2007-08-07

PublishAmerica Is Bad For You

This has to be said again and again, so people aren't lured into their clutches.

So why is PublishAmerica (PA) so bad? You don't pay anything up front, right?

Yes...but...

Somewhere along the line, PA will send an email to you with a "discounted sale" on buying your own book. You think: Big deal, I'll buy a 10 or 12 for a signing, or whatever.

Except that real publishers will give you free copies to hand out to friends and family.

Friends and Family

Which brings me to another point. You got friends and family? Good, because PA is gonna make sure you use 'em. They'll ask you, up front (or soon thereafter) for a list of friends and family. Why? Because they want you to bug them to buy your book. I don't know about you, but while I'd tell everybody about a book that I just had published, there's no way in hell I'm going to get in their faces and sell it every chance I get. I want to be on good terms with friends and family, thank you very much. :-) This is a sure way to get people pissed off at you. If a family member decides to buy my book, wonderful! If they tell me, I'll thank them profusely. But I know that not everyone is going to be interested in a particular genre, and since I want those close to me to like me, any amount of gabbing about a published book is going to be a complete soft sell.

Distribution

Which brings us to distribution. PA only promotes their books through their own website. How many people on the Web do you really think is going to go out of their way to the PA site, hmm? Yes, your book will be listed on Amazon, but that's only a small part of distribution.

For widespread distribution, your book needs to be in bookstores all over the place. That means in Barnes & Noble stores across the U.S. (or wherever). That whole "we'll get your books into places across the fruited plain" is nothing but hogwash. PA expects you, and only you, to sell your book. Regular publishers have marketing departments. Sure, you can set up a website and do some marketing that way (and it can only help your book), but a publisher's marketing department can do so much more.

But back to distribution. Ingrams and Baker & Taylor are not distributors; they're wholesalers. What this means is that, unlike distributors, there's no sales force out there promoting your book. Distributors = salespeople. So you'd have your own little sales force talking to bookstores to get them to order your book (along with other books, naturally).

Publishers want you to do well; it's in their best interest for you to earn out your advance.

Advances

That's another thing. Ah, dear ol' PA, they're so nice, they give you a $1 advance.

Big freakin' deal.

The average advance from a big publisher? It's more like $5,000-$10,000. Yeah, up front you get that much. You don't have to pay it back, even if your book doesn't earn back that much.

That's right: The publisher is taking a risk by offering that off the bat. They must think your book will do fairly well if they're willing to hand over that much money, don't you think? While PA throws you a measly buck.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

So let's see...the author has to do most of the promotion, can't get his books into brick and mortar bookstores except on consignment (if he's lucky), he gets a crappy $1 "advance"...definitely not a place I'd consider going.

If all you want is to hold a book in your hands, then by all means, go to lulu.com. At least you'll have a decent cover, and can hand them out to friends and family whenever you want to.

I'll throw out a cliche here - avoid PA like the plague it is.

~Nancy

4 comments:

Bernita said...

Good post.
Saw you on EE's blog.
Thank you for backing me up.

John Q Writer said...

I unfortunately published my first novel through PA, and I regret that decision to this day. It is difficult to get out of the contract with PA once it's signed, otherwise I'd undo what I did.

~Nancy said...

Bernita,

It's my pleasure to back you up - the continuations the last couple of days have been so funny, I've laughed out loud at work.

~Nancy said...

John Q,

May I make a suggestion? Head over to Absolute Write's Water Cooler, under Bewares & Background Checks. There's a huge thread devoted to PA. Within that thread are people who've posted their emails/letters to PA - and have gotten out of their contracts! It can be done; you just have to be persistent (and tell PA over and over that you're NOT going to buy your books, and neither are your friends and family), among other things.

Whatever you decide to do, DON'T berate yourself over your decision. Go on from there. People who were in PA's clutches have indeed been legtimately published. Check out the man who has the moniker Gravity over there; he has his own mystery series out.

There is life after PA.