This intrigued me. Why? Because Wheeler is a very successful author, with dozens of well-respected, Spur-Award-winning westerns from major publishers to his credit. And he’s got several new hardcovers coming from St. Martin’s/Forge as well as another series of paperbacks from Pinnacle Books.
He certainly doesn’t fit the profile of a typical Publish America customer/author. So, given the recent controversy surrounding the company, I asked him about his experiences with the company. Here is what he said:
I was attracted to PublishAmerica because there is no initial fee and they even offer a one-dollar advance, thus providing some semblance of a trade publisher.
It was a grave mistake. They make their profit not by marketing the books but by gouging the authors. The shallow 20 percent discount, plus inflated shipping charges (around $5 per book), meant that I paid more than the list price of the novel unless I ordered very large quantities. Ditto retailers. A twenty percent discount for retailers, plus inflated shipping meant that no bookseller would stock the book. (That is why you find on-line retailers adding a surcharge.)
They are not in business to sell books to the public; they sell printing services and books to the amateur authors who come to them, and can make their entire profit from the author, without selling a copy to the public. The disincentives are deliberate. They don’t want to bother with booksellers and make it hard for a bookseller to order from them. They also don’t really care whether an author can earn anything from his books. Because of inflated shipping costs I could have ordered my books cheaper from a retailer than from PublishAmerica.
He goes on to say that iUniverse is "the gold standard in the POD field."
Through the Authors Guild back-in-print program I have put nine reverted titles back into print at iUniverse, and have seven more in process. They have done an excellent job with these. But always remember that all these POD publishers regard the author himself as their primary source of income.
At least iUniverse, unlike Publish America, is upfront about it.
It should be noted that the Authors Guild Back-In-Print program is free to authors of previously published, out-of-print, work (and are members of the Guild). Otherwise, iUniverse charges a stiff fee to publish original manuscripts, which is, presumably, what would have happened if Wheeler went to them with BIG APPLE, a book he wrote in the 80s but wasn’t able to sell.
Publish America doesn’t charge that stiff fee, they just get it out of you in other ways…