Monthly Archives: December 2013

Writing by Voice

By Joseph T. Sinclair

About ten years ago I investigated voice recognition software, which I found to be surprisingly accurate but not accurate enough to be useful for writing a book by voice (dictating). Nonetheless, I wrote a short book by voice as I was hiking in Colorado (eBay Inventory the Smart Way, published by Amacom). It took about five long hikes (about 25 hours) to complete. And because I hike almost daily for exercise, this was a way to make productive use of my hiking time.

Writing by voice worked out well for me. It was superior to typing and cut my original writing time, as well as my rewrites, in half. Instead of using the software, however, I hired a transcriber; the cost of transcription is high even when the transcriber is very efficient.

After an eight-year hiatus from writing, I recently decided to again pursue a writing and publishing career. Dragon (Nuance) had a sale on their latest software (Ver. 12.5) in April 2013. I thought, why not? So I bought it, and this time I found it to be accurate and indeed very useful for writing.

I had  dictated about 35,000 words by summer and have done much more since, with great success.  In fact, I have so much writing to do now that I’m running out of hiking time and may need to dictate directly into my computer while I’m sitting at my desk.

The software is about $200 (Dragon Naturally Speaking). But the equipment is now inexpensive. I use a highly rated $45 digital recorder (Phillips DVT1000) and a cell-phone headset with a mini-boom mic featuring a windshield (Plantronics MX500i, original price $70,  available for about $20 online).

A $20 cell-phone headset ( JBuds J6M) works almost as well. Of course if you’re at your computer, you don’t need the recorder, just a better-than-average mic. However, if you have professional equipment, you can certainly use it.

In lieu of using a separate recorder, use your smart phone. I’ve used my Samsung Galaxy 3 with both the Smart Voice Recorder app and the Easy Voice Recorder app. They work well. I use a separate recorder only because it’s easier to see the controls in sunlight.

Having experimented considerably with equipment, I can vouch for the items I’ve cited. There are many choices. The point is, you no longer need expensive or professional equipment to record adequate-quality sound for accurate transcription via software.

Go to the Nuance website (, the Speech Recognition Solutions website (, or the Speech Technology website ( for more information on proper equipment.

To make it easy to use the Dragon voice recognition software, I use only simple punctuation commands (comma, period, new paragraph, etc.). Dragon features a multitude of voice commands that I hope to learn someday, to control the equipment and the software. In the meantime, I find that the simple punctuation commands work just fine.

Writing by voice isn’t for everyone or for every book. But it’s worth a try. You may find, as I did, that writing by voice makes getting your writing down on paper, so to speak, quicker, smoother, and more coherently than if you use a word processor.


©2013 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.

Lee Foster Speaks at Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show on January 25


By Linda Jay Geldens

BAIPA member Lee Foster will give a narrated slideshow presentation on “Iconic Northern California Travel Itineraries” at the annual Bay Area Travel and Adventure Show in Santa Clara, Saturday, January 25, at 10:30 a.m.  The 30 itineraries parallel the 30 chapters in his recent book, Northern California Travel: The Best Options.

Presentations for the two-day show will be kicked off by Rick Steves on Europe and Lee Foster on California.  The show is targeted to consumers planning regional and international travel for 2014.  California’s major tourism promotion entities, Europe and adventure travel are main vendor groups at the show.

The full schedule of presentations and bios of the speakers are available on the show’s website, – click on Santa Clara.

The show is held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Halls B-D, 5001 Great America Parkway.  Show dates and hours are Saturday, January 25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, January 26, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Lee Foster is a veteran, award-winning travel writer/photographer with an enduring love for Northern California.  Over the years, his travel journalism has won eight prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers.  Lee is also the San Francisco Travel Expert for, the #23 most trafficked site on the Internet.

Bob Pimm Speaks on February 1 about Legal Issues in Publishing


By Linda Jay Geldens




Bob Pimm, Chief Learning Officer and Director of Legal Services at California Lawyers for the Arts, will be our BAIPA speaker at the Key Room in Novato on February 1, 2014.




Bob will discuss key legal issues affecting publishers, including tips on avoiding publishing’s most challenging problems.  Topics will include: copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and defamation.  He will explain the differences between various types of intellectual property law and how it affects the work of authors and publishers.


The Q&A session will answer some of the following questions:


* Issues with major players such as Google and Amazon.


* What is copyright protection? copyright infringement?


* When do you need to retain intellectual property rights of your own material?


* When does past protected material become public domain?


* How to register the copyright for books and ebooks for maximum protection?


See you Saturday, February 1, at the Key Room to hear Bob Pimm!



Brian Jud to Speak on January 11 – Selling Books to Non-Bookstore Buyers


By Linda Jay Geldens


Come join BAIPA at our new meeting place, The Key Room in Novato (directions and map in another article), on Saturday, January 11, to hear Brian Jud speak.  Topic: How to Sell Books in Large, Non-Returnable Quantities.


Brian is an author, book marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company.  He is also the Executive Director of APSS — the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (formerly SPAN).


He will show how to sell more of our books to non-bookstore buyers such as corporations, discount stores, and the military in large, non-returnable quantities.  Great tips, such as: discovering creative marketing techniques for more profitable sales, negotiating large sales without leaving any money on the table, and how to uncover more prospective buyers for long-term, recurring revenue.


Brian is the author of two books about selling to non-bookstore buyers and non-bookstore marketing, and five titles on career transition.


See you  on January 11, 2014, at our new meeting place!


What Business Are You In? (Hint: It’s not writing or publishing) – By Mike Larsen

If you think you’re just in the writing or the publishing business, prepare for poverty and obscurity. If you want to be a successful writer in the Digital Age, you have to be in six businesses:


1. The content business. You have to create content of different kinds and lengths for different media. More than ever, social media makes content  king, the king of hearts because it can make readers so passionate about your work they tell everyone they know to read it. So you’re only as good as your content. When you consistently produce effective content, you trump the king by being the ace, the ace of diamonds.


2. The entertainment business. Bestselling author John Naisbitt once said that communication is entertainment, and if you don’t understand that, you’re not going to communicate. Whether you want your work to be inspiring, enlightening, moving, or humorous, your work has to have maximum impact.


Your readers are voting with their eyes and fingertips, and every word you write is an audition for the next word. Only your community of  knowledgeable, representative readers can vouch for your judgment that every word is right, and that your work achieves your literary goals for it.


3. The communication business. Unless your work goes viral, assume it will take seven-to-ten mentions of it to convince readers who don’t know about you to try it. So you have to share your passion for the value of your work in as many ways and places, as often as you can, while you’re making fans who help you.


4. The technology business.  Technology gives you astonishing power to produce, publish, and promote your work. It also forces you to reinvent yourself as a technophile, a lifelong learner about using technology to make every aspect of your work more effective.


5. The business of business. You have to be an entrepreneur, CEO of your own multimedia, multinational conglomerate. You have to balance yin and yang; think like merchant as well as an artist, balancing what you want to do with what you need to do to ensure your livelihood.


You also have to be a contentpreneur by taking advantage of the growing opportunities you have for generating, promoting, and repurposing your work, and building your communities.


6. The community business. Other than writing, you don’t have to do any of this alone. In fact, you can’t run any of these businesses alone. You have to enlist the people you need to succeed: fans and professionals in these communities who will help you because they know, like, and trust you. You can maintain enduring win-win relationships with them by serving them as often and well as you can. Reciprocity is the queen of hearts.


Another community we’re part of is the human family. Gaia sustains the global village on this gorgeous orb. We have to help maintain this miracle by making the effects of our actions on people, the planet, and profit the criteria for how we live.


Filling the Screen


This is the most amazing time to be a writer. The greatest opportunity writers have is a blank screen. You will create your future with your fingertips. Writing and building relationships will be a great adventure. It will bring you fans who love your work, friendships with people around the world, and the fulfillment of your literary and publishing goals. And in case it isn’t obvious, you need these five communities no matter what business you’re in.



The goal of the blog is to help us both understand writing and publishing.

Questions and comments most welcome.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! BAIPA Has New Meeting Place Beginning in January 2014!

By Linda Jay Geldens

Perhaps a little bird has already told you this, but if not, be sure that you note this fact:  BAIPA is moving to a new meeting space, beginning in January 2014!

We will have more room for our growing group, and a parking lot for 100 cars.

Meetings will be held at the Key Room, in Novato, about six minutes’ driving time north of our current San Rafael location.  Directions and maps will be handed out at our Saturday, December 7, meeting.

The address for the Key Room is: The Next Key Center, 1385 N. Hamilton Parkway, Novato, CA 94949.

From the North:  Head south on Hwy. 101 towards San Francisco.  Take the exit to Hamilton Field (Novato).  Merge onto Ignacio Blvd.  Turn right on Nave Drive.  Turn left at Hamilton Parkway (McDonald’s is on corner).  Driveway for 1385 N. Hamilton Parkway is on the right (immediately after Marin Airporter).

From the South: Head north on Hwy. 101 towards Santa Rosa.  Take the Ignacio Blvd./Bel Marin Keys Blvd. exit.  Turn right from the freeway exit onto Nave Drive.  Turn left at Hamilton Parkway (McDonald’s is on corner).  Driveway for 1385 N. Hamilton Parkway is on the right (immediately after Marin Airporter).

All proceeds from the Key Room support Homeward Bound of Marin.

* * *

Linda Jay Geldens

Digital Book World Daily

If you’re interested in keeping up on digital publishing, a good way to do it is to subscribe to the DBW Daily, delivered by email each day. It captures the latest relevant news. DBW stands for Digital Book World, which is an annual digital book conference in NYC. However, DBW is also a publisher. Besides the Daily, they publish a wealth of info on digital books. Go to for the Daily and to the homepage at . — Sent by Joseph T. Sinclair

Book Apps

By Joseph T. Sinclair

Apps (applications) are programs that run on a smart phone. They are typically dedicated to a specific and narrow purpose. For instance, an app might do nothing more than condense 10 steps on the Web into one tap on the phone screen to accomplish the identical purpose. Put several of such functions together, and you’ve made a valuable app. Something so simple becomes valuable to a phone user who is usually doing something other than sitting at a keyboard.

Publishing should take its cue from programming. Dedicate and specialize. Traditional publishers are more likely to publish a book on making household repairs than on a more specialized topic. As a book app author or publisher, however, you can make a book app on just repairing a washing machine.

Rather than publishing a book on Getting a Job for Teenagers, how about a book app on Getting a Job at McDonald’s, or Getting a Job at McDonald’s in Philadelphia (pop. 5.8 million).

The traditional publishers continue their paper publishing in digital form, embracing the ebook. They need to charge enough for an ebook to cover their expenses/profit minus what they save in printing and distributing a physical printed book. This adds up to about a 20% saving at retail on the average book.

A paper book that sells for $24 can be sold for $19 as an ebook, less whatever discount the retailer gives. If the retailer also gives a 20% discount at retail, the ebook can sell for $15. But who will pay $15 for an ebook that covers 27 topics when he or she only wants to read one or two of those topics?

The term “book app” denotes a publication in a book-like form. This could be a manual, a booklet, a white paper, or a short book. Length is no longer a major consideration for publishing information. Value to the reader, short or long, becomes the prime consideration.

A $3 book app on repairing a washing machine is valuable to a person with a broken washing machine. How does this compare to a $20 lengthy ebook on household repairs that may or may not contain adequate information on repairing a broken washing machine?

For publishing book apps, generally speaking, smaller can be better, less can be more. That doesn’t mean that long books have no market. It just means that the opportunities to publish short book apps successfully are there to be exploited.

One cannot overlook the phenomenon that ebooks generally cost $10 or more, and book apps generally cost less than $10. The pricing makes book apps attractive to readers. Because the book apps will tend to be shorter, the pricing can be adequate for publishers as well. Indeed, you can split a normal book into several parts and sell each part as a book app. I recently split an unpublished book into five parts, which I will eventually publish as a branded series of five separate book apps with minimal additional writing.

The real appeal to publishers, however, is the immense size of the potential market for book apps—perhaps as much as thirty times larger (in bodies) worldwide than the traditional book market. The question is, how many of those people are readers or will become readers? The market will answer that question in the days and years ahead.


©Joseph T. Sinclair 2013  All rights reserved.