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The 404 1,378: Where we join the fight against flatulence (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- High-tech underwear keeps your farts from smelling.

- Misguided Web site shames mistresses instead of philandering husbands.

- What's the worst part of working at Google?

- Today's story is about a "haunted" painting on eBay that's been scaring the crap out of the Internet for decades.… Read more

The 404 1,179: Where we've found the right woman (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Pizza Hut commercial from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" VHS tape ~ 1990.

- Invite-only girls club OnLulu is the Carfax for new boyfriends.

- Collector shows off huge Apple collection, iOS not included.

- Virginia woman is sued for $750,000 after writing scathing Yelp review.… Read more

Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know

Note to readers: I originally published the article back in 2008 and have updated it a few times, most recently on June 13, 2012. This article primarily addresses self-publishing a print book, though many of the tips apply to e-books as well. For specific information about publishing an e-book, see my companion article, " How to self-publish an ebook."

I know, I know. This is a column about cutting-edge electronics. So, apologies to gadget-heads as I take a brief sojourn into the land of self-publishing, which has become a lot more high-tech than a lot of people realize.

A few years ago I wrote a book. A novel. "Knife Music." Contrary to what you might think based on my day job, it's not a cyber-thriller, though it is a mystery/thriller with a medical/legal slant.

Its short history is this: I worked on it for several years, acquired a high-powered agent, had some brushes with major publishers, then, crickets.

I could have tried to go for a small publisher, but I was told mine was "a bigger book" with more commercial aspirations and prestigious small publishers were interested in more literary tomes. I also learned that many small publishers were being wiped out by the "self-publishing revolution," a movement that's not so unlike the "citizen journalism" or bloggers' revolt of recent years that's had a major impact on mainstream media, including this publication. The basic premise is anyone can become a small publisher. You call the shots. You retain the rights to your book. And you take home a bigger royalty than you'd normally get from a traditional publisher--if you sell any books. … Read more

Online resources for the aspiring novelist

Are you the next Stephen King? There's no way to tell, unless you write a page-turner. But writing that book can be difficult. So, you might be looking for some help publishing it, or you just might want some advice. In either case, the Web is a great place to find some help.

Write that book

DoXtop DoXtop allows you to upload documents (including books) that can be embedded into sites across the Web.

Uploading content to DoXtop is quick and easy. Simply pick the file you want to upload, choose your desired format, and you're all set. What I like most about DoXtop is its many community features. You can discuss your content with readers, ask them to rate your book, or respond to surveys. It builds a readership around your content. It also helps you determine what readers are looking for. If you're trying to deliver your manuscript to readers without printing a book, DoXtop is a fine solution.

iUniverse iUniverse is a self-publishing platform that goes one step further than simply allowing you to see your book in print. Unlike some competitors, it's a supported self-publishing service, which means that you can have your manuscript edited, ask iUniverse to acquire an ISBN for you, and more.

iUniverse offers a variety of plans for you to pick. You can get the basic plan, which costs $599. That gives you access to the service's one-on-one author support. You'll also get a custom cover, but you won't be able to receive all the extras you'll find in its Premier package ($2,099).

That plan includes the ability to choose a hardcover and the option to have your book previewed by buyers. It's a hefty price to pay, but it might be worth it, if you're serious about selling your book. iUniverse even gives you the option of publishing your book in Amazon.com Kindle or Sony Reader versions. It's a neat service.… Read more

Buzz Out Loud 733: Flying Poop Factory

That is, sadly, the new name for the International Space Station, where astronauts have a real problem to contend with, unlike the New Mexico folks trying to ban public Wi-Fi. In other news, Warner Music is backing a hilariously insane plan to get you to rent a song, one time, for 10 cents a pop, and it turns out that all those furious, ranty e-mails about Dell's terrible tech support were true! Listen now: Download today's podcast EPISODE 733

$20 Million Dollar Experiment to See if You’ll Rent a Song for 10 Cents http://michaelrobertson.com/archive.php?minute_id=265Read more

Amazon puts the squeeze on print-on-demand publishers

Quite a kerfuffle has erupted over news in the last couple of days that Amazon is going to make print-on-demand (POD) publishers use Amazon's own internal printing service if they want to sell their books on the site.

Printing-on-demand has become a popular method for authors to bypass the large publishing houses with more niche or personal titles. And apparently the university presses have embraced it as well. So Amazon's announcement has some fairly wide-reaching effects.

Cries of "monopoly" are ringing out, with Amazon getting compared to Microsoft and the tactic being called a "landgrab".… Read more

A French designer phone for kids

If fashion designers are willing to stake their reputations on cable boxes, audio servers, and hard drives, then it should be a no-brainer to do a phone for kids. And thankfully, France-based Sagem didn't fall back on the usual cheap toy look that curses so many children's gadgets.

Instead, it commissioned artist Lulu Castagnette to design the My411C handset, which looks pretty much like a grown-up mobile phone except for an external display that's cut out in a teddy bear silhouette. As Uberphones points out, the rest of its features are anything but remarkable, though that obviously … Read more

Battle of the ulu.com's: Lulu.com vs. Hulu.com

This case could surely elicit some giggles from the rhyme police. Lulu.com said Wednesday that it has filed suit against Hulu.com for trademark infringement on the grounds that the two names and business models are too similar and will create confusion in the market.

Lulu.com, a service that lets members publish, print and sell their own books, has been around for five years, according to the company. Hulu.com is a joint digital video partnership between NBC Universal and News Corp., whose corporate entity N-F Newsite announced the name last week. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.… Read more