At the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books today, I got into a spirited debate with a writer whose books have been published by PublishAmerica, which he thinks has been unfairly criticized by guys like me (ie authors published by real publishers). He feels that PublishAmerica is providing a worthwhile service to writers who can’t get through the door with New York publishers.
I argued that PublishAmerica is a vanity press that deceives wanna-be writers by claiming to be a traditional publisher…when it is far from it. Only later do these aspiring writers realize their book hasn’t been accepted by a "real" publisher at all… but by then it’s too late, they’ve already signed the company’s awful contract. But the gentleman I spoke to argued that he hasn’t been taken at all, he knew what he was getting into and what mattered most to him was that it didn’t cost him a cent to get published.
Whether PublishAmerica is a scam or not (and I think it is), the bottom line is that their titles are dismissed by reviewers and booksellers as vanity press books — badly written, amateurish work that doesn’t meet even the most minimal professional standards.
The PublishAmerica scam was touched on only briefly in a New York Times piece today about the explosion in popularity of print-on-demand self-publishing. The article focused primarily on companies like iUniverse and Author House.
Self-published authors have essentially
become the bloggers of the publishing world, with approximately the same
anarchic range in quality that you find on the Web. Indeed, companies like
AuthorHouse and iUniverse say they will accept pretty much anything for
publication. ”That’s the big problem with self-publishing and the stigma
associated with it.”