Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Some people just can't take "fuck off" for an answer

So occasionally people see my amazon reviews and think it would be really awesome if I would read and review their books. The odds of this happening are not high, but when you're a struggling author, you're desperate. Apparently. I don't really mind; it seems a little tacky, but I know that if I had a book out (and god willing, I someday will), I'd be frantically trying to prevent it from sinking into oblivion too. But when you're TOO shameless about it, it's just embarrassing. There's this guy, whom I will not mention by name, who since September has periodically been sending me emails asking me to read his books--I glance through these cursorily at best, and the only reason it registered with me that these were all from the same guy is that he begins every email with "hello, it appears you love beautiful stories, so I am certain you are going to love these," or some very close paraphrase. He always uses the phrase "beautiful stories." If he's trying to create a personal tone, this effort is somewhat undercut by repeating the same damn thing over and over. So after receiving his latest missive, I responded:

Nah, beautiful stories really aren't my thing...I prefer soul-crushing, existential nightmares that make me question the existence of a loving God. But thanks so much for your interest.


...and I figured that that would be that. But then, less than twenty minutes after I've sent this possibly not wholly encouraging message, he writes back:

Hi Geo,
Nightmarish you said. Find them in Disciples of Fortune and the thriller.

Was I too subtle, perhaps? Based on his writing, English does not appear to be his first language (his name and the subject matter of his books suggest some sort of African extraction), so maybe the sarcasm just didn't fly? Or is it, rather, that he didn't even think about that, and he's just latching onto anything that he thinks could conceivably score him a sale? So finally, impelled by curiosity, I actually checked him out on amazon. First not-so-great surprise was that they are published by "we are goddamn bloody fucking well NOT a vanity press!" vanity press publishamerica. And then, there's the fact that his books have actual reader reviews. Five-star reviews! All of them, coincidentally, by "readers" with no other amazon information. Who happen to write in exactly the same style as the author. I mean, seriously, dude--couldn't you at least have gotten friends to help you out here? This is too pathetic for me to even make fun of. More sad than anything else, really.

Anyway, my point is this: vanity presses fucking suck. One thing that we do not need in America is more people suffering under delusions. Are there books that, while good, are too radical or left-field or specialized for major publishing houses to take? Bien sûr. Too much so for even a small press to take on? That, I'm dubious about (and on that note, buy my dad's new book!). And, really, if you actually HAVE written something that THE WORLD MUST HAVE, but that no legitimate publisher in the world will accept, a vanity press ain't gonna help you none, since nobody's going to read your work anyway. And anyway, this is just distraction from the main issue, which is that, with a tiny, statistically irrelevant number of exceptions, the books that vanity presses publish are thus punlished because they are not good enough for serious consideration. So, vps: fuck off and die. Cheers.


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