“Women can’t be funny.”
This is a statement I hear a lot. I’m not sure where it came from, but the earliest instance I know of occurs in a 1695 article written by William Congreve, which states;
“I must confess I have never made an observation of what I apprehend to be true humor in women. Perhaps passions are too powerful in that sex to let humor have its course; or maybe by reason of their natural coldness, humor cannot exert itself to that extravagant degree, which is does in the male sex.”
Now look, based on my review of William Congreve’s body of work, I could make my own assertion and create an article called “People Named William Can’t be Funny” …but I’m not the kind of girl to generalize.
I bring this up tonight because I got yet another email from yet another disgruntled commentator, who is firm in his assertion that Essa Alroc is, in fact, a man. Following his email, I immediately raced to my bathroom, yanked down my pants, and was relieved to find that my vagina was just where I left it.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Just because I’m funny doesn’t mean I have a dick. I assure you all, I really am the smoking hot blonde, with the tiny white dog, in the picture slightly to the right. I don’t avoid posting pictures of myself on this page because I’m trying to hide my Adam’s Apple. I avoid posting them because in every picture, I look exactly like this;
What can I say? I’m not photogenic and something about someone pulling out a camera makes me want to sneeze and fart simultaneously.
I’ve been told my tone is masculine, my subjects are masculine and even, from one flaky ‘chakra counselor’ (how the fuck is that a job title?) that my aura is masculine. I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s simply the fact that people aren’t yet used to my awesome style.
Look, I’m not one to jump on the feminist bandwagon, but the fact is until very recently, the female gender has been repressed. Our main goal in life wasn’t to impress society. It was to impress a man. Rule of thumb when impressing a man?
YOU don’t try to be funny. You make HIM feel like HE’S funny.
Women having goals outside of marriage and children is a relatively recent occurrence. It wasn’t until the sexual liberation of the 60s that we were even allowed to fuck who we wanted without being ostracized. Even then, our freedom became all about our sexuality. When it came to freedom of opinions, we were nothing more than a bunch of angry dykes who couldn’t get men.
I got lucky. I was born at the tail end of that repression. From early childhood, it was ingrained in me that it’s far more important to be an interesting person than it is to be wife material. I thank having very liberal parents for that. Being wife material is kind of my idea of hell.
To me, wife material = boring as fuck
Yes, I’m a mother. But this isn’t a ‘mom blog’ because I’m defined by more than the ability to shove something the same size and weight as a bowling ball out of my vagina…though I will admit it’s a impressive feat. I don’t make this blog about dating because I don’t date. I haven’t in years. As a single woman with horrible taste in men, I would consider it the absolute height of irresponsibility to bring some man I’ve only known for a few weeks around my child and introduce him as his new daddy. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure my kid would shank him.
He has a bit of an Oedipus complex that I’m sincerely hoping he’ll grow out of.
So no, I don’t stick to ‘female friendly’ topics. This blog isn’t about me dating or me being a mom or about me empowering women. The phrase ‘women’s empowerment’ genuinely makes me throw up a little. This site is here so I can vent about the shit everyone else does to piss me off. The object of my site isn’t to impress anyone. It’s to piss you off, and maybe make you laugh a little.
I’m not a man. I’m not even androgynous. I’m very clearly a woman. I have the tits to prove it and they are fucking fantastic. But this blog isn’t about my fantastic tits (though they are so fantastic, they deserve their own blog). This blog is about my opinions on everything, hence the name “Essa on Everything.”
I’m not a man writing as a woman, or even a woman writing as a woman. I’m a person who writes the things most people are thinking in their heads anyway. If you’re a regular reader, go ahead and count the times that you’ve nodded in agreement over something I’ve said on here. That didn’t happen because I’m a chick. It happened because I’m a smart person who has no fear of hatemail.
The fact is I say what PEOPLE are thinking. I’m able to let the facts of a certain situation swirl around in my head for a bit, before I give a concise, intelligent, and oftentimes hilarious opinion.
I don’t need a pair of testicles to do it. So no people, I’m not a man. I’m just a girl who is a lot smarter than you. It happens and it happens a lot more than you might think.
Deal with it.
The splatter of shopper blood in parking lots everywhere makes it official; the Christmas season has begun.
Every year, I promise myself I’m going to do it differently. I’m not going to procrastinate. I’m going to get everything done early and have a good old fashioned, balmy 80 degree Christmas.
This year, I give up. I’m not changing any bad habits. I am going to sit on my ass and let history repeat itself. So here are my predictions for the 2014 Christmas season.
I will consistently bitch about the radio stations that switch to playing nothing but Christmas songs this time of year.
One or two Christmas songs is all right, but I don’t need 40 different renditions of Jingle Bells. I mean, how the fuck am I supposed to rock out to Jingle Bells? But that isn’t the main reason I hate this practice.
The main reason I hate it is between all the shitty Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeers and Frosty the Snowmans, these stations never play the ONE Christmas song worth listening to.
That would be “Father Christmas” by the Kinks. I now invite you to listen to it 10 times in a row, like I always do this time of year.
I will take on way too many clients and wind up working until Midnight on Christmas Eve.
This time of year, old clients start popping out of the woodwork for one simple reason; they want Christmas off. Due to my utter lack of time management and inability to turn down a job, I can pretty much guarantee while you’re all drinking eggnog and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”, I’ll be staring at my computer screen and swearing, while I gently remind a client based in India that December 24 is a major holiday in the US.
Due to lack of aforementioned time management skills, I will do all of my Christmas shopping at 6 pm on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, I will take a short break from my 18 hour workday in order to race to Target and buy anything that is still available. Paper towels? Mom would love those. Lunch meat? Didn’t my brother say he was on the Atkins diet? Then, I will phone it in by buying a bunch of gift cards. Everyone loves gift cards.
Thank god for gift cards.
I will use Christmas Day as an excuse to begin drinking at 9 am.
Most people suffer from ‘after Christmas letdown.’ I suffer from “After Christmas – World’s Worst Hangover – Please Kill Me” letdown. December 26 always involves me lying on the couch, binge watching a comfort show (current fav Law and Order: Criminal Intent) as I try not to vomit and lie about ‘never drinking again’.
I will cry at the end of Scrooged
Scrooged is probably the best Christmas movie ever made and I watch it every year. And every year, I cry like a pussy when the little black kid says “god bless us, every one.” This year, I will not even attempt to fight the tears as I watch Bill Murray turn into a better person. I’ll just suck it up and admit Scrooged is a fucking sweet movie.
I will get drunk and post the “Year End Review” blog.
Every year, I feel like a sentimental idiot for posting it, but every year I do it anyway. This is the blog where I go over all the embarrassing shit I’ve done, tell off a few notable hate mailers, and talk about how the next year is going to be the best year ever.
While that last sentence always makes me feel like a sap, it is always true. Now that I found my calling, I can pretty much guarantee that every year of my life will be better than the one before it.
At least until I die of that inevitable drug overdose.
This year, I will not change a thing about the way I react to the Christmas season. I won’t be nicer to people and I won’t make any effort to be a better person. But you do have to give me points for at least being consistent.
I know Kirk Cameron is busy this time of year. After all, he has to save Christmas from all the cross burning Christmas haters who want to wish you a “Happy Holiday” and remind women that their place is in the home (singing shitty Christmas carols and making cookies that look way better than they taste), all while glossing over the fact that many of our traditions come from pre-Christian pagan celebrations of the winter solstice and not everything is about Jesus
Sorry, off track. What I’m trying to say is that even though Kirk Cameron is busy as hell this time of year, he still took time to create a video on his show “Way of the Master” (otherwise known as “Kirk Cameron Can’t Stop Thinking About Gay Sex”). This video explains to all of us how we can talk to gay people about their sinful ways. Then, we can get them on the righteous path to denying an integral part of their personalities so the invisible sky daddy won’t get mad and stop granting their wishes.
I don’t know much about Christianity, but I think I nailed it in a nutshell.
Anyway, with so much on his plate, I decided to jump in and help him out. Maybe you’re Kirk Cameron. Maybe you know Kirk Cameron. Maybe you’re thinking of becoming Kirk Cameron…because it’s totally a choice. Regardless of what it is, today I’m going to teach you how to talk to Kirk Cameron.
The first thing to remember is Kirk Cameron is just like us…only inherently evil and probably going to hell. That’s why when you talk to Kirk Cameron, you should remind him as often as possible that while you love him, he’s going to suffer in the fire pits of torment for all eternity, simply for being Kirk Cameron.
Yes, it’s incredibly unfair that he’s going to hell simply for being born Kirk Cameron, but we all have crosses to bear. For example, I occasionally have a bad hair day. Why did god choose to torment Kirk Cameron so much more than me? I don’t have a good answer, so here is a picture of what I imagine all of Kirk Cameron’s family gatherings to look like, based on my extremely limited understanding of Kirk Cameron.
Why is being Kirk Cameron bad? Simple. Based on this chart I created, it’s clearly obvious that all forms of douchebaggery are related, regardless of the level. Watch as I prove it with shitty graphics.
Now, I know you’re thinking “wait, isn’t douchebaggery something that can be subjective based on your own cultural background, family values and what version (of the 500 available versions) of the douchebag bible you’re reading? Maybe some cultures don’t believe being Kirk Cameron is wrong at all.”
Well, I don’t have a good answer for that, so I’m simply going to say, I love you, but you’re a heathen and you’re probably going to hell. The best way to show someone you love them is to sentence them to eternal damnation for disagreeing with you.
Just remember, regardless of how you feel about Kirk Cameron…know that Mike Seaver would fucking hate that guy.
Yeah, that title will probably get people sending hate comments without reading everything else I’m going to write, but I’m leaving it.
In case you’re part of my massive Amish following and don’t have access to the internet, let me recap what’s going on.
This is Bill Cosby.
He is an American comic who is best known for his roll as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the Cosby Show. At one time, he was the highest paid actor on American television. The next few facts are pertinent to the story that follows.
- A well known comedian made a joke about Bill Cosby being a serial rapist
- A few previously reported (but never prosecuted) sexual assault allegations resurfaced
- New allegations began surfacing, though every one was well past the SOL
- Enter the viral lynch mob
Look, I’m not saying I know the truth. Whether people are exaggerating or whether Bill Cosby deserved the number one spot on the sex offender’s registry, there is one simple problem with all of these stories.
That simple problem is that the American people adopted a well known maxim, and based our entire legal system on in. I’ll put it down in the original Latin, from chapter 4 of my old criminal law textbooks
cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit
For those of us who don’t speak a thousand year old dead language, I slapped that into Google translate and this is what I got back
The proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies
Or to shorten it for all you die hard Law and Order fans…innocent until proven guilty. Look, even though that maxim sometimes allows bad people to go free, I stand behind it. I stand behind it because of this.
As a logical thinker, I know it’s virtually impossible to prove a negative. For example, I can’t prove that I’m NOT a terrorist. I could point out that I’m an American born girl who holds no extremist beliefs. I could point out that I have no affiliation with any known terrorists. I could point out that my knowledge on how to make both a pipe bomb and mustard gas results from research for my novels and I never intend to use any of this knowledge to hurt anyone.
In a country where ‘guilty until proven innocent’ prevails, that last sentence alone would be enough to convict me. After all, I can’t prove I’m NOT a terrorist, so I must be one. Otherwise, why would I need to know how to make a pipe bomb or mustard gas?
I don’t want to live in a place where logic like that is considered valid.
Right now, Bill Cosby is in the same situation. He can’t prove that he’s not a rapist…so he must be. Other than testimonial evidence, there is nothing. There is no physical evidence, no hospital reports, no lab collections, no security cameras, no eye witness testimony, nothing except for the first person reports of various women who waited more than 30 years to report a crime had taken place.
The women who are coming forward now are not going to fix anything. It’s way too late to have the man charged for these alleged crimes and it’s way too late to provide any real proof. Many of them are coming forward now, saying “I was too scared in the 1960’s, 1970s, 1980s, to come forward. Bill Cosby was a powerful man!”
Actually, he was a popular comic in the 60s and 70s, but he was by no means powerful. Let’s be honest, he was a black man in the United States during a time when people still used words like ‘colored’ and thought movies made in black face qualified as art.
Hell, when Kobe Bryant was accused of rape in the early 2000s people were damn quick to start organizing protests and demands for his arrest despite extremely limited evidence. Are you trying to tell me that people were actually more tolerant of the alleged illegal actions of a black man two decades earlier, when they had the nuts to put out movies like “Soul Man”?
Let’s admit that our country has a history of separating ‘the power of a black man” from “the power of a man.” Whether innocent or guilty, if a woman had accused Bill Cosby of rape and taken him to court, he would have been destroyed by the media, simply based on the color of his skin alone, in the 1980s.
So don’t use the excuse “but he was so powerful!”He was not a Bill Cheney, who could shoot a friend in the face, and then write it off as a hilarious drunk hunting story.
I know I sound aggressive and angry, and in a way I am. I’m angry because these women are turning real issues into an SNL punchline, while they do nothing for real victims, who had the real courage to stand up and face their real attackers when they could actually do something about it.
In the decades after their alleged attacks, didn’t they think, just once, that Mr. Cosby would be likely to do something like this again? Didn’t they think that maybe if they came forward sooner, when such a crime was still criminally prosecutable, even if they had lost, their case might have acted as a deterrent? They might have prevented Bill Cosby from allegedly victimizing another person.
Instead, they waited until it was far too late to do anything about it, far too late to prove their cases and far too late to stop it from happening again. Bill Cosby is 77-years-old for god’s sake and he hasn’t done anything notable since “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” He no longer has the power or the influence he once did. He no longer has the ability to victimize someone that he once did.
What the hell is the point now? If it’s closure, it’s a shitty, and ultimately selfish, goal.
Here’s my problem with our American rape culture; sometimes, men are innocent. Sometimes, a woman reports a rape, despite the fact that a rape never happened. And suddenly, our justice system turns from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent.
Once a man is painted with the rapist brush, even if he is exonerated, he can never really clear his name. He might escape with no prison time, but he’ll always be dirty in the eyes of the public. “Sex offender” is a worse label than “murderer” in this country, even if you were never actually convicted.
If I had my choice, I’d rather be a convicted murderer than an accused rapist. The public would be more forgiving.
So yes, I will probably be accused of victim blaming, but I’m going to say it. I don’t think it’s brave to come forward 40 years after your alleged assault. I find it suspect and I think it’s an insult to real survivors, who did the right thing and bravely reported their assaults to the police, before facing their accusers in court and making them pay, criminally (not with a hefty monetary settlement) for what they did.
Reporting decades late, taking money from your alleged attacker, that does not make you look good. It does not make you look credible. It makes you look like an opportunist and it casts shades of doubt on every single woman after you who is really victimized.
If Bill Cosby really is a rapist, if he has recent victims who have actual physical evidence of their assaults, your 40 year old testimony is not going to help them. Instead, it’s going to make real victims look like women who just jumped on the “Bill Cosby raped me” bandwagon. You’re not helping anyone.
Both sides of the story always deserve to be told, but they need to be told on a timely basis. Witnesses die, memories change and old events become fuzzy. These women who are accusing Bill Cosby of rape 40 years after it happened aren’t helping anyone. Instead, they could possibly be smearing an innocent man’s reputation or a current victim’s case. We don’t know, but we continue to attack.
I’m a logical person. I like facts. The facts are this. There are none. We have no unbiased testimony. Instead, we have reports from women who may or may not be lying. We have reports of Bill Cosby settling cases for money. Let’s be honest. If I was a famous, family oriented man, and a woman accused me of sexually assaulting her, I’d probably pay just to keep my reputation intact. A criminal sexual assault case, no matter how unfounded, would have destroyed his career. I give a shit how powerful he is. We’ve seen far more powerful people be brought down by much less.
Monetary settlement is not admission of guilt. In fact, when I was an insurance litigator, we used to settle stuff for ‘nuisance value’, even when we knew the claim was bullshit, because it just wasn’t worth going to court.
On the flipside, if I was a woman who’d been sexually assaulted, there is absolutely no amount of money you could pay to shut me up.
To me, the evidence that is there is not enough. That means the Bill Cosby is innocent until proven guilty. The testimony of women who might have ulterior motives, who offer no physical evidence, is not enough for me. So no, I won’t villanize Bill Cosby and I won’t jump on the hate bandwagon just because some women are choosing to bring their cases to the media. In the media, the rules of court don’t apply. There is no jury and plenty of people are ready to accuse people of ‘perpetrating a rape culture’ just for disagreeing with them.
I like our legal system the way it is. I like the fact that I don’t have to prove I’m NOT something based on flimsy and circumstantial evidence, presented by people who might have a vested interest in my conviction. So you want me to jump on the Bill Cosby hating bandwagon, I ask only one thing.
Prove your case rather than trying someone in the media and expecting the opinions of 1,000,000 people who don’t know all the facts to argue it for you. Accept the fact that this is an innocent until proven guilty society. So report the crime when it happens, accept the backlash and keep the real perpetrators from victimizing someone again.
Rape isn’t a platform. It’s a crime. But reporting a rape that didn’t really happen in order to get attention and smear someone’s name is also a crime. It’s called fraud and it ruins just as many lives as rape. Just ask Bernie Madoff.
If you didn’t have enough faith in the intelligence of the American people 40 years ago, when you might have actually had some evidence to support your story, how can you really expect us to side with you now?
I won’t believe you because you’re a man. I won’t believe you because you’re a woman. I’ll believe you when you present some facts. That is the basis of our legal system and I stand behind that. It’s part of being a logical American.
Every month or so, I check my Gmail to clear out my hatemail and respond to anyone who’s written to me. This mainly involves me blankly hitting delete on subject lines that say ‘you suck” or more frequently (for my reading comprehension challenged readers) ‘u suk’.
But occasionally I get an email from a hopeful or curious writer who is looking to break into the novel world. As you all know, I like to brag that I can support my affluent lifestyle of having a shitty car and an apartment in the ghetto on book sales alone. It only took me two years, two pen names and eight books to get there. As a result, sometimes I feel the need to pay it forward.
Be warned and buckle up. This is going to be a long post.
The other night, I got a question from a reader that made me friggen cringe. I won’t screenshot the question, as I don’t want to embarrass the writer, but here it is, paraphrased.
“How much did you pay to get published?”
People, if you are truly serious about your writing, this is never a question you should ask. In fact, I’m going to refer you to something that I learned when I started researching publishing in the first place. It’s called “Yog’s Law.” It was penned by a successful writer named Jim McDonald, and it’s very simple.
“Money flows towards the writer.”
If you want to turn your writing into a bill paying career, learn that, live that and love that.
I publish in two mediums. I have a small press publisher and I self publish. There is a third type of publishing, called vanity publishing, that I would never consider using. Not with today’s resources. This is what the person who emailed me was asking about.
Here’s what happens when I submit a new novel to my small press (i.e. real) publisher. They assign it to a reader. After a few weeks (timeline varies on size of the publisher) I get an offer. The offer includes a flat advance against royalties, along with a royalty percentage rate. Half the advance is paid up front, while the other half is sent once the editing process is complete.
They assign me an editor. My editor is a retired author (in my genre) and journalist with a degree in language arts, who graduated suma cum laude from an accredited university (this will be important later). She is my assigned editor for every book and reviews the book for plot issues, flow, grammar and punctuation.
Once edits are approved, she sends ARCs (advance review copies) to volunteer readers who provide reviews once the book is released. While that is happing, the graphic arts department develops a cover concept. The audio department works on creating a ‘book on tape’ file. They create all the files for eBook and audio. They manage the print copies as well.
When the book is released, it is SEO optimized for Amazon, shopped to various book stores and placed on my publisher’s website. My publisher’s website is designed for readers and people predominantly go there to buy books (this will be important later). While there is a submission’s page for new authors, it is not the sole focus of the site.
Please note that all of these services are provided by my publisher free of charge. This is because it is in their best interest to create an excellent book, in order to make back the money they spent on me.
On the other hand, I also self publish. I write my book and then hire a proofreader. A proofreader is different from an editor in that they are there to check for grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors and nothing else. As I have confidence in my prose and storyline, I go with a proofreader over an editor as they are cheaper. This runs me anywhere from $200 to $500. A true editor would run me well over $2000, so I make sure my book doesn’t need one before I hire.
I send the book to beta readers that I have gathered on my own. These are volunteer readers who are simply fans of my work. I let them decide whether or not to leave reviews. These beta readers might warn me about editing, but they are mainly there to check for story flow.
I work with a cover artist who hand draws my covers. This costs me around $100.
I format my books (it’s incredibly easy) for Smashwords and Kindle and upload them. They usually go live within 24 hours. I use Createspace for print books. These are all free services.
My blog, Facebook fan page and word of mouth are my marketing routes. I pay $20 a year for my blog’s domain name.
In the end, I spend under $1000 self publishing and maintain a royalty rate of about 75% on all sales. I make my initial investment back in about 30 to 60 days and write off the full amount on my taxes. However, I put a minimum of 6 months, 40 hours a week work into every title before I elect to release it.
When you have a true publisher, they do the work for you and pay you for the right to distribute your book. They make the money back in the percentage of royalties they get from sales of your book. When you self publish, you have more control over the process and get a higher royalty rate. Both of these are excellent options if you want to make writing your career.
Vanity publishing is not.
Here is what happens when you vanity publish. You submit your work via their flashy website. At their flashy website, their sole marketing efforts are directed at writers, not readers. They may or may not admit they have a fee up front. You may have even gotten to their site via an advertisement on Google or Facebook, stating they were ‘looking for new writers”.
Real publishers don’t take on advertisements on Facebook or Google. They don’t need to. The big houses get so many submissions a year, they’d be far more likely to take out an add asking people NOT to submit. Many won’t even accept un-agented submissions.
A real publisher’s goal is to sell books, not solicit new writers. A real publisher’s webpage will be set up to sell books, not solicit writers. If you doubt me, check out Penguin, Randomn House or even smaller niche publishers like Harlequin. All of these pages are designed to sell books, not solicit manuscripts.
With a vanity publisher, after submitting to their site, you will get a ridiculously quick response. I’m talking like 48 hours. This is another red flag. When I submit to my publisher, it takes them a week to even assign my manuscript to a reader. I only get that five star treatment from them because I’m an established author with their company. Most newbies wait a month or more.
No true publisher will read and decide on your book within 48 hours or even a couple of weeks (again, unless you have an ongoing relationship with them). I mean, chances are it took you months or even years to write your book. Do you really believe that someone read and loved your book in only two days?
This is where the flattery comes in. They’ll skim your novel, pick out few key points and send you an email talking about how marketable it is, how it’s the finest thing since Chaucer and how they couldn’t put it down.
Another point, real publishers don’t talk like that.
I consistently write novels that reach the top ten in their genres and still get emails saying ‘it’s good but…’. This is because my publisher is also a negotiator. She’d never gush about how great my book was, even if it was, and then try to close the deal. I mean, would you go to your local car dealership, drive a new car, and then tell the salesperson “it’s the best thing I’ve ever driven. I must have it, no matter what the price?”
No, you wouldn’t, because you’d get screwed.
The same holds true for publishers. Real publishers won’t gush about your novel unless you have a pen name exclusive contract or you’re of the same caliber as JK Rawlins. Or until after your editor is already handling it, because you’ve signed the contract. My editor thinks I’m brilliant, but my publisher thinks I’m an idiot. It’s all part of the process.
Vanity publishers are doing exactly what the name suggests. They are appealing to your vanity. They will tell you exactly what they know you want to hear. Let’s admit, as writers, we’re a vain group. That’s why when we hear how great our latest masterpiece is, we don’t think “scam artist” we think, “finally, someone has recognized my genius!”
After they’re finished flattering you, they hit you with the even better news. They’ve decided to publish you! They’ll overnight a contract.
All you need to do is send them X amount as part of your ‘partnership agreement’.
Vanity publishers want you to ‘invest in your future’. They’ll call these ‘fees’ tons of different things. Marketing fees, publication fees, partnership fees. Regardless of what they call them; if they are a publisher who wants to charge you, they are a vanity publisher.
But isn’t vanity publishing the same thing as self publishing?
Not even remotely. With self publishing, you manage every aspect of your novel. You get a higher royalty rate and you get to choose the people you work with. You decide who distributes your work. Also, you pay reasonable fees for only the services you need and again, you control every aspect of what those services are. When I need a cover, I go to a guy I hired on Elance with an excellent history of producing remarkable artwork (much love, Evan Ringuette!). When I need a proofreader, I select a bid based on a large network of proofreaders with excellent and verifiable credentials. I pay a competitive, industry based rate and I have complete control over what these people do for me.
Most importantly, the rights are always mine because I am the publisher. If I want to (and I’ve done it before) I can resell a self-published book to a publisher whenever I want.
With a vanity press, you get none of that. You pay for a ‘package’ and they outsource the work to whoever the hell they want. They could submit your novel for editing to a person they’re paying $0.12 per hour in the Philippines. They could buy your cover off of a premade cover site. They could do ‘print on demand’ at a free site and claim it costs them $1000 to have it professionally printed.
Vanity presses have one goal in mind and it’s not your success as a writer. It’s to get you to pay them to make you a successful writer. Their business isn’t a book selling business. It’s a volume business. The more writers they sign, the more money they make.
This is where the credentials come in. You might see on these vanity sites that they hire ‘the best in the business’. The fact is, they don’t specify what this ‘business’ is. The business they talk about could be the business of selling corn dogs on the boardwalk. Semantics are key to vanity publishers.
They offer very few verifiable credentials, meaning your novel could be getting edited by someone with less of a grasp on the English language as you. They can mark up their services and gullible writers will never even verify they’re getting what they’re paying for.
“But what about marketing?” You might be shouting at your computer screen now. “They’re going to set me up with on TV and send me to book signings! They’re going to get me into all the big bookstores!” Or even worse, “but they’re an exclusive vanity publisher! They don’t accept everyone. In fact, they have only a 3% acceptance rate.”
I’m going to handle each of these one at a time.
I’m going to be on TV! – Let me ask you this. When was the last time you bought a book because it was advertised on television? While you’re mulling this over, you should know that buying a spot on a local cable access show is relatively cheap. I can get one on mine for $150. If your ‘publisher’ claims they can get you on anything bigger, chances are your story is intriguing enough to have gotten you there without their help. Think memoirs of kidnapping victims or people who were in cults. If that’s the case, you should be looking for real publishers.
Book signings – I don’t do book signings and it’s not because of my stalker. I’d actually really like to meet him. If he’s handsome, I‘d totally ignore the whole ‘wanting to wear your face as a mask’ thing and toss him a pity lay, just to be cool.
I don’t do them because they’re a waste of time. Most authors who do book signings wind up sitting alone, all embarrassed, waiting for someone to come buy a book (usually a friend or family member) Book signings are incredibly easy to set up, no matter who you are. All you need to do is call a local business and say “I’d like to offer some publicity at your shop, at no cost to you. Also, I will bring 20 of my closest friends to buy your stuff.” Can you blame them for saying yes? The worst book signings occur at places that don’t even sell books. Restaurants are a popular place, especially cafes and coffee shops, because they like to sound all deep and shit. Save the book signings for when you get big and need to kiss your fans asses. They will do nothing for you as a midlist.
They’re going to get me into book stores/ give me name recognition – I’m just going to say it, no matter how many emails I get from vanity publishers. Ever single important person in the publishing world knows who the vanity publishers are and they avoid them like the plague. Because vanity publishers aren’t very selective, at best your submission will get treated with the same respect that someone submitting alone would.(you’ll be regulated to the slush pile).
At worse you will deal a company who has a terrible reputation, and your submission will go right in the garbage. At least a self published person can say “I’ve sold this many novels on my own and would like to sell the rights to you.” A vanity publisher says ‘they’ve sold this many novels and you’ll have to enter into a long, complex legal contract filled with tricky jargon and clauses before we’ll sell the rights to you”. The fact is, once you vanity publish, you get that vanity publishers stink all over you. Those real publishers will smell it, hold their noses and walk away.
The same goes for book stores. If you’re considering a vanity publisher, go to your local bookstore. See how many copies from those publishers books they have on hand (by on hand, I mean in their warehouse or their shelves, not how many they can order for you). You’ll notice that very few vanity releases are actually carried on the shelves, unless they’re from the author’s own local neighborhood. That’s usually a result of said author begging to be carried and again, is something you could do if you self published.
All distributors, whether they be major publishers or book stores, have the same opinion. They have the same faith in your novel that your publisher does. If you had to pay to publish, that’s no faith at all and they will quickly bypass. Publishing with a vanity will do more to hurt your career than they will to help it.
“But they’re an exclusive vanity publisher! They don’t accept everyone. In fact, they have only a 3% acceptance rate.”- “Exclusive” has been used as a marketing ploy since marketing was invented. Hell, I could claim my comment section is exclusive, simply based on my “real person” to “spam” ratio.
Come on people, try to post in my EXCLUSIVE comment section. I only publish 1 out of every 50 comments I get. If you make it, you’re special; you’re one of the elite few!
Many of these vanity publishers claim a high rejection rate when people are actually rejecting them. For example, if I submit my novel, not realizing it’s a vanity press, and then get an offer to publish, for the low low price of $5000, I turn it down. And suddenly, I’m in that 97% of people they didn’t accept.
Claims of exclusivity are again playing on your vanity.
Sometimes, these vanity publishers can be tricky. They might send you a contract and not ask for a fee at all. That just means they’re prepping for the up sell. So you might sign it, and then three weeks later, you get an email saying that you need to send in $900 for editing services. Then, they’ll try to convince you you’re required to send in that money on account of the fact that you signed a contract.
For that, I’ll refer you to something called ‘the contract of adhesion’. This mainly means that disputes regarding the terms of a contract will always be decided in the contractees’ (that’s you) favor. If your initial contract was ambiguous (did not specifically state costs up front) a court will decide in your favor. Don’t fall for that bullshit. Tell them to stuff their ambiguous contract. Trust me, you won’t get sued.
This vanity crap needs to end. The age of true self publishing (which many people, including me, are making a success of) is helping to put a dent in it. But I still see my friends getting tricked by these vultures. I want it to stop. Unless you are a true self publisher, you should never ‘pay to play’.
Most people won’t say this about vanity publishers, but I will. They’re all scams. There is nothing any of them can offer you that that you could not get on your own, cheaper, while maintaining the rights to your own work.
Of course, don’t mistake vanity for self publishing. When you self publish, you’re not paying. You can put up whatever book file you want and assign an ISBN for free. Self publishing sites like Kindle, Smashwords and Createspace are fully above board in what they offer and they have made my career. They distribute and take a small cut of my royalties in return. They do not ask for money up front. It is free to publish but you are charged a nominal fee every time one of your books is sold. That is a true distributor partnership.
Companies that charge you an assload up front to work with sites like this are just plain scamming you. Let me make this clear.
- If they want the rights to your work, while at the same time demand you pay them, they are scamming you. I don’t care what they call it. Whether it be their $4000 marketing fee or their $2000 ghostwriting fee, they are scamming you.
- If they have no eBook presence at all, in a world where upwards of 30% of book sales (and growing rapidly) are made on eBooks, they are scamming you. The majority of my money comes from eBooks.
- If they expect you to do all of your own marketing and put a heavy focus on ‘book signings’ they are scamming you.
- If they promise you’ll get your money back after you sell 1000 copies of your book, they are scamming you. Think about it, they now have a vested interest in making sure your book doesn’t sell that much. Why would you agree to that?
- If they encourage you to buy hundreds of physical copies of your own books, without offering any free courtesy copies, they are scamming you.
- If they charge a disproportionate price for your books, they are scamming you. When people could pay $9 for a book from a best selling author like Tim Dorsey, why the hell would they spend $14.85 on your memoir, when they have no idea who you are? You’re being scammed.
- If your ‘publisher’s site’ is nothing more than an advertisement for soliciting manuscripts from writers, they are scamming you.
Here’s the deal. A real publisher reads your novel, likes it and OFFERS YOU MONEY, for the right to sell it. My advances aren’t high. I get anywhere from $500 to $2500, but I get advances. I don’t pay people to publish my work. If I am paying it’s because I’m publishing my own work. I’ve taken on the risk of being a publisher, so I get the reward too. (i.e. all that money that keeps me in Ramen Noodles every month)
Above all, do your research and do it right. Finish your novel, polish it and look up actual publishers in your genre. Don’t start looking for publishers for the idea you’ve half formed. Having the idea is easy. Writing the book is hard.
Once your book is ready, look at the novels in your genre and see who the publisher is. Look them up online and see if they have a submissions policy. Follow it to the letter and then wait…forever sometimes. The same applies for literary agents.
If you’re looking for a publisher, don’t pay fees. Reading fees, submission fees, editing fees, any kind of ‘fee’ is the mark of a scam publisher.
If you want to be your own publisher, stay tuned for an equally long winded post where I describe step by step how to get it done. Be prepared, because it really is like setting up your own business.
If you’re taking all the risk with your work (i.e. spending all the money) you should keep all the rights to your work. If you’re selling someone the rights to your work, then they should be taking the risk. That is how real novelists’ careers are made.
Just like any job, you don’t buy your way in. You wouldn’t walk into a store, offer them $3000 to give you a job, and then tell them they never have to pay you, would you? Then why do that with your novel? Give your book the respect it deserves. Either find a real publisher, or actually do the work to be your own publisher.
But don’t give into vanity.
This morning, I woke up to a ton of helpful reminders to vote today. My only answer could be ‘no.’
I’d like to say I have some deep political reason for failing to vote. I’d like to say I’m protesting a corrupt system, unfair campaign practices and voter misinformation.
In reality, I’m not voting because of Primetime television.
Every show I see about politics or Washington has the same theme. Backbiting politicians buying votes with the money they get from whatever lobbyists are financing their careers. I mean, what the hell is the point of voting when Olivia Pope can just rig the machines and then blow up an office building full of people to cover up the crime?
I really need to stop watching so much TV.
Here in Florida, the race for Governor is taking center stage, with Charlie Crist and Rick Scott leading the way. For the past few months, I’ve been barraged with media messages telling me how evil they both are. If I vote for Charlie Crist, he’ll take away my job. If I vote for Rick Scott, he’ll burn down a college while eating a live puppy.
I have no opinion on either candidate, except to say that Charlie Crist looks exactly like a photo negative. What’s up with that?
I am plagued by equal parts apathy and cynicism. Whenever I’m forced to leave the house, I have to ask myself “is this worth putting on my shoes for?” Fritos and beer gets put firmly in the yes column, while midterm elections sit strictly in the ‘no’. Unless, of course, they’re giving away Fritos and beer.
My natural Gen-X apathy makes it impossible to make a decision unless there is some kind of immediate benefit to me. What can I say? My generation is inherently selfish.
On top of that, after watching about $100 million worth of ads with nothing but mud slinging and exaggeration, I don’t count on either candidate to tell me the truth. Look, I know the governor is an important guy, but I highly doubt he’s directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. Tax breaks and big business incentives only take us so far. After twenty years of surplus, we’re in a recession. It happens and I don’t think the big issues can be blamed on one dude.
There’s even a pretty big issue on the ballot today. It’s Florida’s initiative for medical marijuana. Amendment 2, for all you actual voters out there. Some believe that it could even sway the election by getting supporters of legalized marijuana to the polling place.
They didn’t consider the Catch 22. The fact is, you’re counting on pot smokers to actually DO something. Have you ever been into a polling place while high? It’s scary as hell. There’s cops EVERYWHERE.
I mean, it’s not like I’m going to quit smoking pot if it stays illegal. Hell, even if they make it legal, I still won’t leave the house to get the prescription. Unless someone opens a dispensary in my living room, I’ll stick to shady midnight drug deals, thank you very much. Less paperwork.
Yes, I am fully aware that I’m part of the problem. I should be more grateful for living in a democratic society, where every voice is heard. The problem with every voice is that once everyone starts yelling, it all turns into a giant jumbled mess where you can’t decipher any one voice from another.
Am I doing anything worse than one of those people who show up to vote, after learning no information about the candidates or policies? You know the kind of people who vote for the handsomest candidate, or the one with the funniest name? There was a reason the Dick Swett kept getting elected in New Hampshire, and it wasn’t his politics.
If anything, I’m doing all you actual voters a favor. By keeping my completely uninformed opinion to myself, I’m making your vote matter more. I’m thinning out the pool.
You’re welcome, America.