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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 04:34 pm:   

PublishAmerica launched a new website called Authors Market, which is disguised as an anti-vanity site that gives advice to new writers.  Interestingly enough though, the new advice takes two forms: 1) you'll never ever be published by big publishers, and 2) Science fiction and fantasy writers are hacks and liars, so never listen to their advice or what they have to say about publishing.
 
Under Never Trust The "Experts", the page explains:
 
A second caveat is that science-fiction and fantasy writers have it easier. It's unfair, but such is life. As a rule of thumb, the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than for all other fiction. Therefore, beware of published authors who are self-crowned writing experts. When they tell you what to do and not to do in getting your book published, always first ask them what genre they write. If it's sci-fi or fantasy, run.
 
Under Only Trust Your Own Eyes, it takes more swipes at real writers:
 
Let's look a little closer at those self-anointed "experts", the ones who call themselves author advocates, or watchdogs. You won't find too many of them, but they are usually loud. Their writing is typically characterized by the use of an overkill of adjectives, and by references to you being a victim of something. Their own book genre is almost always Science-Fiction or Fantasy.
 
That's why some of them are actually published writers. SciFi and Fantasy are among the easier genres, requiring no believable storylines, and no believable every-day characters.
 
...
 
SciFi and Fantasy abounds with literary parasites and plagiarists. Some writers have built a name for themselves by writing spin-offs of hugely popular movies, such as Star Trek, after all the characters and story parameters had been handed to them on a silver plate by the story owners who licensed the merchandising rights to a publisher. It requires some talent, but not too much, to write such a book.  
 
There are others who, particularly in the field of Fantasy, rewrite all but everything under the sun that has already been written before. They rummage through books on mythology, steal a character here, borrow a plot line there, throw in a wizzard from King Arthur, and literally loot all the mythologies ever written.
 


Needless to say, these are rather obvious slams on SFWA's anti-scam watchdogs A. C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss. Crispin writes media tie-in fiction as well as original SF and Strauss writes fantasy. The page concludes with this note about any advice a published writer may give you:
 
Do not, repeat NOT, believe those who tell you the opposite, [that new writers can be published by large traditional publishers - NM] because it is simply untrue. They elevate themselves by saying you can get where they have gotten, knowing quite well that this is not going to happen. They are the ultimate fact benders of the publishing world. They are not out to help you. They are only out to maintain their own elite status. Sounds familiar? That's right, this is how elites have always protected themselves and their peers.
 


The material is also laced with the names and in one case, the photo, of famous writers (King, Clancy, Asimov, etc.) and long lists of marketing categories in an obvious ploy to drive search engine traffic to the site so that their poison pen could do its work.
 
On the positive side, this shows that the good work being done by tech savvy genre writers in warning people away from scams like PA is having an effect.  On the negative side, plenty of suckers still defend this snake pit.
 
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 04:44 pm:   

>> "The material is also laced with the names and in one case, the photo, of famous writers (King, Clancy, Asimov, etc.)"

Also, puzzlingly enough, that of Grace Kelly.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   

Grace Kelly made her dreams come true by banging that guy!

Clearly, she's an inspiration for millions of writers.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 04:13 am:   

HA! Brazen sluts, aren't they!
I remember when AOL's iPublish shut down, and the vanity press shills came down on us like wolves in an unfenced barnyard. I ran for the hills, but some bought into the line and never set pen to paper again....
What's really detrimental about vanity press publication, I think, is that it tends to set a promising author's career backward, rather than forward. At least, from my perspective, the period between making the decision to pursue writing as more than a hobby and the first legitimate publication is an apprenticeship. Just like in any trade, the more honest work and attention to detail an apprentice applies, the better a journeyman they'll be. Paying for publication smacks of a free lunch in the sense that all the work is bypassed for the instant gratification of seeing one's name in print. TANSTAAFL, as Heinlein used to say. I doubt any serious author who publishes via vanity outlets won't come to regret it, sooner or later, depending on their intelligence and talent.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 09:21 am:   

And thern there is also pure ignorance. This sort of ignorance is actively cultivated by PublishAmerica. They create a notional cargo cult version of the publishing industry that sounds good and that appeals to the right-individualism of many vanity writers (the best way to find a mark is to trawl among communities where people think Jesus had told them to write a book), but which is entirely at odds with reality.

Exhibit A. Here, a PA member finds the Horror Writers Association site and read the membership rules. For one to achieve Active status with the sale of a novel, the novel must have earned an advance of at least $2000, the very low end of advances in commercial publishing:

Two thousand dollars?! Even "traditional" publishers rarely give that kind of advance out to anybody but really established writers, like King or Koontz. It looks like the HWA is yet another group that would just love to keep us pirates our of an "exclusive" club.

If you ever wondered why Dean Koontz lived in a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant, well now you know.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 09:37 am:   

Eek.
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GabrielM
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 02:34 pm:   

>>If you ever wondered why Dean Koontz lived in a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant, well now you know.


Damn, and I thought it was just for inspiration.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 03:36 pm:   

Argh.
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Cheryl
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 12:03 am:   

Poor old Dean. I've had more than $2000 advance for writing game books, and that was years ago. I had no idea things were so tough for horror writers.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 10:46 am:   

Oh yes, it's horrible. Stephen King hitchiked home from the National Book Awards the other day, and when he got back to Maine, he had to return the tux to the body it was buried with and refill the grave himself. Poor ol' guy...
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 04:01 pm:   

Nicholas, I second your argh. If someone points out there's a pickpocket working the crowd disguised as a policeman, the last thing I'm going to do is start quibbling over the morality of theft. Hand to pocket, and spread the word.
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Andreas Black
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 06:32 pm:   

"Oh yes, it's horrible. Stephen King hitchiked home from the National Book Awards the other day, and when he got back to Maine, he had to return the tux to the body it was buried with and refill the grave himself. Poor ol' guy..."

So that's how he got pneumonia.

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