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Thread: The Newer Never-Ending PublishAmerica / America Star Books Thread

  1. #701
    Theophilus Don Davidson's Avatar
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    Smile If PA were to go out of business . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by LostInWonderland View Post
    Out of curiosity, what would happen to all the author contracts if PA were to close their doors? Would they automatically become null and void, or would PA still technically have to send official contract releases to their authors?
    This issue is a bit premature since PA is still very much in business, and contract law is not my field of specialty, but I will tell you what I can based on my Contracts class in law school and my other limited contracts knowledge.

    First, paragraph 26 of my contract (and probably yours, too) specifically contemplates that PA's rights under the contract will pass to any "successors and assigns"--that is, to any company that PA devolves into or to anyone to whom PA sells or gives those rights. PA's contractual rights are potential assets, just like a computer or a desk, which can be sold to any willing buyer. If PA went bankrupt (liquidation, not reorganization), those assets would pass to the bankruptcy trustee, who could then sell them. If PA's owners simply closed up the business, those assets would belong to them, and they could sell them to any willing buyer.

    While it is hard to conceive of anyone paying much for PA's contractual rights, I could easily see someone buying them at nominal cost--most likely hoping they could then sell those rights back to at least some of the authors for enough to make a tidy profit. On the other hand, if PA simply destroyed or discarded the contracts--either because no willing buyer came forward, or because the owners didn't consider the effort to sell them to be cost effective--then my contractual obligations, and yours, would disappear. And wouldn't that be nice?
    May God bless,
    Don

    Don't give your book, or your money, to America Star Books (formerly PublishAmerica) until you know the truth. Follow this link to read actual documents written by America Star Books/PublishAmerica that show conclusively what they are, and what they are not: http://christianityforthinkers.com/PublishAmerica.html.

  2. #702
    Theophilus Don Davidson's Avatar
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    Mail Fraud

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    Anyone with legal knowledge know the definitions of mail fraud?
    The definition of mail fraud is at 18 U.S. Code 1341. It's pretty lengthy, so here's a link:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18...1----000-.html

    Mail fraud is a federal criminal offense. In short, the prosecutor would have to prove all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction: (1) that the defendant knowingly created a scheme to defraud; (2) that the defendant acted with specific intent to commit fraud; (3) that the defendant mailed something through the U.S. Postal Service for the purpose of carrying out the scheme. (A "scheme to defraud" includes any scheme to deprive another of money, property, or of the intangible right to honest services by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.)

    Wire fraud is similar, except that the defendant uses "interstate wire communications" (such as telephone lines) rather than the U.S. mail to carry out the fraudulent scheme. Here's a link to the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S. Code 1343:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18...3----000-.html

    IMHO, PA would be stupid to promise to ship "donated" books and then not do so. They are dishonest, but they are also very crafty. To promise to ship extra books to WalMart, or a library, or anywhere else, with no intention to actually do so, would be blatant fraud (probably wire fraud more than mail fraud). It would be inviting trouble. Perhaps they are that stupid, but I doubt it.

    I'm sure PA charges enough for books and shipping to make plenty of money on all of these "donated books" offers, or else they would not make the offers. They know the recipients are going to just trash the books, or perhaps send them back, but PA will have done its part--and hey, they never promised WalMart would actually stock the books when it received them, right? The offers are simply designed to get the author excited enough to part with his money without thinking. And sadly, I'm sure it works in some cases. But so long as PA actually does what it promises, there's no fraud. Feeding the author impossible dreams of what might happen (but won't) is almost certainly not fraud.
    May God bless,
    Don

    Don't give your book, or your money, to America Star Books (formerly PublishAmerica) until you know the truth. Follow this link to read actual documents written by America Star Books/PublishAmerica that show conclusively what they are, and what they are not: http://christianityforthinkers.com/PublishAmerica.html.

  3. #703
    Mah tale iz draggin. CatSlave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Davidson View Post
    ...IMHO, PA would be stupid to promise to ship "donated" books and then not do so. They are dishonest, but they are also very crafty. To promise to ship extra books to WalMart, or a library, or anywhere else, with no intention to actually do so, would be blatant fraud (probably wire fraud more than mail fraud). It would be inviting trouble. Perhaps they are that stupid, but I doubt it.

    I'm sure PA charges enough for books and shipping to make plenty of money on all of these "donated books" offers, or else they would not make the offers. They know the recipients are going to just trash the books, or perhaps send them back, but PA will have done its part--and hey, they never promised WalMart would actually stock the books when it received them, right? The offers are simply designed to get the author excited enough to part with his money without thinking. And sadly, I'm sure it works in some cases. But so long as PA actually does what it promises, there's no fraud. Feeding the author impossible dreams of what might happen (but won't) is almost certainly not fraud.
    What he said.

    How PA treats its authors: Oh, stop the whining and contact support@publishamerica.com like everyone else.

    PA authors CAN fight back. File a complaint with your credit card company.

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  4. #704
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Davidson View Post
    While it is hard to conceive of anyone paying much for PA's contractual rights, I could easily see someone buying them at nominal cost--most likely hoping they could then sell those rights back to at least some of the authors for enough to make a tidy profit.
    When Commonwealth Press vanished (by the simple expedient of locking the doors and walking away), the landlord of the building seized all the manuscripts and contracts and rights that had been left behind as payment for back rent. The rights to those books were sold to another vanity press, which then got in contact with the authors and told each of them, "If you don't pay $x, we will publish your book and will keep all the royalties."

    The authors coughed up.

  5. #705
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    James, in your Commonwealth Press example, did the new vanity press have the legal right to withhold the royalties? I had thought that when a contract passes from one publisher to another the new publisher had to adhere to the contract including royalty rates etc.

  6. #706
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    James, in your Commonwealth Press example, did the new vanity press have the legal right to withhold the royalties?
    None of the authors had a contract with the second press. The press had bought a bunch of assets and owed them nothing. Perhaps someone could have fought it in court. But that would have taken even more time and money (with no guarantee of success).

    (To add to the fun, Commonwealth was located in Canada, as was the press that bought the assets. Most of the authors were in the USA.)

  7. #707
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Good grief. I always thought that when an author's contract was bought as an "asset" through bankruptcy or a merger or whatever, that the new owner was bound by the original contract's obligations, as was the author.

    So what's to stop Publisher A (say, DAW) from contracting an author (say, James Macdonald) with a $50,000 advance and 10% royalties, and then selling the contract to Publisher B (say, Luna), and Publisher B getting to publish the book and telling the author that they're not going to pay the author any advance or royalties, nanny nanny boo boo?

  8. #708
    Theophilus Don Davidson's Avatar
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    There's right and wrong, and then there's reality . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    When Commonwealth Press vanished (by the simple expedient of locking the doors and walking away), the landlord of the building seized all the manuscripts and contracts and rights that had been left behind as payment for back rent. The rights to those books were sold to another vanity press, which then got in contact with the authors and told each of them, "If you don't pay $x, we will publish your book and will keep all the royalties."

    The authors coughed up.
    The purchaser of the contract steps into the shoes of PA, with all the same rights and responsibilities. So while Commonwealth may have said they would keep all of the royalties, they could not legally do so--at least, not under any law I am familiar with.

    On the other hand, practicality is something else--it is often too expensive to enforce your legal rights, especially from long distance. That is the primary reason I have never taken PA to arbitration for defrauding me into signing that silly contract--it is not cost effective to spend lots of money to get back the rights to a book that may not be worth anything. And that is why the best advice I've heard on AW for PA victims is to move on and write another book that PA will have no claim over.
    May God bless,
    Don

    Don't give your book, or your money, to America Star Books (formerly PublishAmerica) until you know the truth. Follow this link to read actual documents written by America Star Books/PublishAmerica that show conclusively what they are, and what they are not: http://christianityforthinkers.com/PublishAmerica.html.

  9. #709
    We're all mad here. LostInWonderland's Avatar
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    Thanks for the contract info, Don. I also don't think PA is going out of business any time soon. I was just curious hypothetically, since it was something I never thought about before.

  10. #710
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    I'm curious, and I AM NOT suggesting that anyone try this at all EVER.

    What's to stop someone from opening say 15,000 Yahoo email accounts and sending in 15,000 junk MS (things that are auto created or cut and paste jobs of the same book with the chapters in a different order) under pen names. And taking the 15,000 $1 checks?

    Would the computer catch the same physical address being used so many times or something?
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  11. #711
    Resident Curmudgeon ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyia View Post
    . . . What's to stop someone from opening say 15,000 Yahoo email accounts and sending in 15,000 junk MS . . .
    Common sense and better things to do with the time, I'd hope.

    --Ken

  12. #712
    practical experience, FTW LexiCan's Avatar
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    Forget Wal*Mart...this latest offer really takes the cake. HOW CAN THEY PROMISE THIS!?

    Dear Author:

    PublishAmerica will put your book on Oprah's desk*!
    The queen of daytime TV is giving it one more year, and then it's over. No one has done more for bringing books to the attention of millions. PublishAmerica was there in 2003 when Oprah Winfrey announced to select book publishers that she was relaunching her famous book club, donation in hand for her Angel Network. And PublishAmerica is here today to bring as many talented authors to her show's attention for its final year as we can.

    *PublishAmerica will put your book in the hands of Oprah's staff. Five copies, so that more than one staffer gets a chance to read your work!

    We're not waiting for the Oprah show to ask for your book. We're donating it to them. And we will let your local newspaper, radio, or TV know that your book is being submitted to Oprah Winfrey. Yet another reason for them to put the spotlight on you as a local author.

    Here's how we do it:

    If you want to have books on hand, order now, and we will donate five copies
    to the Oprah Winfrey show. And you receive a 40 pct discount!

    We ship Oprah's copies the same day we ship your books to you.


    Go to www.publishamerica.net, find your book, click on it, then add to cart, indicate quantity, and use this coupon: Oprah40. Then click Recalculate and finish the transaction. Minimum volume is 12 copies.


    In the Ordering Instructions field, just write: "Media Yes". Our PR department
    will automatically contact you for names and addresses of your local news media.
    Again, we will ship your books to Oprah's staff the same day we ship your
    order to you. By using the coupon you are authorizing us to donate the books
    to the Oprah Winfrey Show. You may also request that we ship
    the five FREE books to you instead.


    Full-color and hardcovers excluded. Offer expires this weekend on Sunday night.


    Thank you,
    PublishAmerica Author Support Team




  13. #713
    Likes picnic with roast beef. Eirin's Avatar
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    Duh!

    PA's Secret Ninja B&E Team will spring into action, of course,


    *PublishAmerica will put your book in the hands of Oprah's staff.
    Seriously, that's just a question of sending the book to Oprah. Some of her staff will put their hands on it while carrying it to the dumpster.
    Last edited by Eirin; 11-24-2009 at 01:28 AM.

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  14. #714
    practical experience, FTW LexiCan's Avatar
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    Some of her staff will put their hands on it while carrying it to the dumpster.
    I agree. I just wonder if any of the PA authors will actually believe this, it's just ludicrous! Though, sadly, I suppose that if they believe that PA is a real publisher they will also believe that PA is capable of such an amazing feat.

  15. #715
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Colts442's Avatar
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    Smile E-mails awry! LOL!

    I have received the same e-mail about Wal-Mart, employers and stores, but so far I haven't gotten the one about Opra. That's too funny. Maybe someone should e-mail Opra and tell her to do an investigation on PA. She does that sometimes, doesn't she?

    As for the employer one, I had an idea about this one. If your in good standing with them and you ordered the implied copies of your books, couldn't you have them watch out for the "donated" copies to test PA's therory that they had actually sent the "donated" copies? To see if they really did follow through with their supposed "donation"? It was just an idea. That is if anyone actualy wanted to order that many copies. Also, you could get the "donated" copies from the employer and turn around and do whaterver you wanted with them. Does any of that make sense?

    Wouldn't you in a sense be scamming PA? LOL!
    Last edited by Colts442; 11-24-2009 at 02:35 AM.
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  16. #716
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Gah. There goes another keyboard.

  17. #717
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Isn't Oprah hanging up her microphone, anyway?
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  18. #718
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    Dear PA Lurkers and others,

    Please send to AW the title of ANY PA book that Oprah has mentioned on TV or her magazine in the last 10 years since PA started accepting submissions.


    I think ONE book was mentioned, but readers couldn't get it because PA was unable to fill orders. (Bad PA, NO cookie!)

    Please check the boards and the whole of the PA site to see if ANY PA title has gotten any attention from Oprah.

    The IS the kind of news they'd want you to know about on their opening web page, after all. It's good for their business!

    Do you think PA will be as efficient at sending 5 books to the Oprah machine as they are in sending copies to bookstore signings?

    If so, then kiss your cash good bye. Oprah's never going to see them.

    Legit commercial publishers have a hard time getting Oprah to notice their books. You have to be aware that they send her thousands each year--and THEY know the proper protocols on how to submit them.

    I doubt anyone at PA has a single contact on the Oprah staff. That woman has more layers of security around her than the US president.


    How to submit a book to Oprah's Book Club?

    Which takes one to this page:

    http://www.oprah.com/index

    So I tried a link someone else posted.

    Which opens this page.

    https://www.oprah.com/plugform.jsp?plugId=220

    NOT encouraging.


    Let's look at the book club numbers!


    From 1999-2009, a whole 45 titles were picked, many of them classics, not new books. She went with classics after the Million Little Pieces fiasco.

    I'm sure there are tons of books mentioned by her elsewhere, but those 45 titles top things for the last 10 years on her website.

    Forty-five books. Ten years.



    Once again, I have to ask WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY SMOKING over at PUBLISHAMERICA????

  19. #719
    Preditors & Editors Requiescat In Pace DaveKuzminski's Avatar
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    I noticed that shipping to Oprah isn't listed as being free.
    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.


  20. #720
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
    Please check the boards and the whole of the PA site to see if ANY PA title has gotten any attention from Oprah.
    I did a search of the PAMB, and found this.

    I have been e-mailing Oprah (at least 25 times) and I still have not heard from her.
    It's an old quote, but I can imagine new emails being sent to inquire about the donated books.

  21. #721
    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    We're not waiting for the Oprah show to ask for your book.
    So how many times in ten years HAS the Oprah show asked for a single PA title?

    You may also request that we ship
    the five FREE books to you instead.
    Hmm. I'm sure THAT bit of fine print won't escape the writers who bothered to read the whole letter. For those who know their book hasn't got a snowball's chance of getting on Oprah's desk, they will be interested in getting five extra books.

    I think there is no question that PA will apply their usual outrageous per-book shipping charges.



    Thanks for the search, QoS!

    Maybe that poor writer did hear from Oprah, only it was a cease and desist or an anti-stalking court order!
    Last edited by Gillhoughly; 11-24-2009 at 04:25 AM.

  22. #722
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ResearchGuy View Post
    Common sense and better things to do with the time, I'd hope.

    --Ken
    True, but submitting 20 (without accepting offered contracts) or so could make for an interesting class project in business ethics.
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  23. #723
    We're all mad here. LostInWonderland's Avatar
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    Wow, now Oprah? The more emails PA sends the more baffled I become. Are they naive enough to think this will accomplish anything? Or do they not care about pissing people off? Or do they have no intention of shipping the books at all?

    I realize all they care about is getting their money, but why the crazy schemes? Why not just offer the extra books to the authors and then make some suggestions on how they could use them? If an author wants to send a book to Oprah with a nice personal letter, I would think that would be well received or at least not ruffle any feathers. Not to say Oprah or her staff would read it, but I don't think it would be trashed on sight either.

    This is the worst deal yet because all of the PA books are going to one place, as opposed to going to several different stores across the country. One book per author would be bad enough, but FIVE each?! This will only annoy and anger Oprah's staff and possibly Oprah herself, assuming PA does indeed send the books.

  24. #724
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LostInWonderland View Post
    Wow, now Oprah? The more emails PA sends the more baffled I become. Are they naive enough to think this will accomplish anything? Or do they not care about pissing people off? Or do they have no intention of shipping the books at all?

    I realize all they care about is getting their money, but why the crazy schemes? Why not just offer the extra books to the authors and then make some suggestions on how they could use them? If an author wants to send a book to Oprah with a nice personal letter, I would think that would be well received or at least not ruffle any feathers. Not to say Oprah or her staff would read it, but I don't think it would be trashed on sight either.

    This is the worst deal yet because all of the PA books are going to one place, as opposed to going to several different stores across the country. One book per author would be bad enough, but FIVE each?! This will only annoy and anger Oprah's staff and possibly Oprah herself, assuming PA does indeed send the books.
    Can't help it, I fell another dialogue coming on...

    *One of Oprah's backstage specials*

    (Oprah Voice over in italics, action in **)

    A strange thing started happening a few weeks ago. Boxes of books started showing up at our delivery door. First one, then two, then crates of them - all by different authors and all in multiples of 5. Within days, we couldn't get into the studio without a forklift.

    *Oprah climbing over stacked boxes with the help of nameless intern*

    It's not usual to receive the odd volume now and again, but this seemed like some business' full inventory, so we dispatched an intern to find the source of these mystery deliveries, thinking surely there was a reasonable explanation. Maybe a problem at the post office, one easily fixed. Surely, out there somewhere, there was a bookstore desperately trying to locate their stock.

    *nameless intern on phone, while chewing pencil in a pensive manner*

    But we soon discovered there was no such error. Each and every box had been packed and shipped with Studio Oprah as its destination. So we set to work, assuming this was a mass donation by a publisher for the Angel Network's literacy program. The books had to be sorted and put into categories for each appropriate age.

    *nameless interns start cutting open boxes*

    Imagine our surprise when the first box yielded a garbled mass of what I can only assume was meant to be erotica. Box two looked to be stacks of covers and individual pages from a cookbook, only the pages were no longer in the covers. Stranger still was box three - a supposed memoir of the Vietnam War by the title, yet inside was a 98 page epic fantasy geared toward young adults. By the time we opened the forth box, I wasn't even shocked to find three chapters of an already published novel squeezed into the mid-section of a medical thriller with a powder pink cover full of sparkling poodles.

    *Nameless interns hold up a copy of each book as it's pulled out of the box, scrambling to catch falling pages and trying to smooth down curled covers. General looks of shock and horror give way to nervous giggles. In the next scene, they're in a circle on the floor with an open bottle, taking shots each time a new cover is found*

    This was the most elaborate prank anyone's ever managed to pull here at Studio Oprah, so I had to follow through and call the "publisher" to let them know I'd been had by real pros. The 1-900 line and perpetually full inbox was a great touch.

    *images of Oprah and Gail and nameless interns laughing at phone line. Gail and interns point and laugh at Oprah in a general "they got you" manner.*

    So, hats off to you, PA. You got me. I thoroughly enjoyed:
    Really Hot Romantic Tale
    Cooking in Pieces
    The Elves take Saigon
    and
    Doggie DNA

    It was truly an enjoyable afternoon.

    Rest assured the paper won't go to waste. We're having it recycled and the proceeds donated to charity.


    * the next day, PA has a shiny new banner -- PA books featured on Oprah*
    <---- NEW BOOK (Snazzy new cover coming ASAP.)



  25. #725
    What happened? ChristineR's Avatar
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    I would assume it's because a number of PA victimsauthors have expressed some sort of fantasy about being an Oprah selection and that their "donate your book to stores" campaign is doing well. I think this proves that there are a large number of people who can't think logically--how many books does Oprah actually end up promoting in a year? But I guess people fantasize about winning the lottery also.
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