Every once in a while, I get packages from authors who have self-published a science fiction or fantasy novel. I don't like receiving them. I always feel like the authors are wasting postage on top of whatever they've already spent to print the book. In two decades, I've never reviewed a self-published or vanity press book. There's simply too much better stuff out there that deserves my attention.
Recently I received a book from a local writer whom I am not going to name. He's produced a futuristic techno-thriller about AIs running amok. It's "published" by PublishAmerica. And it just kind of makes me sad.
If you don't know anything about PublishAmerica, read this article from the Washington Post . Also read about the publication history of Travis Tea's "Atlanta Nights," a "bad book written by experts."
I opened the local writer's PublishAmerica book and was immediately struck by a glaring typo on the Acknowledgements page. A quick flip through the book revealed many others.
On a whim, I went to the author's personal Web site and learned that he has battled dyslexia all his life. Which made me terribly angry at PublishAmerica, because they obviously did nothing to help a client with a recognized problem. Instead, they took his money and let him produce a book that no reputable store will ever stock and few people outside his family will ever want to read.
Then I noticed that the writer's main page includes a big link to Writer Beware, which offers "Warnings About Literary Fraud and Other Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Target Writers." And what is one of the publishers Writer Beware warns about most vociferously?
That's right. Good old PublishAmerica. And there goes a large portion of my sympathy for the hapless local writer.
I understand the desperation that can grip someone who wants to see his or her words in print. But please, folks, remember Yog's Law: Money Flows toward the Writer.