Some years ago, on a trip to Melbourne, Australia, I visited a book publisher with a friend who was in the book publishing business there.
There was the usual layout of offices and a production area, where the familiar tools for book layout and design were apparent.
But most of the activity in the office was in a separate room, where about a dozen people sat at desks, all of them talking nonstop on the telephone. Not a typical sight in a book publishing enterprise.
When I asked what they were doing, the answer was that they were all editors of different directories this firm published, and they spent virtually all their time checking on the listings in their various publications to make sure they were up to date and accurate.
When I asked to see the books they were publishing, I was shocked (I’m being honest here) to see that all the directories were very plain, printed on inexpensive white offset paper, paperbound, and all the text was set in Courier, and consequently looked a lot like typewriter copy, not typesetting.
This company was very successful, and could have made their books look any way they liked. When we got to talking about the operation, I mentioned the almost crude appearance of the books, which typically cost $100 and up.
“Our customers are buying information, not literature,” was the reply. “These books are designed to make them feel that they are getting the most current, hot-off-the-press information with no bells or whistles, not even a decent typeface.”
Hard to argue with their success.
New to Directory Publishing
Publishing directories, like our just-released The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, is new to me. I’ve produced them for clients, but never published one myself.
And I remembered the most important thing about a directory; that the information be “fresh” and accurate. These are criteria that guided us—Betty Sargent, me, and the other researchers who worked on the book.
We received a lot of queries about why some people were included in the book and others excluded.
It was best phrased by Contributing Writer Jason Kong:
“In your description of the guide, you mentioned how the links of the listings are curated and verified but I didn’t see anything about what your standard was for being included in the first place. So my question is:
“What was the criteria for a company or business to be included in your book?
“It doesn’t sound like you’re personally recommending these vendors or anything like that. And I assume whatever standard you used for your initial book will also be applied to future editions, especially when with all the submissions you’ll be receiving via your contact form. I assume many people will be submitting their own businesses and services. :)”
And Jason is right, criteria for inclusion were only briefly mentioned in my first posts about the book.
Here’s how I replied:
Jason, good question.
The listings are not meant to imply an endorsement of the person or company listed. Our concern was to only list people who
- were actively engaged in their business,
- who work with self-publishers, and
- who, as far as we know, are not scammers or organized solely to take advantage of authors.
Are some better at business, customer relations, timeliness, etc? Yes, it’s very likely because we didn’t attempt to screen people and companies listed at that granular a level.
But we eliminated, for instance, every questionable supplier who was listed with a “not recommended” rating on Preditors & Editors, and all the book awards companies known to be associated with unsavory practices.
But it’s not perfect or comprehensive, and that’s why we’ve asked people in the community to send us listings, and let us know the experience they have with people, listed or unlisted.
We aim to continue to expand the Resource Guide with the help of readers, and make it even more useful in a variety of ways as we continue to grow it.
When I talked to my co-author Betty Sargent about the curation process, she added some interesting perspective to the conversation.
Our Standards Are High
“We aspire to include only the most reputable, highly regarded, currently active professionals in our continuously vetted and updated resource list.
“In many cases we know and have worked with these people personally.
“When we don’t know them we triple check their references, often contact them ourselves, and always make sure their websites are up and running—and fulfilling the services described.
“Although it’s always possible that a person or two may have slipped through the cracks, we make every effort to find out about that and delete any person or group that may not have the self-publishing author’s best interest at heart.
“Our goal is to establish The Self-Publisher’s Resource Guide as the gold-standard in the Indie Author universe and we welcome your input in helping us reach and sustain this goal.”
Let Us Hear From You
We’re counting on you—authors, editors, designers, artists, printers, production people—everyone in our community to help us fill any gaps in the Resource Guide.
I know there are a lot of excellent providers who we simply missed. Hey, the internet’s a big place.
That’s why we set up a submission page where you can let us know about a great editor or terrific cover designer we’ve left out. You can send us your submissions here:
If you’ve got any questions about people in the book or not in the book, let me know in the comments.
And get your copy today. You know you’ll be using it soon enough.