Can I rant? Can I whine and complain and bitch to you guys? Well, ready or not, here goes.
Very few things can make me angry, like really angry, especially in this business. Really bad query letters? They make me laugh. Rude authors? They're a dime a dozen. Receiving no reply for MONTHS at a time? Frustrating, but not the end of the world.
PublishAmerica, on the other hand, makes me MAD. These guys are not just crooks, they're assholes. They're scam artists, they're dirt bags, and just all around horrible people. They have no problem crushing the dreams of writers, taking their money, locking them into contracts. And then, if you dare ruffle a feather or demand your rights back, BAM, they'll sue you for every penny you're worth.
There is NOTHING redeemable about this company and the people in it.
PA's slogan is "We treat authors the old fashion way-- we pay them" and nothing could be further from the truth. The number ONE rule of publishing is, if you are taking the traditional publishing route, you should pay ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR JOURNEY. Your agent's pay will be taken out of your advance/royalties. They don't see a penny before your book is sold. Publishers shouldn't be taking any money from you, either. Quite the opposite-- they're buying your book from you. Their job is to back you up, and help promote the book. The amount the publishing house puts into promoting your book is THEIR choice. They chose that amount based on their prediction of book sales. You giving them money will not make that promotion budget go up.
PublishAmerica's website alone makes me mad. It's poorly done, for one. For another, head to the online bookstore.
See what we have there? $69 dollars and YOUR BOOK "will be submitted to our print and distribution partners for Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Spain. Your book will also be prominently displayed at the Guadalajara Book Fair which will be attended by our partners as well."
Not good enough for you? Try this one on for size: For $29 dollars, "We'll let the president, John Boehner, Harry Reid and your local Congressman, AND your local TV, know."
WOW. You're going to get MY BOOK to the PRESIDENT? And all I have to do is pay $29?
$89 for "Your book will be displayed and promoted in our booth, immediately visible for all visitors. We will send you a photo, live from Germany, that will show your book at the Fair, for your home hall of fame."
OH BUT IT GETS BETTER. Because under all these "promotions" we get this baby: "This is an introductory offer. Prices will go up after this week."
THAT'S RIGHT. PRICES WILL GO UP. ACT NOW.
PublishAmerica is a SCAM. All they do is force you to hawk over your cash so they can bind your manuscript and sell it back to you. Yet they deny, deny, deny that they are vanity publisher. They SAY they put books in bookstores, yet the only place we can actually find these books (except on rare occaions) is the PA online bookstore. The worst part is these guys have no restraint. They aren't a quiet publishing scam, they go in for the BIG ONES.
Recently, PA stated that for only $49 they would get your manuscript to JK Rowling.
These guys are batshit CRAZY, I tell you. Of course, Rowling's lawyer's retaliated with a silent cease and desist notice. PA shot back with a cease and desist of their own.
PA stated this in their return cease and desist: "First, PA has done nothing to harass your client or invade her privacy. The simple fact is that your client’s Edinburgh residence is public knowledge; she even publicizes this fact on her own website!!! Accordingly, PA did nothing wrong by repeating that fact in its promotion. If she wants to keep her residence private, perhaps she should not publicize that fact."
So it's all right to lie and say you can get a manuscript to JK Rowling because her address is public knowledge? Did PA intend to walk up to her doorstep, ring the bell and demand she read the manuscripts? They say they used the address because it is "public knowledge" and "By revealing only well known information about your client that is generally available to the public, PA specifically contradicted the impression that it has some direct line of access to your client."
So what they're saying, is DESPITE the fact that their promotion stated that they would get the book to Rowling ("bring your book to the attention of Harry Potter’s author next week while our delegation is in her hometown, and ask her to read it and to tell us and you what she thinks.”) they then double back and say the wording contradicts itself, saying only that they would be in the same town as Rowling. Therefore, if the author's book didn't make it to Rowling, they can simply put it down as unfortunate "happenstance."
The promotion has since been taken off their website, but the promotion to get your book to the president still stands.
WHY can PublishAmerica get away with this? Because their lawyers are good, their contracts are airtight, and they're not afraid to be bold and fight to destroy writer's dreams.
I really hope, hope, HOPE that one day, they fuck up. Hear that, PA? I hope you keep pushing the boundaries, keep pissing off authors like Rowling. Because someone needs to sue the pants off them and win. This company needs to COME DOWN.
But until that time, writers have to learn to protect themselves. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do your research. It is of VITAL IMPORTANCE that you know what you're getting into when you query agents or publishers. There are scam artists out there, like PublishAmerica, but there are also just plain bad agents. You wouldn't buy a house or a car or go to Hawaii without knowing what you're getting into. UNDERSTAND the business, at least for what stage you're at.
There are many great resources for writers out there. Predators and Editors is one, which lists agents, agencies and publishers alike, telling you who has sold, who's recieved bad reviews, and who are really the star players. More great ones are Query Tracker and Agent Query. I used Agent Query RELIGIOUSLY when I was querying. Great resource. We also have Absolute Write, which is just an all around amazing place to be. If you're unsure about an agent, check our if they're part of AAR or AAA(UK).
If you want to see more personal horror stories from authors who have been screwed over by PublishAmerica, then look here.
Otherwise, I think I've spammed all of you with links enough for today.
Remember Writers: The most important thing is for you to be informed. This is YOUR career, so you'd better know what you're doing.