My Publish America article

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Marian Perera

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I hope to put this up on my website once it's done. It's still a work in progress, so if anyone has any advice or suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them. I've meant to write an article about PA for some time, but I wanted to back up my article with quotes from the PAMB to support everything I said. Needless to say, there were so many quotes that it took quite a while to go through all of them. :) Anyway, here's the article (written for people who might not know of PA, which is why it begins with a description of vanity presses). Again, all feedback is appreciated.

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The new face of vanity publishing

Vanity publishers offer writers a chance to see their books in print – for a price. This can be a sum of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, but with a vanity press, the money always flows in a green river from the writer to the publisher, with only the occasional sluggish trickle in the opposite direction. And since the publisher gets its money directly from the writers (as opposed to getting money from bookstores and readers), the publisher has no incentive to promote those writers’ books. That’s left up to the writers.

Many writers, though, realize that if a publisher requires payment before publishing a book, that implies that the publication is dependent on the writers’ financial resources, as opposed to their creative ones. In other words, it’s not that the publisher read their book and loved it, it’s just that the publisher is trading a service for money, and if the writers typed “I am a fish” three thousand times and paid enough, the publisher would put that effort into print as well. As a result, many writers know that they should not pay to be published.

That’s where PublishAmerica comes in. I wish I knew who first had the brainwave and developed the idea, but the cleverness of PublishAmerica is that they don’t ask for their money up front. That way, they foster the illusion of legitimacy, and on the PublishAmerica message board, authors reiterate that they didn’t pay to be published.

The most frequent argument I always make in defense of PA is simple: I did not have to pay to have my books published. When I go to festivals or signings and run into someone who went the iUniverse or Author House route, they usually tell me what a positive experience it was, how great their contract is, yada, yada, yada. My comeback line is "Yes, but what did it cost you to see these miracles performed?"

Unfortunately, this is like a company offering you a great free vacation where you only pay for the flight, the hotel, the meals and every pina colada you drink on the beach. The only difference between PA and AuthorHouse (another vanity publisher) is that PA doesn’t ask for its money upfront. And just as credit cards encourage excess spending by not making consumers feel that they’re losing money by handing over a piece of plastic, PA’s publish-now-pay-later strategy has worked for twenty thousand authors so far.

If all PA did was print people’s books and charge them for it later on down the line, without implying that it does anything else, that wouldn’t be unethical. But PA borrows some of the trappings of an actual publisher to deceive new authors and keep existing ones content, though under the white woolly exterior beats the wolflike heart of a vanity press. A great example of this are the advances that PA offers.
 
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Marian Perera

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Second part of the article

Didn't want to make individual posts too long.

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The quality of PA books

A. Cover art


The first thing a reader sees on a book is the cover art. Rather than spend money hiring a cover artist, PA uses stock images; they pay a relatively small annual fee to access a website with thousands of pictures and use these for book covers. And it shows. Here's an example of a cover from a PA-printed book.

CoverMayGodForget250.jpg


A search of Jupiter Images produced this picture (#24010536).

24010536.jpg


The picture has been cropped, flipped 180 degrees and surrounded with a thick red border to provide the cover design for the author's book.

As another comparison, here’s an example of a cover designed by PA and one designed by a legitimate publisher, for the same book.

51A3DH08VRL._AA240_.jpg
51JTBe7KKsL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU01_AA240_SH20_.jpg


Which one looks more appealing to you? Even a few PA authors have complained about their covers (and that’s quite a large number, when you consider how carefully PA prunes dissatisfied comments off its message board).

I am very very very very disapointed and hope they can come up with something alot better. They didnt even pay attention to the story because the Kitten is BLACK and they put a white tabby looking thing on the cover.

The cover of one PA-printed book of poetry featured a picture of Wonder Woman, while another had a PhotoShop of Orlando Bloom as a vampire. The second book had to be reissued with a new cover.

The covers of many novels also have praise or commendations from established authors who read the book. Since PA doesn’t send out review copies in advance, its novels do not have such quotes. PA novels do have cover blurbs, but these are as unedited as their books – one such blurb actually claimed that the reader would be ”gagging for more”.

B. Editing

Actual editing of manuscripts submitted to PA would require time and skill. Rather than spend money on an editor’s salary, therefore, PA publishes books unedited except for a cursory spellcheck, which often leaves the books with more errors that were in then originally. Some authors notice this.

There are grammar errors on nearly every page and things that I somehow overlooked that are glaringly obvious in the final stage. IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN STOP THIS BOOK FROM BEING RELEASED?

Other authors, however, may be too inexperienced when it comes to the technical details of spelling, grammar and punctuation to tell when there are mistakes left untouched in their mansucripts. The fact of publication counterbalances any errors – PA published their manuscripts, so their manuscripts must be good – and therefore there is nothing wrong with an inability to spell.

I have a theory on why writers are the worst spellers. We are to tied up in what we are writing about to be thinking about spelling of words… Like after I sent in my changes for my book. I re read my book for fun and caught even more problems!!! And I read my book very thoughtfull before I sent in changes. So dont worry about your spelling. I take pride in not being able to spell!!!!

A subsequent reply to that post is even more revealing.

If you want an editor to toss your copy aside very quickly just submit something filled with errors.

Since PA did not toss her copy aside very quickly, but instead published it, there must not be any editors at PA. This is probably why another author decided to pay for his next book to be edited.

i think next time...if there is a next time i will pay someone to edit it. i really didnt have the skill or patience.

Two things about the above quote strike me as being unfortunate. Firstly, the author doesn’t choose to gain the skill and patience required to edit his work. Secondly, he’s going to spend money to hire the services of an editor (hopefully a legitimate one). He’s still a rarity among PA authors, though. Authors who mention mistakes in manuscripts on the PAMB are often told that what’s important is the story, not the spelling or grammar.

My grammar may not be perfect, I didn’t get an editor. But it’s about the story and how it touches someone. How it affects the person reading it. My cousin read my book and said it was best book she ever read, mind you she’s eleven but she asked my aunt where she could find more books like that.

Other authors are more realistic about the effects of an unedited book.

I have published with PA for almost 8 years and the worst response I have received is that quality control is not high. This makes it hard to place books in stores and to gain attention in various places.

C. Quality of the book

The physical quality of PA-published books has also been called into question.

The last time I wrote on the message board about my problem with curling book covers, my message got pulled and I suspect that this one will be deleted as well.

I ordered and paid for 200 copies of my book. The 200 copies I received had poor quality book covers that curl. I am embarrassed to sell them and PA ought to be embarrassed for printing such poor quality covers. I have asked to get out of my contract, PA says they've corrected the problem but I am still left with a supply of books with inferior curling covers.

As the author predicted, her post was deleted, so the link is to an AW post that quoted hers. Her subsequent post was deleted as well.

The two author copies I received are fine, the covers do not curl...in fact when they arrived, I was very happy with them. However, the 200 copies I paid for have a lighter cover, much thinner than the covers of the author copies… One person actually wrote to me after purchasing my book in a bookstore to inform me that the bookstore sold him the book at a 20% discount because of the curling cover.

Sounds like a bait-and-switch to me. This isn’t likely to cause problems with the vast majority of PA-published books, though, since most of them do not end up in bookstores.

D. Price

Books from PA are overpriced compared to those from legitimate publishers. As an example, a paperback book of poetry that’s 136 pages is priced at $19.95. I grabbed the nearest paperback off my bookshelf for comparison purposes. That turned out to be Black Ice by Anne Stuart, published by Mira and priced at $6.99 – for 374 pages. Here’s another example, where the PA author does the math.

Mine retail for $14.95 and I get 50% discount if I order 70, it used to be 50, but they changed it for me this time, I guess because the book costs more, and they (PA) can recover the cost of printing my book, anyway, it was 50 that's $373.00 and for 70 that's $522.00. I don't know about any of you, but I don't have that much extra cash lying around.

And here’s another.

I was told the price of my first Children's book is 19.95.

I thought that was kind of high for an 18page picture book.

PA loyalists justify the high price by claiming that people will pay more for quality. But if you saw two books, one competitively priced and one that was identical except for a cost two or even three times higher, which one would you be more likely to buy? And that’s assuming that the books are identical, which is a huge assumption when PA’s habit of cutting corners regarding cover art and editing is taken into account. So what reason do bookstores have to order these books?

Borders would have shelved it if they could have received a better discount. All stores are aghast at the price, $24.95, and shake their heads in wonder that I have sold any at all.

The author often ends up buying the books from PA and selling them to the stores at a reduced cost, just to get the books on the shelves.

I agree that the prices are far higher than those YA novels that compare (roughly) to mine. However I have ordered additional copies in spite of it...what else can I do?… I had to drop the price to those who stock them…

Legitimate publishers sell books to bookstores and to readers. The author is never a primary buyer. PA, on the other hand, actively targets its authors while dissuading bookstores and readers. Which brings me to my next point…
 
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DwayneA

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We already know about Publish America's bad reputation. I've heard much complaints about it in the past. I had my first book published by them, what a mistake!
 

Mel

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I wouldn't mind seeing something about their use of being a "Traditional" publisher. That word irritates me, since they use it as if that's what all legitimate commercial publishers are, when, in fact, PA created the term.

Otherwise, I think your article is well thought out and covers the issues accurately.

Waiting to read the next part.

Well done, Queen of Swords!
 

jamiehall

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If you want a cover of J.H. Sweet's book without amazon.com's annoying "search inside" graphic sitting on top, you can go to here, then click on the cover, then when the window pops up, right-click on the picture to save it, then resize it to a smaller size in any image editing program.
 

IceCreamEmpress

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’m willing to bet that if any PA author worked for a week teaching algebra, or flipping burgers, or flying an aircraft, and was subsequently paid $1 for it, there would be lawsuits. Moreover, that author would never work for such a company again. But when it comes to the product of more than a week’s work (one PA author actually took twice that time to write a book)

This made me laugh, but it's the kind of cheap shot that PA authors could seize on to brush off the whole thing. Sadly, people are entrusting the works they've spent years on to PA. :(
 

Marian Perera

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Why bookstores do not buy from PublishAmerica

If PA isn’t getting money upfront from authors and isn’t making it from the books it publishes, how does it prosper? Simple. Once authors sign contracts with PA, they’ll get two free copies of their book – but two isn’t enough. They’ll want their family and friends and coworkers to have copies too, and most of the time, they’ll want bookstores to stock their book as well. That’s when they find out that PA was never set up to sell books to stores.

No distributors. No salesforce. No marketing. No promotion.

PA claims to send out press releases with the publication of a book, but these are generic, poorly written, do not come with a free review copy of the book and contain almost as much publicity for the company as for the book. As a result, they result in few if any sales or orders. PA also asks authors to provide a list of up to a hundred family members and friends who will be sent a similar release, but if these relatives and friends try to order directly from the company, they may run into problems. Firstly, PA does not have a toll-free number. In a post on the PublishAmerica message board (PAMB), a PA representative admitted that no one was in the office to answer their single phone line over the four days of the Thanksgiving holiday. PA has also failed to deliver books to customers who buy directly from it.

I have a customer that contacted me through my email because they went to the PA website to purchase my book and they got an order number and everything but it has been over 6 weeks since the order was placed, they have called and left messages… they are very upset and are saying that it is a fraud.

Some customers or potential customers aren’t even able to leave messages.

My book is finally in print and I received one of those e-mails from PA about the 50% off. I wanted to grab a few to give out for christmas presents, but when I called, it went to the answering machine and the message box was full. Does anyone know that is a normal thing or if there is another way to buy them?

The replies on the PAMB seemed to take this for granted, since when the company offers a half-off discount, the authors will naturally take advantage of it and flood the inbox with messages. But the overall impression this gives of PA is not one of professionality, and PA's website doesn't help in this regard. Although it features an online bookstore, the website is often down, despite claims from PA that this never happens.

And when bookstores do get through unanswered phones and unchecked messages to place orders, PA doesn’t prove to be reliable as a supplier either.

What is up with bookstores saying books will arrive in such and such a time and never does!

Sometimes PA flat-out refuses to allow its books to be stocked in certain stores, claiming copyright concerns or other excuses. This is an even worse let-down for authors who might have spent a lot of time and effort persuading these stores to contact PA.

Hopeful author said:
I sent the emails to PA because they informed me at one time that they "would" send a book for review IF the distributor requested it themselves.

Now PA turned down every distributor who wanted to review my book. I'm always told that PA doesn't think at this time that it's beneficial to PA or the author to deal with them.

There are only two circumstances under which it would not be beneficial to a publisher to have its books in Wal-Mart. Firstly, this isn’t a good idea if the publisher is not set up to sell books to distributors, who might cause a lot more problems than a few easily deleted posts on a message board if the books weren’t delivered in time. Or who might have more legal muscle behind them than the majority of PA authors do. Secondly, this isn’t a good idea if the publisher makes its money by selling directly to authors, and therefore doesn’t need to solicit sales elsewhere.

PublishAmerica said:
Thank you for your interest in the marketing and promotion of your book. We review many different options for our books. As the rights holder to your title, we do not participate Anderson or Walmart Stores due to copyright concerns.

Odd how the all the other publishers whose books are stocked in Wal-Mart aren’t worried about copyright. The end result of all this is that most bookstores do not order from PA, resulting in a lot of effort on the part of PA authors to get their books on the shelves.

I received the same brochure from Borders which specifically lists PublishAmerica books as books they will not order. They are taking mine on consignment for the signing itself. That took a lot of talking on my part.

So after PA authors go to the effort of writing a book, they have to persuade or plead with stores to carry their books.

In California, my son went to a book store, and begged them to carry a few of my books, and they ordered 2 or three. But, he had to beg them.

And these are the legitimate efforts. Posts on the PAMB suggest less ethical tactics such as secretly slipping a copy of one’s book onto the bestseller racks – a strategy which is apt to backfire, since even if a customer decides to buy such a book, it won’t be in the store’s computer, so they won’t be able to complete the transaction. An even more deceptive suggestion was to create a publicist – basically, promote your book yourself, but pretend to be your publicist.

None of these are likely to succeed, either in the short term or the long run, because it’s difficult for a book to sell when the publisher doesn’t just fail to promote the book but actively sabotages any chance it might have had. Even when stores do stock books published by PA, these books are unlikely to be given choice spots in the stores.

While my books are stocked, they are not placed on the "summer read" counters or "newest in paper" sections that catch the eye.

Actual publishers will pay for their books to be placed at these eye-catching locations because they know they’ll recover the advertising money from sales. PA doesn’t pay for this because it’s already recovered the printing costs and more from authors buying the books to place on consignment with bookstores. This gives PA less incentive (or no incentive at all) to make sure books are available to bookstores and accessible online.

The lesson here is...don't assume that PA is automatically sending new releases to book distributors. Check online and, after a reasonable amount of time has lapsed and your book title is not listed, follow up with the book distributor and with PA.

As of this date, my book is not listed online with Chapters.indigo.ca

This thread was deleted from the PAMB. To answer the author, it doesn’t matter to PA whether her book is listed at Chapters or not, because PA has never been in the business of selling books to bookstores. PA prefers to sell to its own authors. That’s why it gives them the largest discounts.

*********************************************

Next part will deal with the discounts.
 
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Marian Perera

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Oh, yes, I second that!

I hadn't thought of that, but it's a good idea. I was a bit worried that the article was too long, but there's just so much to say about PA (especially from its own authors). Besides, it's not the length that matters, it's how you use it, as Harry said to Lord Voldemort about his wand. ;)
 

Marian Perera

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This made me laugh, but it's the kind of cheap shot that PA authors could seize on to brush off the whole thing.

You know, you're right. I do want to focus on some of the bizarre statements and practices that are the norm in PAworld, and writing a book in two weeks is one of them, but I should phrase such commentary in such a way that it doesn't turn off either the casual reader or a PA author who might be on the fence about their publisher. A snarky jab is not the way to go. Thanks for pointing this out, and I'll keep it in mind when editing the article.
 

Marian Perera

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I wouldn't mind seeing something about their use of being a "Traditional" publisher. That word irritates me, since they use it as if that's what all legitimate commercial publishers are, when, in fact, PA created the term.

Thanks for the feedback and the compliments! :) I'll have a wrapup/conclusion at the end, and one of the points I want to make or reiterate is that there is nothing wrong with being a vanity press. But there is something very wrong with a vanity press that tries to pass itself off as an actual publisher to sucker in potential victims. PA's coining of the term "traditional publisher" is part of the con act, so I'll mention that too.
 

Marian Perera

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Discounts and returns

Publishers offer sizable discounts to bookstores and also accept the return of books which aren’t sold. Both of these practices, which induce stores to order books, would be a disaster to PA, which simply isn’t set up to deal with anyone except authors. A dissatisfied store, after all, isn’t likely to be as easily controlled or intimidated as an author who’s bound by the restrictive terms of the contract.

So PA offers the best discounts to its authors. Bookstores get a 5 to 10% discount when they order books from PA (and any unsold books cost them an extra 10% restocking fee), but authors get 50% on their first shipment. To me, that’s a fairly clear sign to whom PA wants to appeal. Sometimes PA claims to offer a better discount, but it rarely if ever makes good on these promises.

PA Author Support has emailed me that it has been 30-50% for the past six months but… when [bookstore managers] turn their computers towards you, as they have me also, in 5 different stores, and say: "See for yourself, its 5%" who am I gonna believe.

As well as its initial favorable discount to authors, PA also offers further half-off sales at times like Christmas - authors will need plenty of books to give as presents. Unfortunately they won't be paid royalties on the books they buy from PA. And then there’s the matter of returns. Bookstores minimize their losses by returning unsold books to publishers, but until recently, PA books were not returnable. PA eventually seemed to realize that it had to at least pretend to compete with publishers if it claimed to be one, so authors were told that their books would be made returnable. Except that they have to contact PA to ensure that this change is applied to their books. And PA finds other ways to make sure that their authors will be their primary customers.

I had a small bookstore try to stock my book and when they called to order it she had to purchase a minimum of 15 books in order to avoid shipping costs and the discount was only $1. Shipping costs would eat all profits. She told me to get in touch with her when the book becomes more readily available.

Since bookstores have no inducement to deal with PA, authors often end up buying boxes of their own books if they want to see these books on the shelves. They then offer these books to stores on consignment so the stores don’t have to shoulder the financial risk that should be run by the publisher and which is run by PA authors instead. If they break even on sales, they’re lucky.

I ordered fifteen of my book <title> and offered them to friends at work at the dicounted price. What I paid for them plus shipping. All fifteen books sold in the first day. I was very thriiled. My question is, if PA can make a profit by offering us the books at a reduced rate why not lower the price of our books so we can be more competive with the competition?

PA isn't competing with other publishers. PA has its own niche selling books to its authors, most of whom will pay the high prices charged for those books. This author is delighted with the result, even though he made no profit, so why should PA change anything?

PA will make a big profit by charging authors big bucks for their own books, therefore they do so. Not all authors are so happy, though.

I contacted Barnes and Noble about having a book signing for my newest book, XXXXX. They told me they didn't stock PublishAmerica books, they are not returnable, they said they had dealt with PA books before and they could not return them.

This is a link to a thread quoting the PA author’s post, which was deleted by the PAMB's moderator. PA doesn’t want reality to scare off any current or potential victims, though most of them come into contact with it, even if they don’t negotiate with the bookstores themselves.

I had a local distributor who wanted to solicit etc, for me to borders, etc, but when they contacted PA, they were told that they had to pay upfront and the discount wasnt enough that the company could make any money themselves. So, I lost out..He told me if I buy them, then he will distribute for me..They said that they've never had to pay up front from a publishing company before.

PA’s canned response to complaints like this on their message board is that the bookstore managers are wrong, or the retailers’ databases are wrong, or the author is wrong, or all three. But such claims from PA make no difference to bookstores. Some will stock books by local authors, especially if the authors persuade them to do so, but getting the books into stores nationwide is another matter. And sometimes even local stores will refuse.

The day I got my first book, I was so happy...I went up to my local B&N in the woodlands and she told me next time, get another publisher..She even went and got a directory for me to look up other small publishers. I was so humilated that I cried.

This quote was removed from the PAMB. It’s too dangerous, too painful to read and too true.

PA’s primary market is its own authors, and its secondary market takes the form of the author’s family and friends. The author is asked to supply PA with a list of their relatives and associates who will receive a marketing spiel (since these are family members and friends, they will hopefully not balk at paying high prices for their loved one’s book). Best of all, the author won’t have to turn any cartwheels to get them to buy the book. Which leads me to my next point, the promotional and marketing efforts of PA authors.
 
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I believe PA's most recent Christmas "offering" to the authors included paying royalties for any books purchased during their Christmas special (purchased before the deadline date), which would be paid by the end of the year. Hot damn! Only for Christmas orders, though. Regular royalties will be paid on the usual twice-a-year schedule.

Next they'll be offering green stamps...
 
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Marian Perera

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Publicity and marketing for PA books

It won’t be too difficult to persuade your family to buy the book you’ve just published, even if that book is priced at $19.95 and poorly edited and has a clip-art cover. What’s difficult is convincing a stranger to buy such a book, especially when that person can’t check the book out at the library first. The Library of Congress doesn’t catalog vanity-published books, so libraries have to catalog such books themselves and few of them will do so. The potential customer can’t even read a few pages of the book on Amazon.com, since PA isn’t going to send a free copy of the book to Amazon for its “Search Inside” program.

A few weeks ago, I inquired about the "Look Inside" program offered by Amazon. I sent an e-mail to PA asking if we are permitted to participate in this. It seemed like it would be fairly benign and the feature might actually help us sell books. This is the response I got:

...Thank you for your e-mail. Per the contract, we own the print rights to the book, and do not participate in the Google or Amazon search programs due to copyright concerns. Have a nice day.

Even if a PA book is well-written, free of errors, has a beautiful cover and is reasonably priced, it won’t receive any of the publicity that an actual publisher could give it, and that, more than anything else, will keep its sales low.

So PA authors try to compensate for this by going to extraordinary – and costly – lengths to publicize their books. The PAMB is a regular source of advice on this. Authors have suggested putting or have actually put their books’ covers, titles or websites on bookmarks, stickers, business cards, fliers, mouse pads, T-shirts, tote bags, magnets, posters, tablecloths, Kleenex boxes, hats, postage stamps, individual wrappings of chocolates, license plates, tiles, bumper stickers and vinyl lettering on cars– “an elegant alternative to bumper stickers”.

Individually, none of these efforts will break the bank, and many successful authors may also give out bookmarks at signings. However, put together, these items can add up to a sizeable amount and are unlikely to result in the kind of sales that will justify their expense. And some of the efforts at publicity are simply annoying.

when someone sends out an email to a list of people without blind copying, then those email addresses are available to you… I just send a message to people on the email list and introduce myself as an author, give the name of my book, and Web site address. It's all about networking.

No, it’s all about spamming. I rarely open unsolicited emails from people whom I don’t personally know, and I’m even less likely to buy anything that’s advertised in this way. A large number of email addresses targeted may seem promising at first, but is unlikely to result in many sales.

I can't figure out why I am on 10 websites and I did a 4000 email subscriber campaign and only received $8.

Promotion and marketing isn’t a responsibility that authors published by legitimate publishers have to assume. Publishers send catalogs to books and libraries; PA sends press releases to an author’s friends and family. Publishers send copies to reviewers in advance of the release date, to increase publicity; PA doesn’t. The cost of all this can be considerable; PA authors might not pay to be published, but they’ll pay for everything else, from the books they sell to the promotional efforts that make people aware of these books’ existence. And how much does this all add up to?
 
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Marian Perera

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And how much does this all add up to?

Copyright registration : $45.

Too bad that PA doesn't automatically have it entered. I would have had to pay $100 at AuthorHouse for that. Gosh. $45 is not that bad, if you can afford it.

Fliers : $7 to $8

I just wanted to share that I, with the help of my family, handed out over 900 fliers on the 4th of July. I am trying to take advantage of the summer festivals and parades to promote my book. However, my book will not be out until the end of August, but my name is getting out there.

Bumper sticker : $5.

i just put a bumper sticker of my website on my van

IT ONLY COST 5 DOLLORS ON LINE

Poster : $15 to $20.

My husband is a professional photographer. Anyone interested in sending their bookcover to me in pdf. file for a poster for your booksignings, please email me. The posters would be 13 x19 in size. The cost ~$15-20 each.

Special stamps : 2-9 per sheet, $16.99

I wanted to share what I think would be a really, really awesome promotional idea. www.photostamps.com turns your photos into real postage stamps. Now, the idea is that you put your book cover images on postage stamps and mail them everywhere!

Ordinary stamps : $143.50

I have gone on the net, gotten the addesses of Borders Books and Barnes&Nobles and sent letters to over 350 stores, asking them to carry my book...

Personalized M&Ms, one bag : $11.99

Plus there is a bowl of M&M's that my wife had personalized with the name of my book on each one.

Personalized license plate : $35.00 + shipping

If you check out www.autoplates.com, you can purchase a license plate with your custom artwork and wording on it.

Personalized Kleenex box : $4.99

just thought I would share this. you can get custom kleenex boxes made pretty cheap. (Only $4.99 USD + shipping)
I did.
might look cool as a compliment to all your other promo items on your signing table.

Book festival : $50

My next book signing was at a Book Festival... I sold seven books, one less than the person who sold the most (eight books) in an eight hour day for which I paid $50.00 for the privilege.

Press release : $139.99

I used www.send2press.com There is a fee, but I wanted to try everything I could to get the word out.

Having your book accepted by a legitimate publisher so you won’t go through any of this : priceless.
 
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Scribhneoir

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I think you should add in the cost of the books the PA authors have to buy in order to have something to sell at these fairs, festivals, flea markets, and signings they manage to arrange.
 

Jersey Chick

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Looks good so far :D

You might want to add (unless you did and I missed it - as I'm reading around Christmas present wrapping and cleaning - bah humbug ;)) that PA has admitted their main focus is selling to the author and not bookstores. It's hard for anyone to argue about the article being a cheap shot at PA in that case.

I'm waiting for the next section :D
 

Marian Perera

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Next part of the article

Jersey, do you have a link to that quote where PA admits that its primary targets are its own authors? I'll add that when I edit the article.

**************************************************

Buying your own books

Self-publishing and vanity publishing have this much in common. Since whichever company prints the books isn’t going to sell them, that becomes the authors’ job. And to get a sufficient supply of the books to sell, the authors have to buy them.

I will leave a book and a letter at every TV and radio station in my home town. Book marks and business cards just aren't enough.

For PA authors, the cost arrives so far down the line that it doesn’t scare them off. If PA made it clear before offering a contract that the authors would have to pay in the three- or four-figure range to get the books to readers and stores, most people would think twice about signing. It would be evident that PA was a vanity press. But instead, new authors sign the contract, enjoy their two free books and a warm welcome on the message board, and only gradually realize that they are going to be out of pocket to fulfil their dream. By that time, they’ve been taught that this is the norm for PA authors (they may even have been told that this is the norm for any authors except J. K. Rowling and Stephen King). And they have no other choice if they want to distribute their books. So they pay. They pay well.

I have not made back all of the money I paid out to buy the books (about $1500) yet.

They’re in too deep at this point. It’s either abandon the book they’ve poured their heart into, give up on a dream – or buy the books, buy the promotional materials and try to make a success out of it. Most of them opt for the latter. Their determination will make up for the lack of publicity and distribution and financial compensation. Their enthusiasm will overcome the high price and unproven quality of their product. Their hopes are fueled by every self-publishing success out there, though like the tales of lottery winners, such stories don’t focus on the people who gambled against the odds and lost. And the PAMB discourages any such warnings, even when authors make it clear how much money they have spent.

I bought as many as I could afford. Looking back, that cost me close to a thousand dollars… It came to a time where I could not justify the purchase because I gave most of them away, hoping that someone would really love what I wrote.

Losing money in this way is not unusual. Many PA authors have to lower the prices of their books to encourage sales.

I will probably purchase more books to sell from P.A. they have been retailing for 12.95 per book, and I've been selling them for 10.00 does that sound fair?

For those without the cash to spend or the credit cards to max out, PA authors suggest selling copies of the book beforehand, collecting the money first and using that to pay for the order. But would you hand over money to a stranger who said they would give you a book two weeks from now? These are the kind of sales that can be made only to a family, a church community or co-workers, so they’re unlikely to break out of the two-digit range. And even if you have the money, you may find that you’ve spent more than you intended to do.

Okay. I took advantage of the author sale that ended Oct. 1. I was going to order only 5 books at the 40% off price. I was told that if I raised my order to 15 then I would get them at 50% off. When I got my bill it said that I bought the 15 books at the retail price of my book which is 14.95 each. How do I get this mess straightened out?

What’s unfortunate about this is that even if PA deliberately cheats an author who pays, what, $224.25 plus shipping for their books, the author doesn’t have much legal recourse. The contract they signed specifies that such disputes have to be resolved by third-party arbitration – PA doesn’t want to end up in a courtroom. The Better Business Bureau isn’t going to take this into account either, because it considers an author buying his own books from a publisher to be a business-to-business transaction. That’s one reason PA encourages these sales.

Many PA authors will lose money. But there are more intangible costs, which authors will pay when they stop being authors and start being salespeople.
 
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pink lily

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Good work QoS, I hope you're planning on submitting this article to a magazine for publication.
 

Marian Perera

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Good work QoS, I hope you're planning on submitting this article to a magazine for publication.

Thanks! I didn't think any magazine would want to pay for something that had already been put up on the web (especially in a non-private forum), so I was just going to put the article on my website once it was done.
 

Happy Thanksgiving

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