Hi, folks. Thought I’d offer some thoughts today indirectly related to the IILAA and the “cabal” accusations by pointing out -- One More Time! -- that cluelessness (frequently tinged with deep denial) is rampant in the world of aspiring writers. It’s there, it’s scary, and I guess not much can be done about it, because many of the people I’m talking about are doing the equivalent of covering their ears and chanting “LALALALALALA, Can’t HEAR you!”
A few days ago I saw a particularly egregious thread on the PublishAmerica message board, which I feel duty-bound to look at every once in a while. It seems one PA author was so proud of her newly minted PA book that she sent a copy to her favorite author, asking the author to read it and give her feedback and “constructive criticism” (translation: praise).
Imagine this poor benighted author’s dismay when Favorite Author not only failed to read the book, but replied that the sender hadn’t gotten really published because it was a PA book, and therefore, “self-published.” “Her response was downright mean,” wailed the PA author, who went on to explain that Favorite Author should have been flattered by her request. The PA author concluded her post by announcing that she felt “awful” and “insulted” because Favorite Author’s response implied that having a book published by PublishAmerica meant the book wasn’t up to the same standards as a book published by “mainstream” publishing.
Oh dear. Oh, dearie me. Leaving aside the fact that it’s terribly tacky to send a Favorite Author a copy of your book and request this kind of feedback/constructive criticism, the sheer clue-free nature of the PA author's post left me shaking my head.
But wait, there’s more! It gets BETTER!
The first response our dispirited poster received said: “…keep in mind that PA is a threat to mainstream publishing…” and went on to point out that’s why the industry, and other writers, call PA self-publishing, even when “they know that’s not true.” This supportive person concluded with, “If we weren't a threat, why would she answer you at all?”
The second response was even more to the point: “That author was probubly (sic) scared out of her skin to see someone better than she is at writing. Bet it scared the begeebers (sic) out of her. Her only defense was to fire the first shot.” There was more in the same vein, but I just don’t have the heart to continue.
These poor, poor people. They have been so suckered, and they don’t realize it…yet. Maybe they never will. They’ve formed an insular community where the truth is never revealed and the hopefulness and supportiveness of the posters is used against them. Eventually, many do wake up and whiff the java, and the more they see the truth, the madder they get, but, unfortunately, as soon as they start to post negative things, they’re kicked off the PA message boards, never to be heard again. You have to wonder what the PA authors left behind think of all the mysterious disappearances. At any given time on the PA message boards, 80% or more of the authors posting there are brand new to PA, still in the “honeymoon” phase, so maybe the rapid turnover is never noticed.
It’s plain from reading the above that it’s not a baseless charge to claim that PublishAmerica fosters a cult mentality: You read it over and over on the message boards…diatribes to the effect that: They’re all against us! We’re a threat to them! We’re a threat to the elitists! We’re going to get all the readers to read US, not them, so they’re scared of us!
The problem with my post is that few people who actually need to see it will ever read it. The PA authors who embrace and stay with the cult mentality WANT to stay snookered. A dose of reality is the last thing they want handed to them with their morning coffee.
And it’s not just PA authors, though they certainly typify The Clueless of the writing world. Ignorance abounds, and that’s why scams flourish.
Remember, my friends. We can all be Writer Beware Ambassadors, spreading the word out there in the world of the aspiring writer: “Ignorance is NOT bliss.” “Knowledge IS power.” Aspiring writers…learn everything you can about the business of writing and publishing in the real world! It will pay off, trust me.
And for goodness sake, don’t touch that Kool Aid!
-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware