Sunday, January 30, 2005

K. Lively posts on a sting operation by the Science Fiction Writers of America on PublishAmerica, publisher of my sci fi novel, Table of the Lord.

Damn the truth!

PublishAmerica claims to be a "traditional publisher" that accepts only quality works etc, etc. However, many have long suspected they are vanity publishers who make money off authors by publishing their works and charging for services. So these SWFA guys published a group novel, giving each writer a chapter to write, but no writer knew the plot or what chapter they were even writing. The finished product was sent to PublishAmerica which accepted it and etc. Basically, proving that they'd accept crap.

My experience with them? I didn't pay anything to them for my book like you would with regular Publish on Demand or Vanity publishers. But it's not like I went in with my eyes wide shut. They don't market, they basically only publish and their editing is a little better than a third grade hack job. For editing, I had my wife who has done some pro-type editing and my another relative who has done editing look my manuscript over. As expected, the PA editor was so so. I didn't expect much from them. Even when my manuscript was accepted, I figured that all they did was make sure it was in English and that the basic sentence structure was in place.

I've been through the novel a few times and have seen mistakes but I don't go nuts about them. I've worked as an editorial assistant at a major academic press and one given is that mistakes will be made. In fact Clinton's book is chock full of mistakes including a like that talks of the "failure of his life."

Truth was I was simply happy to have someone willing to publish my book. I loved the cover art work, they were easy to work with. I also have an advantage in that I own a Catholic bookstore. BTW, owning a Catholic bookstore does not necessarily increase sales of your book. People just say "Is that you?" "Wow!" "okay, see you later."

Getting in with a traditional publisher is a nightmare. The barriers for entry are horrendous and then you are at their mercy in terms of marketing. Once they feel your book is done, they stop marketing and if they own the copyright, there's not much you can do. With PA, the deal is for only 7 years and I can republish with someone else. Fair enough.

I still think for starters, a place like PA is fine. Unless you want to devote the next five years of your life seeking to get published as a first time or a no name author. The usual caveats apply. Their editing is crap. Their acceptance of the book is no a measure of quality.

For mine, as far as quality goes, I'm well aware that I am not the reincarnation of Asimov, but for a first effort, it wasn't too shabby, if I may say so myself. I liked the story. A few friends I trusted read it and gave very good feedback. A couple mentioned how they read it cover to cover basically in one sitting, so I was happy with that. I have had it reviewed in the Maryland Independent, our local paper in Southern Maryland and the reviewer liked and so did the reviewer at Roundtable Reviews. The reviewer on SF site wasn't impressed, but I suspect it was because he was grossly offended by the spiritual and Catholic content as an atheist and called it propaganda. To me it was a case of denying God and screaming, "stop preaching at me!!" "Hey, I didn't say nothing!"

I've mentioned that I am currently working on another sci fi novel. It was 96% done a month ago until I began fiddling with it again. I would say it is now 78% done. I'm in no hurry to publish it, so maybe this time, I'll try a traditional publisher. The problem is always content. Sci fi types are not always kosher with religion, especially anything that is friendly to catholicism. Now, I've had my share of scrapes with the Church, but I don't Church bash. A conservative Catholic reading stuff I write would decry its lack of orthodoxy, but that's it. However, anti-Catholic types would consider what I write "Church propaganda" simply because I am writing within a Christian mindset. So finding a friendly sci fi publisher who would accept a Christian themed sci fi novel could be tricky.

I think sci fi is definitely impoverished for avoiding the Christian angle. Christianity has been around for 2,000 years and is not going to evaporate in the next millennium. Any realistic view of the future is going to have to contend with the Christian presence. The other thing is that sci fi-ist go on the assumption that Christianity is not "true." Fair enough. But what if it is "true" and Christ is the Son of God? What implications does that have for a future world, for aliens, etc? Did Christ die for Aliens, can they be permitted to partake of sacraments?

All the Right wing nut stuff going around certainly doesn't help the image of Christian sci fi writers. With Christian and Catholic Right folks arguing that evolution is "only a theory" and that Intelligent Design should be taught in science classes, and that God created the world in 144 hours and then aged it to look a 10 billion years old, it certainly does not help the cause of the Christian sci fi person.

Oh! Pompeii is on Discovery channel tonite and at the same time as Iron Chef America. I have to watch the Pompeii thing, though. It appears that they have actual footage of Vesuvius eruption, how cool is that?


Blogger Talmida said...

What did you think of Mary Doria Russell's book, The Sparrow? I've had the sequel, Children of God, just sitting here since before Christmas, but haven't cracked it yet. Good catholic sci-fi can also be disturbing sci-fi!!

1:11 AM  
Blogger Ono said...

I haven't read The Sparrow . . .yet. I just scampered over to amazon to check it out and add it to my wish list. It is a shame, but I haven't read much in the past few years. I look forward to getting back into good reading once things settle down.

12:32 PM  

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