Monday, January 31, 2005

Scambusting with SFWA

This is PublishAmerica, proud "traditional publisher."

This is SFWA. Quoth John Scalzi "Don’t annoy science fiction writers. These are people who destroy entire planets before lunch. Think of what they’ll do to you." John Scalzi is wise.

This is what happens when SFWA decides to test the veracity of PublishAmerica's claim that
Each day, an average 78 new authors who are looking to find a book publishing company ask us [PA] to publish their book [***ED: do all 78 authors have one book among them or does each of the 78 have a book?***]. We review not only the quality but also the genre [***ED: How precisely do you review a genre?***] of their work. PublishAmerica specializes in books about, for, or by people who confront a challenge in life, and who are determined to overcome it, real or imagined, fiction or nonfiction [***ED: Do we mean that the people are real or imagined, or the situations. Suggest revising this sentence***]. Like all serious book publishing companies we have to be picky as we can only accept the works that meet our requirements in both areas.[***ED: Sorry about all the queries. I got confused.***]
This is Atlanta Nights, the appalling spawn of a posse of annoyed writers and a computer, under the pen name "Travis Tea", which was accepted by one Meg Phillips, Acquisitions Editor for PublishAmerica, who in her sublime editorial wisdom "decided to give 'Atlanta Nights' the chance it deserves." I'm not certain which passage decided Ms. Phillips to give Mr. Travis Tea a chance. Perhaps it was the following example of the book's incandescent prose styling:

The sun broke through the clouds then its brilliant golden disk burning a hole through the great puffs of water vapor to send a shaft of golden light zigzagging down through the layers of atmosphere and warm the earth in a way that no sunlight since the beginning of time had ever warmed the earth before. Somewhere a child was being born. Somewhere a dog was barking. Life was going on but in this one moment at this particular place in time and space. The two beautiful women, one twisting her hair into knots, the other sittings sideways, were not part of it. They were here only for each other and for the memory of a great man who had walked the earth like a rock in the sand. Life is like that sometimes, thought Margaret helplessly. Sometimes is just an interruption in the day and not a part of it. The trick is knowing when it's day and when it's night and the lightness or darkness has nothing to do with telling the difference between them. The death of a man like Henry Archer was definitely night even if it took place at noon. It was like an eclipse of the world. There must have been people even in distant primitive villages who had felt the moment he breathed his last. They must have looked up at the night sky or even the day sky and said, what was that, meaning him.

The above is but one example of the truly amazing writing. It chokes me right up.

So why would a buncha pros
want to expose a vanity publisher that claims to be a traditional publisher, many of whose authors are, at least according to its message boards, cultish fans of its programs? Why not let the poor deluded authors take what comfort they can from seeing their books in print?

James D. Macdonald puts it succinctly on Absolute Write:
PA is a vanity press that lies about itself, pretending to be a legitimate press.

Whatever business they're in, regardless of what they tell the people they've suckered, they aren't in the business of selling books to the general public. They're in the business of selling unedited slush, at full price, to their own authors.

Some folks get kind of upset when people get taken advantage of. Me, I'm glad folks like SFWA do.

Making Light


Anonymous said...

Okay, I like you. :) You're smart, witty, and you write really well. :) If I ever managed to finish a novel and submit it, I would pray I got you to edit it. Have a good weekend. :) katie d

jennie said...

Awww...thanks! So nice to be appreciated by random strangers! Good luck on the novel!