If Books Had Smithee Awards…3 min read

The Smithees are an award celebrating the worst on video. One of the most memorable for me this year (PRAISE THE RAY) was Shredder Orpheus. Go ahead, watch the trailer. There’s few clips available online, and this is probably good for your sanity. (PRAISE THE RAY)

That magical guitar (made by Hendrix according to the script, if I remember correctly) plays a very, very prominent role in the movie. So I was very amused when I got the (unsolicited) flyers for The Armageddon Chord (warning – site has embedded auto-playing audio).

I mean, it could be good1… but there’s plenty of “warning signs”. The Mary Sue element. The bizarre names (Festus Baustone III, for example). The embedded flash music. And then there’s the Publisher Weekly review. Oh my. They quote this line on their site (emphasis mine): “a highly entertaining, albeit predictable, blend of heavy metal and hardcore horror.”

Well, yes. The Smithee Awards is entertaining as well. All this needs is a line like “Praise the Ray”… what’s that, Publisher’s Weekly? It contains “memorable lines like ‘the power of the riff compels you'”. Right.

I go through all this detail not so much to just poke fun at the book’s cover copy, but to instead explain why I bothered looking further. I wondered who gave a green-light to this kind of over-the-top excess and called it marketing?

Funny thing, that. There’s not a link to the publisher’s website on the book’s page. They’re easy to find, though. kNight Romance Publishing (the capitalization is not a typo) … well, go look at the website. I haven’t investigated enough to be 100% sure it’s a bad deal, but here’s some things that made me suspicious:

  • Crappy website design. I mean, it’s a basic template.
  • Acquisitions editor is the CEO – whose bio extols that they were “a college major in Accounting and Business Management” as well as “over 20 years of extensive corporation research and development, structuring and management experience”. Not sure how that makes one a good acquisitions editor…
  • Only accepts subs from “qualified” literary agents. Except there’s no such thing – anybody can claim they’re an agent. There’s no licensing board.
  • After saying they won’t take unagented manuscripts, then proceeds to have “suggestions for new writers”
  • They go out of their way to say they’re not a vanity press or self publishing company – without saying what distinguishes them.
  • Check out #4 here. Seriously. Read it carefully. Note the bad grammar. Note how the jobs of a publisher are offloaded onto the author – especially professional editing. There’s also grammar and spelling mistakes on their “About Us” page.

Again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the book’s awesome. Maybe these are awesome publishers. But, damn, they’re tripping all my warning bells. Later this week, I’m going to write about a good small publisher.

Small no-prize contest: Can you find other warning signs at the publisher’s website that I missed?

1 I will seriously review it if the publisher tosses me a digital (ePub preferred) edition. No joke.

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