The Perils of
Science fiction author Vera Nazarian '88
explores the opportunities and dangers for would-be writers in today's
Last year, Vera Nazarian ’88, along with her
cohorts from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, proved
that anyone can get a book published, even when it is authored by
someone named Travis Tea. (Stop: Read author’s name again.)
Their hoax was deliberate. The group of 30 science fiction writers
purposely concocted poorly written prose in Atlanta Nights, hoping to
out self-described traditional publisher PublishAmerica as a vanity
press that would publish anything. Their gripe with the publisher stems
from the company’s attack on sci-fi and fantasy authors. Hence, the
PublishAmerica sting, which resulted in an offer from PublishAmerica to
publish the book.
“With print-on-demand technology and desktop publishing, anyone can
produce a ‘real’ book—printed to order, available online, without
inventory, distribution costs or returns,” said Nazarian. “Anyone with a
computer and the ability to create PDF files can set up shop as a
‘publisher.’ Who needs editing, quality control or even a basic command
of English? This new breed of vanity press is dangerous because it
masquerades as the real thing, with nothing to lose. Savvy authors
recognize scams—shady publishers who pay only royalties or token
advances with no bookstore placement except distribution online, book
doctors who ‘edit’ for a fee, agents who charge clients (real agents are
paid commission as a percentage of publisher payment to the author) and
show no history of client book sales.”
Nazarian (www.veranazarian.com) has published numerous works of short
fiction in anthologies and magazines, her debut novel a mythic
philosophical fantasy of many layers called Dreams of the Compass Rose.
Her second novel, Lords of Rainbow, was an epic fantasy about a world
without color. She lives in Los Angeles.
Working on other book-length projects, Nazarian offers authors some
advice on getting a book published:
-- Learn all you can about the publishing industry beyond Writer’s
Digest and Writer’s Market.
-- Use the Internet to Google for publisher Web sites, submission
editorial names. Get to know Bertelsmann, BEA and Publishers Weekly.
-- Attend conventions, conferences and trade shows to network, gossip
and make friends.
-- Read industry blogs to get to know the daily habits of professionals.
-- Treat this as an extended job search. Research the marketplace, brush
up skills in your preferred area and get your ‘résumé’ in order—a clever
combination of you, your manuscript, its presentation and your
-- Acquaint yourself with scams, dangers and misconceptions. Visit
Writer Beware: www.sfwa.org/beware.
-- Follow author James D. Macdonald’s rules of thumb: Money always flows
toward the writer; writers sign checks only on the back, cashing them.
-- Finish your work, use proper manuscript format; submit it according
to guidelines. If you’ve been working on that “great American novel” for
a decade, stop; force yourself into a deadline or begin something new.
-- Expect rejection. For every sale, you will get hundreds of heartless
-- Persevere. Be thick-skinned, insanely self-confident, driven.
-- Accept constructive criticism; use it to improve your writing.
-- Believe in your work until others believe in it enough to publish.