Sorry to interrupt Marcus. You mean 'alternatively' there... can reach me through ....
I absolutely will do one of those things - no - both of them, Marcus. 
Because why haven't you answered the question I asked? 
How come your subsidiary, Vesta Publishing, says on Amazon
 that it publishes my titles in paperback? It doesn't. 
I am published in paperback by Wordclay ONLY. 
And Wordclay has gone out of business. 
And I have an email from them
 saying that I now have NO PUBLISHER in paperback
 and will have to start again from scratch.
I look forward to speaking with you!
Me too!
So What am I going to do? Why won't they answer?
They can't just carry on saying they are my publisher can they? They are NOT!!
Wordclay is. Was. They have gone out of business.
This is part of Penguin.
That's the thing that is so hard to accept.
Which published all my favourite books when I was little. And when I was at university.
Actually - all my life until now.
So Penguin, in a way, are trying to put one over on me and they won't talk to me about it so far. Sigh.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Wordclay speak to me from the grave

Not from this grave!  - this is Mum's
Last week, having found out that the publishing companies: AuthorHouse, Vesta Publishing, Lightning Source and the now defunct Wordclay, were all part of the Author Solutions empire, I used their online form to communicate the following message:

Re: ASIN: 1604818743 The Glassblower's Daughter 
Dear Author Solutions,Can you confirm you are the publisher of the above item which is one of two titles that I published with Wordclay? I am having difficulty understanding how Wordclay went out of the business without telling me who I now need to deal with to get information about how my titles are selling. Amazon have investigated the mystery and they tell me that AuthorHouse publish my title. But when I rang AuthorHouse yesterday, they denied any knowledge of either of my titles.
I did not get any reply that day or the next and was also busy trying to talk to Amazon and the other players listed above (see previous post).
But today Hurrah! I got a message from Wordclay. The message above had been forwarded to them perhaps ( I am guessing) and they said: to paraphrase:

Greetings Frances,
We were your publisher but we have closed for business now so now you have no publisher. We have asked all resellers to cancel your titles but it might take a while so your books might still be available for a short while. Final accounts will be settled before April. 

Best wishes

Phew - what a relief. So if I want to carry on having a paperback version of my books I will need to sort out some other arrangement. I wonder why Wordclay couldn't have sent a message like that when they made their announcement about closing down, back on December 4th.
But there remains an unanswered question which is this: how come Vesta Publishing and AuthorHouse are listed on and on BooksEtc as being the publisher of my titles when they are not?, I should make clear, has continued to list Wordclay as the publisher.
I assume that the answer is really simple. But if it is, why don't the companies listed know what it is? They don't even seem to talk to each other let alone to me.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Aaarghhh!! Something weird is going on

I have been on the phone to Chanel in the USA for 40 minutes now and she is as puzzled as I am.
'I'm gonna put you on hold...'
Chanel is from AuthorHouse Publishing.... she has gone off to speak to someone. I'm shivering (because I've got a temperature) and I've put the phone on loudspeaker so I can wrap the sofa blanket round me and snuggle while I wait.  I am beyond puzzled. I am disturbed. Is foul play going on?  I have been having an alarming exchange of emails with Amazon. Amazon list my paperbacks as being published by a Vesta Publishing who I have never heard of....
'Are you still there Ma'am?'
Oh yes. (Chanel sounds as if she is disturbed now).
'Ma'am did you say that you have an email from Amazon that says Vesta Publishing are affiliated to us?'
'Could you send that to me please?'

So I forward the relevant exchange of emails to AuthorHouse. The gist of those messages is as follows:

Me to Amazon on January 10th, 2013:

Dear Amazon,
I rang AuthorHouse yesterday. They agreed that they were part of Author Solutions but denied that either of my titles was published by them and said my ISBN numbers were not on their records. The person I spoke to did not know Vesta publishing.
Have you asked AuthorHouse if they are my publisher? Who am I to believe - you, who say they are, or them, who deny it?
There is a disturbing lack of transparency here and I am very confused and upset. Please ask them why they deny being my publisher even though you list them as my publisher and see what they say. I would like you to report back to me what the results of that would be. I am not satisfied that you have investigated this fully. There is too much discrepancy. It is suspicious.
Best wishes

On 10 January Amazon answered. This is a summary of their message:
We can't take down the titles you asked us to remove based on what you've said to us so far.  Wordclay was affiliated to Author Solutions and it has gone out of business. Vesta Publishing is one of AuthorHouse's imprints and both are affiliated to Author Solutions. So your rights aren't being infringed. Contact any of these companies if you want to get to the bottom of this, - or get yourself a lawyer.

Now that IS alearming. Help!