Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Incompetent, evil PublishAmerica tries to hide from past by changing name to America Star Books. Future success depends on conning ignorant foreigners

above recently morphed into below

PublishAmerica (“PA”) told potential authors that it’s a “unique and traditional publishing company.” It was unique, but since a PA author’s advance was often just a dollar, and editing and promotion were often non-existent, it was not a traditional publisher.

The company said that it was the “nation’s number-one book publisher” (whatever that means), and that it “publishes more new titles than any other traditional book publisher” (difficult or impossible to prove). PA even claimed to “receive more queries from new authors than any other book publisher in the nation.” That’s a statistic that they could not support because other publishers certainly wouldn’t give them query data.

PA was probably the worst publishing service in the world. (I won't dignify it by calling it a publisher.)
  • The Internet is filled with complaints from PA's author-customers who claim they were neglected, defrauded, lied to, overcharged and even threatened. Some complaints are here, here, here and here.
  • PA promised free publishing, and then tried to overcharge its authors for a wide variety of services and products. Books were usually both so shoddy and so overpriced that they were unsaleable. One 28-page book is priced at $24.95! A 44-pager has the same absurd price. An almost-unreadable 292-page collection of gibberish is priced at $32.95.
  • Book promotion ranged from nonexistent to incompetent. Book descriptions on Amazon are very poorly written.
  • The company encouraged authors to be active in marketing their books, but there was little or no direction and supervision. This book has a five-star rating -- written by its author.
  • Cover design is often ugly and amateurish, with such no-nos as "Writtten by."
  • PA had a strange marketing philosophy. It wanted authors to provide a mailing list so PA could pester friends and relatives to buy and publicize books.
  • Unhappy authors were ignored, threatened and sued!
  • 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.”
  • A class action lawsuit was brought against PA, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, unfair business acts and practices, fraudulent business acts and practices, deceptive acts and practices and various other crimes. You can read the complaint here.
  • The IRS filed a tax fraud lien for more than $50,000 against PA boss Meiners in 2011.
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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.

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Miranda Prather, PA executive director, has had a life that 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 PA -- a company with a reputation to match her own.

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

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.

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Because of the widespread negative publicity it apparently became difficult for PA to find ignorant wannabe authors to scam in recent years. The company probably also lost business to the many companies that made it easy, inexpensive and quick for writers to produce and market ebooks.

So, how could PublishAmerica survive?
One way might be to clean up its act. PA could admit it made mistakes and promise to be both competent and honest when dealing with authors in the future. But, no. A "mea culpa" and change of character are out of character for the sleazes who operate the company.

Instead, PA recently morphed into "America Star Books" (ASB) -- with a much cleaner website but pretty the same old way of doing business (now it pays no advance, instead of one buck). The new web address was registered on 8/12/13 and the new site apparently went "live" in February, 2014. ASB boasts of "roots that go back until 1999" but I found just one mention of PA on the new website. Anyone who types "PublishAmerica" into a web browser automatically reaches the new ASB site.

While the new site is less cluttered and more professional-looking than the old one, it still contains sloppy errors in grammar and spelling, such as the abbreviation "LLLP" instead of "LLP" and "etcetera" instead of "et cetera." There are even missing words, as in "we now translating." A company selling editing services should be careful about its own text.

The new site claims that "America Star Books has served 50,000 authors since 1999." Since the company did not exist until 2013, that claim is clearly untrue. The website includes quotes from "happy authors" who were actually published by PA, not ASB. The company's dishonest Facebook Page lists "life events" from PA history, not ASB history.

Apparently realizing that American wannabe authors will easily learn about the company's pathetic past, ASB is trying to snare ignorant customers from other countries who want to sell books in the USA: "It is our mission to translate into English books that Americans have never heard of, from languages that most Americans don't speak. America Star Books gives foreign authors an English voice, and publishes their work in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain." The company promises free translations into English, but authors "Grant the English rights to America Star Books for 3 years."

ASB admits that its translations may be shitty. CLICK.

While ASB claims that "we assume all financial risks and all expenses related to producing, manufacturing, and publishing a book," the company previously charged for ebook conversion (I'm not sure if it still does), and fees also apply for such options as "rush" publishing, promotion and editing.

ASB says, "Our authors are not stupid." Maybe not stupid, but certainly ignorant. Stay away. Stay  far, far away.

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