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Monday, February 9, 2009

Publish America

If you're interested in becoming the author of a respectable book, be very careful to evaluate all of the evidence before signing with Publish America. Personally, after learning what I know now, I would never consider it. If you haven't heard of this company in your research for publishers yet, you will.

PA sounds like a good deal: they sign a high proportion of first-time authors to edit and publish books, all without a penny charged to the author. They insist that they are a *traditional* type publisher, albeit with more openness to new authors. There ARE happy authors here, as demonstrated by repeat customers. However, before you sign, do some google searches on this company. There are many websites warning authors away. I found newspaper articles written from The Washington Post and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about this company, but these are only the tip of the iceberg.

I do not have personal experience with PA, although I did experience a near miss: PA had accepted my ms for publication and sent me a contract. Gosh, I was so excited! About two hours later (honest!), I received a telephone call from my ill-fated agent though, and of course signed with him instead of PA. I don't know anyone personally who has published with them, so therefore want to keep my comments muted and neutral. Anyone can say anything on the web. However, just the fact that SO MANY people post vehement negative comments about this company should give anyone pause who is considering PA.

Complaints about Publish America that I have found on websites include but are not limited to:

1. Minimal or Absent Editing; introduction of additional errors into the manuscript; poor formatting.

2. Limited or no discrimination for acceptable manuscripts. Basically statements say that PA will accept virtually anything, as long as the author promises to *actively promote* the book. There have been several well-publicized tests of PA's acceptance policies, including a truly horribly-written story HERE.

3. Price of the book is higher than the industry standard; for example, a slim 150 page paperback might retail for $18.95. I verified high prices on the PA's bookstore.

4. A low rate of sales, based on their own numbers. PA claims to have published about 30,000 titles and sold about 2,000,000 units. This divides to about 67 units per title rate --> 67 books sold of each title.

5. No library cataloguing information (Library of Congress control number and Cataloguing in Publication data). Right there you've lost a big potential market for your book. Many libraries are not even allowed to order books without this information because its absence suggests a vanity press, and/or a book that was not professionally edited or typeset.

6. Numerous royalty complaints: basically, authors state they've sold X number of books, but these numbers aren't reflected in the PA payments or accounting invoices. One disgruntled author's account (with some mildly colorful verbiage; you've been warned) is HERE.

7. It's apparently really difficult to get out of a PA contract, and gag orders are enforced. Furthermore, the contract has an unusually long term to own all rights: seven years or more.

Just a word to the wise.


Jessica Thomas said...

Thanks for the warnings!

Philangelus said...

The SFWA pulled off a hoax on Publish America:

It's one of the funniest things I've ever read. A "Travis Tea" in fact. :-)

Travis said...

It's hard. When you've been striving for success for so long and you finally think you're catching a break... It would be hard to be objective if you are so anxious to be published, well, you would ignore good reason.

It's similar to a teen being told by his parents, "trust me. I’ve been there. I know."

Good advice, Amy. You are better off not publishing than to be trapped in a meaningless contract for 7 years.

Andra M. said...

I heard similar stories about PA. One great blog that searches out and warns against potential scammers is Writer Beware Blogs at

lynnrush said...

Thanks for the heads up. I've read a book published by the, I've never seen so many errors before.

POV jumping, typos, you name it.

Gwen Stewart said...

Great warning, Amy. PA is all over the net with one disgruntled author after another weighing in with their stories, but when starting out...well, it's all too easy to become excited about anyone willing to sign you on.

Oh, and I agree with Philangelus: if you've never read "Atlanta Nights", get thee to a website where its brilliance may be shared. Warning: do not read and drink at the same time. It's laugh out loud funny, and the "reviews" are just as hilarious.

Brandie said...

Wow, thanks for the heads-up on this company! I hadn't heard of them, but I'm sure I would have. Your comments and links are a good warning!