Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Interview with Tabitha

Interviewer: Is your name really Tabitha? From looking at your website, I thought you were someone else.

Tabitha: That is correct. I have published four books for iUniverse and contributed stories to a pair of traditionally published coffee table books, all under my real name. Tabitha is my sixteen-year-old Balinese cat. I am much older than Tabitha.

Interviewer: How did you choose iUniverse to publish your books?

Tabitha: I completed my first manuscript in about 1972, but I felt it was practically unpublishable due to its obtuse eccentricity. The Corvette Chronicles began as a long series of stories in The Longhorn Corvette Club Newsletter in 1985. I had planned from the beginning to edit the whole series into a book called Plastic Ozone Daydream. By 1999, iU had been established, and I had learned enough about computers to begin my publishing journey. I had always had in mind the complete package of Daydream. I wanted the cover to look a certain way; I wanted the order and structure of the stories to be a certain way; and I wanted to market the book in a particular manner. iU offered me the freedom to do things my own way, and the company seemed far ahead of its competition in most every facet of the business.

Interviewer: How did you get published in those coffee table books?

Tabitha: A publisher of that type of book for car enthusiasts read Daydream and wanted to buy a particular story from it for his next project. I don't know exactly how he came to discover Daydream. I followed that project with a pair of stories written exclusively for Mustang Legends. That release was very convenient for me because it gave me a small publishing project during an extended period (2002-06) when I was not planning another iU book. This was a clear case of bringing a POD author to the attention of a traditional publisher.

Interviewer: What became of your first manuscript?

Tabitha: After a total rewrite in 2002, that manuscript became The Last Horizon.

Interviewer: What is the single most important thing you have learned about POD publishing and marketing?

Tabitha: The #1 element that sells books is the fact of the title and description of the book fitting within a genre that a particular consumer audience is obsessed with reading. Nothing sells like a celebrity scandal or a get-rich-quick scheme. Starting a good slap-fight over religious issues will do the job, too. From the online retailers, what I think is by far my weakest book has been consistently my best seller. I think that is because I wrote Ker-Splash! to fill an open niche in the market. There are a zillion books about fishing, sailing, and classic wooden boats, but there are almost none about common, recreational runabouts and ski boats. Ker-Splash! docks right in that slip! My other three books are more esoteric, to say the least.

Interviewer: How much do you think a bad review hurts the sales of a book?

Tabitha: As long as the one bad review is not alone on the page, I think it matters very little. I think it matters more when your review space is empty. (Look at my books!) That is why I began this blog. A wise person has said there is no such thing as bad publicity, and I generally agree with that. For the thousands of POD books listed on Amazon, I am far more skeptical of those with a long list of five-star reviews than of those with only a few, or with a range of stars in their review list. Even with all these generalities stated, I do not intend to ever post a really bad review for someone unless they sign off on it first. After all, my goal is to help iU authors and enhance the reputations of all of us.

Interviewer: What is the most common editing mistake you have found in iU books?

Tabitha: The repetition, deletion, misplacement, or otherwise misuse of the most common words in the English language is far and away the most common mistake. We seem to get the punctuation and sentence structure right just about every time. It's the the's, an's, and's, a's, and other common words that trip us up. We tend to read right over the mistakes when we are proofreading. We also tend to make more mistakes toward the end of the book, as opposed to the beginning or middle. I suppose the proofing is getting overly monotonous by the end of the process.

Interviewer: Why are you writing these reviews when so many other online sources are doing the same thing?

Tabitha: Very few of those sources are actually reviewing in the same manner as I am. Review for hire sites are popping up like mushrooms in cow patties. How accurate can a supposedly unbiased, but paid, entity be? How many of you would buy a book based on a review if you were aware the review had been paid for by the author? Many of these reviews are purchased in an indirect manner, such as a part of a marketing package. How many of the unpaid reviews were written by friends and associates of the author? My research has shown to me that many of the reviews of iU books you find on the net fall into one of the above categories. Certainly some of these reviews are legitimate, but my guess is that number is a small fraction of the total, especially among the endless parade of five-star reviews on Amazon. My reviews are the real deal. This is not a business, and I am not a personal friend of any of the authors I review. You won't find me telling you about the horde of trashy POD books that caused me to barf on the first page, either. Those books, if they exist at all, do not exist on this website. I am not in this project to stuff my wallet or my fat head. Let's face it: we all know many who are. If you want an honest review, let me know.

Interviewer: How does an iU author secure one of your extensive, four-part reviews?

Tabitha: I invite any iU author to reply to this or any other post on the blog site. You can see examples of the previous reviews by visiting the same books found on this site at Amazon, B&N, and Authors Den. Please read the submission guidelines first. You can find them in the first post and in a later update. The early bird gets the juiciest worm.

Miss Stephanie: Eeeeeuuu!!!

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