Back to Books and More Page


On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 12:14 PM, Thomas Cole <> wrote:

Dear Mr. Reniew, (His name is backwards, so search engines don't grab his name)

I had always wanted to write a parody of Frank Herbert's Dune and a few months ago I wrote one. It took me 33 days of monomaniacal effort to write 33,000 words. I had to finish the book at novelette size as I was so engrossed with it that I had no time for anything else.

Of course, I first looked online and found that you had already written a parody of Dune, so I bought it and laughed myself silly. Still, I reasoned that there was probably room in the world for two such books and I so I didn't abandon my dream of writing my own.

My book Dung is totally different from yours, of course, though at first I thought I would call the CHOAM Corporation the NOAM CHOMSKI Corporation. When I saw that you had already used that, I changed it to the GLOAMIN' LOCH LOMOND Corporation. More obscure, but I like the song from which itís stolen.

Anyway, I'm writing with a question or two. Iíve self published the book with CreateSpace but would like to see if there is a publishing house that can do better with it than I. Iím just looking to get ideas. I see you have things on Smashwords and wondered if that might be an option for me.

CreateSpace has an ebook option, but I have put numerous humorous footnotes in my book, and as I understand it, ebooks donít have page breaks, so these would have to be put in an index or something?

Iím just exploring possibilities and would be very appreciative if you had any ideas at all regarding my parody.

I have published grammar textbooks with Prentice Hall and the University of Michigan press, but have published no fiction except my vanity press version of Dung. I find that I am far better at writing parody of fiction than plain fiction itself and so I am interested in trying my hand at other book barbecues with titles like Starship Truthers and so on. Is there a market for parody?

Iím buying your Ayn Rand spoof. Iíve read Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover and have a rather skeptical Christopher Hitchens type view of it, so Iím looking forward to reading its lampooning.

Provided that you are not too awfully intimidated by the ruinous competition my modest effort might present, I hope you may have an idea or two for me. If not, this letter can just serve to tell you that I really loved Doon.


Tom Cole

First, apologies for the delay.  Next, thanks for the nice words re Doon.  Next next, I can tell you about my experience with Smashwords.  It was essentially fine.  They make you strip the word processor coding from your ms. before they put it through "the meatgrinder," which is their process for preparing it for publication.  But their instructions are pretty clear and it ends up working fine.

My problem with Atlas Slugged is that a person who self-publishes has a fool for a promotion department--i.e., as you already know, you have to do all the promotion yourself.  I even got a great discount with an online promo company, who did a video review, an interview, etc., and the whole thing has been a financial fiasco.  If you can live with that prospect, Smashwords is as good as any, I would think.  (Although it's the only one I've used, and I'm not sure if it offers a paper book option.  Or if that matters.)

Re the viability of parodies, I'm not competent to say. I've had bad experience, but that's probably due to my own sloth and inability to promote. I know a guy named Michael Gerber who has had good success with it, but I no longer have his email address. He's done Harry Potter and other parodies and seems to have done well with them.  If I find his add. I'll send it along.

I know--thanks for nothing.  Sorry I can't be of more help.  FWIW, I love the title Starship Truthers, although I have no idea where I'd take it.  I'd love to see it when you write it.  Good luck, etc.

sille reneiw (backwards, so search engines don't grab his name)