Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

Paladin of Curmudgeonry hates scammers AND….

eeeeeejjjiits.  ooooo eeeee ooooo.

No, seriously. When I stumbled upon Phoenix Fire Publishing and Tabetha Jones through a tweet from Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, I had no idea of what I was getting into.  Victoria’s tweet led me to Emily Suess and after reading that one, I decided to make my own post to let my readers know about it. My post sat unreplied to for a week and then Jones landed on it with a comment. My very first comment, and most of it was gibberish.

Since then, Phoenix Fire had gone on to make itself my favorite example of what is wrong with the small presses (there are a lot of reputable ones, but far more scammers popping up all the time) at this time. As I have often said, you must examine a press before you go to it.

Victoria Strauss and Preditors and Editors have both issued warnings against Phoenix Fire. As has Absolute Write Water Cooler.

With the prologue out of the way, lets dig into the newest meat from my favorite example of how to do it wrong.

While some of what Phoenix Fire does is just plain evil, much more  of it is just plain stupid. See my previous post for my take on their blog tour apparatus. If you can’t do it right, don’t fake it. That post elicited a response from Tabetha on the Phoenix Fire blog. Here’s Leplady’s take on that post. She beat me to it.

Now, here is my take on it. And I want all of you to think hard about this so that you will be able to recognize it at other sites, Phoenix Fire is not the only start up guilty of this. Just my favorite example of it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The Effects of Being with Phoenix
With Phoenix Fire growing as a company I have been lucky enough to have a bright and brilliant team of reviewers, bloggers, betas, and authors, supporting and believing in the Phoenix cause. With new authors joining us, we have decided to start reaching out with promotions and advertising.

Redundancy and general smarmy-ness. Bright and brilliant mean the same thing. They are also over the top words usually used by ebullient adolescents.  You don’t “reach out” with promotions and advertising. They are not people. They are things you do.  And you do not start it just because you have “new authors,”  you ought to have been doing it all along.


Now I have heard through the grapevine that we charge our authors for advertising, promoting, or even blog tours. This outrages me. I believe a publishing company should offer these things for their authors as a part of providing a service to them.

If you take a look at the comments on my past posts, you’ll find that this is an outright lie about providing them. Look especially at the contract they have. And there was no “grapevine.” I did not say these things in private, I made a public post about them. But many others have mentioned this also. And it was also in public. You do not need a grapevine to find these things.  (sings “heard it through the grapevine”)

I imagine that most of you are familiar with the old “people support me in email” trope that rose from the phrase’s frequent usage in internet squabbles. Apparently “heard it through the grapevine” is the newest version of it.


We have recently started by doing guest hosts on this blog. Allowing our Phoenix authors or even authors associated with the Phoenix family to write a guest spot and the rest of the week book them on blogs that are associated closely with Phoenix.

Another route we are working at is hosting each other on fellow authors blog spots, taking turns supporting and spotlighting one another. I believe that in this business we need to work together as a team to make a name for ourselves.

This is code for “we can’t afford to buy you a professional blog tour” so we will have a circle jerk and fake it instead. I have complained about this type of behavior before, having fallen victim myself to people who claimed to be PR people and it turned out to what Jones is describing here.


Now, throughout its time Phoenix has had its bad press, and I believe that is why the vicious cycle is starting once again.

The suggestion here is that she is not at fault for it. I really need to post a copy of the Butthurt Report form here.


We do not charge our authors for any type of promotion, marketing, or blog spots.

According to the authors and others who have posted comments on my previous posts, you have and you and the charges are listed in your contract.


We provide pre release reviews, a launch party, swag goodies, book trailers, and now blog hosting.

“pre release” ought to have a hyphen. You don’t provide reviews, unless you’re writing them yourselves. You send out review copies and cross your fingers. The amazon reviews I have seen in the past often started with “I was given this book for an honest review.”  Those don’t count. Those people (assuming they are not all the same person) are not real reviewers. Reviewers have sites and blog devoted to reviewing and the reviews appear there.

I have to ask just what those “swag goodies” are.  Always be specific about what you are offering.  This is just vague suggestiveness.


We have also taken on a Marketing Director and Pr Assistant to help us grow, and utilize every media and social outlet at our fingertips.

Unless you can afford to pay someone a minimum of $2k a month, you don’t have as much access as she is implying she has here. Real marketing and PR folks are expensive. That’s why it is better to go to well known places with a proven track record and simply buy a package.


Good publishing companies are not there because they want to make an author’s dreams come true. They are not there because they love authors. They are there because  they love books.  They love good books. Readers do not love authors simply because they are authors, they love authors because the book speaks to their souls. The ultimate goal of good publishing is a) to publish good books; b) to make money for the publisher and the author; c) encourage talent. Publishers like myself are not here to make dreams come true; but when dreams do come true, we are very happy about it.


One comment on “Paladin of Curmudgeonry hates scammers AND….

  1. Lepplady
    April 11, 2013

    “The ultimate goal of good publishing is… b) to make money for the publisher and the author…”

    To make money for the publisher AND the author. Not to make money for the publisher at the expense of the author.

    Just saying.

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Janrae Frank

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