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Discussion Starter #1
For anyone who considers, or knows someone who is considering, PublishAmerica as a potential publisher:

I got a press release from PublishAmerica today promoting one of their books. I've posted the release here for those who are curious as to the marketing ability of PA. I edited out the author's name and book titles because this isn't the author's fault. I'm sure she thought she was getting a contract with a 'real' publisher who would market her book for her.

The press release, with the exception of where I edited out the author's name and title, is reproduced exactly as it was sent to me. Now folks who aren't well-versed in press release writing may not immediately realize what is wrong here. But anyone who knows anything about PR will probably feel the urge to cry a little.

First, they sent a press release promoting their book to another publisher. I'm not a big publisher. But I am a publisher. The only way I end up on their marketing mailing list is if they farmed email addressess off of the internet without confirming what they were. This is the "throw enough you-know-what" against the wall approach. Just spam the press release to as many live email addresses as you can and hope for the best.

Second, it is poorly written. Besides the obvious proofreading errors (why is "winning" capitalized in the first paragraph?), it is just a drab and ugly release. It reads like a form release where they just plug in the author's name, hometime, and list of publications. There is no attempt whatsoever to make the release newsworthy. Assume for a moment that I WAS a good media outlet for this book. Where is the news here? Why would I care? This is what we call a "Happy Snowflake" press release, where the release assumes that anyone really gives a damn about yet another book of generic content. It isn't even clear what the book is about. Is it a book of poetry? Essays? Is it a biography? Fiction?

Third, it never directs you to get more information about the author. No information on the author's website, book availability, pricing, or anything. It ends with a plug for PA and a link to their site. If I WAS interested in the book, how would I find it? The link provided is to their main site. Rule one of marketing: customers (and media editors) are lazy. If you don't put the important information we need in the release, we aren't going to go looking for it.

I'm not worried about KB members falling for PA, but you may know someone who is vulnerable to such things. So I just wanted to share this so folks can have additional ammo when trying to "talk down" their friends. Because friends don't let friends publish with PA. :eek: ;D
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Second, it is poorly written. Besides the obvious proofreading errors (why is "winning" capitalized in the first paragraph?), it is just a drab and ugly release.
Ah, yes, the Charlie Sheen school of PR. Next, flipping out in a manic performance on a late-night cable access show, very chic. Soon to follow, a one man show in sixteen minor US cities! This strategy has bestseller written all over it (the lower-case capital on bestseller is intentional, btw).
 

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It is pretty bad.  I like the little part about if you buy the book you can also feel good about cancer to help justify your purchase.  Also I had to scratch my head about the part where it's her dream to see her work come to life on the big screen but one paragraphs earlier it says that this book is full of lyrics for her film TITLE DELETED.

You're right there wasn't anything newsworthy here.  It read like an author bio on a jacket sleeve and listed everything the author has done.  After I look at it again, that is what the third and largest paragraph is, aside from Publish America's monster plug at the end.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
SBJones said:
It is pretty bad. I like the little part about if you buy the book you can also feel good about cancer to help justify your purchase. Also I had to scratch my head about the part where it's her dream to see her work come to life on the big screen but one paragraphs earlier it says that this book is full of lyrics for her film TITLE DELETED.
I noticed that too. It's one of the reasons I suspect this is a form press release and they just go in and fill out the blanks. They probably use the identical format for all books regardless of the topic.
 

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You may make fun of that, Julie, but if you query the search engine of your choice for "PublishAmerica is proud to present", you'll find a huge array of past press releases, and you'll see that this one is actually one of the better ones...

FREDERICK, MD -- PublishAmerica is proud to present Title by Firstname Lastname of City, State.

In Lastname's masterfully written book, readers will experience the meaning of steamy erotic poetry and storytelling combined as they escape on an intimate journey through love, sex and betrayal with Firstname in Title.

PublishAmerica is the home of 20,000 talented authors. PublishAmerica is a traditional publishing company whose primary goal is to encourage and promote the works of new, previously undiscovered writers.

Like more mainstream publishers, PublishAmerica pays its authors advances and royalties, makes its books available in both the United States and Europe through all bookstores, and never charges any fees for its services.

PublishAmerica offers a distinctly personal, supportive alternative to vanity presses and less accessible publishers.
^ 2007

PublishAmerica Presents Title by Firstname Lastname

Wilmington, DE (PublishAmerica) April 13, 2006 -- PublishAmerica is proud to announce that it has acquired the publishing rights to Firstname Lastname's Title, a fast-paced, informative young-adult novel about the spoilt students of a Cityname private school who learned nothing at home except exposure to sexual lust, criminal negligence and sheer misplacement of priorities. Title is also a social commentary on single parenthood, the triumph of bi-racial romance and an individual's struggle, against all odds and stereotypes, to survive a ghetto existence.

Title is Firstname Lastname's second book. His first novel, Other Title, was published in 2004 by PublishAmerica. Although trained as an accountant, Firstname Lastname's real passion has always been writing. He has contributed columns to newspapers, essays to journals and poems to anthologies. Firstname Lastname resides in City, State.

Contact:
Darcy Smittenaar
Public Relations Department
PublishAmerica
[email protected]
www.publishamerica.com
^ 2006
 

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The best thing, the absolute best thing, about the rise of indie publishing is that writers who can't get a contract with a big publisher no longer have to feel desperate enough to turn to places like PA. That being said, it's dismaying to me that anyone is still using PA. I suppose that the fact that they try to pretend they're a "real" publisher accounts for it. I hope that eventually, there will be little demand left for their so-called services.
 

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Dan C. Rinnert said:
I didn't even know they were still around.
Yeah, I drive past their sign and their ratty little building every time I go to the grocery store. They are the shame of Frederick.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
LisaGraceBooks said:
*****, you really should get that cough checked out... :D
I have an allergic reaction to PublishAmerica. It generally includes, coughing, sneezing, and the uncontrollable urge to scream at the top of my lungs. :eek: ;D
 

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You know, if you write a good press release, one that actually reads like a news story (with quotations from several real people, for instance) and has unique, interesting content, you can get smaller local newspapers to publish it, sometimes pretty much verbatim -- especially in this day and age when so many publications have had to cut back on staff and thus have more trouble generating enough words.

That press release Julie posted would get an F in a Journalism 101 class. Just awful. Complete waste of time. This is clearly a PR effort that's just about checking off the "press release sent" box and not one iota more.
 

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Well, yeah, Becca, but if PA went off and solicited quotes from people and stuff, they'd almost begin, God forbid, to resemble a real publisher, y'know? Can't have that happen. :)
 

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I have always felt bad when I hear about someone getting suckered into "signing" with PA. I have an ex-coworker who was telling me about his brother-in-law's awesome children's book that had gotten published traditionally. Naturally, I raced home to find the book on Amazon only to discover that it was published by PA. I felt so bad for the guy, but I couldn't bring myself to say anything to my friend or his relative. They were all just so proud of the accomplishment.

More recently, I was in my local used bookstore and I came across an advertisement on their community bulletin board. It was this huge, blown-up book cover and at the bottom of it, a small box had been made with business cards inside. It was a cute little advertisement, so I decided to read the text that accompanied it. I quickly discovered that it was an author who was so excited about his book being "traditionally published through PublishAmerica" that he wanted to tell the world about it. Of course, the book's blurb was clearly written by the author himself. It was riddled with grammar and punctuation issues. Worse, it was the actual blurb that was on the book. Secondly, the author's business card listed his home address (including apartment number), home and cell phone number and personal e-mail address.

I went home and checked out the book's listing. It had been published several months before, and the book was so low in the rankings that I guessed it might have been purchased once by an enthusiastic friend when it first came out. Not only that, it had the usual PA book price of close to $30 for less than 200 pages of fiction. Thinking that maybe I could reach out to a fellow author in my city and politely sway him away from future releases with PA, I visited his blog. He already has another completed manuscript sent out to PA for review. I felt terrible for the guy, but I left it at that. From what I read, his books were not where they needed to be for publication, and he showed no signs of wanting to improve. Why should he? A "traditional publisher" loves his work! I understand where he's coming from completely. I can only hope that he will see the light once both books sit on the shelves for half a decade and he only makes a few dollars in royalties.

What makes me feel for this author even more than anything is that I could see that he was on his own to market his book. PA, being what they are, had left him alone in the very tough business side of publishing to fend for himself.

Anyway, I digress. Mostly, I came here to comment on that horrible press release. I don't even know where to begin. It's awful from start to finish, and I would be embarrassed if something like that was ever sent out about one of my books.

 

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I can't help but feel sorry for the people who sucked into it. At the same time, how much research would it take to find out PA's reputation? *sigh*

I have hoped that their profits have gone way, way down in the past few years though. Every single writer who is warned what a horrible pseudo-publisher they are is a win for the good guys.
 

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George Berger said:
Well, yeah, Becca, but if PA went off and solicited quotes from people and stuff, they'd almost begin, God forbid, to resemble a real publisher, y'know? Can't have that happen. :)
::)

Compromise position: just make up some quotes. "We believe deeply in this book," said Jane Schmoe, CEO of PublishAmerica. "It conveys with such sensitivity the tragedy of flea-infestation from a ferret's perspective." Yadda, yadda, yadda. How hard can it be?
 

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JRTomlin said:
I can't help but feel sorry for the people who sucked into it. At the same time, how much research would it take to find out PA's reputation? *sigh*

I have hoped that their profits have gone way, way down in the past few years though. Every single writer who is warned what a horrible pseudo-publisher they are is a win for the good guys.
I think most of their profits come from the authors buying copies of their own book to sell at book signings and such.
 

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JRTomlin said:
I can't help but feel sorry for the people who sucked into it. At the same time, how much research would it take to find out PA's reputation? *sigh*
Agreed. When I finished my first book back in 2008, the first thing I did was start researching small presses. I quickly found Preditors and Editors and realized that there were companies like PA out there. I guess some people just get so excited by the allure of being a published author that they get pulled in by the first company that wants to give them that validation. It's a sad story.
 

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Becca Mills said:
Compromise position: just make up some quotes. "We believe deeply in this book," said Jane Schmoe, CEO of PublishAmerica. "It conveys with such sensitivity the tragedy of flea-infestation from a ferret's perspective." Yadda, yadda, yadda. How hard can it be?
But that would be... unprofessional! :)
 
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Discussion Starter #19
JRTomlin said:
I can't help but feel sorry for the people who sucked into it. At the same time, how much research would it take to find out PA's reputation? *sigh*
Part of the problem is the double-edged sword of the "information age." I think a lot of people are just overwhelmed by the volume of information available. And truth be told, a lot of the "information" available online is suspect. Unless you know which sites and blogs are trustworthy to begin with, where do you even start to research? Writers can't depend on the Old Guard, so to speak, because the companies that use to look out for authors have been sold off to other companies who traded the old company's reputation for cash. For example, Writer's Digest routinely promotes vanity press companies today that, ten years ago, their magazine was warning people about. Everyone has an agenda or a how-to book to promote. Unless you already have that firm understand of how the industry is supposed to work, it can be hard to sift the truth from the smoke.

Heck, even here on KB, where you have folks with a much higher knowledge set than most indies, how often do people ask questions and get not just bad advice, but stuff that is 100% wrong? You still see folks promoting things like the "poor man's copyright" or making erroneous statements about public domain status? The volume of data is so much, and so much of the data is from questionable sources, that it can be very hard for people to find the truth.
 

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ShayneHellerman said:
I think most of their profits come from the authors buying copies of their own book to sell at book signings and such.
Yes, but the more people that find their way to legitimate publishing the fewer there are who buy their own books. Or that's my hope anyway.

Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Part of the problem is the double-edged sword of the "information age." I think a lot of people are just overwhelmed by the volume of information available. And truth be told, a lot of the "information" available online is suspect. Unless you know which sites and blogs are trustworthy to begin with, where do you even start to research? Writers can't depend on the Old Guard, so to speak, because the companies that use to look out for authors have been sold off to other companies who traded the old company's reputation for cash. For example, Writer's Digest routinely promotes vanity press companies today that, ten years ago, their magazine was warning people about. Everyone has an agenda or a how-to book to promote. Unless you already have that firm understand of how the industry is supposed to work, it can be hard to sift the truth from the smoke.

Heck, even here on KB, where you have folks with a much higher knowledge set than most indies, how often do people ask questions and get not just bad advice, but stuff that is 100% wrong? You still see folks promoting things like the "poor man's copyright" or making erroneous statements about public domain status? The volume of data is so much, and so much of the data is from questionable sources, that it can be very hard for people to find the truth.
I agree that there is a HUGE amount of bad and misinformation out, but about PA, the amount of information out there that tells what they are really like and how they actually make their money is extremely easy to find. It has been for years. So although I feel badly for people, I also know it wouldn't have been hard for them to find out the truth.

I think (hope) that fewer people are falling for it now since it's easy to find alternatives though.
 
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