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Hummertime
12-27-2007, 06:53 AM
America's #1 book publisher writes to SooToday.com By David Helwig
SooToday.com
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The editor who offered a book contract earlier this year to the almost-great Sault Ste. Marie poet Giovanni Pietro Verri has today asked that his name be removed from a SooToday.com article about the offer.

"My name is not necessary to the story," argues Tim Ratliff from the acquisitions department of PublishAmerica, which claims to be "the nation's number one book publisher," proudly offering "lower acceptance barriers than any other traditional publisher."

To continue reading the full story, click here:
http://sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=29264

IceCreamEmpress
12-27-2007, 07:19 AM
O, David Helwig, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! Pete Vere, too. This is a lovely sting operation, and having it in the local paper will reach the core PA demographic, I'll wager.

DaveKuzminski
12-27-2007, 08:09 AM
Well done, SooToday, Pete Vere, and James Macdonald!

Saundra Julian
12-27-2007, 08:29 AM
Bravo!

Rolling Thunder
12-27-2007, 08:40 AM
*adds cottage cheese to grocery list*

benbradley
12-27-2007, 08:49 AM
What a great read, I really like the letter and response at the end. I look forward to the day when the majority all of the contracts PublishAmerica sends out are in response to sting submissions.

tlblack
12-27-2007, 08:52 AM
Well done!

James D. Macdonald
12-27-2007, 04:54 PM
Perhaps Tim is looking for a job and doesn't want any prospective employers to find out that he worked for American's Number One Traditional Publisher.

Hummertime
12-27-2007, 07:33 PM
Perhaps Tim is looking for a job and doesn't want any prospective employers to find out that he worked for American's Number One Traditional Publisher.

Perhaps this email I was cc'd this morning from PA's acquisition department will shed some light on Tim's motivations.


Mr. Helwig,

Thank you for your prompt response.

I really don't appreciate the negative light in which your articles have portrayed me personally. I'm just an editor for a publishing company that does as he is told to do. I by no means am the mastermind behind PublishAmerica, but I have to pay my bills like anyone else.

I would really appreciate if my name was not associated with negative articles regarding PublishAmerica. If you are going after the company then surely you must agree my name is not necessary.

I'm not asking on behalf of PublishAmerica I am asking on a personal level and it would mean a lot to me.

I feel for the guy, but I assume nobody put a gun to his head and said: "Start acquiring manuscripts for PA or I will pull the trigger." Thus one can reasonably assume Tim chose to accept his current position with PA. As such, he is part of the PA process and any correspondence sent to authors on behalf of PA in his name is fair game for media comment.

His name is the PA signatory on the acceptance letter I received. This is a fact, and as such it was noted in the articles SooToday.com ran about PA. SooToday.com did associate Tim with PA. SooToday.com simply reported an association that was claimed by Tim and PA in an acceptance letter sent to a prospective author.

AC Crispin
12-27-2007, 08:10 PM
I'm cracking up here. I love seeing PublishAmerica shown in all their true colors.

Tim, honey, I have no sympathy for you. Any human being with a molecule of sense would have realized after two hours at the PublishAmerica offices that this "publisher" is an author mill with no crediblity in the industry.

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware
www.writerbeware.com

IceCreamEmpress
12-27-2007, 08:45 PM
Oh, man, this is hilarious. 'PLEASE DON'T USE MY NAME IN ARTICLES ABOUT MY SCAMSTER EMPLOYER! PEOPLE MIGHT THINK ILL OF ME!'

sandyn
12-27-2007, 09:23 PM
Would that all scammers out there were so publicly 'outed' (and that all aspiring authors would have the guts to resist them.)

Great job!

Marian Perera
12-27-2007, 09:56 PM
I'm just an editor for a publishing company that does as he is told to do.

At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, it didn't work in the Nuremberg Trials and it doesn't work here.

Hummertime
12-27-2007, 10:15 PM
Well, here is my response:
http://sootoday.com/content/editorials/details.asp?c=18856

IceCreamEmpress
12-27-2007, 10:21 PM
Well, here is my response:
http://sootoday.com/content/editorials/details.asp?c=18856

Wait, is his name "Ratliff" or "Radcliff"? Because it's spelled differently in the two articles.

Hummertime
12-27-2007, 10:37 PM
Wait, is his name "Ratliff" or "Radcliff"? Because it's spelled differently in the two articles.

Sorry, my mistake. The name is "Ratliff". Thanks for the head's up, and I have made the correction.

PattiTheWicked
12-27-2007, 11:11 PM
Best. Poems. EVAH.

edgyllama
12-28-2007, 02:56 AM
So Tim Ratliff, you don't anyone to know you are connected to PublishAmerica...such as Tim Ratliff WORKS FOR PUBLISHAMERICA? that Tim Ratliff is an editor at PublishAmerica? Don't worry, Tim Ratliff, the fact you work PublishAmerica is a secret and no one will tell. Promise.

DaveKuzminski
12-28-2007, 07:30 AM
Gee, Tim's been at PA for seven months or more and he's just now worried about how his employment with PA will appear to future employers, especially if PA gets hauled into court and declared guilty of fraud? Sorry, Tim, but you get fleas as part of the perks when you associate with dogs.

On the other hand, you can make up for it quite easily by contacting the state attorney general and furnishing them with evidence and testimony so PA can be shut down. Heck, if PA is also guilty of tax evasion, you might even get paid for turning them in to the IRS.

Think about it, Tim. Hero or zero? Your choice.

Christine N.
12-28-2007, 07:32 PM
Yep. Those nondisclosure agreements you signed when you were hired, Tim, don't apply to actual law-breaking behavior.

Hummertime
12-30-2007, 07:55 AM
Dear all, I have received an email stating that Tim Ratliff is no longer employed by PA. Let us move on and wish him well in his new job search.

edgyllama
12-30-2007, 07:58 AM
Good Luck, Tim!

emsuniverse
12-30-2007, 08:10 AM
Quit or fired?

edgyllama
12-30-2007, 08:15 AM
Quit or fired?

I hope quit. If he got fired for doing his job, I'd be angry.

DaveKuzminski
12-30-2007, 08:24 AM
Well, now's his opportunity to be a hero. All he has to do is spill everything he knows about the internal operations of PA to a prosecutor.

CatSlave
12-30-2007, 09:30 AM
Good luck, Tim.
Shoveling sh*t is a lousy job, especially if you have a conscience.

Hope you join us on the AW forum.
You'll find you have friends here.

Snipes and swipes and stings at the PA establishment are not intended for you personally.

James D. Macdonald
12-30-2007, 06:15 PM
"Editor" at PA isn't a long-term career. They all quit or are fired, usually in six months to a year.

I'm told that the different areas are kept tightly compartmented, and the people are discouraged from talking with one another. All communication is by email, and all email is copied to Miranda and Larry. You'd almost think that Miranda and Larry are trying to keep anyone from getting enough of the big picture to go to the cops.

For Tim, he may have a wrongful termination suit against PA. But he's better off moving forward, and leaving this year blank on his resume.

DaveKuzminski
12-30-2007, 10:52 PM
Personally, I feel no sorrow for those who work at PublishAmerica beyond the first day of hire. By then, they should know something is seriously wrong and quit. They don't, so in my eyes that makes them complicit.

The way the law generally works is that if you take part in a criminal venture, you're also liable for the consequences. It's called taking part in a conspiracy. Doesn't matter if you only answered the phone or spellchecked the pages. You took part in a criminal enterprise. You're equally culpable. However, I do feel they should be given some consideration if they quit very quickly after learning the truth or turn state's evidence.

When it comes down to it, the more pressure put on PA's employees to show them the danger they're in, the better. After all, when PA can't find employees to dupe into performing the dirty work, the better. That's because PA can't run efficiently with only six employees. Face it, Miranda's mother can't edit all of the manuscripts by herself. We know Larry's not going to sit down all day and do spellcheck. Neither will Willem. Alice is busy with the accounting books. Miranda's busy sending out the tone letters and monitoring the AW and other forums. And we certainly can't expect Vic to stop defending PA, so he can't do spellcheck. But if it gets down to that level, that's when PA will implode because then there won't be enough money coming in to support them all. That's why more pressure needs to be put on PA's employees in showing them the truth about their predicament.

JulieB
12-30-2007, 11:11 PM
Personally, I feel no sorrow for those who work at PublishAmerica beyond the first day of hire. By then, they should know something is seriously wrong and quit. They don't, so in my eyes that makes them complicit.

Ah, but not everyone has Spidey Senses as well-tuned as yours, Dave.

James D. Macdonald
12-30-2007, 11:26 PM
I'm told that a whole pile of people (particularly the ones hired to be in "Author Support") do quit on their first day.

CatSlave
12-30-2007, 11:42 PM
Author Support is the nastiest position imaginable, not to mention being under Miranda's thumb and within earshot of her office.

Employees who manage to bypass it may stay longer, because of the isolation between departments it takes longer to figure out there's something fishy in Denmark. Author Support people "get it" immediately.

Very, very few Author Support people can stomach it for long, hence the constant turnover.

JennaGlatzer
12-30-2007, 11:48 PM
It's a tough lesson to learn. Tim, any honest job-- even if it's in a fast food joint-- is better than a job that you know is shady. I do wish you good luck in moving on from here and finding better work, though.

DaveKuzminski
12-30-2007, 11:58 PM
It might help if someone posted notes on the job boards at the local colleges warning those in need of a job just how bad PA is. Something like that just might cut down the number of applicants severely enough to force PA to curtail their operations even more.

James D. Macdonald
12-31-2007, 12:09 AM
There aren't a lot of jobs for fresh-out-of-college liberal arts majors, particularly women.

If they have no job experience at all they may not know how odd the entire setup is. They might think that this is normal for businesses.

DaveKuzminski
12-31-2007, 01:24 AM
All the more reason to post warnings where potential employees for PublishAmerica can see them. The sooner PA runs out of applicants in the employment pool, the better for everyone. That means writers and employees both.

Khazarkhum
12-31-2007, 04:04 AM
Nahhh, they'll just hire illegals to do the job Americans won't do. ;)

DaveKuzminski
12-31-2007, 04:46 AM
Nahhh, they'll just hire illegals to do the job Americans won't do. ;)

Well, just shouting, "Immigration," should stop production in that case. Of course, knowing PA's management, they'd probably be the first to do so just for laughs.

jamiehall
12-31-2007, 04:56 AM
All the more reason to post warnings where potential employees for PublishAmerica can see them. The sooner PA runs out of applicants in the employment pool, the better for everyone. That means writers and employees both.

It's a nice idea, but it's hard for me to see how it would work. But, then, I live in a town where the competition for minimum-wage jobs is fierce. Perhaps my imagination in that area is deficient.

Spengocity
12-31-2007, 06:06 AM
I hope quit. If he got fired for doing his job, I'd be angry.

He was fired. Really....great job...excellent human beings. I love how you all sit here in the moral highground equating book publishing to exterminating around 12 million people, and yet when someone loses his job over childish reactions, you turn around and say "good luck" with a hearty pat on the back and tell him he can be a hero; nice work guys, it's really easy to pay for a lawyer when you don't have a job. Take into account that employees aren't really ever told more than they need to know in any company...this is universal. It's easy to tell someone they shouldn't do something when you're on the outside of any organization, but when car payments, bills, rent, and real life are taken into consideration, it's not so easy to just up and leave when you feel you're being given a shit hand. Next time you feel a company has wronged you, don't take aim at the people doing the grunt work, try looking at the people giving them orders.

DaveKuzminski
12-31-2007, 06:33 AM
He was fired. Really....great job...excellent human beings. I love how you all sit here in the moral highground equating book publishing to exterminating around 12 million people, and yet when someone loses his job over childish reactions, you turn around and say "good luck" with a hearty pat on the back and tell him he can be a hero; nice work guys, it's really easy to pay for a lawyer when you don't have a job. Take into account that employees aren't really ever told more than they need to know in any company...this is universal. It's easy to tell someone they shouldn't do something when you're on the outside of any organization, but when car payments, bills, rent, and real life are taken into consideration, it's not so easy to just up and leave when you feel you're being given a shit hand. Next time you feel a company has wronged you, don't take aim at the people doing the grunt work, try looking at the people giving them orders.

I've been in similar situations. It didn't take me longer than an hour, either, to quit a job though I desperately needed the income. Even with all the usual bills to pay, wife and two kids to care for, home to maintain, going to college myself, and all the other usual events that real life presents, I still quit. So yes, I can blame him as well as the PA management. That's how real life builds integrity.

IceCreamEmpress
12-31-2007, 06:35 AM
He was fired. Really....great job...excellent human beings.


They fired him for doing his job the way they told him to. Yeah, clearly it's the fault of the folks at SooToday.com he got fired, not the fault of the scamsters at PublishAmerica!

DaveKuzminski
12-31-2007, 06:40 AM
I guess he's never heard of the ACLU or or lawyers who do pro bono work? He hasn't heard of visiting the employment commission for his state to learn his rights or apply for a new job?

At the same time, he doesn't express any remorse for the people he helped defraud? Sorry, but I have no sympathy for him. Not until he does the right thing so the current claim of 25,000 happy authors victims doesn't become 30,000.

jamiehall
12-31-2007, 06:41 AM
He was fired. Really....great job...excellent human beings. I love how you all sit here in the moral highground equating book publishing to exterminating around 12 million people, and yet when someone loses his job over childish reactions, you turn around and say "good luck" with a hearty pat on the back and tell him he can be a hero; nice work guys, it's really easy to pay for a lawyer when you don't have a job. Take into account that employees aren't really ever told more than they need to know in any company...this is universal. It's easy to tell someone they shouldn't do something when you're on the outside of any organization, but when car payments, bills, rent, and real life are taken into consideration, it's not so easy to just up and leave when you feel you're being given a shit hand. Next time you feel a company has wronged you, don't take aim at the people doing the grunt work, try looking at the people giving them orders.

People here have expressed opinions of both sorts: some feeling sorry for the guy, and others holding him responsible. I personally can see good points on each side. However, Tim Ratliff is by no means a complete innocent. By the very act of trying to disassociate his name from any public mention in connection with Publish America, it seems that he must have realized something was terribly wrong.

The real question is what obligations would come with such a realization. Some here have argued that to continue working for such a place would be a criminal act. Others have argued for leniency. I don't think any here wish ill towards Tim Ratliff. Rather, they wish to save other potential employees from ever signing up.

My personal view is that the morality of the situation really depends on what exactly Tim Ratliff did (for example, did he ever try to secretly warn away potential authors?) and his financial condition. If he was truly desperate for a job, I don't think I can blame him for staying. Perhaps every day he sent out more job applications and wished that it would be his last day.

escritora
12-31-2007, 06:42 AM
How do you know he was fired?

Christine N.
12-31-2007, 06:45 AM
Yeah, that's fair. It's not SooToday's fault. If PA wanted to keep their employees out of the line of fire, they'd sign the stupid letters themselves, instead of hiding behind their poor employees!

Rather than make a public statement defending their employee, they fired him. For doing nothing other than writing a letter. Nice people to work for.

I hope Tim finds a better job very soon, and I truly mean that. No one deserves to work at PA.

brianm
12-31-2007, 06:55 AM
He was fired. Really....great job...excellent human beings. I love how you all sit here in the moral highground equating book publishing to exterminating around 12 million people, and yet when someone loses his job over childish reactions, you turn around and say "good luck" with a hearty pat on the back and tell him he can be a hero; nice work guys, it's really easy to pay for a lawyer when you don't have a job. Take into account that employees aren't really ever told more than they need to know in any company...this is universal. It's easy to tell someone they shouldn't do something when you're on the outside of any organization, but when car payments, bills, rent, and real life are taken into consideration, it's not so easy to just up and leave when you feel you're being given a shit hand. Next time you feel a company has wronged you, don't take aim at the people doing the grunt work, try looking at the people giving them orders.

You’re preaching to the wrong choir, my friend. Many of us have been in exactly the same spot at some point in our lives.

Here’s the link to the DUI for Maryland. They will be happy to help him if he feels he was unjustly fired from PA.

http://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/ui/

It won’t cost him a dime and they’ll also help him find another job.

Now it’s your turn.

Would you please provide a link that gets back all the books PA has ruined with their lies, misleading statements and crappy contract? All the dreams they have trampled? All the careers that were badly sidetracked? All the unpaid royalties? All the wasted money in worthless marketing plans and merchandise? All the hurt feelings from being treated like pieces of trash by PA’s author support center?

Unfortunately, no link like that exists. I guess PA authors, like Tim, will have to move on and learn from their experience with this disgusting scam company.

Hummertime
12-31-2007, 07:21 AM
and yet when someone loses his job over childish reactions,

Actually, this is another important lesson for aspiring writers: before you submit anything, do your market research.

SooToday.com's popularity as a local news site derives from its quirkiness in reporting hard news. I mean, how many other news sites have, on occasion, reported the daily police beat in iambic pentameter?

Another example of SooToday.com's quirkiness is the following news release that SooToday.com re-titled "Cute nurse takes over as LSSU's acting academic VP (http://sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=26459)" (http://sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=26459):

http://sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=26459

Scroll down to the bottom for the ensuing exchange between SooToday.com's editor and the editor of a university news bureau.

edgyllama
12-31-2007, 07:29 AM
You’re preaching to the wrong choir, my friend. Many of us have been in exactly the same spot at some point in our lives.

Here’s the link to the DUI for Maryland. They will be happy to help him if he feels he was unjustly fired from PA.

I agree. Dont get on your moral high horse. Tim made his bed and he had to sleep in it. I dont know about him, but I usually research a company before I send them a resume. This isn't rocket science.

Hummertime
12-31-2007, 07:31 AM
Also, I should mention that nobody is off-limits at SooToday.com - including fellow editors and reporters. For example, check out how SooToday.com covered President Bush's most recent colonoscopy (http://sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=26067), as well as the following story about holding hands (http://sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=21598).

Khazarkhum
12-31-2007, 09:01 AM
Here's a sobering thought:

How many PA employees think that they're learning the ins & outs of publishing & hope to go to another house with all this 'experience'?

CatSlave
12-31-2007, 06:59 PM
Here's a sobering thought:

How many PA employees think that they're learning the ins & outs of publishing & hope to go to another house with all this 'experience'?
All of them.

That's why PA is careful to hire only people with no publication background, but decent English skills (really), so most of the staff are very young, including Tim.

Staff are not allowed telephones except for Author Support who have to field all the incoming calls. All emails are monitored by Miranda, so there is little chance of warning a potential good author to turn and run. There is little communication between departments, unless you go out for lunch or a smoke break and commisserate with another employee away from the ever-watchful eyes of Miranda and Larry.

If you haven't already, check out the threads and websites that discuss PA as a cult. You'll be stunned.

An Acquisitons "Editor" is allowed only five minutes to review a submission for content and ten minutes maximum to fill out the database info and do several searches to see if the author submitted before, if the text contains inflammatory comments such as "Miranda, Willem, Frederick, Stooges, PublishAmerica, scam" and so forth. As long as the format is readable and it is the proper length for a story or poetry collection, they are instructed to accept the work. Any rejects have to be reviewed by Miranda herself, and if you reject too many submissions, your job is on the line. You have to sign on a daily quota of new submissions, and that is with no regard whatsoever to quality of content. If you can't meet your quota, your job is on the line.

The only employees who last and get ahead at PA (if you want to call kissing Miranda's a** getting ahead) are as heartless and money-driven as the owners. They have no soul or conscience either, and don't give a damn about the authors they hurt. The ones who suffer silently to pay their bills and feed their kids may justify working there as a necessary evil, but eventually they get burned out too and are fired or leave, which opens a spot for a young (or old), naive newcomer who loves books and wants to break into the publishing business.

benbradley
12-31-2007, 08:24 PM
He was fired. Really....great job...excellent human beings. I love how you all sit here in the moral highground ...

How do you know he was fired?
And who is this Spengocity with exactly one post and no profile? This anonymous person obviously registered to make that post and lecture us all about being on the moral high ground...

I don't doubt that PA would fire Tim whats-his-name, but I'm sure not going to trust an anonymous poster with the news, nor give such a poster's opinions any credence. Sorry mods if I'm not respecting my fellow writer.

jamiehall
12-31-2007, 08:45 PM
Dear all, I have received an email stating that Tim Ratliff is no longer employed by PA. Let us move on and wish him well in his new job search.


And who is this Spengocity with exactly one post and no profile? This anonymous person obviously registered to make that post and lecture us all about being on the moral high ground...

I don't doubt that PA would fire Tim whats-his-name, but I'm sure not going to trust an anonymous poster with the news, nor give such a poster's opinions any credence. Sorry mods if I'm not respecting my fellow writer.

The only direct information came from Hummertime (quoted above) and it doesn't make it clear whether Tim Ratliff was fired or whether he quit. I think we should suspend judgment on the issue until/when we get an actual confirmation. Although, with Publish America's draconian gag clause for employees, perhaps Tim isn't even allowed to say whether he has been fired?

brianm
12-31-2007, 11:33 PM
Although, with Publish America's draconian gag clause for employees, perhaps Tim isn't even allowed to say whether he has been fired?

Unless you're applying to the CIA, FBI or employment with an uber famous celebrity, the requirement that you sign a non-disclosure agreement should set off every warning bell in your head until you can no longer think straight.

Your first question before putting pen to that paper should be, "What the hell are they trying to hide?"

Your next action should be to run out of the building. Not walk. Bloody well run.

Christine N.
12-31-2007, 11:38 PM
Not really. Many companies have propriatary information an employee can't share. Like software and perfume companies, you can't divulge certain kinds of information, and defintely not when you're no longer employed there.

But from a publisher, yes, that would raise some questions in my mind.

JulieB
01-01-2008, 12:08 AM
Not really. Many companies have propriatary information an employee can't share. Like software and perfume companies, you can't divulge certain kinds of information, and defintely not when you're no longer employed there.

But from a publisher, yes, that would raise some questions in my mind.

While I think an NDA may be excessive for publishing, I can see some reasons for asking for discretion. A publisher may want to keep certain things under wraps while a book is in production. It's not a good idea to leak contract details before the document is signed, that sort of thing. That should fall under the umbrella of common sense, but sometimes you have to lay down rules and make people sign documents.

Still, the identity of editors at a publishing house isn't some deep, dark secret. On the contrary, it's the kind of information you can find just about anywhere.

Jerz, I need a lighter! (Really. We're making Cherries Jubilee tonight!)

BarbJ
01-01-2008, 04:52 AM
Staff are not allowed telephones except for Author Support who have to field all the incoming calls. All emails are monitored by Miranda, so there is little chance of warning a potential good author to turn and run. There is little communication between departments, unless you go out for lunch or a smoke break and commisserate with another employee away from the ever-watchful eyes of Miranda and Larry.

This, and the other info on PA employment I've read, is incredible - and sad. "Wage slave" is just a figure of speech, my innocents, and not meant to be taken literally nor submitted to.

As for the NDAs I've read from various companies, some of them contain illegalities, such as requiring current and former employees to conceal illegalities. I'll wager PA's does. If so, it's doubtful PA would try to enforce it; they're terrified of the searchlight of court proceedings. Like cockroaches.

If any PA employee is reading this, Catslave is right. Staying will only harden and corrupt you. And if you believe you're learning a darn thing about the publishing world, you're deceiving yourself. You know it. To the real publishers, working for PA carries the same weight as being published by PA, which is none whatsoever.

DaveKuzminski
01-01-2008, 05:15 AM
Just pass the word to the other PA employees, except Miranda's mother who may still work there. If you have to, put the URL to this page on slips of paper and drop them where they can be found when no one is looking. If even one other PA employee learns the truth, that might be the incentive they need to find another job while there's still a chance of keeping their employment record clean because anyone working for PA when the dime falls on PA will find their name is permanently tarnished.

CatSlave
01-01-2008, 05:23 AM
I suspect the AW forum is already a major hit with the renegade employees, the un-PAvidians.
They do exist and they are actively looking for work elsewhere.
If you mention AW at work, the reaction you get is a knowing smirk and a snort.
But it's risky to discuss anything there that is not pro-PA, just like on the PAMB.
You don't lose your password, you lose your job.

edgyllama
01-01-2008, 06:30 AM
Signing an NDA in publishing is unusual; except in certain fields, like technical writing for theegov't. Usually what you find is a quarantine; that is you keep certain things a secret until a set time. My aunt copy edited Michael J. Fox's Lucky Man autobiography and she wasn't allowed to tell anyone about it until the book was released.

In addition, when you sign an NDA, you get a copy. PA doesn't provide a copy to its hires, therefore its impossible know what it says.

DaveKuzminski
01-01-2008, 06:37 AM
In addition, when you sign an NDA, you get a copy. PA doesn't provide a copy to its hires, therefore its impossible know what it says.

That could very well make it illegal and negate any opportunity for enforcing it since the employee, in the eyes of the law, wouldn't have a copy to reference in order to avoid violating it.

benbradley
01-01-2008, 07:51 AM
...
If you haven't already, check out the threads and websites that discuss PA as a cult. You'll be stunned.
I'm stunned I haven't heard MORE talk about PA as a cult. I think I've even tried to bring up the topic with little or no success.

When I first got on AW a year ago and learned about PA, I followed the saga of this "the best thing to happen to unknown authors" thread:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=50483
and I thought from the very start, THIS is a "True Believer."

Regrettably, cult is a loaded and emotionally charged word, and many people, even those who recognize PA as a problematic organization, may argue "it can't be a cult because it's not religious" or because it doesn't have one or two other characteristics that might show up in a long list of cult characteristics. As an alternative, "high-demand, coercive group" is a phrase I've seen used, and is sort-of accurate (would "deceptive" might fit better than "coercive" for PA?), but it's a lot longer and more cumbersome than the "c" word.

Now here's something really ironic: At CatSlave's suggestion I googled:
publishamerica cult

and got to this Wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destructive_cult

The Publishamerica reference comes up not as a group the article discusses, but in the reference notes for the article, specifically this book:
22. Olsson, M.D., Peter A. (2005). Malignant Pied Pipers of Our Time: A Psychological Study of Destructive Cult Leaders from Rev. Jim Jones to Osama bin Laden. PublishAmerica, Incorporated. ISBN 141377668X.

The author's website has that book as an orderable PA book, but his more recent book is from "Greenwoon Publishing Group" that looks legit:
http://www.drpeterolsson.com/

That's a shame. I'll want to buy and read that book if he ever gets it truly published.

jamiehall
01-01-2008, 11:32 AM
That could very well make it illegal and negate any opportunity for enforcing it since the employee, in the eyes of the law, wouldn't have a copy to reference in order to avoid violating it.

It would be really cool if PA's non-disclosure agreements turned out to be unenforceable. Is there any way we can find out more about this? Because, if it is true, it could open a floodgate of good stuff.

CatSlave
01-01-2008, 11:07 PM
A clause in the PA employment contract states that either party can terminate the employer/employee relationship at will, with no notice. I don't recall if there was an additional clause stating that any disagreements had to be pursued through arbitration rather than the courts, but it seems to me there was wording to that effect. There was certainly a clause stating PA would take legal action against any disclosures of their business practices.

I am told that Maryland is one of the states that recognizes this type of "no fault" termination clause. Whether it's legal or not I can't say, but I presented certain facts to an attorney specializing in wrongful termination cases and he was not willing to take on the case.

JulieB
01-01-2008, 11:46 PM
Where I live, employees are "at will" for six months and can be terminated for any reason. I've seen that law both abused and used wisely. Still, if the fired employee can prove the termination was in violation of another employment law (such as discrimination) they may have a case if they can prove it. But that's the catch, isn't it?

Hummertime
01-02-2008, 02:07 AM
That's why PA is careful to hire only people with no publication background, but decent English skills (really), so most of the staff are very young, including Tim.

Wasn't there one copy editor, a college student if I recall correctly, who was fired after she complained on her blog that PA manuscripts were dumbing down her grasp of the English language?

I think this may have been where "PubliSHIT" made its first appearance.


Staff are not allowed telephones except for Author Support who have to field all the incoming calls.

Does PA still have author support by telephone? I thought all interface with authors and the public had been re-routed through email.


There is little communication between departments, unless you go out for lunch or a smoke break and commisserate with another employee away from the ever-watchful eyes of Miranda and Larry.

So what do the employees do for lunches and breaks?


An Acquisitons "Editor" is allowed only five minutes to review a submission for content and ten minutes maximum to fill out the database info and do several searches to see if the author submitted before, if the text contains inflammatory comments such as "Miranda, Willem, Frederick, Stooges, PublishAmerica, scam" and so forth. As long as the format is readable and it is the proper length for a story or poetry collection, they are instructed to accept the work.

So that would explain why PA did not pick up a second sting submission I sent in.

CatSlave
01-02-2008, 02:39 AM
Wasn't there one copy editor, a college student if I recall correctly, who was fired after she complained on her blog that PA manuscripts were dumbing down her grasp of the English language?

I think this may have been where "PubliSHIT" made its first appearance.
I heard that story too; it's on a couple of websites that I can't recall at the moment.


Does PA still have author support by telephone? I thought all interface with authors and the public had been re-routed through email. Author Support has the only telephones in order to take book orders and field complaints about royalty checks, etc. The "editors" and others communicate with authors only via email, and that email is monitored by Miranda. All copies of everything written are saved. You can lose your job if you are caught deleting any records. And everything about the author is recorded on a permanent spreadsheet.


So what do the employees do for lunches and breaks?
You can bring a lunch and eat in the kitchen area, or walk one block to Market Street or Patrick Street in downtown Fredneck to pick up a sandwich or something. No smoking is allowed on the premises, so you have to walk down the block off the PA property to smoke.


So that would explain why PA did not pick up a second sting submission I sent in.
Submissions are all put through a rigorous word search to spot any inflammatory text hidden in the manuscript. A blatant sting would most likely be caught, especially considering the successful stings in the past. The Travis Tea sting put PA management in a frenzy, and then they got smacked with Sharla Tann. You have to be careful to fly under the radar to get a sting through.

I have a couple of ideas in that regard, but I have not acted on them... yet. :D

Your second sting could have been traced to your first one, or you may have submitted too soon, or you may have been identified as a sting perpetrator and made it to the infamous "PA Black List." If so, you're in good company.

Long story short: new identity, new mailing address, new email, no trigger words, no obvious story about a crooked publishing company. A sting needs to be a stand-alone untraceable project and the author must not have any previous record at PA. PA checks everything very carefully - except grammar, punctuation, continuity of thought and quality of writing, of course.

Hummertime
01-02-2008, 03:25 AM
Your second sting could have been traced to your first one, or you may have submitted too soon, or you may have been identified as a sting perpetrator and made it to the infamous "PA Black List." If so, you're in good company.

Oops...let me rephrase that.

I mean, PA offered a contract to a second sting submission that I sent.

IceCreamEmpress
01-02-2008, 04:02 AM
Oops...let me rephrase that.

I mean, PA offered a contract to a second sting submission that I sent.

Ah, you meant that they didn't pick up ON it. Seeing as they picked it up for publication, and all...

Oh, prepositions!

CatSlave
01-02-2008, 04:42 AM
I mean, PA offered a contract to a second sting submission that I sent.
Woo hoo!
This is getting better and better.
Miranda will have her panties in a bunch for sure.

"Let the beatings begin..."

Anything that is subject to intense scrutiny and slows down production costs PA money in time and manpower.
Remember, their business focus is to process as many submissions and signed author contracts as possible, every day.

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-04-2008, 11:14 PM
Hummertime -
Great poetry. Can I interest you in a copy of "Crack of Death" or whatever it was that Sharla Tann wrote?

Hummertime
01-05-2008, 09:49 PM
Hummertime -
Great poetry. Can I interest you in a copy of "Crack of Death" or whatever it was that Sharla Tann wrote?

Do you have a digital version?