Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This publisher's real story is stranger than fiction

(above) PublishAmerica idiots published books written by "Travesty" and "Charlatan."

PublishAmerica (“PA”) tells potential authors it’s a “unique and traditional publishing company.” It is unique, but since a PA author’s advance may be just a dollar, and editing and promotion are almost non-existent, it’s not a traditional publisher.

The company says that it’s the “nation’s number-one book publisher,” and that it “publishes more new titles than any other traditional book publisher.” PA even claims to “receive more queries from new authors than any other book publisher in the nation.” That’s a statistic that they can’t support because other publishers certainly won’t give them query numbers.

PA has a strange marketing philosophy. It wants authors to provide a mailing list so PA can pester friends and relatives to buy and publicize books.

Jenna Glatzer is a magazine article writer, book author, contributing editor at Writer's Digest, and editor-in-chief of Absolute Write, an online magazine for writers. In an interview with WBJB radio, she exposed some of the wacky and scary tactics of PublishAmerica.

According to Jenna, “They harass their authors, they start smear campaigns against their authors, they’re just an incredibly abusive company.” She also said that PA is “built on deception,” and has “vindictive, abusive, and strange people who have crossed the line.”

Jenna discussed author Ken Yarborough, who tried to prove that PA was not selective about accepting manuscripts and did not reject 80% of proposed books, as the company states. Ken submitted a book that consisted of the same 30 pages repeated over and over again— and PA accepted it!

When Ken revealed what had happened, PA reported him to the police, alleging fraud.

In another case related by Jenna, an author asked PA to lower the retail price of a book to make it more saleable, or to release him from his seven-year contract. PA tried to have him arrested for harassment.

Miranda Prather, PA executive director, claims that the company accepts only high-quality manuscripts for publication and has “30 full-time editors.” Apparently none of them checked PublishAmerica’s own website. The site says, “We submit the book to our wholesalers and wholesalers,” “There’s [sic] 190,000 other authors out there,” and “There is this fast-growing number of Internet bookstores.” Yuck.

Prather’s own life would make an interesting book.

She received national attention in 1997 when police accused her of faking a hate crime while working as a teaching assistant at Eastern New Mexico University.

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “Prather was accused of threatening several professors and staging an attack on herself. She was charged with concocting an elaborate hoax that included circulating fliers and mail claiming to be from ‘The Fist of God,’ which threatened death and injury to specific ENMU professors and to homosexuals in general.”

Prather, an open lesbian whose name was listed first on the fliers, was accused of faking an attack on herself that caused slight injuries. She initially said two men attacked her, and then blamed an imaginary woman.

Prather was charged with seven counts of harassment and one charge of filing a false police report. She agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for probation instead of imprisonment. After the plea bargain, Prather joined PublishAmerica— a company with a reputation to match her own.

Authors told Publishers Weekly that PA “sells books to which it no longer holds the rights;… doesn’t pay royalties it owes; engages in slipshod editing and copyediting; sets unreasonable list prices; and makes little effort (and has had little success) in getting books into bookstores.”

The company says, “PublishAmerica is not in any way a POD,” and “In the most commonly used context, POD indicates Publish On Demand.”

That’s not true. There is no such thing as Publish On Demand. The standard meaning of POD is Print-On-Demand— a process that PA does use. Books can be printed on demand, but they can’t be published on demand.

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PA’s low standards have been exposed by several stings in which it agreed to publish deliberately bad books. Atlanta Nights is an assumedly unpublishable collaborative novel created by a group of sci-fi and fantasy authors to test whether PA would accept it. The book was supposedly written by “Travis Tea” (travesty). The Crack of Death author was said to be “Sharla Tann” (charlatan), and the book is filled with bad writing, bad grammar, spelling errors, malapropisms, gender shifts, age shifts, name shifts, and more.


1 comment:

  1. Be careful when you attack PA, Michael. They've been known to sue bloggers just for posting stuff like this. Very scary stuff.