What is PublishAmerica?
Before the ease of publishing with outlets like eBooks, there were (and still are) places like PublishAmerica. Simply put, they’re known as vanity presses (“pay us a gazillion dollars, and we’ll publish your crap for you, no matter what it is”). They’re called loopholes.
Don’t hate, but sometimes I like to cheat. I like exploring the loopholes in life. Because life is tough, unfair, and often it seems impossible to reach your goals (like publishing a book). Plus, I have no money.
So think of me as your guinea pig. I’ve got the dirt on PublishAmerica, one of those loopholes. While it’s not totally fair to call it a vanity press, it is a print-on-demand publisher.
Wanna know PublishAmerica’s dirty little secrets?
First, let’s get the good stuff out of the way.
- I didn’t pay a penny to publish my book. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I received my book in physical paperback form, with all the smells and bells. You can buy it from big retailers like Amazon.com and BarnsandNoble.com. And I get paid a wee percentage of every sale.
While all that’s fine and dandy, I think the dirt clumps too high—especially if you’re a serious writer.
Here's the dirt on PublishAmerica.
Here's what you should know before choosing to publish a book with PublishAmerica.
- There are no editors. This is why it’s sort of like a vanity press. They say they’ll have their editors read through your book, but they also live by the rule that they’ll never change the style of your writing (to ensure your voice is clear). That means they won’t fix grammar or spelling problems. It’s 100% up to you to proofread your novel.
You don’t get to choose your prices. My book is currently going for their set price of $39.60. That’s like death. Who can afford that? Especially from an up-and-coming-nobody like me. Plus, when it does sell, I only get 8% of that. You do the math.
They’ll claim to promote your book, but that’s a lie. I’ve never had anyone from the local media, bookstores, or anyone else contact me. You have to do the footwork. And unless you already have a solid reputation (or serious motivation), who’s going to take you seriously?
They offer discounts galore—so you’ll buy your own book. This is how they make their money: from you, the author. The say, “If you buy 10 copies at full price, we’ll send you 10 more free.” Or “30% off, this weekend only!” They do this hoping you’ll buy your book every time to give away or sell on your own.
It’s seven years in PA hell. When you sign their contract, you agree to seven years of shared rights. This means they pretty much own your book. (Example: if you, by some miraculous turn, are offered a movie deal, Publish America gets 50% of the profit.) If you want to break free early, you have to pay a compensation fee. I looked into it. For me, it would cost $299.00. Some people think that’s worth it. Just pay up and get out. But, like I said earlier, I have no money.
So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
When I published my book, I wasn’t a serious writer. I just wanted it in pure book-form, to hold and cherish. By all means, if you don’t care about making money or being taken seriously, PublishAmerica is a great way to go. It’s free, easy, and they do pay you.
But be warned: if and when you decide to go pro, this could come back to haunt you.
I would love to cough up $299.00, yank my book out of PA’s hands, and make it into a eBook—or series of eBooks. I would love to clean up the grammar, fix a few plot holes, then look for a real publisher.
Unfortunately, I be poor. So I’ve decided to practice my writing and patiently wait out my contract (three years left!).
What about you? Have you had experiences with Publish America that I haven’t shared here? Please, feel free to rant, rave, whine, or offer advice.