Monday, January 16, 2006

Why Not be A Writer?

I'm depressed.
I'm depressed because I've been following the Publish America sagas on so many writer's boards.Pages and pages and pages and pages. And more pages. Of people who thought they were going to be Real Published Authors, only to discover that their book wasn't worth the paper it was printed on, and that they were professional writers only in their own minds.
This is a good one:
There are over 29,000 posts in one thread alone. All about Publish America.
The sadness, the utter hopelessnes sof some of these people is just so upsetting. The fact that somebody took their dreams and made porridge out of them is even more upsetting.Sure, chances are most of the PA writers would never have been published by a real publishing company. I won't post examples of the deathless prose that even a cursory glimpse at their website can provide. It's too painful.
No, wait. I will post one, but it's not at PA, it's at, an honest self-publishing company (they admit up front what they are and do.)

The book is called "Atlanta Nights." Here's a little excerpt:

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.”

Now, why am I posting this here? Isn't it terrible to laugh at this stuff?

No. Not this one. "Atlanta Nights" was written to be bad. It's the best Terrible Book ever. Not only is it pretty damn funny, it was written to expose a hoax. And proceeds from its sale beneift charity.
See, it was written by a group of professional sci-fi authors in an effort to prove that Publish America will accept anything. Atlanta Nights was indeed offered a contract.
You can buy it if you want, but even if you don't, spread the word about it. It's wrong to lie to people and cash in on their dreams. It's a con, and it's wrong.

Why did I get into all of this?I was reading a magazine called "She". It's a new women's magazine over here. In the back is an ad that says, in big bold letters, "Why not...Be A Writer?!" Because it's so easy, anyone can do it.
The ad is for a company called the Writers' Bureau. I did some searching and found that they do seem legitimate-they do offer a course in creative writing, and the testimonials in the ad do come from actual writers who have actually sold work to real markets.
But the ad still bothers me. Perhaps I've been spending too much time reading Miss Snark, but I keep hearing the mantra in my head that no legitimate publishing or writing venture puts ads like this in magazines. (Meaning, ads that claim that if you give them money they will give you the "key" to writing success. Which is what this ad does say.) An ad that claims they have some "secret formula" that nobody else has, and if you follow it, you will become a Best-Selling Author! and buy a Ferrari.
I'm sure they teach Creative Writing. But the ad made me uncomfortable, and it still does, and if anybody reading this is thinking of becoming a writer, just remember-there's no shortcut. If only those PA authors realized that


Trix said...

Atlanta Nights was a great way to expose PublishAmerica for what it is -- nothing but a greedy print on demand outfit.

Thanks for helping spread the word!

-- "Chapter 23" :)

Mac said...

Proceeds from the sale of Atlanta Nights go to the SFWA emergency fund, too. Always a plus.

Johnboy said...

Your story about Atlanta Nights holds true for all marketing. Lets throw as much crap against the wall as we can and see what sticks! Lets try to capture as much of the consumer market dollar as we can. Time spent on misgivings simply costs money. It's up to us the consumer to make smart choices - educated choices on how and where we spend our money.