Still More on Publish America

On Ed Gorman’s wonderful blog, novelist Richard Wheeler mentioned that he had dusted off an old, unpublished novel entitled BIG APPLE, and that it was being published by Publish America.

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…

2 thoughts on “Still More on Publish America”

  1. Lee,
    I have two vanity press books fromback when they were free to use. I did it as an experiment in 2000, but the data are in now: This is no way to publish and in my view never will be. Even at a $0 price tag Xlibris and iUniverse are worth exactly that. They are heads above Publishamerica in honesty and royalties.
    As an aside I was a extra on Diagnosis Murder for three years. It was a great show to work on. Now if I could just get my feature script for “March To Quebec” read in this town? Any suggestions?

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  2. My book was officially released by Publish America in February 2004. They had told me how great my book could do if I set up book signing’s and set up press release’s which I did. As a matter of fact I had been working with Barnes and Nobles and some smaller book stores, setting up book signing dates and all that good stuff. Then a week before the local Barnes and Noble was to begin advertising for my big day they informed me that they would be unable to do a book signing with me. The reason was that my book, a 58 page children’s chapter book was over priced and any book’s that they ordered and couldn’t sell they would be stuck with. Of course Publish America has not offered any assistance and I have only recieved royalties on the sale of two books, both purchased by my father in law. And to think, I only have six more year’s left on my contract.
    Thanks for listening,
    A. K. Hitchcock

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