• Report: #262753

Complaint Review: Publish America

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  • Submitted: Mon, July 23, 2007
  • Updated: Sat, January 10, 2009

  • Reported By:Chattanooga Tennessee
Publish America
publishamerica.com/ Baltimore, Maryland U.S.A.

Publish America How a Dream Come True Turned Out To Be a Nightmare Baltimore Maryland

*Consumer Comment: Reply to Erin

*Consumer Comment: Hmmm

*Consumer Comment: Hmmm

*Consumer Comment: Hmmm

*Consumer Comment: Hmmm

*Consumer Comment: Do your research

*Author of original report: Scouting the Situation - Preparations to File a Formal Complaint

*Consumer Suggestion: According to Maryland BLIS (Company Business License System)

*Author of original report: A Very Ugly Revelation for PublishAmerica CEO

*Author of original report: Fishing for the Truth: No Responses From Publish America

*Author of original report: Tracking Down Fraud: Amazon Search Reveals The Ugly Truth

*Author of original report: Fraud! Used books with unpaid royalties found for sale on internet!!

*Author of original report: Again With This? Publish America Plays Dodge the Blame

*Author of original report: Publish America Form Letter Woes

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I spent seven years and untold resources researching and writing my book, but was disappointed by the huge fees charged by most publishing houses. When Publish America agreed to publish my manuscript, I thought that I had finally found someone who would give me a chance. I will admit that during the publishing phase, they were very agreeable and helpful, but once the book was published, I was on my own.

My numerous complaints of promotion difficulties were met by the same form letter, and my questions concerning why my book wasn't on the shelves went unanswered. It was embarrassing and humiliating that everyone whom I recommended by book to was unable to purchase a copy without visiting Publish America's website, and the cost of the book was not a reasonable reflection of current market values. Those who did manage to purchase copies via Amazon.com complained loudly of back-orders, poor service, and high prices.

I never expected to get rich. That was not why I published my book. But I am constantly frustrated by dead ends and walls that keep my book from selling the way it should. My most recent complaint to their public relations department was met with, once again, the same form letter, which flouts their free authors website and promotes a book you can purchase about how to sell your book. Shameless marketing.

The web site is useless, as anyone with Internet Explorer 7 or higher can't edit their page, and even though promoting my book may be partly my own responsibility, the publisher did not send out the promised press releases, they have not made my book available to the retailers mentioned in their contract, and they have made it exceedingly difficult for me to purchase copies of my own work. Their prices are outrageous, and no retailer I spoke to was willing to order even one copy.

I am writing this report because I now hold in my hands my long-awaited copyright papers. I am expected to send a copy of these papers to Publish America, but I am seriously considering witholding this information on the grounds that the company is in default on the agreed to contract. I am even willing to repay any royalties I have received, all ten dollars of it, to get out from under a seven year contract that has effectively killed any chances of my book selling well.

Erin
Chattanooga, Tennessee
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/23/2007 08:51 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Publish-America/Baltimore-Maryland/Publish-America-How-a-Dream-Come-True-Turned-Out-To-Be-a-Nightmare-Baltimore-Maryland-262753. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 14Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Reply to Erin

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (U.S.A.)


Your complaint is totally off the wall. Amazon.Com is not the same as Borders or Walden books. The fact that your book is listed at Amazon.Com 'used' doesn't proove anything.
Third party sellers buy the book and re-sale it. You didnt get any royalties on the books because the third party didn't buy them yet. There is no scandal here.
You discovered the obvious truth that Ingram and similar companies are wholesalers. So what?
This prooves that PA is a legitimate business. Book stores usually buy wholesale..Duh.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Hmmm

AUTHOR: Towsonjoe - (U.S.A.)

Where there's smoke there is fire. I apologize for the tired cliche since I'm sure most reading this are writers. I wonder if the person speaking highly of PA is a plant. I did some preliminary thing on their site where I wrote what my book was about. I never got around to sending it in because I was busy finishing my last semester in school. Two days ago I got a call from an UNKNOWN number. The person didn't say their name, but did mention they were from PA. She pushed me to send my book in. I got excited and finished it... Then I did some research on PA... Not sure what I want to do now...
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#3 Consumer Comment

Hmmm

AUTHOR: Towsonjoe - (U.S.A.)

Where there's smoke there is fire. I apologize for the tired cliche since I'm sure most reading this are writers. I wonder if the person speaking highly of PA is a plant. I did some preliminary thing on their site where I wrote what my book was about. I never got around to sending it in because I was busy finishing my last semester in school. Two days ago I got a call from an UNKNOWN number. The person didn't say their name, but did mention they were from PA. She pushed me to send my book in. I got excited and finished it... Then I did some research on PA... Not sure what I want to do now...
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#4 Consumer Comment

Hmmm

AUTHOR: Towsonjoe - (U.S.A.)

Where there's smoke there is fire. I apologize for the tired cliche since I'm sure most reading this are writers. I wonder if the person speaking highly of PA is a plant. I did some preliminary thing on their site where I wrote what my book was about. I never got around to sending it in because I was busy finishing my last semester in school. Two days ago I got a call from an UNKNOWN number. The person didn't say their name, but did mention they were from PA. She pushed me to send my book in. I got excited and finished it... Then I did some research on PA... Not sure what I want to do now...
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#5 Consumer Comment

Hmmm

AUTHOR: Towsonjoe - (U.S.A.)

Where there's smoke there is fire. I apologize for the tired cliche since I'm sure most reading this are writers. I wonder if the person speaking highly of PA is a plant. I did some preliminary thing on their site where I wrote what my book was about. I never got around to sending it in because I was busy finishing my last semester in school. Two days ago I got a call from an UNKNOWN number. The person didn't say their name, but did mention they were from PA. She pushed me to send my book in. I got excited and finished it... Then I did some research on PA... Not sure what I want to do now...
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#6 Consumer Comment

Do your research

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (U.S.A.)

***It was embarrassing and humiliating that everyone whom I recommended by book to was unable to purchase a copy without visiting Publish America's website, and the cost of the book was not a reasonable reflection of current market values. Those who did manage to purchase copies via Amazon.com complained loudly of back-orders, poor service, and high prices.***

I'm sorry, but you said everyone had to purchase from PA's website, but then you said, "those that did manage to purchase from Amazon.com complained about back-orders". I'm confused..

There are a few things that don't seem right. First of all, everyone gets a copy of the press release sent out. I know this because I am a successful published author with them. You said the market value wasn't a fair price? Did you do your research before submitting your manuscripts? Based on the number of pages within your book is what determines the price the book will be set. (no joke). It's recommended that no author write more than 200 pages in 1 book because of this.

Did you set up book signings, readings, or anything? PA is not going to do everything for you. Do you realize how much money was spent just taking a chance on your book? You paid for absolutely nothing..

As far as making the book available to other retailers there is a reason. Your book isn't just thrown up on a shelf at BooksaMillion. Retailers choose from a variety of books that they believe will sell. If yours didn't get chosen, don't blame them. My book currently will be in Target, Amazon, com, and Barnes & Noble. All of this talk about how bad PA is makes me believe that the author isn't doing enough, and expecting too much.

Best luck with your success as an author.
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#7 Author of original report

Scouting the Situation - Preparations to File a Formal Complaint

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

Many thanks to "D" of Springfield for the information about the Maryland BLIS. Now I have the things needed to file a formal complaint, not only with the Maryland Better Business Bureau, but with a number of other consumer advocacy companies as well.

And speaking of the Maryland Better Business Bureau, their files had a lot to say about Publish America. I examined a total of 70 complaints filed against the company in the last 36 months.

Of those complaints, 41 were marked as resolved by the Bureau simply because the company addressed the complaint, but the consumer did not acknowledge whether they acceptanced or declined the company's offer. Simply put, the author never called back. That leaves 29.

Of those 29, 18 were marked as closed because the company made a "reasonable" offer to settle the complaint, but the consumer declined. That leaves 11.

Of those 11, 5 were marked as closed because the bureau had determined that the company made a "reasonable" effort to resolve the issue, but the consumer remained dissatisfied. That leaves 6.

Of these last 6, 2 were closed because the bureau determined that the company was under no obligation to resolve the complaint, and one was sent to arbitration but the consumer never acknowledged the result of this arbitration.

In short, of 70 complaints, only 3 were actually resolved to the consumer's satisfaction. According to the Maryland BBB, this entitles PublishAmerica to a "good standing". Uhmmm....no. I don't think so.

And, incidentally, who is Victor Cretella? His name is listed as PublishAmerica's "resident agent" on a lot of public legal documents, but, I thought a resident agent was someone who sold and serviced insurance policies in their home state? Can someone please explain this to me?
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#8 Consumer Suggestion

According to Maryland BLIS (Company Business License System)

AUTHOR: D - (U.S.A.)

This company is showing in good standing. I would suggest you log your complaint at the following site dllr.state.md.us/forms/oandpcomplaint.htm. If you would like the info for the street location and owner name, etc. Google Maryland BLIS and search using the word "publish" in the company name section. Several different ones will come up. Find which one you need then go to the website I have listed and try loging your complaint there.

Hope it helps.
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#9 Author of original report

A Very Ugly Revelation for PublishAmerica CEO

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

According to Wikipedia, the current CEO of PublishAmerica is Miranda Prather, who "gained national attention in July 1997 after police accused her of faking a hate crime. A lesbian, Prather was a graduate assistant and president of the campus gay and lesbian support group at Eastern New Mexico University." Though the charges ultimately ended in a mistrial, the fact remained that Prather was guilty of faking a hate crime against her own organization in order to garner media attention.

When confronted with evidence that she filed false reports of an assault connected with this hate crime, Prather stated that the events in question were the work of, for want of a better word, a doppleganger. Prather claimed that a woman she called Jessica Forrester, who looked a lot like her, was responsible for posting racist flyers aimed at gays and lesbians around the university campus. Of course, this Jessica Forrester never existed, and surveillance video clearly showed Prather herself placing the flyers.

The proceedings were declared a mistrial because Prather's lawyer "could not properly represent her". I have come to find stories such as this one to be the rule rather than the exception when it comes to dealing with PublishAmerica. For more information, visit Wikipedia.
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#10 Author of original report

Fishing for the Truth: No Responses From Publish America

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

While searching for my original Publish America contract, I came across my last royalty statement dated August 1, 2006 through January 31, 2007. The statement shows that only one book was purchased, by ME, and that no royalties were paid.

This only reinforces my suspicions that I am being defrauded, since I found at least three confirmed used copies via the internet, one of them being sold OVERSEAS by an independent company in the UK. Rest assured, this is not over.

I would also like to update the contact information for Publish America. Their physical address is actually in Frederick, MD, and not Baltimore as I was led to believe. There is no street address, only a P.O. Box. However, I did locate a phone number: (301)695-1707. Unfortunately, the only thing I could reach after dialing this number was their order department. The fax number listed (301)631-9073 has not been tried.

I was told that if I had any questions, I could contact support@publishamerica.com, but before any of you try, let me just say that you won't get anywhere. Evidently, this service is run by an automated system that generates form letters dependent on your complaint - another dead end.

I intend to take my case to anyone who will listen, as I am not the kind of person who will simply shrug off a bad experience and go on. I keep waiting for some of you other authors to agree, but for some reason, all I get is silence. That's all right. I'm more than willing to speak for ALL of us.
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#11 Author of original report

Tracking Down Fraud: Amazon Search Reveals The Ugly Truth

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

This is an update to the report in which I discussed finding used copies with unpaid royalties for sale on Amazon.com. After talking to Amazon's public relations department and very politely explaining my problem, I was advised to contact their legal department for assistance in finding out exactly how many copies of my manuscript that Amazon has sold.

Without a doubt, this is a daunting question, and one that I am not certain I want the answers to, especially since I have received no royalties in the past year, yet my book appears to be selling well. I have a multitude of potential fans clamoring for a copy of my manuscript, but I am reluctant to tell them how to get one because I don't want to be defrauded any more than I already have.

I also discovered that of the companies mentioned in Publish America's form letter to me, three of them, R. R. Bowker's Books In Print, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor, are subscription services designed for libraries and booksellers and do not offer direct-to-consumer sales. I find this far from amusing, since no library is willing to order a Publish America book.

Another four companies mentioned in their letter, Borders, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com, are in fact the SAME company, a fact not disclosed by Publish America. The point? The total number of companies that offer Publish America's books to the public is ONE.

I would advise other Publish America authors to do a little conscientious digging on the internet at some of the companies I have mentioned. A simple search including the company name, the word "book", and the title of your manuscript will bring up a direct link to the page containing the information you're looking for. Don't be surprised if, like I did, you find a few discrepencies.
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#12 Author of original report

Fraud! Used books with unpaid royalties found for sale on internet!!

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

This is the final straw, the one that broke the proverbial camel's back. I just discovered used copies of my book for sale at Amazon.com, used copies for which NO ROYALTIES WERE PAID. This is the worst kind of fraud imaginable, a sick and selfish business practice called LYING.

I demand the royalties that are due to me, and what's more, I demand that Publish America return to me the rights to my book, as I will not be a party to their self-serving tendencies any more. I would like to know if any other authors who have been scammed in such a manner have had any success in recovering their lost or unpaid royalties, and whom do I contact concerning such a matter? A class-action lawsuit on behalf of ALL of us would be a great start. I refuse to allow Publish America to receive payment for my hard work, while I get nothing.

Worst of all, from the look of Amazon's page for my book, it seems to be selling fairly well. A crime, considering that I have received NOTHING for the copies that were sold via the internet.

I want justice and I want it NOW. I am sure all of you other authors will agree that we want what's coming to us and then some. If anyone knows a good lawyer, I'd love to show him or her some of the evidence of their scam that I've printed out.
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#13 Author of original report

Again With This? Publish America Plays Dodge the Blame

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

Today, I did something that I had not yet done. I paid a visit to Publish America's web site, and now, I can say with all honesty, that I am genuinely angry. Their web site is nothing more than endless pages of self-promotion.

There is absolutely nothing on the site that would be of any use to authors already signed with Publish America. The "Contact Us" link only takes you to a place where you can offer them your book. There is no place whatsoever to voice concerns about issues or try to resolve problems.

You can try contacting their public relations department, but be prepared to receive the same form letter that they send everyone else. As for their author's forum, where you can chat with other authors already signed, I found the cheerful attitudes of the people I spoke with to be suspiciously creepy.

In fact, I had one supposed author tell me that her "book was selling very well through BarnesandNoble.com and that she had received a bonus payment from Publish America." Bonus payment? Was she trying to say that she had been paid to say that? Yes, I saw the tag on the company's home page that promoted a sign-on bonus of up to $1,000. My question is, who are they giving these bonuses to?

Another insult I discovered was their promotion for "featured authors". Personally, I do not think that I would want to be known as one of their featured authors. So far, the only thing that Publish America has done that they promised was offer my book on Amazon.com.

I did receive royalties amounting to $10.00, but every book that sold was purchased by a member of my own family. I am sorry to say this, but in the real world, your mom does not count as a fan.

As for their "marketing", I have found it to be nothing but a smoke screen. The only people that my book was marketed to were my own relatives, and I could have done that myself. And their remarks on my complaints concerning a lack of promotion? I was advised to carry around a box of my books in the trunk of my car and push them on everyone I met.

First of all, I would have had to buy the books myself, and at $24.95 a piece, that can get quite expensive. Second, I would have to sell every last one just to get my money back because the company does not accept returns. Third, and this one is the most insulting, the company does not pay royalties on books purchased by the author. Now, how does that qualify as successful book sales? The only one who makes any money is Publish America. The author gets nothing. I hate to tell them this, but I do not work for free.

I gave away the free author's copy of my book to a charity auction the other day. Though I regret now not having a copy of my own book to show people, I am unwilling to purchase another one from Publish America. I discovered that the public library I had intended to donate a copy to would not accept it, as it did not have the proper card catalog documentation and record numbers.

The ultimate rejection, especially since it came from a library so small that they have a collection of Harlequin romance novels that amounts to roughly half of their entire adult fiction library.
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#14 Author of original report

Publish America Form Letter Woes

AUTHOR: Erin - (U.S.A.)

As a further note to my previous report, I am looking at a copy of the e-mail that was sent to me by their public relations department. It shamelessly claims that their company "sends marketing information for each new title to RR Bowker's Books In Print, Ingram, Baker Taylor, The Brodart Company, Barnes Noble.com, Amazon.com and through our printer in the United Kingdom to wholesalers in all main markets in Europe where our books are made available to more than 200 million European readers. This marketing information is distributed to each and every book retailer and library across the country. Consequently, your book is available through each and every bookstore in the country, and all those bookstores have all pertinent information at their fingertips."

Yes, the book is available at any bookstore - paid for in advance, back-ordered for weeks, and non-returnable. Books do not sell if they can not be seen, so the only way that someone would know to ask for your book when they couldn't find it on the shelf was because you told them to.

The letter also claims that "In addition, PublishAmerica creates a direct mail letter with book release marketing information, which is sent to individuals and businesses across the US, including magazines and newspapers. These efforts have helped generate thousands of feature articles and/or reviews about our authors and their books, some of which are posted on our web site."

I would like to know exactly which magazines and newspapers this release was sent to, as none of my local periodicals were willing to even discuss printing a press release from a "vanity publisher" like Publish America.

The most astonishing statement of all was this: "Furthermore, we have launched a showcase website for all of our authors, called PublishedAuthors.net. It gives individual web pages to each and every author, highlighting them and their books. The content of these pages are edited by the author individually and are password protected. Not only that, but it also gives every author their own e-mail address, @publishedauthors.net. This innovative new service, plus all of the above, is free, of course, as you have come to expect from us."

This is not an "innovative new service", as I myself have had a website at PublishedAuthors.net for several years. I have never been able to retrieve any e-mail messages left at my free address, and I can no longer edit my author page as their online editing software is outdated. As for "all of the above" being free, it only stands to reason that it would be, since none of it is useful or effective at doing what it claims to, which is sell your book.
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