Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster. And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
What does this have to do with us?
I see too many former victims of Tabetha Jones and Phoenix Fire doing things exactly the same way she does.
For one thing, they set up their own publishing companies (three, at last count, and at least that many that didn’t work out) that are structured exactly the same way hers is set up. Each and every new company that’s popped up from among Phoenix Fire’s victims, old and new, are begun with the best of intentions. They want to do right what she does so very wrong. Yet they structure their companies exactly the same way she did. With more than one owner and overlapping jobs done by owners and executives within the company.
I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way. Not even with the best of intentions.
Each person within a company needs to have ONE clearly defined role. That’s it. One job they get one paycheck for. Not a hodgepodge of jobs with a jumble of pay that’s not clearly defined (or, more importantly, identified for the IRS). Authors don’t edit each others’ work within a company. Ever. That’s the same incestuous crap Tabetha pulls in her bogus company. The point is to be better than she is, right? So why put together a company the exact same way she does? It just makes no sense whatsoever. Not only are they not doing any favors to the authors they pick up, they’re also setting themselves up for the same financial headaches. If they don’t have editors that are trained and experienced, don’t do it. If they can’t offer real-world promotions like book signings and interviews, look for one that can. In short, look for a publishing company that can do better for your book than you can do for yourself. Otherwise, do it yourself and keep all the money.
Many of her former victims still write the same way she encourages her authors to, as much as possible as quickly as possible, cranking out more books at a time than anybody could possibly read and enjoy.
Books aren’t written lickety-split just for the sake of cranking them out. Good stories take time. They take rewrites, edits and development. There’s a reason it takes best-selling authors so long to put out new books. Because quality takes time. They don’t crank out a dozen books in a month, and neither should authors that want to be successful.
There’s another reason successful writers don’t crank out so much work at once: market saturation. As much as readers enjoy a writer’s work, they simply don’t have time to read a new book every two days. And, to be honest, they might get kind of sick of it.
Take the time to develop a GOOD book. Maybe even a great one. That simply can’t happen if you fly through a story at the speed of light. You’re not taking the time to get to know your characters, so they’ll probably come across as flimsy as Tabetha’s no-trick ponies, plodding along the same dusty old path, drawing the same stinky old flies. If you don’t take the time to get to know your characters as real people, how will your readers think of them as such? Get to know them, where they come from, what makes them tick. Explore their deepest, secrets, their greatest joys, their darkest fears. Real people don’t just do this and that, flitting through life with all the depth of paper dolls. They have substance to them. Discover it and gift it to the world on your pages. Slow down and take a look at the scenery. There are pictures on the walls, the walls have windows, the windows look out into the woods, and the woods are alive with more delights than mankind will ever know. And you can’t see any of it if you speed down the road at warp six. Take your foot off the gas and take it all in. Hell, park the car and go for a stroll. You might not get where you’re going quite as fast, but look how many beautiful things you will have learned along the way. Things you can share with your readers, like they were old friends you’re telling a story to. Not strangers you’re hoping to make a couple of bucks off of. Quality over quantity.
And finally, I think the one thing that bugs me the most about Tabetha Jones is how many aliases she cooks up. One after the next, practically every day, she makes up some new name to bolster her roster and pad her company with names to make it look more impressive than it really is. Thirty authors? Wow! Fifty? That’s great! Until you realize that all but a few are the owner’s fake names. Her alts have alts, and some of them do, too. It’s utterly ridiculous. Her alts have conversations with each other online, having whole conversations with herself. I can picture her sitting there at her mother’s kitchen table, pudgy little fingers flying a mile a minute, switching from one identity to the next so that she can answer herself back and forth, for hours, cackling over her silly little inner dialog, thinking nobody knows all along that it’s her. I shake my head at the thought of any former authors ending up the same way.
Maybe an author wants to write erotica and not let their family or colleagues know.
Why on earth not?
Erotica’s nothing to be ashamed of. If it’s written well, there’s nothing wrong with it. An author shouldn’t mind having their name associated with anything that’s well written and intuitive. Their fans are going to find out sooner or later anyway. So is their family, and everybody else. Usually because the author has said online that they’re doing it. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to sort it out.
If, however, it’s hastily-written Mary Jane spank, then yeah. That’s embarrassing. So why do it? Especially when everybody’s going to find out, anyway?
Maybe an author wants to write in different styles. They need a different name for each style. Right?
Let’s put it this way. An author can use a dozen names, but he or she only has one face. Tabetha scares up pictures of models for her alts, like Emerald, Ivy, and most of the names on Phoenix Fire’s roster, including the infamous Sky Wicker. You know, the model Tabetha’s sister is supposed to be dating. The one that doesn’t exist. (Oh, shut up. You know it’s true.) These other authors could probably do the same thing. Some of them already do. What sense does that make?
There’s only one thing that guarantees: failure.
An author needs to promote a book in order for it to be successful. That means interviews, book signings, things like that. Not the wading pool of bogus blog tours nobody will ever see that Tabetha laughingly calls promotion. It means Real work in the real world. That can’t happen with a fake name and a fake face. So that means that a book written by an faceless alias can never possibly realize a full measure of success.
Why write a book to fail? If an author isn’t going to give a book every chance it’s got at success, why write it at all? Seems to me an author’s time is better spent writing quality work they can be proud of, not embarrassing smut they don’t even want their real name involved with. And they should publish with a traditional company that can give their work the promotion it deserves. Either that or they should publish on their own.
In short, they need to stop copying Tabetha Jones. They need to look at every single thing she does as an example of what not to do. If anything they’re considering is something she’s done, they need to heed these words.
DON’T DO IT!!