December 1-15, 2004 Edition

Authors Criticize

Publish America’s

Prices and Policies

NEW YORK, NY/11/17/04—An article by Publishers Weekly November 16 revealed a number of author complaints against Publish America, which many consider to be a vanity house under the guise of a traditional publisher. Poor editing, high prices, unforgiving contract terms, and non-responsiveness were among the claims authors made.

The PW article said that Maryland-based Publish America “sells books to which it no longer holds the rights, offers authors only a 30% discount, doesn’t pay royalties it owes, engages in slipshod editing and copyediting, sets unreasonable list prices and doesn’t pay marketing costs despite promises to the contrary. While it doesn’t charge for printing the books, it does require a list of friends and family from the author and then proceeds to market to them heavily.”

In a subsequent PW interview, the company’s executive director, Miranda Prather claimed all of the author complaints were unfounded. She said the company does have a substantial book presence in the market but “we don’t control the bookstores in the country.” PW said she declined to estimate how many of the 9000 authors the house claims in fact had a trade presence. She also said that the house does not automatically terminate an agreement because an author is unhappy, but that it is open to renegotiating contracts.

Two authors named Dee Power and Rebecca Easton, are planning a media campaign, and have compiled a list of more than 100 email addresses of disappointed authors. They have recently sent the list to the Maryland attorney general, various other legal authorities, and the press. But so far, no action has been taken. The author group may bring a class-action suit against Publish America for rights reversion and payment of royalties.