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January 7, 2007

‘Barstard.’ hissed Nancy in an annoyed voice.
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:40 AM * 123 comments

America’s favorite Main Street Publisher has offered a publishing contract to yet another sting manuscript. This one is called Crack of Death by Sharla Tann, and (like the infamous Atlanta Nights) is available for your reading pleasure via Lulu.com.

This exciting erotic thriller fiction novel is the story of the beautiful hairdresser Nancy whose life spirals out of control when she meets the exotic Roberto. Little does Audrey know that Roberto is in fact a dangerous Colombian Mafia Drug Lord. Can she escape the clutches of Cucaracha, Espadrillo and their Boss, the wicked La Madre? From the seething underbelly of Colombian drugs to the evil web of intrigue in London, Nancy is swept up in an adventure that will change her life forever, right up to the cliffhanger ending where the kindly Scotland Yard detective Garry Lamont vies with intrepid FBI agent Duane Malaysia for her favours. But is it too late?

The answer is, yes, it’s way too late.

The whole sordid tale is recounted here. Originally this was to have been a sting to see if PublishBritannica would take any word-hash that someone sent in. When PublishBritannica folded (shortly after Encyclopedia Britannica sued PublishAmerica for trademark infringement), the authors were in despair, until they found an American beard to submit the thrilling work. Had PublishAmerica learned its lesson after the Atlanta Nights debacle? Nope. They still offer contracts to books without bothering to read them first.

I confess now that I did write one of the chapters, but it isn’t my favorite. My favorite begins:

Nancy spent all night starring at the cold gray cell walls covered in graffiti and thinking about Roberto. Where was he, she thought? Roberto where are you? Her heart ached for him, his shiny dark hair and firm taut muscles, his Calian accent, she imagined herself warm and safe in his arms, she imagined them making passionate love and him tenderly kissing the out line of her butterfly tattoo on her smooth buttocks the way he used to on those hot feverish nights in his penthouse sweet near the new Tescos in south Clapham.

All of a sudden she heard a key turn slowly in the lock. ‘Whose there!’ she shouted sharply. No one replied. Then the cell door opened slowly and creakily. She could see the out line of two tall men. ‘what’ she said.

‘Are you Nancy?’ Said a smooth commanding voice.

‘Might be.’

The two out lines stepped slowly into the cell and she could see they were two men, one white and black.

Buy one. Better still, buy a dozen. They make excellent gifts for people who don’t read the books you give them. And at just $10.50 it costs half of what PublishAmerica would have charged for the same text had they been allowed to print it.

[UPDATE] Sharla Tann has a webpage.

Comments on 'Barstard.' hissed Nancy in an annoyed voice.:
#1 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Penthouse sweet? A desert sponsored by a well-known mens magazine? :)

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 12:51 PM:

And who does own that "there" thing, anyway?

#3 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Pardon while I sip on my coffee and read through this a couple (or as they say in the great OK state: a couple-few) times.
*grin*
-=Jeff=-

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Characters called Cucaracha, Espadrillo (running shoe?) and Duane Malaysia? That sound was my lower jaw falling to the ground in Wiley Coyote fashion.

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:42 PM:

From the rolicking Chapter Tweenty Four:

Cynthia, snapped Garry out of his reverie. “Wake up, you stupid dolt, quit daydreaming. What is the matter with you.” She looked him over from head to toe with a well trained eye of someone that looks at people every day for a living. He was hiding something and it had to do with this Nancy woman. She would have to make him forget her and she had a few ideas in mind on how to do it. She tossed her chestnut brown hair, the color of chestnuts, and put on her most flirtgtious face.

Garry looked at Scythia – could he trust this woman? He would have to – he didn’t have much of a choice, seeing as how she was the only person around. His wound was serious, he thought, although he was no doctor, he knew he couldn’t loose too much more blood without serious consequences that would require him to go to the hospital, maybe even the morgue. The last he wanted today was a trip to the crooner’s office.

“Let’s go,” Garry hotly; his day wasn’t working out the way he wanted.

Now that I’ve got you here I want to take this opportunity to say that this book really sucks, and if you haven’t figured it out by now, well, then, so much the shame on you. You really should read manuscripts before you accept them and that discounts scheme please. Anyway back to our story…

Garry took off down the street at warp speed, the treads of his sneezers leaving sticky footprints on the hot sidewalk. Cynthia skipped along beside him like a little girl on her way to school. (wow, this hard to write this badly for a whole chapter!). Garry wanted to wrap this case up before the Three Stooges came on – after all, it was his favorite show and he couldn’t afford TiVo. He never, ever, not ever in his whole life missed it. If he did he just might have to shoot himself. The Stooges were the mainstay of his whole existence, the meaning of life was in there somewhere, Garry was a sure of that as he was that the sun came up in the evening.

Cynthia’s legs quickly tired of the skipping-boy, am I ever out of shape, she thought dumpily. I need to get my fat ass into a gym. Maybe skipping the Haagen-Dazs would be a good idea too. And where is this guy going anyway? And who is Ricardo? And why am I in this terrible book? Who writes this crap – probably someone who doesn’t know the difference between sales and sells.

#6 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:52 PM:

When I saw the headline in my RSS reader, I thought perhaps it was Mrs. Reagan's response to the posthumous release of Gerald Ford interviews in which he blamed President Reagan for Jimmy Carter's victory. But no, even better than that!

#7 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:54 PM:

A sting manuscript accepted is a thing of beauty and joy forever. (Relatively speaking, of course.)


I read bits to my boyfriend--he likes it better than Atlanta Nights.

#8 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Me, I thought this post was going to be about something Nancy Pelosi said on "Face The Nation".

The truth turned out to be *much* more entertaining. :)

#9 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:17 PM:

:raises hand:

Yeah, that chapter was...mine.

Really.

#10 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:23 PM:

#5 James D. Macdonald "From the rolicking Chapter Tweenty Four:"

Maybe that should have been "Chapter Tweenty Fore!"

#11 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:29 PM:

one white and black

Like those guys from Star Trek, I suppose. But what about the other guy?

#12 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:35 PM:

And I keep wondering just where she tossed her, did you say chestnut, hair?

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:37 PM:

By the way, did the book's authors indulge in a bit of tuckerizing?

#14 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:37 PM:

It was the color of chestnuts.

And I was sure they'd pick up on the misspelling of Twenty, I didn't want to push my luck.

#15 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:43 PM:

This exciting erotic thriller fiction novel is the story of the beautiful hairdresser Nancy whose life spirals out of control when she meets the exotic Roberto. Little does Audrey know that Roberto is in fact a dangerous Colombian Mafia Drug Lord.

I neglected to mention this, too.

Nancy, Audrey.... priceless.

#16 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:48 PM:

#14 Christine, I just figure since you where teeing it up you might want to warn the people down range. But yeah, you'd figure they would at least look at the headers.

#17 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 02:57 PM:

So when is book three out so we can have a special edition box set?

#18 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Me, I thought this post was going to be about something Nancy Pelosi said on "Face The Nation".

That would be for the non-fiction sting book.

#19 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Someone suggested "Crack of Atlanta"

I like that idea.

How about "Nights of Death" or "Atlanta Cracks".

How about going for the less than subtle "Three Stooges and a Floozy".

#20 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 03:34 PM:

I prefer bastage over barstard.

#21 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 04:44 PM:

‘Barstard.’ hissed Nancy in an annoyed voice.

Wow. Everytime I read that line, it hurts my head. That's pretty impressive.

#22 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Domino hadn't expected to be a Dawager Duchess, but after the Messerschmidts has shot down Sergeant the Duke of Bangalore's Sopwith Camel over St, Quentin she had been alone. And now the guns were silent and she threw herself into the social whirlwind of Jazz-Age London, desparate to forget her grief.

But who was the silent stranger who limped into her life, face bandaged and a steel claw for a hand? Was he protecting her, or preserving her for his own dark purpose? And how can Canada afford to buy the entire output of the Loch Ben Nevis distillery?


#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:05 PM:

And how can Canada afford to buy the entire output of the Loch Ben Nevis distillery?

Why would Canada buy it, Dave? Didn't a recent thread intimate that Canada has ideas for world domination that involves the flexing of its mighty military thews?

#24 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:14 PM:

And how can Canada afford to buy the entire output of the Loch Ben Nevis distillery?

Why would Canada buy it, Dave?

Because America drank Canada Dry!

I'll be here all week. Try the veal.
#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:28 PM:

'Near the new Tescos in south Clapham'.


Might I put in a plug for Larkhall as a setting for the next such novel?

The excerpts had me in stitches.

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:50 PM:

Serge, the implication is that there was a considerable cross-border traffic between Canada and the USA. It's about the only accurate bit of history in the blurb.

#27 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Haven't had time to read it yet, but +5 bonus points for use of the phrase "spiraling out of control". I find that's almost as good a sign of guality as front cover cutouts.

#28 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:18 PM:

Once is a sting, twice ... well, twice is redundant.

It would be useful to visit other targets. Lulu is an established shlockmeister and vanity press, and this piece was wasted when it was sent to them.

#29 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:32 PM:

With characters named Cockroach and Sneaker, how can it miss?

Does the Eye of Argon Award have a Erotic Fiction category?

#30 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Another here who thought the thread was to be about Pelosi and Dubya. Sigh ...

#31 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:53 PM:

But lulu is honest. Sure, they're a printer if you have your own ISBN and a vanity if you buy from them, but they never claimed to be anything else.

PA is just so much... worse.

Hey, mebbye we should send one to old Babs, see if she offers representation.
...if you first use these editing servies...

#32 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 07:53 PM:

that should be 'vanity if you buy one from them' meaning an ISBN

#33 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 08:03 PM:

Scorpio #28:

Lulu doesn't say:

Every submission goes through an immediate review. During the immediate review, we check to make sure the manuscript meets our submission guidelines. If the manuscript meets our submission guidelines, we place the title for review with an acquisitions editor. The acquisitions editor reads the entire manuscript and reviews the other materials. After the review a decision is made and the book is either accepted or rejected.

PublishAmerica does.

#34 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 10:05 PM:

I use Lulu for some of my open source books to make them available in paperback. I don't pay anything, at all, other than to order a copy of whatever book to check my formatting worked out right.


http://www.lulu.com/greglondon

One is a book on perl and the other is a book on copyright law. Both are licensed via CC-BY or GNU-GPL or something or other.

It is rather nice that I can upload a PDF to them and they take care of the order fulfillment stuff, and I don't have to pay them anything, except a percentage of each book sold.

They're pretty clear that they aren't a real publisher and they're pretty clear that your book won't end up on bookstore shelves and they're pretty clear that its up to you to get the word out to get the mailorder coming in for your book. All of which, once experienced, is a rather inexpensive lesson on how I don't want to be a publisher when I grow up.

#35 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Oh, yeah, I was thinking the thread was Pelosi talking about Bush when I first came in. I didn't say anything cause I thought I was the only one...

#36 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 11:32 PM:

"Whose there"? My there.

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 01:14 AM:

How this book happened: for a while, PublishAmerica had a British branch, PublishBritannia. Crack of Doom was being prepared for their undoing. Unfortunately, Encyclopedia Britannica got there first, with lawyers, and PublishBritannica was shut down. COD was left homeless. The obvious course of action was to submit it to PublishAmerica -- which offered "Sharla Tann" a contract, thus proving that their offer of a contract to Atlanta Nights was anything but a fluke.

#38 ::: Sharon Maas ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 01:56 AM:

Oh yes, Skippoo's chapter is priceless.
I love this bit:

All of a sudden Garry felt really protective over this pet-eat young girl who looked like a Cindy doll except with a pear-cede lip. He had to protect her no matter what it cost.
‘Nancy’ he said. ‘You’ve got to get away from Roberto. You don’t know what you’ve got yourself into. Your in grave danger. Tell her Lav!’
‘True, t’ings rough out deh, you know, Rasta.’ said Laverne flashing his gold tooth.
‘It’s true Nancy.’ Whispered Garry with a furrowed brow.
‘Yes alright dad. Just ask me your fucking questions and let me go home damn it!’
Garry turned to Laverne. ‘Lav can you get the suitcase.’
Laverne left the small dark room his dread locks swinging vilently behind him.
They were alone.
Garry sighed and stared at Nancy tenderly. ‘I want to help you Nancy. I’m on your side.’
For a split second Nancy could see the truth in his icey pear-sing blue eyes. Garry was a good man she could tell, but how could Roberto be a lying drug barren? She’d seen the pain in his eyes when he’d talked about his sick mother. Roberto where are you?


Sharon (Editor)

#39 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 02:04 AM:

It was Atlanta Nights that led me to discover Making Light when I followed links to see who I should be thinking (or blaming) for the laughs.

I found that the best way to appreciate Travis Tea's glorious prose was to have my macintosh read it to me in one of its built-in synthesized voices. There's something about the mispronunciation of misspelled words and the oddly misplaced attempts at emphasis in its not-quite-monotone delivery that really works well with Atlanta Nights. I plan to enjoy Crack of Death the same way. (Perhaps Ms Tann might consider producing an audio edition this way.)

#40 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 02:16 AM:

That should, of course, be "thanking" rather than "thinking". That's what happens when you take too much Tea at work.

#41 ::: Sus ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:22 AM:

*applauds* Another sterling effort, it would appear. Thanks for sharing, all! Will go and purchase for further amusement. (Although sometimes I feel a bit ill perusing the excerpts.)

this pet-eat young girl who looked like a Cindy doll except with a pear-cede lip

*shudder*

Delicious.

#42 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 06:04 AM:

Yet another triumph.

The only problem with these sting manuscripts (or any showcase of terrible writing for that matter) is that they sometimes contain accdiental brilliance. Stuff that wouldn't be out of place in a good comedic novel.

"..he knew he couldn’t loose too much more blood without serious consequences that would require him to go to the hospital, maybe even the morgue."

This is dangerously close to a really good joke. I fear that it's the good writing showing through.

#43 ::: Sharon Maas ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:12 AM:

Not to mention:

"The last he wanted today was a trip to the crooner’s office."

#44 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:26 AM:

The only problem with these sting manuscripts (or any showcase of terrible writing for that matter) is that they sometimes contain accdiental brilliance. Stuff that wouldn't be out of place in a good comedic novel.

"..he knew he couldn’t loose too much more blood without serious consequences that would require him to go to the hospital, maybe even the morgue."

This is dangerously close to a really good joke. I fear that it's the good writing showing through.

And 'loose' for 'lose' is such a common typo on the web that some people probably won't notice.

By the way, another such typo I've come across is 'rascist' for 'racist'. It crops up quite often on the IMDB boards when people engage in endless, ignorant arguments about a particular actor or actress's racial background, leading to threads with a hundred posts each all written by people who don't understand what 'race', 'ethnicity' and 'nationality' mean. (Then there are the folks who use 'Latino', 'Hispanic' and 'Spanish' interchangably and have to have it explained to them that not everyone who speaks Spanish is, you know, brown.)

I remember one thread about whether Gina Torres is 'really' Black or Latina (beginning with a moving account of the tragic conflict between the Black and Cuban parts of her identity -- in fact both of her parents are/were Cuban), and another about how Colin Farrell must have Spanish (or was it African?) ancestry because he has black hair. Rosario Dawson also seems to attract the same kind of idiocy.

#45 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 09:32 AM:

"The last he wanted today was a trip to the crooner’s office."

Every time I read that I hear, "I get no kick from champagne, mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all," in my head.

#46 ::: Nancy Beck ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:02 AM:

"The last he wanted today was a trip to the crooner’s office."

LOL! Who'd he see? Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra? ;-)

~Nancy

#47 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Are you sure that "rascist" wasn't an intentional, clever, subtle neologism? It looks to me like a quite elegant portmanteau of "racist" and "fascist", two vile tastes that taste vile together.

But anyone who offered a contract to "Sharla Tann" without thinking twice, regardless of the content of the manuscript, certainly deserves this public exposure of their unprofessional carelessness.

#48 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 11:37 AM:

I wonder if PA has at least the wit, or the trouble-avoidance instinct, to stay away from obvious trademark/copyright violations. Harry Potter and the Slash of Malfoy...

#49 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 11:44 AM:

‘True, t’ings rough out deh, you know, Rasta.’

Unu piipl get dat perfec.

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 11:46 AM:

Joel Polowin #48: "I wonder if PA has at least the wit, or the trouble-avoidance instinct, to stay away from obvious trademark/copyright violations. Harry Potter and the Slash of Malfoy..."


That could be construed as taking the piss...

#51 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Are you sure that "rascist" wasn't an intentional, clever, subtle neologism? It looks to me like a quite elegant portmanteau of "racist" and "fascist", two vile tastes that taste vile together.

In the contexts where I've seen it, I doubt it, because the people who used it (a) were talking about celebrities, not politics and (b) clearly didn't understand the difference between race, nationality and ethnicity. Essentially it was just a bunch of ignorant people arguing with each other, responding to each wrong assertion with one of their own.

Someone who can't get their head around the possibility that white Argentinians or black Cubans (as opposed to stereotypical brown Mexicans) are Hispanic too isn't likely to be deploying an 'intentional, clever, subtle neologism'. That said, perhaps someone did think up 'rascist' as a portmanteau only for it to spread to people who just think that it's the correct spelling of 'racist'.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Colin Farrell must have Spanish (or was it African?) ancestry because he has black hair.

Welllll...lots of Irish people DO have Spanish ancestry, you know. The Goidelic Celts were in Iberia (Spain) before they came to Ireland (and spread out to Scotland and Mann). (I'm not sure about the Brythonic Celts.) Full-blooded Celts have brown hair (light, medium, dark, but never blond or black). The black hair in Ireland is almost all of Spanish origin, just as the blond and red is almost all of Norse origin.

I am (or was, when I had hair) blond as the blondest Norseman, and I was born with red hair. My mother has raven hair. I had a brother (now deceased) who could and did pass for Mexican. So it goes.

(Linguistic note: Iberia, Hibernia, Ire(land), Eire, and Erin all come from the same root.)

#53 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:14 PM:

P.S. Chris, just to illustrate the kind of drivel I'm talking about, here's a sample:

Gina Torress looks Blacks to me, so obviously the black in her is more dominant than the Cuban because she has hair like the average black, features like the average black...she has full lips, larger nose, kinky hair that she straightens. I think she knows she dominantly Black but there's Cuban there to but she knows she can never be fully Cuban.

(Both Gina Torres's parents are/were from Cuba.)

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:15 PM:

Gag, I suspect it's a misspelling influenced by 'fascist' with no consciousness of doing so. I've almost committed that one myself.

Some New Yorkers pronounce 'racist' RAY-shist, which I expect makes it harder to spell.

#55 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Is a barstard someone who was ill-begotten in a saloon?

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Gag #53: That person sure sounds racist all right, however they spell it. Black people can't be "fully" Cuban, eh? I wonder if they can be fully American in that loser's eyes?

I have a Cuban friend who insists all his ancestors are Spaniards through and through. That may be true of all his recent ancestors, but he sure looks plenty North African to me! He gets so mad when I tell him so!

Ditto the Sicilian coworker I used to have who nearly decided to have me killed (no, not all Sicilians are "connected;" yes, he was) when I told him that all Sicilians have African (mostly Carthaginian) blood. Ooo, it's so easy to infuriate racists! And such fun.

Not really safe though.

#57 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Gag #53: That person sure sounds racist all right, however they spell it. Black people can't be "fully" Cuban, eh? I wonder if they can be fully American in that loser's eyes?

To be fair, I don't think that "msladysoul" knew that both Gina Torres's parents were Cuban (or really understand that black Cubans exist), so she was constructing an elaborate theory of racial alienation and self-loathing on the assumption that only one of Torres's parents was black. And I'm pretty sure that she's African-American herself and bemoaning Torres's supposed failure to embrace unequivocally her Black identity.

#58 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Howard Pierce #24: "Because America drank Canada Dry!"

Stuff like this is grounds for keeping people out of heaven when they die. You realize that, right?

#59 ::: Sharla Tann ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:43 PM:

I though my bio was touching. Any legitimate publisher wouldn't have touched it with a 10-foot pole.

********

I'm a country girl at heart, being born and raised in a poor rural area of Montana. My parents uprooted us when we were young and we moved to Phoenix in search of employment. I was not popular at the new school so I amused me making up stories in my head about being back in my old home town. Later I wrote them down.

I had a short marriage to a man in the Navy, but he ran around on me and finally divorced me and married the slut. We are now divorced, with no children, which is a blessing. A failed marriage would be a terrible burden to have on a child.

Many temporary jobs have employed me since the divorce. I was working part time recently and it gave me time to write my first novel. A romantic thriller in an exotic country I have never visited but would like to some day. England has always been fascinating for me. I researched real hard to get the details and the slang right for my heroine.

My heroine Nancy experiences the thrilling excitement that has escaped my life and she will carry that thrill to others I am sure. Since drugs are a big problem nowadays she is trapped in the drug trade big time and is only rescued by the skin of her teeth and the hero.

I am now working at a good job in a call center for a big credit card company now and my dream continues - I want to be a author with a published book. While writing, it is so hard to get published. I was rejected by agents and publishers because it is my first novel. When I saw the Publish America advertisement on an article about getting published it was really like an answer to my prayers from Heaven. Being that so few publishers are willing to give a new writer the time of day or a chance.

I would really like to use my childhood maiden name, Tann, for when you publish my romantic thriller. I don't want to use my exe's name. If he divorced me his name doesn't deserve to be on a published romantic thriller. I will be going to court soon to change my name back to my maiden name.

**************

Yours truly;
Sharla Tann

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Sharla...you must have been to VP and taken their grant of permission to heart.

#61 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 01:14 PM:

I feel very, very bad. I really thought from the title that the topic was Pelosi and Bush fanfic, possibly featuring the repeated use of the word "surge".

Thank God, this was another brilliant piece on vanity publishers, not a return to the valley of Mary Sue. But I'll shun myself anyway for even thinking of the possibility.

#62 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 02:35 PM:

‘Barstard.’ hissed Nancy in an annoyed voice.

Every time I see this, it reminds me of a Wodehouse line [approximated from a distance of 25 years]:
"He ought to be taken down a peg or two," [character name] hissed. It was a measure of his emotional state that he could hiss a sentence without any sibilants.

In other news: Have you explained the Norman Kingdom of Sicily to him? EVERYONE conquered Sicily.

(May I suggest Norman Kingdom for the next pseudonym? )

#63 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Pelosi and Bush fanfic

"I'm the decider", Georgie declared. He removed his leather codpiece and unzipped his aviator jumpsuit and then gave a sad little moan.

‘Barstard.’ hissed Nancy in an annoyed voice, "You didn't tell me you're a premature surger".

"Mission Accomplished," Georgie shouted while thumping his chest.

"In and out in six weeks? That was more like six seconds."

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Surge also used to be the name of a gay porn studio IIRC.

#65 ::: L. S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Always a delight to see PA being whammied. Not because I was scammed by them as a writer, but because I used to work there. Right in the acquisitions department, no less, until I realized that I should leave for a much more enriching and pleasant career with more intelligent supervisors, such as being a sheep-dung taster.

In all seriousness, it is simply the most miserable workplace you can possibly imagine, outside of some third-world countries. I finally quit after I was told my quotas for accepting manuscripts weren't high enough and that my supervisors worried I was stressing quality over quantity. In publishing! What a notion! (Except they were careful to say they didn't have quotas. They just had "certain numbers you should be meeting daily." Which of course is DIFFERENT from a quota, because of the spelling.)

I pity the employees left behind. Most of them are young, non-college grads who have to eat, too. I wouldn't have been there myself, except we were new to the area and hard up for any income. (They won't interview anybody who looks too sharp on paper. My modest BFA in Theatre Tech must not have been threatening to them. Clearly my partner's degree in English with honors was; she didn't get an interview.) All of the employees have to keep track of daily numbers for how many books they accept or reject. If your numbers fall, you get chewed out. Trust me. At least one person was subject to a daily gnawing in Miranda Prather's office, which was right by my desk. Lovely to listen to while you're copy and pasting rote responses from form letters, the only things you're allowed to tell authors! (To this day when my boss closes a door, I cringe instinctively.)

You couldn't decline books without getting the permission of a supervisor-- supervisors who in my case had less education than me and regularly sent emails with grammatical errors of unfathomable stupidity. Someday I will make a book of them and publish them! ...somewhere else.

When they say they reject 80%, that includes everything they get and don't publish, like single poems and authors who are underage, previously published books, and works that are too short. It's like saying you're cutting back on portions because you didn't eat the plate and silverware.

You can also get your name linked to PA online, which I was flat out not going to do. In fact, it was worrying about having my name tied to PA that really made me leave. I'm a fantasy writer, and the last thing I wanted was for a potential publisher's google to turn me up as a loyal drone of PA. Not when my private blog was blue every day with my loathing of the place: the slimy work practices and the underhanded dealings. Add that to the days when the (single) toilet didn't work, and not getting Christmas off (Promised paid yearly holidays? pfft! What's that? There are authors to gull!), and the fact that frequently there was no heat, and you begin to see what it was like there. Not to mention the petty backbiting and sniping and bitching between departments, and the pure sleazy feeling at the end of the day. True, most of the books put through by PA are really unpublishable drek about "How I contacted the Spirit of [insert dead or living celebrity here] and became his One True Love on the Other Side" or "My uncle's father's cousin's battle with elbow cancer and my poems about Jesus". But the manuscripts that really were good and really had promise always made me sad. Secretly I would rejoice whenever one of those authors slipped away, or realized that the contract was a load of horseshit. Most of them caught on.

After a few months that felt like years, my partner and I finally decided that yes, really, we WOULD rather starve. Which luckily we did not, though now I have a wealth of "negative workplace examples" for any future job interviews. ^_~ When that place finally does go down, my dance card is open for a gravetop foxtrot.

#66 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 03:57 PM:

My local library had a PublishAmerica book in the New Books section. I could tell immediately from the spine, from the shoddy workmanship and the bad use of color and font. Sure enough.

The copyright page had a disclaimer that due to the wishes of the writer, no text had been changed by the publisher at all. Do all PA books do that?

The very first sentence contained a terrible dangling participle. I flipped through it and it was just, just, horrible. Homophones, cliches, cringe-worthy prose.

What I'm saying is that I don't think you guys have it in you to write something as bad as what actually gets printed by PA.

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Wow, they not only scam authors, but exploit their employees as well.

P.A. delenda est.

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:10 PM:

Xopher, you expect honour among thieves?

#69 ::: Christine ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:28 PM:

The only problem with these sting manuscripts (or any showcase of terrible writing for that matter) is that they sometimes contain accdiental brilliance. Stuff that wouldn't be out of place in a good comedic novel.

"..he knew he couldn’t loose too much more blood without serious consequences that would require him to go to the hospital, maybe even the morgue."

This is dangerously close to a really good joke. I fear that it's the good writing showing through.

Bad, BAD writer! How dare she! :D Sorry, I guess I couldn't help it. It was the melodrama queen in me coming out. That and too many cheesy detective novels.

(thank you for the compliment)


#70 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 04:31 PM:

I don't think you guys have it in you to write something as bad as what actually gets printed by PA.

Well, for the right amount of money, I'd be willing to try.


#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Fragano #68, no, it's not really surprising. Just confirmation that even they don't believe in what they're doing. I guess we knew that. Sometimes companies that do bad things are good to work for...and vice versa, alas.

#72 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Alex, #66, the libraries I know won't buy PA books. If they're given one, they're given to the Friends of the Library to sell.

#73 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:48 PM:

Alex #66:

The copyright page had a disclaimer that due to the wishes of the writer, no text had been changed by the publisher at all. Do all PA books do that?

No, not all of them. That's an option that they offer to authors whose books are "ready to go" and who want their work available fast. I'll have to look for the language PA spouts on how they check those books anyway to make sure that they Rilly Rilly Don't Need Editing.

#74 ::: Madeline Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 07:50 PM:

Sandy B #62, thank you! I've had that "hissing without sibilants" line hovering in my head for years and I didn't know where I'd read it. I should've guessed it was Wodehouse...

#75 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 08:20 PM:

L. S. Baird (65), welcome and thank you for coming. I've long been intensely curious about PA's editorial and production practices, and their treatment of their employees. Is there anything I can do to encourage you to keep talking?

#76 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:01 PM:

"maybe even the morgue."

I really hate it when I have to go to the morgue for a time-out.

#77 ::: roach ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Greg #63: Ack! Now I have to scrub my eyes!

#78 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2007, 11:11 PM:

L.S. Baird: It must have been so disappointing for you to think you were going to work for a real publisher--"Wow! I get paid to work with books!"--and then find out what PA was like.

I'm sorry for anyone who's had to deal with PA, in any capacity.

Greg London@63: AUGH! AAUGH! MAKE IT STOP!

#79 ::: l.smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:17 AM:

I must say thanks to everybody who had an effort in this book, and the Atlanta Nights book. I might have fallen for this scam if not for you chaps, and, well, the fact that I have not actually completed a manuscript. (hard to admit amongst all you accomplished writers). I have the opposite problem from Bush, at least writing-wise in this comment by Greg London:
"Mission Accomplished," Georgie shouted while thumping his chest.
"In and out in six weeks? That was more like six seconds."

You all do a good service by exposing these scams on writers.

#80 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 11:07 AM:

Madeline Kelly (#73): I'm pretty sure it was in Heart of a Goof, because I have read far too little Wodehouse.

Every few months I hiss "he ought to be taken down a peg or two!" at someone or something, for much the same reason that I clap with one hand sometimes: to prove it can be done.

#81 ::: L.S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Thank you, Teresa, for the invitation(75). I'm afraid my response is quite long. I'm a longtime reader of the blog here, and ever since working at PA I occasionally check out the AW forum on the subject-- but this is the first time I've ever mentioned anything publicly. In fact, I find it hard to believe that no other former employees have spoken up. Perhaps they simply don't follow the threads, or just want to forget their experiences? Either that, or very few of them are actually writers so it doesn't relate to them once they don't work there anymore. PA seems to go out of the way not to hire anyone with experience in the field, which is why my resume must have confused them with what they considered a non-relevant degree. Clearly, people who do theatre have no experience with literature or the written word. Ahem.

As far as I recall, I signed no contracts not to speak about the work practices there, and it has been some years now since I was there (my data may therefore be out of date), and they certainly can't fire me now! However, I admit that talking about the experience on a public forum is uncomfortable. I'm well aware that the upper echelon of PA frequently haunts the websites of its detractors, at least in my time, and I see no reason why they would have stopped. I mentioned to my partner, only half joking, that maybe PA would hire someone to shut me up. She retorted, "No, that would cost them money."

Which really sums up PA in a nutshell right there.

All the same, I will try not to directly discuss the people I worked with, and simply tell you about my experiences and the acquisitions process as it stood at the time. I'm sure you can infer the psychological standards of that office, as I frequently in my journal referred to the place as Lord of the Flies Publishing. If anyone has any other questions, I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability and without descending into too much angry froth.

Being new to the area, I was excited and thrilled that there was a local publisher hiring for their acquisitions department. I thought having some serious experience with publishing could give me a real step up in looking for a publisher for my own work. It has, actually, but by showing me everything I should not look for in a publisher. Naturally, with very little professional experience, I figured I would start at the bottom of the department, making photocopies and coffee or something. I should have been suspicious when they immediately had me screening queries.

Now, before accepting the job, I did go to their website and look around. They do a fine job both on the site and in person presenting themselves as a small sort of genre publisher, and I was honestly desperate for a 8-5 desk job with benefits of any sort, especially in something of such interest to me. My sister and her husband both publish under smaller, academic imprints and it seemed very much the same sort of thing. The office at the time was in a tiny appealing downtown brownstone (after we moved to their current cavernous building, the job became much worse), obviously converted from a house. I was delighted. I was thrilled. I was working in publishing, and maybe once I had my current project to my satisfaction, I would have a good shot at getting published myself.

This elation lasted maybe a week, but in retrospect it felt like about nine seconds. My major clue that something was iffy was one morning in the bathroom. There were boxes of manuscripts stacked in there, and one day out of curiosity I peeked in to see what they were. What I found were simply the most horrific manuscripts you can imagine. Terrible fantasy stories that were really Mary-Sue fanfics with replaced names. Religious tracts that were obviously written by flaming zealots. And plenty of people who were just plain crazy. I thought I had found the rejected manuscripts-- no wonder they were stuffed in the bathroom! Imagine my horror when I found out shortly that those were the accepted ones. I stopped mentioning that I had a manuscript in progress, and changed the subject when it was brought up.

The acquisitions process was fairly simple. We got hundreds of queries, and we had to do a certain number of them a day, depending on whether or not we were also accepting manuscripts. By the time I left they liked for us to have something like forty queries done in the morning, and about twenty manuscripts screened in the afternoon. Yes. Twenty. At least. Also for a time, I personally was Publish Britannica. I don't know who or what was really in the office in the UK, if anyone, but all the website queries and manuscripts came through us, in the States.

Manuscripts could only be rejected for a certain set of reasons, all of which were tied into how costly or time-consuming it would be to get the thing to press. No books with too many illustrations, such as comic books or children's picture books. Nothing from deceased authors, nothing previously published, nothing from authors under the age of sixteen-- too many legal things to wrangle for a book PA knew wouldn't sell. "Previously published" to them also meant if you had printed out a couple copies of your book and given it to friends for editing. Nothing pornographic-- at least overtly so, and there was no way of knowing until the thing was read. Which I expect was first done by the author when he received his PA published book. Nothing from certain countries where it would be too troublesome to deal with the authors. Nothing too short or too long-- though if it was too long it was suggested it could be TWO books. And too short was anything under the whopping number of 8,500 words. I've had research papers longer than that, and I'm sure most of you have. Anything with an obvious copyright infringement was rejected, and by obvious I mean if there were copies of Harry Potter actually photocopied, and cited, and encircled with highlighter, stapled in the manuscript. I know I tried to stop things for copyright rips that didn't get approved for rejection by my supervisors, mostly because they hadn't played the videogames the manuscripts were obviously based on, and I had. Second books had to be approved, meaning the first book had to sell at least a couple of copies.

But if it passed those criteria, there was nothing to stop both the query acceptance and the book from getting published. If anything was rejected, it had to be for one of the above reasons and you had to put that in your tally sheet. Any other steaming cowpats that came through and weren't too much trouble to print, 'fit PA like a glove.' Of course.

Manuscript acceptance? Make sure the title hasn't been used before by PA and the email is not that of a blacklisted author. Make sure it can't be rejected for the exacting list of reasons above. Read the first few pages. Read the last few pages. Read a few pages around in the middle, and then find some unique-looking text and perform a search in the manuscript to make sure that there aren't just repeated sections of text. If that's all clear, CONGRATULATIONS. You've been offered a contract. And if you're me, feel yet another tiny bit of your soul shrivel up and die. Now you see how we got through so many a day. At least, everyone else did. I put in extra effort to actually read the damn things, and try to actually answer author questions in emails. But saying to my supervisors, "My cat could write a better novel than this merely by digesting typewriter parts" was not enough to get a book turned down. My artistic sensibilities were summarily ignored, and the book accepted.

Emails should have been quick business. There was a searchable list of all the questions an author would ask, and a trite, cut and paste answer to give. Saying anything else was generally frowned upon, which prevented me from lacing my emails with hidden messages, such as randomly capitalizing letters to spell "OMG RUN AWAY." Lots of bullshit had my name signed to it that way. For example, we often said how the author would have to send off to the Library of Congress personally for registration of copyright, and cover the fees as well.

Everything was done that way, with set responses, from queries to contract negotiations. Want more royalties? Sure, just ask, and they will offer you a slight raise. Doesn't matter, because your book won't sell anyway. Book in bookstores? Well, between us, form letter to potential sucker, bookstores don't ACTUALLY stock books anymore. Not very many of them. Because there are so many books being published, MOST books don't get in bookstores. Really! It's true! You can hardly buy a book in a bookstore these days, but you can get gift soaps and a latte. So sign with PA! A big name publisher couldn't get you in a bookstore anyway. And people bought it-- hook, line, and sinker.

In speaking to other employees, I found out a lot about how the rest of the process worked. To have a manuscript accepted, the author had to provide an electronic copy for PA. PA would not type it from a printed manuscript. Editors? Had to finish editing something like three books in a week. There was no time for a real read-through, though many of them attempted it, and many of them left for other jobs in the space of a month. At best, a spell-check and skimming was all they could do. Devoting too much time to a single work made your numbers drop, and if your numbers fell for too long, well. Sucker born every minute, which means there are lots of them reading the classifieds.

Also during my time there, near the end, I got to help with mailing out of royalty checks. As a writer, it was the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. Most of the checks were only zeros. If they had any amount at all, it was rarely more than fifteen or twenty dollars. Big sellers might have a check for fifty or sixty bucks, and those were really few and far between. How many people waited for those checks, only to get a useless document for seventy-nine cents, or six dollars, or nothing at all.

The big thing I noticed about PA is they were very careful not to do anything that was strictly illegal. Unethical, yes, but you don't go to jail for ethics much these days. That's why they're still out there snaking around. I always said that PA would still do a great business if only they were honest about what they were doing. Because many of those books of course would not be published anywhere else, and many of the authors can't afford self-publish fees, some people could do well with PA. If you're a church group wanting to print a book for evangelical use, or a grandmother wanting to do up copies of your memoirs for your family, PA wouldn't be a bad option. If you're a pompous jerk with a terrible book and think you're better than Steven King (we got lots of those), well you kind of deserve what you get there. PA will publish you if nobody else will. I guess not even PA wants to be known as "Last Ditch Publishing," but surely there is a place for that. There were enough manuscripts there to sustain a good business, and by only printing books that actually are bought, PA never really loses much money on its books. Marketed correctly and honestly, and without the hellish contract, it could put pay-up-front vanity presses in a tight spot.

But if you're a good writer, and think PA is a place where you can get in without fiddling with an agent, and that a contract is a new life for you and your book will be in stores and you can stop writing on scraps of napkins behind the counter of the 7-11, and all those other tight-knit author dreams close up your throat whenever you think about your story, and you have ink in your veins, then PA is the worst sort of misfortune that can happen to you. Unfortunately, it's not illegal yet to rip off someone's dreams.

And that's what made me leave. I was someone else entirely by the end of it, consumed by an awful job, miserable on every level, and certainly I was not writing. I was also being paid only six bucks an hour, with crummy benefits and no paid time off. Even the yearly holidays we were expected to be given were denied us. Christmas that year fell on a weekend, so instead of having the adjacent day be the holiday, we had the day off revoked entirely. I hated every condescending instant I was there, being bossed around by someone who didn't know where to stick her apostrophes; and while I wasn't there, I hated that I had to go back. Finally, after six months and right before some performance reviews, what would have been an unpleasant but short bout of food poisoning turned into a four-day ordeal. I was easily the sickest I have ever been in my entire life. I broke down completely. When I came back to work I had lost fifteen pounds, missed three days of work, and looked like death regurgitated. In that time I'd had nothing to eat except saltines and Gatorade, and that only in the last day.

I was promptly taken into the meeting to discuss my low work numbers, and only at the end did someone say, "Hey, you don't look so good." I think they expected me to be concerned or upset by their reprimand. Inside, I was laughing hysterically. When I gave my two week notice shortly after, I wrote a very careful letter, thanking PA for the position and the time I had spent there. I was as professional as I could manage, and my email was not even answered by my supervisor. I had been written off entirely, and for the rest of my time there I was given a cold shoulder that would not have been out of place in a middle-school girls' bathroom. One of the girls who left shortly after me told me that they hadn't even accepted her two week notice and offer to train her replacement. Instead they had her leave immediately-- they didn't want to pay two salaries at once.

I was jealous. Had I known it worked that way, I would have offered to train a replacement, too. ^_^

#82 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Wow. That's pretty grim. I don't know why, but the television in my head just flipped on.

for as little as forty cents a day, you can help these poor, starving Publish America employees break free and find jobs that don't destroy their soul. Won't you help? Please call now operators standing by.

#83 ::: Sharon Maas ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 01:42 PM:

This is fascinating stuff.
Right now I am creating a website for Crack of Death and I'd like to dedicate a page to PA employees and ex-employees. I wonder if you'd allow me to publish some of the above on that page? If you'd like to discuss it please mail mne at sw.maas at gmail.com

#84 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 02:00 PM:

Also for a time, I personally was Publish Britannica. I don't know who or what was really in the office in the UK, if anyone, but all the website queries and manuscripts came through us, in the States.

I believe the UK address that P.B. quoted is actually an office run by Lightning Source. At least, both were in Milton Keynes, which is unlikely to be coincidental.

#85 ::: L. S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Greg (#82) I would have called, for damn sure. Now I'm fortunate to have a wonderful job with a great company that even supports my writing! I weighed posting on the subject of PA for a long time, wondering if I wanted my writing name to be associated with PA at all, if I could be sued, etc. But I realized that if my name turned up along with PA, I wanted it to have me squarely on this side.

Sharon (#83), I'll be happy to drop you an email when I get home this evening. PA employees need support as well, and they're not going to get that from the company. As for former employees, I'm sure we could host a reunion! But we'd have to rent Yankee Stadium to hold us all.

Jules (#84), I'm sure you're absolutely right, and it was really just a distribution center. We had form mails and contracts from PB that were just like the PA ones, only with the money in pounds sterling and the signatures changed to have the PB logo. Our names and everything else were the same. But I think the books from PB shipped from England. To save on postage. Brr.

#86 ::: Sharla Tann ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 03:14 PM:

#81 - "I find it hard to believe that no other former employees have spoken up. Perhaps they simply don't follow the threads, or just want to forget their experiences?"

Perhaps they were persuaded to sign a non-disclosure clause? Remember that PA put a gag order in the returning rights contract that said they could sue for $10,000 if the liberated author bad-mouthed them.

#87 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:28 PM:

I would like to right a story about how it was when I was young and a juvenile.

Rot 13

Sequel, Rot 26: twice as bad.

And I guess that completes the trilogi.

#88 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:29 PM:

Xopher #71: You're right.

#89 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2007, 05:38 PM:

L S Baird #81: I've had some pretty awful jobs in my time, but your description of working for PA sounds like something far beyond soul-destroying.

#90 ::: Sharon Maas ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:10 AM:

I recieved this info from a present-day PA employee:

"Employees are now required to sign non-disclosure agreements when they are hired. They aren't provided copies, of course, which makes knowing what can/should be said hard to discern from will-get-sued if said."

#91 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 03:59 AM:

L.S. @81,

Thanks for writing that up. Tempts one into writing stories to send to PA, stories about new editors rescued from a horror house disguised as a vanity publisher disguised as a regular publishing house.

All-
I wonder what I find so fascinating about the PA-defending authors who show up on PA-warning threads. Is it just a form of watching memetic train wrecks ("oooh, look, their reality is about to be dashed to pieces. Ohhh, no, they deny it again")? Curiousity about how a person can't let go of a comforting illusion*? Something else?

* or waiting to see if they can admit a mistake? Dunno, but I know I'm not the only one watching. Witness how the 'Roids of a Tacky Awk' thread on usenet's rasfw reached, what, 5000 posts.

#92 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:05 AM:

Thanks for sharing, L. S. Baird.

#93 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 07:10 AM:

#73, #80: Yes, the line is from the title story of Wodehouse's The Heart of a Goof.

"'He ought to be taken down a peg or two,' hissed the Snake-Killer. It is not easy to hiss a sentence without a single 's' in it, and the fact that he succeeded in doing so shows to what a pitch of emotion the man had been goaded ...'

#94 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 08:38 AM:

PublishAmerica isn't about to sue anyone. They're terrified of ever having to undergo discovery or have to testify to their business practices in court.

Every time they've been taken to court, they've lost. Every time they've been taken to arbitration their side didn't prevail.

Their lawyer specializes in real estate.

#95 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 09:14 AM:

#93: Wodehouse used a very similar line in "Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit". Bertie has just punctured (with the Goonish aid of a pole with a darning needle on the end) the hot-water-bottle of eminent loony-doctor Sir Roderick Glossop, under the mistaken belief that it was the h.-w.-b. of his arch enemy Tuppy Glossop:

"You!" he hissed, and I can tell you that it's all rot to say that you can't hiss a word without any s's.

#96 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:43 AM:

I wonder sometimes if anyone has photographs, GPS coordinates, or other such data, on the current Publish America offices.

You know, targeting information.

#97 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:49 AM:

You know, targeting information

I was talking with this guy a couple weeks ago. He was doing sea salvage for a living. Was talking about how he'd bought some time on a russian satellite to get imaging data.

I think you could get a flyover and pictures of PA for maybe a few grand. you know, just to round out the dossier.

#98 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 10:54 AM:

I wonder if "Sweet, Savage Star Trek" from the old Compuserve SF&F SIG could be stingpubbed?

#99 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 11:12 AM:

You can go to Globexplorer for photos. If you're lucky, they'll have a 1-foot-resolution picture available. (Free ones are watermarked; you have to pay to get the unmarked jobs, or the really good stuff.)

#100 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 12:00 PM:

James D. Macdonald@94: Their lawyer specializes in real estate.

And after all those losses in court and arbitration, they still haven't switched lawyers.

That says so much, y'know?

#101 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2007, 05:52 PM:

#97 I think you could get a flyover and pictures of PA for maybe a few grand. you know, just to round out the dossier.

With a street address and Google Maps / Google Earth you should be able to get a pretty good result free of charge. Alas, their web site seems only to have a PO box for mailing.

#102 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:48 AM:

>If you're a church group wanting to print a book for evangelical use, or a grandmother wanting to do up copies of your memoirs for your family, PA wouldn't be a bad option.

Yeah but for those sorts of purposes there are legitimate alternatives like LuLu. Dean Baker offers his "Conservative Nanny State" via LuLu. Actually Print On Demand strikes me as a perfect fit for publishing studies. You don't send them out through normal distribution channels in anyway. Unless it is something like the "Iraq Study Group", bookstores won't carry it anyway, and these days libraries will carry the PDF version if it is available (if they don't just refer their readers to the web site.)

Your print runs are small and unpredictable. You don't really expect to make a profit from it, though you might get some of your costs back via revenues. The institute releasing the study takes care of publicity in any case, along with the author. Basically, when an institute releases a study they are the publisher. I'm betting a lot of smaller institutes would find they'd break even or come out ahead with POD because of not having to take orders or do fulfillment.

On the other end of the spectrum, a bulletin board I'm on did an in-group cookbook of recipes that had been posted on the board over the years via Cafe Press. 150 or so of us were interested enough to order it, and it was a lot less trouble to the person kind enough to do the compilation than taking orders personally, taking the manuscript over to Kinkos, and then having paste on labels and trundle the book over to the post office. It had a professional looking cover too. In a run of that quantity I'm not even sure the POD was more expensive than do it yourself, especially since she took the option of waiting until all orders were in to do the print run.

#103 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 02:19 PM:

I'm waiting for the surreptitious submission to PA of a manuscript written only by editors from leading commercial trade publishers just to show how badly PA would edit the pros.

Of course, they'd have to actually sign the contract and opt for the manuscript being edited by PA. Then the finished product would be available to anyone just to show how badly PA can mess up a book.

#104 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Why would anyone work for PA for $6/hour? Are there no fast food outlets in Frederick, MD?

#105 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 04:26 PM:

Joy, from L.S. Baird's post: Being new to the area, I was excited and thrilled that there was a local publisher hiring for their acquisitions department. I thought having some serious experience with publishing could give me a real step up in looking for a publisher for my own work.

Networking in the arts, at the early stages, often winds up with people settling for dirt wages. I've seen this as a writer and I have friends in theatre for whom bitty stipends can be marks of prestige.

#106 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Got it...but why stay where it became abundantly clear that PA's a scam?

#107 ::: L. S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:12 PM:

(#104) Joy, I actually went back and rechecked my records, and at the time I left I was making closer to ten an hour. Of course, that's not counting the $35 a week I had to spend for parking fees. I would edit the above post if possible, and I have submitted that correction to the COD site manager. I don't want to give PA a tiny quibble to invalidate everything else I said. (For the record, even $10 is not sustainable wages in this area, we're too close to major centers like DC and Baltimore.)

It wouldn't have mattered if they were paying me a thousand dollars an hour by that point, though.

#108 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 05:41 PM:

So if someone were to write a story in which, say, Harry Potter used the Orb of Sauron to summon the Starship Enterprise back through time to destroy the Co$, which also included terrorist-useful suggestions, and PA published it... would any of the fallout land on PA?

#109 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Not that I'm suggesting that anyone do it, but to those who remember what got Xopher disemvoweled recently: I wonder if PA would publish something that included similar subjects...and then what might happen?

#110 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 08:53 PM:

Joel Polowin #108: For that massive a breach of copyright? Lawyers would be lining up.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 08:56 PM:

Don't forget to add Yoda to that story, Joel and Fragano, then step back and watch the Wrath of George turn the whole thing to a little heap of ashes.

#112 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Simon Templer, occasionally known as The Saint, ran into an unscrupulous publisher in a pre-WWII story. From all I've read about Publish America they haven't read that one--and someday they are really going to wish they had...

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Serge #111: Thinking about that I am. Laughing out loud I am doing.

#114 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2007, 09:06 PM:

Not that I'm making any suggestions, mind you.

#115 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 02:29 AM:

Paul #101:

With a street address and Google Maps / Google Earth you should be able to get a pretty good result free of charge. Alas, their web site seems only to have a PO box for mailing.

111-113 E. Church St., Frederick, MD 21701-5403.

#116 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Fragano #110: This wouldn't be copyright violation, would it? But massive trademark violation?

Serge #111: Now that I think about it, it should be Voldemort using the Orb of Sauron -- the palantiri were virutally indestructable; it would have been buried in the rubble in Mordor -- to force the Enterprise to destroy Disneyland. Harry Potter could then complete his wizard training with Yoda to try to stop them. "Do, or do not. There is no 'try'."

#117 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Joel Polowin #116: Both.

#118 ::: Helen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2007, 06:52 AM:

Maybe someone could knock up something pseudo-academic for these people? Apparently they tread a thin line between genuine and vanity publishing and are always trying to solicit manuscripts?

#120 ::: Apryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 11:28 AM:

That is the saddest thing I've ever heard (post #65). One of my friends almost got scammed by PA about two years ago, and then she pulled out the manuscript herself because there were a lot of grammatical errors even though the manuscript had been accepted for publication.

I have noticed that a lot of the authors who have been published with PA are either very young or do not know a lot about publishing in general. I have a blog, and some of the writers who add me back are 19, 20, etc, and just had a manuscript published with PA. I feel kind of bad for them.

I also found PA on the Better Business Bureau. There were only about 11 complaints listed and it said that the company tried to resolve the issues but the authors would not respond to their queries. Hmm.

Apryl

#121 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Apryl@120: The BBB and PA have a complicated history. At one point, PA had so many complaints about them that the BBB made note of the unusually high number (which is an ususual act), but PA later made it back into their good graces, apparently by either threatening legal action or by simply changing their name slightly and paying new dues as a new company.

The BBB considers a situation "resolved" if a company responds at all to a complaint. It doesn't matter if the matter was resolved to anyone's satisfaction; a reply is a resolution.

The BBB is not a consumer-protection agency.* It's for the promotion of its members. It likes having members; members pay dues. If a business has a bad BBB rating, that's significant (because you have to be really bad to get a negative rating), but a "clean" one means little or nothing.

*To further complicate matters, there's the question of whether authors are consumers or businesses, which makes this a gray area for authors who try to get satisfaction through consumer-protection agencies.

#122 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2007, 03:33 PM:

*sigh* For "ususual," above, substitute "unusual."

Really, really time for new glasses and more sleep.

#123 ::: Ken Umbach ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Actually, there is no question about status of PA authors vis a vis PA. Authors, as authors, are BUSINESSES, not consumers. Folks who simply order a copy of a book from PA are consumers, but folks who have signed a contract to have a book published (so to speak) by PA are in a business-to-business relationship. THAT is why the authorities (consumer protection agencies, attorney general, governor) will NOT have anything whatsoever to do with those disputes.

This question gets raised again and again, but the fact is that PA authors are in a business-to-business relationship, having signed that contract as author. You are wasting your time contacting consumer-protection agencies about PA's shabby practices vis a vis its authors.

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