My Publishing Nightmare with Publish America

Predatory Publisher Month at Indies UnlimitedGuest Post
by Brenda Perlin

After I finished my first book, I submitted it for publication everywhere I could. As the rejection letters came pouring in, so did a quick reply from a company called Publish America. I should have run as fast as I could but instead I got caught up with the idea of being a published author. At the time, that seemed as farfetched as taking a ride to Mars. For one thing, I had no writing background, and this was a story based on my life. Who was going to want to read it? Still, I wished upon a star and saw my book on the shelves of bookstores. I so badly wanted this pipe dream that I bought into it: hook, line, and sinker.

I had no idea who Publish America was but I didn’t care. My book was going to be available on Amazon. It all seemed too good to be true, and it was.

I should have known things were not right when the company was not concerned if my story was edited or not. They just made it clear that editing was not included in the offer. Okay, I could deal with that. I should have thought that was strange but instead I called the first place I heard advertised on the radio, What I didn’t realize was, they would edit but that didn’t mean they were good at it. That’s a whole other story.

Meanwhile, Publish America didn’t prepare me at all for what would come next. They did, however, tell me how lucky I was that they were investing $1,500 into the publication of this book. To this day, I still can’t figure out where they came up with that number.

Even though they didn’t ask me to pay anything upfront, there were many costs that went with the deal after the fact. They charged me an extra fee to have my book available for Kindle and they charged me for several marketing services they said that I would need. Like their other authors, I had to pay top dollar for my own book. It was ridiculously close to paying retail!

The publishing process was fairly fast. I thought the cover was pretty crappy, but I also thought they knew what they were doing.

It wasn’t until after my book was published that I learned the book would be priced at $27.95. I knew that had to be wrong because I had read that their paperbacks were always less than twenty dollars. When I asked them about that, they wanted proof (which I provided) and still made me jump through hoops to get the price down to $18.95. For the eBook they would not lower the price unless I paid them yet another fee, which I ended up doing after several nasty emails back and forth.

Here are actual samples of our correspondence:

My name is Brenda Perlin and my book Home Wrecker was published by Publish America on May 21, 2012. It was a very rough and disappointing journey. First of all… my paperback book and e-book was priced at $27.95. I tried to talk to you guys to help me out as I am a first time author. I tried to reason with your company but it wasn’t until I paid $200 to get the price lowered to $18.95, which I find very tacky. I have not asked for anything special. No extras. In fact, I have paid for many extras. I hired your marketing team for an Agent, book tour, summer special and press release package for $200. Thus far zero has happened. I thought I was going to get a book tour, radio and TV spots. I got only one book signing at a small empty coffee house where no one was looking to buy books. That is not what I would call a book signing. … I have been working around the clock trying to sell this book on Facebook and twitter. I don’t know what to do at this point.

Yesterday I received a call from you guys saying you were going to send me an email regarding my complaints about the lack of marketing results. Thus, far I have received nothing. The person I talked to was not willing to answer any questions or help me at all.

This has been a very hard and sad process, which I think is a shame because I was so excited to have this book published by you. I have spent a lot of money and would like to see something come from it. I have emailed Shawn but he does not seem to want to hear from me. The agent/book tour has not added up to anything. One response I got was that they were working on a lot of other PA authors. That is not a good excuse. I paid good money and should not be told they were working on other people’s books. Mine should count too. I thought that was what I was paying for …. As you can tell, I am very very disappointed.

I will await your response,

Brenda Perlin

And Publish America responded with:

Dear Brenda Perlin:

While we understand and appreciate that authors are big dreamers who believe in their books, it is now time for you to face some reality about your book. You appear to be willing to attack the very people who have helped make your dream of traditional publication come true! Such behavior is not in the least professional and will not be tolerated. Therefore, we request that you cease and desist with your endless emails in which you whine about absolutely nothing.

Here is a fact for you: marketing is a gamble. There is no guarantee that any marketing you undertake will ever be successful, that goes for any venture that a person might be involved in. Still people market because without it, you are guaranteed do go nowhere. Publish America has been actively marketing and promoting your book even though per the contract we do not have to do anything. What we have done for you already costs about $1500 in the vanity publishing industry. But, because we believe that your book deserves to be published, we published your book for free, in the traditional manner, for free.

As far as publishing your book goes, you are right, you don’t have to spend a cent to get published. All is included. All other services are entirely optional.

We have done quite a bit of marketing for you already, although we are not required to do so. We acquired, vetted, designed, produced, published, and made your book available to booksellers worldwide at exactly zero cost to you. We took care of all the technical and graphical details, we issued your book’s unique ISBN, we produced a beautiful book with high quality cover art, and we put it in the hands of five printing companies on four continents, all at no cost to you. Although the contract does not require us to do any marketing, as you can see, we usually go above and beyond what the contract requires.

For those services which you have purchased, we have tirelessly worked on your behalf. The press releases went out to multiple contacts in the media. We have made multiple contact for your literary agent and book tour services as well. Incredulously, we had a signing event set up on your behalf and you turned it down! Why would you do that? That looks unprofessional to the location and put not only yourself in a bad light but potentially other Publish America authors. The time has come for you to get serious and behave professionally. Do not send any more emails with empty complaints.

I couldn’t believe the way they were treating me. It was so insulting and degrading. They were so much nicer before I had signed the contract. Now it seemed they could act any way they wanted. By their tone I could tell they had been dealing with many authors who were just as unhappy I was. There was no doubt about that. I had been duped and it was now clear that I was not dealing with publishing professionals as there was no integrity. This was when remorse and regret set in. I had ignorantly signed a seven year contract!

It was then that I knew the best thing to do was to get out of the contract with them. But I also knew that would be easier said than done. Read about that journey in my next installment…

Author Brenda PerlinBrenda Perlin is an independent contemporary fiction author of five titles and numerous short stories. From memoirs to illustrated books, Brenda evokes emotional responses in her readers by using a provocatively unique writing style. Her latest book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles captures the soul-wrenching conflicts of a personal struggle for emotional fulfillment. Learn more about Brenda on her website and her Author Central page.

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46 thoughts on “My Publishing Nightmare with Publish America”

  1. So sorry that happened to you. I see you’ve published independently since, congratulations on not letting them get you down and giving up your dream. I sometimes think that’s what these companies want so they can move on to the next author/prey. And thank you for speaking out- I’m hoping there are lots of writers looking at these posts and taking a second look at their publishing efforts. I’m forever grateful that I found a group of people who knew Indie publishing and how to guide me through the process. I don’t always know what I’m doing, but I know I can ask someone. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments Jules. It is all a learning experience and it is so good to have a community where we can share this so others don’t have to make the same mistakes.

  2. Brenda, my jaw dropped when I saw Publisher America’s response to your justified concerns (I wouldn’t even call them complaints!). A disheartening experience, one worth sharing with other authors hoping to be published.

    1. Oh gosh. I received some worse emails from them that I didn’t share. They got really MEAN. I am just so grateful to have been able to move on.

      If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is too good to be true. 🙂

  3. Brenda, your story makes me realize how lucky I was. It is hard to believe how shameless some companies can be. And you know the definition of shameless: they are without shame because they cast it out on everyone else. For them to tell you to “quit whining about nothing” is appalling. So sorry that was your first experience with a “publisher.” I’m sure that was a bitter pill. All I can say is that it can only get better! Thanks for sharing. I’m sure you will save some others from going through the same nightmare.

    1. I have been wanting to share this bitter pill for a long time. Feels so good to get it out. Though it was a bad experience I have learned and grown from it. Don’t want anyone else to make the same mistakes. Right?

      It’s good that we “come out” together. There is nothing embarrassing about telling the truth.

  4. Wow, that response was worse than unprofessional – and they called YOU unprofessional. What a bunch of nonsense. Thank you so much for sharing your nightmare. I am looking forward to your next installment.

    1. Thank you Yvonne. So good to learn and be able to move on. I have grown so much since then and appreciate THIS expereince that much more because of all the obstacles.


  5. They called you a *whiner*? Because you told them to do what you’d paid them to do? Unbelievable. Sorry you had to go through this, Brenda. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.

    1. Some of their messages were worse. Haha. The horrors!

      Thanks Lynne. You have brought an important subject to light.

  6. I had a similar experience publishing with Trafford, one of the AuthorHouse affiliates. These companies are all about exploitation and they provide services at outrageous costs. Kudos to you for warning the unwary. We need to work together to put AuthorHouse, Publish America and their ilk out of business.

    1. I am so sorry you have had to suffer as I have. Thankfully we are able to move on a recover but I agree. We have to stop all the ‘evil doers’ such as these companies. Needs to stop!

      1. I am doing my part to stop these people, Brenda. Have just published a book available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble called The AuthorHouse Scam. You may want to do the same for Publish America. It’s not at all difficult to find material and tales of woe on the internet.

    1. Thank you Greta. It was a real eye-opener. So thankful to have been able to move on. 🙂

  7. Look at that – do you see my blood boiling?
    Charlatans. There are loads out there.
    The upshot? Caveat emptor.

    Good luck in future, Brenda.

    1. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right? It was a disheartening experience. One that I hope others won’t have to go through though sadly it is still going on. We need to be the change.

      Thank you for reading my story. So grateful.

  8. Dear @Brenda,

    I applaud your guts and good will to help other authors, who may be about to sign on with this company ( obviously they do not deserve to be called a publisher.).
    By publishing your story you are helping others. The only way how these companies can be stopped is if their names are named and shared. Also awesome that we learned about Trafford. I hope that many writers read your article and spread the word.

    Thank you again, Gisela

    1. Thank you so much Gisela. I appreciate your kind words and compassion. I so agree with you. This is a great thing. 🙂

  9. I did you one better after they accepted my first book, I had the next five ready and foolishly sent them to Publish America. I thought the price was a little high on the first book because of its size but ignored it. The next four were a little shorter but commanded nearly the same price. Like you, I paid for kindle conversion, presentation to various book fairs and book stores. It wasn’t until I went to one of their conventions that I saw what presentation meant and was disheartened. I soon after joined LinkedIn and learned all about the publishing industry. They keep calling me and sending me emails trying to get me to buy more books or pay for them to promote them. After learning about them, I just ignore them knowing that all I will ever get from them is junk mail and twice a year a report of no sales. I think they have given up on me, now they are offering every six months for me to buy back my books. I started this year buying one each time. The first book, the contract may end before I get the rights back to it being only another two years. I bought back the one with the longest contract first. Then work my way backward. Just thought you should know that they duped a lot of us out there with their traditional publisher bull crap.

    1. Oh gosh. I am so sorry. They are the worst and we are just too trusting. We saw our dream coming true with them only to evaporate as soon as we signed the contract. Seven years is a darn long time to be associated with such a devil of a company. I feel your pain A.G. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much. I do believe in karma. They are the devil in disguise but they know what they are doing is wrong. I have walked away a better person. I am now free.

  10. Such a shame, this can happen to anyone. After putting out a few feelers, I had 2 companies similar to this chasing me hard for a contract for my book, it was unedited and they hadn’t even seen it ! Pushy and rude, just after money, promising the world. Typical of them to be rude after you paid them. That letter is just so rude and unprofessional.

    1. Thank you Nick. They were so unprofessional. You are right. This is an email that bothered me the most. Couldn’t believe they could be so nasty….

      Dear Ms. Perlin

      Do not send messages is in all caps again.  We do not even understand your message, and we do not have an outstanding question from you about four kinds of the books. Our hardcover book prices are fine, we will not change them. If you want the price changed, then you already know what to do, as you mentioned below.

      What is your question?

  11. You are not alone, Brenda… and when you pull them up about their disreputable conduct they never fail to act the hurt party; like, once they’ve sucked you in, they have every right to rip you off, how dare you complain about it.

    1. You are so right T.D. They took a lot out of me but I am glad I fought back. They would not keep me down for long.

      Appreciate you taking the time to read this and leave a comment. You guys are all so awesome!

  12. I wish there was a better way for PA victims to stop others from going there. For reasons of our own, my husband and I decided to go with PA for his first book. This was long before ebooks. We got almost what we expected from them, and did not get stuck with excessive fees (they may have offered stuff, but we declined every add-on they had because we knew what we could do ourselves), but I can’t say it was a great experience. In fact, for his second book, we decided we were better off just publishing it on our own, and this was when “self published” was almost a death knell for authors. But we’ve kept going, and once we got the rights back to his first book he re-wrote and re-released it under our own label. We’ve been happily self-published/indie published ever since.

    1. I am so glad to hear tht Becki. Good for you guys. Much success and good wishes. Thanks for visiting.

  13. My cover was not bad as I supplied the photo, but I wasn’t happy with the text or the fact that my name was huge on the front. And there was far too much blank space inside the book.

    I had many nasty e-mails from them, too. I couldn’t believe anyone could be that vindictive. I was accused of so many things that, if it wasn’t so serious, would have been almost funny. I saved the e-mails for a long time – even printed them off – but finally after a few years I got rid of them. A friend of mine had the same experience, except I believe she still has all her e-mail correspondence from them. Of course, they have now changed their name – probably because of the class action law suit against them in 2012 – to America Star Books. They actually had the nerve in Britain to call themselves PublishBritannica. Encyclopedia Britannica actually sued them because of it and they had to back down. If another law suit comes against them, they will just change their name again. That is the scary thing, because people don’t realize it’s the exact same company.

    Fortunately my experience was before they charged for editing etc. But about the only “editing” they did on my book was to change the whole meaning of one paragraph and I think they changed the spelling of something from the right way to the wrong spelling. So much for editing.

    A. G., I hope you are really getting your rights back. That was another thing I didn’t have to pay for – again, before they got the bright idea that they could charge for all these extra “amenities”. But the paper that I received in the mail saying my rights had been returned was not signed – by anybody! So how legal that is, I really don’t know. But mine would have been done by 2011 anyway, so I’m not concerned. Except they seem to still sell my books elsewhere. But I have since changed the name, will make a new cover and republish on CreateSpace – with almost double the word count.

    Some of you may have heard of the “sting” when several authors got together and wrote a “manuscript” without consulting one another about what they were writing. If you haven’t heard about it, check it out here: PA actually accepted it (because they didn’t actually read the ms) until they found out what had been done. I understand they also accepted a ms from someone who wrote one chapter then repeated it over and over until he had a full-length novel.

    1. Really, @successbemine – that would indicate that nobody even looked at the manuscript. WOW. I wonder if one should report them to be Better Business Bureau or maybe there is a better organization, more suitable for this kind of business practices? Wow, this sounds like a script to a movie not like business in the 21st century

    2. Thank you for sharing that. Pretty pathetic. So glad you have been able to move on. Appreciate your input. It’s very helpful.

  14. Gisela, PA, or America Star Books, is not accredited by BBB. Reasons: 99 complaints filed against business
    Failure to respond to 96 complaints filed against business. If you want to read the rest of the report, here is the site:

    My friend who I mentioned in my first comment actually had an e-mail from someone purporting to be the BBB declaring that PA was an accredited business. When she contacted the BBB she discovered it was a fraudulent e-mail composed by someone either at or for PA. They simply cannot be trusted for anything.

    1. You have helped to shine the light on how untrustworthy they really are. So much appreciated.

  15. WOW – @Successbemine – I am astonished beyond belief. You’d think that people knew that eventually the truth will come out, these days faster than that used to happen. I am in shock! Thanks for providing this valuable information. This is truly most valuable information. Now we can save it as a reference so we can post it once we hear of friends who are considering this route.

  16. Hello Brenda, I read most of the post, however not all. I would like you to know I am here to make your day.
    I learned the same lesson you have, several years ago and posted my complaint for quite a while on any site I could find, especially LI. After being burned twice due to my exuberance of being a published author, I learned to GOOGLE EVERYTHING.
    that is where I found I was scammed by not only an agent, but a critique reader for $175, an editor they recommended costing me $1500, and then an agent who claimed they did all the things an editor is supposed to do, even submitting my manuscript to six known publishers. NOT!!! The whole thing was a scam and by the time I attempted to sue and get my money back, the scammers changed their name.
    I would like to suggest you GOOGLE, PUBLISHING AMERICA COMPLAINTS. There you will find more than you can imagine. Also, GOOGLE WRITER BEWARE and EDITORS AND PREDITORS. PUBLISHING AMERICA is listedED on their thumbs down list. I’m sure this will not help you feel better, however, I want you to know, you are not alone. GOOGLING saved my writing carreer. GOOGLE them before they Google you.
    Blessings, Pat

    1. Thank you Pat. You are so right. This is so helpful. I have to admit, back then I did no research and was as green as green could be. It’s been a real education.

      Best to you.

  17. When writing The AuthorHouse Scam I looked up Author Solutions on the BBB website and was astonished to find that the company had an A+ rating despite the fact that seven of their own eight consumer reviews were negative! I have sadly had to conclude that the BBB no longer functions as a consumer watchdog. AuthorHouse is quite competitive with Publish America when it comes to being a scam operation.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry to hear that. There are many corrupt companies and they continue to thrive. Very sad. Hate for this stuff to happen to others. A real heartbreak.

  18. Thanks @Robin, for this truly important information. To be honest I had heard that BBB had given constructions companies good ratings though they did not deserve them. But the construction industry is exposed to a lot of risk factors (possible accidents, delays b/c of weather. etc) therefore this is different. So, Author Solutions received an A+ from them. Hmm….

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