A few years ago, I was involved in the Atlanta Nights – an attempt by a group of writers to create the worst possible novel and show that PublishAmerica (a vanity press) would publish anything. They did indeed accept it, despite the fact that it was just plain awful (manuscript is available here (pdf)).
Well, I just received word that the book and the story behind it have been optioned for a film. They want to contact me about being interviewed for it, too. They’re raising money for it online. Hard to say if they’ll raise enough to get it finished, but it’s kind of fun.
If you’d like to hear an overly dramatic reading of my chapter, it’s on Youtube.
That’s terrific! I will watch the YouTube when I get home; can’t do it from work. Has PA made any noises about lawsuits yet? They grump about that sometimes. I’m not too delighted with the concept; I would go with a straight comedy.
That is frigging excellent - I would definitely see a movie of Atlanta Nights. Also pretty excellent to learn that we have one of its authors here. I’m not sure if ‘congratulations’ is entirely the right word for this situation, but, congratulations anyway.
The details are that PA was claiming they were a “traditional publisher” and that they were using Print on Demand technology to revolutionize publishing.
They offer their authors a token $1 “advance” and pretend to be able to get their books into bookstores. But they don’t (they even make it difficult for bookstores to order from them) and many bookstores have a policy of requiring payment in advance for PA books (after an author got cute and asked them to order the book, but gave a fake contact address, thinking it would get the book on their shelves. It worked – once. But the bookstores were stuck with the cost of the book, since PA did not give them credit).
There’s also no promotion or editorial changes. Basically, they overcharge for their books (they’re about $5 more than a comparable sized book) and expect the authors to buy copies, both to give to family and to promote the book (the average vanity press book sells 75 copies). The authors end up paying for the publication of their book, though in a very sneaky way.
They claim that they reject most of their submissions, but AFAIK, no one has ever reported getting rejected, and the belief is that the only rejections were when they hit their limit for the day (that’s 500, time to call it a day).
Authors were warning writers about them fairly early on. A lot of those who were involved were science fiction writer (e.g., A. C. Crispin). PA put together a web page “explaining” the “facts” of the publishing business. Since the most visible of their critics were SF writers, they wrote:
(I love that last line BTW – Oh! we don’t mean you!). (Actually, looking at that page now, it’s been change to say that most SF writers are talented but people who write Star Trek Spinoffs (i.e., A. C. Crispin) are hacks. Never mind that Crispin has written and sold a series of non-media books, too.)
In any case, Jim Macdonald took this upon himself as a challenge. He solicited writers and gave them chapter outlines. Mine was two lines and I assume the others were similar. We all cranked out chapters in a weekend, not knowing what anyone else was writing (note mine ends with a cliffhanger that is never resolved; another chapter ends with the character waking up and discovering everything was a dream). Two chapters are identical. Chapter 21 does not exist. Chapter 34 was created by taking a chapter and running it through a randomizer.
Then it was sent to PA, using the name of a front. Soon Jim got the news: PA had accepted. On the advice of a lawyer, we didn’t go any further as to sign a contract. The hoax was revealed. A few hours later, PA sent a letter rejecting the book because one of the chapters (Chapter 34) appeared to be gibberish. Which clearly shows they didn’t read the entire book before accepting it.
Unfortunately, PA is still out there, preying on writers. (They also accepted a second hoax novel a year or two later. One of their authors, suspicious, sent them a submission that was the same ten pages printed out over and over. It was accepted). The story of Atlanta Nights, unfortunately, bears repeating.