Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- News of the Weird: Author's For Reality Show

No, I haven't lost my apostrophe smarts. "Author's For Reality Show" is a direct quote from a Craigslist ad posted today. Can you believe it? Yet ANOTHER author reality show is threatening to rear its pointy head.

A brief recap of the others, both funct and defunct:

- Book Millionaire (defunct)
- Publish My Book! (possibly funct, but no one really seems to know--this is the only one of the lot that has even a whiff of credibility)
- The Ultimate Author (apparently funct)
- American Book Factory (defunct)

This one makes five.

According to Craigslist, Healeth Publisher, "an Independent Publisher located in New York with satellite offices in Atlanta and LA," is looking for contestants for a new reality show featuring writers, to be conducted in conjunction with The Next TV, an Internet TV and radio network (I think the radio part, which calls itself U Tube Radio, might have a small trademark issue).

Getting published is a very difficult challenge that most writers face. The most difficult task is convincing any publisher that you the new author has an audience that will generate book sales. The very first thing a publisher will ask a new author is How Do You Plan To Market & Promote Your Boook? We want to know how you plan to market and promote your book but we also give you the chance to show us. Most publishers want a written marketing plan but we want you to show us you can self promote. Now here's your chance to do so with our new author internet reality show...HP and THENEXT.TV have come up with a competition that will change the publishing game forever.

Okay.

Specifics on how the show will work are sketchy (and come only from Craigslist--the show is mentioned on Healeth's website, but without details, and I couldn't find any mention of it at all on Next TV's website). Apparently it will travel to 20 US cities searching for contestants, who will face a three-part challenge: "I.)Writing challenge II.) Editing challenge III.)Promotions challenge." Ten winner's (their apostrophe, not mine) will be chosen. All will receive book contracts (the publisher isn't named, but it's not a stretch to assume it will be Healeth) with "The Top Writer" also getting a publicist and a $5,000 "advancement."

According to Healeth's website, CEO Jay Williams "spent over a decade working in traditional publishing houses in New York...as an editor for Harper Collins [sic], Pocket Books; [sic] amongst other large book publishing companies," but the website's sparse content, unappealing design, and grammatically shaky text does not (to put it kindly) convey a strong impression of publishing professionalism. Despite Healeth's purported 2005 startup date, it has so far published just one book, Pam Pinnock's The Father Fracture. Interestingly, Healeth's URL is registered to Pam Pinnock--and if you Google Healeth, the only references, apart from its website, involve Pinnock and her book. Pinnock is the only one of the contest's "celebrity judges" who is named. She also claims to be a publicist. Remember the publicist who is promised as part of the contest winner's prize package?

Hmmm. That's a lot of roads leading to Pam Pinnock.

No bets on the longevity of this one.

38 comments:

W. Arthurson said...

To see info on an actual reality TV show for authors, check out http://www.booktelevision.com/3Day.aspx
Season Two has been filmed and is being edited; I was a contestant on Season 1, airing for eight weeks in the winter of 2007 on nationwide TV in Canada. Yes, on real TV stations that worked on real TVs. None of this internet TV stuff. Reruns ran in the summer. Unfortunately, you have to be Canadian to enter, or at least live in Canada. It was fun.

BuffySquirrel said...

I suppose if you bait enough hooks....

Victoria Strauss said...

Adding a link to Mr. Arthurson's comment: 3 Day Novel Contest.

Like NaNoWriMo on steroids! And it's been going since 1977.

P.N. Elrod said...

The first question *I* ever got from a publisher was "Can you deliver the rewrite by that deadline?"

The reply to MY first question was "No, we can't give you more money."

Publicity never came into it.

Hm--we're still having that same exchange 19 years later.

The writers would be wise to get on "The Price is Right" instead. More money and more people watch.

Yo--TV folk--you should know by now that unless you're buying the drinks writers are pretty danged dull to watch when we work.

Flipping over to "Dirty Jobs" now. More visually interesting.

Kaleb Nation said...

$5000 advancement? Do these people even research their publishing terminology? Sounds like something the Prince of Albazana would offer in a spam email if you simply forward him your account number. Looks like just another vanity publisher hiding in sheep's clothing again...

Hathery said...

Yikes...that show sounds horrible. Absolutely horrible. Nothing like watching authors go about their daily lives--because we all know what outgoing, charismatic folk AUTHORS usually are (not generalize, of course! haha.)

Anonymous said...

If someone asks me 'what will you do to make your book a success' I shall answer 'write the best book I can, work closely with my editor, and deliver it on time.'

And if the publicist is as clueful as the one who recently spammed usenet (and encourages others to use a template to spam usenet) then you'll quickly see _negative_ sales. I can see the attraction for the publisher, though: if they get a nice TV audience then a lot of people will potentially buy the book.

To be successful I should think they need to model themselves on successful Idol shows and invite Harlan Ellison to preside over the panel...

green_knight

Brandon Sanderson said...

What's with the $16 item for sale on their website? The one with no cover art which simply says "Author's Roughdraft (for reality show contestants only)"? Did the WB post mention that and I just missed it.

That looks like book/pamphlet they're expecting the 'contestants' to buy. Or, is it perhaps the reading fee you have to pay to join the contest? Either way, that shifts this from ignorant contest right into scam, as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

green_knight--LMAO!!

Deb said...

LOL -- Harlan would probably do it, too. He likes to eat.

Victoria Strauss said...

Brandon said,

What's with the $16 item for sale on their website? The one with no cover art which simply says "Author's Roughdraft (for reality show contestants only)"? Did the WB post mention that and I just missed it.

I was going to mention it in my post but evidently early Alzheimer's struck because...I didn't.

I'm sure you're right that it's something that contestants have to buy, though it isn't clear whether all would-be contestants have to buy it or whether it's just for people who are picked to compete on the show. If the former, it might make for some nice income for the publisher. If the latter, it's a de facto entry fee.

Lorra said...

Is there no degradation we unwashed and unpublished writers must endure?

I'd rather commit suicide by swallowing my own tongue than submit to this humiliation.

Ugh!

karma said...

Ok I had to comment on this one..I have seen enough negative comments on here that discourages writers from leaping out of the traditional ram of things. If you google the publicist you will see that she is a well known publicist and published Author. She has a very impressive list of clients which is a lot more than what some of you on this post can say. How many of you actually know real authors? Sounds to me like she has plenty of contacts and would not need to scam writers. Especially if she is a published writer. According to amazon.com she is published and books are being purchased. I checked the registered domain and it came up private so whoever said it was under the publicist is lieing to create drama to keep the blog going. Then I also sent an email to the publisher and the response I received was that the publicist has a joint venture with the publisher. Apparently, they published her book and went into a partnership together to help other unpublished writers get published. How is this a scam? Sounds to me like the author is trying to help other writers. I feel really bad for the people on here who have nothing better to do with their time than to discourage other writers from trying to get published. Unfortunately for most people on this blog this is the only writing they will ever see in print. This is not the first time I have found information on here to be false and quiet frankly I am beginning to feel like it is a waste of time here. Is this a site to prevent writers from dreaming of becoming published? I guess so maybe we will continue to write here other than get out and really try to get book deals. I am not interested in being in a reality for those who do, do your home work first. Reading this blog is not homework google search and ask questions. Oh by the way the way I asked about the author's draft on their site and it's part of the competition. You have to read the draft and take a writing and editing test. It's a competition people you have to show that you can edit! Get it!

Frankie said...

This is what amazes me about this blog site. The older lady Victoria has nothing but negative things to say about writers and publishers. Yet, she is so far from perfect herself. For instance she states that Healeth Publisher site is plan but look at her website it looks old. I mean granted she looks old herself but people enough with the down playing. This lady has several books published yet all she can do with her spare time is write blogs revealing half of the story. Is she putting this reality show down because the reality show has Hip Hop artists as the host? Is this a race thing? I went to the site and I saw platinum R&B groups as host of this reality show. I find it hard to believe they would be involved in some type of scam as the old lady is implying. She also states that the publicist claims to be a publicist. I google the name of the publicist and several press releases came up for well known artists that she has worked with. Viki, failed to mention this in her grap perhaps on purpose. If you google the publicist it comes up that she married to a well known NBA player and used to date a lot of well known celebrities. Why would a well known publicist run a scam when she has major clients? I could also pose this question. Maybe Victoria Strauss is not a real author either. I mean I google her too and got less info than I did the publicist. I also noticed that the publicist is an African American. Is the publisher African American too? Let's ask old lady Victoria. I'm guessing yes and maybe this is another reason why she is attacking this show. I hope this show does well and prove that Victoria is just an old lady that is trying to look young with that hair cut she sports. Viki, I got a tip for you. Your hair cut is not age appropriate. Stop it already

Anonymous said...

Yo Frankie and Karma - speaka da English.

And Frankie, what's with the old bashing? Are you really that ignorant?

Answer: I guess the proof's in the pudding. (You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?)

Victoria Strauss said...

Hi, Frankie and Karma (or should I say Pam--how interesting that both of you have Blogger profiles less than a month old that consist of nothing but your names),

I'm going to ignore the childish insults about my age (honey, you better hope you look as good as me when you're 52--okay, now I'm being childish, but you've gotta make allowances for us old folks, we aren't everything we used to be) and the pulling of the race card, and confine myself to the following responses.

I checked the registered domain and it came up private so whoever said it was under the publicist is lieing to create drama to keep the blog going.

Healeth's domain name is indeed registered to Pam Pinnock. I provided a link to prove this in my original post, but here it is again. (I've also printed out a copy, in case a hurried change takes place.)

Why would a well known publicist run a scam when she has major clients?

Good question. But where, exactly, did I say say anything about a scam (as opposed to a really silly idea)? That's right. I didn't.

Then I also sent an email to the publisher and the response I received was that the publicist has a joint venture with the publisher.

That's what I figured. Thanks for confirming it.

Oh by the way the way I asked about the author's draft on their site and it's part of the competition. You have to read the draft and take a writing and editing test.

Thanks for confirming this also. Can you tell us whether writers will be required to buy this draft, or will it be provided to contestants free of charge?

Demon Hunter said...

Frankie,
Excuse me, I am a writer of color, who is going to be published. Most of the people who read this blog are on the road to publishing, if they are not already published.

Ann and Victoria have helped ALL writers avoid scam artists for years! It has nothing to do with race and you know it! Before you make vitriolic comments about someone, make certain that you know something about them first. Ann and Victoria are great, as well as accessible and helpful!

p.n. elrod said...

Frankie and Karma--

Thank you for the surrealism fix for my day. Just when things weren't weird enough for my taste you added the right amount of nutty flavoring.

If you want to bash anyone lucky enough to be older (and certainly much wiser) than yourselves, I suggest going to the local shopping mall instead. More targets.

And please--learn how to divide your thoughts up into paragraphs. It's easier to read. A long, single-paragraph passage smacks of ranting.

The TV show is what it is, a silly idea, but then that accounts for most of the stuff being aired. You'll probably get a few willing players, but don't fault the brainier types for choosing not to waste their time.

Dave Kuzminski said...

So, Frankie and Karma, when do you pick on me? After all, I share some of the same misgivings as Ann and Victoria concerning this particular, er, endeavor.

Julia said...

I have seen enough negative comments on here that discourages writers from leaping out of the traditional ram of things

We certainly wouldn't want to leap out of a ram of any kind, traditional or not.

How many of you actually know real authors

Probably all of us. Victoria's published a kajillion novels, with a little publisher you might have heard of...HarperCollins.

I'm still working on my kajillion, but so far I've published fiction and non-fiction with Random House and the New Press. And I'm one of the n00b lurkers here.

So, yes, I think this blogger and her readers are perfectly qualified to judge.

And that "editing challenge" is going to be quite some challenge!

Wayne Arthurson said...

To clarify a bit, the actual 3 Day Novel contest has been going since 1977 and all can enter, not just Canadians. The 3-Day Novel TV show, although tied to the official contest, so far, only allows Canadians. Most of the writers in both seasons were published in some manner, either in book form, or as professional writers or as playwrights. And there was no humiliation because the producer was a published writer and wished to stay away from the typical "reality TV". Actually, it was an incredible bonding experience between the 12 writers, and the production crew, at least in Season One. And one of the best parts was when certain members of my family or friends watched the show and told me that they finally realized what I had been doing all these years and why.

ALC said...

"Wow!"

Let me repeat that, "Wow!"

If "Karma & Frankie" ARE, in actuality, Pam, then I hope to high heaven that she HIRES someone to judge her "editing" contest.

This person/ these people apparently has/have no linguistic skills whatsoever.

Honest to goodness, whoever you are, take some introductory, college-level grammar courses.

Oh, and tossing out the "race" card??? Honestly???? If you were at all familiar with this forum (and, if you had an I.Q. above that of the average house plant) you would never have been so silly as to suggest that V.S. & the WB forum just don't like you because you're black.

You know, color doesn't really matter. A dumb idea is still a dumb idea no matter who has it or what color they are.

Also, V.S. didn't say that this was a scam, just a dumb idea. However, "I" must personally assume that "scam" comes into play if "every" would be entrant has to pay $16 to play (in the form of the partial draft). I must assume this because a legitimate contest for a t.v. show (one that has financial backing & isn't just a pipe dream) could provide the partial draft as a free download. The contestants could then edit their entry & send it back either via email or by snail mail at their own expense.

Either way, the most the entrant would have to pay is two to three dollars for postage.

This little twist in the "contest" just reeks of the foul stench of scamming/profiteering.

Alice said...

I responded to Healeth's ad requesting manuscripts. I sent a synopsis, and Jay Williams responded asking me for my marketing plan. I sent it. Now he said my marketing plan seemed detailed, and he requested three chapters. Your blog gave me pause, and since I couldn't find other info about them, here's what I responded:
Hi Jay,

Thanks for your interest in my manuscript. Before we proceed, it would be helpful if you could answer a couple of questions I have.

I went to your website, and I saw two published books listed. I was not able to find the book titled "Diary of a Princess" by the author you had listed. Where can the "Diary of a Princess" book be obtained? It does not even seem to be available on your website. I am interested in finding out about other authors you are working with, and what a contract with you would entail.

Your website says that you have offices in three cities, yet there are not addresses listed for any of them, and there is no other reference on the internet to your company's locations.

I am disturbed by some grammatical errors on your website. What kind of editing process do you provide authors, and what could an author working with Healeth expect?

Thanks again, and if you would be so kind as to answer these questions, I would be more comfortable sending you the chapters you requested.

Best,
Alice

I hope I didn't shoot myself in the foot, but I think caution might be the way to go here. Anyone agree? Any comments?

Alice said...

Here's an update. He wrote me back right away. Do you think it's worth pursuing?

Hi Alice, thanks for your honesty. Diary of a Princess is a book we are in the process of acquiring so it is not available under our publishing company yet. 1) I live in New York office one, I also have an office and I executive produce a popular talk show in LA office two. My staff is located in Atlanta this would be our home office number three. 2) As far as grammatical issues. I will contact one of our interns to investigate this matter. 3) Due to so many publishing scams we do not provide an editing service. We will not buy any manuscript unless it is free from errors. With that being said, it's up to the author to hire an editor.

It might be a good idea for you to do some more research on our company but keep in mind we're independent and new which means our authors will grow right along with us. If you are really skeptical about our company please buy the title we have available on our site. This would give you an idea of what we produce. We will have more books available before the spring so please check back. Good luck!
Jay Williams
CEO
www.healethpublisher

ALC said...

I see a few problems with this reply.

First of all, on their own web home page they say "Currently the publishing company has two books imprint- Diary of a Princess
by K. Long and..."

(Never mind the fact that the company should have two books IN print, not imprint - an "imprint" would be a subsidiary company.) Why does the company say that the book is one of theirs if they do not, in fact, currently own the publishing rights? According to their home page, not only do they already own publication rights - it is already published (otherwise, it would not be IN print).

Next, Jay says that he lives IN the N.Y. office. I'm guessing that this means that the N.Y. office is a corner of his den. Why would a guy who lives in N.Y. have his "staff" in Atlanta? Wouldn't it be prudent to have your company in your own zip code? If he's just an employee of the company, why on Earth would an Atlanta based company have hired an editor/publisher who lives in N.Y. and bops back and forth between there and L.A.??

Also, sending a reply that says that they have an office in NY, another in L.A. and yet another in Atlanta might sound impressive - if he'd given you some addresses and other pertinent, verifiable info about the company and its offices. Quite frankly, a small press with one lonely, little, VERIFIABLE office is far more impressive than a brand new one that's trying to sound big and well funded.

I also notice that Jay (who is listed as the editor and publisher on their web home page)says that the company does not provide "editing" due to the proliferation of publishing scams out there. Hmmmm... very interesting. Could it be that he's seen WB's list of "red flags"?

Yes, we all know that no one should EVER send a MS to an agent or publisher until it has been polished to a high shine, but "in house" editors do serve their purposes.

Also, remember that when VS originally posted a link to the domain name page that the owner was listed as Pam Pinnock. That suddenly changed to "Private."

This, in my OPINION (please note that I am stating an OPINION), is a self-publisher looking to make a few bucks. My GUESS is that she had no luck getting her MS published and resorted to self-publishing. Once she self-published she must have decided that she knew the ropes well enough to put someone else's book into print so why not call herself a publisher and start her own business on the web?

That's all just fine (IF that is the actual case - again, just me sitting around surmising), but, if you're looking to be published why not exhaust other options before resorting to using a start-up company that, even if it is trying to be a legitimate company, is unproven?

Healeth claims to have been established in 2005. If they've been around for two years already and only have one book in print then there's a serious problem.

If you ARE serious about getting your MS published, do yourself a favor and start at the top and work your way down. Better to have been turned down by the big shots FIRST than to take what might be a magnificent piece of work and put it in inexperienced (and, from the grammatical errors & typos - not to mention the awkward use of language in general - found on their web site's home page, inept) hands.

Alice said...

ALC - Wow. You make some amazingly impressive points. I'm wondering now if Jay Williams is even a real person. And, rather gullible young thing that I am, I seem to have sent him the first 3 chapters of my manuscript. In response to his explanation. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Well. Guess we'll wait and see. But I don't think that, under the circumstances, (and due to my discomfort with the grammatical and word usage errors in the emails and website), I would have any confidence going with such a publisher, even IF I would receive an offer of some kind. *sigh*.
Thank you for spending so much effort on advising me, and you are clearly much more articulate than...well...some people. Maybe you should be a publisher - hee hee. Thanks, ALC.

Alice said...

By the way, in reading over my post from last night, a nagging feeling that it sounded sarcastic kept pulling at me. No sarcasm was intended. I just feel like I shouldn't have even continued with this in sending out any of my work to this person. I will step back and be more careful from now on.

ALC said...

Alice, thank you for the compliment.

Don't worry about sending out those first three chapters. Even if you had sent them to a reputable agent or publishing house they are still yours and no one else has any claim on them.

Also, don't worry about your email to Healeth sounding sarcastic. I do not believe that it sounded sarcastic. I also believe that only someone who happens to have been on the defensive to begin with would have thought it so. If Healeth is legitimate and has nothing to hide then they should respect a writer for being cautious. Publishing is, after all, a business, and business related questions are to be expected.

If you politely inform them that you have decided to pursue another route and are no longer interested in their representation at this time, they should accept this in a dignified manner. If you receive any abusive banter as a result of your withdrawal then you'll know for certain that they are not professionals.

Hopefully, if the owner of this company has any business acumen at all (I don't believe that his/her field of knowledge includes the publishing business. At least this is the impression that I've gotten from the web site.), he/she will maintain a business-like attitude.

If your dream is to be published, do it right and don't rush into anything. Polish your MS as well as you are able. In lieu of hiring an editing service, I would recommend getting a close personal friend or family member whom you know to have excellent grammatical and linguistic skills to do your editing for you. You might even offer to pay them a little to do so as editing can be time consuming. Note that it would be preferable that this person actually enjoy reading the genre in which you write. Also, note that editing is more than just catching typos and grammar issues. You need someone who will question continuity and point out any potential plot-holes. These are things that are easy for a writer to overlook if they've read and revised the MS a number of times already. Sometimes you need a new pair of eyes to see the things you've missed.

Once you're certain that the MS is ready to be shopped around, start with your "Dream" agent and work your way "down" the list.

Good luck!

Alice said...

ALC,
I appreciate your good advice. Actually, I was more afraid that my post HERE in response to your advice sounded sarcastic. My email to Healeth sounded more confrontational, perhaps, than sarcastic; I just wanted to be sure that YOU didn't think I was being sarcastic to you!
Thanks again, for taking the time to read over my situation and give thorough advice. It's good to get such a level-headed perspective. I'm going to step back and do it right. It can be so tempting to answer ads or try the easy way. Authors usually have a hard time getting their work, however excellent, in the door. But, I know that perseverance, working for a polished product, and the right amount of luck, will do the trick too - that and lots of time waiting for a positive response or opportunity.

I've spent some time reading Gerard Jones' website, and Healeth isn't even on his list. P&E doesn't have much on them, either. Guess that's indicative.

Thanks again.

Samuel Tinianow said...

The real kicker for me is "I also have an office and I executive produce a popular talk show in LA office two."

First of all because if he really produced a popular talk show, he would refer to it by name, and wouldn't feel the need to assure you that it is "popular." Trident Literary Group, for example, won't tell you, "Oh, we represent several popular authors," they'll tell you, "We represent John Stewart, Janet Evanovich, etc." and the names speak for themselves.

Second, because if you look at the grammar of that sentence, he's saying that he has an office in his LA office. This person's grammar is really extraordinarily atrocious, far beyond any understandable level for someone who works in the publishing industry.

Alice said...

Samuel,

I think you are right. I wonder if Jay Williams could really be a publisher with such deficient skills in English. And if he is really that author Pam Pinnock, how she ever published a book is also a mystery. It's disturbing.
I'll keep you posted.

Victoria Strauss said...

ALC and Sam, thanks for responding to Alice--between you, you said pretty much everything I would have (I've been out of town, and unable to check blog comments).

Gerard Jones's website contains a number of questionable agents and publishers. Don't rely on it--or any print or online agent or publisher listing--to include 100% reputable people. Always do some extra research.

Alice, you might want to check my blog post of a few months back, Learning the Ropes. It'll give you some tools and resources to help you learn more about the publishing industry, the better to avoid disreputable and amateur publishers.

Alice said...

Thanks, Victoria. I will read that post carefully. I appreciate the guidance from you, ALC and Samuel.

All the best,
Alice

ALC said...

Hello, and welcome back, Victoria.

Just an observation:

I believe that we're all aware of the fact that "someone" over at Healeth has at least taken a cursory glance at this blog, which begs the question - Why hasn't anyone over there taken the comments about their atrocious spelling, grammar, word usage, linguistic style, etc. to heart and made some drastic changes to their home page?

Perhaps they don't have the combined English language skills to make the necessary corrections.

I would REALLY like a viewable excerpt from their only published book. I'm sure it would prove quite entertaining (if the author of the book is also the author of the home page contents). It would certainly put that question to rest, anyway.

Alice said...

My guess is that, if the author/webmaster has corrected the domain registration in response to reading this blog, he or she hasn't (yet?) seen our later-posted comments on the lack of proper word usage on the website (and emails to me).

I also attempted to ferret out the "popular LA talk show" that has Jay Williams' name attached as producer, and came up empty. Hmmm.

Furthermore, I read through some reviews of Pam Pinnock's book, and it sounds rather scandalous. It did, however get some glowing reviews on Amazon. (For what it's worth).

If anyone gets a look, please report. Meanwhile, I'll let you know when I receive a reply from healeth.

Victoria Strauss said...

Perhaps they don't have the combined English language skills to make the necessary corrections.

That would be my guess. Surely, if they were capable of writing correctly, they would have done so from the start. Possibly they can't even see where the errors are. The website has been altered since I first viewed it, but it's still very poorly written.

Interestingly, the Craigslist ad for the reality show has been "deleted by its author."

ALC said...

Reviews on Amazon are sort of worthless. There are tons of self-published books on Amazon with glowing reviews. You have to realize that the reviews for these books comes, primarily, from the author & his/her friends & family members.

If you'll look closely at some of them you'll notice that there are sometimes a handful of spectacular reviews all written in the same linguistic style. This is especially noticeable when the reviewer (who is, more than likely, the author) has poor grammar skills.

When the same errors in usage appear in a number of reviews it's like hanging a giant, neon sign on the screen that says, "I'll show them all! Tell ME I'll never be publishable, will you!?!"

ALC said...

I just caught a "verb tense" related error in my prior post. My apologies. That sort of thing really bugs me.