It began with this:
— S. Y. Affolee (@syaffolee) January 30, 2014
Remember those claims that Publish America was a traditional publishing house, and would only publish worthy manuscripts? What if you set the quality bar as low as you possibly could, on purpose, and you still got an offer from them? Wouldn’t that be something? In 2005, a group of Sci-fi and Fantasy writers and some other willing pranksters got together to test the theory that Publish America would publish anything at all. Over a holiday weekend, they bashed out the worst manuscript they could come up with, an utter travesty. They called it Atlanta Nights and submitted it, under the author name Travis Tea (lol), to Publish America. Travis Tea got his book deal. This, then is your unicorn chaser. Read more about Atlanta Nights here, and check out Travis Tea’s website (not produced by Publish America). As soon as the writers made their jolly jape public, Publish America retracted their offer. Atlanta Nights lives on, and is still available for purchase through Amazon and B&N.
The point of that piece, of course, was that Publish America had resurfaced under a new name, and writers ought to beware. But I fixated on that title: where had I seen it before?
The answer: on a table in the hallway.
Yes, boys and girls, I paid actual American dollars to Lulu.com for a copy of Atlanta Nights, circa 2007. I remember it being terrible, if not necessarily trollfic terrible, and, now that I think about it, it may have fallen a notch below the pace-setter for this class, 1969’s Naked Came the Stranger by the nonexistent Penelope Ashe. To my horror, there’s even a Wikipedia page for Atlanta Nights.
I must also note that I once wrote a piece about music publishers seeking poems from amateurs, which they promised to turn into actual phonograph records, so it’s not like I had no idea this could have been somebody else’s business model.