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Thread: Condensed: Here are The Reasons We Don't Recommend PublishAmerica

  1. #1
    wishes you happiness JennaGlatzer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    Thumbs down Condensed: Here are The Reasons We Don't Recommend PublishAmerica

    Here's an analysis of some of the reasons I don't recommend PA. Below, other writers will tell you more...


    --"The majority of our books that are sold retail are sold in physical brick and mortar bookstores."

    I dare you to walk into any brick and mortar store and find even one copy of one PublishAmerica book. Authors have gone crazy trying to get their books shelved, but they can't (unless they find a sympathetic local manager) because the books are unedited, print-on-demand, overpriced, and nonreturnable. None of this is explained on PublishAmerica's site, of course. Authors are repeatedly led to believe that their books will be "available in bookstores nationwide," that they'll be invited for book signings, etc. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble has sent letters to PublishAmerica authors to say that they WILL NOT stock PublishAmerica books.

    What PA means by "available" is
    that if someone walks into a bookstore, goes to the counter, and specifically places an order for the book, bookstores *can* special-order it and the customer can come back to the store later to pick it up. However, currently, book wholesaler Ingram will not stock PublishAmerica books, which makes it difficult for bookstores to order them even if a customer walks in and specifically tries to place a special order.

    A few PA authors have worked their butts off and succeeded in getting one or two local bookstore managers to stock their books. PA did not help with this; this was entirely the authors' own doing.

    Convincing one or two managers to stock a book or having it "available for special order" is entirely different than getting a book on bookstore shelves "from sea to shining sea," which is what many authors believe PA means.

    --"We assign an editor who goes through the text line by line."

    Take one look at a typical PublishAmerica book and you tell me how many grammatical errors and typos you find. Their "editors" sometimes run a book through a spell-check program-- which has been known to ADD typos into a manuscript rather than get rid of them-- but that is the extent of their "editing." The "editors" they've hired are inexperienced at best, and have been known to send laughably illiterate e-mails to authors.

    In the PA books I've personally bought, not only are there typos all over the place, but formatting is a mess, too... a chapter will accidentally begin on the bottom of a page, for example.

    --"PublishAmerica is NOT in any way a POD, vanity press, or subsidy publisher."

    They are indeed a POD (print-on-demand) publisher, and they make money by pressuring authors to buy their own books for resale, and sending order forms to the author's friends and family. They have been known to run ridiculous promotions where authors were encouraged to buy at least 500 copies of their own books so they could be listed in an ad PublishAmerica took out in the NY Times. (PA misled authors by saying they had established "a partnership" with the NY Times, which really meant that they had bought 3 small ads in the paper). Those who actually did buy those 500 books saw zero sales as a result of the ad.

    --"We reject 80% of submissions."

    Ha! One of the authors on this board, Kevin Yarbrough, wrote 30 pages, then copied those same 30 pages over and over until it was book-length, sent it in, and it was happily approved. Then the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America pulled a super stunt: They got together to write the worst book in existence (boy, did they ever) under the name Travis Tea, and it, too, was happily accepted and received much media attention-- see and

    In reality, PublishAmerica does not read the submissions they receive and will happily publish anything sent their way if they believe an author will shell out money to pay for copies of the book, or will supply addresses of friends and family who they can solicit to buy the book. Good or bad, it does not matter.

    Other miscellaneous reasons:

    After some authors correct their proofs, PA manages to screw up and publish uncorrected versions, then tells the authors they won't republish because "all books have typos."

    - When authors pose legitimate questions on PA's message board, the posts are deleted and authors are banned from posting. This is why you only see "happy authors" on PA's message boards... the ones who've learned better get banned quickly.

    - PublishAmerica authors who've tried to cancel their contracts have received a gag order. The current gag order says that authors can be fined $5000 per incident for speaking out against PublishAmerica (including on message boards like this one).

    - Even after a contract has been terminated and the rights have been returned to the author, PublishAmerica has continued to sell authors' books many months later, without paying the authors a dime. (I bought copies of books that PA had no rights to sell-- such as Molly Marx Brent's There Ain't Enough Front Porches.)

    - They overprice books
    compared to industry averages (would you buy a novel by a first-time, unknown author for $24.95 when you could buy Maya Angelou's latest for $6.99?).

    - They
    have now openly admitted that of the 11,000 books they've published, 1,000 *haven't sold a single copy.*

    - Several authors have ordered books or had bookstores order in books for book signings, and PA has NOT sent the books.

    - They now offer an "option" to not edit your book and rush it to print faster. No commercial publisher would publish a book that hasn't been edited.

    - They do not print a catalog, they do not have a distributor/sales reps going to bookstores to pitch their books, they do not send personalized press releases and review copies to the media except in special circumstances when a reviewer writes to them to request a book, they do not work to make sales to book clubs, etc. In short, all of the distribution, publicity, and marketing is up to the author.

    This is a letter from the director of Barnes & Noble's small press department to Memory McDermott, a member here who published with PublishAmerica and originally believed the claims that PublishAmerica was a "traditional" publisher:

    Your letter to Mary Ellen Keating was forwarded to me for a response as my department manages the business relationships Barnes & Noble has with new start up publishers, and self-published authors, like yourself.

    All the titles PublishAmerica produces are available to Barnes & Noble customers either through orders in the stores, or online via Barnes & ( The books are printed (on demand) when they are ordered, and shipped to the customer's home or back to the store for customer pick up. The terms for Publish America titles are not competitive in the trade bookstore marketplace: the books are non-returnable, the discount is not favorable, and most of the titles including Tea for Two Nature's Apothecary are about $5.00 over the going price for titles in the category. These factors in combination inform our decision not to stock the titles in the stores, and for the stores to decide not to do an event with the titles.

    I hope this information is helpful.
    Marcella A Smith
    Director Small Press & Vendor Relations
    Barnes & Noble, Inc
    122 Fifth Avenue
    New York, NY 10011
    Last edited by JennaGlatzer; 04-07-2005 at 10:44 AM.
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at or on Facebook. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    New Hampshire
    Short version:

    Your book won't be on the shelves in any stores unless you go in person and beg. And not even that is guaranteed.

    Here's why your local bookstores will be hesitant to stock your books:

    • High cover prices
    • Short discounts
    • Non-returnable books
    • Poor editing/poor production values

    Here's why the stores you don't visit won't stock your book:

    All of the above plus:

    • No salesforce
    • No catalog
    • No trade advertising
    • No major reviews


    Remember: "Available" in a bookstore is not the same as "shelved" in a bookstore.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 04-07-2005 at 04:30 PM.

  3. #3
    California Dreaming Patricia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Doing Serious BIC
    Press release, if sent at all, rejected by most major and small town newspapers.
    "But ultimately eloquence runs on a deeper current. It moves us with what it leaves unsaid, touching off echoes in what we already know from our reading, our religion and our heritage. Eloquence invites us to bring some part of ourselves to the transaction." - William Zinsser, On Writing Well

  4. #4
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    An meodoheall monig dreama full

    The Truth about PublishAmerica

    I've collected a variety of resources about PublishAmerica here. You can read my opinion here.

    In short, PublishAmerica:

    1. Does not edit your book; what they do is really nothing more than a spell check and some very primitive formatting. They frequently introduce new errors.

    2. PublishAmerica books will not be on the book shelves of most bookstores, because PublishAmerica does not accept returns--something most publishers have done for the last hundred and fifty years, because a genuine publisher only publish books they believe will sell.

    3. PublishAmerica will publish anything. The most common reason for them to turn a book down is because it requires too many images, charts or diagrams--these are too difficult and timeconsuming to properly format.

    4. Very few people will buy PublishAmerica because the cover price of the book is roughly five dollars higher than it would be from a real publisher. Since a PublishAmerica book costs so much more than similar books, very few people will be willing to buy it, unless they're the author's friends and families--and that's why most PublishAmerica books only sell about 75 copies.

    5. Very few libraries will order copies of a PublishAmerica book because PublishAmerica books lack a LOC CIP number--something real publishers provide for their books. Libraries rely on ordering systems and cataloging systems that require the LOC CIP information; without it they must laboriously hand catalog and order the book. Many libraries are not allowed to order books without LOC CIP information because the absence of one is usually a sign of a vanity press, and a book that was not professionally edited, or typeset.

    6. The PublishAmerica contract is exceedingly restrictive--they own rights to your book for seven years (or more), and they frequently include unreasonable requirements that are completely non-standard.
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  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    You get no respect!

    PublishAmerica books do not count as professional publication credits, thus won't qualify the authors to join professional authors' organizations, such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, etc.

    Also, due partly to a recent string of negative publicity they received from publications such as Publishers Weekly, Washington Post, and Associate Press, PublishAmerica has an extremely poor reputation in the legitimate publishing industry. Writing, "my first book was published by PublishAmerica!" in your query letter is not likely to impress anyone. In fact, it might make you sound like a clueless amateur. At best, agents/editors will ignore it. At worst, they'll automatically reject you.


  6. #6

    The Only Thing You Need to Know About PublishAmerica (Publish America)

    [ Reposted from , where the links to footnotes work. To save board space, the "further reading" section has been omitted from this version; if you want to learn more about PublishAmerica or about how to get your book published, see the original version. ]

    There is an enormous quantity of information out there about PublishAmerica, sometimes called Publish America. But if you are thinking about signing a contract with them, there's really only one thing you need to know. Just one. You ready?

    Your book will not be on bookstore shelves.

    Period. Bookstores won't stock your book, and you won't find it on bookstores shelves—unless you've personally approached that bookstore, and sometimes not even then.

    Do you want to sell lots of books? Do you want to sell books to people you don't already know or people you haven't met face-to-face?

    If you do, you want your book in bookstores. Over half of all books are sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores. [1] Why? Among other things, many people find it easier to part with money for a book if they've been able to flip through it first; bookstores are better for impulse buys and instant gratification; it's still much easier to discover an unknown book when browsing physical bookshelves; and there's no shipping charge.

    Here are the reasons why bookstores will not place your book on the shelves if you use PublishAmerica:

    1. Bookstores have to know your book exists before they can stock it. Publishers trying to sell books to the general public through bookstores (they're known as "trade publishers," or even just "publishers") have sales staff [2] and send free catalogs to retailers; these catalogs contain covers, descriptions, blurbs, and ordering information for forthcoming books [3]. PublishAmerica doesn't put out a catalog [4], and as of January 22, 2005, did not have a full-time marketing department [5].

    Suppose that hurdle has been cleared; perhaps you personally contacted a local bookstore to tell them that your book exists. The following hurdles, however, remain:

    2. Your book will be overpriced, at about five dollars higher than the price for the average book of its length and genre. [6]

    3. The store has to pay up front for your book, and if your book doesn't sell, PublishAmerica won't take it back. [7] Trade publishers allow books to be returned for credit if they don't sell. [8]

    In either case, the non-selling book has cost the bookstore, by taking up shelf space that could have gone to a book that did sell (that is, that did make money for the store); but with a PublishAmerica book, the bookstore is additionally out the cost of the book.

    4. Even if your book does sell, it won't make as much money for the bookstore. PublishAmerica charges bookstores more than trade publishers charge. [9]

    5. Your book (which might be the best thing since sliced bread) will be tainted by its association with many, many dreadful books, because PublishAmerica doesn't screen its submissions. [10]

    6. Your book will not be edited for content (if your book is edited at all [11]). According to PublishAmerica itself, its "editors" go through an average of two to two and a half books a week [12], just enough time to run it through a spell-checker and turn into a PDF file [13]. In fact, the editing process is very likely to introduce new errors into your book. [14]

    7. Availability: Ingram Book Group is the leading wholesale distributor of Print on Demand (PoD) books (distributors are where bookstores get their books from). In October 2004, it stopped automatically stocking two copies of all PoD books, while it implemented a new distribution strategy. This new strategy was supposed to be fully implemented in the first quarter of 2005, but has not yet been announced (as of April 24, 2005). This means that for seven months and counting, when a bookstore looks up many PublishAmerica books, it's told that Ingram has none on hand and it must backorder the title—and many retailers have "no backorder" policies. [15]
    All these reasons together are why bookstores aren't going to put PublishAmerica books on their shelves. Consider two of the chains, Borders and Barnes & Noble. You can confirm for yourself that the vast majority of PublishAmerica books are not on shelves in Borders stores by searching store inventory online at (Note: You may need to add stores first under "My Stores.") Barnes & Noble doesn't allow inventory searching online, but its CEO told the Washington Post, "if authors want their books in stores, they need to go the traditional publishing route." [16]

    Do you believe in your book? Do you want it on shelves—of multiple bookstores, not just the one or two in your area that might stock your book if you personally beg and plead, or even give your own copies to them? [17] Then you should do better by your book than PublishAmerica, because if your book comes out through PublishAmerica, it will not be on bookstore shelves.

    * * *
    What about PublishAmerica's claims (at great length) that it does sell books through brick and mortar bookstores?

    First of all, if someone special-orders a PublishAmerica book through a bookstore, that technically counts as a "sale" through that store. That doesn't mean that the book was on the shelf.

    Second, even using PublishAmerica's own numbers, it's very clear that they are not getting books on store shelves:

    * PublishAmerica's website claims, "An average 250 times each day, a bookstore calls or logs on to order a PublishAmerica title." The same web page also claims that PublishAmerica has "more than 11,000 happy authors." (Emphasis in original.) [18]
    * Using those numbers: 250 bookstore orders a day * 365 days a year = 91,250 orders from all bookstores per year / 11,000 authors = 8.3 books/year/author. Round up—

    * If you were the average individual with a PublishAmerica book, you would have sold nine (9) books, from all bookstores in the whole country, over one full year. [19]
    * What's more, if you were a best-selling Publish America author, you wouldn't have sold many more than that. Over three months in 2004, PublishAmerica's monthly bestsellers had sold only 19, 1, and 18 books through Ingram during 2004. [20]
    Those books aren't being sold through bookstore shelves, but through individual special orders. Moreover, a company that engages in this kind of sleight-of-hand is not a company you want to trust your book to. And that is the only thing you need to know about PublishAmerica: your book will not be on bookstore shelves, even though they try to convince you otherwise.

    * * *

    [1] "Despite the growth in online sales, more than 55 percent of books are still sold in stores, according to Ipsos BookTrends data." Paula Span, "Making Books," Washington Post, January 23, 2005.

    [2] For instance, Tor Books has (1) a sales and marketing department; (2) an advertising and promotion department; and (3) a publicity department, all devoted to selling books.

    [3] You can see what catalogs look like at the website of St. Martin's Press:

    [4] Instead, PublishAmerica authors occasionally propose putting out their own catalog (and charging for it).

    [5] According to a January 22, 2005, article, PublishAmerica only had "plans to start a full-time marketing department" (emphasis added). Hillel Italie, The Associated Press, "Critics and supporters debate success of fast-rising PublishAmerica," January 22, 2005

    [6] The average price of an adult fiction trade paperback in 2004 was $14.95. This and other averages were reported by the School Library Journal and quoted here: An examination of data at in August 2004 found that the mean retail price of a 200-page trade-sized softcover book from PublishAmerica was $19.95. PublishAmerica, Yes or No? Facts and Figures,

    The current retail prices of PublishAmerica books can be found at its online bookstore:

    [7] PublishAmerica F.A.Q.'s, bullet point four: "Our books are non-returnable." (as of April 24, 2005; emphasis in original).

    [8] "(B)ooks are one of the few commodities retailers can return if they don't sell -- except for print-on-demand books, which aren't returnable and therefore don't get stocked by national chains." Washington Post article, Here's a longer description of the returns system:

    [9] According to a bookstore owner, PublishAmerica gives bookstores (as opposed to authors) a 10% to 20% discount: Trade publishers generally give a 40% discount:

    [10] The Atlanta Nights sting submitted a deliberately unpublishable book to PublishAmerica, which accepted it: PublishAmerica has admitted that the members of its Acquisitions
    "do not read every line of the manuscript; they read only certain

    [11] Three reports of entirely un-edited books: "'They publish books exactly as they are submitted,' says [PublishAmerica author Conny] Bryceland. It wasn't until she received her complimentary copies, she says, that she realized 'not a word of editing had been done.'" Susan Pagini, "Paperback Writer," San Antonio Current, June 24, 2004; and immediately following post.

    [12] "Editors typically spend just two days on a book, [co-founder Larry] Clopper said, primarily checking for grammar and spelling." Associated Press article,; "[S]ince editors zoom through an average of two books a week, they can't pay much attention to content, which leads one irate PublishAmerica writer to brand it an 'author mill.'" Washington Post article,

    [13] See above note, and also these accounts of getting electronic files ready to be turned into books: and

    [14] Two of many reports about errors that PublishAmerica introduced into books: and For a specific and particularly egregious example, there's Phil
    Dolan's non-fiction account of the Battle of Okinawa, <cite>A
    Handsome Guy</cite>, in which the town of "Itoman" was spelled
    throughout as "AUTOIMMUNE":

    [15] Ingram's press release: Self-publishing expert Dan Poynter on some implications of the rumored plan, before it was officially announced:

    Note that according to the press release, Lightning Source will keep on hand "one copy of all new books and any currently out of stock books with a recent sale history." More often than not, even PublishAmerica's self-proclaimed best-sellers (see note 20) have zero books sold through Ingram. Thus, almost all of PublishAmerica's older books will not be stocked while the new policy is being implemented.

    [16] Washington Post article, Indeed, in August 2004, not one of PublishAmerica's 3552 titles published in 2003 and 2004 were on-shelf in a Modesto, California, Barnes & Noble. PublishAmerica, Yes or No? Facts and Figures,

    [17] Just one verifiable bookstore (or library) placement has been reported that didn't involve personal appeals, often at great length, and that person has no idea how it happened. Here is a typical example of the efforts it takes to get a PublishAmerica book shelved:, and one example of the frequent discussions among PublishAmerica authors about how difficult it is to get their books stocked in bookstores: If you yourself are an exception—congratulations, truly, but you are an exception.

    [18], as of April 24, 2005.

    [19] This is also in line with PublishAmerica's statements about its sales through Barnes & Noble. See and subsequent posts for these statements and analysis of the numbers.

    [20] For three months in 2004, PublishAmerica took out an ad in the New York Times to list its ten best-sellers for the previous month. At the time the books were listed in the ad, the most one had sold through Ingram for all of 2004 was nineteen (19). More than half (18/30) had zero (0) sales through Ingram for 2004, or weren't listed with Ingram at all. (So how did they make the top-sellers list? The list counted books the authors bought themselves.)

    * Copy of PublishAmerica announcement about New York Times ads:

    * September 2004 sales numbers: (Highest selling title through Ingram: 19 books. Number of books with zero sales through Ingram: 6.)

    * October 2004 sales numbers: (Highest selling titles through Ingram: 1 book (multiple titles). Number of books with zero sales through Ingram: 6. Titles not listed with Ingram: 1.)

    * November 2004 sales numbers: (Highest selling title through Ingram: 18 books. Number of books with zero sales through Ingram: 5.)
    Only one PublishAmerica book has ever sold more than 5,000 copies, which according to the Washington Post is "low-end figures for a major publisher"; the article didn't say how the sales were made.

    * * *
    Further reading: (omitted for space; see the original version of this article)

    * * *
    * April 6, 2005: Released.
    * April 24, 2005: Added note that PublishAmerica is sometimes called Publish America (with a space, in other words). Added examples to notes 10 and 14. Checked and updated "as of" dates. Indicated where this work is currently available. Made minor puncutation fixes.

    * * *
    Copyright 2005 by Kate Nepveu[*]. You may, of course, link to this work freely, but do not republish it without e-mailing me for permission (I want to ensure that it's always up-to-date). At present, this work is available in full at, and is reproduced in part here.

    Comments, corrections, and constructive criticism are welcomed: .

    [*] Who is neither a disgruntled PublishAmerica author, nor an author rejected by PublishAmerica, nor a fiction writer period, merely someone who saw a need for a specific and (relatively) concise document on this topic after watching a lot of PublishAmerica discussions. (Nor does she have something against PoD books; indeed, she encourages you to go buy her mother's PoD memoir of working with Romania's orphans.)
    Last edited by Kate Nepveu; 04-24-2005 at 11:31 PM. Reason: document update

  7. #7
    banned as an incurable tosspot Ed Williams's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    I was at a literary festival...

    ...a few weeks ago where one of the featured speakers was the Southern Regional buyer for Barnes and Nobles. This is the person who ultimately decides what books are stocked in all the Southern B&N stores. After giving his talk, he was approached by a PA author about doing some booksignings in the Atlanta stores. The PA author was told, in no uncertain terms, that PA books are crap, that B&N doesn't stock them, and that they will never set up booksignings for any PA author/book in the Atlanta area stores. This interaction was the talk of the festival.

    From a professional respect standpoint, and I may as well come out and say this - those of us published by reputable presses were assigned prime venues at this festival for booksignings and talks. The PA person and some of the other POD published people were, charitably speaking, not. I've now been to enough literary related events to conclusively state the following:

    1. A PA book is not considered a legitimate literary credit.

    2. The word about PA is out, they are considered the lowest of the low by most book sellers and industry insiders.

    3. I've now watched PA authors at two different literary events basically get embarrassed out in public because of who their publisher was. Since PA doesn't tell its authors the truth, their authors walk into these events feeling like they're just as published as anyone else, and subsequently discover the realities in some very tough situations.

    Bottom line - printing up books at Kinkos is a much better deal than letting PA do it for you...

  8. #8
    Apex Predator Jaws's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Loitering just offshore on the Silicon Prairie
    Another reason to avoid PublishAmerica: It has a pattern and practice of treating questions as complaints, complaints as abuse, and responding accordingly… when it responds at all, and without regard to provisions in its own contracts.

    PublishAmerica's contract states (paragraph 30 for those signed between mid-2002 and this writing in April 2005) that communications shall be sent to specific addresses, unless notice of a different address is given in writing. PA's contract does not include the so-called "author support" e-mail address. Nonetheless, PA insists on doing everything by e-mail—when it does anything other than tell people not to "take that tone with me"—without having provided a written notice of change to e-mail. It gets worse from there, of course, such as ignoring legal notices and pretending that they never happened.
    blawg: Scrivener's Error (includes links to main site)
    Any legal comments in this message are general commentary only, and not legal advice
    for your specific situation. You should not rely on such comments — or any other published
    comments, by me or anyone else — as anything other than general guidance.
    Unfortunately, no scam agents, vanity publishers, or other similar carrion-eaters were bent,
    folded, spindled, or mutilated in creating this post (not for want of motivation).
    Of course it's "fine print" — it's small and red.

  9. #9
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    PublishAmerica has directly conducted character assassinations by smearing the reputations of individuals who criticized it.

    PublishAmerica has directly conducted smear campaigns against individuals who were not outside critics or even connected with PA as a PA author. In PA's own admission, their campaign was based solely upon the fact that the innocent individual was standing beside their intended target, so they included him.

    PublishAmerica has directly and indirectly condoned and encouraged smear campaigns and attacks on the reputations of others whether those individuals were PA authors or critics outside the PA sphere.

    PublishAmerica has used intimidation by sending individuals claiming to be police to illegally threaten writers who publicly exposed PA's practices.

    PublishAmerica has further used intimidation by hiring armed thugs to "provide security" at conventions where attendance was restricted to their own authors.
    When it comes to PA, the royalty check and the reality check arrive in the same envelope.

    Remember to be kind to writers who step in PA. They really don't know how bad it smells.

    The difference between PA and WLA? None. Both have the stench of dead and dying books emanating from their doorways.

  10. #10

    Publish America has not paid royalties

    They have not paid royalties nor have they sent me a royalty statement for the periods February through July 2004 or August 2004 through January 2005. There were 85 books sold for that first period and at least 4 for the second period. PublishAmerica refuses to provide any explanation. I have contacted them by email, fax and letter several times.

    Other authors have questioned their royalty statements as well. When asked why documentation isn't provided Publish America lies and says that sales information is only provided to them every six months by their distributor. Ingram is PA's distributor. Ingram provides monthly sales information.

    Publish America lied about me by stating on its website that I had a "history" of harassing other PA authors by posting negative comments in those author's guestbooks, posting negative reviews or sending emails. PA also accused me of fraud in retaliation because I sent them a bogus manuscript which they accepted and offered a contract for. That manuscript changed the main character's names on page 50 and then repeated the same 10 pages over and over (8 times) until the end. PA accepted this manuscript and offered a contract, twice. The first offer was in September 2004 about three weeks after I sent it in. I did not respond to this offer. The second offer was in January 2005. I declined the second offer.

    Dee Power

  11. #11

    Publish America treats its authors with contempt

    Below is an email that Publish America sent me May 20, 2004.

    Again, the tone of your letter is way out of place. Soon we will sell our one millionth book! Neither your fax nor your registered letter reached the intended recipient. Future paper letters from you will be discarded unread. If, after reading our bulleted refutations below, you still wish to end your contract, please renew your request, using as your sole point of contact.None of it what we say is nonsense, and all of it is exactly, completely accurate. What is nonsense is your tone, your drama, and your whole escapade. There is no drama, no problem, no attorneys in New York, and no issues at all. What there appears to be is a simple request for contract termination. We will deal with that request without any specialconsideration at all.You do not need baseless jabs, drama, or a lawyer to request termination of your contract. We will consider your request at our next review meeting, to be held at our leisure, probably within the next month or so. Our decision on your contract will be made with disregard for your tone and ridiculous and baseless accusations. Your communications with us will not be made known to the committee making the decision, and your untrue statements will not be considered.Your statements are so naive, so false, and so totally baseless that it is difficult to even respond to them, but we'll make a brief attempt.I have deleted the rest of their letter because it misstates the truth in an attempt to invalidate my arguments. Dee Power
    Last edited by DeePower; 04-07-2005 at 08:52 PM.

  12. #12

    PublishAmerica lies about copyrights

    The following statements by PublishAmerica on their website are not true.

    Most of the time when using a science fiction publisher, or young adult publisher, the author is not permitted to retain the copyrights over their own fiction.

    In addition, the majority of children's book publishers do not allow the author to retain the copyright of their book.

    "Believe it or not, most poetry publishers do not allow the author to retain the copyrights over their own poetry."

    As an added benefit, as a Christian book publisher we allow our authors to retain the copyrights over their work.

    In addition, we pride ourselves in allowing our published authors to retain their copyright


    Unless a book is a work-for-hire, such as ghost written, the copyright belongs to the author. PublishAmerica is deceptive when they state otherwise.


  13. #13
    Hack Writer realitychuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Schenectady (really)
    PublishAmerica uses misleading numbers in order to bolster their claims. For instance:

    An average 250 times each day, a bookstore calls or logs on to order a PublishAmerica title. (from on 4/7/2005
    Using this number, this means bookstores order 250 x 365 = 91,250 titles a year.

    PA claims 11,000 happy authors (same page, same date*.) 91,250 / 11000 = 8.3 books ordered by bookstores per author per year.

    In other locations, PA has claimed 350 books ordered per day. Using the same method of calculation, this means bookstores order 12.78 books per author per year.

    Using PA's own numbers, it's clear they aren't selling many books in bookstores -- the prime location for book sales.

    FACT #4: Each day, an average 12 times a PublishAmerica author is invited to do a book signing or another in-store event at a bookstore or a library. ibid
    12 times a day x 365 days = 8760 times per year. Divide by 11,000 authors: 0.79 book signings per author per year. And, for every author that has two book signings in a year, it means that there is at least one author who has none.

    *PA will update these numbers from time to time. If they are different, do the same calculation to get the real number.
    Last edited by realitychuck; 04-07-2005 at 08:08 PM.

  14. #14

    Publish America says it's not a Publish On Demand Co.

    At the PA website they say:

    FACT #5: PublishAmerica is NOT in any way a POD, vanity press, or subsidy publisher, and has nothing in common with them. Obviously, our authors are also not being self-published. In the most commonly used context, POD indicates "Publish On Demand", or vanity publishing. Vanity publishers charge for their "services". Some charge a few hundred dollars, others a thousand or more. We are not in that league, in any way, shape or fashion.

    FACT #7: The only area where the acronym POD comes in sight, is the printing stage of a book. Among printers, POD means print-on-demand, a digital technology that enables the printer to manufacture a book one at a time. This is in contrast with the offset technology that, by definition, must produce at least hundreds of copies of a book at a time at a minimum, but preferably thousands, to justify the expense of running the press.
    FACT #8: ALL publishers use digital (Print-On-Demand) technology for printing, from all major publishing houses such as Random House down. In fact, Random House produces significantly more print-on-demand books than PublishAmerica. They also use the offset technology. PublishAmerica uses the offset technology occasionally as well, each time a larger run is necessary.

    FACT #9: Does the use of the digital on-demand printing technology make a publisher a POD house? No, it does not. Of course not. According to, there are 57 different meanings for POD, from Post Office Department to Point Of Departure to Proof Of Delivery. In our world, POD is vanity publishing, and PublishAmerica is no vanity publisher, by any stretch of the imagination.

    PublishAmerica may claim that they are not a Publish On Demand, however their business model demonstrates they are. They release about the same number of titles (200 to 500) per month as the major POD houses (Xlibris, AuthorsHouse, and iUniverse). Their revenues are generated primarily by sales to authors, the business model of a POD. The majority of PublishAmerica’s marketing is to recruit new authors, just like a POD, not to boost sales of the titles they publish. PublishAmerica does not obtain a Library of Congress description for their books.

    For comparison purposes:

    Authorshouse, a legitimate POD has 200 employees and releases 500 titles a month. They have released a total of 22,000 titles and have sold 2 million copies, which is about 91 copies of each title.

    PublishAmerica has 60+ employees and releases 250 – 300 titles per month. They have released nearly 8700 titles and have sold either 250,000 copies or 1 million – they have used both figures in the same email correspondence, which results in an average of 100 copies of each title.

    PublishAmerica claims they now have 11,000 authors, the PublishAmerica contract says the book will be published within one year of signing. If nearly 8700 titles have been released as of today, April 7, 2005 then they must, in order to adhere to their own contract, release 2300 titles in the next 12 months.

    PublishAmerica is by their actions and their intent a Publish On Demand publisher


  15. #15
    Will write for peace of mind Kevin Yarbrough's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Hiding. Try and find me.
    If you expose PublishAmerica in one of their biggest lies they will have their attorney send a letter to the FBI and your local Police Station stating what you did was fraud and that matters should be taken aginst you.

    My sting manuscript was accepted by PublishAmerica and a few months later they sent the police to my house and I was threatened with being arrested if I didn't set things straight. What does this mean? If you proved they lied instead of admitting it or coming to you directly they will try their best to ruin your life and send you to jail.

    Nice publisher huh?
    The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma.

  16. #16

    Exclamation Deceptive Contract Language

    The main reason I recommend against signing with PublishAmerica is that PA's contract is specifically written for the purpose of deceiving authors who don't know what to watch out for before signing with them.

    The infamous Paragraph 24, which on the surface refers to buying back materials supposedly needed for printing copies of one's book -- never mind the fact PA doesn't use the technologies mentioned in the said Paragraph -- also insinuates that the author must buy back the copyrights for their own book, which they have paid for themselves already to the Copyright office in Washington D.C., according to PublishAmerica policy.

    This is done by surgically inserting the word 'Copyrights' into a list of materials 'needed' to print the book. According to Paragraph 24, if the author does not buy back the materials and the copyright, the Publisher may dispose of said materials and copyright however they wish.

    This is deceptive language at best, because the contract signer -- even if they read it thoroughly -- will many times not see the word 'Copyrights' inserted with materials needed to print their books. This is just one of several deceptively written paragraphs within the PublishAmerica contract, and again the main reason I recommend against signing with PublishAmerica.

  17. #17
    Take off! Canada James's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Great White North, eh

    My Perspective

    My decision to distance myself from PA had nothing to do with their publishing practices. No editing (other than a spell check), no marketing (not the same as promotion), no bookstore placement, high prices, etc... none of that was much of a concern to me on my first book. I used PA for a specific purpose and it worked for me. (Although I will note that I could have achieved the same result at, and probably with less of a headache.)

    However. When PA put up its "Author's Market" website things changed. They have a bad habit of feeding ideas to their authors that simply aren't true. I watched how they treated people, how they berated their authors, and how many who don't know the first thing about publishing believed their well-worded half-truths. Do I want to be tied to a company that knowingly deceives people? Answer: no.

    My advice to anyone considering PA is to stop looking at their publishing practices and start examining their business practises. Ask yourself if you want to be associated with someone who treats their authors/customers with disdain. Then ask yourself if you want to be treated in such a way.
    I have all the answers.
    I just don't know any of the questions...

  18. #18
    Whore for genre HConn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Inside a cursed painting

    Payment up front? Not necessary, thanks.

    Does PublishAmerica demand payment up front? Nope. They don't have to.

    All writers are passionate about their books. When the reality of a newly-minted PA author's situation becomes clear (no bookstore placement, no respect, absurdly high cover prices, minimal or non-existant editing, no returns policy) many of them "take advantage" of the company's continual sales pitches and buy their own books.

    Not all writers fall into this trap, but enough do to keep the company afloat.

    Genuine publishing companies make money by selling books to readers (people the author doesn't know and hasn't pitched their book to). PublishAmerica doesn't do that.

    When you publish with PA, you go into business with a company that makes its money from its authors and its author's friends and family. At least other vanity presses are honest about the services they offer.
    Last edited by HConn; 04-10-2005 at 10:25 AM.
    Look for CHILD OF FIRE from Del Rey! Read a sample chapter. Hey! it's been named to Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2009 list!

    Book 2 in the Twenty Palaces series: GAME OF CAGES. or check out these sample chapters.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Moondancer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    On quality of the books:
    I recently read a .pdf, the final proof of a novel published by PA, that had almost as many blank pages inserted as there were pages with type on them. As a consequence the almost doubled page count allowed them to charge a higher price in keeping with their scale for novels of particular lengths. In addition, the blank pages were not all in one place but spread out through the entire document.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW J.S. Blue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Not to mention...

    ...some people will write bad reviews on about your books then say it was someone else!

  21. #21
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    New Hampshire
    Who are the happy PA authors?

    1. The ones for whom holding one copy of their book with their name on the cover is enough.

    2. The ones who are using PA as a printer. (These may become unhappy -- PA is a very expensive printer and the contract is author-unfriendly.)

    3. The ones who are playing the Published Author Fantasy Role-Playing Game.

    Who are the unhappy PA authors?

    1. The ones who wanted their stories read by a lot of strangers, who perhaps wanted to be professional writers, and think this is how publishing works.

    2. The ones who wanted their stories read by a lot of strangers, who perhaps wanted to be professional writers, and have found out that this isn't how publishing works.

  22. #22
    Absolute sagebrush Ken Schneider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Guilty Jim, as to the unhappy part.

    P.A. is okay if,

    1.You want two books.

    2.You don't buy your own books.

    3.You don't want to make money from your writing, and want the publisher to make it all.

    4.You don't consider yourself a serious writer looking for a writing career.

    5.You don't care about the quality of your book.

    6.You don't mind others in the industry considering your work vanity.

    You might be brainwashed by P.A. If,

    1.You are easily enthused by receiving a dollar in the mail.

    2.Overly excited about receiving your proofs.

    3. Participate in the hurrahing on their message board, that works you into a frenzy, which causes you to buy a bunch of books. (What the board is for by the way)

    4. You think you can become famous by driving to your local bookstores to consign your books. Or, get one or two bookstores to stock your books.

    5. If you think twenty bucks is cheap for a 150 page paperback book.

    6. If it is your first work in print and you think you've actually been published.

    You might be blind if,

    You've published more than one book with them, and haven't caught on to the game.

    You think any promotion, or, (partnership), they enter into is anything other than a book selling scam.

    You might be truly published one day if,

    You run from them, and work really hard, learn your craft, and can really write. (This statement is not a dig to the current P.A. authors. You don't know until you test the real publishing market.)

    J.D. Salinger told The New York Times in 1974. "Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."

  23. #23
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin ArynStephens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Page Count-word count

    Hello all again,
    Seems to me everyone, or just about everyone, here is a recent PA "published" author. I just my author copies in the mail and was a triffle miffed to discovered that they had taken my 95,000 plus MS and squeezed the words to barely unreadable print in order to keep it under three hundred pages. Someone else with 50,000 words had the same amount of pages? INCREDIBLE. No, very soon after signing on, thanks to Kevin Y. I saw the reality of the PA scam. Am I embarrassed to have my books published by PA? Oh gosh, yes! I hope to just lie low and not sell very many books so that I can terminate in seven years and take the MS to a "real" publisher.
    Hey, but until then, I'm lying low, flying under the radar!

  24. #24
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    New Hampshire

    PublishAmerica's Press Release

    PublishAmerica ...sends out 10-15 press releases about our new authors each day.
    The "press releases" that PublishAmerica claims to send are apparently created with a mail-merge program. The standard PublishAmerica press releases do not say anything about the individual book itself or why anyone would want to read it. They are sent when the contract is signed, not one month before release and accompanied by a copy of the book as a real press release from a company that intended to get publicity leading to bookstore sales would do.

    Most newspapers ignore PublishAmerica's press releases.

    Here is PublishAmerica's standard press release. Items in brackets are filled in by the mail-merge database. Boldfaced items are for first books. Underlined items are for second books.
    PublishAmerica is proud to announce that it has acquired the rights to publish [title], by [location]'s newly discovered author, [first name] [last name]. [Editorial/Executive] Director Miranda Prather expressed confidence today that [honorific] [last name]'s second book will quickly resonate with an audience.

    "We were already familiar with [honorific][last name]'s work from [gendered pronoun] first book, [previous book title]. [title] is a well written and crafted work of contemporary [genre] that fits our specialty like a glove. PublishAmerica primarily publishes works by, for or about people who face a challenge in life and who overcome it by turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We believe that [honorific][last name] is a promising an accomplished talent in this field."

    Most of PublishAmerica’s books are written by new and previously undiscovered talent, such as [local area]’s newly two-time discovered author. A traditional publishing company, PublishAmerica pays advances and royalties while offering a distinct alternative to authors who would most likely be overlooked by larger, more commercial publishers simply due to their lack of experience in the industry.

    More details about book and author will soon appear at www. When released, the book will be available through all local bookstores as a trade paperback.

    For more information, please contact Miranda Prather at You may also contact [first name] [last name] at [author e-mail].

    Check Google yourself for key words and phrases to see that it's true.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 04-30-2005 at 10:20 PM.

  25. #25
    Hi, I'm new here. For a long time I considered getting my book published with PA, that is until I started searching for more writer's forums, and found The MindSight Forum. There, I saw the numerous articles about shady business practices by PublishAmerica, and couldn't believe my eyes. I had almost fallen for it myself. If I hadn't taken the time to search for other writing outlets, I would have been just another victim in the PublishAmerica scam. I have found other small publishers, and have decided to try and get my first novel published with one of them. Thanks to EVERYONE who provided information about these people. I for one am very grateful.


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