Posts Tagged With: Business

Dodgy / offensive books & ebooks

I see in today’s news that Amazon, Waterstones, and B&N are all going through their catalogues to root out porn / otherwise offensive titles, as it has been found that many self-pub books and ebooks are ignoring the rules. WH Smith has even closed down its website totally until they have sorted out the problem.

As usual, there is always a minority element that abuses systems that work well for the majority, causing problems and reputation damage for the innocent.  One hopes that there will be some kind of penalty meted out, to drive home the point that what one does on one’s own website is different to what should happen in public.

The above online bookshops have reacted pretty strongly, even going to the extent of searching for all ero*tic (in case WordPress also does a keyword hunt, I’m trying to keep these keyword comments clean!)  keywords and removing such titles wholesale. I guess, with millions of books around, that’s the only way to be sure. It does impact on those authors and publishers that are operating legally, but the fact remains that ero*tica is a grey area that has its risks as well as rewards.

Rest assured that no books or ebooks published by us (both Stellium and Zampub), or our personal publishing titles, ever have such content – we check every manuscript pretty thoroughly, as it’s easy to lose credibility, but very hard to rebuild. We probably wouldn’t have taken on eleventy-seven shades of whatever either, along with many other publishers. Would have kicked ourselves later? Who knows. Where do you draw the line? Reminds one of the old joke where the youngster asks his Dad about the difference between fact and potential – the thing is, I can’t repeat the rest, albeit mild, else you might not see this blog! Have to see how far this issue goes.

Trouble is, lines keep moving, so we each have to decide: set our own limits, or go with the flow. Even David Cameron has recently commented that the line is moving so far that there’s a danger of porn becoming the norm.

Also, remember that most of the world’s bankers over the past decade or so, decided to go with the flow…

Categories: Legal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TPS (telephone preference service)

If you’ve been plagued by cold calls, even though you’re signed up to the TPS, at least you’re not alone: the TPS has admitted that many people get up to ten cold calls a month (I get more than that…), because businesses are ignoring the TPS.

I wrote earlier about my mantra, that self-regulation only works while it’s not needed. Well, I now know who the TPS is run by – according to consumer association, Which?, it’s run by none other than the Direct Marketing Association. You might have views on that point, but “I couldn’t possibly comment…”

Legislation is in place about cold calling, clearly it still happens, sometimes placing the elderly at risk of being taken in.

However, there must be a good number of businesses that do follow the regulation, so if you aren’t on the TPS database, you can call them on  0845 070 0707, or register on their website. I don’t have the address offhand, but a Google search will turn it up. It’s a free service, and did work better in the past. One thing it can’t do is to stop those irritating overseas calls. The best  thing for those callers is to tell them to hang on, and leave the phone on the table. Mind you, a few expletives might soothe one’s feelings, too!

Categories: Legal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colour me Magenta

We’ve ignored the idea of doing colour content in POD (print on demand) books for years; it has just been far too expensive for commercial purposes. However, after being nagged about it by many people (if Lulu can do it, why can’t you?), I investigated current options.

Well, I always say that technology moves faster than the speed of write, and so it does. We can now do colour content for perfectly reasonable prices; a 100 page colour book is now a piece of cake, so to speak.

Many options are still fine in black & white/grey – personal memoirs with old B&W photos are fine with just a colour cover. But a colour book is always going to have more appeal, unless it’s just a novel, and, with zillions of self-published books already out there, standing out in the crowd is more difficult than ever.

If you have any questions about this development, please ask; you can fill in the form below to contact me directly. I’m not trying to flog our wares; I’m trying to get more knowledge out to people so they can make informed choices in this totally new arena. We even come across people who don’t know what POD (print on demand) is. That isn’t them being ignorant, just unaware of how radically things have changed in the last five years or so.

Categories: Techie stuff, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

About my posts

I post mostly about publishing (my current career), money & finance (earlier career). My articles about money & finance reflect my 30-odd years in banking (ended before all the banks went berserk), and are generally intended for the average man/woman in the street. There are more resources for advanced financial info than you can shake a fiver at, and I’m not a financial advisor, so I try to write the things that tend to get missed out.

As far as publishing is concerned, I do the techie side, while Sasha covers the earlier stages in her blog (http://sashafenton.wordpress.com). Changes in writing / publishing are so frequent lately, it’s very hard to keep up, so you’re welcome to pose questions, be it about traditional publishing or self-pub / personal publishing – we do both.

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Money: The Roof over your Head

This is important, but sometimes people either forget, or have never been told, just how to respect the value of their home.

Your home is usually the biggest purchase in your life. A lot of people in Europe get along happily by renting all their lives, but I think that isn’t the norm elsewhere. If you’re into owning your own property, then here are a few thoughts:

  • If you have a mortgaged property, you’re not completely the owner until it’s fully repaid. And, as the small print in UK adverts says, if you don’t keep up repayments, you may lose your property.

  • Therefore, it’s important to make sure you keep up those repayments; it wouldn’t hurt to save up and build a reserve specifically to cover six months repayments, so that in any eventuality, whether losing a job, illness or whatever, you’ll have six months in which to get back on your feet. Let me put that more gently, tactfully: Do it!

  • Saving isn’t always easy, but think about it – if you put away just 10 percent of your (net) income, that doesn’t hurt that much. Maybe not every month, but whenever you can.

    Save your small coins. Get the family to do the same. Make piggy banks out of empty soft drink cans, and all the small coins that you don’t normally use (I’m told some people chuck out their pennies! As an ex-banker, I cringe…). In a years’ time you’ll find that you have a pretty interesting amount of money saved up. I paid for air tickets for wife & me on a holiday, through saving pound coins as well as smaller ones.

  • This next one is really important: don’t take out a second mortgage for anything except to improve or maintain your property. Not for a speedboat, not for a holiday, nor anything. Your mortgage is meant to end while you’re not too old to still enjoy life. Once you’ve retired, you will regret the drain on your income if you still have years to repay a mortgage, and you won’t remember the holiday you used the money on.

  • Another, even bigger, never-never: don’t  ever speculate with your property. Not with the roof over your head. If you have a second, holiday property, fully paid up, repeat fully paid up, that’s different. I’ve seen people using their house as security for a loan to start a business, or to finance stock market investments; sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. If you don’t, you could lose the wife and family as well as the house…

    A simple gambling rule – don’t play with more than you can afford to lose. Period.

  • Repay that mortgage as soon as possible. If you pay a bit extra each month, you can knock years off your mortgage. A small amount, £10 or £20 helps just fine, especially if the interest rate is high.  If rates are in double figures (it does happen. I’ve seen over 20 percent rates), the effect is much greater. A typical mortgage often allows you to repay about 10 percent extra.

    As a side bonus, this could help if you find yourself strapped for cash at some point, as the bank is likely to let you miss a few months payments as long as you’re within the laid down reduction programme.

  • Here’s an interesting one I never came across until recently; some banks, somewhere in the obligatory small print, allow themselves to attach assets like your mortgaged property to help repay a loan or overdraft if you default. Solution simple – don’t take up a mortgage with the same bank that you use for the rest of your personal and business accounts.

That’s all that comes to mind at the moment. If you have other thoughts that might help other people along, I’d love you to write in. If you have an article in you and you want a home for it, let me know.

Categories: Money, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Money 3

Oops; I’ve just published Money 4, for reasons mentioned in it, so I guess I’d better publish this one, which I still wanted to polish up a bit:
~~~~~

Ever since I left the bank, long, long ago, I’ve obviously not had access to all the data streams, in-house gen, and other sources of information that exist. It does help to have a sound financial advisor, but that depends on how flush you are.

So, what to do? Well, first of all, be sensible and save. Especially in hard times. Don’t keep all your reserves in one basket, have some in the stock markets, some in other, balancing investments like gilts, some in good, solid assets like gold, silver, some in liquid form – needs to be accessible at a moments notice. There are so many books & magazines and Internet resources that can keep you up-to-date with what’s available, I couldn’t be more help even if I wanted to, I’m now a publisher, not an investment advisor. I can give out ideas in general, and everyone is different, so you have to take thing further yourself.

What I say has to be adapted to your own circumstances. Also, style is a factor; if you’re young, you can afford to take a few risks (always within reason). Come to middle age, less so, and if you’re approaching retirement, then you need to be risk-averse. Then, also plan out your strategy to spread through short-term, medium term and long-term investments. The latter is usually your home sweet home. Hopefully, by retirement age, you want to be rid of the mortgage as well, leaving you in relative peace…

What I can do, is to mention things to watch out for. And help you to sharpen your mind to developments that you can learn from. Like a Native American Indian, or an African Bushman hunting for food, you need to learn to pick up the scent, have a keen eye for clues and tracks, footprints, except that yours will be of the financial kind, and not physical.

For example, I mentioned earlier that back  around 2003, personal borrowing passed the trillion pound mark, for the first time in history. That’s time to start watching out for property bubbles, stop buying property at ridiculous prices, etc. Soon after New Labour got into power, Gordon Brown didn’t waste time. He sold off most of our gold reserves at the pitiful prices available at the time; he added a really painful levy on the pension funds, that really hurt. With the result that your investments, pension and otherwise suffered, because eventually, it’s always the customer who pays, be it pension funds, supermarkets or fuel. Yes? Did he make saving more attractive? Of course not. He reckoned we/he had the bubble trap well under control, so spend, spend, spend. No more boom & gloom…

Enough. Those were more clues/tracks to note down. You also have to know a few rules, before you recognise they’re being broken. For example:

  • Always, repeat always, help people into a save mentality.

  • Don’t mess with the pension funds. Regulate them so they don’t do stupid things, but don’t bleed them.

  • Residential property prices have to fit into affordable levels. If the average property is not priced within about 3.5 to 4 times average annual earnings, things are out of kilter. If cheaper, you know you’re getting a good deal. If higher, you’re paying too much and running the risk of negative equity sooner or later. Nowadays, people tend to move every 8 years or so. If you can’t get your price when moving, you probably can’t move. People didn’t want to hear that ten years ago, now everybody understands it.

Let me know what you think, tell us about your experiences. Am I making sense? I’m interested. I do want to pass on tips that help people, It costs me nothing but a bit of time. Leave a comment, or if you want to contact me directly, here’s a contact form below; it isn’t for harvesting your email address, it’s to prevent spammers from harvesting mine.

Categories: Money, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overview

My wife, Sasha, and I are in the publishing business, and getting more and more involved with people wanting to self-publish – or Personal Publishing, which I prefer, as it’s mostly not done by oneself. Let’s be realistic; doing without a mainstream publisher doesn’t mean doing without all the bits that go on behind the scenes – it means taking control oneself, and getting those things done by whomever you choose, and in whatever way you choose to produce your magnum opus.

It’s just as well that Personal Publishing (PP) is so readily available today, since it’s practically impossible to get into a mainstream publisher – or agent, for that matter.

Anyway, more about all that later on, and more likely by Sasha, ‘cos I’m going to stick more to the techie side of publishing, brief updates of interest, and whatever floats my boat. Why not,  Sasha shouldn’t be the only one I bore to death with my comments…

Joking aside, I hope what I put out here will be of use to you, and if you have anything to add, it can only help other people who are trying to get their voices out into the wide world.

If there’s anything you’d like me to touch on, that I don’t think of in the first place, just ask. If I know something about the subject, I’ll be happy to pass it on.

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