Suckered by PublishAmerica

Derek, an aspiring author, posted a comment to one of my old PublishAmerica posts, saying he’d just received a contract from them and has only just learned that they may not be a reputable publisher. He asked what he should do.  I didn’t want the discussion to get buried in the comments, so I’ve decided to make a new post out of it. Here’s what I suggested that he do:

Contact PublishAmerica and ask them to release him from his contract immediately. They have no legitimate reason to refuse you…
especially since they have done anything for you yet. If they do
refuse, please come back and share their letter with us so everybody
can see the type of people you’re dealing with.

Once you get your manuscript back, don’t look for a
short cut into publishing. Submit to reputable publishers. How do you
find them? You can start by walking into a book store and taking down
the names of publishers with books on the shelves… then do you
research. Make sure they are legit and then submit your book to them.  Here’s a hint: Do not go with any publisher that wants to charge you
any kind of fee or wants a list of your relatives to market your book

Derek replied:

It was just great to go from a kid who mispelled every other word in
high school, to sitting down one day and writing a horror novel. And
better yet, to have what I thought was a decent publisher show interest
in what I busted my ass to accomplish. Then this. You have to realize what a crappy feeling I have in my gut
right now, having an actual contract, and thinking of turning it down
to try again. It’s like hitting the lottery and returning the winning
ticket in hopes the next jackpot will be more lucrative.

He was still holding on to the illusion that PA was a reputable publisher because he wanted it so badly to be true. Here’s what I told him:

You’re deluding yourself.You haven’t won the lottery. You don’t have
an actual contract with a real publisher. It’s exactly that attitude
that has made you ripe for the picking by predators like
PublishAmerica.  You want to believe the fantasy that you’ve landed a real publishing
contract. Then go ahead, live the fantasy. Just remember that it is one.

This is exactly how PA works, preying on the desperation and naivete
of aspiring writers.  It’s sad to see that people are stilling falling
for it, even after the PA scam has been so thoroughly, and widely,
exposed in the media…as David J. Montgomery pointed out so well in a comment of his own:

What PA does, based on innumerable stories in the media and testimonials from people they’ve conned, is:

*agree to "publish" your book — any book, regardless of quality
*make it available for purchase online (along with approximately 3 million other titles)
*do nothing to promote it or get it in bookstores
*do nothing to get your book reviewed (no mainstream outlet will touch it)
*pressure you, your family, friends, neighbors, casual acquaintances,
people you went to high school with, etc. to all buy copies of your book
*market it to no one else

It costs PA a couple bucks to print your book, and they sell it to
you and your list of suckers for $20. That’s how they make their money.

Unfortunately, this does not count as being published in the
traditional sense, nor in any other meaningful sense. All it does it
make your book available for you to purchase for yourself. This is
known as vanity publishing.


2 thoughts on “Suckered by PublishAmerica”

  1. Derek,
    Two or three years ago I sent a manuscript to PublishAmerica. It was a mystery I never could sell. It had made the rounds in NYC and my agent finally gave up on it. I spruced it up, employing the skills I had gained writing and publishing fifty or so other novels. It was pretty good after the reworking. It was unique. It dealt with a livestock detective investigating the assassination of a prize cutting horse. I knew nothing about PA at the time I submitted the novel, but was suckered by their website. They accepted the book (what book don’t they accept?), slapped a weird cover on it and published it after a long delay, the better part of a year. (Don’t count on seeing your finished book within the time frame they advertise). So far, they have paid me about five dollars in royalties. I spent much more than that ordering a few at their shallow discount. I am a much-published award-winning novelist, but they made no use of that in their cover material or their alleged promotion, though they requested material about myself and I supplied it. Of course they have done nothing, taking no advantage of my successful publishing background. PA is a joke. Stay away.
    Richard S. Wheeler

  2. Mr. Wheeler,
    If you could add your story to the the FTC complaint file on deception in advertising that we are compiling on PA it would be a great help due to your credibility.
    It’s an online form at:


Leave a Comment