Thursday, October 06, 2005

OCD in overdrive

Yes. I'm still obsessing over that Google Groups/USENET post by fluffybrain--er, I mean, fluffydog. I essentially whined about how people can't offer constructive criticism or advice. Well, here's an example of someone who DID:

Excuse me, but $24.95 for a 316 paged paperback from an unknown author is about $19 more than I would possibly willing to pay. That and it's a PublishAmerica book, and from my research into that company, I couldn't purchase that book and still feel morally sound.

Good luck selling your book. I certainly hope you have many friends willing to part with $25 for your average length paperback.

Seems pretty harsh on a first read, right? Especially when he talks about "average length." Man, was my ego bruised. Oh, wait. He was talking about the paperback.


Anyway. Read into it a little further. It was because of this post that I went and did more research on PA (which I should've done from day one--duh!) and found all that juicy information. "Juicy," as in what came up the last time I had intestinal flu, but juicy nonetheless. Then there are additional posts referring to links on PA. Hell, there is even a new thread (still referring to Voyage) discussing self-publishing alternatives.

Constructive? Hell, yes. While fluffydog had to go on a ridiculous tirade about nudists (which I am one), with the occasional reference to former authors (etc); Michael and company decided to actually talk about something pertinent. I mean, geesh, fluffy, was it that fucking hard to actually use your brain properly?

Update: I think this guy likes to argue with himself or something. See Exhibit A. In this thread alone, he takes on the personas of: fluffydog, Robbie, Shamus O'Flaherty (I can assume this to be an accurate guess, because the name on the post says "Robbie" further on in the thread, but he SIGNS it "SO" like Shamus did)...and that's it for that thread. Three personas. Eek. Even scarier is when he insults Shamus as Robbie and signs it "SO" (Shamus).

Sooo... I'm dropping this thread. No futher posts will "discuss" fluffy/Robbie/Shamus/whatever, and I'm backing slowly away...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Read the book for FREE

You can now find Voyage to Xanadu, in its entirety (eventually, bit by bit), at It's called "free Xanadu"...not like some kind of mob chant outside a prison, but because the reading of the book is free. Read it as you like. I also will throw in bits of trivia and history, as well.

You can still buy the book if you so choose. Yes. I will allow you. ;-) PA has, so far, held up its end of the bargain (that I know of), so I'm giving them SOME benefit of the doubt. Why? Coz I'm such a sweet guy. (hack barf gag)

There's constructive criticism, and then there's this.

Now, if someone were to come along, read some of my book, and say, "your book sucks, and here's why: the character Henry has no depth, etc, etc," that would be OK. I wouldn't be happy, but there would be some substance to the comment.

And then there's this:


<< who cares, not me >>

Ahhh, nostalgia. It's like being back in fourth grade with all the prepubescent brats screaming purple-faced on the playground. Except they called me "Magnet" (did they think I was attractive or something? Too disturbing) or "Maggots". "Magballs" is a new one on me.

Here's the rest of this guy's post:

welcome to the machine
the dark side of the moon
animals prowl
relics can be found
see emily play

when you get past ee doc smith territory, lensman, go straight to the
white zone.

Uh, okay. Pink Floyd quotes. Been there, done that. Does this bear any relevance to the topic at hand? No. I'm surprised the guy didn't end his post with, "wah wah wah and I want my cookie too! " No, that wasn't a Pink Floyd quote. Although it does remind me of the song "Money" for some reason.

There's more the same on this post. And to make sure nobody can outdo him before he can, he goes on a rant about nudists, pedophiles and Nixon in a later post.




Apparently, this guy didn't pay much attention in his D.A.R.E. class. DON'T DO DRUGS! I mean, is this the best this guy can do? He spouts irrelevant and worthless drivel, expecting to come off witty. Didn't happen. Sorry. No cookie for you. You weren't witty, you weren't clever...hell, you were barely even coherent! Maybe I would've "got it" if I were tripping on acid or had done some whip-its, but such is not the case.

Now, if this guy had read some of the excerpts posted (WAY) below on this site and pointed out flaws with logically thought-out arguments, that would've been fine. But I think this guy must be off his meds (or on too many of the wrong kind). That's fine. Because as long as I entertain one person with my work, social degenerates like this can lick my asscrack. How's that for witty?

PS: For those not familiar with Usenet terminology (or internet terminology in general), what this guy did was write a "flame" post.

PS2: They (adults when I was a kid) told me to ignore bullying tactics because they (the bullies) were just spoiled (or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, neglected) children who were looking for attention. So maybe I should be feeling sorry for this guy and just simply leave the thread alone. But I'm afraid I'm just too outspoken to not lash out and verbally bitchslap this loser. At least I'm only going to rant here. I'm so tempted to respond to the usenet thread, but that would be giving the mental ward patient what he wants: attention.

I'm done now.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More news. No film at 11, though.

Here is the most recent response I received from my friend (I emailed her back consoling her on her misfortune). It's here word-for-word. Only the names have changed to help project the innocent. Yes, project. Not as in PRAH-ject, but proh-JECT. Whee!

First, the email I sent:

Uh, this is Andrew, by the way. Sorry.

Yes, I've been recently discovering new and interesting tidbits on PA. I already knew about self-promotion, as you told me such. That you were cheated out of royalties is shocking; but goes in line with what I've read on the various groups (Google and Usenet, so far). As far as I know, I've only "sold" maybe 10 books. I've told everyone from this point on to NOT buy the book. I'm just going to print it freely online I guess. Sad. And, like you, I intended PA to be a stepping stone to other mainstream avenues. Don't know how that's going to pan out.

Good thing is, I have a completely different series in the works. So if it has any value, maybe that will be published by a reputable publishing house. We'll see.

Anyway, sorry to hear you had such a raw deal from PA.

[Side note: "reputable" as in has a better reputation, which PA apparently does not have]

This is her response:

Hi Andrew,
Sorry 'bout that!!! Thought you were @#$()&*%. Anyway, yes PA isn't a good place to go. !$*(_)?? had his published through there as well but just so it was published. The editing was so bad that he just sells it online and does get some takers. He bought 50 of them when they had a special for authors. Actually mine would make a great movie and I am thinking of doing a screenplay, but also am sending it to Sandra Bullock who does read books sent to her, as I thought of her all through the writing of it as I could see her as my protagonist.

Do hope your new project pans out for you. And don't go near them again.

I was not the only one that was screwed, blued and tattooed from them. Many people have had the identical problems. However, they are very rude when called and also online, so it's hard to deal with them.

Best of luck, and hi to your father for me.

The last part of her email also supports what I've been reading lately.

I'd like to put some kind of witty and/or sage editorial-style comment here at the end, but words fail me as of late. I'm still baffled not by the fact that they apparently suckered my friend, or me for that matter. Or the rest of the authors allegedly victimized by PA. I'm baffled by the fact that if they don't get their act together, they're going under. Maybe they don't care. They made their money, right?

Everything above (my comments anyway) are all tempered with an "allegedly." A. because I haven't witnessed personally the rudeness, swindling and everything else reported on the 'net, and B. as a standard disclaimer in case some of these allegations ARE false. I am not a libellous person, and would like to avoid spreading unfounded rumors (albeit there seems to be a lot of them that corroborate one another).

I wonder, outside of PA's own website, where I can find stories of people who feel they were treated properly by PA. This is one side of the story I have NOT heard.

The thing I don't understand...

The thing I don't understand is this: why would anyone do something if they know it's going to come back to haunt them? If all these allegations are true (against PA), you would think that the leadership of PA would've realized that, sooner or later, they were going to be called out. I don't care how iron-clad of a contract they have. I don't care if they never did anything "illegal." The fact of the matter is, once they get enough bad press, they'll never do business again.

What if PA realizes/realized this? What if they did change their ways? What if they made these catalogs, paid their authors properly, didn't intimidate, didn't misrepresent themselves or falsely advertise? The damage is already done. Anyone who goes into this business thinking, "let's make all the money we can right now," is going to learn that in a few short years, they'll be making SQUAT.

It's just an indication of how much people have to live for the impatient they can be to have everything they want handed to them NOW. So few think of the future. That's what makes this whole scenario really sad.

This just in...

I told everyone that I asked my friend about how satisfied/unsatisfied she was working with PA. Here's that response (apparently, she thought she was talking to my father):

How satisfied was I? Very dissatisfied to be honest. They cheated me out of many royalties and gave me no help at all as far as promoting the book. I told Andrew to beware when I told him about the company. I also told him that I used it as a stepping stone only to other publications where I would go elsewhere. If you go online and put in their name, you will find different websites for complaints, which are many. They have suits against them and all that good stuff. If Andrew wants his book sold, he's got to do all the work. He has to get on radio shows, call and get them interested enough to have him on, go to book stores with his own books that he gets from the company and arrange for book signings in the area, etc. Get hold of the newspapers in the area and have an article about local author. I have done all of this, but the book didn't do a whole lot because it isn't put out there like most are with other publishers. They are a POD (print on demand) company so they only print a book if it's ordered. Therefore book stores and companies don't want to work with them. I was going to write a sequel, but have yet to do so as I've gotten tied up writing a non fiction book on medical issues and do have an agent for that one, so I'm never going near PA again. They are really something, but if Andrew can find something in the contract, which he should have read carefully, that is against what they are actually doing, have him go after them. There are Yahoo groups out there that are just for this purpose regarding this company.

I don't recall my friend telling me to "beware," but she DID tell me everything else I already knew (or thought I knew): you publicize yourself, etc. That she was also cheated out of royalties (as mentioned in the below links) is additionally troubling.

This is gonna sound really, REALLY wierd coming from me, but DON'T BUY MY BOOK. Not until I get all the facts.

More news in a bit as I decide what course of action I will take.

The more I think about it...

...the more I wonder if all of the complaints from PA authors are due to their inability to TRY to push their own book. How many of these PA authors bothered to actually READ the contract? I read it. I understood that I had to do my own marketing, and that it was going to be overpriced (with the hope that someone in the mainstream industry would see it and buy the rights from PA--which was probably a fool's hope). There were some things I read on the below links that made me shudder, no doubt. But I haven't had trouble with their editing. In fact, they FOUND grammatical errors I missed that I'm sure a regular spell-checker would not have found. The print wasn't all crammed into 300 pages. The book is actually very nice to look at, and VERY easy to read--better than those $10 trade paperbacks in my opinion. I have NOT, that I have seen, been mistreated by PA.

I also haven't had a lot of experience with dealing with the final product that is my book--namely, trying to publicize it. I've done my own press releases to local papers, including the Portland Phoenix. Nothing either negative or positive has come of it. And I emailed my friend who steered me towards PA to see what kind of success or failure she's had. No response yet.

The jury's still out.

The fact of the matter is this: I knew at least most of the implications of having PA print my work. There were things I didn't know. And I wonder how much of the bad press PA received was because of authors who did NOT read their contracts and just "assumed" everything would be handed to them on a silver platter.

Did PA's advertising mislead authors? That's a distinct possibility. They threw numbers at potential authors (see the below links for examples) making authors think that they'd sell tons of books, which is apparently not true.

What worries me the most when it comes to pushing my book is that, because of previous authors voicing discontent and the media giving PA bad press, nobody will WANT to stock my book due to all the bad press that PA received. If PA's bad press and the prevailing price for my book becomes such a touchy issue with people, I may (or may not, depending on how much legal grief I get into due to my contract) release the book chapter by chapter on a separate website. The money isn't the biggest deal when it comes to getting my book out there. I just want people to share my vision. I should've just done like I did in the old days and leave it out in the open (i.e. on the web for download) for people to peruse at their leisure.

Regardless, I have a ton of other manuscripts at different stages of completion that I can share with you all. Voyage to Xanadu, Book Two would've normally been the next release. It can be (and I've been rewriting it to be so) a standalone novel, not relying on people to have ever read its prequel.

So, today I'm feeling a little more optimistic. I think I just needed to get hammered, then pick up the next day and carry on. Stay tuned here for anything new.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Going from disturbed to irate

When I signed the contract, I went through it with a fine-tooth comb (or thought I did). I knew I'd have hurdles I'd have to face. I knew I'd be my own publicist, and I knew the price had the chance (apparently more than a chance) of being too high.

This, though, I did NOT know:

The main reason I recommend against signing with PublishAmerica is that PA's contract is specifically written for the purpose of deceiving authors who don't know what to watch out for before signing with them.

The infamous Paragraph 24, which on the surface refers to buying back materials supposedly needed for printing copies of one's book -- never mind the fact PA doesn't use the technologies mentioned in the said Paragraph -- also insinuates that the author must buy back the copyrights for their own book, which they have paid for themselves already to the Copyright office in Washington D.C., according to PublishAmerica policy.

This is done by surgically inserting the word 'Copyrights' into a list of materials 'needed' to print the book. According to Paragraph 24, if the author does not buy back the materials and the copyright, the Publisher may dispose of said materials and copyright however they wish.

This is deceptive language at best, because the contract signer -- even if they read it thoroughly -- will many times not see the word 'Copyrights' inserted with materials needed to print their books. This is just one of several deceptively written paragraphs within the PublishAmerica contract, and again the main reason I recommend against signing with PublishAmerica.

If I go and find my contract, somehow I won't be surprised to find that Paragraph 24 says exactly such. Clever wording.

I'm finding the truth to be a bitter pill. On the other hand, though, there are several manuscripts (mostly done) that they have NO control over. Mua ha ha.

Honestly, I do not want to start a smear campaign against PA. I'm still in a "wait and see" mode; but if PA has such a terrible reputation, even if PA did straighten up their act, there's still a snowball's chance in hell the book will sell. I, however, am very interested in seeing what DOES happen. If I find PA has been less than honest with me, they're going to learn a very powerful truth about me:

When it comes to something near and dear to my heart, I have NO FEAR. Fuck with my kid (especially my kid)? Your ass is mine. Fuck with my family? Your ass is mine. Fuck with my life's work?

What's the worst they can do, anyway? Here's how I see it, if all the bad press is true: I find out I've been Royally Fucked (tm). I then post my entire book for free on the Internet (and rest assured I will). PA comes along and says, "uh, uh, you can't do that." I tell them to get bent. They threaten me with jail, fines, etc. I tell them to STILL get bent. So they throw me into prison.

What a story THAT would make. NATIONAL MEDIA ATTENTION! 20/20, Dateline, you name it. Let the Media Ass Fucking commence! Everybody would know them for who they are (assuming they ARE this way).

Like I said... fuck with my life's work? YOUR ASS IS MINE!

For now, though, I'll play the game and see what happens. Rest assured, I'll keep everyone posted.

NOTE: Now that I've calmed down a bit, I'd like to emphasize that all the stuff I read online was essentially he-said-she-said stuff. But there was a LOT of it. I have a friend (one of the people who introduced me to PublishAmerica) who I will contact and see how SHE feels she has been treated. I'll post her response here. So stay tuned! Film at 11! That kind of thing.

Poor Delilah...

Guess I'm eating that bird!

At least I still have my sense of humor, right?

Deeply disturbing

For those who have been following this blog, you are probably well aware that I've published a book (duh). It was published through PublishAmerica. I posted announcements on Usenet and Google Groups. One person responded thusly:

Excuse me, but $24.95 for a 316 paged paperback from an unknown author
is about $19 more than I would possibly willing to pay. That and it's
a PublishAmerica book, and from my research into that company, I
couldn't purchase that book and still feel morally sound.

Good luck selling your book. I certainly hope you have many friends
willing to part with $25 for your average length paperback.

If you click on the title to this entry, it will take you to one such website that decries the scandal that is PublishAmerica (PA). However, interestingly enough, it seems that authors fail when they aren't aggressive enough pushing their own book. At the very end of the post (linked above), it seems that there is one person who DID push their book and "got the three-star treatment" through Amazon, etc. They seemed quite pleased with PA.

Here is another link warning people away from PA. The first item on the list is also decried in the linked post above: authors are misled into believing that their book will be put into bookstores. This is not true. Any author who believed that did NOT read the contract or the FAQ. I already KNEW it wasn't going to be in bookstores. Do I feel victimized? Not yet, anyway.

Here's how I see it: PA removed one hurdle...getting your book published. Now, if I had my book published through a mainstream publishing house (i.e. Bantam), it would be very likely to be stocked in SOME bookstores somewhere, because the book had already gone through a "screening process" as it were. However, PA doesn't use that process; so the book gets published. Now, with hardcopy in hand, the author not only has a book but a marketing tool to sell to bookstores.

Yes, it's extra work. I guess anyone interested enough in their own work would do this extra work to see some success.

Now the price, on the other hand, may be a touchy issue with bookstore managers. $25 per book is cheap...if it is an O'Reilly technical book or something like that (Voyage to Xanadu is as big as a typical O'Reilly technical/computer book). For a paperback, it is about $5 over what one would expect in a bookstore for something of similar is $15 to $20 more than a "trade paperback" (the books where the ink always comes off on your hands).

Finally, something that has been mentioned is that bookstores are reluctant to buy these titles because they are nonreturnable. PA claims that their books are NOW returnable (bookstores can sell unsold copies back). What this entails, I don't know.

Ultimately, I've seen some good press but a hell of a lot of bad press in regards to PA. What I'd like to know is, why didn't I find all this out sooner? The more I read, the more disturbed I am. It took fourteen years to refine this book to the state it is in now. I went with PA from what I had heard from friends who claimed they had a good relationship with PA. Now, I'm concerned.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Voyage to Xanadu also available on!

Barnes and Noble also have it on *their* website. I don't know if there would be any of my book actually IN the Barnes and Noble stores, though. But you can also save 10% if you buy at (if you're a Barnes and Noble member).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Finding a new sales pitch...

Sales have fallen on my recent release, Voyage to Xanadu...not like many have sold anyway. I know why it’s not selling like hotcakes: there’s no publicity. I’m not sure what’s the best way to properly get people to notice my book…

Well, as I think about it, there is a way…

Okay. In the same vein as Save Toby, I hereby announce that if I don’t sell 1,000 books by the end of the year, I will eat… I … will eat…


I don’t want to eat this bird (her name is Delilah by the way). She has been my companion for over eight years. She’s sweet and funny, and I love to hear her whistle and chirp in the morning. But as God is my witness, I will pluck, stuff and roast her if I don’t have 1,000 books sold before December 31, 2005. I’ll have to use the little forks, though. … And eat very, very slowly. She’s small.

Rescue Delilah! Buy my book!