Wednesday, September 21, 2011

PublishAmerica and CBA: Rowling Redux

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

I'm sure you all remember the notorious J.K. Rowling Incident, in which PublishAmerica tied Rowling's name to one of its numerous author promotions. Rowling was not amused; through a spokesman, she made it clear that she had no relationship with PublishAmerica. Subsequently, her legal team sent PA a cease and desist demand, which occasioned a truly jawdropping "tone" response from PA.

Given how annoying or embarrassing this was for everyone involved, you might think there wouldn't be a repeat.

Whoops.

PublishAmerica authors report receiving the following solicitation:
Dear author:

There are 1,100 Christian bookstores. in the United States. That's a lot of bookshelves they need to keep filled.

The week after next is Christian Store Week!

The CBA, formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association, is encouraging authors to schedule an in-store event in their area Christian bookstores. We'll be happy to submit your name.

Your book in a full-color Fall sales/marketing catalog will go next week to the Association for Christian Retail. We will also contact each Christian bookstore separately!

We're making a high quality, full-color, attention grabbing, easy-to-order presentation next week for the Christian bookstores association. They need to know about America's lowest retail priced book: your book.

Secure your book's spot in this high quality full-color 8 x 11 presentation for the Christian bookstores. Go to www.publishamerica.net/ChristianStores.html to activate. Your book and your name will be promoted in prominent and beautiful full-color. We'll also tell them in what town/state you live, so that area stores know you're there!

Must choose a shipping option to activate. No use of coupons allowed. Mention your book title(s).

Thank you,

--PublishAmerica Bookstore

DISCLAIMER: PublishAmerica has no affiliation with the CBA and/or individual Christian bookstores beyond that of a regular publisher/bookseller relationship, without preferential access or other special treatment. No specific result from PublishAmerica's best efforts to represent and promote its authors and their books is suggested or guaranteed.
The cost: anywhere from $49 to $99, depending on which option you choose.

Note the disclaimer. Clearly, PA doesn't want another Rowling situation on its hands. However, disclaimers aren't always enough.

The solicitation was forwarded to CBA--and like Rowling, they are not amused. I learned this evening that CBA has sent a warning to the Operating Board of American Christian Fiction Writers, which has been passed on to ACFW members. CBA has also posted the following alert in their e-news feed:
WARNING TO CHRISTIAN AUTHORS

CBA has been informed that Christian authors are being contacted by an organization called PublishAmerica that¹s soliciting for authors to submit their books to a sales/marketing catalog that they claim will be going to CBA. Please be aware that CBA has no knowledge of PublishAmerica; that PublishAmerica is not connected to Christian Store Week; and that CBA has no agreement of any kind with PublishAmerica, nor is CBA affiliated in any way, shape, or form with that organization.
Eric Grimm, CBA Manager of Strategic Partnerships, confirmed for me in email that this information has also been forwarded to Christian Retailing, the trade journal for Christian and church bookstores.

Whoops, indeed.

18 comments:

Claire Lachance said...

Thanks for the warning!

Alice Loweecey said...

Excellent post! Thank you for keeping an eye out for us writers!

Anonymous said...

I cannot figure PA out with their constant spam scams. Given their close call with Rowling's legal team, are they arrogant, stupid, or desperate? Do they need money that badly? Do they just not care? Do they believe that they can just keep doing this? And does it pay off? I mean offer after offer after offer after offer with no more than a couple of days in between them has to be one of the dumber move ss. Even con men let their marks breathe now and again.

Standback said...

I'm kind of relieved. With that intro, I was starting to worry they were hawking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, because Jesus Christ will be offered the chance to read your book!

I'm also amused by their lovely description of their writers' work as "America's lowest retail priced book!". That really isn't as impressive as they seem to think it sounds.

Theresa Milstein said...

Yes, what is "America's lowest retail priced book." Do they think Christian writers want to sell their books for less than $1?

Tom Proffitt said...

Have you searched for PublishAmerica/Dallas Diamond?
That is another Scam they are trying to pull! Thank you, Tom

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

While I'm not surprised -- although I AM saddened -- by PA's audacity, a warning flag went up in the CBA response. Which is that they start off talking about this company called PA, and then they go on to say, "CBA has no knowledge of PublishAmerica" -- but if you have no knowledge of a group, how can you be commenting on their actions?

Seems they've weakened their own position with that statement, which is sad.

S.M. Carrière said...

*Rolls eyes.

Really? Really?

Loree Huebner said...

Thanks for the info.

Jan said...

I expect the J.K.Rowling thing only INCREASED their comfort with doing this kind of thing. Rowling's legal hounds did the bare minimum required (send a cease and desist letter) and didn't even bother to follow up when PA sent them a tone letter. Thus, again confirming that PA can do this as much as they like and no one will go to the trouble of actually making real effort to stop them.

fantasydreamer12 said...

Just shows PA will do anything for money.

Scooter Carlyle said...

I'd not thought of it that way, Jan, but I think you are right!

There is a fairly large chunk of the populace that operates on doing what they can get away with instead of doing what's right. Apparently a large number of them wound up at PA.

BuffySquirrel said...

There wasn't much more Rowling could have done, I don't think. What is truly sad is that some people will read that disclaimer then pay for their book to be in the catalogue anyway.

I don't know of any other traditional (ahem ahem) publisher that charges authors to promote their books in its catalogues.

Shawn James said...

*FACEPALM*
An author can just go to Christian Bookstores with a contact sheet with the book's cover synopsis, and the ISBN listed and a copy of their book and ask for it to be stocked. This costs absolutely nothing outside of a copy of the book. Most bookstores will list the book in their system and some will stock your book on the shelf.

Authors can also send a postcard with the ISBN and a picture of the books cover and synopsis to reach bookstores. Again, this costs next to nothing.

If an author has a book with a strong hook, and a good retailer discount, they have a shot at getting stocked at bookstores. And if they have returnablity on their titles it increases their chances.

Paying PublishAmerica this kind of money is crazy. Then again an author who submits to PA has to not know much about the publishing game to get involved with them.

No bookstore is going to stock a paperback that costs $25.

K. Robinson said...

I'd love to see the catalog they ultimately send out. With the only criterion for inclusion in the catalog being willingness to fork over money, it might be quite a hoot.

Anonymous said...

PA is 100% scam. Alas in my haste, I did not check them out before contracting with them to publish my book. I soon learned the error of my actions - and while they claim to be NO FEE for publishing, authors are hit almost daily with so-called opportunities to get exposure for one's book, at significant fees for each effort. But PA refuses (ignores) all requests to substantiate the service paid for. i.e. they do not send out tear sheets, or statements, or photos - nothing. You take them at the word, and trust me their word is worth NOTHING. My book was released in Spring of 2011. I have not gotten a single reply to my questions; not been paid a dime in royalties for my sales; gotten no response to messages left. Further, I have been contacted by purchasers telling that they never received a print copy for which they paid, but rather, were sent ebooks which they did not want. Some purchasers waited over 3 months go get their book! I myself ordered books and waited well over 3 months for most of them to arrive. In addition, PA arbitrarily decided to remove the print version from their website and to offer only ebook, at a price not mentioned to me. I would not have learned of it unless a purchaser wrote and asked if I knew what PA was doing!
This outfit has currently several hundred BBB complaints, as well as numerous lawsuits for unpaid bills and from vendors and authors. They are without a doubt the worst so-called publisher in America - fraud, unethical, illegal and with NO redeeming value. It is cheaper and more reliable to print your own books if you are planning on selling under 1000.

Anonymous said...

A post script to my comment - re pricing. PA produces paperback books (never hard cover) and they price those paperbacks above most hard cover books. A typical sized paperback would be about $9.50 to $12. PA charges $29.95!~ Needless to say most people complain about such an absurdly high price for a paperback!

Anonymous said...

I, too, sent PA my book in 2008. Everything mentioned here is true. I still get three or four emails daily, wanting to charge me to advertise my book. I read my seven-year contract with them. It states they will advertise my book at their cost not mine. I hope I get my rights back at the end of the contract. I plan to send a registered letter asking for them. One of their emails offered to sell my rights back for $600. I didn't. Until this last year my paper back book sold for $29.95 unless they offered a rare cheap sale. I'm ready to submit another book but not to them.

Learned the hard way and researching publishers...