For an update on this story, read The iUniverse Rants: Coming Clean.
A couple of iUniverse authors are acting up again, and I thought I’d write about it today. While it might seem more humane just to let these folks fade into Internet oblivion, it’s a welcomed distraction for me. So let this be a lesson to anyone else out there who is thinking about a) sending me pitches for a self-published book disguised as a “real” social media conversation or b) writing comments on a months-old post without actually reading the post.
The lesson is: find out who you’re irritating first.
Oh wait, I should do one of those “previously on Suess’s Pieces” things, shouldn’t I?
The iUniverse Backstory
- I used to review books on this blog.
- Many were written by indie authors, several were published by iUniverse.
- Most of the books were shitty. I mean so shitty that when the iUniverse dude offered to send me a bunch more titles to prove some of them actually had merit, I was all, like, oh hell no!
- I began to feel the authors were expecting a little too much from me, the only girl in the world giving their tomes the time of day. When one author whose book was slated for a review asked me to take a picture of myself with her book at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I lost my shit.
- I effectively stopped doing book reviews by telling authors they now had to pay for my time, and I hoped beyond hope that the iUniverse people would finally leave me alone.
They did. For a while.
Then one day last week, this random comment shows up on one of those old iUniverse posts of mine. Joy of joys, it was from an iUniverse author who chastised me for tarring all iUniverse titles with the same brush.
Got right up in my craw, it did.
Tip for Authors: Want to sell me on the merits of your book? You’d have better luck sending me a review written by your mom.
I responded to the commenter a few days later, thinking I was done with that mess for another 6 months or so until the next poor soul decided to type “iUniverse reviews” in his favorite search engine. But then today I had the following exchange on Twitter with someone who turned out to be an iUniverse author.
At first, I thought she was genuine about her concern for the tradeswomen of Ohio. And because I’m a raging feminist who believes in things like the right to choose my own health care and the Fair Pay Act, I responded to her. I wanted to learn more about their cause, maybe offer them a little solidarity. (For someone as cynical as I am, I am still really stinking gullible sometimes.) Anyway, when she finally sent me the correct link, I landed on the front page of her blog, where every post is either about her or her iUniverse book.
Trying to trap me into discovering your book is not going to sell me; it’s going to anger me. If some PR “guru” suggested you promote your book in this fashion (or worse yet, if someone in PR is doing this on your behalf), congratulations! You have officially been hosed.
The best part? Girlfriend only had 72 tweets on record at the time, so I decided to check out her tweet history and found half a dozen other tweets that were pretty much the same only with different @mentions tacked on the front.
The Moral of the Story
I kind of side-stepped this issue when it last came up because, although I knew I was being a bitch, I didn’t want to be that bitch. I didn’t want to be the one to wreck the dreams of everyone who thinks that self-actualization only comes with a publishing contract. But that last remaining scrap of goodwill is gone from me now, and I’m just going to come out and say what needs to be said:
If you have to pay someone to publish your book, odds are it isn’t marketable. And if it isn’t marketable, that’s probably because it sucks.
Now, maybe your whole book concept sucks. Or maybe it’s just not ready for general consumption yet. Maybe there’s potential, but you need to do more work? If that’s the case, rushing the publishing process by paying someone to ignore industry standards is the last thing you should do.
Authors who write well receive advances instead of paying deposits. Authors who have something worth publishing don’t pay extra for professional proofreading packages. Authors with great stories to sell don’t pay additional fees for mediocre cover art. And authors who write well don’t have to beg or trick people into helping them promote their books.
Good or bad, real publishers agree to print marketable books because that’s how they make money. And, good or bad, vanity presses agree to print unmarketable books for a fee because that’s how they make money.