Friday, September 30, 2011

The shit list: America's worst self-published books

“From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.” Groucho Marx  (1890-1977).

Below are the winners (?) from my just-published STINKERS! America's Worst Self-Published Books. It's both sad and funny that most of the stinkers try to provide advice about publishing books. I hope you'll avoid the mistakes of the stinkers so your work won't be featured in Volume Two. We don't need more bad books.

Birth Control is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and also robbing God of Priesthood Children!  by Eliyzabeth Yanne Strong-Anderson, AuthorHouse, 2008, 648 pages, $150

This is probably the worst book ever published! It has 648 huge pages, $150 cover price and an Amazon sales rank below 10,000,000. No low­­ercase letters are used in the book. It’s ugly, has bad grammar, bad spelling and atrocious typography. Also, the title is stupid and the theme is absurd.

Mosquito Marketing for Authors
by Michelle Dunn, CreateSpace, 2010, 174 pages, $12.95

This book is the second-worst, and third-rate. It demonstrates what happens when a marketing expert who’s a sloppy writer hires a designer who doesn’t know how to design books and an editor who doesn’t notice mistakes.

Best in Self-Publishing & Print on Demand...
by David Rising, Lulu, 2006, 136 pages, $19.95

This is the third-worst book I’ve ever seen, and a catalog of all of the things you should not do if you write and design a book. It is so crappy that if you use its pages to wipe your behind, you might be dirtier after you wipe.

Principles of Self-Publishing: How to Pub­lish and Market A Book or Ebook On a Shoestring Budget 
(2 nd edition)  by Theresa A. Moore, CreateSpace, 2010, 152 pages, $15.95

The fourth-worst is a really bad 152-page book about publishing. The material in it could have been used to print a few decent eight-page booklets.

Self-Publishing Simplified  by Brent Sampson, Outskirts Press, 2005, 110 pages, $5.95

This book is ranked fifth-worst. It’s small, but errors are abundant. The author is a book publisher who badly needs a book editor.

Become a Published Author!  by Dave Giorgio, Infinity Publishing, 2009, 95 pages, $14.95

The sixth worst “book” is another ad masquerading as a book. It has some useful information, but is very poorly produced and terribly out-of-date. It’s supposed to attract potential author customers to Infinity Publishing. It’s more likely to drive them away.

The Truth and the Corruption of the American System by Eunice Owusu, Xlibris, 2009, 96 pages, $15.99 or $24.99

This potentially important book was ruined by its uncaring and mercenary publisher. It badly needs an editor. Bertram Capital, which owns Xlibris, should be terribly embarrassed by this crappy book.

11 Secret Steps to Writing, Designing, Creating & Self-Publishing Your Very Own 'How-To' Book, Ebook or Manual  by Jaime Vendera, Vendera Publishing, 2008, 136 pages, $19.95

This author tried to do the right thing—but it turned out wrong. I don't like the book, but I do like the author. He knew not to do everything himself, but his helpers need help.

I Hate it When They Say “It Can’t Be Done!”  by Leon Terrell Ash, Lulu, 2011, 58 pages, $20 

This undersized, overpriced and dreadful book should be euthanized. The author is an ignorant egomaniac.



  1. I would really rather see the ten indie books most worth purchasing.

    You have beat the judgement drum over and over. We know there are really bad book out there.

    Just saying that letting us know about the good ones would be a valuable service.

  2. I think this is a smart book, and truly should have a well earned place on the shelf. For creative writing classes STINKERS! should be a must read. Yes people know there are a lot of bad books out there but really after reading some examples from STINKERS! I had no idea just how BAD these books are. Its an educational and funny book.

    Indie books is a polite way of saying vanity published books. I really do not see why Michael Marcus should push the sales of these books that only make money for the vanity publisher.

    Can they be good books? Sure! Some. It's up to those worth reading authors to market their books.

    Maybe if vanity writers read the shit list of STINKERS! worst books, no kidding, they may become better writers.

  3. The product description on the creepy Jesus book is hilarious:


    Deep down, aren't we all just trying to be "FISHERS OF MEN!!"

  4. I was expecting to see examples of novels that were self published to learn from. Only the first book accomplished that for me. $150 price. 648 some pages. Ridiculous theme. I liked that. But the other 9 are all on the topic of self publishing which is odd. Obviously the author is interested in the topic. But it would have been more interesting I think if the list included more like the first. Self pub books on self pubbing is too narrow and strange a niche. A bigger potential readership are self pub novelists. My two cents. It's a good topic but not universal enough examples.

  5. To "Anonymous #1": There are many reviewers who seek out indie books, and awards for indie books. I see no point in duplicating their efforts. I buy and read a great many books, but don't choose them based on their publishers. I don't care if the books I buy are indy or Big-Six, or something else.

  6. To Dwight: I don't know why you were "expecting to see examples of novels that were self published to learn from." I certainly never said I was evaluating novels, and I read very few novels.

    Most of the errors I pointed out in my reviews of nonfiction books can occur in novels, and should be avoided.

    Also, your math is wrong. The blog post lists nine books, not ten; and just six, not nine, deal with publishing. One of the six is not specifically about self-publishing.

  7. I got a real chuckle out of this, especially as one of the authors in question reviewed one of my books on self-publishing. He wasn't unkind but he didn't mention in his review on Amazon that he was a competitor, which I think would have been appropriate.

  8. Least entertaining list ever.

    Most of your descriptions start with the position on the list and some end with a colorful metaphor. Only the first is entertaining and that scoots by on the merits of its sheer absurdity and not your ability to mock it. Besides poor covers, I have no idea what was wrong with some of these books. If you're going to poo on something, do it properly!

  9. To Anonymous #3:

    If you want more details, you can read the book, or the original reviews published on this blog.

  10. I love it! So often we see the best and those are already selling and may not need more PR to tell us so.

    I hadn't seen any of these and I'm glad I haven't. As a professional copy editor, I find many SP authors who believe they don't need an editor or a competent designer. I can pick up just about any SP book and know it is just that due to the number of errors in the first few pages and could have easily been corrected. Unfortunately, many believe "good enough" is the standard after listening to a "guru" of self-publishing.

  11. I am not surprised that xlibris is on the shit list. I have had an incredibly poor experience with them. Calls were not returned, emails not responded to, virtually no proofreading, totally lack of understanding of niche books (in my case charity fraud) and a lack of deportment that exceeds anyone's possible expectations.

    xlibris did everything possible to make sure that the marketing of the book failed. They used their press release not one that was agreed on, missed almost every deadline and put the book on Amazon and a month before the book was available.


  12. I was hoping to see Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate on this list.

  13. You know, you probably could have just put the cover for #1 up and left it at that.

  14. Sounds to me like Stinkers is a stinker.

  15. To MichaelsRamblings: "Sounds to me."?!?!?! Why should anyone value your opinion of a book you have not read?

  16. also a crappy self published book " Daydreams of a Wanderer " , I think the authors last name is Vineyard. The cover is nice , but the content dreadful.

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