Talent On Loan from God

While I was away, I received this email (I’ve replaced the names/titles with XYZ, but otherwise the letter is unedited in any way):

Hello Lee, my name is XYZ, and my book, XYZ  was published thru publish america. Lee, Iam a first
timer and I sure would appreciate it if you could tell me what your professional
opinion of P.A. is. I have heard alot of pros and cons about this Co. Iam about
to send my second book for publication, and I DO NOT want to send it to any
shabby publisher. Lee, I have been writing since I was a child, and I consider
myself a excellent storyteller, and I am NO braggart whatsoever, people that
have read my works all tell me GREAT thing’s about my book, XYZ  and my
next book, titled;  XYZ2. Lee Iam a Christian author and
now my book is on the Spread The Word web site. Please help me so I can be on
the right track with this AWESOME gift of storytelling my FATHER GOD has given
My professional opinion of PublishAmerica is that it’s a scam, a con, a swindle, and a fraud. Otherwise, it’s a fine imprint.

It must be nice knowing that you are an excellent story-teller with an awesome gift.  I decided this weekend that I am a fraud with no talent whatsoever… but I think that’s just proves I’m thinking like a professional writer.

24 thoughts on “Talent On Loan from God”

  1. How do these people google Publish America, see your name attached to comments about it, and then skip the part where they read your opinions and instead ask you about it again?
    I swear, I could start a website at IHateSquirrels.com, and some yayhoo would email me, “Hey, I just wanted to hear your opinion about squirrels. What do you think about them?”

  2. I don’t get it. Someone writes to you for advice and you get insultive towards them? He/she seems like a devout Christian who was very thankful for the writing “gift” they got from God. Yes, that may sound arrogant to some, but most Christians view good things in life as true gifts from God.
    It was interesting reading your opinions on PublishAmerica, but it was quite disheartening to see you mock someone else’s faith.

  3. Wow, I’d say that one has to be looking to be insulted to see a “mocking of faith” in Lee’s response. I got the impression Lee just doesn’t put a lot of stock in people who, as their best evidence for the quality of their writing, simply proclaim their own greatness.
    While God might have given the person in question a talent for storytelling, you’d think he might have gone the extra mile and given them a talent for Googling.
    Now, that, you see, was me mocking someone’s faith.
    Compare and contrast.

  4. I’m thinking that after writing nonfiction I may not know how to write a novel, but I’m working the kinks out nonetheless.
    See what I mean by the religion being the archetype for scamming? It’s a profile of belief; a lack of critical thought required by the scam. A symptom really but Publishamerica looks for that and gets it en masse. Most of their authors fit this profile as I said here before to my own ridicule.
    And I think self-published books get reviews. Vanity PODs don’t.

  5. Comparing publishing scams to religion is not only a stretch of logic, it’s insulting. A person doesn’t have to be gullible or naive to have Faith.
    I’m sure one could come up with a couple exceptions, but self-published books don’t get newspaper reviews. The ones I’ve written for have specific polices against it. And for very good reasons.

  6. Most truely self-published books are nonfiction and they do get reviews. Please talk some more about religion and logic. One suspends the other in every case. I’m a professional scientist, I see religious-based logic failure at the macro-policy level all the time. Perhaps you’ve heard of stickers on textbooks? I rest my case. There is difference between self-published and vanity presses. It seems to me you fail to see the difference. If so you wouldn’t be the first.

  7. To Andy: thank you, but I don’t need to compare and contrast. Even the posting’s title alone (Talent On Loan From God) rubbed me the wrong way.
    I’m a big fan of Mr. Goldberg’s and I mean him no disrepect. I’ve been a regular viewer of his T.V. shows and I’ve read all of his Diagnosis Murder books. However, I am an ordained minister and it bothered me to see another religious person’s faith in God made fun of. If that person believes their writing is a gift from God, then so be it.
    I do believe that PublishAmerica sounds horrible and all people should avoid it. I respect what Mr. Goldberg has to say about it and I hope his words help steer aspiring writers away from P.A.
    However, the “talent on loan from God” remark did bother me. I apologize if I’ve made too much out of it, but I just don’t like to see God, or people’s beliefs in him, be the butt of jokes.

  8. To clarify, the religious belief is a qualifier for the scam. They’re simply more prone to falling for it. Clopper knows that and the data on who the PA authors are backs this up. Do a little research and you’ll I’m right.

  9. As usual, Mark, you are talking out your ass.
    From Frank Wilson, the book review editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, whom I quoted in the post on my blog referenced above:
    “We don’t review eBooks, or print-on-demand (POD) books, or self-published books.”
    From Henry Kisor, the book review editor of the Chicago Sun-Times (in an email to me):
    “We don’t review self-published books, only books published by legitimate commercial houses.”
    To repeat what I wrote above: “I’m sure one could come up with a couple exceptions, but self-published books don’t get newspaper reviews.”
    I realize you think you know more than the people who actually edit the book review sections of newspapers, but you don’t.
    I won’t address the fact that you’re a bigot; your words speak for themselves.

  10. I wasn’t critizing the gentleman’s faith. I was, however, admittedly poking some fun at… how shall I put this?…the evident contradition between his high opinion of his own work and his professed modesty. I used that as an opportunity to reveal my own raging insecurities…I also used a call from a telemarketer today the same way.

  11. I’m a bigot you stupid pompous asshole? As I see it Montgomery you’re one-genre critic. Don’t stray too far from the fold. It’s obvious you aren’t up for it. That and your an insulting dickhead. I hope that makes it clear enough since you asked for it.
    This type of thing is why I hate blogs. Check Andy Kessler of the Wall Street Journal. Tell hin his reviews don’t count.

  12. You are a, blanket, all or nothing kind of guy aren’t you? I hate this kind of sniping becuase when you start a response with “talking out your ass again” there’s nothing left but to lock and load. Refusing to see any nuance in a position is dogma. I’m against dogmatic thinking.
    I have a blog indeed and you may earn a post on it about stringer reviewers for big papers. Since I spent four years analyzing newspapers I have an idea how they work. 100s of Publishamerica authors got reviews in papers including the Washington Post so in general PODs don’t get them but they can. Self-published ones always can but Frank in Philly is a lumper. Self is vanity to him. He’s wrong and so are you on this point.
    You want to make it personal “go ahead make my day.” It’s Clint’s week.

  13. I’m surpised nobody mentioned his train wreck of a letter. If XYZ is incapable of writing a one paragraph letter, it doesn’t bode well for his book.
    I think the “100s” of PA titles that got newspaper reviews probably got them in small-town papers that ran stories on “local authors.” The WashPo piece last month was more of an expose on PA’s slimy practices.

  14. Mark,
    Self-publishing is vanity press the same way creationism is intelligent design. You can call it whatever you want, but it is what it is.

  15. “I was, however, admittedly poking some fun at… how shall I put this?…the evident contradition between his high opinion of his own work and his professed modesty.”
    Not to mention the contradiction between his touted “gift” and the lack of rudimentary English skills evident in his email.

  16. Most self-publishing is done with nonfiction. Eragon was self-published using POD to start with then switching to offset. I only advocate traditional publishing, as difficult to get into and slow as the pipeline is, but you have to acknowledge the difference between vanity presses where the books are owned by a company and not sold in stores physically, and those that are printed in runs of 3000 offset copies, returnable and reviewed by Reed business and stocked on shelves alongside Lee’s three copies.
    Vanity presses are not self-publishing. They’re vanity presses. Just because some fan comes along and says with finality it isn’t real doesn’t make it so. Appeal to inappropriate authority fallacy. The appropriate one is linked for the curious.
    Scrivener’s Error

  17. No Joy they a got a review, as surprised as I was to hear that from Paula Span who wrote that story for which I was a source. Most were “local writer publishes book” stories. The book reviewer for the Wichita paper IS a PA author, or was at the time. She also got Reed Business to review her Graven Images novel. So you see it isn’t as cut and dry an issue as one might think. That’s why PA is tough to get rid of; my goal for them in the first place.

  18. Those are vanity, which for nonfiction is sometimes an option. It never is for fiction. I would also add that I still have exclusive rights and can peddle them elsewhere should I so choose.
    I did those as part of my journalism program back in 2000 when they were just popping up. I would never do it again under any circumstances. If you want to use those as evidence of my ineptitude go right ahead. That’s what the PA shills did.

  19. Mark, I wasn’t implying that you’re inept or anything else. I’m just trying to understand the point of view you’re coming from.
    Don’t all authors who publish with those presses retain the rights? I’ve known a couple authors who have taken iUniverse books to traditional publishers. So it does happen on rare occasion.

  20. Yes David I appreciate that. Others have, that’s why I mentioned it and that appeared to be where the blazes on the thread were going. The answer to your question is yes they do. Not Publishamerica though which takes full exclusive rights for seven of the worst luck years any writer can have. It’s all part of what makes them an insideous scam.
    I don’t know of any Xlibris book that has transitioned upward, but iU has the rare example but it wasn’t fiction. My cover price is reasonable at $10.95 also. Not so for X. I should also say that the vanity fees have escalated rapidly in the last three years which is why PA hooks so many. The fee there is on the backside with high cover prices. 75 copies per author= $465 profit. That’s the vanity fee for iU and Xlibris.
    I paid 0 for Xlibris back in 2000. That’s what it’s worth.


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