We’ve had a bit of CRAZINESS at writers group lately.
It all started when a long-time member proudly announced his novel had been picked up by Random House. Random House! R.H. (I’m not sure if the abbreviation is a thing, but it’s fun to say)!! Everyone went crazy for the guy. What a huge freaking deal!
Then we got a look at the book.
I’ll get into more details in a bit but, for now, let me just say it was VERY obvious the book was NOT published by Random House. The guy self-published his book, slapped a Random House logo on the back cover, and lied to everyone about it.
Naturally, a lot of people are upset that he lied and tarnished reputations and whatnot. The guy has been permanently banned from all writers groups in the valley. That’s all fine and good, but here’s something else that really bothers me:
He did a pretty damned awful job on his fake book.
I think I might be more upset at his crappy little level of effort in convincing us of his big-time accomplishment. I mean, if you’re going to try to convince people you’re a phony, at least do a good job of it. It’s like robbing a bank – if you’re gonna do it, do it right.
Therefore, without further ado, I’d like to share how to really fake people into believing you were published (using this guy as an example).
1. Don’t be too vocal.
Good idea or bad: You rob a bank then walk around saying, “Yeah! Look at me! Look at all the cars I’ve bought in the last week!”
Everyone don’t answer too quickly.
Well, this whole Random House situation started when the guy walked into a meeting brandishing a piece of paper and exclaiming, “This is the query letter that got me picked up by Random House. Let me share the query that got me picked up by Random House!”
Then, when the book was released, he did the same thing, holding the book up, saying, “This is my book published by Random House. Look! The Random House logo is on the back cover!”
Here’s the problem: instead of just acting like a normal person and saying his book was out, he wouldn’t let the Random House thing go. It was basically like an episode of the Smurfs where he replaced “smurf” with “Random House” (“I Random House you, Brainy Smurf.” Smurfette said. Brainy Smurf blushed. “Awwwww, thanks! I think you’re pretty Random House yourself!”)
Nothing arouses suspicion like being bludgeoned to death with words.
2. Actually look at a book published by Random House.
Let’s look at the back cover of a book published by Random House:
And now let’s look at the back cover of this guy’s book:
Hmmmm… Notice a few things missing? Like a price tag? Or a mention of Random House? Or a web link? Or a cover designer?
Quick (and obvious) tip: if you want us to believe you were published, why not actually pick up a copy of a book published by the company you’re imitating? To me this is like getting busted for robbing a bank and saying, “Yeah, we didn’t actually case the bank or anything. In fact we’ve never even been inside. We thought we’d just wing it.”
It’s that kind of laziness that’s going to get you busted when you’re trying to pretend you were published but really weren’t.
3. Include Random House in your copyright line.
Let’s look at the copyright page at the end of the book (NOTE: I’ve removed the author’s name from the image):
I’m definitely not a lawyer or expert, but shouldn’t the publisher actually be listed in with the copyright information? Wouldn’t the teeniest, tiniest mention at least appear somewhere? Also, I’m pretty sure the copyright statement for most major publishers goes at the beginning of a novel.
4. Include…something…at the beginning.
Speaking of the beginning, now let’s look at the first pages of the book:
Notice anything unusual? Like the story begins on page 3 and the pages before that are completely blank? I seem to remember Random House books including stuff at the beginning of their books.
5. Adhere to the publisher’s actual timelines.
From all my research (and talking with authors), there’s an 18-24 month window between the time your book is picked up by a publisher and the date it’s released. Why? Well, they have to do a cover, multiple rounds of edits, launch preparations, printing, etc… It’s a major ordeal – and quite expensive – to release a book (which is why publishers choose so few books).
What about our “perp”? Well, he brought the query to group about a month before his book was printed.
If you’re going to be so obvious about your crime, I’m sorry but I just can’t help you.