The book industry trade publication Publishers Weekly is outing Publish America as the scam we all know that it is… it seemed only the desperate, aspiring authors who "sold" their books to the publisher couldn’t see it.
A group of authors wronged by the vanity press have mounted a grassroots campaign to garner media scrutiny of Publish America’s business practices.
Led by Dee Power and Rebecca Easton, the authors’ group is mounting a campaign to alert the media about PA. A release with more than 100 e-mail addresses of aggrieved authors was recently sent to the press, and, after a story ran in PW NewsLine last week, PW heard from more troubled authors. The enterprise, said authors, is in many ways worse than a vanity publisher, because of how the house positions itself. "If they would just say, buy your books up front and pay X amount and we’ll give you X, Y and Z, then that would be one thing," said author Kate St. Amour, who wrote a spiritual thriller called Bare Bones. "But they don’t tell you those things when you sign up with them."
The authors said the goal is as much public awareness as restitution. "We hope to spare other people, perhaps thousands, the frustration and problems we’ve had with this deceptive company," Power said in her letter.
The authors allege that Publish America doesn’t edit the books they publish, they don’t pay royalties, and they make little or no effort to get their books into actual bookstores. The article says that Publish America doesn’t charge for printing the books, but they do require authors to provide a list of friends and family, which the company then hits on hard to buy books.
I don’t remember Penguin/Putnam asking me for my Christmas card list…
Publish America’s Executive Director Miranda Prather told PW that all the claims against the company are unfounded and maintained the fiction that they are a "traditional publisher."
As for marketing to the author, Prather said, there’s "no pressure on our authors to buy their books. That would make us a vanity press." She declined to identify the company’s CEO and, unlike a traditional house, said that the company does not edit for content, only for grammar and spelling.
Uh-huh. Most "traditional publishers" aren’t shy about identifying their CEO…nor do they take out half-page ads in the New York Times courting authors to sign with them and make their dreams come true. But hey, what do I know?
UPDATE: More on "A Writer’s Life" about PublishAmerica: