Dewey (Decimal) Cheatham and Howe

Dear Miss Snark,

A friend (yes, it really is a friend and not me) asked in an email to a writing group about a wonderful idea the local Friends of the Library is kicking around.

The idea: hold a contest and one lucky winner will win a chance to get their book published by...hold onto your gin pail...iUniverse. The contest organization will pay the fees to iUniverse and place a copy of the finished product on the shelf at the local library. Plus, the book will be printed by print on demand and it will be listed online. (Yes, I think this is supposed to be a positive thing to encourage more entries.)

If you'd like to blog about this, I could direct my friend to your blog and show her one agent's thoughts about the proposed contest and reaction should the lucky "winner" query Miss Snark proclaiming their win.

A Snarkling in Training


Here's a metaphor that might help: Saying the prize for this contest is getting your book published is akin to saying you'll get it in the newspaper, when the newspaper is one of those joke sheets you can buy on Eighth Avenue with the phony headlines: "Miss Snark Weds George Clooney" kind of thing. Yes, it's in the paper, but it's not the REAL newspaper, and it's not what people think of when they're told they will be "in the papers". This is a classic case of saying "first prize is a car" and the fine print says "matchbox car".

The prize they are offering is to get your book PRINTED and put on the library shelf, and available in book disguise to someone who wants to shell out the dough (mom, uncle Fenster, sister Wednesday, Mr. Lurch..yanno..friends and family).

I notice the contest is sponsored by Friends of the Library, not the library. Every library I know in the world, and I know a few, has an acquisition policy that pretty much precludes acquiring crap. If they haven't checked with the librarian about this brilliant scheme, it would be a good idea.

This kind of contest is perfect for people who only intend their writing to be a hobby, or just for fun. Or for people who want to collect Uncle Fenster's bright ideas in book form and give it out as a holiday gift kind of thing.

Let me say in unequivocal terms: iUniverse books are NOT a publishing credential. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded. There are virtually NO exceptions to this fact of life. If someone thinks they will be the exception, here have a lance, there's the windmill have at it.

I understand FoL searching for new and interesting ways to raise money for a good cause. Time to put the thinking caps back on, cause this one is ..well...you said it...it sux.


Kitty said...

Our FoL raises a nice chunk of cash by selling donated books, many of which I've donated.

Maybe you're not Mrs. C yet, but he did propose, no? After all, I read it here.

Kitty said...

Dewey Decimal reminds me of a question on a history test I took in grade school.
Q: "Who was Dewey?"

I answered, "He invented the Dewey Decimal System."

What did you expect from a history-hating kid whose mother was a librarian?

Miss Snark said...

Well, Dewey did invent the decimal systerm, right? Maybe not Thomas Dewey, but that's not what the question asked. I hope that teacher didn't mark you off for the answer.

And...thank god I had the drop cloth at the ready for that earlier comment. I laugh every time I see that.

Kitty said...

Well, it was a history test. My teachers got a great deal of mileage out of my mistake. Then, again, I seemed to have supplied them with hours of enjoyment. Like my definition of hari-kari. Thinking of helter skelter, I said hari-kari was "a mess."

Ira Rosofsky said...

"Miss Snark Weds George Clooney" a joke? What do I do with the gift?

Iuniverse had a full page ad in the Times book review section today. And I notice that Amazon itself is getting into the vanity biz with booksurge.

Miss Snark said...

Hold on to the gift, it's only a matter of time till Mr Clooney finds me.

iUniverse has been advertising in the NYTBook Review for some time. When you read the descriptions of the books, it's almost sad. It's clear the authors are writing the blurbs...and why so many of them didn't (or won't) get picked up by a real publisher.

occasional_anonymous said...

Tell it like it is! I am so tired of the whiny 'but my book IS published' parade.

I'll have to send back my wedding gift, tho, it's biodegradable.

Skylar said...

If you sold over 1,000 copies of your iuniverse book, would it be considered a real publishing credit, or would it pretty much still be regarded as a funny paper?

Miss Snark said...

since when is monogrammed sterling silver biodegradable?

Oh wait. Miss Snark has a horrifying epiphany.
You got her...a live chicken!