News of the Weird: American Book Factory

Unbelievably, yet another author reality show has hung out an online shingle.

“A New Reality Show for Authors is Under Way!” announces American Book Factory. Taking inspiration from four titles–Coy Masters and The Earth Daughters of Zeus, Lethal Dose, Naseema’s Secret, and A Tick on Shanana’s Wedding Day! (a deer tick? Tick tock? Ticked off?)–four entire books will be co-written by teams of authors “competing for what could turn into a major book deal.” Competitors must be “prepared to leave work, home, family…basically your life, for at least two months. Authors will have to reside at the American Book Factory studios in order to work together. Each author chosen for Season One will be paid a minimum of $10,000 for their input into the book.”

Tempted by that $10,000, or perhaps the Big Brother scenario? Just dream up a one-page synopsis for any of the titles, paste it into the online entry form, and send it off into cyberspace for the chance to become a competitor. Unfortunately, if you’d like to know more before taking the plunge–who’s judging, what the procedures and rules are, whether there are sponsors, whose brainchild this is–you’re out of luck, because that information does not appear on American Book Factory’s website. In fact, apart from the titles, there are no specifics at all.

Even Google is stumped. A search on the show’s name turns up nothing but a cached version of the website that’s slightly different from the current version. Domain registration information reveals that the site is registered to Fayeshawn Peavy of Dothan, AL. Of Ms. Peavy, all that can be discovered is that at one point she was looking for donations to help her write a book, and that she appears to sell vitamins on the Internet.

All in all, color me skeptical about the likelihood of seeing this latest author reality show on TV any time soon. In fact, it occurs to me that something like this might be a good way to get other people to give you book ideas.

Am I alone in being fascinated (and boggled) by the way this author reality show thing keeps popping up? Maybe so. At any rate, here’s a rundown on the other author reality shows Writer Beware has learned about:

In the spring of 2005, the Book Millionaire author reality show sent out a call for competitors, inviting writers to submit video auditions. By March 2006, fifty finalist videos had been chosen, which, according to the show’s guidelines, were to be reduced by viewer voting to ten or twelve (the videos are still archived online). Since then…silence. Clearly, this reality show is a no-show. (Writer Beware’s take on Book Millionaire.)

Announced in the press in February 2007: the impending launch of a UK author reality show called “Bestsellers,” hosted by industry insider Tony Cowell. According to the latest info I can find, the show, which was originally slated to air this summer, has been pushed back. No definite air date has been set. (Writer Beware’s take on Bestsellers.)

The Ultimate Author issued a casting call for June 16th, 2007. June 16th has come and gone, and the show’s website dubs the casting call “a big success”–but according to the website’s Casting Call page, the date has been pushed back, or else a new casting call has been scheduled, for November 2007. Hmmm. Like Book Millionaire, which originally aspired to network TV, The Ultimate Author appears to have resigned itself to the Internet; it now describes the show as “the first reality show specifically programmed for online viewing.”(Writer Beware’s take on The Ultimate Author.)


  1. Find some new material to write about. STAR TREK?? Get real. That old show is history! You are talented, but it’s time to move on. Even J.K. realized that.

  2. Lori Prokop, the vanity press huckster behind Book Millionaire, claims that the show isn’t dead yet…despite the efforts of a secret publishing industry conspiracy to bring her down:

    “Book Millionaire continues to move forward, not at the pace we originally intended, but with the same excitement, focus and passion for helping others. Personally, I needed some time to regroup and understand actions of others, of which I felt deep hurt and sadness.

    I have observed some disparaging comments about the Book Millionaire show and me. It has come to our attention — through communications from others — this may be in connection with a group of bloggers who are allegedly blogging false, inaccurate information against about 100+ companies and projects in the publishing industry.

    […]Could it be true that someone is paying for this group of bloggers to blog hate messages about more than 100 companies and projects in the publishing industry that compete with this company? Could this be how the bloggers are paying their bills and feeding their families?”

  3. You know, if instead of for writing a book, this was for producing a sit-com pilot or something, that might have some legs — I’d be interested in watching that…

  4. I think that this whole “Authors! On TV!” business is just another example of how little anyone–in this case, TV people–know about publishing.

    The three myths most people believe about publishing:

    1. Books are easy to write–you just sit down and put words on the page.

    2. The book in the bookstore is just the author’s manuscript bound in a particular way.

    3. Once a book is printed and bound, it magically will appear on bookshelves and people will feel compelled to purchase it.

    I have long felt that the main problem is Myth #1. Most people are literate, in the sense that they put marks on paper or tap on keys, and some semblance of the noise in their head appears in visual form that others can read.

    What they don’t get is that writing a good book requires (a) that the noise in your head actually be something interesting, and (b) that you are able to transcribe that noise such that others hear it as well as you do. People don’t get it that most of them think up boring, stupid ideas. They don’t get it that even if the idea is exciting, stringing together words on a page does not necessarily convey that excitement to the reader.

    And since most people don’t think beyond Myth #1, they never consider Myth #2 or #3.

    Why does no one ask themselves, “Gee, those big publishing companies have a lot of employees. What do those people do all day?”

    Maybe they think that Random House has employeed some 1500 people (just a guess) for the job of reading every manuscript and voting on whether they should pass it through the Magical Publishing Machine. If a thousand of RH’s minions like it, the manuscript goes into a big box with bells and tubes and lights, a combination of a Rube Goldberg machine and something Dr. Seuss would create, and half an hour later the book is in every Barnes and Noble in the country.

    Also, some sort of ray is beamed into the heads of everyone in the world, that makes them all say, “Hey, there’s a new book in the store, and I want to buy it. Must go to B&N right now!” Perhaps people think this because that’s about how much thought they put into their own buying decisions–they function on pure impulse, so it must be alien compulsion beams of some sort.

  5. Hmm – not sure if we want to generate more interest in writing. Publish America and other scammers have enough on their plate, poor babies.

    I do like the idea of writers duking it out, though. Might clear up some of those writers’ blocks.

  6. I went to the Ft. Lauderdale casting of The Ultimate Author(only because I live down here).

    There were about 50 “contestants” who showed up througout the day; allegedly a few people actually flew in from Brooklyn for the event.

    I haven’t heard back from them about being selected as an alternate, member, or a rejection.

    I think, from a broadcast production angle, the show and its producers seem very legitimate, but from a literary point of view, they were lacking a little.

    Having said that, I think anything that helps generate interest in reading and writing is a good thing, and it may be possible to come up with an entertaining show. Especially with good editing, top notch production and content, and of course, entertaining authors.

    Finding entertining author’s is the hard part. Ever watch Book TV. I put it on when I want to fall asleep . . .

  7. Oooh…sounds like reality nightmare. I will watch though. I will cringe and over-eat nervously while watching, but I will watch. I do agree that it will be hard to make writing interesting, though team-authorship seems like a set up for some drama. Can you imagine the hair pulling over metaphor that will take place?

  8. I don’t get the interest in writers.

    We sit, stare at a screen if we have a ‘puter, and TALK TO OURSELVES INSIDE OUR HEADS.

    For hours at a time.


    Hardly much of interest for a visual medium.

    Um–switching over to watch Dirty Jobs now. That Mike Rowe is a most *watchable* hunk.

  9. This is actually the only author reality show idea that actually sounds like it would make it through a whole season. Think about it- written by a team of writers. Tempers can run high between two people writing a book together since there’s almost always multiple views of how the book should go. Throwing a whole team together could result in Maury Povich ratings.

  10. I think these “reality shows” are yet another venue for scam agents to rip off authors—a la the phony newsletters/conventions perpetrated by other infamous scam agents like Melanie Mills and Dorothy Deering.

  11. Do you think (she cynically asked) that perhaps some diabolical marketer is collecting aspiring authors’ names for a spam campaign? After all, this would be the ideal venue to capture tons of personal data under the guise of a “contest”.

    Or am I simply jaded from my years in the corporate sales realm?

  12. Well, I for one am quite insulted that people don’t want to sit around their televisions watching writers write. I mean, it’s such a fascinating process: the staring off into space; the frantic typing; getting up to do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean the litterbox in order to avoid writing. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?

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