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January 28, 2005

Atlanta Nights and PublishAmerica
Posted by Teresa at 07:00 AM * 276 comments

I’m about to be internet-deprived for a couple of days. The timing is frustrating. After all the time I’ve spent helping the usual gang of SFWA scamhunters gnaw on PublishAmerica—the company I was mainly talking about in Follow the Money—we’re finally seeing some results. The Washington Post has done an article about PA, as has Hillel Italie in the Associated Press. This is from BookZonePro’s version of the story:

Authors Allege Publisher Deception

A little-known Maryland publisher with a large author list is provoking an outcry from some of those authors, who claim the company engages in practices both gouging and misleading.

The authors charge that Publish America presents itself as a traditional house, but acts like a vanity publisher. Nearly two dozen writers who contacted PW had a range of complaints, including that Publish America sells books to which it no longer holds the rights; offers authors only a 30% discount; doesn’t pay royalties it owes; engages in slipshod editing and copyediting; sets unreasonable list prices; and makes little effort (and has had little success) in getting books into bookstores. PA has been nonresponsive to complaints, said the authors (most of whom have not been published by traditional houses) and refuses to release authors from their contracts.
On top of that, Atlanta Nights has just come out. Here’s my review of it, originally posted at Lulu.com:
The world is full of bad books written by amateurs. But why settle for the merely regrettable? Atlanta Nights is a bad book written by experts.

“Travis Tea,” bless his nonexistent little heart, is the umbrella pseudonym of a group of professional authors and editors, mostly drawn from the SF and fantasy field, who each wrote a chapter or two in order to produce a book that superficially resembles a plausible novel, but gets worse the longer you look at it. The finished work was launched in the direction of Frederick, Maryland, where it successfully completed its mission of eliciting an offer of publication from a “traditional publisher.”

Now, through the miracle of the Internet plus digital offset printing, this unique and cherished work can be yours.

The prose is an education all by itself. The chapter numbering has to be seen to be believed. Watch out for the two wildly disparate chapters written by two different authors who were independently working from the same segment of plot outline. Then there are the characters who die in one chapter and wander back into the action in a later one, and the characters that idly change race, gender, and motivation (it was a very sparse plot outline). Space, time, and causality are trifled with shamelessly. The especially beloved and completely incoherent Chapter 34 was written by a text generator that had been fed some earlier chapters.

But the book’s moment of true genius comes, not when one of the characters wakes up and realizes that all of the foregoing chapters were a dream, but when that happens AND THEN THE BOOK CONTINUES ANYWAY.

(Kudos to author James D. Macdonald, wicked mastermind of this group writing project, for coming up with a plot twist that’s even more appalling than the “it was all a dream” ending.)

Buy this book, and guarantee yourself hour upon hour of innocent and educational fun.
Atlanta Nights did indeed begin as a sting operation which a bunch of SF and fantasy writers pulled on PublishAmerica, but it’s also a meditation on the many ways a novel can be bad. It’s available from Lulu.com. And it’s the occasion of my first published fiction—though I’m not going to admit which chapter is mine. Besides, I like Chapter 2 better:
The Atlanta sun slanted low in the west, rain showers predicted for later that afternoon, then clearing. Bruce Lucent looked from the side window of his friend’s shiny Maserati sports car as they wheeled their way westward against the afternoon traffic.

“I’m glad you could give me a ride,” Bruce Lucent muttered, his pain-worn face reddened by the yellow sunlight. “What with my new car all smashed and all.”

His old friend, Isadore, shook his massive head at him. “We know how it must be to have a lot of money but no working car,” he said, the harsh Macon County drawl of his voice softened by his years in Atlanta high society. “It’s my pleasure to bring you back to your fancy apartment, and we’re all so happy that y’all is still alive. Y’all could have been killed in that dreadful wreck.” Isadore paused to put on the turn signal before making a safe turn across rush-hour traffic into the parking lot of Bruce Lucent’s luxury apartment building. “Y’all’ll gets a new car on Monday.”

“I don’t know how I’ll be able to drive it with my arm in a cast,” Bruce Lucent shoots back. “It’s lucky I wasn’t killed outright like so many people are when they have horrid automobile wrecks.”

“Fortunately, fast and efficient Emergency Medical Services, based on a program founded by Lyndon Baines Johnson the 36th President of the United States helped y’all survive an otherwise, deadly crash,” Isadore chuckled. He nodded his head toward the towering apartment building, in the very shadow of Peachtree Avenue, where Bruce lived his luxurious life. So young, yet so wealthy, based on his skills as an expert software developer.

“I don’t feel very fortunate,” Bruce complained as his friend helped him from the low-slung red car, “I hurt all over and I don’t remember a thing after I left that bar over on Martin Avenue. I wouldn’t be surprised if the police didn’t want to talk to me about what happened. Not that I could help them because I don’t remember anything” he added as an afterthought.

Isadore pulled the collapsible wheelchair that he’d bought at Saint Irene’s Hospital from the open trunk of his new Maserati and unfolded it on the curb beside where Bruce painfully stood, his recent ordeal only recently over. He helped his chum sit in the new wheelchair, and then pushed it rapidly toward the gleaming doors of the high-rise tower. The soft Southern breeze blew the sweet scent of magnolias over them as he said, “This is certainly something new for me.”

“Never say that,” he replied.

Isadore shook his head, his red ponytail flipping in the soft breeze, as he wheeled his best friend into the lobby, past the uniformed security guard named Amos who saluted them and then into the elevator to the fourteenth floor of the luxury high-rise apartment building, recently built in downtown Atlanta.

The longtime security guard saluted the pair as they passed. What lucky people, he thought, so young and rich, they can afford to live here. Not like me. I have to live across town and wear a uniform and salute the young rich kids who make more money in a minute than I can make in my whole life.

Bruce thought that the dark elevator walls were closing in on him and despite the chill in the air-conditioned air he could still smell the flower smells from outside. The upward elevator started slowly into motion as if it was reluctance to climb the hundreds of feet. “Hurry up,” Bruce cried aloud.

Bruce pounded on the arm of his recently acquired wheelchair as his friend asked “Bruce, what’s the matter? Is y’all so impatient to get home that the elevator is too slow for you? Imagine if y’all had to take the emergency stares in your condition” he chuckled.

Bruce glared at his friend who stood behind him and the wheelchair as the elevator hissed to a halt on the fourteenth floor, the dark paneled doors sliding open with the sound of well-oiled machinery, and then he was pushed by his friend out into the hall and then down to the door labeled 1414, his apartment door.

Bruce searched his pockets for the key that he knew he did not have. “Dammit,” he said, and then, “They kept everything even my wallet at the hospital, how am I going to get it?”

Isadore knocked once at the door, and then it at once swung open. The stunning vision inside, an echo of pulchritude in a bright red dress, seemed to take their breath away, it was Penelope Urbain, Bruce Lucent’s longtime and very beautiful girlfriends. Penelope, who had walked in the door of Lucent Software, asking for a job, and a good thing is being that she did, because he had one for her, a position, so to speak, that only a beautiful woman could fulfill, and she filled the role perfectly, as the beautiful girlfriend for those social occasions when he needed to appear on the front page of the newspaper with a beautiful woman on his arm. Everyone looked and thought he was lucky, but it wasn’t just luck it was planning that he fell in love with this beautiful woman and her with him. He gave her his glance and she gave him hers.

Bruce looked at her and whistled, thanking whatever god was listening that the auto accident that he had apparently been in had spared his family jewels for he wasn’t one to put to pasture his rampant desire for his stunning young woman, at least not yet. He snapped his fingers and snarled, “Take me inside, Isadore, or you’re fired from my software company.”

Something like anger stirred in Isadore’s breast, yet Isadore laughed at Bruce’s favorite joke as he pushed the millionaire software developer indoctrinated by New Agers into the stunning studio apartment that he rented in this exclusive high-rise tower. The walls were white as was the carpet. The walls met the ceiling at right angles, where glistening mirrors in gold frames studded the walls.

Penelope Urbain had been a poor girl she knew, though she pretended to have grown up rich and happy in the suburbs of Atlanta it was all a lie. Now she looked into one of the many mirrors on that studded the walls of her boyfriend Bruce’s apartment and liked what she saw. Two hazel eyes with perky eyebrows, red like the hair of her head and other places, met her smoky gaze in the mirror. She smoothed the hair back from her elfin ears, making it tumble down her back, past her shoulders, broad but not too broad, broad enough to support the luxurious breasts that filled the front of her scarlet sun dress, glowing in the afternoon sun, the hot Georgia orb of fire, that came through the window, as she admired her trim shape and flat tummy, in the mirror. She looked, she thought, like the bad-girl heroine of a tawdry romance novel.
Three guesses who wrote it.

For more info on PA, check out the Neverending PublishAmerica Thread on AbsoluteWrite. Lots of interesting stuff there.

Comments on Atlanta Nights and PublishAmerica:
#1 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 07:37 AM:

Metafilter picked up the PA sting story yesterday: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/39054

#2 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 07:40 AM:

.... words fail me.

This is one of the funniest things I've encountered in a while.

#3 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 08:10 AM:

>Three guesses who wrote it.

I'm going with Yog Sysop, but that may just be the pain from the wincing I was doing speaking.

#4 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 08:46 AM:

I know who wrote it, but that's because he confessed to the LBJ reference on another board. :)

That's a beautiful job of looking bad. I think I might ACTUALLY buy Atlanta Nights, just so I can have it as the eternal reference on what not to do.

#5 ::: Cathy ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:19 AM:

I'm sure it will be on the next PW and LJ bestsellers list and am purchasing a copy for our library right away.

#6 ::: scott h andrews ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:22 AM:

i'm betting on Yog as well -- i think the "and then" construct gives it away. he could have also used "gray" and "grey" to denote different shades, but that might have confused the poor folks at PA. :)

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:23 AM:

Darn, that was fast, Connie.

And you know something? Here I am, knowing that's a Bad Book, but still wishing it well and hoping that lots of people buy copies and read it and love it.

That's the basic Author Reaction, the one that PublishAmerica relies on. Thing is, I'm made of stern stuff. I'm not going to buy a hundred copies and try to set up bookstore signings and sell them out of the trunk of my car. Others... the people who went with PA thinking they were a real publisher ... may not have that strength.

If someone wants to buy four copies and send them with fifty bucks to the Pulitzer committee, I won't say no.

(The proceeds from the first 32 copies sold will go to buying an ISBN so this book can be available in brick-and-mortar bookstores from sea to shining sea. All the rest of the profits will go to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund.)

#8 ::: mistri ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:45 AM:

How many copies have sold so far, do you know?

I've bought one.

#9 ::: Anne KG Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:52 AM:

... his recent ordeal only recently over.

That says it all, really (and yet, there's so much in there, it's amazing). Thank you for a smile to start my morning.

#10 ::: Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:59 AM:

the afternoon sun, the hot Georgia orb of fire

Awesome. I think I'll write dear Governor Perdue and suggest that as our new state motto. They could squeeze it in on the flag, right under the seal.

#11 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 10:20 AM:

Jon Hansen wrote:
Awesome. I think I'll write dear Governor Perdue and suggest that as our new state motto. They could squeeze it in on the flag, right under the seal.

Good idea! It's been at least ten minutes since the last Georgia flag upheaval, so we're overdue for another.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 10:54 AM:

The press release is up now at PRweb. If y'all'll link to that, w'all'll appreciate it.

#13 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 11:08 AM:

"It's with mixed feelings that I read the aforementioned text with a fluttery feeling in my solar plexus," said Tom uneditedly.

#14 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 11:49 AM:

"Why, I remember, way back, when pens used to jam and skip all the time," said Ed Jones.

"Things sure are different in 1973!" said Bill Smithers, grinning.

(from "An Evening in 1973" by Ed Subitzky, in National Lampoon. Memory filter applied.)

#15 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 12:18 PM:

"Naked Came the Stranger" meets "A Man in Full" as executed by students in Bonehead English.

What fun! Does the blurb say anything like: "Bestselling author of 'The Eye of Argon' skewers contemporary society and the software New Economy?"

#16 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Jim, remember that, no matter how one ascends to that tectonically questionable escarpment, being a NYT Bestselling Author is Forever.

And it does, regardless of what some have claimed, change your life. My hot flashes are coming about once a week now.

'Scuse me, have to go shopping.

#17 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 03:35 PM:

When Karen Funk Blocher, the not-rich, heavilily-in-debt wannabe fantasy writer with the almost accounting degree, first saw an excerpt from Atlanta Nights. She thought I can write worse than that. And she could. Worse than that part, anyway. Typing the two-fingerwed way shed typed since high school at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, NY in the seventies (but the high school is still there) she started typing on the computer at work a new IBM something-or-other her boss recently picked up for Worldwide Travel. Its easy, she thought, as the words took up it's box on the screen.

Then she was eaten by a giant sapce goat. Good thing, too.

The end?

#18 ::: Jena Snyder ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 04:15 PM:

Aw, no fair. Come out of that anonymity closet and 'fess up -- which chapter is yours? (I'm Chapter 23 and damn proud of all the sins I committed, hee hee.)

#19 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 04:16 PM:

at high school at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, NY

Seriously? Me, too! Go Hornets! (Or, err, were we Wasps? No, pretty sure Hornets, despite the school colors of green and white.) Go F-M!

#20 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 04:24 PM:

The first comment on the book's page at Lulu says the writers are "sic [sic] and bored" asks "Is this sic [sic] humor?"

Which, of course, makes my day.

#21 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 04:36 PM:

Ms Dell said:The first comment on the book's page at Lulu says the writers are "sic [sic] and bored" asks "Is this sic [sic] humor?"

It's no longer the first review from the top. Here it is, in all its glory (well, minus the three thumbs-down icons, because I couldn't cut and paste them), and note that it actually appears to have been edited since the first time I read it, since I can understand it now:

Dislike the principle! by Bobby
Fri 28 Jan 2:46 pm EST 2005

Truly, WELL PROVEN WRITERS HAVE SHOWN THEY ARE ( SIC ) AND BORED. Many new writers use Lulu to start a possible writing carrier. Your thrust at PA shows your uncare as to writers trying to come through by using Lulu. Yes, thank you Lulu for being here.

But, this comical sad offering HIGHLIGHTS THE BOREDOM OF KNOW CREATIVE WRITERS. Is this sic humor? A joke created from over drinking and boredom?

It certainly gets my 3 thumbs down.

You are using Lulu as a joke also...IT SHOWS!

Wow! Your first negative review, folks! How does it feel?

#22 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 04:38 PM:

Er...not sure what went wrong there, but the review is everything between "Dislike the principle!" and "IT SHOWS!"

#23 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 05:18 PM:

Alex Cohen quotes me:at

high school at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, NY

and asks,

Seriously? Me, too! Go Hornets! (Or, err, were we Wasps? No, pretty sure Hornets, despite the school colors of green and white.) Go F-M!

Hornets is right. The school paper was the Hornets' Nest. Class of 1975 here.

In other news, I was not really eaten by a giant space goat.

#24 ::: ers ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 05:32 PM:

Each and every one of the contributors to that soon-to-be-classic tome Atlanta Nights should be sentenced to competing in the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition -- n perpetuity or in rotation, depending on the other, er, contestants in a given year.

Audience members are warned to use the bathroom before the competition begins. You might laugh *that* hard.

This is a cogent an example of a forced tour as ever these four eyes has beheld. Oh yes indeed.

#25 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 05:32 PM:

The school paper was the Hornets' Nest. Class of 1975 here.

Ah, by the time I went ('88), it was The Sting. I worked on it, clearly the beginnings of a sordid career in writing. The punk intelligentsia's alternative paper was The Stink one year, The Pigbag another, and my senior year it was The Lukewarm: The Average Paper for Mediocre People. Good times.

You know, F-M has its own observatory now?

Umm... back to your regularly scheduled topic.

#26 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 05:41 PM:

Oh, how marvelous. Kudos to all the chapter authors . . .

In other news, Karen Funk Blocher? after being regurgatated by the gaint space goat that ate her and then spit her out again which is regurgatation, after that Karen Funk Blocher developd protective amneesia and forgot all about it and denied it ever even happend, which was a good thing since she would have been zapped by death rays while revealing all on the talk show (s) that would have booked her to talk about her bestseeling expoze, How I Was Eaten by a Gaint Space Goat and Spitten Out Again (i.e. Regurtatated).

#27 ::: Karen Funk Blocher ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 06:39 PM:

Leslie-

I bow to your superior awfulness. At least I would, were I not busy forgetting my regurgitation.

Alex--

No, I didn't know that. Haven't been to Manlius in a few decades now. Our alternative rag was the Mycenae Gazelles, edited by the "mayor" of Mycenae.

#28 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 06:41 PM:

One correction: we were not all SF and fantasy writers.

At least two minor children of writers, who were not themselves writers, pitched in.

#29 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 06:54 PM:

You know, I used to be a good writer. Never so great at fiction, but I could write engaging prose when I needed to, and I had some capacity for observation, and a good ear for pastiche and comedy. True, I never really had much ambition, and never sought to be a novelist, but....

But I look at Atlanta Nights and I think, "God, what control. This is not 'bad' writing--this is a virtuosic display of such fine control over the writer's tools, that, uh, good ... -making ... and ... aw, crap." See? I can't even express the combined sense of delight and dismay reading this makes me feel. I bet there's a word for "combined delight and dismay," and I don't even know it.

Fifteen years of "Enter a value for displacement in the Displacement field and press Enter or click OK" and "HP-UX 11 requires patchset 04112" have totally destroyed my ability to write as a means of self-expression.

#30 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 07:01 PM:

Jon Hanson writes (quoting the author of Chapter 2):

the afternoon sun, the hot Georgia orb of fire

Awesome. I think I'll write dear Governor Perdue and suggest that as our new state motto. They could squeeze it in on the flag, right under the seal.

It could also be a good name for the giant tin peach that surmounts the state on the back of Georgia's quarter.

#31 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 07:45 PM:
Er...not sure what went wrong there, but the review is everything between "Dislike the principle!" and "IT SHOWS!"

Paragraphs, as determined by blank lines, break <i>talics tags in MT comment boxes. You either need to reasssert them for each new paragraph, or link the paragraphs together using <p>aragraph tags or some such.

#32 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 07:58 PM:

"Atlanta Nights" is surely the best piece of bad fiction that I've ever read. And the whole PublishAmerica/sting operation has kept me entertained all week. It's possible that I'm experiencing schadenfreude (sp?) -- I never knew it could be so enjoyable.

Some of my favourite bits:

Chapter 10

A commodious, confident cloak room was standing discretely behind the double door, for coats, but was empty on this lovely, gorgeous, beautiful morning.

Such a lovely sentence!

"I will, and he will," exerted her.
"You won't and he won't," claimed he.
"I will, and he will," remonstrated he.
"You won't," explained she, in an explanatory tone of voice.

Who could fail to love writing of this quality?

The first Chapter 12

Penelope fluttered, her corn flower blue eyes still stuck to the tray.

An image that will stay with me for a long time.

Chapter 34

I am so silky and braid shoulders. At sixty-six, men with a few feet away form their languid gazes.

Actually, the whole of Chapter 34 is a delight, but I particularly loved the beginning of it (when I hadn't quite figured out that it was completely random).

Chapter 41

He slung the handful of pills in an overhand arc toward the direction of the designer wastebasket, watching them soar through the luminous light of the Ptolemies World Classic omnidirectional task light

It's the 'omnidirectional task light' bit that got me -- a very pleasing phrase to say over and over again whilst brushing one's hair.

I'll go now. Just wanted to say 'well done' to the jolly conspirators.

#33 ::: Carlos ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 08:12 PM:

Wow. I am in awe. It ranks up there with Tom Rottemeyer's A Faucet of Disobedience.

#34 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:03 PM:

Is there any chance of this work of demented genius being published in Britain? (IIRC, Lulu don't ship to Britain). I want a copy.

#35 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 09:30 PM:

Gaaaaaaaah!!!! Make the awful pain that's making me scream "Gaaaaaaaaah!" stop!!!

Alex

#36 ::: Andrhia ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2005, 11:48 PM:

Oh. My. Lord. I am in tears reading this excerpt. I think I have to buy my own copy.

I have to wonder how much of your typical slush pile looks exactly like this, too.

#37 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 12:26 AM:

The breasts were a dead giveaway, Macdonald.

#38 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 01:17 AM:

Oh dear.

her corn flower blue eyes still stuck to the tray.

Hybrid grapes, maybe?

#39 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 03:19 AM:

nnand the use of "he grinned." I guessed it was Yog.

My special bugaboo: The grinning of whole sentences. Next--the hissing of whole sentences, she admonished.

I declined to play in that minefield, afraid that working hard at such awfullness would stick to my prose style forever. But I am grateful (not to say GREATful) to those with more fortitude. Well done.

Jane

#40 ::: Sara E. ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 03:39 AM:

Oh my God, that's just too damn funny.

#41 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:00 AM:

And next, write an entry for the Eurovision Song Context....

#42 ::: pianoman5 ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:17 AM:

Well done, Travis Tea, Atlanta Nights is surely one of this decade's finest additions to the literary canon.

But I think it's time the guys 'fessed up. You wrote 'The DaVinci Code' too, didn't you?

#43 ::: Vera Nazarian ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 06:49 AM:

And now, the back cover of ATLANTA NIGHTS is rich with blurb-a-licious goodness!

Look here to see the blurbs.

#44 ::: Richard Cobbett ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 07:00 AM:

The Eye of Argon still slightly wins out in the bad prose stakes, if only because nothing in the whole English language will ever be able to top the line...

“You"; ejaculated the Ecordian in a pleased tone'

...but that was one damn funny bad book. Kudos, especially for stabbing at PA in the process.

#45 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 07:44 AM:

Is there any plan to enter this en-mass into the Bulwer-Lytton contest? Would be doubly amusing - and an extra layer of sting on Publish America (yes, I know it's PublishAmerica , but Publish America is the one that really needs googlebombing)

#46 ::: mistri ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 08:29 AM:

Lulu do ship to the UK - that's where I am, and I've ordered from there before. I have a one to two week wait for my book at the rate I paid for it.

#47 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 10:58 AM:

Ray Radlein, thank you.

#48 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 01:54 PM:

As the footer in today's slashdot reminds us:

"A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction."

-- William Faulkner

A little Googling provides attribution, for the above:

"Recalled on his death 6 July 1962"

and refers to the bio in the Columbia Encyclopedia.

#49 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 01:58 PM:

"He threw her his glance and she threw him hers."

I think that's rather sweet, really.

#50 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:11 PM:

I ordered this on Thurs when I saw the link, but Lulu didn't make it easy.

#51 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:14 PM:

Jim, if you need someone to set the bookstore version, mi quark es su quark.

#52 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:26 PM:

Please don't make fun of "Naked Came The Stanger", of which of have extremely fond memories. Granted, I was 12 when I found my parents' copy, and if you remember the cover you'll forgive me.

#53 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:34 PM:

DonBoy:

I'm not making fun of "Naked Came the Stranger." I'm hinting at a common type of "chain story" origin.

In 1969, as an elaborate joke on the book industry, the successful editor Mike McGrady assembled a group of roughly 20 writers to create the worst sex novel in publishing history. Though each member of the conspiracy wrote a chapter independently of the others, the resulting book --published under the pseudonym "Penelope Ash" -- quickly became a national bestseller (over 100,000 copies in hard cover alone).

McGrady's chief instruction to the distributed authorship as: "There will be an unremitting emphasis on sex. Also, true excellence in writing will be blue-pencilled into oblivion."

The parallel is clear! Except, of course, that blue pencils vanished in the blue-pencil mine disaster of 1973, and we have to use word processing software and collaborationware to achieve the same result today.


#54 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 04:58 PM:

Anais Nin complained that the man she was writing her erotica for had much the same requirements.

#55 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 07:34 PM:

There's a Poetry Contest going on which is apparently inspired by the same sort of urge which struck the authors of Atlanta Nights. In this case, it was a poem submitted to Poetry.com in an attempt to elicit a rejection.

#56 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 11:20 PM:

On the Lulu site for Atlanta Nights, there's an option for email that page to a friend. I sure hope that was also permitted for those who weren't considered friends as I'd sure hate to see Larry, Willem, and Miranda miss out on what they're not publishing. Of course, I expect Miranda to make cutting remarks about it.

#57 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 11:28 PM:

JvP: Also, true excellence in writing will be blue-pencilled into oblivion.

I recall it quoted at the time as "Any semblance of literary quality will be....", but that may be the amplification of memory.

Note also that NCtS came out when everybody was going ape over trash of which Jacquelyne Susann was probably the highest-quality example. Atlanta Nights has a wider range of targets.

#58 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2005, 11:56 PM:

Now I know that those of you who have been giving aspiring authors "permission to write badly" really meant it.

#59 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2005, 10:39 AM:

Oh dear God. (I think I'm addressing Cthulhu here, not the unpronouncable tetragram.)

I kept expecting Fafnir, Giblets, and the Medium Lobster to show up. They're certainly vivid enough ...

You guys (I speak in the addressing-the-authors voice) must surely realize that if this does go on to become a national bestseller because everybody in fandom buys a dozen copies, it will raise the bar for the rest of us? And not in a good way.

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2005, 01:46 PM:

I wonder if I can get it in sheets? I bind books, and it seems ideal for a hand binding using the finest in non-archival materials and techniques. Wood glue and newspaper. High-acid paper.

Buying it bound and rebinding it would be more trouble than the joke is worth - rebinding perfect bindings is a route to losing the will to live.

I could print out the RTF, of course, but I'd hate to breach copyright on such an important and historical work...

#61 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2005, 05:59 PM:

abi, if you want, I could give you permission to print out a copy of the .rtf for personal use, to wit, to make a copy on high-acid newsprint &c.

#62 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2005, 03:19 PM:

James,

Yes, please, may I have permission. I promise to do a cross-grained binding on non-archival paper in glorious shades of purple (like the prose). If I get it together in time, I'll even exhibit it at Worldcon. (I'm doing a couple of other bindings for the con anyway.)

#63 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2005, 06:53 PM:

Abi, you have permission to make that book. Do you have the .rtf text?

While it's not required, if you feel like making two, and donating one to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund for auctioning, I would think you had done a good thing.

Oh ... Atlanta Nights has an ISBN now: 1-4116-2298-7

#64 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 01:35 AM:

James,

I have the .rtf, yes. I downloaded it off of one of Teresa's links, because I just had to see how bad it was. I am impressed.

I don't think I'll have time to make two in the near future (I bind in my spare time, and I've already committed to doing some work for the con). I'd like to do the bind for the fun of doing it, rather than to end up with another bound book, so a charity auction is an ideal final destination.

So, an alternative suggestion: after Worldcon, I'd be happy to donate the book to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund for auction. That way I get to do the bind, fill my display space at the art show, fail to lumber myself with another binding, and do something good for charity.

Fab.

#65 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 08:40 AM:

May one engage in a preauction for this edition? It will, I am certain, be very handsomely bound indeed.

I would like to hand it on to my grandchildren, right after I advise them that I've left my estate to the cats' home, but that this, if used as a negative template, will teach them all they will ever need to know about writing, and hence will be of far more value than the family estate.

Sealed bids, starting at one hundred dollars, US?

#66 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 10:14 AM:

That sounds like a wonderful plan, Abi. I approve wholeheartedly.

#67 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 12:21 PM:

Good. I already have a binding style in mind. It will be a half binding (spine and corner pieces in purple leather, remaining cover in purple paper), but in a highly skewed style. I can't bring myself to do a binding whose structure is as bad as the text, so it will actually feel good in the hands, open well, and be readable. I know that this is a failing; I should steel myself to match the nadir achieved by the writers. I admit my unworthiness and apologise most humbly, but make no promise of amendment.

Dave, be aware that I will be using materials that are at best not archivally tested, and at worst archivally hostile, so your grandkids may find it less beautiful than you do. I don't think it will come apart in much under a century (archival techniques aim at about a 400-year life, so falling short is still lasting long), but the paper may yellow well in advance of that.
The adhesives I will be using won't be reversible, either, so future generations will not be able to rebind it easily when it becomes a priceless historical relic.

I presume James (or some other co-conspirator...I mean co-author) will handle the bids. I hope he can arrange for the various contributors to sign it as well. There are clearly some logistics to arrange, but since I need to bind it first, and want to display it at the Worldcon art show in August, these matters are not pressing.

#68 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 04:34 PM:

I know that it's at one of these links, but I can't track it down - aren't the proceeds of the Lulu edition going somewhere helpful as well?

#69 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 05:21 PM:

julia: Yes, the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund.

#70 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 05:37 PM:

Cross-grained high-acid binding? Ouch. Perfect.

If the book becomes a walloping bestseller, we could reissue it with a cover that uses embossing on a human face, then make sure it's embossed slightly off-register. That's guaranteed to look dreadful.

#71 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 06:23 PM:

On the subject of Special Presentation Copies:

There's a famous edition of Fahrenheit 451 printed on fire-resistant material and bound in aluminum, the idea being to present it as a fireproof book. Obviously, what is glacé for the goose is flambé for her significant other:

A flash paper edition would be nearly impossible to ship, and Semtex boards would attract attention from many wrong people. Water-soluble paper is printable, however. For the boards, I'd suggest compressed sodium bicarb in a sealant . . . or maybe just plain sodium. Burning Atlanta indeed.

(And I recall that Bill Gibson published a digitally self-destructing chapbook awhile back; Whitmore doubtless has the details.)

#72 ::: Stefan Joness ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 06:51 PM:

Description of Gibson's self-destructing poem, "Agrippa."

And the text.

#73 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 08:52 PM:

Tracina, thank you - I wanted to include that when I linked to the book as a reason to buy it even if you'd already seen the online files, but of course wasn't organized enough to have kept the reference.

#74 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2005, 09:49 PM:

That was the Limited Editions Club version of 451, Mike. There was also a small run (200 copies) of the first edition bound in "Johns-Manville Quintera, an asbestos material with exceptional resistance to pyrolysis" -- much scarcer and more valuable. (Trivia question -- what other book had a small limited edition bound in asbestos? It was even a rough asbestos material, much more likely to cause lung cancer [speaking of hostile binding materials!])

#75 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 12:17 AM:

It was even a rough asbestos material, much more likely to cause lung cancer [speaking of hostile binding materials!])

La Dame aux Camellias? No, wrong disease.

#76 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 01:07 AM:

Tom: Stephen King's Firestarter? (Educated guess, possibly backed up by subconscious memory.)

#77 ::: Brook ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 03:44 AM:

Mary wrote:
> One correction: we were not all SF and fantasy writers.
> At least two minor children of writers, who were not themselves writers, pitched in.

Oh, they're writers. Not published professionally yet, but they are definitely writers.

Brook, chapter 6 (and much of chapter 28 -- Danica's is the part with the leather chair, the cows, and the Dear Jane letter)

#78 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 08:17 AM:

Yes, DavidG, though Mike's answer is much sillier.

#79 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 12:24 PM:
Cross-grained high-acid binding? Ouch. Perfect.

No, signature-sewn. (flees)

#80 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 01:36 PM:

Tom -- Fahrenheit 451 was also printed on asbestos, though I've never seen one and don't know if it was rough or not.

#81 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 02:33 PM:

Particulars of the edition, Janet? I've never heard of that one!

#82 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 03:47 PM:

Here are some bookstores with copies of the asbestos Fahrenheit 451 for sale - the listings have some more information. The lowest asking price is $12,500.

#83 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 08:41 PM:

Dan, that expired after an hour. I'm perfectly willing to believe that current prices on any asbestos _bound_ 451 are at that level. I'm still curious about ones _printed_ on asbestos material.

#84 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 08:58 PM:

Sorry, I missed the distinction. I can't find any information on an edition printed on asbestos other than offhand comments, so I am a little skeptical. One comment says that Vanderbilt's rare books collection had a copy, so they might have some information.

#85 ::: JackM ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 09:54 PM:

I've been sore tempted to use exerpts from Atlanta Nights in my undergrad writing class. Alas. I tried them on some shorts from the Bulwer-Lytton Contest site (www.bulwer-lytton.com), and they were unamused.

They actually tried to defend the creativity and vividness of the following:

“With listeners leaning over the velvet restraining ropes and angling for pictures, John Glenn urged them to remember Shepard's 1961 Redstone flight in its political context, when the Soviet Union was seducing world opinion with the lingerie of Earth-orbiting technology.”

Billy Cox, "Shepard Statue Honors American Space Cowboys," Florida Today, March 24, 2000.

They're clearly not ready for the apogee of badness that is your estimed production. Again, alas.

#86 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2005, 10:34 PM:

If the book becomes a walloping bestseller, we could reissue it with a cover that uses embossing on a human face, then make sure it's embossed slightly off-register. That's guaranteed to look dreadful.

Can you do one of those cut-out things too?

This, um, work is screamingly funny. I do not know who wrote this line, but I'm halfway through and it's still my favourite:

Her cheeks were almost as red as her hair already, like red Delicious apples under green leaves which were her eyes and the dark pupils were like little curled up caterpillars in the middle.

#87 ::: Simon Owens ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2005, 11:56 PM:

Does anyone know how many copies have sold as of today? I know a few days ago it was standing at 45 copies, I was just wondering if the sales picked up.

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2005, 12:57 AM:

As of right now it's sold 103 copies. It's been selling at the rate of about ten a day.

#89 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2005, 02:03 AM:

You do realise, don't you, that at 103 copies, you're already selling at about PA's average? I don't suppose this is a record - plenty of their authors (aka 'customers') probably buy that many for distribution to hapless friends and relatives - but it may be a record for actual sales to persons unrelated to the author.

#90 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2005, 12:25 PM:

PA's average sales (I don't know for sure, but I've calculated this from open sources in several different ways) is 75 copies/title.

We're doing much better (and it's now 107 copies).

Amount spent to publish this book: $0.00

Amount spent to publicize this book: $0.00

The egg on PublishAmerica's face: Priceless

#91 ::: Yvette ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 08:06 PM:

I am new to the writing market, I saw Publish America on an attached link. I guess by the sound of it, Publish America would not be a good source to consider. I just found out about poetry.com/International Library Of Poetry after the fact, I spent thousands of dollars and I am so disappointed to say the least. Has anyone had any dealings with poetry.com?

#92 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2005, 09:10 PM:

There are people who've had dealings with poetry.com, though I don't think you'll find them here.

Poetry.com is notorious.

Their MO is this: Everyone who writes a poem is a "winner." For an exorbitant rate, they'll sell you however many copies of the book with your poem in it that you want.

The only print as many as they get preorders for. Printing the book costs far less than they charge. Since the book isn't sold anywhere else, not distributed, not in any bookstores, not in any libraries, it's a pretty meaningless thing.

Poetry.com and PublishAmerica have the same business model: Both make their money by selling overpriced volumes to the authors themselves.

#93 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 05:01 AM:

Travis Tea now has an official homepage: http://sfwa.org/members/TravisTea/

He's also campaigning for a Hogu.

#94 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 06:18 AM:

Oh, how I long for the day when the fanfic link doesn't return a 404.

#95 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2005, 09:38 AM:

mistri: can I ask how much shipping to the UK cost you...?

#96 ::: Vera Nazarian ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 02:58 AM:

Ray Radlein,

The fanfic link is working fine now. :-)

And so are all the other www.travistea.com links.

Go look, enjoy! Plenty of goodies, and we're almost done with the whole site.

#97 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 04:17 AM:

Also see what Cory Doctorow posted on boingboing.net about the Viennese net.artists Monochrom's hoax:

"...we decided to send Georg Paul Thomann to Brazil. Who is Georg Paul Thomann? He is a fictitious 57-year-old Austrian avant-garde artist. We wrote his complete biography (around one hundred pages) and asked fellow artists, writers and pop theorists to write articles about his life and work, which were published as the catalogue of the exhibition...."

#98 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2005, 09:48 AM:

OMG! i just read the fanfic page!!!! it rox!!!!!

Tracina: Marry me?

#99 ::: KaraLynn ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 10:58 AM:

"It's the 'omnidirectional task light' bit that got me -- a very pleasing phrase to say over and over again whilst brushing one's hair."

LMAO...that has to be one of the funniest things i have heard in a while... :P

KL

#100 ::: OMGosh ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2005, 12:36 AM:

Thanks much for the heads up on PA. I, being a naive, never-before-published writer was seriously considering them until I typed the name into Google and came upon this site and a multitude of others!

You just averted a disaster and I thank you for it. A writer's dream should never be taken advantage of by people like PA. Then again, there is the age-old adage that "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is". Good advice still, I guess.

Any suggestions on a place to learn more about the publishing world so I don't make a bad choice in publishers???

#101 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2005, 10:59 AM:

OMGosh: some of the threads right here on this website are a good place to start. :-) Start with Displaced Advice from Jan 13, and read the stuff linked to from the entry at Neil Gaiman's blog.

Also, SFWA has some excellent advice pages. They're aimed at science fiction and fantasy writers, but much of the advice is applicable to all fiction writing.

The Speculations Rumor Mill is a good place to ask questions, and a search through the archives may turn up information on specific publishers and agents. Ditto the water cooler at Absolute Write.

There's also Preditors and Editorsfor background information on a lot of publishers and agents.

#102 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2005, 09:06 AM:

Beth: *gasp* Oh, do you mean it? Do you really mean it? Because *sniffle* of course I will! Yes, yes, I will! You've made me so happy! *sniffle* *sniffle*

Logistics may be tricky, of course, given that my husband reminded me that we'll need to find a town in the state of Connecticut that has a relaxed attitude towards multiple marriage partners. But we shall overcome!

*sniffle* I'm so happy.

#103 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 05:32 AM:

Tracina: Silly duck, of course I mean it. And whilst I agree the marriage laws are a tricky point, the more important matter concerns the zoning regulations. Happily, our property can accommodate your horses. Think of it, my dear -- the horses, the (limited) countryside, the sweet summery days spinning new fanfic tales for Travis Tea...

#104 ::: greg ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:16 AM:

i was perpexedly unshaven regarding this here stuff what with the bald face lies and all and then laughed with my outh wide open

#105 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2005, 07:50 AM:

Beth:

...turning the perfectly enormous manure pile and dreaming of Travis...

#106 ::: joooodith ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2005, 10:21 PM:

i have gotten to chap 23 and very much appreciate your literary efforts but will not be able to continue reading until i stock up on some Detrol and Depends.

there's no author listed for 12b. I would very much appreciate being informed as to who wrote it because i found it quite exceptional in a book in which it goes without saying in which every chapter has its own very extremely exception quality.

#107 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2005, 11:22 PM:

I must be among one of those more fortunate and intelligent writers. I'm only 13, but I've studied and researched extensively on the publishing industry, the markets, the craft, etc., for quite some time now.

Even I, barely even a teenager, could easily call PublishAmerica a downright sinister vanity publisher from just a look at their website. I am just appalled that thousands of aspiring authors twice or more times my age can fall for such trash, and without researching the markets, industry, and craft.

Though many of you will probably outright say that I must not know anything about the business of writing, I personally believe that I am well on my way and that I have a significant amount of knowledge in the field. But to get back on track, -Atlanta Nights- is a classic! That alone proves PA's phoniness, and my-oh-my it was such a painful read; I couldn't get past the first chapter to experience all the other inconsistencies, like the frequently-mentioned gender-changing instances supposedly present in the book.

How could these PA writers be so gullible and stupid?! Now that they're becoming more notorious, I'd just love to email PA with a lovely little computer virus to their damned computers! Would serve -them- right!

I know, I don't fit in as well with people my own age. Though I -am- interested in popular culture and contemporary culture, everyone else my age spends their spare time playing video games. So I ended up being the stray, odd-interests teenager who talks to people twice, thrice, quadrupled, etc. my age. I hang out in the Critters critique group, SF/F/H/writer/editor messageboards, writing craft webpages, and market guidelines webpages. And all I think about is writing and SF (there's other things too, but... you know?).

Sorry for the sudden ramble. The writing world is just where I have people with similar interests that I can talk to and get to know.

Sincerely,
Alan

#108 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 05:02 AM:

Alan Yee said: Even I, barely even a teenager, could easily call PublishAmerica a downright sinister vanity publisher from just a look at their website. I am just appalled that thousands of aspiring authors twice or more times my age can fall for such trash, and without researching the markets, industry, and craft.

The thing you have to bear in mind is that up until very recently it was almost impossible to find anything negative about PublishAmerica on the internet. The writers who are currently with PA would have signed their contracts months ago, when there was very little (if any) bad publicity about the company. Don't be too hard on them.

Of course, people really have no excuse now not to know how awful PA is -- but you have to bear in mind that not everyone is as comfortable with using the internet for research as you might be. I can imagine that my mother, for example, would never think of googling on "PublishAmerica" before signing up with them.

The good work being done by our esteemed hostess and others is the main reason that you can now easily find the truth about PA on-line.

#109 ::: Bll Rmsfld ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 09:07 PM:

Hrrd, pr stb t ny cmprhnsbl wrtng. wldn't rcmmnd ths bk t nyn. t s shm tht wrtng hs cm t ths typ f trsh.

#110 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:29 PM:

Hey, look at that. See the nasty drive-by? Someone's started a thread about Atlanta Nights on the PublishAmerica message board. We'll probably see more like this before it's over.

#111 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:35 PM:

Gullible? Yes, I suppose so, but the common writer's feeling is "I love my book." When someone comes along and says "I, too, love your book," the instant response is "Joy! This fellow is a capital fellow; discerning and honest!"

Stupid? No. Remember the people who put together PublishAmerica are good at what they do, and what they do is play on people's dreams. They use half-truths, weasel-words, and outright lies to create an impression. Even folks who otherwise are fairly canny can be taken in, especially if they don't know much about publishing to start with. Tell someone what they want to hear, and they'll believe you.

Take a dose of wishful thinking, add a drop of ego-stroke, and you have a recipe for sucking in folks who, in any other area, are pretty darned shrewd.

===============
Horrid,A poor stab at any comprehensible writing. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. It is a shame that writing has come to this type of trash.

I entirely agree. Atlanta Nights sucks with a loud sucking sound. It sucks so hard that it removes all the air from small rooms. Why in the world would any reasonable, responsible publishing company offer a contract to that piece of borderline-illiterate garbage?

#112 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2005, 11:36 PM:

Alan:

You write amazingly well for a thirteen year old.

I've been researching the market for novels for years before I was ready to send out any queries. So i sometimes fall into the trap of thinking, "Why the hell do people believe this stuff?"

What I have to remind myself is that many writers finish a story and grab their copy of Writer's Market. Market books like that make them think the research has already been done for them, that they can trust what's in the book absolutely.

They don't actually look into how publishing works, or why. If they join a writing community, it's mostly for the social aspects, and it's only later they start to notice there's more to the business side of publishing than they realised. This is why you get naive seeming questions like "Why Courier?" or "Why can't we submit by e-mail?" not just from newbies, but from people who are quite proficient at the prose side of writing.

That msot writing classes and critique groups focus on the prose and not the business probably doesn't help.

Someone on another forum suggested another good reason; we're taught that you can't get something for nothing. So when they're told they should pay a publisher up front, or have to pay their own copyright, or have to do all their own promotion, they think it makes sense. It doesn't sound like a scam unless you've looked into how publishing works.

It doesn't occur to them that they already paid their share by the effort of writing a novel-length manuscript. It doesn't feel like work, at least not the 'paying your dues' kind of work.

Nor do they register that the "publisher" is now, in their turn, trying to get something for nothing by not doing editing or promotion, or paying for the copyright.

#113 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 01:01 AM:

Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so cruel. I guess I didn't think long enough before posting. "Stupid" was too harsh of a word...

Anyway, now that I can see it from a more sympathetic POV, I feel bad for the PA authors who just innocently wanted to fulfill their dreams. I always feel so bad for people who are misled and taken advantage of.

I still have to agree that Atlanta Nights is a classic though ;)

#114 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 06:15 AM:

That was generously said, Alan.

#115 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 10:32 AM:

Yeah, I wouldn't have been that generous - about ANYTHING - when I was that age. Nor would any of my agemates.

Alan, you've astonished us all. Keep writing!

#116 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2005, 03:55 PM:

Hey, you probably all know this already, but this month's Locus magazine has a little article about PA and Atlanta Nights.

#117 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 07:42 PM:

>That was generously said, Alan.
>Alan, you've astonished us all. Keep writing!

Yeah, I'm not one of those stereotypical-teens who don't care about anything and have no sense of morals or feelings. "Fitting in" used to be almost impossible for me, but now I at least fit in halfway... As for the mix of reading, writing, SF/F, and popular music/movies, I truly think it makes people more sociable and accepting me now. Now if only I could create the right mix of all that...

School has interfered with my train of thought on writing. I know that school is necessary and crucial, so hopefully after college, I can get a job that's roughly connected to books and writing. It _would_ be cool to have a job as a paid slush reader; or maybe not, since I do know Carina Gonzalez of RoF reads slush for free. Even if it was unpaid, I would still live with it if I had the opportunity for the position (though being paid to be involved in SF/F would be nice too...).

More realistically, however, I just MIGHT be a noticed and accepted member of the SF/F writer circles... though I might not get rich or sell enough to write full-time. Of course I have higher-up dreams, but my first goal is to have any old SpecFic reader, writer, or editor to be able to say, "Hey, that's Alan Yee..."

I hope everyone reading this realizes what kind of a kid I really am. My bookshelves are literally crammed with everything imaginable. In fact, right by my computer or readily accessible in my room are the following books/collections (read at your own risk, because a 13-year-old reading all these may be shocking to some): Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, Dune, Tolkien, Realms of Fantasy (April '05 issue), the first 4 F&SF issues of '05, Cemetery Dance #50, Feb-Apr '05 issues of Writer's Digest, the 2 most recent Writers of the Future anthologies, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (by Gardner Dozois, Stanley Schmidt, and Sheila Williams), Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, and the 2 most recent volumes of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror.

Sorry if this shocks some of you. This is isn't "normal" for kids. But then again, what is "normal" in a world of crazy psychos and crazy "dictators of normalities"?

Another precaution: as you probably have noticed, I tend to ramble and keep talking until all my thoughts and insights are revealed (hence another long post by Alan Yee).

#118 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2005, 10:17 PM:

Alan Yee:

Don't stop. People have been telling me all my life that I "tend to ramble and keep talking..."

Eventually, they started buying what I submitted, paying me to give keynote speeches, and allowing me to teach several thousand people in classrooms.

I am still, after the age of 50, learning how to maintain the balance between saying what I want and not saying more than an audience wants to hear.

My first professional sale was a crossword puzzle for a Science Fiction Book club ad, which paid about $200, when I was 12. The Science Fiction and Fantasy community has people who started selling younger than that.

The sky is not the limit.

Don't stop.

#119 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 10:01 AM:

Alan, if you think school interferes with your writing, you might give some thought to home schooling. If you are as responsible and self-motivated as you sound, and if your family can afford it, there are decent distance-ed programs out there that lead to a high school diploma -- without the lockstep social indoctrination programs of your typical public school. Check out the University of Oklahoma Independent Learning High School at http://ouilhs.ou.edu/; that's where my daughter's taking her classes. There are lots of otheres out there, too.

#120 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 12:55 PM:

I hope everyone reading this realizes what kind of a kid I really am. My bookshelves are literally crammed with everything imaginable. In fact, right by my computer or readily accessible in my room are the following books/collections (read at your own risk, because a 13-year-old reading all these may be shocking to some): Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey, Dune, Tolkien, Realms of Fantasy (April '05 issue), the first 4 F&SF issues of '05, Cemetery Dance #50, Feb-Apr '05 issues of Writer's Digest, the 2 most recent Writers of the Future anthologies, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (by Gardner Dozois, Stanley Schmidt, and Sheila Williams), Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, and the 2 most recent volumes of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror.

In other words, you're a fan. You should have seen my collection of stuff when I was 13. SF was "kid stuff," you see, so the explicit sex scenes in some of it got right past my parents...not that they would have censored anyway; my mother bought me Dhalgren when I was 17.

And if you think that's a long post...well. There are certain others here who. Well. I think I'll stop now.

#121 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 04:40 PM:

Alan, what you need to know is that your reading list and your concerns are normal for 13 year olds. I had a similar reading list at 13: so did the nice fellow I married, and both our brothers, and our children, and their friends. There is a whole world of people out there who are just similar enough to share with and different enough to be interesting. A friend of my mother's told me that someday I'd turn a corner and there'd be someone who understood all my references and could top them all, and it did happen, in 10th grade.


Are you in middle school or high school at this moment (at your age it could be either, depending on how your district allocates the grades, when your birthday is, etc.)? If you're not in high school yet, know that it usually gets better (depending, again, on the community, the combination of your personality and those of others, etc). There are more people to choose from, and more of them will have caught up with your interests.

It's good to have ambitions too. I lost a lot of time by thinking that I shouldn't be ambitious. (and by a lot of time, I mean a lot of time)You've got good command of writing conventions, you're articulate, and you're steeped in the genre traditions. That's an excellent foundation: the rest you get by writing. And sending. Don't bother telling them you're thirteen until they've accepted the story and asked for a short biographical note.


#122 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 05:38 PM:

What Lucy said. And college is infinitely better; you just have to hang on that long.

As for getting noticed in SF/F writer circles... you just did.

#123 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 07:19 PM:

As for getting noticed in SF/F writer circles... you just did.

At the severe risk of being seen as playing the Bad Cop, which is not my intention, there's a difference between "getting noticed" in the social sense and having one's writing noticed. The first is valuable in a great many ways, but it's not the end or even a significant means to the end. In fact, the exceptional ease of getting social access in f/sf means that it isn't, of itself, all that significant. I'd never met the editors I made my first story and novel sales to, though we became well acquainted later. Contrary to what one might expect, some of those editors kept buying my stuff anyway.

And after all that, I hope you'll take it as constructive commentary to note that "literally" isn't an intensifier; your shelves couldn't be figuratively crammed with anything.

#124 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 07:35 PM:

My shelves are figuratively crammed with Truth and Beauty.

#125 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 07:53 PM:

Alan, I'll see your bookshelf and raise you all of Heinlein's Dirty Old Man books, plus Narnia, Zenna Henderson, and Witch World. (God bless Andre Norton.) I'll also second the idea that the older you get, the better life is--except for grad school, which is always unpleasant no matter what your field is or how smart you are. Our Hostess has written before of "the tribe," i.e. fandom, and she's absolutely right. Go to cons as often as you can, and soak up the feeling of being among your own people.

#126 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 08:07 PM:

Alan,

One more word of advice. I submitted my first science fiction at sixteen, to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. As anyone but me could have told you would happen, it was rejected six weeks later with a form letter.

It took me eighteen years to get around to submitting another (yeah, it was rejected, too). I don't think the time was particularly wasted as such; I learned a lot in and out of school.

But how I wish I had kept writing all that time.

#127 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 08:11 PM:

Okay, two words. If you really want to get a writing-related day job, that's great, but you can be a writer no matter what job you have. In fact, my experience is that the more like writing science fiction my day job is, the harder it is for me to actually write it when I'm home.

I spent four years doing technology forecasts. It was a cool job and paid well, but I couldn't stand the idea of writing near-future science fiction. It was too much like work.

#128 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 08:25 PM:

" . . . because a 13-year-old reading all these may be shocking to some . . ."

Gibba-gobba, gibba-gobba, one of us, one of us . . .

Suggestion:

There's a great line of annual non-fiction anthologies out there, "The Best American Series." Best American Essays 2004, Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2002 and so on.

Each edition is edited by an expert in the field. Richard Dawkins, Oliver Sacks, and Edward O. Wilson taken turns editing the Science series. (If you don't know those names, this is your chance to find out!)

Look them up, read them. They'll expose you to an amazing variety of thought, writing styles, and knowledge.

#129 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 08:41 PM:

except for grad school, which is always unpleasant no matter what your field is

Aw, grad school's not that bad (saith this 3rd year grad student). You can finally spend time working on real-life problems instead of exercises. You get to learn your favorite subject rather than skim it at high speed, which is what happens in college. I will note that your enjoyment depends heavily on your advisor and your relationship with same. Also, some people are not temperamentally suited to the kinds of bullsh*t found in academia. (This doesn't mean they aren't smart; it means they should be doing something else.)

#130 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2005, 08:49 PM:

I got a postcard from Albacon (the New York one, not the Scottish one) a couple of days ago. They are advertising, as a special guest, Travis Tea.

So, how many of you have accepted that invitation? Are any all-Travis Tea panels planned?

#131 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 03:59 AM:

Aw, grad school's not that bad (saith this 3rd year grad student).

It could be worse, saith this 5th year; I can't think of any other "profession" so carefully designed to destroy your mental and emotional self-image but I suppose it has its own rewards. [Depends on what kinds of research you're doing, how you're funded, what your teaching load is, and so forth.] That said, I agree with your subsequent remarks.

#132 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 09:16 AM:

I can't think of any other "profession" so carefully designed to destroy your mental and emotional self-image but I suppose it has its own rewards.

There, that's what I meant. I'm glad I went, but I'm even gladder I don't have to go back. I learned vast amounts of cool and interesting stuff...but the experience itself wasn't much fun. What does it tell you that of the three of us, only one is flat-out enthused, and even he has a caveat?

#133 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 11:29 AM:

And after all that, I hope you'll take it as constructive commentary to note that "literally" isn't an intensifier; your shelves couldn't be figuratively crammed with anything.

As a general rule, yes, "literally" is much overused as an intensifier. However, wrt books I can think of many people who would use "crammed" as meaning "having more than zero"; not to point any fingers at contemporaries, I offer the English nobleman in Saint Joan. ("But nowadays, instead of looking at books, people read them!"

#134 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 12:02 PM:

Grad School: a form of slavery that people recall with nostalgia.

#135 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 12:07 PM:

It could be worse, saith this 5th year; I can't think of any other "profession" so carefully designed to destroy your mental and emotional self-image but I suppose it has its own rewards. [Depends on what kinds of research you're doing, how you're funded, what your teaching load is, and so forth.]

Hmm... I can see how someone in a badly funded field with too many classes to teach and no faculty support could get to feel that way. My situation is the exact opposite, and it's probably coloring my opinions.

As for self-image destruction, I guess I agree, after seeing several friends devastated by the qualifiers. The process seems to have been designed by sadists. To give due credit, our faculty has tried to improve things by allowing everyone to have an ungraded qualifier rehearsal half way through the year, so we can get feedback, debug our presentations, and find our weaknesses ahead of time.

#136 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 02:11 PM:

Andy Perrin:

I might feel better about grad school, if:

(1) The fellowship I'd been promised was actually there when I arrived.

(2) The plagiarist Chairman had given me royalties beyond the $2,000 advance for my coauthoring his textbook, which went into multiple editions and translation and earned him at least $200,000, during which he removed my name as coauthor and as sole author of the Teacher's Guide.

(3) The plagiarist Chairman had not been succeeded by the *ssh*l* Chairman, whom the Faculty voted out of Chairmanship eventually.

(4) The *ssh*l* Chairman had not fired me from my Tesaching Assistantship at the last day before Xmas vacation.

(5) Although I collected my back pay after enormous effort, lawyers, and investigation by the Dean, this was still bad, as the Chair promised to prevent me from earning my Ph.D.

(6) As I've mentioned, my dissertation was neither approved nor denied, but has been frozen in limbo as an "incomplete" since 1977, as I get one chapter after another published in refereed journals and proceedings of international conferences.

(7) The student slum I lived in -- "Puffton Village" -- had a slumlord owner who towed away my car and stole my complete set of wordworking tools from the trunk, then tried to charge me towing fees.

(8) Had not my M.S. thesis been ripped off by Xerox as a commercial product, for which my M.S. advisor and I got zero credit and zero compensation.

I loved what I learned, academically, in grad school. I hated, and still hate, that grad students are routinely treated as some strange cross between lepers and slaves. Not unlike the way that many doctors treat nurses. Fortunately, I eventually became an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy, and of Math, at various colleges and universities. Then I discovered that Adjunct Professor are treated as grad students, with slightly higher pay and equal lack of civil rights. I've seen figures to the effect that more than half of all college courses in the USA are now taught by teaching assistants, adjuncts, and other temps.

I love school. I just don't like how I was treated. Others I know feel the same way. But opinions and experiences vary widely.

#137 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 03:10 PM:

JvP, ick. That's the worst story I've heard so far. Our department is a small one and relatively close-knit. We do have tensions, but I've always had the sense that most problems get worked out eventually. I do wish professors would let students graduate when they are ready to graduate, rather than when they no longer need the student or when they run out of money.

(BTW: Adjunct Professor = A Junk Professor? I never knew.)

#138 ::: Bill Rumfeld ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 03:36 PM:

If it's not positive, we don't want to see it. How skewed.

Macdonald- Tell me that book is not driving down the quality of the writing market. Tell me it is appropriate to push. Tell me you would recommend it if your name wasn't associated with it. Tell me it's not to make money. I don't think you can, but will come up with some excuse.
I had thought you a writer with scruples where the craft is concerned. I know you have published books with reputable companies. Why would you associate yourself with this program.

It will only degrade you in the eyes of the reading public and your peers. I dare say my friend, you've taken a large step back in the profession.

#139 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 03:46 PM:

Ah, grad school at UC Berkeley in the (mid-to-late) 1970s! Low tuition, the tear gas era was over, and I spent summers with my folks watching the Watergate Hearings and developing a fascination with Grand Slam tennis on TV. But then, I was just a lowly English major with no idea what to do with my life. This may not qualify as nostalgia, but I can't remember much bad about those distant days. (Now, of course, it costs Fort Knox to get all the way to a doctorate.)

#140 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:07 PM:

(Now, of course, it costs Fort Knox to get all the way to a doctorate.)

That seems to be field-dependent. I'm not paying anything; they're paying me (just not much).

#141 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:07 PM:

Driving down the quality of the writing market? What in the world are you talking about? Do you think that real publishers, seeing that thing, will say, "Hot puppies! Grammar, spelling, and storytelling don't matter any more! See, this thing got printed!"

No, I'm afraid that if you really want to get published, you'll still have to pay attention to writing and storytelling. Sorry to have to tell you. This book is irrelevant to the quality of the writing market.

Is it appropriate to push? To show exactly how low PublishAmerica's standards are? Sure. To show that that particular "publisher" is nothing more than a vanity press? Absolutely. It's being pushed by a whole lot of people who had nothing whatever to do with the project, too.

Tell you it's not to make money? Of course it's not to make money. If it were to make money there wouldn't be free downloads all over the 'Net. Yes, Lulu pays royalties. They're all going to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund. And the dollar amount of those royalties is tiny. Any one of the contributors to that book could make more with the sale of one single short story. True, the royalties are many times higher than the typical royalties of PublishAmerica authors, but that doesn't reflect poorly on me.

Degrade me? I'm afraid not. Sorry: Hasn't happened, nor is it likely to happen. The reading public that hears about this will laugh over the clever hoax. Meanwhile, my peers have been figuratively slapping me on the back and buying me beer.

And if it saves one single person from throwing away their work on a vanity publisher whose business model is designed to prevent author success -- well, I've won.

But tell me -- what's your interest? Are you a PublishAmerica author yourself? Did you think, just because they offered you a contract, that they'd read your book and liked it?

Sorry to tell you this, but if PublishAmerica offers you a contract all it means is that you sent them a manuscript, and it arrived before they'd filled that day's quota.

I've proved that beyond the shadow of a doubt.

#142 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 04:51 PM:

And after all that, I hope you'll take it as constructive commentary to note that "literally" isn't an intensifier; your shelves couldn't be figuratively crammed with anything.

Welllll...but 'literally' can also mean "I'm not exaggerating." And when most people say something is crammed with something, they ARE exaggerating. If his bookshelves are so overfilled that to remove a single book risks triggering what can only be called a literary avelanche, and being buried alive under so many books that he would be found days later after the neighbors complained of the stench, that would be a non-exaggerated use of the word 'crammed'. Thus "literally crammed."

I don't see anything wrong with saying "literally crammed" if he actually has to squeeze additional books in by force - as opposed to 'crammed' meaning simply "very full."

#143 ::: Bill Rumfeld ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 05:25 PM:

No I'm not with publishamerica.
I will tell you I am writing an article for a magazine about the declining quality of work in the publishing industry. The collaboration that you have interjected yourself into is just one book which I have gleaned information from. It's appalling to put out such a joke,and degrading to the craft. That's my opinion, and may or may not be shared by my compatriots. Though, if I had to guess at their reactions, I would say they look at it much as I do. To me is unethical to do such a project if one is serious about the craft.
I read the book, found it a mish-mosh of nothing. As it was meant to be, for a certain purpose. When the purpose was achieved, a new purpose was devised, that is where I think the project went wrong. What was the reason for the evolution of the project. What is the inside scoop, and why are the publisher in question's authors attacked as though they themselves are the publisher? Just curious, and take no offense, I've checked out all of the authors of many books to compile the story. I have contacted many that have made no comment, and I appreciate the candor and information you've provided. As I check you out though, I was surprised at to find that one with some accomplishments to is credit would stoop to this type of project. I have to admit, it plays into the story quite well.
I have also read some books from the publisher in question, and found some of them very good, and likewise bad.
I do wish you luck in future, and hope you can adhere to the quality of the craft expected from a professional writer. I will contact you via your web site to the where and when of the story.

#144 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 06:21 PM:

Bill Rumfeld: I will tell you I am writing an article for a magazine about the declining quality of work in the publishing industry. The collaboration that you have interjected yourself into is just one book which I have gleaned information from. It's appalling to put out such a joke,and degrading to the craft.

Mr. Rumfeld, how is that so, when the entire purpose of writing that drek was to come up with something utterly unpublishable? Frankly, you seem to have missed the point of the whole exercise. Did you actually research the book, and the vanity press that accepted it? PA made made the news in a big way several times shortly before the sting with AN was revealed; it wouldn't be hard to find the articles (hint: our hostess links to several of them). Declining standards? PA has no standards--it's a vanity press that won't admit it's a vanity press. Any publisher with standards would never have touched AN. That was the point.


What was the reason for the evolution of the project. What is the inside scoop, and why are the publisher in question's authors attacked as though they themselves are the publisher?

Given that the story of AN's genesis is plastered all over the Net (in several places, Mr. Macdonald himself recounts the story), I'm amazed you haven't come across it in your research. As for PA's authors being attacked--can you cite examples, please (preferably with links)? I ask because several of the people involved in the sting are author advocates, who have volunteered their time and effort for years to expose scam artists preying on authors. They are not given to attacking authors. You can research that for yourself if you doubt it. So what evidence is your accusation based on?

If it's not positive, we don't want to see it. How skewed.

No, that's not why your first post was disemvowelled. If you'd bothered to do any research on this site, you'd have seen that. Disemvowelling is reserved for rude, obnoxious behavior like drive-by attacks, excessive profanity, or moronic, pointless offensiveness. Posters here are expected to present their points of view with civility. They are not required to be positive, supportive, or lauditory; they are required to be civil. That's why your other posts haven't been disemvowelled.

#145 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 06:52 PM:

Bill, Bill, Bill.

I think you're fibbing.

I'd really be fascinated to see this article, if it ever comes out. Where did you say you'd been doing "research"?

As to my "interjecting" myself into this project -- is "interject" the word you're thinking of? I conceived the project, organized it, and carried it out. That's one heck of an "interjection."

Degrading to the craft? Haven't got a good grasp of the situation on the ground, I see. And the lurkers support you in e-mail? Goodness!

Unethical to expose scammers? A different definition of "unethical" too, I see.

You read Atlanta Nights? All the way through? I salute you, sir. Few have managed that. The entire point of that book was to be unreadable. It's bad in small detail and in wide, sweeping swathes. No matter how you look at it, no matter where you open it, it's unpublishable. That's the point. In fact, with Lulu right now, it isn't "published." It's "printed." I trust you can see the difference.

When the purpose was achieved? The purpose was to embarass PublishAmerica, to reveal it for what it really is -- a vanity press that sucks in new, trusting authors. To achieve that purpose, the news had to be spread all over the world. The book had to appear via every route that PublishAmerica books appear ... on-line bookstores, and "available" in brick-and-mortar bookstores. That's part of exposing that sham publisher in Frederick, Maryland. The purpose hasn't changed. And publicity for this prank is definitely part of helping the new and unpublished avoid the rocks and shoals. Did you know that Atlanta Nights is discussed on websites in Japanese and Bulgarian?

You've "checked out all the authors of many books"? What does that mean? Are you trying to imply that you've talked with other Traves? Funny -- they never mentioned it to me.

No PublishAmerica authors have ever been attacked by anyone involved in the Atlanta Nights hoax. What are you talking about?

"Stoop to this kind of project"? Try "rise to this kind of challenge."

Yes, I'm certain (and I've said, repeatedly, in public) that PublishAmerica prints some good books. They'll offer a contract to a good book as fast as they'll offer one to a bad book, without reading it.

That's the tragedy. Those good books are lost, sunk into PublishAmerica's vanity printing model. Those good books won't be read by thousands. The authors will get the same scornful, deceitful treatment from PublishAmerica as they routinely dish out to all their authors.

Bill, listen, guy. I frankly disbelieve that there is, or ever will be, an article from you. As to my craft -- it's doing just fine. But thanks for your concern.

#146 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 06:55 PM:

And when most people say something is crammed with something, they ARE exaggerating. If his bookshelves are so overfilled that to remove a single book risks triggering what can only be called a literary avelanche, and being buried alive under so many books that he would be found days later after the neighbors complained of the stench, that would be a non-exaggerated use of the word 'crammed'. Thus "literally crammed."

In my misspent youth I recall that I had three bookcases, two of which were double- (and later triple-) stacked with SF books. I'd describe that as "literally crammed", although it feels me with a pleasurable dread to realize that that's probably Bush leagues compared to the denizens of this motley assemblage.

#147 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 07:40 PM:

Jim,Jim, Jim, I don't think you or your fellows will have a big problem with the article.
It will appear. I've pasted it here for your enjoyment. It'll be out next month. I'll be sure to notifity you then. I'm not going to minch words with you people, that is not my purpose.

Grammar not included

The state of writing, the publishing industry and writing in general are on the rocks. Houses of publishing may still be the hard to reach group of archaic old cigar smoking bald men, but who needs them? Self-proclaimed writers of prose from every corner of the planet are calling themselves authors and holding a bound book in their hands to prove it. How? Easy.
The publishing industry has found a home in the local print store, book store and online publishing groups. The advent of publish on demand has a new meaning. Anyone with a keyboard and a notepad program can pound out a story of questionable content and quality.
Case and point. The largest paperback publisher on the planet is based in Maryland. With a reported 11,000 authors on its roles, it pumps out books at a clip with which the government money machines can't keep up. Due to this process, the quality of such books, and first time authors will suffer, and so does the writing industry. Writers are responsible for their own editing and grammar. Sending out a manuscript without proper editing to the cigar smoking bald guys is sure to garner a rejection letter. The new age writers have little fortitude for this kind of response. The east route is taken, and the short cuts with it. A number of these books read for the purpose of this story from the Maryland-based publisher were very good and entertaining. Quality could be seen in the pages, hard work, and a dedication to one's craft was evident.

First-time writers have dreams. They are fulfilled with studying the art and craft of writing, hard work, dedication and time. If this is the case, then the big time houses will receive them with open arms, via an agent. It's the hard route to take, but who has the time? Hence the fast route. A book bound in a beautiful cover can be had in days, for a price. The printer takes little or no care with the substance or condition of the material. They just print it. The Maryland-based publisher mentioned does take some care in editing for first-time authors, but may fall short in some other areas. Those areas are not important where the author's family and friends are concerned, who represent the bulk of the buying market for the publisher and author. In defense of the publisher, it charges nothing for the publishing of a book. Marketing the work is the responsibility of the author, and the books do not make it into the brick and mortars in the traditional sense. However, the books do appear on book store shelves, mostly due to the authors gum shoe work.
The Maryland publisher was the victim of a ruse put forth by a group of thirty or so writers. The ruse was to write a book of nonsensical content and submit it to the publisher for acceptance. The sci-fi group asserted that the M.S. was accepted, then rejected when the ruse was exposed. The book, which will remain unnamed, has evolved. The intended horrid writing and unprofessional work is now offered for sale. Ironically, the book is published free of charge by another P.O.D. publisher who does not charge for publishing. Though this publisher's site has information for extra services for which it charges, the Maryland-based publisher does not. One of the authors of the book has received some level of writing achievement. It is not, or was not clear, what this authors relationship was with the publisher in question. The question raised is why one of some successes would involve themselves in lowering the quality of available reading material. The proceeds are said to go to a charity, but what does the author receive? The ruse achieved its goal, but the evolving of the collaboration for sale raises questions. Is it notoriety the authors seek for their names? If that is the case, this notoriety could raise them to the upper echelon of the cigar smoking offices of the big houses. The quality of this book, along with those of many noted publishers, and the Maryland-based publisher, brings down the quality of professional writers the world over.
The careless attitudes of these new world git-r-done companies and writers would make the greats of yesterday turn over in their graves, and the serious writers of today scream out loud at the grammatical horror genre created by the easy route. The publishing industry has seen its share of loss in the buying-sales market over time. The quality of work and questionable scruples of these new age writers with regard to the art and craft are at the root of their own doomed profession.

#148 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 07:47 PM:

Couple more things for you, Bill -- I bet you came here from Google (this thread is one of the hits on the first page if you Google on "PublishAmerica"). You may not be aware of the second article at Making Light on this hoax. Here's the link. If you didn't see that other thread, and its links, that would explain why your research appears to be ... slight.

Next -- I'm a bit confused. Are you Bill Rumfeld or Bill Rumsfeld? You've spelled your name both ways here.

#149 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 08:02 PM:

JMF - re: literally/figuratively, I think it's technically ok (although stylistically questionable) to describe crammage as literal. It's not the same as saying your shelves are crammed with literal as opposed to figurative books. Some could say my library is crammed with books, meaning that I have a lot of books. But for the moment, I have adequate shelf space for the whole collection (neener, neener! not that it'll last), so that would be hyperbolic, figurative cramming.

#150 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 08:13 PM:

Houses of publishing may still be the hard to reach group of archaic old cigar smoking bald men...

Meet...Teresa?

#151 ::: Anarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 08:33 PM:

Meet...Teresa?

I knew that photo had been Photoshopped!

#152 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2005, 09:34 PM:

The article, Bill, is vague and poorly reasoned.

Here are the individual items I noted.

A)Why no names? Why so few numbers? Why the coyness when facts are of more interest to people? There's not enough there there -- my eye slides off it as fluff. Maybe you don't want to put the names in because then people will be able to look past your vague assertions to articles and explanations with substance enough to tell them what's really going on.

B)Where did you get the idea only one of the elements of Mr. Tea is a longtime pro with noteable success? Most of them are pros, and most of the names are now available to those who do a minimum of research. I don't think one of those whose work I have read needs to defend their ability to produce work of real quality, and one look at their total oeuvre will put paid to any idea that Atlanta Nights was put out as a promotional tool, or in hopes of a leg up to the real pro levels.

C) You claim Lulu.com and PublishAmerica are itdentical in their essential services. Then why does your article not examine why one admits to being a printing service, and the other claims to be a publisher, and makes its authors sign a "publishing" contract that is exploitative and potentially crippling to the author's career? Rather than ironic, it might be pointed to say "Look, we got *all* the services you did from your publisher -- from a mere printing service."

D) Explain again how vanity publishing and self-publishing, which have been around for far longer than digital technology, are new, and newly damaging to the quality of books from major publishers?

E) Explain how a Maryland vanity press whose total book sales are roughly 65-75 per author is somehow overwhelming the output of prestigious publishers whose low sellers figure in the thousands?

"The public" hasn't magically become uncritical because of the presence of these books. In fact, they probably *don't notice*. They've never seen one of these books -- unless it was released by their mother, son, or best buddy.


Mr. MacDonald and the rest of Travis Tea, if I ever meet you in person at a con, I'll buy you a beer, or a latte, or other drink of your choice.


(Suddenly I *do* want to photoshop a cigar into that picture of Teresa.)

#153 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 12:43 AM:

JMF - re: literally/figuratively, I think it's technically ok (although stylistically questionable) to describe crammage as literal. It's not the same as saying your shelves are crammed with literal as opposed to figurative books.

While it is technically "not wrong" -- yes, the shelf can be literally crammed -- it's careless usage. "Crammed with books" doesn't require any modification; there is no other way a shelf can be crammed, with books or anything else, except literally.

"Literally" is only useful when one is trying to say that an event that might otherwise be taken as a figure of speech has actually happened word-for-word as described; for example, to describe the aftermath of a violent protest by saying "there was literally blood in the streets."

Which is all that I have to say on it.

#154 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 01:41 AM:

TexAnne wrote:

What does it tell you that of the three of us, only one is flat-out enthused, and even he has a caveat?

Make that four; I'm gradually approching the end of the long dark night, but it's not been a positive experience. You don't want to know what it costs.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 03:54 AM:
other Traves

Mr Macdonald, you rock.

Case and point...on its roles...The east route is taken...brick and mortars in the traditional sense...authors gum shoe work...Is it notoriety the authors seek for their names...new world git-r-done companies...
the grammatical horror genre created by the easy route

Hello kettle, I have pot on line two. Something about color?

Mr. MacDonald and the rest of Travis Tea, if I ever meet you in person at a con, I'll buy you a beer, or a latte, or other drink of your choice.

I second. Anyone going to be in Glasgow this August?

And my shelves are literarily crammed. I do make space for the half-finished Atlanta Nights binding as well.

#156 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 05:28 AM:

There is literary history, to be sure, in the classic passages that one finds upon Googling:

"gorged and cramm'd, even to surfeit"

or

"the dear morsel that now so delightfully crammed it"

or

"crammed as it was, stretched"

but all I dare say to sensitive readers is that the author of these was paid by a wealthy patron NOT to ever write another novel.

Can one take a subscription, hypothetically, from people who do NOT want to see a sequel to Atlanta Nights, and raise money for the SFWA Medical Emergency Fund, for example?

You know, like Dutch painters selling paintings to the government, as buyer of last resort, where they are crammed into museums of government art, somewhere nor'-noreast of the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant? Or like subsidized farmers paid not to plant certain crops? Just wondering...


#157 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 07:52 AM:

I shall be in Glasgow, if the crick don't rise, this August, and it shall be my honour (or honor) and privilege to buy drink of choice for all Traves present. Such prose deserves recognition. Or at least benumbment.

#158 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 08:29 AM:

Bill: It will appear. I've pasted it here for your enjoyment. It'll be out next month. I'll be sure to notifity you then. I'm not going to minch words with you people, that is not my purpose.

A few things I notice, Bill, in addition to what Lenora Rose has posted.

1) That would be "mince," not "minch." I have a very difficult time believing that anyone who cares as deeply about the craft of writing as you claim to do would write "Case and point" for "Case in point;" "hard to reach group" for "hard-to-reach group;" "on its roles" for "on its rolls;" and so on. I also have a hard time believing you think writing like "Quality could be seen in the pages, hard work, and a dedication to one's craft was evident" is acceptable prose. Shall I go on?

2) Appear where? You've never mentioned where this "article" will be published, or by whom--yet you place the text of it on a public site a month before it's to appear wherever it is it's supposed to be published? That would make all the editors I've ever worked with very unhappy indeed. Yours must be different.

#159 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 02:22 PM:

Aconite: He also missed the typo "East route" for easy route. :)

#160 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 03:24 PM:

That would make all the editors I've ever worked with very unhappy indeed. Yours must be different.

The editors at useless-knowledge.com aren't very picky.

#161 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 03:28 PM:

I don't think he's actually having it published, I think he wanted us to think he was smart. No self-respecting publisher would print an article that is so vague it can't even be fact-checked.

#162 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 05:19 PM:

Those few facts it has (e.g. "The largest paperback publisher on the planet is based in Maryland") are wrong.

#163 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 05:30 PM:

Lenora: He missed lots of things. :) Lots and lots and lots. But then, perhaps English isn't his first language--"Bill" could be short for "Willem," eh?

*thwaps forehead* Oh, but he said he wasn't with PA. Silly me.

#164 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2005, 11:48 PM:

To add to the load on "Bill Rum{,s}feld":

The Maryland-based publisher mentioned does take some care in editing for first-time authors,

Evidence? Especially, anything other than an encouragement to hire someone for an alleged copyedit? (That's a standard scam from fake publishers.)

To publish means to put before the public, not just to give the author copies to flog. Simply putting a manuscript between nice covers (if you can get such from PA) isn't publishing. Your use of the word reminds me of a teacher's comment to a prospective student in Fame: "That's not music; that's masturbation."

#165 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 01:35 AM:

Actually, I read Atlanta Nights all the way through. Even the computer-generated chapter, although I'll admit that one was tough sledding. It was so bad that it was good. (I particularly liked the bit about sitting on the Pyramids of Egypt, watching the sand penguins frolic, Mt. Fujiyama in the distance....)

#166 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 02:11 AM:

I wouldn't call Bill's piece an article. It's so vague and slanted that I was going to call it an op ed but now I think it's more like a letter to the editor.

David I read the computer generated chapter out loud to my kids in my very best melodramatic fashion. Good times. Don't worry they are old and astute enough to not be warped by terrible writing. They thought it was hilarious.

#167 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 06:48 AM:

The "editors" of PublishAmerica have a quota of twelve titles per month. Their duties apparently include running a computer spell check and grammar check program, and manipulating the text to convert it into a .pdf file.

So far as I've been able to determine, none of the "editors" have any experience in publishing. Most (if not all) of them are young women recently graduated from Maryland-area colleges with degrees in liberal arts (not necessarily English).

(The beauty of the computer-generated chapter in Atlanta Nights is that it contains no spelling-or-grammar problems that would be flagged by the wordprocessors that PublishAmerica's editors use. (They've standardized on WordPerfect over there in Frederick.) Thus it would entirely escape notice by the "editors.")

Great moments in PublishAmerica editing include changing the name of the town of Itoman (a place on Okinawa important during the WWII invasion) to "autoimmune" consistently throughout one book (A Handsome Guy, by Phil Dolan), and changing the name of Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent, to "Ernie Pile." And those are by no means the only editing errors in that book.

If those are examples of the extra care PublishAmerica's "editors" take with first-time authors' books, only imagine what kind of editing their second-time authors get.

(Yes, PublishAmerica gets repeat customers ... but if you look at the timing, a great number of those authors submit their second book before the first comes out, during that glowing honeymoon period when PublishAmerica is their Friend. That's where most of the PublishAmerica boosters come from, and where they get most of their testimonials.)

#168 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 10:18 AM:

He also missed the typo "East route" for easy route. :)

When I read it, I wondered if he meant "east" in the sense that Maryland is on the east coast. But perhaps that was too generous.

#169 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 10:40 AM:

...the serious writers of today scream out loud at the grammatical horror genre created by the easy route.

Maybe so, but I love the stuff. My personal favorite in the genre is, of course, The Cabin on Lake Strunkenwhite. It starts out with randy teenagers having conjugational relationships in the woods, and before long somebody finds Jenny stuffed under the hood of the Jeep, her participle dangling by a flap of skin. Probably the best thing Bill Safire's ever written.

#170 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 10:48 AM:

Then there's the grammatical thriller genre. Remember Silence of the Noams? That's where the cops arrive at the end and use semiotic weapons to take out the guy who's building weapons of mass deconstruction.

#171 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 11:43 AM:

I tried reading that one, but it made my colorless green ideas furious, even when they were asleep.

#172 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Bill Rumfeld said:

The state of writing, the publishing industry and writing in general are on the rocks. Houses of publishing may still be the hard to reach group of archaic old cigar smoking bald men, but who needs them?
That's enough for a diagnosis. You've submitted writing and had it rejected. You're angry because you can't see how your writing is any better or worse than some of the stuff that gets published.

I don't believe for a minute that you're not published by PA. You've put far too much effort into defending a company which no one could ever love for its own sake.

PublishAmerica is a vanity publisher. They'll publish anything that has enough words in it to pass muster as a book. They accepted Atlanta Nights. If the perpetrators hadn't announced that it was a sting operation, PA would undoubtedly have put Atlanta Nights into print. And why shouldn't they? It would hardly have been the worst book they've ever published.

There was nothing unprofessional about it the sting. PA's repeatedly claimed that they exercise editorial judgement when they're considering submissions. We tested that by devising a manuscript that only looks real until you read it. PA formally offered Atlanta Nighs a contract, thus demonstrating that they publish books without reading them.

We knew that would happen.

Neener, neener, neener.

#173 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 05:02 PM:

Any PublishAmerica authors here?

Any PublishAmerica authors in the Delaware Valley, (which includes the Philadelphia, PA area, South Jersey and the Wilmington, Delaware region)?

Any in all of Washington State?

Want your chance to get in the Up In Lights section? Want to be on TV because of your PublishAmerica book? I mean, they keep talking about how PA authors get on TV all the darned time ... now's your chance.

If you're interested (or know someone who might be), contact Jenna Glasser.

This is for real.

#174 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 05:24 PM:

Andrew and James: you both should be cited for not picking up after your imaginations. (You don't owe for a keyboard or monitor because there's no room here for a glass (even the ]cupholder[ is sideways...).)

#175 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 05:38 PM:

Georgiana:

I wouldn't call Bill's piece an article. It's so vague and slanted that I was going to call it an op ed but now I think it's more like a letter to the editor.

Its unedited malaprops and clichés suggested one of those essays we see posted by burnt-out teachers trying to get kids to have opinions for the SAT, usually with the student's name blacked out. Or possibly a writing sample for the sequel to Atlanta Nights.

Thanks, Lenora, for glossing "East/easy", I couldn't parse that one at all.

Rummy:
Why are the publisher in question's authors attacked as though they themselves are the publisher?

I second Aconite's request for examples. I love to see the I'm one of the publisher in question's authors and I'm being attacked line, because there are people around here who can trace sock puppets all the way back to planet V****B****.

#176 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 05:53 PM:

John M. Ford: "Literally" is only useful when one is trying to say that an event that might otherwise be taken as a figure of speech has actually happened word-for-word as described; for example, to describe the aftermath of a violent protest by saying "there was literally blood in the streets."

That's what "literally" would be useful for if it weren't misused more often than not. Nowadays, saying "there was literally blood in the streets" doesn't inform the reader whether the blood is literally literal or just figurative blood from a writer of convenient fiction.

To make the point, you have to say there was real red arterial blood spurting out of the very protesters' actual arteries and making blood puddles on the concrete asphalt. Even then, someone's going to gush about your gift for metaphor.

#177 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2005, 06:19 PM:

Vicki: I got a postcard from Albacon (the New York one, not the Scottish one) a couple of days ago. They are advertising, as a special guest, Travis Tea.

I ran into jan howard finder (modulo my memory assigning the wrong name to a face I haven't seen much lately) in a Lunacon elevator, and he gave me a card for Albacon. I asked him, "All of Travis Tea?" and he admitted it wasn't. I wish I had made it to the room party to pump him on the real shomi shoyu.

Last I heard, Travis Tea isn't even all out yet. But I'm talking to the fastest gun in the wiki, I thin.

#178 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 12:41 AM:

"Any in all of Washington State?"

Sorry, I don't personally know any PA authors, though on the PA website they've mentioned so-called "signings" at places like maybe Tacoma, Yakima, Bellevue, and perhaps even Seattle. There are probably some in King County, but I wouldn't know them even if they were less than ten miles away. I would have been glad to help if I had connections with PA (though happily I have never touched their cursed email addresses).

FYI, I'm in the Federal Way/Auburn suburb of the Seattle-Tacoma metro. It would be nice to help tear down PA...

#179 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2005, 05:39 PM:

On the Travis Tea web site they list

Albacon 2005, Albany, NY
October 7-9, 2005
Publicists in attendance: Chuck Rothman
under "Travis Sightings" on a page titled "Author appearances". Since Chuck Rothman and the other "publicists" are also listed as authors in the wikipedia article, I guess that's what "publicist" is supposed to mean. I don't know what the "Author appearances" that don't list "publicists" are supposed to be.

Daniel Pinkwater's publisher once made a life-size cardboard-backed photograph of him that had an unusual adventure, but I don't think they sent it on tour.

#180 ::: Dee Power ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 05:14 PM:

Atlanta Nights was the latest sting, but it was not the first. The Purple Pony by Kevin Yarbrough was submitted in August 2004 and accepted about three weeks later.

I submitted a manuscript that after the first 50 pages changed the characters names, and then repeated the same 10 pages eight times until the end. PublishAmerica offered a contract in September.

Dee Power

#181 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 05:47 PM:

Alan Yee:

"I'm in the Federal Way/Auburn suburb of the Seattle-Tacoma metro."

Ahhhh, Federal Way, Gateway to Tukwila, Kent, and Puyallup. As you know, you are living on top of the mudslide from when Mount Rainier was an active volcano, which could happen again...

#182 ::: Julian Black ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 07:07 PM:

[coming out of longtime-lurker mode]

Bill, who is publishing your "article"? I'm genuinely curious.

I just received my copy of Atlanta Nights from Lulu today, and I must say I am impressed. It bears an uncanny resemblance to an actual book! I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I've already had one really good laugh simply by flipping through it--the wonky formatting alone is hilarious.

(The beauty of the computer-generated chapter in Atlanta Nights is that it contains no spelling-or-grammar problems that would be flagged by the wordprocessors that PublishAmerica's editors use. (They've standardized on WordPerfect over there in Frederick.) Thus it would entirely escape notice by the "editors.")

Now that is bloody brilliant.

[laughing fit to die]

#183 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 10:48 PM:

"Ahhhh, Federal Way, Gateway to Tukwila, Kent, and Puyallup. As you know, you are living on top of the mudslide from when Mount Rainier was an active volcano, which could happen again..."

Sorry, help me with this one. When _was_ Mount Ranier active? It's been dormant for so long, but hopefully it will not become active again (at least while I'm still living here, hopefully after I have turned to dust).

#184 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2005, 11:19 PM:

Alan--

According to the
US Geological Survey
, "Mount Rainier is known to have erupted as recently as in the 1840s, and large eruptions took place as recently as about 1,000 and 2,300 years ago." There's a reason that your gorgeous mountain doesn't have glaciers all the way to the top and does on the flanks: the mountain's heat melts them at the top.

#185 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 12, 2005, 12:36 PM:

Nydia Han, the consumer reporter for Channel Six in Philadelphia (ABC affiliate) will be doing a story on PublishAmerica on the Five O'clock news today.

According to a report on the teaser at noon, she showed a copy of Atlanta Nights on screen.

#186 ::: Wendy S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2005, 03:12 PM:

This has got to be the most hilarious chapter I have ever read! Will probably buy the book just to recommend it to my hubby as a joke. Can't wait to see the look on his face after I play up how wonderful it is.

#187 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2005, 09:48 PM:

I -HAVE- to remember to throw some hard-earned cash at my parents so I can buy this! I probably would read it over and over, so it probably will be worth the money. And it's for a good cause too (SFWA's Emergency Medical Fund)!

Teresa, have you done any promoting for Atlanta Nights? I wish it the best of luck.

I congratulate Teresa, Jim, and all the writers (and non-writers) who participated. How I wish I could have been involved in writing it (maybe you could organize another sting sometime).

You will hear from me in the near future! Anyhow, I'm out ;-]

#188 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2005, 01:44 AM:

On March 19th, Bill Rumfeld/Rumsfeld wrote:

Jim,Jim, Jim, I don't think you or your fellows will have a big problem with the article.
It will appear. I've pasted it here for your enjoyment. It'll be out next month. I'll be sure to notifity you then. I'm not going to minch words with you people, that is not my purpose.

The month of April has come and gone, with no notice of where this article appeared/will appear.

Not that I'm terribly surprised.

#189 ::: Lydia Joyce ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2005, 09:57 PM:

Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

I love Bill R.'s comment:

"The state of writing, the publishing industry and writing in general are on the rocks. Houses of publishing may still be the hard to reach group of archaic old cigar smoking bald men, but who needs them?"

I've had two editors now (with Penguin Group--that's Great Big Publishing, not even a large, heavy hitting independent specialist like Dorchester or Tor/Forge), and both have been female and under 30, which is typical in my field! If Bill R. can't see the quality of his own writing, however, he'll certainly not be bothered by little things like facts. That sort of indignant self-assurance takes a special kind of blindness that would easily paper over a multitude of uncomfortable realities in order to preserve the all-important ego. ;-)

#190 ::: LouCypher ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2005, 08:27 AM:

Brilliant in both intent and execution. "Execution"...that makes me laugh. Good riddance to shameless scammers that appeal to people chasing a dream. I've done a bit of writing as a hobby, even took some time in the gotham writer's workshop.

My craft needs work, but I'm glad that I didn't submit anything to PA and have my hopes built up and pockets emptied.

I'm telling everyone about "Atlanta Nights". It deserves to be seen on its own merits, or lack of, and not just because PA looks like they were squatting under the henhouse. Good job!

#191 ::: W.Elliott ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:51 PM:

How I WISH I had been in on the thick of this!!!

Bravo! Kudos to the authors of Atlanta Nights - never have I enjoyed a really horrible book half as much as this one! And as for being mean and snarky to that poor, little, defenseless publisher ---- GOOD!!!

W.L. Elliott
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do!"

#192 ::: Jonathan Snyder ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2005, 01:56 PM:

I just discovered this by looking over your website and I think it's hilarious that something that was meant as a sting turned out to be a "best selling" book. ;)


Great job in teaching those Cons a lesson. :D

#193 ::: Abby ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2005, 09:41 AM:

Publish America has treated me very well!
they are not a Vanity, they do not ask for one cent! lulu is a self publisher and everyone I have ever spoke with were not pleased with the outcome of their books. The fonts were always to dinky to read, as for the others you have to pay huge fees, why? "VANITY" one that has not faith in his/her work will pay to get published!
in ending Publish America is a traditional company and I know plenty that are happy!!!
PS: They do not publish anything and everything either, they are selective as they are flipping the entire bill.

#194 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2005, 03:09 PM:

Hi, Abby.

What's the title of your book? How are sales?

How much have you yourself paid to PublishAmerica (i.e. buying copies of your own books)? How much have you spent, in time and money, on publicity and marketing? What did the copyright cost you? That is: How much did you personally pay to get published?

The claim has never been that PublishAmerica publishes everything. There aren't enough hours in the day for them to do that with the staff on hand. The claim, more than adequately documented, is that they publish anything.

Don't believe me? Pick up your own copy of Atlanta Nights. (And see if the font is readable. I think you'll find it is. The font size and typeface in Lulu books is totally under the author's control.)

Why do we say that PublishAmerica is a vanity press? Because their business model is selling overpriced books directly to their own authors.

Want proof that PublishAmerica has no intention of selling books to the public through bookstores? Look at the 5% discount they're giving bookstores through Ingram. Don't believe me? Drop over to http://www.bookmanager.com/ and see for yourself.


Yes, PublishAmerica offers a 40% discount to bookstores ... but only to those who call PA directly and pay the full amount in advance. Those books are non-returnable.

Are you willing to take The Pledge?

Since my publisher is not a vanity or subsidy publisher and has nothing in common with them, I solemnly swear or affirm that I will never give PublishAmerica my credit card number or write their name on the "Pay To" line of a check or money order.

#195 ::: Tanja ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2006, 03:21 AM:

And so it came to pass out that the end is night. Its always the sillying thats placid. I could go on and on, but if I started to make sense they wouldn't look at my work.

#196 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2006, 07:39 PM:

my god, that is profoundly funny.

you might even say, funnier than the sexy red hot luxuriously flat tummy, reflecting the burning red glow of the glowing red ember of the orb of the hot luxurious sun, of the rich young software developer's girlfriend's is in his richly luxurious highrise studio apartments are is.

#197 ::: Scott Baker ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 02:02 PM:

I'm glad I came across these postings. Like so many others, I was recently invited into the PA pantheon. And to think, my greatest worry was that my 431,000 word SF novel would be too long for them. Now, I think it would be better to not be published at all than bear the taint of being a Publish America client. I will keep struggling to find a real publisher and agent for my first novel.

#198 ::: Dee ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2006, 07:47 AM:

Holy crap, I was about to submit my first book to them :X

#199 ::: Tony ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Reads like Hemmingway before the Editor's pen.

NOTE: all writing is salvageable; even this one. And though merely a gag, a skilled editor, even the Author himself can spot these obvious errors during his second draft and turn Atlanta Nights into a marketable piece.

This unseemly blurb by serious Sci-Fi writers do nothing to salve their own situation and the bad (and it is bad) prose of Atlanta Nights is reminiscent of the labor of many first-time writers. Indeed to cast a day setting, the placing of one main character in his “collapsible” wheelchair, and detailed descriptions of the elevator scene, these in and of themselves warrants a basis for a creative point of view. The Writer just needs PRACTICE to bring these rich visions into the literary realm.

Remember…Pavarotti had to, in the beginning, sing his first note!

#200 ::: Merry ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Ohmigosh. Somehow, I've missed the whole PublishAmerica thing. Evidently, being an actual brick-and-mortar independent bookseller has insulated me from the POD/vanity press world. Tsk. My eyes have been opened, and I thank you all.

I congratulate all of Travis Tea on an absolutely brilliant work of "art", and having read one chapter, am determined to read more. Unfortunately Baker & Taylor doesn't have any copies in its non-returnable stock. Lulu, here I come.

I would love to host a signing for Travis someday - I can just imagine the fun I'd have writing the press releases! If any of you are ever in the south-of-Boston area, feel free to contact me.

And as for Bill's "article" - it's ironic that someone writing about the decline of editing skills should have so few of them himself. I must agree with him, however, that even the big-time publishers are slackening in that area. Lately, I find more and more spellchecker errors and sheer carelessness than can be easily forgiven.

And now, excuse me while I re-read this post, checking for my own errors... and kindly forgive me any that I might miss!

#201 ::: Buzz Duzz ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2006, 06:35 PM:

So what's wrong with this book? It reads great to me, but then I have not been writing for the last twelve years because I've had other things to do but I didn't see anything wrong with the snippet of the book that you published and don't understand what all the fuss is about, eh?

I say again, eh?

#202 ::: Raven ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2006, 01:20 AM:
“I don’t know how I’ll be able to drive it with my arm in a cast,” Bruce Lucent shoots back. “It’s lucky I wasn’t killed outright like so many people are when they have horrid automobile wrecks.”

“Fortunately, fast and efficient Emergency Medical Services, based on a program founded by Lyndon Baines Johnson the 36th President of the United States helped y’all survive an otherwise, deadly crash,” Isadore chuckled.
That was written by Hugo Gernsback (reports of whose death were clearly premature), and I claim my five Quatloos!
#203 ::: Demitri ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 04:13 AM:

The excerpt was hillariously funny! I don't think I've seen so much unpublishable writing in one condensed spot before! I couldn't stop laughing!

I'm debating buying a copy from lulu.com just to have a record of exactly what a book shouldn't be.

Thank you team Travis Tea, it most certainly is!
~Demitri

#204 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 12:33 AM:

Tony @ 199

Reads like Hemmingway before the Editor's pen.


NOTE: all writing is salvageable; even this one. And though merely a gag, a skilled editor, even the Author himself can spot these obvious errors during his second draft and turn Atlanta Nights into a marketable piece.

No. Not true. Atlanta Nights was written, by experts, to be uneditable. No one, not Max Perkins on his best day, could make this into a readable, let alone marketable, piece. You can't see it from individual sentences, paragraphs, or even chapters, but trust me, it is true. This book is unsalvageable.

If you, Tony, feel you can do it, you're welcome to try.

#205 ::: Carly Tuma ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2006, 01:02 PM:

"The walls were white as was the carpet. The walls met the ceiling at right angles, where glistening mirrors in gold frames studded the walls."

Oh, boy, that gave me a fantastic laugh. I want to buy a copy of this just because I have a feeling it will entertain for hours. ^-^ Kudos to the authors, I'm glad that they infiltrated PA in a way that proves without a doubt that PA doesn't care about the quality of the books they "publish."

#206 ::: Judy Douglas Knauer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 09:41 PM:

I'm so flustered at times with my life that began as a breach birth and has continued to be ass-backwards since, but I've only now found your clever, hilarious assault on PA. I, too, endure the PAin of being a PA author, though I knew better as I was previously published by Berkley/Jove back in the day. Thank goodness for Borders Bookstores, who saw over the publisher's name and gave me signings!

A toast to your audacity fellow writers!
Judy Douglas Knauer

#207 ::: Rich Braley ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 04:05 PM:

i appreciate all the effort and i enjoyed the diversion - it reads much better without glasses.

#208 ::: Noble Collins ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Dear Mr. Higeh and Mighty
You seem to want to trash only books that you don't under- stand. You don't reckonise genus while you read it must be prideful for you to look down your knows at others who are getting great marks from others because there work is so good and stuff.

The public knows what thay won't so people like you who trash other peoples hard work which is very good but you dont know it or wish it to be favorable stop it from the public.

You will see when my book comes out how favorable it will be for the General public. The small price I pay in money to bring out my book is more then worth it. It was the hard price of much hard work.

I hope you are hungry to eat your words.

Sylvester Stirrup

#209 ::: abi spies a piñata ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 01:47 PM:

Or is it a joke? It's almost too good to be true.

#210 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Who IS this Mister Higeh who supposedly hangs around these parts?

#211 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 01:58 PM:

abi, it has to be a joke. The misspellings are just too pervasive; combined with reasonable capitalization and paragraphing, that makes it almost impossible for it to be the work of an actual piñata.

#212 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 02:16 PM:

I tend to be pretty good at recognising genus, it's species where I trip up.

#213 ::: Mr. Higeh ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Sorry, was someone looking for me?

Mighty and I were just going through the slushpile to steal ideas for our next bestseller.

#214 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Well, I say the only way to know for sure is to whack him until candy comes out. If candy comes out, he was a pinata. If candy doesn't come out, he was a disciplined pinata, and is probably hold lots of candy.

#215 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Hand me the piñata bat.... WOOOT. What a maroon.

Or leg puller...

Sylvester Stirrup? Noble Collins? WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot.

#216 ::: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 03:39 PM:

You rang?

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 03:40 PM:

222: Yes, we did. Explain yourself.

#218 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2007, 05:23 PM:

Whiskey Tango-Foxtrot

1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz Aguardiente Cristal
1/2 tsp bar syrup
Three dashes of orange bitters
Juice of one tangelo

Combine ingredients and pour over crushed ice. Garnish with mango.

#219 ::: Fiona L. MacPherson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2007, 04:46 PM:

Oh my god, how horrible... that really gave me fits.
If I were the "publisher", I think I'd bury my head in shame, hide somewhere and not come out until I'm long forgotten!
I was with an agency that would surely have introduced me to them sooner or later... well, I had a contract offer, but I didn't sign anything. I'm still searching for an agent, but I think that's better than being "published" by PA.

#220 ::: Erin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 03:32 AM:

Just wanted to introduce myself to your community, almost PA victim here, and glad I stumbled onto your sight.
~Erin

#221 ::: Raymond Claxton ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2007, 04:37 PM:

What a lark! This book is so bad, it has become good. I hope that it is generating lots for its charity. Love it.

#222 ::: Christi Palmeri ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2008, 09:12 PM:

Beyond hysterical!

#223 ::: Ian Teague ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Whoever wrote that is officially my favorite writer.

#224 ::: Ian Teague ::: (view all by) ::: August 02, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Whoever wrote that is officially my favorite writer.

#225 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 05:19 PM:

You know - I have been writing for a long time and the process from inception of a manuscript to finish is a tedious and laborious one. Many publishers turn you down without any consideration of the pain, hours, diligence and cost of producing your work, or they want your money, (a lot of it) up front. No matter what you say about Publish America - fundamentally they are giving people like me a chance and I love the company no matter what! I am an experienced writer with several books under my belt. My book "What Happened to Suzy" ISBN: 0-8062-5013-5 is a collectors item selling on Amazon.com from $99 - $167.00 and should I have to; it will be the next book I put out through Publish America should my present situation concerning the novel not work out. I am tired of reading rag sheets like yours about Publish America and I am going to start challenging rude people like you. Each time I see a bad ad about Publish America - I want to work with them even more. For your information:Publish America did not ask me to defend them; I am defending them because I am proud that I received their offer to publish my book. The feeling I received when I received my advance had nothing to do with the money; but, with that mere iota of acceptance that many writers will never receive, mind you. Many of us are not that vain; just hopeful that our words, our feelings, our affinities will be parlayed to the audience we seek to reach, that's all. It's not always about money, book shelf life or royalty's. I know my work is good and even authors who are published in the mainstream still have to work hard for their books to sell! I recently bought a book about Elizabeth Taylor, (printed in the mainstream) that was marked all the way down from $30.00 to $5.00, and frankly, the book was not that well-written and the cover was hideous too. Quit dashing the hopes, spirits and glee of the struggling artist to ward them away from Publish America because they may not be ideal for you or many others who seem fit to complain; and then counter with an offer that includes a lot of money up front from the author. Let writers make their own decisions about their future publish life. No matter what my experience with Publish America may be...I will always be grateful to them for giving me one iota of hope to see my book in print and I would pay a million dollars to see it done right and I believe that Publish America does this not only for me but for thousands of grateful writers; how bad can that be? Life is too short to malign and denigrate people - leave our dreams alone! Most sincerely,

Carol Denise Simms - Mitchell
Post Office Box 484
Concord, California 94522-0484
caroldenise2002@yahoo.com1711 Detroit Avenue - #30Concord, California 94520
925-798-1541
925-435-8699

#226 ::: Xopher sees either sad victim in denial or PA scammer ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 05:40 PM:

Honestly. If "Carol" wants to self-publish, she can go to a reputable vanity press, instead of being ripped off by PA.

OTOH, she's clearly in need of editing help.

#227 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 05:41 PM:

Carol @231: If you're willing to pay a million dollars--or a thousandth that much--to see your book in print, that's your right. But it doesn't make you a professional writer, it makes you a hobbyist.

There is nothing wrong with hobbies: a lot of what people do online is hobbies of one sort or another. But they won't put food on the table, and you should budget accordingly. And someone who cooks for his family isn't a professional chef, even if he wins the barbecue contest at the state fair.

A professional publisher pays the writer, not the other way around. (In this corner of the net, that's called Yog's law: money flows _to_ the writer.) I also note that you're posting to defend a company before you know how they'll treat you; if they were as good as you hope, you could have waited and posted when you were able to tell us what went right.

Yes, you want an audience. PublishAmerica won't find you one. If all you want is to be read, and don't care about this as a career, you'd likely do better starting a blog and telling your friends and relatives about it.

#228 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 06:54 PM:

I am proud that I received their offer to publish my book.

Is it also a matter of pride that, say, the grocery store accepts your cash?

The feeling I received when I received my advance

You got an advance from PublishAmerica?

Quit dashing the hopes, spirits and glee of the struggling artist

As you perhaps didn't bother reading, that's exactly what people are saying about PublishAmerica.

#229 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Joel #234: You got an advance from PublishAmerica?

Indeed. PA gives everyone a one-dollar advance.

#230 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 08:25 PM:

Carol:
It's not enough for me to see my books in print. I want lots of people to read them and I want to make a living at writing. Because I am vain and arrogant. I won't deny it.


#231 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2008, 11:03 AM:

Hi, Carol. Welcome to Making Light. I do hope you stick around.

I understand that you're a PublishAmerica honeymooner. Your book hasn't come out yet, and consequently you are very happy with them. I hope that you write down, now, what your expectations for your book are. Then, a year after its publication, I hope you revisit that list to see how many of those expectations have been met.

The publishers that ask you for money are vanity presses. I know that PublishAmerica hasn't explicitly asked you for any money (they claim they don't want it), but they will give you many, many opportunities to send them money. Remember that the moment you write PublishAmerica's name on the "Pay To" line of a check or money order, or you give them your credit card number, you are acknowledging that they are, in fact, a vanity press.

Of all the reasons publishers have to reject books, "Because the author did/didn't suffer to write the manuscript" isn't among them. From the publisher's point of view, from the reader's point of view, there's no way to tell whether the writer sweated over the manuscript for a decade or the writer tossed it off over a weekend. The labor theory of value is flat-out wrong when it comes to art.

If you want to know why publishers reject books, I invite your attention to Slushkiller.

You say that PublishAmerica is giving you a chance. (They say that themselves, incessantly.) Be aware that they aren't giving you a chance to do anything more than buy copies of your own book and flog it to your family and friends.


You imagine that your experience with PublishAmerica will be unlike what you went through with Carlton Press, which charged you a healthy amount up front to publish What Happened to Suzy. You imagine it'll be different from what you experienced with 1st Books Library. I confidently predict that with PublishAmerica you'll have those same problems. Why? Because PublishAmerica, like Carlton Press, like 1stBooks, is a vanity press.

You imagine that your book will be physically shelved in bookstores so that total strangers can find it, buy it, take it home, read it, love it, and recommend it to their friends.

This won't happen. Your book won't be in bookstores unless you visit them in person and beg the managers to carry it. And even then, prepare for disappointment.

You imagine that someone at PublishAmerica read your book, loved it, and offered you a contract based on loving your book.

Not so. The entire Atlanta Nights experiment, the subject of this article, was to determine whether PublishAmerica offers contracts to books that they never read.

No one at PublishAmerica loves your book. No one at PublishAmerica even read it. All they were looking for was whether your manuscript was long enough.

They are betting that you'll buy enough copies of your own book to allow them to make a profit. Whether you'll be able to re-sell those books isn't their problem. Why else do you think that your book will be so overpriced? Why else is the discount they offer bookstores so low? Why else are their production values so minimal? They are deliberately sabotaging your book, making it unsalable to anyone but you, your family, and your closest friends.

You won't be able to resell What Happened to Suzy to PublishAmerica. They have a policy against reprints. Once you know their business model you'll understand why: They figure that all of the author's friends already have copies so no more will sell.

There's nothing I can do for you, Carol. You've signed the contract with PublishAmerica. They own your book for seven years.

Here's my best advice: Forget the book you've sold to PublishAmerica. It's lost. Go and write a new, different, better book and sell it to a real publisher. One that will actually give it the chance it deserves.

#232 ::: Carol Denise Simms-Mitchell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 09:49 PM:

I am too sober of a writer to slam a remark by any of you naysayers. Free speech is a right we all have. What I have recognized is that there will always be people in this world whom will feel better by dashing other people's dreams, (to make themselves feel better.) I refuse to stoop to that level

If you wanted to hurt me by posting all of the vanity presses that I have failed with, go ahead and add salt to the wounds; for I am indeed all cried out. Nothing Publish America does can be worse than the tumor I have in my throat. I have laryngeal schwannoma, an inoperable tumor in my throat, (non-cancerous) and that is my biggest challenge. Alternately, if I had a mere dime for each "Real Publisher" that said my work was great and turned it down I would be crazy ontop of being ill.

Elizabeth Pomada's Agency in San Francisco said if I wrote another book like "What Happened to Suzy" it would be glad to publish my next work and they lied to me.

"Harlequin Romance" called "A Love Worth Fighting For" "Brilliant and turned the book down. Countless others preferred to go with the known authors they could prostitute for a sure fix. They got paid; but, I believe there was better work out there; only, the name would have been better served placed before a blind man.

Watch what you say in these blogs to people when you call them a fool. I may never live to see Random House on the back of my book; but, if it does happen, I'm not going to slam the next writer...thinking that I am better than they are because I got a good deal.


Carol Denise Simms-Mitchell
(I am not ashamed)

#233 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Carol, no one here has called you a fool.

What are your expectations for the book that you have with PublishAmerica? What are your measurable goals?

#234 ::: Luna ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2008, 05:32 PM:

While I openly agree that PA is vanity press, they do offer an oddly unique opportunity. My book with them is a poetry anthology (many of which where previously published by respectable traditional methods, such as my home states Poetry and Literary Society) and through PA I was able to market myself, as they ran with ALL my publication costs. And there is a myth/misconception about one having to pay upfront, you don't.
And Yes, they do try to get you to buy a lot of your own books...but so does EVERY Vanity Press, at least with PA you didn't have to pay them a reading/editing fee, a #of published books fee or a contributor's copies fee.
And as someone who cherishes dear ol'reliable Writers Market, and writes and publishes speculative fiction through ind. publishing I wouldn't advise people to sell them a manuscript for anything other than something they feel is too out of left field to be published traditionally.
Anything I truly wanted to see hit the mass markets wouldn't be done through PA, because a novel or novella wouldn't be as easy to market as the poetry I've already made myself a name with. People don't care about my PH as long as they can have a copy of the work they liked.
As my poems are anything but mainstream, It was a logical choice to utilize an easy in, so they could be published together and in relatively a short time.
So as evil or friendly as you wish to tout PA as, it really comes down to how smart the person using them is. If you can market yourself, you make yourself known and they pay for the publication you don't. In traditional VP you pay it all and make nothing, here you pay nothing and make (a small one, though) profit.
So again I agree it's a sham, but if your clever you can slide it to your advantage.

#235 ::: Raphael sees something that's either spam or sad ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2008, 12:31 PM:

Allthough it's old now- sorry if it was already checked.

#236 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Checked, relevant enough.

#237 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2008, 07:33 AM:

#240: through PA I was able to market myself, as they ran with ALL my publication costs. And there is a myth/misconception about one having to pay upfront, you don't.

No one's said that you have to pay up-front with PA. That's the moderately clever thing about their scheme: You pay down-back.

PA doesn't run with all your publication costs: they charge 'em back to you with the incredibly inflated prices they charge on a book-by-book basis.

Look around and you can find far more cost-effective ways to put a book that you're planning to market yourself into print. Cafepress and Lulu both offer print-on-demand books. I recommend you check them out.

#238 ::: Larry Cooperman ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2009, 01:44 PM:

hey Carol,

What happened with your book? We are all convinced of our absolute talent and I didn't even think that PA would hurt me because I am such a genius. Know what I mean about this kind of self inflation? Well, one thing for sure is that a critic that is used to reviewing books from legitimate publishers will not review the veiled vanity press offerings of PA. You are screwed on this account. But anyway, I was a fool and maybe you are one too? No offense, please, this is a high order place of discourse and I mean not harm. I've been an idiot but this is life and we learn. It just so happens that I have a PA book and am struggling to get it back.
Best of luck and let us know how you're doing.
Rabbi Bubba

#239 ::: Terry sees a comment of questionable charity ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2009, 04:41 PM:

If it were me I'd pull the vowels.

#240 ::: Veronica esagui ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2009, 03:53 PM:

I have requested twice so far to be released from my contract to PublishAmerica because of editorial and poor quality control. I was also charged for my book of 270 pages,$27.95 plus delivery making it a total of $31.95. Their answer to taking care of their errors was, "“We consider your book quite marketable as it is, therefore at this sStage we can not consider making and implementing additional changes until we have received firm orders for at least 10 hardcover copies of your book at a 50% discount. Once we are certain that we will have at least a 10 hardcover book order to fulfill, we will re-examine our decision." Have a good day, PublishAmerica Support
> Support@publishamerica.com

*How many authors out there are willing to meet me in Washignton DC and put on a rally where we demand to be released from our contracts? Also if you want to join me on national television That's what I inted to do, to make our point across. I only request one thing, that you have prove of all your grievances, like I do. I'm using PA'emails and my book which is a good example of their work. Saying that they are crooks and calling them other names out of anger is not what I call evidence. Feel free to get in touch with me, Veronica Esagui,DC Email: handson13@hotmail.com

#241 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2009, 11:16 PM:

Veronica, I'm not sure a whole lot of PA authors, happy or unhappy, are following this thread.

#242 ::: Reader writer ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 11:53 AM:

Wow, so people are actively willing to buy a book that's written so poorly it's considered a joke? Yet other people work for years and years to sell a book while this tripe is selling. Unbelievable.

#243 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Reader writer: comprehension FAIL.

#244 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 12:12 PM:

Buying the book is part of the joke. You might want to think of it as a sort of participatory performance art, rather than normal writing and book-buying. If I buy a copy so as to participate in the joke, it has nothing to do with whether or not I might want to buy other books (which I do hope would be better-written).

#245 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 01:37 PM:

I certainly found my copy* useful today, when I was encouraging someone to participate in NaNoWriMo ("No, trust me, no matter what you write, it won't be the worst prose ever. Really. Let me read you something about the penguins of the Sahara.")

-----
* It's the prototype for the deliberately awful binding that got auctioned off for the SFWA Medical Fund. It's smaller, but just as crooked, ugly and cross-grained.

#246 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 03:32 PM:

Abi @ 251... Let me read you something about the penguins of the Sahara

...because the lion is in the contract!

#247 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Ah, yes, penguins -- the submarines of the desert.

#248 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 06:53 PM:

Desert penguins, as described in Emperor of Dune.

#249 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 07:00 PM:

I'm told that back in the day the folks at Fandom Wank tried to figure out the plot of AN.

I don't know what they ultimately derived (if anything).

#250 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 30, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Do desert penguins eat sand trout?

#251 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2009, 04:35 AM:

Sand trout? I'm getting the feeling some of our students haven't read the set text here.

His den! Henry holed up in his den like a wild beast, hoarding his pray and coming out to hunt when he hungered for food or lusted for sex or thirsted for liquor or water or will or juice. The back to his den or out to hut the lives and fortunes of other men or off to his wive, that abominable Callie Archer who took up so much of his time. But he always came back always came back for her athletic body and her wild sex and her Margarita and tequila sunrises and omelettes and steaks and chops and their video tapes, the ones recorded by the hidden cameras in the bedroom when they made love like wild beasts, like penguins of the Sahara diving into the sand and rutting wildly after feasting on sand sharks. She envied those penguins. Al that hot sand to swim through, the raspy grains sliding over their feathers as they hunted in wild packs, baying at the moon, and diving deep, deep, down into the dusty depths fo the dry smooth sand.

What would penguin leather be like? Would it have lots of dense patters of whirls where the feathers grew, like ostrich leather did? Perhaps she would have something made of penguin leather to remind her of Henry, a love seat or a find set of whips and straps. Perhaps she might travel to the Sahara someday to watch them from the tops of the pyramids, Mount Fujiyama off in the distance, duplicating the smooth slanted sides of the pyramids.

Sorry. I can't bear to go on. But you can clearly see that sand penguins hunt sand sharks in baying packs, then dive down and have lots of sex.

#252 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2009, 08:18 AM:

PJ Evans @ 256... Do desert penguins eat sand trout?

They much prefer dune-a.

#253 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2009, 08:32 AM:

Wow.

That was...that was....

Joycean in its splendour.

#254 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2009, 10:30 AM:

Abi @ 257... Henry holed up in his den like a wild beast, hoarding his pray

In the nave?
What a knave!

#255 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2009, 11:02 AM:

If it's not impolite to ask -- how have sales of Atlanta Nights been?

Because it would be double-plus ironic if, after PA dropped the book ("Ha ha! We knew it was only a joke all along!"), it turned out to be a better commercial success than their average.

#256 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2009, 03:20 PM:

Wow... there's a certain, grandeur to the sructure, and the stream of consciousness of the prose.

The images are... arresting. It's, ignoring the content, not that bad to read.

One wonders about the buffett influence (sharks that swim on the land, in the same graf as margaritas). I'll bet a creative english lit sort could get some interesting papers out of individual chapters.

#257 ::: Refusal To Be A PA Victim ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Authors victimized by Publish America must UNITE!

Authors, if you’ve been victimized by Publish America and in addition to feeling violated, misled, cheated, bullied, ignored, taken for granted, exploited, and/or approached with extortion, and you feel powerless to right the wrong perpetrated against you, take heart. You are not alone!

Bullies are cowards who prey upon the unsuspecting, timid, and weak. They also operate in the dark. TOGETHER, WE will aggressively and unrelentingly take the fight to them. WE will expose them, individually and severally, very publicly and ultimately kick their ass! Refuse to be their victim! Become soldiers in the army against the Publish Americas victimization of yourself and aspiring authors everywhere!!!

Following is a step by step approach to unite victimized authors and to involve powerful agencies for their assistance and enforcement. Many of these agencies are already aware of Publish America, their rotten reputation, their negative press, and how they prey upon the unsuspecting. It is very important that you do everything outlined below and name the deceiving Publish America individuals that you dealt with. Follow up with each organization to your satisfaction. VERY IMPORTANT - copy/paste this letter to Publish America related blogs and websites all over the www.

1. Call, write, email, and fax Publish America daily, expressing your issues with them. They can be reached at: 111 E. Church Street - Frederick, MD 21705, P.O. Box 151 - Frederick, MD 21705, 4510 Metropolitan Court , Frederick - MD 21701, Phone - 301.695.1707, Fax - 301.874.4793, and emails - support@publishamerica.com, Support2@publishamerica.com,
shawns@publishamerica.com, christopher@publishamerica.com, sydney@publishamerica.com, gail@publishamerica.com, jeannetteg@publishamerica.com, pr@publishamerica.com,
carriel@publishamerica.com, acquisitions@publishamerica.com, jenny@publishamerica.com.

2. File complaint with Maryland’s Attorney General Doug Ganzler at 410.576.6300. www.oag.state.md.us.

3. File complaint with Maryland’s Senators Ben Cardin at 410.962.4436 and Barbara Mikulski at 410.962.4510.

4. File complaint with Maryland’s Congressman Roscoe Bartlett at 301.694.3030. Fax - 301.694.6674. Seek out Ashley Collier who will coordinate with the Frederick MD police, as well as with the local FBI.

5. File complaint with Maryland’s BBB at 410 347.3990

6. File complaint with Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley at governor@gov.state.md.us.

7. File complaint with Maryland’s Mayor Randy McClement at 301.694.1380.

8. File complaint with Maryland’s Assistant City Attorney Rachel Depo at 301.600.1391.

9. File complaint with Frederick, Maryland’s police Sergeant DeGrange at 301.600.2118

10. File complaint with your own states Senator.

11. File complaint with Maryland’s Volunteer Lawyer Service at 800.510.0050

12. File complaint with Frederick County’s Bar Association vs. Publish Americas attorneys at 310.663.1139.

13. File complaint with Maryland’s local network television news crime tips, crime watchers, and investigative teams.

14. File complaint with Baltimore, MD FBI at www.ic3.gov. They are aware of Publish America and want victims to post their stories and complaints on their site.

15. File complaint with the Maryland State Police at 301.600.4151.

16. File complaint with Maryland’s State Attorneys office at 301.600.1523, 301.600.2026, and 301.600.2993.

17. File complaint with the US Attorney General at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20530-0009. 202.353.1555‎.

18. File complaint with the FBI at Federal Bureau of Investigation - J. Edgar Hoover Building -
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20535-0001. 202.324.3000.

19. File complaint with ISBN at 908.219.0274.

20. File complaint with Ingram Book Wholesalers at bookbuyer@ingrambook.com. 800.937.8200 and 615.793.5000.

21. File complaint with Baker & Taylor Book Wholesalers at 800.775.1800 or 908.541.7000. Ask for publisher relations.

22. File complaint with Brodart Book Wholesalers at 570.326.2461. Ask for Jim Bobak in acquisitions or email Mindy Engel at mindy.engel@brodart.com.

23. File complaint with amazon.com.

24. File complaint with Borders.com at 734.477.1941 or 734.477.1100. Ask for someone in acquisitions, publisher relations, etc.

25. File complaint with the federal BBB at 202.393.8000.

25. File complaint with Maryland’s FBI at 410.265.8080.

27. File complaint with the Attorney general in your home state.

28. Put your thinking cap on and come up with additional ways to FIGHT Publish America. Share these ideas via blogs, newsletters, websites, etc

See. You are not powerless. It is critical, however, that you do all of the above, follow up with the agencies, and keep the heat turned up fully on Publish America and it’s complicit co conspirators. The might of our right will crush their wrong!!!

#258 ::: estelle joseph ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2010, 06:53 PM:

I am a victim of PublishAmerica - ordered my books April 24, 2010 because they were on sale. To date I have not received the order.
I have many emails to and from PublishAmerica. I had an opportunity to show my book to a few important people in the trades when i attended a convention in July. Well!, as it is, my opportunity was buried. I would like nothing more than to bury PublishAmerica. Is there anyway we can do a class action suite against them? If there is, please count me in.

#259 ::: PAULA BENNETT ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2011, 09:07 PM:

please, any author's out there scammed by PA, contact me I'll tell you what I have been doing to get my contracts cancelled---sweetsoot1@yahoo.com

#260 ::: Stacy ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 03:10 AM:

I really regret not searching further into PublishAmerica before I used them. I'm just glad I didn't spend but $49 total. I think my book is grossly overpriced and I found errors that weren't there before. I told them this. They tried charging me $200 to fix 4 typos. Yeah, right. I emailed them several times. Their reply was extremely rude, calling me a fool and that I emailed nonsense and it was ignored. When I wanted out of my contract, they didn't ask me not to contact a lawyer. They demanded me not to. They said, "You will NOT be getting out of your contract via a lawyer or anyone else." They even blamed me for the errors. After reading your hilarious story of mish-mash and finding out PA offered a contract can bruise an author's ego. I think I'm a great writer with innate talent but how will people know when PA doesn't help with sales? Not only that, but they haven't sent a royalty statement since last year. Again, they blamed me. Somehow, I gave them the wrong email address. How could they have contacted me and how did I receive their email if it was wrong? I worked my hind end off on my writing and I didn't want that abused but obviously, PA only cares about $$$.

#261 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 08:15 AM:

Stacy #275: You definitely should call in a lawyer, and do not believe any of they bluster and bullshit. Remember, they're already ripping you off -- first they'll say anything to keep you sending money, but when they realize that well's run dry, they'll do the same thing to try and keep you off their backs.

#262 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 09:59 AM:

That rude reply of theirs is a form letter. Ask yourself this: How many businesses even have an abusive form letter for blowing off unhappy customers?

Ask yourself, too, why they are so adamant that you must not get a lawyer. (They have their own lawyer on staff whose main job seems to be whizzing around the Internet writing Cease & Desist letters to people who call them a "scam." Given the number of authors they've signed over the years, he has his hands full with that.)

Meanwhile, the best thing you can do right now is write a new, different, better book and sell it to a real publisher.

#263 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Jim, I see that Publish America is an exhibitor at the London Book Fair, held in a couple of weeks.

And they publish a style guide as a Kindle ebook. I restrained myself to suggest Fowler as an alternative.

#264 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 12:26 PM:

Blast from the past: Atlanta Nights at Fandom Wank (I put this here for the use of Google.)

#265 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 03:26 PM:

I'm going to collect links here:

The origin of the project is lost; Archive.org doesn't have a copy. What remains is what's quoted in the revelation post.

The hoax is revealed (Post 7036 et seq. Sting Manuscript)

More on the Atlanta Nights story

Atlanta Nights and free homework!

Be Part of History

Atlanta nights at TV Tropes

The original press release.

Scalzi on Atlanta Nights: PublishAmerica Douses Self in Kerosene, Lights Match

#266 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2012, 03:47 PM:

Joel Polowin #260 If it's not impolite to ask -- how have sales of Atlanta Nights been?

Let me go check.

As of right now, over at Lulu,

102550 Atlanta Nights -- Print 627
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Distribution - US 438
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Distribution - UK 79
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Download 51
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Print Distribution - US 6
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Print Distribution - UK 4
11645123 Atlanta Nights -- eBook 2
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Print Distribution - US 2
102550 Atlanta Nights -- Print 1

For a grand total, all places, all formats, of 1,210.

Compare that to PublishAmerica's average sales of 75 copies per title.

#269 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2013, 07:49 PM:

Huh. I clicked through to writerbeware.com and got a malware warning.

#270 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2013, 07:54 PM:

Try accrispin.blogspot.com

#272 ::: P J Evans sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2014, 12:16 AM:

With that user name, the chance of it being a legitimate comment is smaller than the chance that I'll win the lottery.

#274 ::: Lee sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2014, 01:07 AM:

@274

#275 ::: football ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 09:30 PM:

In the end, you will have assigned 136 confidence points (16+15+14+.
The different types of defensive football positions are:. I guess a handful of suspensions was enough to satisfy the NCAA.

#276 ::: Mary Aileen sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 09:48 PM:

More spam coming in, here and elsewhere.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

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