Amazon Forces POD Publishers To Go BookSurge

Amazon’s got a new policy for POD, short for print-on-demand, publishers: Get with the BookSurge program, or the buy button goes. BookSurge is basically Amazon’s own POD operation, so they want all publishers to move over there.

This is quite a story, complicated and somewhat crazy. It’s about a company using its monopoly to make more money.

If you’re the least interested in publishing, head over to the excellent WritersWeekly and read the full story. Then check out Amazon’s reply, and the WSJ story that started it all (requires login).

Blogs Are Public Documents – Bloggers and Commenters Beware

you think you're so smart - graphic copyright Lorelle VanFossen

you think you’re so smart - graphic copyright Lorelle VanFossenAmber of Lamb and Frog is covering Monday Mayhem, specifically the mayhem that erupts when a commenter cross the lines.

I’m not sure how many of these commenters have ever written anything for public consumption other than their inane comments. A blog? A magazine article? Anything that you actually got paid for? Do you know anything about writing at all? Let me fill you in…

Blogs are public documents. The best bloggers with the most popular blogs know this. They choose and edit the material they post to reflect their blog’s message or style. That doesn’t mean that the content can’t be personal, it just means that it rarely reflects the entirety of the blogger’s existence. Why? Because even if your daily life is freakishly entertaining (what…now you’re Paris Hilton?) hearing nothing but unedited lists of exploits day after day makes for boring reading in short order.

She cites some recent blog posts by friends who are frustrated with stupid and ignorant commenters, including:
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Don’t Sign Away Your Rights

Many bloggers dream about getting a recurring guest blogging position. Whether paid or unpaid, many bloggers toil in relative obscurity for years before being offered a chance to write for a large site.

However, the excitement of being offered a new writing position often causes bloggers, as well as other writers, to make serious mistakes. When they receive their first contract, they either do not read the document carefully or, in a desperate bid to please their new employers, sign the contract with little regard to the rights that they surrender.

However, when you sign your name to a contract, you are bound to it and signing a bad contract can have long-term consequences that can both limit the rights to your own work and the scope of your future projects.

No matter how good of a deal the contract seems to be, it is worth taking a moment to read through it and watch out for the rights that you may be giving away.

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Blogging For Hobby Or Money

I write and photograph, and play on the web. Okay, it’s more serious than that, but many think of these things as hobbies. I’ve never thought there were hobbies. They are jobs. My career. My business. I’ve been selling my writing and photography since I was 15. Blogging and web publishing was a natural career move as technology developed along with my skills and business. Writing and photography aren’t hobbies. They paid the rent.

Along with my work, I have hobbies, too. A hobby is something you do for fun, relaxation, and enjoyment. It’s a change from the day-to-day grind of your job, whatever your job is. Luckily, most of us live in a society that allows us hours away from a paid job to do something other than work.

For most, their hobby brings creativity and fun into their lives. It stretches the mind and body, actually making them a better worker for the time away from the job. Hobbies are wonderful things and they need to be honored.

The moment you make money with your hobby, your hobby becomes a business. Things change. You change. The hobby changes.

Recently, people have a new attitude about hobbies. I learned how to knit last year and I’m having some fun with it, making mistakes as one does when they are learning. I sit waiting in airports and offices, knitting away mindlessly, enjoying this new hobby that allows my mind to wander while my hands are busy and I’m accomplishing something. I like hobbies which make things.

Someone notices and they start chatting, eventually leading up to:

You Can Make Money Selling That

I cannot count how many people have admired whatever I was working on with these words, “You could make money selling that.”
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Tips for Staying Writely Motivated on Your Blog

Writing has become such a process of self-discovery that I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning. I wanted to know what I was going to say.

Sharon O’Brien

Do you start your morning with that kind of energy? So excited, you race to your computer to write your first blog post before you even hit the shower?

There are some days when my eagerness to see what I’m going to write next shoves my body out of bed in the morning to rush to my computer. There are other days when I wish I could lie in bed and wait for the muse of the moment to slap me awake.

Sometimes, there are so many things to write about, I can’t stop writing. My husband has to peel me off my laptop. Other times, there are so many things to blog about, I’m overwhelmed, staring at the computer screen unable to write a word.

How do you keep motivated to keep producing content on your blog?
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Writing a Blog Disclaimer

Yesterday, I covered examples of blog disclaimers, simple paragraphs, fun statements, and legal policies from different blogs. Today, I want to cover how to write a blog disclaimer, protecting you and your blog from the world of litigation and prosecution.

In Creating The Perfect Blog Comment Liability Disclaimer from The Intuitive Life Business Blog, the author goes through the process of contacting a lawyer to review their blog disclaimer from start to finish. It’s a good lesson in how to write a good disclaimer, while still making it personal. The lawyer points out that:

Fortunately, there is a wide body of caselaw and law review articles concerning website disclaimers. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Caution is appropriate when applying those case precedents, however. Blogging is a more dynamic interaction – truly akin to a somewhat stilted conversation. Judges will eventually view this distinction as significant. After all, doesn’t a reactive series of posts and responses start to look like advice which may be relied upon – to the benefit or detriment of the commenter?

A valid point covered the “conversation” created with comments. By responding to comments, the blogger becomes a “moderator”, which could be interpreted as “directed communication”, making yourself an expert, thus libel for your expertise. So the disclaimer should be clear that you are not responsible as an “expert” and for what people do with your advice and wisdom.
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Does Your Blog Need a Disclaimer?

Many of you have heard of disclosures, legal statements that disclose the fact that you are blogging to make money, and being paid to blog. What about disclaimers? Should your blog have a disclaimer? Does it need one?

A disclaimer is a statement that basically holds you, and all who blog on your blog, harmless from prosecution. Disclaimers can be placed in the footer or sidebar, if short, or on a Page with the link in your footer or sidebar, or even at the bottom of your blog posts or comments form.

Here are some examples.
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Newsletter-to-Blog: Converting Old Newsletters and The Benefits of Conversion

In the last of this series on converting a newsletter into a blog, designed for small businesses, individuals, and small group newsletter publishers who want to streamline their efforts and minimize costs, as well as modernize, here are the last lessons and discoveries that came up during the conversion process with the business women’s group I worked with.

Converting Old Newsletters

After much debate about whether or not to include the old newsletters, the newsletter team decided that they wanted to publish pertinent articles from past issues, but not the whole issue. These articles they wanted available to the public.

They copied, cleaned, and pasted the content into the blog as posts, but their review of the past newsletters found a lot of value that they wanted online and available to the members for reference. Now what?
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Newsletter to Blog: Blogger’s Friend – The Text Editor

Example of a multi-tabbed text editor, creating different files to support blogging content

Blogging takes time. It consumes energy and thought. Okay, it’s time consuming. Many bloggers struggle for the first few years to find a way to blog more efficiently. They play with, tagging, bookmarking, Google Notebook and other online note storage tools, mash-ups, social bookmarking, social networking…we’ve done them all in a search to make our blogging life easier and faster.

One of the secret weapons a good blogger needs is a way to record notes, thoughts, ideas, and most of all redundant information in one place. A place easy to access and easy to use. As a long time blogger, my blogging best friend is my text editor. Since all most people do in a word processor is type letters, a good text editor with spell check is as simple to use as a word processor. The trick is to get one that does so much more.

So why not use a word processor? I’ve talked about some of the problems that come with converting word processor and desktop publishing programs into blog content, and writing in a text editor removes a lot of those strange character problems. It also runs fast, requires little space for the program, and is ideal for doing all your web work in one place then transferring it to your blogging program.

For a blogger, web writer and publisher, a good text editor can be your best tool, allowing you to take notes, copy links and information, create an outline, keep a to do list, write posts, and store redundant, frequently-used information.

For this newsletter crew, they needed a tool that would allow them to convert heavily coded content into plain text and search and replace easily. They needed to immediately add redundant links to the national offices as well as local and regional sister groups. They needed to compile information and sort it, as they gathered the parts and pieces of information to fill in their Pages such as About, Contact, Events, and such.

I started them out right by introducing them to the power of a good text editor, allowing them to quickly move from clutter and chaos to form and function with their new blog.
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