Science Fiction Authors Hoax Vanity Publisher

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"Atlanta Nights," by Travis Tea, was offered a publishing contract by PublishAmerica of Frederick, Maryland.

Over a holiday weekend last year, some thirty-odd science fiction writers banged out a chapter or two apiece of "Atlanta Nights," a novel about hot times in Atlanta high society. Their objective: to write a deeply awful novel to submit to PublishAmerica, a self-described "traditional publisher" located in Frederick, Maryland.

The project began after PublishAmerica posted an attack on science fiction authors at one of its websites ( PublishAmerica claimed "As a rule of thumb, the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than for all other fiction.... [Science fiction authors] have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories, and how to find them a home." It described them as "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."

The writers wanted to see where PublishAmerica puts its own quality bar; if the publisher really is selective, as the company claims, or if it is a vanity press that will accept almost anything, as publishing professionals assert.

"Atlanta Nights" was completed, any sign of literary competence was blue-penciled, and the resulting manuscript was submitted.

PublishAmerica accepted it.

From: PublishAmerica Aquisitions []

Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Subject: Atlanta Nights

As this is an important piece of email regarding your book, please read it completely from start to finish. I am happy to inform you that PublishAmerica has decided to give "Atlanta Nights" the chance it deserves....Welcome to PublishAmerica, and congratulations on what promises to be an exciting time ahead.


Meg Phillips

Acquisitions Editor


The hoax was publicly revealed on January 23, 2005. PublishAmerica withdrew their offer shortly afterward:

From: "PublishAmerica Acquisitions"

Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005

Subject: Your Submission to PublishAmerica

We must withdraw our offer to publish "Atlanta Nights". Upon further review it appears that your work is not ready to be published. There are portions of nonsensical text in the manuscript that were caught by our editing staff as they previewed the text for editing time assessment pending your acceptance of our offer.

On the positive side, maybe you want to consider contracting the book with a vanity publisher such as iUniverse or Author House. They will certainly publish your book at a fee.

Thank you.

PublishAmerica Acquisitions Department

Those who wish to see the novel, "Atlanta Nights" by Travis Tea, for themselves can find it at

Publication at is free.

For more information about PublishAmerica and vanity presses, see:

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Ann Crispin

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