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February 8th, 2009

9:02 AM

PublishAmerica and Dave Kuzminski

You may have heard by now that Dave Kuzminski had been trounced in the early round of the courtroom drama involving some "defamatory" statements he made about Victor Cretella, PublishAmerica's lawyer, on the Absolute Write forums. Mr Kuzminski said a few unflattering things about the man's character that enabled Mr Cretella to use as an excuse to drag the man into court.

Am I the only one who rolls up my eyes when Mr Kuzminski started talking about how "the truth has not been served" once he was back from the court hearing? This is not a matter of truth and justice, this is about imagining that you are so invulnerable that you can talk off without consequences. I'm not supporting PublishAmerica here, from from it, but if you look at how Victoria Strauss and Ann C Crispin, the folks behind Writer's Beware, behave, for example, and compare their online behavior to Mr Kuzminski's, there is a whole world of difference. Ms Strauss, especially, is very careful with her words. She makes sure to note that everything she says can be backed up by evidence, usually those in black and white. She doesn't join other people in a message board to indulge in name-callings, no matter how justified these names can be, against folks perceived as the Great Enemy. She makes, instead, valid points without trying too hard to be "snarky" or "cool". Because, unlike the "ordinary" forum regulars who are "merely" authors or aspiring authors, Ms Strauss has a reputation to maintain as a person behind Writer's Beware. She knows that she needs to come off as professional, reliable, and trustworthy, not someone who can go off at the drop of a hat. She does not give her enemies an opportunity to hit back at her credibiity while Mr Kuzminski gave Mr Cretella the rope to hang Mr Kuzminski with.

This brings me to the matter of the whole PublishAmerica forum at the Absolute Write place. Now, I understand if ex-authors of PublishAmerica spend a lot of time there as some kind of group session therapy where they bitch and moan and make legitimate points about that so-called publisher's evil ways. But more often than not, we have a same bunch of people, many of them authors or aspiring authors who have no personal beef with PublishAmerica, spending days in and out bringing over messages from the PublishAmerica official forums to "correct" them, although more often than not, these so-called "let's settle the score and tell the truth" posts cross the line and embarrass the PublishAmerica authors who make them. Some of these people show up to post messages that say nothing but "I have popcorns - munch, munch!" or "I have lighters!" What is this, Fandom Wank?

These people take the high road and maintain that the forum is devoted to Truth and Justice when the atmosphere of the forum is more akin to a bunch of "cool kids" gathering at their club house to mock the "uncool wannabes" behind the back of  these "wannabes" - this bothers me the most about that forum. I do check out the forum regularly to follow any developments about PublishAmerica, but more often than not, I see a bunch of people using PublishAmerica as an excuse to indulge in some clubhouse social event that occasionally ends up with the ignorance of the people scammed by PublishAmerica as the main entertainment in a "Oh, hee-hee, they are so stupid... oh, but I'm not making fun of them, oh no... hee-hee, anyone wants popcorns, munch-munch!" way.

Unlike Ms Strauss who manages to remain professional in such a clubhouse atmosphere, Mr Kuzminski often joins these aspiring and published authors who tee-hee-hee at PublishAmerica at a regular basis, sometimes even leading the feeding frenzy. These people may not see the problem with their behavior, but clearly, in this particular case, the jury - people looking in from the outside - don't feel the same way.

There are lessons to be learned from this setback.
This isn't about Truth and Justice, it's about Truth and Justice having long gone astray and being replaced by the Absolute Write Cool Kids Clique showing off their fancy multi-colored lighters and multi-flavored popcorns, and how the ensuing hubris and confidence in their invulnerability have resulted in the "shocking defeat" that we witnessed recently.

21 comment(s).

Posted by Jennie Bean:

What gets me is that these "wannabe" people don't think about what happens when they DO get published. AND what company contracts with someone with a history of slamming publishers? Stoopit.
February 11th, 2009 @ 3:54 AM

Posted by Anonymous to speak:

Jennie, REAL publishers don't give a shit if their authors play watchdog on the side. They don't. At all. The "publishers" getting "slammed" are scammers anyway. You think an editor at Random House gives a fuck about what people say about scam author mill-vanity presses like PA? I can assure you they do NOT. Even reputable epublishers don't care if their authors point out what's bad about bad publishers.
February 11th, 2009 @ 6:14 PM

Posted by Jennie Bean:

Hi there Anon. PublishAmerica is a scam - doesn't everyone know this by now? I don't get it. I don't write and I know this. m m m
February 12th, 2009 @ 11:53 AM

Posted by Anonymous to speak:

Umm...yes, I'm well aware they're a scam, that's what I said. I'm very confused by your reply.
February 13th, 2009 @ 3:12 AM

Posted by Anonymous:

Bahaha, this article was hilarious and spot-on. The one who's always asking for the lighter must look like Fireman Bob by now.
February 24th, 2009 @ 11:22 PM

Posted by Anonymous:

"Jennie, REAL publishers don't give a shit if their authors play watchdog on the side. They don't. At all."

Real publishers sure do care who they're entering into contracts with. They Google like any other employer. Your opinion that they're not negatively influenced by vicious posts, especially when those vicious posts are made with high frequency, is just that -an opinion. And a really uninformed one.
February 25th, 2009 @ 3:05 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

I belong to many writer's forums. The most accurate and best: Absolute Write. And many who belong are published by traditional publishers as well as by magazines that pay their authors.

For a blogger to slam a writer's board by making fun of certain people there, isn't quite the road to take either.
February 26th, 2009 @ 4:29 AM

Posted by simon says:

I couldn't agree more with your post Mrs. G and it is a shame. I warned Dave years ago that he was acting like a jr. high student rather than a respected or respectable author's advocate. I also warned him that he was a defamation suit waiting to happen - at that time he was on PA's case because they wanted their author's social security numbers. Imagine that a company who pays out royalties needing pertinent information in order to generate 1099's. Anyway dave suggested all sorts of ominous things, including the idea of contacting homeland security to report a possible terrorist activities.

He means well, it's too bad that he can't keep a cool head (or apparently afford an attorney) although I don't know if having one would've changed the outcome.
February 26th, 2009 @ 5:45 AM

Posted by Anonymous:

Yeah, Big Dave, the Big Dispenser of Advice, couldn't afford a lawyer. Guess his books don't do all that well. The Clubhouse Kids passed the paypal hat, but all they could muster were some crumpled dollar bills and a half-empty bag of popcorn. :(
February 26th, 2009 @ 6:07 AM

Posted by Domenic:

There are two forums that do help writers become better...Absolute Write, and, My Writers Circle...in that order. I do agree there are people on AW that should be back in high school. My web site, Zooty and Flappers*, is doing an artical on forums. It is not an attack, nor does it suggest forums make any changes...it does suggest members examine their position within membership of a forum.
They can be very good, or very bad. One truth stands out...they are a good place to grow thick skin.
* site looks like it is not active, but, it is.
February 26th, 2009 @ 7:09 AM

Posted by Bartholomew:

There's something addictive about the Publish America forum. I go in about once a month; it's like a tiny soap opera. The cast is always the same, the guest stars are always interesting, and the plot hasn't changed in years.

I really like AW; it is about as close as one can get to a bastion of free speech on the internet. And inevitably, this means one will come across items that one dislikes, intensely.
February 26th, 2009 @ 7:21 AM

Posted by simon says:

I think AW means well and they do some good things -but there are people on that site giving writing advice that they have no business giving.

I've seen queries that were workshopped on that site that are one big "query don't". Half the people giving feedback on queries don't know what the hell they are talking about, and then these suckers send them out because the are "AW approved"

There are some good critquers there, but those truly in the know on that site are in the minority. It's mostly wannabes incorrectly regurgitating talking points they read but didn't actually get.

Same thing on the screenwriting board - people giving writing and business advice who know nothing about the business and shouting down the few professionals who bother to post there at all.

I blame the owner and the mods - the kumbaya everyone's input is equally valid is not effective in an environment where people are trying to learn things.
February 26th, 2009 @ 8:06 AM

Posted by AW Member:

I am a member of AW and enjoy it very much. However, I have seen very helpful and then some not so helpful advice on that website. There are many published authors on there who have been around the track and know what they are talking about, and there are many other members offering their two cents. I have been given helpful advice and I have been given cruddy advice. This is what online forums do, really. They are a soapbox for everyone. I've gotten good and bad advice on many other forums (pet forums, healthy diet forums, etc). Hell, sometimes I get advice from an AW member and think "wow, what was this person smoking?" But I don't conform to everyone's way of thinking because I realize and understand that this is an online forum, comprised of opinions. Even if someone on there is a successful author, I understand that tastes are subjective and I have to do my own thing.

As a member of AW, I do listen to the advice I'm given, but ultimately I always do what I think is best for my own writing. I find it a great place to mingle and check out authors' opinions, and it has been very useful to me. But it's not the be all and end all, just like all the other online forums and wikipedia.
February 26th, 2009 @ 9:24 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

For a blogger to slam a writer's board by making fun of certain people there, isn't quite the road to take either.

Is making an observation considered "slamming" now?
February 26th, 2009 @ 10:33 AM

Posted by Anion:

I love AW but I absolutely agree that there, just as *anywhere else online*, there are people to whom you should listen and people to whom you should not. Check credentials before deciding whose advice to take. Don't assume that just because they speak with confidence that means they actually know what they're talking about. I can think of a few members there who are always giving advice, who I wouldn't trust telling me how to make a sandwich. But there are also members with real credentials. Just make sure you know which one you're dealing with.
February 27th, 2009 @ 8:17 PM

Posted by Anon A. Mouse:

I like AW too, but I've seen some people on there horde together like a flock of locusts and cut down publishers and people like they're going out of style. In one publisher's case, they're completely wrong, and the misinformation could be cleared up with a phone conversation. However, there are people on the boards who don't want to lose their stature as The Knowledgeable Ones, so they spread fibs on AW and other sites. I'm not talking about PA, just so you know - that's an out-and-out scam. However, they've stepped so out of line and talked so far out of their necks that someone's going to get sued again.

I also don't like that people there seem to forget how it was starting out as a writer. Yeah, it's a great thing to land that contract, but it doesn't make you God. It also sounds pretty arrogant to turn around and say to the struggling many (and there are LOTS of them out there), "Don't you worry none...someone will pick you up if you're deserving!" As much as people want to say that they didn't use connections or whatever to get in the door, let's not kid ourselves. Most people don't get plucked from the slush to get published. You work contacts to get there. I know I did. Don't play like that's not the case.
March 6th, 2009 @ 2:33 PM

Posted by Anne Anon:

I've been a member of AW for sometime and it makes me wonder how PA hasn't attacked them yet for their boards regarding them. They post snippits of PA authors books taken from the PA website and make fun of them. They also take other parts of PA's wesite and post that. If PA sued them they would get what they deserved!
March 23rd, 2009 @ 11:13 PM

Posted by domenic:

Anne Anon said: "If PA sued them they would get what they deserved!"
You can read the law suit on www.zootyandflappers.com
PA has filed a suit.
March 26th, 2009 @ 12:35 PM

Posted by Ernestine:

The regulars at AW who have made thousands of posts over more than five years regarding PA would have us believe that they are motivated by a sincere desire to help others. Bullshit! Most of them are just angry becausew they were duped.
April 8th, 2009 @ 12:36 AM

Posted by Katie:

@domenic - Where in that website did it say AW was being sued? I couldn't find anything.
April 16th, 2009 @ 6:05 PM

Posted by Anne Anon:

The PA boards on AW are pathetic. Its the same members with the same gripes just reposting the same posts over and over. Build and bridge and move on.
May 27th, 2009 @ 2:45 AM