The $120 seminar...and if you read this before midnight tonight!!

A Snarkling commented he'd attended a $120 seminar wherein he was told advances had to be returned to the publisher if book sales didn't cover that amount. I was amused by the idea anyone would actually tell people such an outright lie.

Silly Miss Snark, I should have asked WHY someone would tell such an outrageous lie. And the story behind the lie is this: these seminar producers want you to buy their services. Why am I not surprised.

Here's the link so you can see for yourself: BooksAmerica

I clicked on the title "God Doesn't Shoot Craps" because I realized it's a play on the Einstein quote "God doesn't play dice with the universe". There's a VERY slick opening ad. Then the author makes the classic amateur huckster mistake: he lets you read two chapters free. Well. This man needs an editor. Maybe two. One for his active voice and one for his passive voice.

I imagine this author went to one of these $120 seminars and heard how hard it was to get published. That dovetailed with his experience since I bet he had a stack of rejection letters for that novel. He decided to publish on his own. The seminar leaders then give him a way to sell his book on the web, and better yet, offered fulfillment serives: someone to answer the phone, take the order and ship it. All for a small fee-$375/annually and 20% of your RETAIL price.

Every single time you hear something about publishing keep in mind who is telling you and what their agenda is. If you paid money to hear them, even more so. If they want you to buy more services from them, remember, they aren't providing services out of altruism, they're making money off your ignorance.


harridan said...


Just clicked on Books America seminars link.

I'm in spasms, half from laughter, half from outrage.

Along with, Writing, Publishing and Marketing your Book they offer:

Building your financial portfolio on 25 bucks per month.

Baby Boomers Retirement Planning

and, save us all,
Fly Fishing for Fun

Maybe I am just stupid, stupid, stupid, but I don't get the cumalitive link here.

kaolin fire said...

I was afraid before I saw the BooksAmerica link--then it was just a matter of wincing in pain.

/me weeps

TillyLost said...

I was wary at the 'You will find only the best new writers here.' It's the kind of language companies use when they are targeting new writers who know little about publishing, writers who are vulnerable.

Some good posts on this type of linguistic marker (and the comments are always worth reading):


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

I felt real pain for that poor man!

I WAS so completely distracted by the word WAS, that between laughing and wiping my sinus riddled eyes and nose (If it doesn't stop raining in New York, they're going to need to come with the ARK!)I only got through about a page!

That guy needs someone to tell him that he wasted his money! (A fool and his money are soon parted.)

Pam G said...

Don't feel too much pain for him, Bonnie. He's a very in-demand copywriter, specializing in direct mail. I'll bet he makes more than everyone who visits this blog combined.

Copywriters are discouraged from using adjectives, adverbs and ultra-colorful language, but I guess those urges have to find an escape hatch somewhere. :) Maybe the great ad man Rosser Reeves was right, when he said a copywriter trying to be a novelist (and vice-versa) was "just silly."

Richard said...

Why, Miss Snark (and friends), you cut me to the quick! I'll have you know that my novel, "God Doesn't Shoot Craps," was represented by one of New York's finest literary agencies (the same one that sold "The Corrections") and was sold to Sourcebooks, a well-regarded independent publisher, for a sizeable ... well, a moderate ... well, a decent advance. Fortunately, they have lots of editors at Sourcebooks so they've assigned one to my active voice and one to my passive voice! Look for it in Spring of '06.

Miss Snark said...

Sourcebooks is indeed well respected, and I know Peter and Bethany pretty well by now. If they see possibilities, who am I to argue.

Heck, I'll even buy the book. Let me know when it's out.

And thanks for responding with graciousness to what must have been a cold splash of water.

Richard said...

well, perhaps you have a case study here on what a subjective business this is. yes, it was a bit of a cold splash of water to see my writing ridiculed, nay, pitied(!) on a blogsite for budding writers when i've sold a novel and two non-fiction books (to william morrow via agent, richard pine) ... just lucky, i guess, that i've managed to fool all these people so far!!! ... but that's an important point, to encourage your readers to keep trying, because it is, as you know, a very subjective business. but as long as we're chatting, miss snark (and now i'm thinking of inviting you over to the house for bagels and nova someday), please tell me why you think it's a mistake to give away two free chapters on the website. as pam g. mentioned, i have a lot of experience with marketing books through the mail, but none with selling them on the internet, so i'm curious what your thinking was on that. sincerely ... your new best friend (and next fall's national book award winner), richard armstrong.