There's a book in all of us - Bob Paslay

In the past several weeks I have had calls from three Atlanta metro writers asking if we could do stories and reviews of their just-published novels. Unfortunately none of the authors were from our specific coverage area.

Since the authors were calling themselves, rather than some high-priced publicist with a radio voice and an armadillo pushiness, I can only assume these new authors were vanity press printed.

In case you are not familiar with the process, you labor mightily in your den or wherever you write and then you send a copy of your masterpiece to an established publishing house. They have readers go over your submission and then either accept or reject it. A majority are rejected and you are free to shop it around to as many publishing houses as you like.

These publishing houses have a stable of established writers, but they really are always looking for new talent, hoping for their own J.R.R. Tolkien or J.R. Rowling, whose Harry Potter series has now sold 195 million copies worldwide with two more books to go.

But the reality is that thousands upon thousands of novels and other books sweated out like blood dripping out in the creative process will be rejected.

That leaves the writer with two options. Admit that you tried but fell short of writing yourself into immortality or just pay a vanity press to publish the novel for you. After paying thousands upon thousands of dollars, they will take that manuscript and typeset it and bind it into a book and ship you a few thousand copies. They promise also that they will put it into the hands of book reviewers at some of the most prestigious newspapers and magazines. The reality is that at big papers, hundreds of books come in every month in search of someone to read it and write about it. Few books make this cut. These vanity presses which dangle the idea that you have an uncut diamond waiting to be recognized will point to people like John Grisham. Vanity printed his first novel and sold it at Kiwanis meetings in Mississippi.

Why do people try so desperately to get published? They want to be singled out and loved and admired. But if you go to warehouse book sales sometimes you will see thousands of legitimately published novelists you have never heard of selling for $1.

If you burn with the desire to write and feel like you just have to exorcise a demon from your soul, then write for the pure pleasure or agony of writing.

But if you are seeking instant fame, then go to one of the Web sites where you can post your writing for free. Wallow in your art with like writers. Save your money you were going to send to the vanity presses and write a check and send it to me. Let me thank you in advance. That's the kind of writing I like to see.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at bpaslay@news-daily or at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257.