Be Careful Where You Publish

The cover.
The cover. | Source
I was proud of myself to finally be published. Now it's like a bad dream.
I was proud of myself to finally be published. Now it's like a bad dream. | Source

Ten years ago, I wrote a longer than usual short story. Many of my family and friends read it, liked it and recommended that I should try to have it published in a book form. I took their advice and last December (2011), my book was published. It was published at no expense to me. In fact the publisher, PublishAmerica, paid me a small “symbolic” advance ($1.00) once the contract was signed.

I felt good. I felt like my dreams of becoming a published author had come true. I felt especially good that the publisher found my work to be good enough to publish it at their expense. I was walking on cloud nine. My wife was so proud of me, and my extended family was buying up the book as fast as they could to support my efforts.

Now I feel like a complete rube.

Before I signed the contract with PA, I researched them. They were an American company out of Baltimore that had been around for several years, and had published several thousand authors. I looked at their website and browsed through the books, many of which I had heard of. Some had even been made into movies. “That’s good enough for me!” I thought as I signed a ten year agreement on the dotted line. “Duh, dopey, dopey, doe! I’ll just sign it right here!”

Once the book was out, I began getting emails from PA telling me how to buy my book for a reduced rate. “Buy my own book? WTF?! I should get complimentary copies!” The price that they charged was moderate, but in minimum quantities of 10, plus $5.99 shipping per book!

Then I began to get numerous emails telling me that if I wanted my book merchandised in any way, I had to pay for it. If I wanted a book signing, I would have to set it up myself. If they did it, it would cost me a lot of money. If I wanted the help of their literary agent….more money. I decided to do a little more research. What I found was heartbreaking, literally. I was stunned.

There were hundreds upon hundreds of people all complaining of the same things: never getting paid, always being siphoned for money, receiving false sales reports from PA that showed “no sales” to avoid payment to the authors, the complaints just went on and on. The Better Business Bureau got involved and did a thorough investigation. “No wrong doing” is what they came up with, due to a very carefully worded contract between PA and its submitting authors.

I also discovered that author’s submissions are not read or edited by the PA. They accept everyone! There is a disclaimer in the front of the book that reads:

“PublishAmerica has allowed this work to remain exactly as the author intended, verbatim, without editorial input.”

That is their safety net for producing an unedited book. Again, it is apparent that PublishAmerica does not read the submissions that it accepts.

It took me several days to get over the shock. As Chevy Chase puts it, “It was like a bag over the head punch in the face!” It was a punch in the stomach. I was embarrassed to the point where I couldn’t bring myself to tell my wife about it for several days. Here I am, a student of law, excelling in contract negotiations no less, getting the shiv in a literary scam. So I contacted one of my old law professors, an intellectual property attorney in California. He was familiar with PA, and had dealt with them before. He told me how to deal with the situation and move on with my life, and I am taking his advice, never to do business with PA again.

It was a tough and humbling lesson learned. My book is still out there, and I am going to leave it out there on the market until the contract runs out…when I’m 64. Until then, I will not send PublishAmerica one red cent.

©2012 by Del Banks

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Comments 50 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Thanks for sharing this on HubPages so that others can learn from your own painful experience with the publishing company.

Voted up and useful.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thank you for your thoughts.

DeviousOne profile image

DeviousOne 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Sounds like a very very unfortunate set of circumstances. Thank you very much for sharing your experience also. With a lot of people looking to publish, it's a good piece of advice.

uzma shaheen profile image

uzma shaheen 4 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

very agonizing incidence you faced,thanks for sharing it, others can learn from your ill-fated experience. wish you good luck in future.

writtenbylv profile image

writtenbylv 4 years ago from Atlanta, Ga.

Thank you so much for sharing, as it must have been extremely hard to share this information in front of everyone. But thanks to you, many people such as myself learned a very valuable lesson. Hopefully it will prevent us from making the same innocent mistake. Thanks again and many blessing to you and your family.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

I am overwhelmed by the kind comments and the support that you good people have put down here. Writtenbylv, you are right, it was difficult to finally come to grips and put this all down. I never want this type of thing to happen to anyone else. Thank you all again!

Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

How terrible that companies like PA can take people's creations and use them to get money! I'm so glad you were willing to put your embarrassment aside and tell other writers about this terrible company. I congratulate you on your courage and your community spirit. Thank you for writing this.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Healthy Pursuits, you're quite welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Swindlers and charlatans! There are plenty of them out there trying to take advantage of ambitious neophyte writers. We are so eager to see out work in print that we don't look carefully before we leap.

Good luck on your future writings and career.

hoteltravel profile image

hoteltravel 4 years ago from Thailand

In this internet age, the old adage is more relevant - If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I am sorry to read about your first attempt at publishing. It was brave of you to overcome the shock and shame and publish this hub to help others avoid such scamsters. Good luck to your career in writing. Voted up.

cenarius27 profile image

cenarius27 4 years ago from New Delhi

How disheratening it would have been? 8 out of 10 people would have stopped writing after such a heartbreaking incident. Hats off to you that you carried on with your writing. Such incident occured with me when I was in 12th standard. Anyways, such things happens and give us lessons, we need to take it and move on.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

You are absolutely right, Cenarius. Thank you.

Website Examiner 4 years ago

Interesting account, although hard-earned lessons. I have previously done some research on the company, which led my own group (Novelty Fiction) to refuse to link our site or author sites to Publish America. The information is out there, yet people - including some I presume to be intelligent - keep signing up with them.

dotty1 profile image

dotty1 4 years ago from In my world

Thank you for your most informative hub. I am so sorry that this has happened to you :(

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thank you, Dotty!

rochelj profile image

rochelj 4 years ago from USA

Thank you for sharing this information. Hopefully, it will help to prevent others from falling into this trap. voted up.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thank you Rochelj!

Ivona Poyntz profile image

Ivona Poyntz 4 years ago from UK

How afwul: but thanks for spreading the word about these unscrupulous publishers. Name and Shame!

Delphis profile image

Delphis 4 years ago

Thank you for spreading the word on this scam. Hopefully it will prevent even one aspiring author from falling into the same trap.

stricktlydating profile image

stricktlydating 4 years ago from Australia

Oh what a shame. I'm glad you wrote a Hub about this experience.

sally J. 4 years ago

Can't you still sell your book on e-bay or something and promote it hare and through other meida

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Yes, Sally, I can. But I would not receive any royalties, because according to PA, I have not sold any books, so there are no royalties, even though I know that several copies have been purchased. Why let them make a profit when I am being treated like this?

MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 years ago from The Caribbean

There are so many cockamania contracts out there in the publishing world. Some like PA are nothing more than printers trying to make a buck. Too bad they succeed in taking advantage of some before the others find out. Thanks for the warning!

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Bless your heart! I am truly sorry you had to go through that experience. I, too, had one of my poems published and I was thinking all the same things as you, and then - what? They wanted me to buy the book for 40-something dollars myself, and so on and so on. It is a hard lesson to learn. I can't even remember now who the publishing company was, and I don't care to think of them! Thank you for continuing to write and for writing this Hub. You are a very good writer. I love your hub name! Faith Reaper

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thank you very much for your kind words, Faith. It was all a bitter pill to swallow, but I can ease the aggravation of it all by informing as many people as I can about this issue.

midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 4 years ago from Hermosa Beach

Sorry to hear about your learning experience, but thanks for taking the time to share to help educate the rest of up. I will make certain to pass around your hub.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thanks, Midnightbliss. It was my intention to inform as many people as possible about this publisher....and I have spent a lot of time there in Redondo Beach! A great place!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

This is a horrible thing to have gone through. You could buy copies from them and sell them through eBay or at your local bookshops I guess, (naturally at a price that allows you to make a profit) but I can understand why you don't want to line their pockets further. Next time I recommend you use Createspace or similar (I hubbed on self publishing recently) as they won't charge you anything upfront, and won't ask you to sign any contracts. They are part of Amazon and are totally legit, no nasty surprises!

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thank you Misty...I have pretty much washed my hands of those people and chalked it up to experience.

carter06 profile image

carter06 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Gosh such bad luck badegg, but you are very kind to share such a humbling experience with us so that we might not get caught in this unfortunate web. Thank you so much for this and I hope that your next book will be a cracking success and everything you dreamed for,


Carlos Coto profile image

Carlos Coto 4 years ago from El Salvador, Central America

What a horrible situation...hope you can do something about it. Thank you for leting all of us know.

jchevalier profile image

jchevalier 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

That is very unfortunate. I appreciate you sharing this, as I am searching the internet for help in publishing a book. Good luck in future endeavors.

dalton71482 profile image

dalton71482 4 years ago from Tennessee

that really sucks. maybe it'll work out over time

Eric Calderwood profile image

Eric Calderwood 4 years ago from USA

Keep spreading the word. Sham companies like that need to be exposed. I've noticed with other self-publishing companies that they don't do a very good job editing. I've also wondered how many mistakes were the author's and how many were the publisher's. Great hub!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Self publishing companies don't generally do ANY editing for you Eric, hence the name 'Self Publishing', if you want proof readers and editors you need to be accepted by a top publisher, and this is becomingly increasingly difficult unless you are J K Rowling or Stephen King. To self publish you need to do your own proof reading etc, or pay someone else to do it for you, (I hubbed on this recently because my Step Dad is published both ways). Hope this helps to clarify how self publishing works without coming across as too patronising (which is not my intention at all).

duffsmom profile image

duffsmom 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

Very interesting and informative Hub, thank you. I had a similar experience with someplace called Eaton something or other in Florida. They loved my manuscript, thought it would sell - once they edited it for a hefty price--as I recall if twas about $1200. WHAT? So they complimented me on one hand, and insulted me with the other. Very disappointing.

RicoShae profile image

RicoShae 4 years ago from Ballwin, mo

Thanks for sharing this!

I aspire to write a novel one day and know I definitely know I need to be careful!

I'm sorry this happened to you. It's a shame how companies get away with shamming people like that.

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Wow how awful! Thank you for sharing this information with us so we can avoid the same fate.

YUMMommy profile image

YUMMommy 4 years ago from USA

What a horrible experience! There needs to be more regulation on publishers like those because essentially they're just ripping people off. It makes it hard for authors who use their services to make any profit on their own work.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

I agree with you , YUMMommy (cute name). It is a shame that even the BBB can't do anything about it.

daisyf1305 profile image

daisyf1305 4 years ago from miami beach

Hi I know just how you feel I have two Hubs on PA scam. I wrote them to try and get authors before they sign. Turns out I've only stopped a few because most of all fall into their ALL AMERICAN scam.

I was lucky enough that thet broke my contract because the horror stories that I have heard are enough to scandal. Even using JK Rowling under their scandalous success stories. I think even one of their workers was in my hub trying to make them sound legit. Had him bloked but I know he still reads the comments. Great article you will venture I love lulu because if we have to pay then we should do it right...

good luck,


badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

The PA scam has really busted the bubbles of hundreds of writers. We have to keep letting the public know what is going on. Thanks!

Cherrietgee profile image

Cherrietgee 4 years ago from Illinois

Thanks so much for this hub! So many of us have dreamed of being published for so long that PA or a company like it comes along saying all the right things and we're duped. I will definitely look at all the fine print and do tons of background research before signing my name to anything.

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

That's all it takes. I was duped because I wanted my book to be published. I didn't take the time to be as thorough as I thought I was.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

If it sounds too good to be true...!

Sphinxs Sanctum profile image

Sphinxs Sanctum 4 years ago from Southern United States

badegg- what a truly gut-wrenching thing to have experienced. I am soo sorry for the time, effort, hopes and dreams lost to one truly repugnant act. A scammer is a scammer, all day long, whether singular or large & organized & they'll play upon your emotions and greatest dreams every time. It's so very unfortunate, but I'm happy to see that you walked beyond it and are now able to speak of it, to graciously warn others.

Don't let this one horrid incident douse your passion for writing! And if you are meant to be published, it will happen.

Thaks for the follow!

Sphinx's Sanctum

badegg profile image

badegg 4 years ago from Southern Appalachians Author

Thanks for the moral support! I recently happened upon another PA victim that had her dreams squashed just the same way. We gotta stick together!

gmaoli profile image

gmaoli 4 years ago from South Carolina

I am so sorry about what happened to you! I'm actually working on putting together a novel myself. I'm doing some research on which publishing route to go (traditional or self), but if I do go traditional this company will certainly not be my stop! I appreciate you giving this warning to everyone and I hope things are much better for you now.

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I've heard there are companies like this that prey on writers; thanks for telling your story in the hopes others can avoid your heartache. Best wishes to you.

I will share this to help spread the word.

Kristine Manley profile image

Kristine Manley 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thank you for this Hub. I am so sorry for the extremely hard time this publishing company gave you and others. I am a self-published author and have had good success. If you want any tips on inexpensive advertising, I am willing to share. Blessings! Vote up.

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