Amazon Publishing Center’s “Sliver” Marketing Module. Oops.

Updated Nov. 12, 2022

After writing this satirical blog, I did more digging on this outfit that would have us believe it is affiliated with Amazon.com. Now, I am fairly certain it is not. The marketing material is a joke, and the link to its purported website — amazonpublishingcenter.com — resulted in a “Dangerous Webpage Blocked” notification from my Norton security app. I reported the individual who sent me the message to the LinkedIn phishing investigation team. I imagine it won’t be long until this scam operation receives a cease-and-desist letter from Amazon.com’s lawyers, if it hasn’t already.

__________

Original blog:

I received a LinkedIn message today from a “Cert. Marketer at Amazon Publishing Center® | Social Media Marketer | Publishing Consultant | Cert. Book Advisor”:

Hi! This is ­_______ from Amazon Publishing Center®. We help authors on their journey, from editing, publishing and printing; to marketing, promotion and press releases; we have it all! We’d love to explain more, when would you be available for a quick call?

My first reply: At what cost?

In response, this person sent me a link to a promotional piece for Amazon Publishing Center, which stated, in part:

We create a roadmap for you to ensure a bestseller’s experience, first we optimize your web presence by creating an Author Website so you get 100% royalties . . .

It then provides either an unrealistic timeline to “bestseller” status, or Amazon gives these people preferential treatment, in which case it may involve if not unlawful activities, certainly unethical.

Then comes most of the bottom line I had asked for:

  • Standard module                  $1500
  • Extensive module                 $2200
  • Sliver Marketing Module      $1000/mo. (i.e., $12,000/yr.)
    Note: the “Sliver” is not my typo. I copied that directly from Amazon’s marketing material.
  • Gold Marketing Module       Call for details.
    Note: I hesitate to even imagine the cost this entails.

Screen shot of the Amazon marketing material:

Sliver Marketing Module

To which I sent my second reply:

Interesting, but no thanks. I already do this for myself and others. In fact, you may want to hire me as an editor for your propaganda: “The Sliver Marketing Module” — “Sliver”? Seriously? How about a “Slice” Marketing Module?

And you and I both know this is misleading bullshit: “ensure a bestseller’s experience . . . so you get 100% royalties” — unless you are redefining the meaning of “ensure” and “100%.”

I have been in this business since before you were born, so you’re going to have to do better than this. Mainly, I tell the authors whom I advise to steer well clear of outfits like this. A new face on the vanity publishing scams of old. Nothing new here, just more lipstick on a predatory pig.

I refrained from making any snide remarks about Jeff Bezos . . . so far. I also refrained from pointing out the numerous punctuation errors and run-on sentences . . . so far.

I’m still waiting for a reply that I expect will not be forthcoming.

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Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Revision

Resources for Writers, Editors, and Indie Publishers updated with “Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Revision” — presentation to the San Diego Writers & Editors Guild, May 20, 2019.
http://www.larryedwards.com/resources.html

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Renowned San Diego Attorney Releases Sphynx Sequel

One of my latest projects as an editor and publishing consultant . . .

Donald E. McInnis, defense attorney in the Stephanie Crowe murder investigation, has moved from true crime to legal thrillers

Return of the Sphynx by Donald E. McInnis

In Return of the Sphynx: An A. J. Hawke Legal Thriller, San Diego’s district attorney proclaims the police have the notorious Sphynx rapist in custody and they have the DNA to prove it.

Upstart attorney A. J. Hawke takes on the seemingly unwinnable case, claiming the man in jail is the true rapists identical twin and he will rely on a rare genetic trait to represent his client in court.

Meanwhile, San Diego’s Presiding Judge tries to manipulate Hawkes personal and professional life in an effort to discourage the young attorney from uncovering corruption at city hall.

Editors Pick” by Publisher’s Weekly Booklife Reviews: “Nail-biting legal thriller. . . . A scrappy lawyer must use sophisticated science, and his fists, to aid a client. . . . Great for fans of Scott Turow, Phillip Margolin.

Return of the Sphynx is the sequel to The Sphynx Murder Case, released in March 2022. The third book in the series is set for release in 2023.

“I enjoy writing fiction because I can offer my readers an accurate portrayal of the justice system and the realities of the courtroom that they rarely see on television or in movies, while drawing from actual court cases,” Donald McInnis says. “In the first two books of the A. J. Hawke series, I show how confessions can be coerced and DNA evidence is not always black-and-white.”

The author’s true-crime book She’s So Cold: The Stephanie Crowe Murder Investigation — A Defense Attorneys Inside Story (second edition) — was released in February 2021 and featured in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Return of the Sphynx Details

  • Release Date: Sept. 26, 2022 ~ publisher: J&E Publications
  • Trade paperback ISBN-13: 979-8-9865516-0-9; distributor: Amazon
  • Kindle ebook ISBN 13: 979-8-9865516-1-6; distributor: Amazon
  • Epub ebook ISBN: 979-8-9865516-2-3; distributor: Smashwords
    • Legal Thriller
    • Courtroom Drama

The ebook version of Return of the Sphynx is available for pre-order online at Amazon and Smashwords.

About the Author
Donald E. McInnis is a California criminal defense attorney and the author of three books as well as three law review publications pertaining to juvenile law and childrens legal rights. He has served as a Deputy District Attorney, Deputy Public Defender, and Superior Court Judge Pro Tem. Mr. McInnis lives in San Diego, California, and presses for reforms within the criminal justice system.

Editor: award-winning investigative journalist, author, editor, and publishing consultant Larry M. Edwards.

CONTACT
www.DonaldMcInnis.com

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Bropriating, Hepeating, and Mansplaining

My wife, Janis, did a Ross Trudeau crossword puzzle* today (especially bloody for Halloween), and she got all but one word. The clue for the word reads like this: “Taking credit for a female colleague’s idea.” She already had the letters “priating” so “appropriating” came to mind, but it’s too long. She finally gave up (this by a woman who does crosswords in ink) and looked up the answer. The word? “bropriating.”

Neither of us had ever heard of it, having left the office/business world behind, but we did not find it surprising. Turns out it isn’t exactly new. It originated during the Obama administration when female aides got tired of their ideas being stolen by the males, and they began to take action to prevent “bropriating” through “amplification.” (Here’s a link to a story that explains this in greater detail: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/sick-of-bropriating-steal-this-trick-women-in-the-white-house-used-to-get-heard-.html)

Further research into the orgins of the word unveiled its first cousin: “hepeating.” The concept is similar: In a meeting, a woman suggests an idea and it’s ignored, then a guy says the same thing and — voila! — everyone loves it. This term surfaced in a 2017 tweet by astronomer Nicole Gugliucci, who said she heard it used by some friends. Presumably women friends. The tweet got more than 187,000 likes. (More on this at: https://www.workingmother.com/hepeating-might-be-even-more-annoying-mansplaining-and-it-happens-to-us-all#page-3)

Thus, “bropriating” and “hepeating” leads us to a word that’s been around a bit longer: “mansplaining,” which is what a guy does when he’s caught red-faced, bropriating or hepeating.

__________

* Rossword Puzzles.

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Perspicacious — nice compliment

This morning, I received this comment from one of the authors I have been working with (or should I say . . . with whom I have been working . . . ha!).

“Thank you for your prompt, perspicacious and very helpful work on my [nonfiction] manuscript. I think it’s much better now.”

I don’t recall being described as “perspicacious” before — although I have been labeled as “astute” — but I take it as high praise. I know, in a general sense, what the word means, but I looked it up anyway to distinguish it from similar terms. This is what Merriam-Webster says about it:

“Perspicacious is similar in meaning to shrewd and astute, but a sharp mind will discern subtle differences among them. All three mean acute in perception and sound in judgment, but shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness, whereas perspicacious implies unusual power to see through and comprehend what is puzzling or hidden. (You can see this shade of meaning in the root of perspicacious — the Latin word perspicere, meaning “to look through” or “to see clearly.”) Astute suggests both shrewdness and perspicacity, as well as diplomatic skill.”

Ah, now I get it. Perhaps I need to work on my “diplomatic skill” — I am honest (some might say “brutally “) with authors. Mind you, it’s constructive criticism, with suggestions and recommendations on how to improve their manuscripts, and never derisive [i.e., expressing or causing contemptuous ridicule or scorn].

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A call for interdependence.

The past few days, as the fourth of July—Independence Day in the U.S.A.—approached, my thoughts went to the term “interdependence.” We all talk of freedom and individual rights and independence at this time of year, and especially in this perilous time of a deadly and pervasive infectious disease that has struck not only our country, but every country on this planet.

While we have a right to freedom speech, we do not have a right to incite unlawful acts; nor do we have the right to endanger the lives others, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substances that impair one’s ability to drive safely. I could go on and on about the rational and logical limits to our freedoms and independence, but the upshot remains that where one individual’s “right” crosses paths with another’s, in a civil society that calls for compromise, if not courtesy, politeness, empathy, or acts of kindness.

That concept triggered the thought of interdependence, and that while we may tout our personal independence, there are few, if any, truly independent people. In this modern, materialistic world of ours we all depend on others, to one degree or another, with regard to most facets of our daily lives. Even the iconoclastic loner living in a remote wilderness is likely to have a few manufactured tools, goods, and weapons procured from civilization, and therefore is not truly independent.

Like it or not, we depend on others—we need others—in order to fully enjoy the freedoms, the extensive individual rights, the relative safety and security, and the vast quantity and quality of material possessions this country offers. Like it or not, we are interdependent, and no more so than during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, as 2.5 million of our fellow citizens have contracted the disease and 130,000 have died—with no end in sight. If physical distancing and wearing a mask in public, or private, helps stem the tide of this highly infectious disease, so be it.

So imagine my joyful surprise when I picked up the LA Times this morning and saw this headline: “A call for interdependence,” written by columnist Nita Lelyveld. It merits reading.

(The title in the digital version is different from the print version: Want to exercise your freedom? Join in to stem the spread of coronavirus)

Lelyveld writes: On this Independence Day, I’d rather focus on our extreme interdependence, on how our future on so many fronts depends on our acting as one to help stem a global pandemic. . . .

While perusing the paper, I also ran across this news article: Truck driver posts regrets about party a day before dying of coronavirus

After months of diligently isolating, truck driver Tommy Macias, 51, made one error that cost him his life. He went to a barbecue party with some friends. [And presumably they were not wearing masks.]

He didn’t know that someone who had tested positive for COVID-19, but showed no symptoms, also was there.

Macias’s path followed a familiar scenario: At first, Macias seemed to be recovering during the week after he suddenly fell ill, which gave his family hope. But by that Sunday morning, he had taken a turn for the worse.

He was hospitalized and after 10 hours put on a ventilator to try to raise his oxygen intake. He died that night.

More than 10 others who attended that barbecue party—who then went home and probably back to work the next day—have also tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a final message to his loved ones, Tommy Macias voiced his regret in a Facebook post: “Because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy. Don’t be a … idiot like me.”

Happy In(ter)dependence Day.

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Larry Edwards presents “Do’s & Don’ts of Memoir Writing” at San Diego Memoir Writers Association Event, Sept. 7

Larry Edwards

Freelance editor Larry Edwards of Polishing Your Prose will present “Do’s & Don’ts of Memoir Writing” at the San Diego Memoir Writers Association meeting on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

The meeting begins at 2.30 p.m. at

     San Diego Writers, Ink
     2730 Historic Decatur Rd.
     Barracks 16, Suite 202 & 204
     San Diego, CA 92106

Drawing on his years of experience as an editor and author, Edwards will discuss “telling a story,” writing style, narrative voice, content, and structure, among other topics as it applies to memoir writing. He will also touch on ghostwriting, manuscript formatting, and publishing.

He is an award-winning investigative journalist, author, editor, and publisher, and the author of Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss, which garnered top honors at the San Diego Book Awards for 2013 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The book became a top seller on Amazon.com in both Memoir and True Crime categories.

“I enjoy editing memoirs,” Edwards says, “because they are so personal and heartfelt. Yet, that personal nature can also be a roadblock to developing a truly engaging story because the author, at times, cannot distinguish the proverbial forest from the trees; the author does not always see the most compelling aspects of her or his story.”

Among the many memoirs he has edited, Accidental Immigrants took top honors in the San Diego Book Awards for 2014.

As an editor and publisher, Murder Survivor’s Handbook: Real-Life Stories, Tips & Resources won a Gold Award in the 2015 Benjamin Franklin book awards competition sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Edwards worked as a journalist and editor for local, national, and international publications for nearly three decades. He currently works as a freelance writer, editor, and publishing consultant. Outside of writing and editing, he plays the fiddle in old-time music and bluegrass bands, is a historical re-enactor of the American fur-trade era and, being married to Janis Cadwallader — a serious birder — he has become an avid bird photographer.

Learn more about Larry Edwards and Polishing Your Prose at www.larryedwards.com.

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Decoration Day Honored U.S. Civil War Veterans; Later Became Memorial Day

I posted this four years ago, and it deserves posting again.

Polishing Your Prose

On May 5, 1868, Major General John A. Logan, the head of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, declared Decoration Day as a time for the nation to honor the U.S. Civil War dead. Logan declared that the day should be observed on May 30 and that the soldiers’ graves be decorated with flowers.

The veterans’ organization held the first observance that year at Arlington National Cemetery. Various Washington officials presided over the event, including General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant. By the end of the 19th century, communities throughout the country staged Decoration Day festivities.

Civil War veteran Oney F. Sweet — featured in What the Private Saw: The Civil War Letters & Diaries of Oney Foster Sweet — marched in many Decoration Day parades.

His son, Oney Fred Sweet, wrote a poem about the parades; the poem appeared in The National Tribune on…

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Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Revision — 10. Final Words

Tenth element in this series: Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Revision
(Please read the Introduction, if you haven’t already.)

FINAL WORDS

Time and Distance

Do you give yourself time away from your work—do you give yourself distance—before rereading, revising, and rewriting?

 In terms of self-editing, the best thing you can do is take a break.

I don’t mean a day or two. I mean weeks—or even better, months—so when you go back to it, you have fresh eyes.

With my memoir—Dare I Call It Murder?—after working on it almost every day for two years, I got so frustrated that I quit. I set it aside, saying: “Screw it. This sucks, and I don’t know how to fix it.”

Two months later, after friends and family encouraged me not to give up, I dusted it off and reread it—with fresh eyes. I felt as if I were reading someone else’s book. I could be much more objective and critical—the way I am when I put on my green eyeshade and dive into a manuscript that just showed up in my inbox.

Time and distance—it is a critical component in the art of revision.

Then, after you take that break, you pick up a #2 pencil (with a new eraser), read your manuscript with fresh eyes (I recommend hard copy, not on the screen), and keep in mind these Key Elements of the Art of Revision—then be ready to kill your darlings.

Don’t rush it! Better to do it well than have regrets.

Formatting

Like or not, Microsoft Word is the default word processor in the writing/publishing world. Most professional editors use Word. Therefore, learn how to use its features, especially Styles and Track Changes. If you prefer some other software, such as Pages, Google docs, or OpenOffice, more often than not you will have compatibility issues when working with an editor who uses Word, unless you are or you become technologically savvy.

In Closing . . .

  • Clarity, not confusion.
  • What’s the story reason?
  • Kill your darlings.
  • An editor has the same goal as you—to make your book even better than it is.

Recommended Reading for Writers:

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Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Revision — 9. Kill Your Darlings

Ninth element in this series: Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Revision
(Please read the Introduction, if you haven’t already.)

KILL YOUR DARLINGS

“Kill your darlings” does not mean you have to kill off your favorite characters (although it may). This refers to the fact that writers fall in love with what they have written and cannot bear the thought of deleting it, even if those passages are not needed to tell the story.

Ask yourself, what’s the story reason for including this in the book?  Does it provide a plot point, an inciting incident? Does it reveal important information to the reader? Does it reveal character? Does it reveal place or purpose? If you have no good reason other than “I love it,” then kill it.

The most common instances I see are extraneous descriptions or character bios; e.g., the tan stucco building, or character backgrounds that read like obituaries; also, author asides: the author either explains what just happened or comments on what just happened, as I described in Author Intrusion.

Example: Joe punched a hole in the wall with his fist. He was very angry.

And my thought, as an editor, is: No shit. Then I kill that darling: He was very angry.

My typical responses to this are:

  • Self-evident; the reader is way ahead of you; delete “He was very angry. ” Or: Redundant; delete. Or: Repetitious; delete.
  • Show, don’t tell.
  • Reveal, don’t tell.

The author could have another character say: “Joe, why are you so angry? Did something happen?” Then Joe reveals what’s bothering him.

Another common instance is an author trying to tidy things up at the end of a chapter, as if it were a standalone short story. However, this all too often deflates or dilutes the suspense or tension of the final action or dialogue in that scene or chapter. My most common response to this is: Unnecessary; author intrusion; delete. Think “cliffhanger.”

Research: Some writers try to include most, if not all, of the research material they uncovered. Don’t. Rule of thumb: leave out 90 percent. Yes, you learned some interesting facts while researching an event or place or historical figure, but it should be relevant to the story; only include what’s necessary for moving the story forward.

Every book I see can be tightened up. An early draft of my memoir totaled 150,000 words. I cut it by more than a third to 95,000 words. I also rewrote the first chapter 36 times. As the saying goes: Writing is rewriting.

Jennifer Redmond, former editor-in-chief at Sunbelt Publications, told me that she, on average, cut 10 percent out of most of the books she edited.

I worked with two co-authors writing a narrative nonfiction account of a criminal investigation; their first draft totaled 225,000 words. Through a lot of painful cutting and rewriting (over a period of four years) we reduced that by more than half to 110,000 words.

Their problem: They included all of their research, much of which was redundant or irrelevant to their story; i.e., they had no story reason for including that information. Nor could they kill their darlings—so I did the killing for them.

I see the same issue in historical fiction or stories that have a technical subject matter. You probably don’t need to spend 20 pages describing how to render whale blubber.

Kill your darlings.

Tenth in the series: Final Words

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