Here we thought the vanity press industry was on the ropes – what with PublishAmerica being sued out of existence and Author Solutions (and its eleventy billion imprints) having to resort to recruiting new authors overseas because aspiring authors in the US were on to them. Every now and then, though, one of them turns up again, like a bad penny. And so it is with PublishAmerica.
To recap: Before Kindle Direct Publishing and even before Smashwords, if you wanted to self-publish, your only choice was to hire a vanity press, also known as a vanity publisher. These so-called publishers would charge you to publish your book, offering little or nothing in the way of editing or marketing help (no matter what they told you before you signed their contract), and saddle you with boxes full of copies of your book to stash in the garage. Even after other, less expensive and far more lucrative avenues for self-publishing opened up, a lot of authors got sucked in by these vanity presses. We devoted a whole month’s worth of posts to this issue and called it #PublishingFoul. You can find those posts here.
Okay – back to PublishAmerica. Writer Beware has the sordid details of this scammy publisher’s fall, but basically: After one co-founder sued Willem Meiners, the other co-founder, in May of 2015, and reached a settlement with undisclosed terms in July 2016, the company morphed several times. First, Meiners rebooted it as America Star Books. Then the name changed to ASB Promotions, and submissions were “temporarily” suspended through the end of 2016. In mid-2017, Meiners announced plans to morph the company into Paperback Services, which was supposed to operate “side-by-side” with “Paperback Radio, America’s only live 24/7 station about books and writers.”
Writer Beware also noted in 2017 that ASB had been hit with tens of thousands of dollars in liens. And the same year, the lawsuit settlement was reopened in court for failure to comply with its terms. I’m just spitballing here, but I’d guess that means Meiners didn’t pay his co-founder what he’d agreed to pay him.
All of the websites associated with these various companies are now defunct – except for the one for PublishAmerica. That one still works. I’m not going to include a link, as I don’t want to make it any easier for them to ensnare new writers, but feel free to do a web search if you want a laugh. The site design is straight out of 1998, the content hasn’t been updated since 2013, and a lot of the links are broken – but the submissions page is still active. (One clue the site hasn’t been updated any time recently: it offers a comparison between publishing with PublishAmerica and going with CreateSpace, which Amazon brought under its KDP umbrella more than a year ago.)
Of course, it’s a free country here in the good ol’ USA, and you can spend your money any way you want to. Vanity presses have always appealed to authors who just want to write, who don’t know anything about publishing, and who don’t believe they can learn.
But here at IU, we have faith in you. We know you can do it because we’ve done it. And we’d really hate to see anyone else get taken in by a shady publisher.