Sunday, February 9, 2014

Your Daily Ralph~My Publish America Story

My Publish America Story



I’ve been threatening to write this for the past few months and decided, based on a post I saw today on Indies Unlimited to do so.

Back in 2004 I had the idea to write a book on my favorite hobby, motorcycling. At the time I had been writing articles for various motorcycle magazines for several years and had a solid background as sport touring rider, with an emphasis on safety. I shopped the book first to a company called White Horse press, which is a motorcycle book publisher who told me they had too many safety and how to books. How about if I wrote one on maintenance? I said no thank you.

By happenstance I found a friends sister had a book published by this company I had never heard of called Publish America. I asked them if they would be interested and they jumped at the idea. They send me a dollar stipend to show that we had a binding contract. They asked me to finish it in four months, which I did. I handed them the manuscript, and they edited it. All at no cost to me. They never asked for a dime. I received the book back twice during edits and finally approved the version they finished editing. A couple of months later I received two copies in the mail. The book was available on Amazon and B&N and supposedly other places as well. They priced it at $19.95 which I thought was rather high, but it was what it was. I received a measly $70 check from them after the first years half had ended. The second half of the year amounted to about the same. While I was not happy with them, I wasn’t that upset because I figured it was a tough market and it would eventually come into its own. Also somewhere along the way they raised the already steep price to $24.95.

Fast forward to 2011. I got hurt at work and ended up being partially disabled. I decided to finish up a novel I had started some years earlier and never got around to completing. That would go on to become ‘Redemption of the Sorcerer, The Crystalon Saga, Book One.’ I figured what the heck; I’d give PA a try again. I was still getting small checks form them twice a year, maybe something more mainstream would sell better and they did edit my first book (Help! They’re All Out to Get Me! The Motorcyclists Guide to Surviving the Everyday World.) very nicely.

I sent my proposal to them, and never heard from them. I figured they weren’t interested. But several months later I received a phone call from them saying that they were and their email must have ended up in my spam folder. I put it all up to crossed wires and sent them the manuscript.  

This time I had a totally different experience. They took my book and did no edits on it at all. Not a one. They did not offer any editing services. They put a disclaimer in the front saying that the book was published as printed to preserve the integrity of the writers work. The book was a mess. They also charged, get this, twenty nine dollars and ninety five cents per copy! Who was going to buy a thirty dollar book? Some good friends did, which I felt terrible about.

Then I began getting different offers from them in my email sometimes three of them per day. Every one of them was looking for money. A hundred dollars here, fifty dollars there etc. ‘Let us send your book to Hollywood! Only fifty dollars!’ Or, ‘Send your book to Europe to the great book show in Germany, only a hundred dollars.’

At this point I decided to buy the rights back, which still cost me a hundred bucks but it was the best hundred dollars I could have spent. I started researching create space and KDP as well as what I had to do to get the book out there on my own. I found a great editor in Deborah Richardson of DRE&MS who had edited some books by authors I had actually heard of. Next I had to find a cover artist. I looked at what others had done and ended up going to a site called where I had a cover contest done. Several artists placed their covers up on the site and I picked the one I wanted. I ended up using that same artist for all my covers so far.

It’s not cheap to self-produce a quality book, but in the end you get complete control of what is done and how it turns out.

So the bottom line is stay away from Publish America or whatever the heck they are calling themselves today (America Star Books, I just looked.) they are a rip off. There’s a reason why they had a bad reputation. Like I said in the beginning they seemed to be a different company than what they morphed into a few years back. Back in 2004 the experience I had with them was not bad, it just degenerated over time to the mess it is now. Stay away, there are plenty of small press publishers out there who will do it all for you if you’re not willing or don’t have the time or wherewithal to make it work for yourself.

As always all of my books are available on my website or at


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