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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    --"We reject 80% of submissions."

    Ha! One of the authors on this board, Kevin Yarbrough, wrote 30 pages, then copied those same 30 pages over and over until it was book-length, sent it in, and it was happily approved. Then the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America pulled a super stunt: They got together to write the worst book in existence (boy, did they ever) under the name Travis Tea, and it, too, was happily accepted and received much media attention-- see http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire2005/i...ory=0&id=30389 and http://www.lisamaliga.com/AtlantaNig...gelesTimes.htm.

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

    Other miscellaneous reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I hope this information is helpful.
    Marcella A Smith
    Director Small Press & Vendor Relations
    Barnes & Noble, Inc
    122 Fifth Avenue
    New York, NY 10011
    Last edited by JennaGlatzer; 04-07-2005 at 10:14 AM.
    I am no longer here. If you'd like to visit me, please find me at www.jennaglatzer.com or on Facebook. Thanks!

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