Trolling for Suckers, The Sequel

The other day I got an email from xlibris.

Dear Lee,
      My name is Tracey Rosengrave, Marketing
Manager for Xlibris Corporation, a Print-On-Demand Self-Publishing company. We
are sending you this email because we have either learned about your passion for
writing or we have had the pleasure of coming across some of your work…

I wrote two replies. One under my own name (which hasn’t received a reply), and an entirely different one under a pseudonym:

Dear Tracey,

I was so thrilled to
get your letter. I’ve been writing for years and was beginning to think nobody
had noticed. I truly have a passion for writing. How did you ever find me??? Was
it my "Scarecrow and Mrs. King"/"Remington Steele" crossover fanfic that you
read on I think it’s my best work. I have this idea of a TV
series but I think it would make a better novel so I wrote it. There’s a
publishing company in Maine that has offered me a $500 advance but
it’s not Random House! The book is called "Hollywood and Vine" and it’s about this cop
named Jimmy Hollywood who is something of a rogue. He’s teamed up with Vine who
is half-man, half-plant. I know that sounds silly but it’s not when you actually
learn about this complex character who has many deep levels (and gets his energy
from photosynthesis). Do you think you’d be interested? I would much rather be
published by Random House, even if the advance was

Here is the reply I got:

Xlibris is actually a strategic
partner of Randomhouse. We would love to work with you. Just give us your
complete address and we can send a free publishing kit.


You’ll notice that Joe didn’t mention that Random House is a real publisher and that xlibris is a self-publisher, that Randon House pays advances and xlibris doesn’t.  He fell short of coming right out and saying "No, you will not be published by Random House. They have a financial stake in our company but that’s as far as the association goes." He left it up to me, the naive author of HOLLYWOOD AND VINE, to figure out what strategic partner means…

9 thoughts on “Trolling for Suckers, The Sequel”

  1. “The book is called “Hollywood and Vine” and it’s about this cop named Jimmy Hollywood who is something of a rogue. He’s teamed up with Vine who is half-man, half-plant.”
    Lee: That field, [The Maltese Poplar, Dead Men Don’t Wear Kudzu,] has been plowed more often than a Hollywood hooker. Maybe Detective Vine could be a Miracle-Grow junkie; he’s trying to kick the habit so he can save the rain forest and reconcile with his estranged girlfriend, Kate Moss.

  2. I got one! I got one! Woohooo!
    I feel like I’ve finally made it as an official writer now that I’ve actually gotten the chance to blow off my own XLibris invitational spam mail.
    They like me…they really, really like me!

  3. “WTF DOES “strategic partner” mean?”
    Back in 2000 in meant more than now. Back then a POD-based operation was thought to be the wave of the future. Reality quickly disproved that notion and they divested in the business. “There’s no need for a farm team in publishing,” a RH editor told me in an e-mail interview. Back then it made Xlibris seem like a more legitimate operation than it was or is now. Implying a sanctioning from RH. It never was, even without the fee. There was also iPublish back then from Time/Warner that failed as a farm team operation.

  4. “Strategic Partner” means that your books arrive in a cardboard box that has “Random House” on the side. – Truth.
    I use xLibris to as a “printer” for one of my self-published books. Notice I have no illusion of them being a “publisher” in the traditional sense.

  5. ” a Print-On-Demand Self-Publishing company”
    Look, they say it up front, though undoubtedly because their lawyers recommended the language.
    If anyone goes into this after that statement and harbors any illusions about the nature of the company, they have no one to blame but themselves.


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