Lee Goldberg has been admirably exposing the self-publishing racket for several years now. When somebody asks me about publishing a book him-or herself I e-mail them Lee's website url. He makes his case with facts and figures. They always dismiss my lack of enthusiasm for self-publishing as "snobbishness." One of them even had a friend call me to tell me how "happy she is" with her self-published book. So there.
Lee has probably covered this but since I ran across it in Laura Miller's column in Salon today I thought I'd share a bit of it with you. It seems that the National Book Awards not have a competitor--The National Best Book Awards for self-published books.
"Why bother to set up a Web site regurgitating cover art and promo copy that anybody can find on Amazon.com? The answer, of course, lies in the National Best Books 2009 Awards, a contest that features no fewer than "150 active categories," including three subcategories of "Animals/Pets" and 13 subcategories of business books…By all indications…everyone who enters in any category winds up listed as a "finalist."
"Best of all, as USABN's Web site freely promises, "the National Best Books Awards are the ONLY Awards Program in the nation that offers direct coverage to the book buying public for every entry." Like the Special Olympics, this is a competition that everybody wins. If you enter the 2010 contest by the end of this year, they'll even throw in a "six-month full-color listing on USABookNews.com," which is "valued at $1500.00!" despite the fact that none of the publishers whose books are listed there now seem to have paid for this service or even to be aware that it's been provided.
"Every winner and finalist -- i.e., everyone who enters -- can purchase gold medal-style stickers announcing the fact, which can then be slapped on the cover of the book, making it look deceptively similar to books that have won legitimate prizes like the Newbery Medal. The fee for all this is $69 (about what you'd pay to nominate your book for the National Book Awards or the Pulitzer), though you do have to pay it for each category you wish to enter…
"That's still not much cash to shell out for a bogus award that will impress those friends and relatives who haven't heard of the National Book Awards in the first place and will perhaps even (briefly) deceive the few who have."
Ed here: Apparently unemployment hasn't touched these folks yet.
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Sadly, Ed, this is probably occasionally Plan B for those unemployed folks seeking Literary Riches and Perhaps Fame.
The trouble is that in some cases they're getting robbed. The ones I've run into are bitter not being taken seriously. The only cure for that is to let an editor judge your manuscript, go through the process the rest of us had to--and have to. I know few writers who haven't had many, many rejections in the course of their careers.
Good post. I recently had a rejection on a manuscript partial. My wife, who is the most beautiful person I've ever known, said the following: "Well, they're just wrong."
I then explained to her, rather tersely, that these are the experts. Did I disagree with some of the agents points? Yes. But, this is how they make their living. They probably know a thing or two.
My point, as is yours, is that it's easy to get sucked into thinking that you're better than you actually are and get taken in the process. Especially in this age of immediate satisfaction.
I have been speaking out against self publishing for years. I always advise would be authors not to become impatient. Just because you have the disposable income to publish your own book does not make you a writer. And, oh, what about their tag lines on their emails? Longer than the emails themselves. And the less accomplished, the bigger the website.
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