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Saying Goodbye to Publish America

You’ll appreciate this post more if you read this first.

Publish America is a vanity publisher who takes their scam one step further than most by saddeling authors with outrageous contracts.  The contracts have varied a bit over time, but often contain a clause that requires authors to buy a butt-load of their own books to terminate the contract.  I rather liked the final letter author Matt Murphy sent them, especially his last two paragraphs,  and am reprinting the exchange with his permission.

Darcy,

I wrote 2-3 months ago requesting contract termination and received the form-letter reply. I want the rights to my book back and I don’t want my name associated with PublishAmerica. I will not make a 50-book order to terminate the contract, as it feels like paying a ransom. I have no intention of ordering another copy of my book, nor do I encourage others to purchase this title or promote the book in any way.

Please terminate my contract, as the continuation of my contract through its term will be in no way profitable for PublishAmerica but early termination will grant me peace of mind. Had I known in 2004 what I know now, I would have never signed a contract with PublishAmerica in the first place.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to your reply.

Matt Murphy

– – –

Dear Mr. Murphy,

In that case, your contract remains in effect, as we have preferred all
along.

Also, please note that you transferred your literary rights to PA so that itcould sell your book for a profit. By dissuading others from purchasing thebook, however, you are actively interfering with PA’s ability to exercisethose rights. Your conduct amounts to a breach of the covenant of goodfaith and fair dealing implied into every contract.

Thank you,

Darcy

– – –

Darcy,

Finally!!! A personal response! Darcy, either you have a way with words or I’m just overwhelmed with joy because I didn’t get a form-letter response this time.

PublishAmerica…
…increased the cover price of books
…began charging $3.99 shipping for each book even on multiple orders
…failed to send my final review copies before selling and sending my book to customers
…called itself a traditional publisher when the industry considers the publisher an abomination to the written word
…repeatedly failed to capitalize on web traffic I generated by having a poorly-maintained website that often would not load its home page and more often would not open my book’s page
…and continued its rich tradition of scamming authors.

I’d say that amounts to a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. There are thousands of other authors who agree (see: Absolute Write Water Cooler).

To clarify, “dissuade” means to persuade a person or persons against taking a certain course of action. As stated in my previous email: “I have no intention of ordering another copy of my book, nor do I encourage others to purchase this title or promote the book in any way.” I stated that I do not encourage others to purchase this title, not that I discourage them. Dissuasion requires action and I stated a lack of action. I’m no Philip Dolan, but I am attentive to detail most of the time. Just thought you’d like that clarified, so save your legal jargon for somebody who might be intimidated by it.

Had I known that a successful author would tell me to never mention the fact that I published with your company during a writing discussion because it’s better to be self-published than to be a vanity-published scam victim, I would not have signed the contract.

Had your company accepted Atlanta Nights in 2003 instead of 2004, I would not have signed the contract.

Had I known of your company’s no-return policy that turned off every bookseller who did not receive a specific request from a customer, I would not have signed the contract.

I have a child who will one day develop his own opinion of the life I’ve led and the choices I’ve made. This is something I consider every time I look into the mirror. The PublishAmerica staff must be a poorly groomed bunch, as it’s hard to imagine a whole office full of people who feed their children by earning scam money being able to look into the mirror before leaving for work. It’s no surprise that some hack author figured out a way to scam other authors and started his own publishing company, but what does surprise and disturb me is that there are people out there willing to be accessories to the crime. And every one of them–yes, even you, Darcy–is a bad person for taking part in it. If you had any regard for the overall good in this world you would stop reading here and begin typing your resignation. Better yet, don’t bother giving a notice. It’s not like you’d have a chance at working for an honest publisher (though I’d probably pay the 50-book ransom to be a fly on the wall during that interview). Having PublishAmerica in your employment history is marginally more honorable than having worked in the coffin-recycling business.

The hell with my book. You can keep it for two more years. Enjoy. It’s a decent read if you’re into an under-edited memoir of a man who accomplished more before he turned 24 years old than you or the swine in the cubicle beside yours will in your lifetimes. Take notes. Imitate. I can’t promise that it will make your parents regret their Pro-Life stance any less but it should keep you occupied while you drink away the sorrows of a meaningless life one box of red wine at a time.

May your next diarrhea discovery come with a sneeze.

Pleasantries,

Matt Murphy

– – –

You can find more of Matt’s writing on his site.

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13 Comment(s)

  1. But NOW where will I go to buy vampire faerie romances and shitty memoirs of boring whiners?

    After reading that e-mail exchange, however, I should consider buying a copy of Murphy’s book while I still can…

    Ashley | Feb 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. I worked IT at a small company at my last job. We had a sales guy there who was scummy as hell, one may go as far to say he was a con artist. When the company was on the verge of going under (which it eventually did), he tried to get one of his buddies hired there. At this point I didn’t trust the guy as far as I could throw his car, so as soon as I heard his friend’s name, I Googled with all my might. Turns out his buddy had ran one of these vanity publishing scams which was litigated into collapse. I compiled all the evidence I could and presented it to my manager (who was also the CEO.. it was a very small company). He was not hired.

    John | Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

  3. Has he written anything other than the book PA is (presumably still) holding hostage?

    kneil | Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

  4. I just added his web site to the bottom of the article.

    Enjoy!

    Dave Hitt | Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

  5. That last line still has me chuckling — I’ll have to remember that one.

    TimS | Feb 2, 2011 | Reply

  6. Brilliant! Really enjoyed Matt’s correspondence.
    I’ve just had a similar e-mail for pa asking for $199 for my book rights back. Living in the UK I’m not sure where I stand with getting my book rights back without paying (I cetainly don’t want to pay). Can someone help me on this?

    many thanks.

    Richard | Jul 27, 2011 | Reply

  7. I have no idea, but the folks at the Absolute Write form might be able to provide some advice.

    Hittman | Jul 28, 2011 | Reply

  8. I am one of Publish America’s current authors and have had the following problems as far as selling my books are concerned. Firstly whenever anyone tries to buy one of my books they are told that they are out of print; secondly when I try to buy one for them (or maybe a larger order of ten books to be shipped to the UK) I am told that I have to pay 12 dollars PER BOOK, even though when I ship five or six of my books back to the USA I can do so, by combining them into a small parcel, for around eight dollars in total. Somehow ten books from Publish America to the UK costs 120 dollars yet if I send the same ten books back it only costs around 12 dollars???? Come on Publish America do you really think we are that naive? Finally when I managed to get a major British Bookstore to stock my book the prohibitive nature of handling and mailing charges PER BOOK, killed the deal.
    In conclusion I fail to see how PA can legally call itself a publisher when all they are capable of is extorting money from its’ vanity authors.
    I am currently exploring the possibility of THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU of Maryland looking into the dealing of Publish America with a view to bringing them to account for mishandling and misrepresenting its authors who signed with the company in good faith. Early talks with them seem to indicate that they are very interested in the underhand dealing of PA and have been looking closely at them for some time. Maybe a few more authors need to contact this Bureau?

    david rees | Aug 3, 2011 | Reply

  9. I, too, have had no luck or responses from PA.

    People I know have purchased the book and no check in the mail ?!!

    Why in fact, my book isn’t even listed on the PA website!!!

    Not there!!

    Published since 2005 and it just is not there?

    It used to be; for a short time.

    I wish we could enforce a class action suit against them for all the harm they have caused us rather trusting authors.

    H. Melton | Mar 19, 2012 | Reply

  10. How long is the contract? When do we get our books back. You are charging $76.00 for a 100 page book and $74 for a110 page book. No one will buy it at that price my ebooks are $24.00 when normal ebook are $5 this is so nuts. When is my contract over and I get my books back?

    Linda Hays-Gibbs | Nov 1, 2012 | Reply

  11. I also published with Publish America in 2012, I was reeled into the scam by false promises. With my book set at a retail of $24.95 no one wanted to purchase my book! I purchased copies to get out a few orders, then shipping charges and prices fluctuated where nothing was affordable.

    I learned that all marketing concepts that were developed to promote my book were useless and I had to delete everything that I had developed! I have done nothing to promote my works except ordering a few copies.

    I developed another book to take the place of my book Strength of Love which I published through Publish America. Upon receiving royalty statements my balance has always been Zero nata!

    I received an email expressing that since I had no sales in 13 months I had an opportunity to purchase my rights back! For the Fee of $99.00, I contacted to assure payment had been received and I was told it had not! I resubmitted with proof of said payment and response referred to no payment received, when I had record it was taken out of my checking account and received.

    Upon the acknowledged response, I wanted everything to be rightfully returned. I sought out the local news to investigate. They contacted Publish America and my reply was a threatening email stating I lied to the Press and I was to offer an apology or be sued! I did not reply, just forwarded to the news. I have not heard back from Publish America.

    Jeremy Taylor | Apr 18, 2014 | Reply

  12. In 2002 I also established a copyright based upon my creative writhing values to assure my works were set under protection in case of any fraudulent action. So if Publish America wants to play I will intitate a possible copyright infringement Lawsuit!

    Jeremy Taylor | Apr 18, 2014 | Reply

  13. My contract should have ended in 2013. Here I am 2 years later seeing my book forsale on Amazon, Books a million, Barnes and Noble and several UK internet sites. My original contract did not have a section concerning digital right. They offeremd me a chance in 2012 for $199 to get all my rights back. i wish I would have taken it. I’m wondering can I rework my book now and publish it on my own or will I get sued since PA is still selling it on the internet. By the way the last royalty I received was in 2007, so its not like they are flying off the internet either.

    shawn blakeley | Jul 22, 2015 | Reply

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