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Be Careful Where You Publish

Updated on April 29, 2012
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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    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 5 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.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 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.

    • gmaoli profile image

      Gianandrea Maoli 5 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.

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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!

    • Sphinxs Sanctum profile image

      Sphinxs Sanctum 5 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

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

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

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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.

    • Cherrietgee profile image

      Cherrietgee 5 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

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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!

    • daisyf1305 profile image

      Daisy Fabelo 5 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

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

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

    • YUMMommy profile image

      YUMMommy 5 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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

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

    • RicoShae profile image

      RicoShae 5 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.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 5 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.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 5 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).

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 5 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!

    • dalton71482 profile image

      Jeremy Wade 5 years ago from Tennessee

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

    • jchevalier profile image

      Julie 5 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.

    • Carlos Coto profile image

      Carlos Coto 5 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.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 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,


    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

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

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 5 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

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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!

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 5 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

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 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

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 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!

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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?

    • profile image

      sally J. 5 years ago

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

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 5 years ago from Australia

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

    • Delphis profile image

      Delphis 5 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.

    • Ivona Poyntz profile image

      Ivona Poyntz 5 years ago from UK

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

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Thank you Rochelj!

    • rochelj profile image

      rochelj 5 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

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Thank you, Dotty!

    • dotty1 profile image

      dotty1 5 years ago from In my world

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

    • profile image

      Website Examiner 5 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.

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      You are absolutely right, Cenarius. Thank you.

    • cenarius27 profile image

      Chandan Sharma 5 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.

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 5 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.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 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.

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

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

    • Healthy Pursuits profile image

      Karla Iverson 5 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

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      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!

    • writtenbylv profile image

      writtenbylv 5 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.

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 5 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.

    • DeviousOne profile image

      DeviousOne 5 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.

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 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.