PolySciFi Blog

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Atlanta Nights

Today, I've seen a few sites noting how a collection of scifi writers got together one weekend and wrote what they consider to be the worst book ever under the pseudonym Travis Tea: Atlanta Nights. Why? The stated reason is to poke fun at PublishAmerica:

Travis Tea is a pseudonym for a group of (mostly) science fiction and fantasy authors who were amused by PublishAmerica's claim (at their authorsmarket.net site) that SF & F authors are "writers who erroneously believe that SciFi, because it is set in a distant future, does not require believable storylines, or that Fantasy, because it is set in conditions that have never existed, does not need believable every-day characters."

So about thirty writers banged out a novel over a long weekend, writing it as ineptly as they could. Plot, characterization, theme ... none of them are to be found in ATLANTA NIGHTS. Grammar and spelling take a drubbing. The book was submitted to PublishAmerica -- and it was accepted.

Ha ha. They sure pulled one over on PublishAmerica.

However, there's a few things that seem odd to me. One, they're selling T-shirts. Kinda odd. Two, the book isn't actually got the book published at PublishAmerica. Go to PublishAmerica's online bookstore and enter in "Atlanta Nights," "Travis Tea," or the ISBN: 1-4116-2298-7. You'll get nothing.

Instead, it appears to have been done through Lulu. Lulu is a do it yourself publishing outfit with on-demand publishing. However, it doesn't appear that Lulu has any real screening process (unlike Publish America). You give Lulu a manuscript and if someone orders a copy, they'll print it.

In fact, I bet you could publish a book through Lulu that says nothing but "I am the very model of a modern major major, Yossarian" over and over.

Which in fact, I did. Lulu will sell you a printed, bounded version of "I am the very model of a modern major major, Yossarian" for the low, low price of $4.95.

Here's a professional button like thing, which you can click on to buy the book.
Buy my stuff at Lulu!

So the selling point of the Atlanta Nights - look at what a bunch of scifi writers pulled on a publishing house that criticized scifi writers - is a hoax.

Oh, yeah, buy "I am the very model of a modern major major, Yossarian." I get nothing out of it.

Or you could just download a soft copy for free from here. Check out the killer "cover art" for "major major, Yossarian"

Update 2
In the comments, Roger requests a local download. I may be voiding the terms of "publication" of "I am the very model of a modern major major, Yossarian" but you can also get a copy (sans cover art) without logging into lulu from here. (It's a pdf.)

Update 3
Based on the ledes on Tim Blair's site ("What happens when a group of writers sets out to write the worst novel ever? It gets published") and Dean's site ("A group of Science Fiction and Fantasy authors have conspired to write a genuinely horrible book and have it published.") I read this story as the authors of Atlanta Nights portraying their book as having actually been published by PublishAmerica or some traditional publisher, which isn't the case.

Wikipedia (via PW) reports that this was a sting operation to show that PublishAmerica will accept anything (which they did) and is just another vanity publisher. The Atlanta Nights authors announced their hoax before the book went to press and PublishAmerica dropped the contract so PublishAmerica never published the book. The authors then released Atlanta Nights on Lulu (which as I've demonstrated will publish anything) and are using the proceeds to fund a charity.

So it's not so much the authors misrepresenting the publication status of Atlanta Nights, it's the way the story is being reported (or my interpretation of that reporting).


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