05 February 2005

Questioning Authority

If you don't have thick skin and a sense of humor, don't ask an author for help with your unpublished great Anglo-American novel. Nor, for that matter, should you worry about awards. I do have two antidotes for the common DaVinci Code: Jonathan Lethem (note that that's two separate links).

Or, rather than just accept what is quoted as authoritative, you could try reading the [expletive deleted] book. OK, I know that readers of this fine blawg do; otherwise, they wouldn't be reading this blawg, and I am therefore preaching to the perconverted.

That said, if you have a fondness for watching train wrecks, you can actually make a difference. Over at Lulu.com—which is properly referred to as a "print jobber," but no doubt will be called a "POD press" by the ignorant and possibly even its own image consultants—one can find a copy of one of the worst "novels" written yet this century. It's a novel that got a publication offer from because PA didn't read it before accepting it—one of the classic markers of a vanity press. The point, though, is that the "novel" was purposefully written badly by experienced fiction writers with track records of commercial publication—some truly extensive and impressive indeed—then submitted to PA precisely to prove that PA doesn't read its submissions. Then, three hours after the "author" (actually undercover submitter) announced that he had received a contract offer from PA, he got a snotty, supercilious note withdrawing the offer and suggesting that he go to a vanity press with it. <SARCASM> I can't imagine who suggested that he not actually sign the contract, though. </SARCASM> In any event, all profits from sale of Atlanta Nights go to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund, which provides money for members in medical crises beyond any insurance coverage. The irony that this is exactly the kind of project for which a reasonably priced vanity press might be appropriate seems to have escaped the principals at PA.