Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I found that "infamous" Washington Post article...

Making Books (

Here it is: the WP article that examines PublishAmerica. Here's an interesting quote: "What happens if the author wants out of the contract? Some authors have been asked to sign a confidential release, agreeing to say only that the relationship 'dissolved amicably' and not to disparage PublishAmerica."

Not all about PA is a nightmare, apparently. There are several satisfied authors. It really DOES seem to me that the largest group of dissenters are authors who never bothered to read ANY of the contract.

And, from that, PublishAmerica got some bad press. I'm sure there are things PA did in the past that were unethical. Or maybe not. But I can see that at the very least, the largest reason for their bad reputation is from people who deluded themselves in thinking that PA is something that it isn't.

And, because of people like me who DO know what PA is, I have less of a chance to sell my book, on my own volition. All because of a bunch of lazy fucks who felt like blaming someone else instead of taking RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN ACTIONS. Rrrgh.

So I no longer fully blame PA for my predicament. Part of the blame goes to these dissenters.

But wait! There's more!

Mainstream publishers approach editing more broadly and take a more deliberate pace. And while PublishAmerica editors communicate with authors by e-mail -- some authors say they never even learned their editors' last names -- traditional editors not only pick up the phone, but frequently meet their authors in the flesh and have even been known to take them to lunch.

Emphasis was added. I know *my* editor's last name. Why didn't these other guys know? My book was published (or in the process of publishing) around the time of this article. So, what's going on here? Is it in fact that PA's editors aren't all doing their job in the same manner? I wonder if that is the case.

As for distribution, books are one of the few commodities retailers can return if they don't sell -- except for print-on-demand books, which aren't returnable and therefore don't get stocked by national chains.

This is true. PA books were non-returnable. As of a couple months ago, they are now. Hmmmm............

And here's a quote I LOVE:

"Sour grapes," says humorist H.B. Marcus of his fellow authors' complaints. "Their books didn't go anywhere . . . and they can't face it. It's easier to say, 'PublishAmerica ripped me off.' "

Couldn't have said it better myself. Also, this quote: "The Better Business Bureau is "conducting further research" on the 25 complaints it's received..." 25? Out of how many authors that PA has done business with? We're looking at a fraction of a percent.

Long story short, these "easier to say" people are the number one reason for PA's bad rep. I admit, it's very unlikely--even if PA had a spectacular reputation--that I'd ever make the bestseller's list (or even close to it). But that's okay. It's too bad, though, that my book will have LESS circulation because of bad press from confused people. Too bad.

NOTE: I found the following text right from PA's website: "FACT #5: PublishAmerica is NOT in any way a POD, vanity press, or subsidy publisher, and has nothing in common with them. Obviously, our authors are also not being self-published. In the most commonly used context, POD indicates "Publish On Demand", or vanity publishing. Vanity publishers charge for their "services". Some charge a few hundred dollars, others a thousand or more. We are not in that league, in any way, shape or fashion." This, as everyone knows, is untrue. They ARE POD. The only difference is that they don't charge to print your book, which is TRUE. Because they don't charge does not ensure that they are not POD.

Additionally: "FACT #10: As for the production time of our books, we put the author in full control. If an author wants us to release his or her book fast, we can do that. Authors who feel that their manuscript is already edited to perfection may opt to have no additional editing done, provided that we agree. Depending on how fast they submit all necessary information and materials, they may see their book go to the printer within as little as 6 weeks. If time is of no primary concern, or if we decide that additional editing is required, we assign an editor who goes through the text line by line. We don't touch style issues, we don't edit the author's voice, tone, or delivery. We edit for spelling, mechanics, grammar, and typos. In all situations, before it goes to print we send a book back to the author at least twice, to ensure that it looks exactly as the author wants it to look." People who had their books done in as little as 6 weeks will OF COURSE have an assload of errors in their manuscript.

I took ONE YEAR to get it printed. Therefore, it was done right. I found NO errors (other than my own, which were stylistic in nature) in the final manuscript. In fact, PA FOUND several grammatical and punctuation errors and fixed them. So I find it unfair that dissenters say that their editors don't pay attention to their manuscripts. They pay as much attention as the author allows.


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