March 3rd, 2010

An open letter

Dear Self-Published Author:

Thank you for sending your self-published novel to the Iliad Bookshop, because, gosh - we just don't get enough of these!

However, I'm sorry to say we won't be stocking your, excuse me, I meant, of course, masterpiece.

First, if you'd bothered to do the homework, you would have realized that we are a used bookstore, and don't deal in new books. Even yours. Okay, especially yours. Do I sound mad? Well, I might be, just a little. After all, displayed prominently right on the front page of is a large box which holds these words: "Authors and Publicists: Although we wish you luck with your book, please do NOT contact us to find out if we'll carry your book or host your signing. Thank you."

But the fact that you have slapped us in the face by choosing to disregard our request still isn't why we won't be carrying your book.

It's because your book SUCKS.

There, I've said it. And I'm not even sorry. In fact, it feels good. Your book SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS. Damn, that's fun!

But just to be fair, allow me to give you a few specifics. Let's start with the front cover: I'll give you credit for not employing the usual hideous artwork that looks as if an autistic kindergartener created it. No, instead you've used a photo...that was plainly shot in landscape mode, but you've squeezed the dimensions to fit it into a 6" x 9" slot until all the people on it look like Gumby on very bad mushrooms. On top of that, you haven't clearly delineated between the author's name and the book's title; it's hard to tell what's what.

But the real fun starts on the back, with the description of the book. Here's a line that really caught my eye: "Her sexual desire became so intense that there was no limit to what she will do." Wow, that's very impressive, Self-Published Author (may I just call you "Spa"?). It takes most of your peers at least a paragraph to switch tense, but you've managed it in a single short sentence!

Now let's look at the interior. The layout is stunning: You open with the title page (no half-titles or blanks for you, nosiree!), and there's a header and page number right on the title page. You use no less than five different fonts within the first three pages. The text is set in 9 pt. font (ouch! my eyes!), with about an inch-and-a-half of margin.

And of course the marvelous content...I'm almost speechless (and kind of wish you had been, too). Oh, dear Spa, where do I start? I suppose someone should tell you that "thrusted" is not a word, or that referring to female genitalia as a "squishy hole" is not especially erotic. When you write a sentence like, "I opened my eyes and he looked so handsome than before", it's actually difficult to know what you're saying (oh, and see that cool little thing I put in the "it's" above? That's called an apostrophe. You should read up on it, because you really have no idea what it is or how it's used right now.) I'd quote a few more of your amazing lines here, but the entire rest of the book seems to be pornography, and this is a family blog.

Last but not least, Spa, let's chat about what you included with the book: Your bio, and a page in which your offer advice to "future authors". Your advice includes this: "Read as many books on the lit business as possible...definitely, I will have to say to look out for yourself and know what you are signing before you sign your name on the dotted line." But, see, Spa, I don't get that...because your stupid book is SELF-PUBLISHED. The only name you had to sign was on the check you gave the company that probably sold you on becoming the next bestselling writer.

And last but not least, here's your answer to "What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?" - "Nothing was really difficult."

Okay, Spa, that's it. Now I'm seriously pissed off. Of COURSE none of it was difficult, because you, Spa...are an idiot. You are one more of the sheep who has fallen for that happy horseshit (oops, sorry - there goes the family rating) that says anyone can be a writer. Yes, it's really that simple. Forget talent; now you don't even need to understand the most basic rules of grammar or storytelling (or apparently layout). Just spew any shit out onto paper, put your name on it, and ouila! You're a writer! And guess what? Tomorrow you could buy a scalpel and be a brain surgeon! Next Tuesday, you could board a plane and be the pilot! Heck, you could have any job you want, and screw the years of training and gathering experience! Just visualize it and DO IT, SPA, DO IT!!!

And so, Spa, we come to the heart of the matter: When you self-publish this inane crap and dare to call yourself a "writer", you belittle all of us who have studied and struggled and labored for years. You've also effectively destroyed any possibility of a real author ever making good use of self-publishing, because you and all your little spa-pals have now given self-publishing an utterly vile name. What could have been a viable and attractive alternative to mainstream publishing has become nothing but the playground of vain, lazy, self-indulgent dilettantes.

Like you, spa.

So, spa, take your ugly, horribly-written "book" back, and don't approach Iliad again. Unless it's Halloween, in which case I may just build a bonfire in the back parking lot, because I know you are legion and you will never listen.

Thank you for your attention.

A Writer Who Has Written for Years and Studied It in College and Read the Classics and Continues to Study to This Day (and Who Also Manages the Iliad Bookshop)