On Publishing And Propaganda

A few months ago, my dear sweet mother (devout Republican) told me in an excited and confident tone, "I've got something you really need to read." Since we're both avid readers of fiction, and more often than not can exchange books to our mutual enjoyment, I was mildly piqued. When she revealed who the author was, I went from piqued to pissed off pretty quickly.

My first inclination was to go ahead and borrow her copy of "A Little Extra Effort" by Fred (the Asphalt King) Smith, so I could evaluate his propaganda and blog about it here at BlueNC. But frankly, I felt as if that would somehow be a betrayal to my mother, so I simply told her, "Everybody's got a moderately interesting life story, but only a few of them are rich enough to give away thousands of copies of their memoirs, and we should both thank the Lord for that." I can now post about this with a clear conscience, as I received my very own copy in the mail yesterday.

Within the world of aspiring authors, self-publishing is generally considered to be somewhere between pointless and obtuse, with a generous portion of naivity on the side sprinkled with delusions of grandeur.

That may sound condescending, but I speak from personal experience. After penning (typing) a 105,000 word fiction manuscript, I allowed the first few rejections from publishers to seriously cloud my judgment, and signed a seven year contract with a pseudo-vanity publisher. After struggling to market my overpriced book for a year-and-a-half or so, I finally faced up to the fact that I had made a huge mistake. Just because you can do a thing doesn't mean you should, and just because you're rich enough to print tens of thousands of copies of your memoir and mass-mail them to citizens all over the state, it doesn't mean your life story is compelling or instructive.

Fred Smith's book reads like any number of memoirs I've encountered, with the innocent beginnings and overcoming of struggles and such. Painfully boring stuff, but critical in the eyes of a memoirist, because he/she must make sure the reader understands the sheer depth of the memoirist's character and accomplishments. Whatever. I'd rather be horsewhipped during a root canal session than be forced to read more than a page or two, but that's just me.

The main theme of Fred Smith's "rise to greatness" is his deal-making ability, and his use of one asset to leverage the purchase of another. Like Donald Trump, he has risked bankruptcy more than once in his dealings, but has finally been able to engineer a corporation worth a half a billion dollars. Along the way, though, his techniques have revealed what I believe to be his true character-that of a slum lord and out-of-control developer.

On page 102 he explains how he discovered building rental properties to "move through the land more quickly" and generate a steady stream of income to pay off his notes on the more grandiose developments. He also brags about how one of his partners outfoxed the bank by framing a house himself before the bank's deadline, even though he was not qualified to do the work (pg. 105). Apparently, getting the job done on time is much more important than getting the job done right (or even by code?).

You can get a copy of his book here.I'm sure he has some left, as he spent $360,000 printing them.

In closing, I will say this: proper use of our lands is critical to North Carolina's future. Developers like Fred Smith represent everything that's wrong in the business, and putting him in the Governor's mansion is the last thing this state needs right now.

eta: Wow. That picture's huge. Can someone smarter than me (that's pretty much everybody) shrink it down a little?

Comments

Can't shrink the picture for you.

But this is a great post.

When I went to the mental health forum, Fred left copies of his book for anyone who wanted it to pick it up. I didn't pick it up, even though I love to read. I find it so egocentric to vanity-publish your own memoirs that I was sickened.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

I fixed it. :)

He's kinda pixelated, but maybe he's just been up all night trying to coax some drama out of his life story.

I also got rid of the funky link to my Go Triad article. They must not archive older stuff for very long, because I tried everything I could think to find a decent link. ;( Bummer.

Anyway, the last of the "5 Questions" was:

5. Can you make an analogy of being a working author?

I would say it's like farming. The more work you put into it, the more patient you are, the better your crop is going to be. If you harvest it before it's ripe, you will end up with a lousy crop.

Great review, sch.

And your assessment of the author ... pretty much what even folks who like him would tell you, and that's just from the stuff he doesn't mind everybody knowing. To my knowledge.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I must have received 5-6 copies already...

I do estate work so I often have deceased client's mail forwarded to my office...it's a good thing I guess that he is mailing them to alot of dead people..and last I checked..they can't vote.....rflamo

Silence is Betrayal...an Edwards Democrat.

Silence is Betrayal

Frankly, they're lucky they passed away

before they received this in the mail.

Dying is bad enough, but to die with that tripe swishing around in your head would be tragic.