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Thread: Paper Bag Press

  1. #1
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Paper Bag Press

    Here's a shiny new erotica e-house site. All three pages of it. Four if you count the login page.

    Paper Bag Press

    They are offering a 5% bonus for the first 25 stories they accept before September 30, but make no mention of how much they pay. That is of concern to most writers!

    I would suspect some erotica fan just wants some new stuff to read and doesn't care to surf the Net for it, but they look sort of real.

    Without any mention out front about payment--and that's a pretty huge thing to omit--I would not be galloping toward sending in a submission just yet.

    This could be a case of good intentions, but incompetent simply from all the info a writer needs that is not posted.

    F' cryin' out loud, the "About" page has a message of how they're saving the environment because they're paperless, but not one word to indicate who's running the gasworks and what makes them qualified to do so.

    PBP--how much do you pay the writers?

    Who is doing the editing?

    Have you any professional experience working for a publishing house?

    What is your royalty rate?

    When do you pay out?

    How do you keep track of sales?

    How do you plan to log sales and arrange downloads?

    Have you any professional experience in publishing?

    Why open a store if you don't have stock to sell?

    Why is there no publisher's name out front so we know who's responsible?

    Are you hoping to hit it big like Ellora's Cave? (It began as a kitchen table home-based business.) Nothing wrong with that, but you appear to have not completed the research for the nuts and bolts running of an e-house.

    Why should I sub a story to a publisher that doesn't have the most basic information up?

    At least Ellora's Cave started out with some books up for sale from day one.

    Take a page from that e-house, PBP. You are happily enthusiastic, but that's not enough to run a successful publishing business.

    Looks like you used the spell-checker. I'll give you that much, but come ON!
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 09-02-2008 at 10:47 PM.

  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I suspect this will be some kind of subscription site rather than a producer of ebooks. Ergo some complicated cut of subscriptions might be paid in place of royalties? Generally subscription sites pay a flat rate up front but this one doesn't seem to.

    [edited to add: apparently not]
    Last edited by veinglory; 09-03-2008 at 02:41 AM.
    Emily Veinglory

  3. #3
    To answer your original question, I think they're hoping to get lucky.

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thank you

    [quote=Gillhoughly;2708697]Here's a shiny new erotica e-house site. All three pages of it. Four if you count the login page.

    Paper Bag Press



    Thanks so much for noticing us! I had no idea it would happen so fast.



    "They are offering a 5% bonus for the first 25 stories they accept before September 30, but make no mention of how much they pay. That is of concern to most writers!"

    The call for submissions is very new, and I appreciate the critical eye. Our standard royalty rate will be 30% of the list price. The royalty on the first 25 published stories will be 35%.



    "I would suspect some erotica fan just wants some new stuff to read and doesn't care to surf the Net for it, but they look sort of real."

    The business is real, and it is very new. I am taking your comments to heart, and will flesh out the About and Submissions pages accordingly.


    "Without any mention out front about payment--and that's a pretty huge thing to omit--I would not be galloping toward sending in a submission just yet."

    I am happy to correct this for all your readers right now, and I will have my web guru update the submissions page with the royalty rate.



    "This could be a case of good intentions, but incompetent simply from all the info a writer needs that is not posted.

    F' cryin' out loud, the "About" page has a message of how they're saving the environment because they're paperless, but not one word to indicate who's running the gasworks and what makes them qualified to do so."

    Again, thank you for the critical eye. I am running the gasworks, so to speak. My name is Amy, and I am not sure exactly what information you might like that would vet me in your mind. I do have an English Education degree from the University of Iowa, and a Master's degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado at Denver. I have been teaching for 16 years, from kindergarten through graduate school levels. I am an avid reader and writer. I do write erotic fiction, and I've published two nonfiction books.

    Again, I'll flesh out the About page more. You have no idea how much I appreciate your criticism, as I want this venture to be a success.

    "PBP--how much do you pay the writers?"

    30% of list.

    "Who is doing the editing?"

    I will be doing it all to start. When the need arises, I will hire professional editors to assist me.

    "Have you any professional experience working for a publishing house?"

    No, I do not. I have experience publishing books, particularly ebooks.


    "When do you pay out?"

    To start, I plan on paying monthly. As the business grows, this may move to quarterly.

    "How do you keep track of sales?"
    There will be a system in place to track sales, through the website.

    "How do you plan to log sales and arrange downloads?"

    Do you mean for authors, or for customers? For customers, the downloads will be immediate.

    "Have you any professional experience in publishing?"

    Yes, I have published two of my own ebooks, and have done all the marketing and sales for them myself.

    "Why open a store if you don't have stock to sell?"

    Well, that's why we are doing a call for submissions first. The store isn't open yet, but I wanted to have a website in place that would convey the tone of the store, when it opens. The call for submissions page is up to build up that stock. So I guess my answer is, the store isn't open yet.


    "Why is there no publisher's name out front so we know who's responsible?"
    It's me. I'll add to the About page.

    "Are you hoping to hit it big like Ellora's Cave? (It began as a kitchen table home-based business.) Nothing wrong with that, but you appear to have not completed the research for the nuts and bolts running of an e-house."

    Of course I am hoping for that! I am still completing my research for running an e-house, and I can't imagine that research will ever be finished. A lot of running a business is figuring some things out as I go. However, I do have experience in sales and internet marketing, as well as publishing.

    "Why should I sub a story to a publisher that doesn't have the most basic information up?"

    I can't answer that for you. Hopefully my answers here will help.

    "At least Ellora's Cave started out with some books up for sale from day one."

    As I mentioned, I must have some books first, before I can open up. We are just doing our first call for submissions.


    "Take a page from that e-house, PBP. You are happily enthusiastic, but that's not enough to run a successful publishing business."

    I appreciate the thought. And yes, I am enthusiastic. I do appreciate your comments, and I will make the call for submissions much more informative, including what you and I have mentioned here.

    "Looks like you used the spell-checker. I'll give you that much, but come ON!"

    Thanks for the advice. I'm on it!

    Amy
    authors.paper-bag-press.com
    Last edited by PaperBagPress; 09-03-2008 at 12:06 AM.

  5. #5
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperBagPress View Post
    Our standard royalty rate will be 30% of the list price. The royalty on the first 25 published stories will be 35%.

    30% of list.
    Which is...?

    I've published two nonfiction books.
    Which publisher? What titles?

    Gillhoughly: Have you any professional experience in publishing?"

    Yes, I have published two of my own ebooks, and have done all the marketing and sales for them myself.
    Which does not qualify as professional experience in the publishing world. I meant publishing as in having worked for a publisher. This could include editing/writing for a magazine, newspaper, company newsletter, slush pile reader, etc.

    I drive my car with a degree of skill, but don't ask me to know how to manufacture one from scratch.

    You have excellent educational credits--far better than my own!--but apparently no paycheck stubs or even a summer internship from a publisher. An English Education degree does not qualify one to know how to edit and copyedit a book. It took me years to reach that point and I've been selling books to various print publishers since the 80s.

    I'm just saying the odds are against you for lack of practical experience in this field.

    I think you just launched too soon. The ducks need to be lined up a bit better for people to trust you and take you seriously. There are lots of sharks in the publishing pool, and writers are wary.

    It would be a very good idea to have something up for sale from the get-go. If it's your own stuff, that's fine. If you have writer friends--and you should have some contacts in the industry--ask them for work to put up. Let people see if you can edit and tell a story.

    It takes a long time to build any kind of an e-business. I run one myself for my day job. Before I opened a website I had stock ready to sell, testimonials from direct sale customers, and 25 years of experience in that particular field. I've enjoyed some success, but the learning curve was sharp and brutal. (I won.)

    Mind you, the idea of opening an e-book erotica house is really COOL. If I knew how to do it properly, I'd do it myself!
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 09-03-2008 at 12:28 AM.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Gillhoughly,

    All of your comments are appreciated, as they give me lots to consider. I suppose the writers will have to decide for themselves if my experience reading and editing and formatting since early 1987 will be enough, and they will have to decide whether or not the self-publishing process teaches a person about publishing.

    In my opinion, not having worked for a traditional publisher is in my favor, as I plan on not making their mistakes. Some mistakes will happen, for certain, and all I can do is fix them the best I can, and learn from them.

    I could go on and on about the other business I own and run and manufacture for (not publishing!), and how much it has taught me about business, but at the end of the day, folks just have to take a chance, anyway. All are welcome to email me with any questions, as well, as is noted on the call for submissions.

    As a writer, I do know that there are a lot of sharks out there. It's another reason I wanted to make this business happen--so that writers can find someone fabulous with which to work. We'll see how it goes. I'm not only optimistic, but inundated already. I've got reading and writing to do. Hooray!

    Thanks for the advice about business in general. I'll remember to comment about my business experiences as well, to alleviate the fear. It's hard to build trust over the Internet, anyway--I can just do my best.

    Please do visit the site when it's up. Another note that I will add to the Submissions page--my goal for the grand opening is October 31, 2008.

    Thanks again,

    Amy

  7. #7
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    I do wish you very good luck in making a success of things, but the term "traditional publisher" conjures a mental picture of Publish America--who invented that term. (PA has its own separate beware forum here on AW.)

    So again,

    I've published two nonfiction books.
    Which publisher? What titles?

    If you went with PA, it's okay to mention it. They have a terrible reputation, but many of their victims learned better and moved on. Some have found their way here and are getting plenty of help and encouragement from the locals.

    Not trying to annoy you with all this, but the sharks in the pool have not made things easy for legit operations. You're getting your biffs on the chin up front, which is better than a mass bushwhacking later on from PO'd writers/readers.

  8. #8
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperBagPress View Post
    In my opinion, not having worked for a traditional publisher is in my favor, as I plan on not making their mistakes.
    I'm just curious - what do you see as the mistakes of traditional publishers (assuming that what you mean by this is "commercial or trade publishers")?
    Sleeping Beauty-inspired m/m romance : Editing.

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW JanDarby's Avatar
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    Googling the person in charge nets this:

    http://groovygrrl.blogspot.com/

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    "imprint of Sharam Barnes Publishing"
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  11. #11
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Thank you!

    Hmmm. I have a fatal, terrible, and fatal again weakness for handmade soaps....!

  12. #12
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    My latest purchase was chocolate soap. It smells nice but washing yourself with something brown just feels wrong
    Emily Veinglory

  13. #13
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    I get that with some coffee soap I have, but gosh, it sure gets rid of the onion smell on my hands when I'm chopping veggies!

    Mmmm. Chocolate. Better than a shiny object....

    ---Off course and off topic, careening back to my &*%# book now.

  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    I do wish you very good luck in making a success of things, but the term "traditional publisher" conjures a mental picture of Publish America--who invented that term. (PA has its own separate beware forum here on AW.)

    So again,



    Which publisher? What titles?

    If you went with PA, it's okay to mention it. They have a terrible reputation, but many of their victims learned better and moved on. Some have found their way here and are getting plenty of help and encouragement from the locals.

    Not trying to annoy you with all this, but the sharks in the pool have not made things easy for legit operations. You're getting your biffs on the chin up front, which is better than a mass bushwhacking later on from PO'd writers/readers.
    It's not annoying at all. You are absolutely correct that taking shots right now is better than later. I agree.

    I did not mean to mislead anyone by saying I self-published my books. I did it all. I did not use a printer, a POD, Lulu, anything like that. I wrote the books, formatted them, edited them, and published them myself. I sell them myself, on my crafting website, as they are ebooks. I did it all.

    I had no idea that PA had coined the term "traditional publisher." By that term, I mean "full-service publisher," one who pays either advances or royalties or both, and is fully financially invested in the work.

    Amy

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    The major mistakes would be: 1) paying writers royalties off the net price, instead of the list price, and 2) leaving authors to market everything on their own.

    This is just my opinion, of course.

    Amy

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I love that about you, Gillhoughly.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    I get that with some coffee soap I have, but gosh, it sure gets rid of the onion smell on my hands when I'm chopping veggies!
    Hmm. I've said similar things about the Kitchen soap I make.....

  18. #18
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperBagPress View Post
    The major mistakes would be: 1) paying writers royalties off the net price, instead of the list price, and 2) leaving authors to market everything on their own.
    As far as I know, PA pays writers royalties off the net price. Commercial publishers don't. The same thing applies to leaving authors to market everything on their own. Commercial publishers and reputable small presses don't leave this up to the writer; they have marketing departments.

    So it seems that the "mistakes" you're referring to may be more specific to vanity presses or well-intentioned but inexperienced amateur micropresses - and may not be so much mistakes as steps these presses take deliberately, either to keep their costs low or because they're simply not equipped to handle them.
    Sleeping Beauty-inspired m/m romance : Editing.

  19. #19
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    I wrote the books, formatted them, edited them, and published them myself. I sell them myself, on my crafting website, as they are ebooks. I did it all.
    Are you planning to sell these new books on CD to be mailed to the buyers?

    Technically--and there are nitpickers who will rip into you on this--that's not an e-book.

    My def of e-publishing/e-book means buyers may download a book directly and automatically from the website 24/7. The buyer can print a copy or read it from their computer screen or a compatible e-book reader like Mobipocket. Ellora's Cave does this. Readers love the instant delivery.

    A book that has to be mailed by CD means your overhead is up for the price of mailing and cost of the disk. Every penny counts on this narrow a margin.

    I'm glad you avoided the PA pit, but think considerably more research on the e-publishing business is going to be needed for you to make this work. Perhaps a Google search on how Ellora's Cave and similar sites got started is in order.

    I've considered opening a e-book site, and for all that, it's rather more work than I'm willing to tackle, even with a book like this to help. (Yikes, 43$$ for a used copy??)

    The closest I came was to sell some of my out of print short stories from my website for a dollar each. When Paypal let me know I'd made another 65 cents after their cut, I'd e-mail a PDF file to the buyer as an attachment. Hardly an auto download, and then I was never sure if it arrived, as sometimes their server bounced it as spam.

    That year I grossed about three dollars -- and I'm a solid mid-list writer with a healthy traffic flow.



    Print and e-publishers pay royalties off the "cover" price.

    Print houses generally do a six percent royalty from the cover price on a mass market paperback. A 7.99 book means a 48-cent royalty for the writer.

    Ellora's Cave offers 7.5% on print books, 37.5% on e-books. A typical EC title selling for 5.20 gets the writer .39 and 1.85 respectively.

    This is very attractive to writers! The down side is that e-books are still in the minority. EC is one of the few that got themselves really well known in a good way.

    If you scroll down this page http://www.brendahiatt.com/id2.html you'll find some earning figures for EC writers. I tell new writers to ignore the high numbers for the low. It's too easy to get dazzled by all those dollar signs!

    I would strongly --STRONGLY!!-- suggest you hold off paying advances to writers for the time being. While it says a lot about your belief in yourself and your business that you're willing to do this, it is a seriously fast way to go bankrupt. Believe me, others have tried and gone belly up with frightening speed.

    EC pays royalties only, and that is perfectly acceptable for an e-house! Writers take that as the norm these days when dealing with an e-house.

    I know several editors for small print presses, and they pay small advances, but even a few hundred bucks here and there leaves them teetering on the edge of disaster more often than not when a book doesn't sell well.

    Good luck, but BE CAREFUL!
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 09-03-2008 at 05:09 AM.

  20. #20
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperBagPress View Post
    The major mistakes would be: 1) paying writers royalties off the net price, instead of the list price
    That's not what large trade publishers do, you know.

    and 2) leaving authors to market everything on their own.
    And that's not what any reputable publisher does.

    One of the things about people who have experience in the publishing field is that they generally know more about what's going on in the publishing industry than those who do not.

    So, no, your not having worked in publishing is NOT a point in your favor if you're going to be battling strawmen like this.

  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    [quote=Gillhoughly;2710229]Are you planning to sell these new books on CD to be mailed to the buyers?

    Technically--and there are nitpickers who will rip into you on this--that's not an e-book.

    My def of e-publishing/e-book means buyers may download a book directly and automatically from the website 24/7. The buyer can print a copy or read it from their computer screen or a compatible e-book reader like Mobipocket. Ellora's Cave does this. Readers love the instant delivery.

    A book that has to be mailed by CD means your overhead is up for the price of mailing and cost of the disk. Every penny counts on this narrow a margin."


    No, all ebooks will be purchased and then downloaded immediately. Instant delivery, like you said. No CDs.




    "I'm glad you avoided the PA pit, but think considerably more research on the e-publishing business is going to be needed for you to make this work. Perhaps a Google search on how Ellora's Cave and similar sites got started is in order."

    Gill, I appreciate all of your help, and all I can say is, I have researched Ellora's Cave deeply. I am aware of what I'm getting into. I know I will not be able to convince you of any of it, but you will just have to take this comment at face value. I've done quite a bit of research.

    "I've considered opening a e-book site, and for all that, it's rather more work than I'm willing to tackle, even with a book like this to help. (Yikes, 43$$ for a used copy??)

    The closest I came was to sell some of my out of print short stories from my website for a dollar each. When Paypal let me know I'd made another 65 cents after their cut, I'd e-mail a PDF file to the buyer as an attachment. Hardly an auto download, and then I was never sure if it arrived, as sometimes their server bounced it as spam.

    That year I grossed about three dollars -- and I'm a solid mid-list writer with a healthy traffic flow."

    I'm sorry to hear that. My two books do quite well for me--they pay for my daughter's private speech therapy every year.



    "Print and e-publishers pay royalties off the "cover" price....

    I would strongly --STRONGLY!!-- suggest you hold off paying advances to writers for the time being. While it says a lot about your belief in yourself and your business that you're willing to do this, it is a seriously fast way to go bankrupt. Believe me, others have tried and gone belly up with frightening speed.

    EC pays royalties only, and that is perfectly acceptable for an e-house! Writers take that as the norm these days when dealing with an e-house."

    Yes, we have posted on our call for submissions that we are paying royalties. Advances are not part of it.


    "Good luck, but BE CAREFUL!"

    Thanks as always. I have done a lot of research on EC and other places. I have also listened to your advice about the call for submissions and the information that writers want to see. I do appreciate all of it.

    Amy

  22. #22
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    30% is one of the lowest royalty rates I'm aware of for ebooks. 35% seems to be the absolute minimum, with EC's 37.5% being more the norm and a few houses going to 40%.

    I strongly urge you to raise the rate to at least 37.5; there are so many houses out there, a lot of ebooks erotica/erorom writers (including myself; I have five published books with Ellora's Cave and another releasing next month) wouldn't even consider submitting to a startup with such a low rate. (Not that I generally believe writers should submit to startups anyway; I don't, at all.)

    I'm sure you're enthusiastic, and hey, at least you do have experience running a home-based business, which a lot of startups don't have. But I really urge you to at least work as an editor for a different house for six months or so to get some experience behind you before you open your doors. Epublishers are just like any other small business, in that there are pitfalls and legal confusions and the vast majority of them fail within the first year or so of business.

    I wish you luck.
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  23. #23
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I see 35-40% most often, but I think a few others go down to 30. Ultimately volume is as important as percentage. Focussing on short stories is an interesting idea, especially if wedded to formating for portable devices.
    Emily Veinglory

  24. #24
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    PBP--I'm glad you're taking this stuff seriously, and you've got me to turn around--trust me, that ain't easy! I have a reputation for Crusader Rabbit snarkage to uphold here, dang it!

    I hope you will stay on and check out the various forums. I've been a selling pro since the 80s, an editor since the 90s, and I'm still learning stuff. You'll find AW to be the best forum on the Net for helping people in a positive, troll-free venue.

    Now we have heard others say they know what they're getting into, heck, I've said it myself, and they have hit surprise rough spots. Please don't be afraid to come here if you need help.

    DecQuinn has a good point on raising the royalty rate to bring in the writers. You want to attract the good ones! Assume they're going to take their stuff to EC first; offer them a competitive alternative.

    Getting the word out, once you have stuff to sell, is the next step. You want to be bookmarked by the EC fans who have read their whole backlist and are looking for new stuff.

    Believe it or not, getting noticed by Smart Bitches was a very good thing. I expect your web traffic will show a spike for the last couple days. They once mentioned a single page on my site, and I got a sizable number bump that week from their 5K readers. They may be skeptical, but once you get your legs, you'll find their blog to be very useful indeed.

    E-writers will want to know how the books will be sold, so mentioning the downloading, how they will be paid, and addressing all the issues that have been raised here will assure them that you are the real deal.

    And hey--put in a logo link to your soap site! As mentioned before, I have a fatal weakness for hand made soaps, as do others; they really are the best. I hope you'll see a bump in sales for all this traffic. Perhaps you've a romantic line of sexy suds that would be good to showcase?

    Your house's name--I just found out--is the same as a that of a Canadian printer, though your addy has those handy hypens in place. Mention that and ask visitors to bookmark you so they don't end up at the wrong business.

    And again-- GOOD LUCK!
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 09-03-2008 at 08:54 PM.

  25. #25
    Brian Boru brianm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    PBP--I'm glad you're taking this stuff seriously, and you've got me to turn around--trust me, that ain't easy! I have a reputation for Crusader Rabbit snarkage to uphold here, dang it!
    Alas, you must face the fact that you also have a reputation for being helpful, respectful, kind, and knowledgeable.

    Oh, but I do enjoy the snarkiness when it appears in its full glory. Makes me positively gleeful at times. Positively.
    "This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever." Sigmund Freud (about the Irish)

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