I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time. Its fun to make up stories and spend the effort putting them down. Unfortunately, anyone can do it. The computer has enabled the monkeys to bang out the works of Shakespeare, but unfortunately they produce a lot of crap along the way. The resulting glut of easily typed literature makes it hard to get someone to publish a book. Most publishing companies want you to have an agent. A lot of agents want you to have been published already, before they will take you on as a client. What?
I’ve written several novel-length books, and after going back and reading them later, determined they need some work. While I am writing, it seems the brain will fill in some details, so I neglect to put them in. Six months later, after the creative brain has forgotten the details, and I’m re-reading the thing, my brain says “Hey it would have been nice if you included…”.
So maybe I’m not one of the good monkeys. Maybe I suck after all, and instead of writing ‘wherefore art thou Romeo?’, I’m just here to bang on the keys and occasionally fling some poo at management. So I send off my samples and wait for the “You Suck” rejection letters and keep them in a book. Once I have enough to wallpaper the room my computer sits in, I’ll buy the paste. I’m getting close.
Enter: Publish America
A friend at work was touting his book one day, and I asked how he got it published. He mentioned this company, Publish America. He said he sold a few hundred books through them. I thought to myself (after reading a few pages) “Wow – this company sounds good, and I certainly write this well.”
I found them on the internet and read their press, and decided to submit my query letter.
A query – for those of you who don’t know – is generally a paragraph about the author, and a paragraph about the book – much like what you would read on the back of the book on the shelf.
The day after I emailed my query, the company requested sample chapters. I thought I was doing very well, and sent them by email.
Three days later I get The Call; “We want to publish your book”.
Wow! What? From Query letter to “Yes!” in a week? From my experience, it takes weeks just to get people to LOOK at your book. There’s no way someone had time to actually read the sample chapters… but, I was blinded by the promise of seeing my book in print.
So – I sent everything off, got a contract, and returned it with all the miscellany they asked for. I was soon presented with cover art, had to write my own bio and back-of-the-book blurb, and waited. A few weeks later I received my “author’s proof”.
So – There’s my book. As far as I know, the only copy printed since November of 2010, likely the only copy in existence. I’ll autograph it, if you want to buy it. It’s sort of a chick-lit book written for a certain crowd, the first “targeted audience” I tried writing for. My other books were really just ones I wanted to write – without an audience in mind.
Why is it the only copy sold? Does it suck that bad?
And why do I feel scammed?
This is why: Publish America pushes themselves off as a “real” publishing company. I had the mistaken belief they would print small runs of my book, and try to get them in bookstores. They said I would have to do a lot of legwork, and that my books would be available at a discount to me.
However, I didn’t know that I would be doing ALL the legwork, and that the ONLY way to get a book printed would be to order it myself. Sure, it’s available on Amazon.Com – for the low price of $30. I don’t recall this being a textbook – but I guess that’s how they price books. This is for a softcover book… by an unknown author. Steven King doesn’t get $30 for his new hardcovers.
Every day I get bombarded by e-mails, offing my book to me at lower prices. Order 5, get 5 free. $8.99 each – for the next 12 hours… blah blah blah. They also offer to do lots of stuff for you. They will put your book on display at book shows, convert it to a Kindle e-book, send free copies to movie studios, etc., all for a price, or a book order. Do I really think John Travolta might read my book, if I order 12 copies for myself? Who knows…If I wanted to go into the book distributing business, I would have gone to Harvard.
I told them I really wasn’t happy with the way this whole thing has worked out, and asked them to let my book out of it’s contract. They will – for a price. Until then, for the next 6.5 years, they own it, and all the non-revenue it will generate.
I’ve looked them up since I was “published” – and it seems my opinions are NOT in the minority. There are a great many people who have been suckered into going with this company. I’m sure that some people have sold books. After all, PA wouldn’t make money if books didn’t sell. But if you want to self-publish, there are far easier ways to go about it, and you still own your work. Essentially this is a vanity self-publishing company, wrapped up with a nice website, promises, and sales pitch.
Oh yeah – Mark Abbot is just a pen name, if you were wondering.
If you want to know more about the book, just buy it. Amazon takes Visa… I feel like just putting the text online, but I don’t feel like getting sued for distributing something I wrote, so I better not.