we who call ourselves
writers, the dream of being published comes second only to the
compelling drive of the writing itself. Our yearning to put words on
paper, to fashion stories, and explore truths within the universes of
our fiction picks at our subconscious until we do
something about it.
So we write tales. But at some point we begin to want readers, people
willing to step into the worlds we’ve created. We want to be published.
That very drive impelled me on
my journey down the yellow brick road of publishing to a place called
PublishAmerica. Like Oz, it’s a gleaming city on a hill, beckoning
thousands of writers out of the dark forests of manuscript submission
where rejections are hurled like apples, out of poppy fields of drowsy
confusion where we are tempted to faint and lose heart.
PublishAmerica offers writers
not only a chance but also a promise of publication, and therein is the
downfall and the primary reason why this publisher has landed on
“Predators and Editors” lists, and why so many writers who’ve gone the
“hard” route find it easy to snarl and bare teeth at this monolith of
publishing houses, which has been accused of publishing any bit of
tripe that comes along.
Still, I too found myself at
their door. My experience with PublishAmerica came after receiving what
most would consider a “good” rejection. A popular publishing house had
given my historical novel a full read, and it had gone on to committee.
I felt so close. But it wasn’t to be. As is often
the case, I fell into
a slump and put my manuscript on hold—for about six years. About that
time I started looking into other publishing options on the Internet.
Unfortunately, at the time I discovered PublishAmerica in 2006, I
didn’t find any of the negative commentary circulating about them.
However, after submitting my manuscript and being offered their
standard contract, I felt that I had a pretty clear idea of what I was
That said, I have not
disappointed as some of PublishAmerica’s authors seem to be. There are
pros and cons to signing on with this giant that calls itself a
“traditional” publisher. It is traditional in only the most
nontraditional, hybrid sense. While traditional publishers put a
manuscript through reams of edits and rewrites, PublishAmerica only
subjects the work to the most cursory editing, leaving the job of deep
editing to the author. As with self-publishing, it is in the author’s
best interest to hire an editor to scrutinize his or her work for
flaws. I stepped into the PublishAmerica process with my eyes wide
open, realizing that not only would the editing be largely my
responsibility but also the marketing. PublishAmerica can be called
traditional in the sense that there are never any charges to the
author. The author makes a royalty on books purchased by retailers,
online, and through direct orders.
suspect that much of the
despair some authors feel over their treatment at PublishAmerica is
due, largely, to their own overly glamorized expectations of book
publishing in general. While there
that top, minuscule percentage of
writers who are ushered onto the world stage with book tours and
glistening promotional packages, many simply don’t realize that the
majority of publishing houses expect the authors’ involvement in
promoting their books. They don’t realize that even in the big houses,
scads of books are quickly relegated to backlists.
PublishAmerica did make my book
available online at sites worldwide. Brick and mortar stores can get it
from their distributors. (I even found it on a German site where all
the authors shared my last name!) PublishAmerica also helped me arrange
for press release information and book announcements to be mailed out.
The biggest accusation against
PublishAmerica is that they make their money by selling books to their
authors. Traditional publishers usually contract to give a certain
number of free books to their authors. Typically, from what I’m told,
larger houses will give their authors 100 to 200 copies, which the
authors can then use to give away for promotional purposes, or to
resell at book signings or other events. Smaller houses may give their
authors as few as two to six copies, so you see the great degree of
variation. In either scenario, authors can also buy books from their
publishers at discounts varying from 30 to 75 percent. This is what
also happens at PublishAmerica. Authors are given several copies of
their books; they can then can opt to buy more for resale, but are not
under obligation to do so. My initial contract offered me a 30 percent
discount. However, PublishAmerica offers other opportunities on a
regular basis, monthly or even weekly, to acquire copies for as much as
75 percent off retail. I have rarely paid more than 50 percent for a
copy of my book, which I have only purchased to resell, setting my own
profit margin anywhere from 15 to 50 percent.
As I see it, the biggest
downfall with using PublishAmerica is that the POD retail price of the
book runs very high. For this reason, I continue to buy discounted
books to sell. I can offer a better deal to readers than can be
obtained by purchasing books through other outlets. Not only that, I
can give myself a better royalty than PublishAmerica can give me. I
sell copies of my novel directly from my Web site, www.naomimusch.com,
and I find that where it is sometimes difficult to get a POD book
shelved in bookstores, gift shops and other non-typical outlets are
often very receptive to stocking a few copies.
As changes continue to affect
the publishing industry, PublishAmerica remains a viable option for
those writers who are able to view the opportunity with care and