A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Is the PA System Working? Can You Hear Me Now?

Post-holiday blues have set in, and not because the holidays are over—they aren’t. But the glut of queries from booger-head writers who got market books for Christmas from well-meaning friends and family have already started rolling in. Today I get yet another one from a dissatisfied PublishAmerica author bitching and moaning about what PA did with his book. I still don’t know if he was really querying me or not because all he did was complain about how his book wasn’t selling and that it was PA’s fault. Is that supposed to coax me into offering representation?

I honestly don’t know what the problem is here. Or maybe I do. PublishAmerica is what it is. It is not a scam business (Sorry, watchdogs), nor is it a trade publisher (Sorry, wannabe writers). It is a business that throws shit at a wall and sees what sticks.

I get letters every day from dork writers who whine that PA published their book but they “are unhappy with the company’s promotion efforts” or that they “can’t get their books into bookstores” or some other shit about PA. I also read a bunch of crap from dumbfuck watch groups who, again in an effort to look like they are champions for poor wittle wannabe writers, came up with a *Shhhh* top secret plan to “trap” PA into exposing itself for what it is (which, if you have been paying attention, is a publisher who will publish anything). From the story I hear, a bunch of dipshit sci-fi/fantasy (oh, excuse me, speculative fiction) writers all got together, lead by some dipshit watchdogs, and wrote a substandard manuscript (according to their definition) and sent it to PA. Guess what PA did? They offered a contract! Of course they offered a contract, dipshits, PA is working on the “throw shit against a wall and see what sticks” philosophy here. Ah ha! There’s the proof! PA will publish anything! Oh yes, and you dipshits are so smart to prove what anyone with a brain already figured out. Wow!! Brilliant!! No wonder so many scams are operating. With this kind of investigative brain trust, it’s no wonder.

Who in the fuck didn’t know this? Every agent I know, and most editors, get letters from wannabes “published” by PA all the time. The quality of this stuff is lower than a snake’s balls, and the books are over-priced to beat hell. Excerpts from books on their website speak for themselves. Who buys these books? Mostly beleaguered family and friends who would buy twelve copies just to get you to shut the fuck up about your so-called writing career. PA has to make a profit somehow, and they make it off of gullible authors who are so desperate to get published that they force themselves to believe that PA is anything except a means to an end.

What gripes my ass are writers so new that they didn’t get this. If you want to be in publishing, you should know how the whole damn process works. Learn this before you start querying. How does a book get published? How does it get to a bookstore? What can an author do to promote his/her work? What is quality writing? Do you know anything except that you want to be rich, famous, and be able to write all day? Fuck, who doesn’t want that?

And I don’t have anything positive to say about the fuckheads who spent time and energy trying to out PA in an effort to claim another notch on their scam-fighting wonder leotards. When you have someone protecting your ass from something you should have figured out yourself, that isn’t watchdogging, that is mommydogging, and it perpetuates ignorance among the unpublished masses (who then get published by PA and send me queries trying to get me to bring their book to the big boys at S&S…as if).

If you have been turned down by every publisher everywhere, maybe your work sucks. In that case, maybe PA isn’t a bad choice for you, if you don’t mind giving up the rights to your work d’art. Your family and friends will be able to get copies, and you can buy a bunch, too, and contribute to PA’s ongoing efforts to publish lots of stuff and hope for the best. It isn’t mediocrity at its finest, but even lower than that. And our President thought that HE was special!

Of course, no agent or editor will touch your PA masterpiece unless it sells about 10,000 copies or so, and then the agents and editors will be calling you, not the other way around, so don’t worry the pretty little artistic right side of your brain about it.

As for watch groups and their groupies, why don’t you do something that could really help someone beside yourselves? PA is such an obvious target that it didn’t take a genius to figure out they are making money some other way besides selling schlock to the masses. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would say that watch groups deliberately try to make it look like you give a shit about protecting writers, but the misinformation you perpetuate throws them off the track (it seems) so you’ll not have any competition for your own garbage. That’s got to be it. You can’t be that stupid, can you?

Okay, well, maybe. Whatever.

Is it 2006 yet?


  • At 6:02 AM, Blogger Mark said…

    Well sammy that's a tad harsh. Back in the day little information was available and PA was soliciting vanity press books under the guise of doing the real things that real publishers did: marketing, distribution, shelf-placement, that sort of thing. They don't but if one falls for it, it's too late when you find out.

    That said, most would-be writers are clueless about vanity presses and the difficulties of self-publishing in any form. That's not what PA claims to be. It's a flat-out false claim.

    The course to take is send the manuscript out until hell won't have it. Published slush is no help to anyone but the so-called publisher.

  • At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, SammyK.

    You ask:
    Who in the fuck didn’t know this? Every agent I know, and most editors, get letters from wannabes "published" by PA all the time.

    You answer yourself in your very next paragraph:
    What gripes my ass are writers so new that they didn’t get this.

    That was the whole point of the Atlanta Nights demonstration -- to show that PublishAmerica would offer a contract to anything, regardless of quality.

    While you, and I, and everyone with even a passing acquaintance with publishing, know exactly what PublishAmerica's business plan is (and no, PublishAmerica isn't "working on the 'throw shit against a wall and see what sticks' philosophy" -- if they were, they'd at least be lobbing the shit hard enough to reach the wall), those eager first-timers don't know it. I'm not particularly concerned about the people who've had their books rejected by everyone in Writer's Market and have finally arrived at PA's door, even if Kinko's might have been a better choice. It's the newbie with the good book who sends that book to PA first that concerns me.

    So I'm trying to lower the number of "writers so new that they didn't get this." Just a few less gripes for your ass.

    As you should have figured out for yourself, dipshit.

  • At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hilarious, and well said.

  • At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, you are a mean and incoherent motherfucker. Grace usually works better than foolish invective. Cheers!

  • At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To Mark: If you have been turned down by every publisher everywhere, maybe your work sucks. In that case, maybe PA isn’t a bad choice for you.

    Sending your manuscript to every agent regardless of the quality just adds to the problem. A slush manuscript is no help to anyone except the so-called writer.

    That said, your constant posting of attacks prove you are clueless about publishing in any form.

  • At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks Sammy.
    You are a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I love your comments on writing and publishing and agree that wannabes, those whose egos overload their common sense, are a drag on the whole publishing industry. I cannot even imagine the number of hours it must take daily weeding out pure garbage from idiots who can barely put two words together. God bless you and all agents for trying, though.

    And James McDonald is an asshole. The world would be a better place if you would shut your fucking face. People like you make me sick, you fucking know-it-all. I’m really surprised to see your name here. Are you sure it’s safe? Get your sorry ass back to the Water Cooler where it belongs, you patronizing prick. I left the Cooler because nobody can get a word in edgewise over there--every time I made a comment, you would counter with your "brilliance." Or one of your many minions would. Getting told I was wrong for having my own opinion got a little tiring.

  • At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Underneath what appears to be some self-pitying bitterness profanity (for some reason), I think "A Gent" has got it just about right. PA is not a scam (legally); it's a business in the good ole American "buyer beware" traditional (which, of course, might leave something to be desired morally--but it is, afterall, an American tradition).

    It's a publisher and all of the pissing and moaning about it not being a publisher is typical wasted effort egged on by the self-declared publishing watchdoggers for their own aggrandizement. It is, however, a very bad, author-unfriendly publisher, which can be easily discerned with a bare minimum of research by anyone not possessed with the desire to get from here to there the quickest way possible with the least effort they can exert (which is something that usually clearly shows forth in the manuscripts they write).

    After all that's been posted on the Internet about PA, anyone still signing up with them without a clear understanding of what they are getting into deserves the lesson they'll get. Having said that, there's still a reason to go with PA if the writer understands no mainline publisher or bookstore is going to pick the work up or consider it published--because PA at least will be picking up the set-up cost, which doesn't happen with any other such inferior mode of getting words printed between two cardboard covers.

    As Gent says, the leotarded self-proclaimed "watchdoggers" (as opposed to being trained or even fitting the role) are using PA victims just as much as PA is. Those who guessed wrong need to just learn from the experience and get on with it. I said as much when MacDonald opened the neverending PA "crying in my beer" thread on AW--and immediately got gangbanged by the PA crybabies and the self-proclaimed watchdoggers alike.

    As Cher said to Nicholas Cage after slapping him in that memorable movie: "Snap out of it." Stop crying about mistakes that happened because you wanted to take the easy route around every one else putting in their dues and either start putting in your dues yourself or get another hobby.


  • At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, praise Jesus!

    I thought I was the only one who ever got throttled at the Cooler. I said something once about the qualifications for being a watchdog or something like that, and thought I was going to get crucified. I was mortified instead. I have been on plenty of forums or boards or whatever and asked bunches of questions, and I have never gotten so pissed on before in my life. I felt bad for days, thinking I had done something really awful, when, hey, it was just a question. What the fuck?

    Thank God I am not the only one whose gotten trounced on the Cooler. What is it with those loonies anyway?


Post a Comment

<< Home