Is Really PrintAmerica
By Lisa Maliga
A prospecting author looking through the November 28, 2004 New York Times Book Review section might discover a two-inch wide column running the length of page 34. PublishAmerica’s bookish logo is present as is the heading: “The Sound of Music comes to PublishAmerica.” We learn this mighty publisher, home to 10,000 authors, boasts of landing celebrity author Agathe Von Trapp. Ten tiny book covers along with the title and author’s name are staggered along the column. At the bottom of the advertisement is the web site address and e-mail for PublishAmerica, signifying that it is primarily an electronic based publishing company. And in bold letters: “As a traditional publisher, we do not charge or accept any author fees.”
Traditional publishers don’t charge for copyright fees. But PublishAmerica does, so that new author spends $30 to purchase his or her own copyright. Also, traditional publishers get that Cataloging-in-Publication Data [CIP] number which allows books to be sold to libraries. And when you think of the numbers of public, high school, university, and middle school libraries in existence, many of whom are potential buyers of books…virtually none of them will order a book sans the CIP information. Ooops, there goes that market.
Publishers Weekly [November 22, 2004] noted trade publication for 131 years, had an article by Steven Zeitchik entitled “Authors Allege Publisher Deception.” The article was not a slanted version as the author contacted Miranda Prather, an executive at PublishAmerica and got her take on the situation where authors complained about the company that “sells books to which it no longer holds the rights; offers authors only a 30% discount; doesn’t pay royalties it owes; engages in slipshod editing and copyediting; sets unreasonable list prices; and makes little effort (and has little success) in getting books into bookstores.”
Ms. Prather declined to name the CEO of PublishAmerica but admitted “the company does not edit for content, only for grammar and spelling.”
PublishAmerica is a vanity POD and legitimate book reviewers won’t review their books. Publisher’s Weekly has certainly never done so. Contact a major newspaper and ask if they’ll review a PublishAmerica title. Even most minor/local papers won’t. The only way an author can get into the New York Times Book Review section is by purchasing hundreds of their own books to make the ‘Top Sellers’ list which results in predictably abysmal sales. Feel free to check out the statistics at any time over at Ingram’s automated stock status system by calling 1-615-213-6803. All you need is the book’s ISBN number. One of the titles listed on the 10/31/04 Top Seller had a whopping 1 copy available in the warehouses and a total of 0 sales. This sounds like a bottom seller.
An individual in favor or PublishAmerica, possibly an employee or author-investor, contacted me and wrote; “PA is the best alternative for writers who have not signed with a top publisher.” Actually, to keep the rights to their book[s] would be more suitable. In many cases, PublishAmerica authors have absolutely no business being in print. Samples from author’s web sites, PublishAmerica’s testimonials section, and the message board reveal so many grammatical/spelling and sentence structuring errors that it resembles a grade school remedial English class. Authors can enjoy seeing their book in print, along with their family, friends and coworkers. That’s all. When an author signs with PublishAmerica they are sent an Author’s Questionnaire. #7 of this document asks for an author to submit a list of 100 contacts who will receive information about the book’s pre-release. “Also, please do not include businesses or organizations of any kind, including bookstores, media contacts, or government organizations. Include friends and associates only.” Shilling to close associates will lead to people getting sick of the “author” real fast.
PublishAmerica also does a wonderful job in trying to entice their authors with periodic discounts on their own [and each others’] books. No real publisher sells books back to their own authors! So PublishAmerica makes enough money from their authors to continue the scam. They’re so busy signing on new ones that they’re able to rake in the bucks. The books are overpriced and the editing is virtually nonexistent. Doing a spell check and grammar check isn’t considered real editing.
PublishAmerica encourages authors to just be happy that they’re published. They thrive on those testimonials where the author is so grateful to be published. This mentality teaches a person to accept something that is quite inferior. Like shopping at the Dollar Store instead of going to Nordstrom’s. PublishAmerica is certainly a substandard publisher/printer. Really, their name should be PrintAmerica.
Finally, if PublishAmerica would be like other vanity publishers and ask for the money up front then this controversial situation wouldn’t have occurred. But Publishers Weekly is aware of what’s going on and so are many others in the publishing industry. I look forward to seeing this publisher shut down and the authors getting their manuscripts rights fully returned to them.
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