Saturday, February 01, 2014

PublishAmerica Is Now America Star Books

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

PublishAmerica has a new name: America Star Books. The PublishAmerica URL (www.publishamerica.com) now defaults to the America Star Books website.


The changeover is acknowledged on America Star's website, on the About Us page:
America Star Books used to be known as PublishAmerica, the no-nonsense, hard driving pioneer that changed the American publishing landscape for good when in 1999 it forced an opening for tens of thousands of American authors to join what was until then an elite status of being published for free.
The name change is recent: sometime after January 4, 2014, which is the last date the old PublishAmerica website was archived by the Internet Archive. The America Star Books URL is registered to PublishAmerica's co-founder, Willem Meiners; since I first put this post online, the registration has been anonymized, but here's how it originally looked:


Some of the material from the PA website has been ported over, such as the Facts and Figures page, but overall the new site is much leaner than the former one.

The business model also appears to have changed:
Not only do we continue to publish, for free, tens of thousands of American and Canadian authors, but to that we add a unique mission.

It is our mission to translate into English books that Americans have never heard of, from languages that most Americans don't speak. America Star Books gives foreign authors an English voice, and publishes their work in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
A Dutch self-publishing service called Free Musketeers appears to have already entered into an arrangement with America Star to publish English versions of its books. (The link is to the Google translation of the page, which is why the English is a bit wonky.)

For more information about PublishAmerica, see Writer Beware's Alert.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

So they revamped their web page added "translation services" but pretty much remain the same.

Steve MC said...

Thanks for the tip. My cousin put out a book with PA, thinking it was an actual publisher and he was lucky to have his work accepted.

Richard C. White said...

I was wondering how PA was going to stay afloat with so many authors turning to self-publishing as it becomes easier and cheaper to produce the books for themselves, (and since PA books were not being distributed, they get the same distribution benefits doing themselves too).

However, I guess they found another untapped vein to try mining again. Trouble is, I hope they're not salting it for others who follow.

I'll be sure to update my workshop to include this new info, Victoria.

P. David Gardner said...

Hmm, put on a new coat, feel like a new person. But underneath, the same old same old.

widdershins said...

Cockroaches and PublishAmerica will be all that remains after the zombie apocalypse!

Anonymous said...

First of all, do you know how many books are published each day, month, YEAR??? Thousands and thousands!!! The chance that an unknown author is going to write a best-seller,is slim to none! Instead of blaming PA or America Star Books for your lack of sales, look in the mirror! That's where the blame should be. If you want to self-publish your book, feel free to do it. PA/AmericaStar Books does it for free. Do you honestly think that they make money, if your books don't sell? Of course not! You're all ridiculous!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, anonymous, there is a big deal about this warning. PA has been sued and LOST for terrible practices that were misleading and down right fraudulent. Such as, putting mistakes into their publications and then turning around and offering to sell editing services. (They wouldn't allow the author to edit the book without charging an enormous fee to do so.) They sold deals where they would send big celebs copies of books with the vague promises of blockbuster deals, then barely followed through after taking the money. They claim to be in Barnes and Noble, and no B&N store carries a scarp of PA works. Yes, they are creeps and they are only changing their names because they fouled up the last one so badly and want to continue suckering people into bad deals.

Tzivia at WriteKidsbooks.org said...

Sheesh... I guess as long as there are newbie writers out there to be fleeced. :-(
Good thing there's a site like this. I've linked up to you from my blog so legit writers can steer clear of sketchy marketers of all kinds.
@widdershins, I'm with you on that zombie apocalypse thing.

Anthony Dorato said...

Publish America does not publish books for free. They charge money for the books especially to the authors. They have no distributor which is their down fall. Also, their contract is air tight for 7 years.

Anonymous said...

Check your facts and read your contracts. All PA and America Star authors are given a deadline to submit their final manuscripts. FINAL! It is up to the author to read over their work and correct any errors that they see. PA and ASB never claimed that they will edit your books. If an author isn't smart enough to read over their own work before submitting their final copy, then whose fault is that? Do unknown authors really think that their books are going to be the next best seller? Ridiculous! For all of you on here who want to bash this company, you're just mad because you didn't get everything for free. Would you run a business and give everything away for free? Of course not! Do you really expect them to publish your books for free AND go out and promote your book at a hundred venues? Your books aren't any good, which is why they don't sell. Just like any other business, this company has to make money too. The reason you don't get paid royalties is because, no matter how you calculate it, 8% of $0 is still $0. Also, I looked up the court rulings about this company and only once did PA lose a case. All other cases were thrown out, because they had no basis!

Jim Hartley said...

Back when I foolishly signed a book with RubbishAmerica, they didn't charge for editing, but simply said that editing delayed publishing by six months. This put the fear in the hearts of naive newbies that six months would give them a chance to cancel (Hah! Not bloody likely). And besides we really wanted to see our glorious books in our hot little hands.

Once the book was published, it was offered at an outrageously high price, just so they could offer huge discounts on sales to the authors, with really cheesy incentives (buy 14 copies at 50% off and we'll send 2 review copies to Oprah!!!!). Of course they never claimed Oprah was going to even look at those books ...

I finally paid their extortion fee to cancel the contract and get my rights back (the book is now published by a different publisher, a real publisher). Giving themselves a new name, and adding a translation scam, isn't going to change them even a tiny bit.

Anonymous said...

"Do you really expect them to publish your books for free AND go out and promote your book at a hundred venues?"

My publisher, Booktrope, is a micro press in Seattle and they do just that.

Anonymous said...

Jim Hartley, you are so right, but you get what you pay for. I paid nothing to get published and PA's service was nothing. They do no more than print the book for you. You must pay for any and everything else. They price the books so ridiculously that your own relatives won't purchase it. I bought and sold every single copy. I've written an second book and will look to someone else.

dugan06 said...

I've had a book published through Rubbish America only to find it a joke. It had errors all throughout the book that I did not put in there in the first place. I saved a copy of my manuscript and compared the two and it was not the same. They offered me editorial support but was charging $300 for the service. I told them that the errors did not exist in the first place and that no one should have changed the words around. The person replied that I signed a contract stating that I agree to the necessary changes if needed. Pretty much screwing me. Be careful of the new name change its the same trap. Anyone heard of this scam out there called "Maverick Money Makers"? run by one named Mack Michaels. Its like Mack changing his name to Mike Mackies. Don't be fooled by the wolf in sheep clothing!

john hund said...

Anonymous said...on 2/05/2014 5:50 PM
Should have posted as Publish America's Editor and Chief of rip-off. Clearly it is someone in house at Rubbish America. I know this because it is the only defense of P.A on all of the internet. Both of his post try to legitimize a the illegitimate. No name no credit! F-off.

wolfspeare said...

I submitted a book through PA in 2010 and found them rude and difficult to deal with, although luckily I didn't have some of the issues that other authors have complained of. I never fell for those bogus e-mails like having Oprah review my book. I just rolled my eyes and deleted the e-mails. So far I haven't spent a cent.

Recently, I have noticed that they've changed some of their policies. For instance, my children's biography was selling for the ridiculous price of $19.99 (only 75 pages) and they have dropped the price to $9.99. They told me I could purchase my own copies for $8.00 with free shipping. (They used to charge $4.95 for each book shipped!) The two people I have dealt with recently have been very pleasant and accommodating. For instance, they originally promised to make some changes in the final draft, then later told me they'd charge me for it. I refused to pay. Just in the last 6 months I talked to someone there who agreed to make the changes I had initially asked for at no charge, and that has happened.

Maybe my expectations weren't that high to begin with, and, perhaps they have become more agreeable and hired pleasant employees because of the lawsuit. I still wish I'd used Amazon or some other POD company, but at least things have improved since 2010.

Susan Ethridge said...

I too published a book threw PA many years ago. In fact being a silly uninformed person that I was I sent them another one, which I have gotten released from their grimy hands. Now, since I never got the fist one released, I keep receiving these email wanting to promote my book for pennies on the dollar. WHAT!?? I kept deleting the messages then a few days back I get this phone call from that company and found out they once was Publish America. I thanked the lady but said no thanks and cut the phone call short. I still keep getting these emails from them and I keep deleting them unread.

I have learned from my mistake with Publish America and have no intentions of making another one. I must admit I haven't written in several years due to my auto-immune reeking havoc with my thinking process. Things has gotten better now and after I have my knee replacement surgery I think I will try once again at writing. However, I will NOT submit to Star Books.

Keep writing for yourself and hopefully one day someone in the publishing world will want to publish your book, a real publisher.

RLL said...

Just done a blog post about vanity/subsidy presses.

http://rll-reportfromafugitive.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/vanity-publishing-and-subsidy.html

PropUSN said...

Willem Meiners.
Look for that name on Facebook!!! Send that scum bag as many threats as you can. Get the rights to your books back! Let the world know that this bastard has been stealing from us authors for too long!
And to the one who 'praises' PA, I know for a fact that my two books, (I'm a two time loser with PA) have indeed sold.
PA and now America Star is reaping my royalties! They ARE making money off of you suckers!!!
I'll continue to spread the word about these crooks!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if Anonymous realizes they have been sued and lost over just the way their contracts are written....I know I am one of those that sued and one...funny thing was they didn't even try to settle out of court (like they usually do)

Anonymous said...

PA, and now the new boss, same as the old boss...is a ripoff. I had six books published by PA, which was great for my ego, I guess, but the absurd high prices they put on them didn't work as a selling point. Their most recent contract sucks, too. With my first novel, I got six complimentary copies. For the last three, NONE and no royalties paid to the author until 45 copies are sold. I am making more money putting my books on Amazon for Kindles and other readers. Go there!

Anonymous said...

My books (NEW) are also appearing with other booksellers but no royalties are showing up in my mailbox. Where are they getting these copies if not from PA...or maybe Lightning Source is making money on the side. Glad I'm done with these crooks.

Victoria Strauss said...

Anonymouse 7:54: do you know of anyone who has actually bought those books? Most online vendor listings are digital listings only--the vendors don't have the book in stock. They wait for an order, and then get hold f a copy.

Jim Hartley said...

Wow, I thought the PA contract was bad when I did a book, "Teen Angel," with them in 2007 ... I got two free copies and token advance of ONE DOLLAR! Sounds like they have gotten a lot worse. And then they grossly overpriced this skinny paperback at $24.95!!!
Eventually I paid their extortion fee to terminate the contract early and get my rights back. Sent it to my e-book publisher where it is selling for $5.50. And they didn't want print rights, so I now have a CreateSpace paperback priced at $8.95 ... much more reasonable.

Jim Hartley said...

Victoria -

They must have sold a few copies of my book ... after it was published in 2007, I got royalties of $21.13 in 2007 and 2008. Then, nothing, absolutely nothing, until I cancelled in 2011 when they sent me $1.12 (!!!) to close out the account.

But I have been having fun with their corporate logo. Since I can't put pictures here, go to my blog at http://jameshartleyauthor.blogspot.com/2014/02/publish-america-now-america-star-books.html to see my versions of their logos ... both old and new.

LB said...

I had the misfortune of falling prey to Publish America with my first novel. After a couple of rejections, I found PA listed in the Writer's Digest Market guide and foolishly assumed that because it was in that venerable tomb it had been vetted and was accordingly a "legitimate" publisher. After all, it was listed right there along with the likes of Random House, Simon and Schuster, Tor, etc. Anyway, the long and the short of it was that PA accepted my novel without hesitation, and thus began a trek down the road to bitter disappointment.

First off, believing them to be a legitimate publisher (as they claimed), I thought my book would receive some serious editorial guidance. Much to my dismay, none was forthcoming. Nada. Zip. In fact PA basically boasted that they published a writer's work untouched--as if to suggest that editing ruined a work and distorted a writer's vision, typos and all. Suffice it to say, my first "published" work did not end up being the book I wanted it to be.

My misery was compounded by the fact that the novel was given an outrageous cover price. I would never have paid the price they were asking for a trade paperback, so I'm not surprised nobody else wanted to either. I spent a great deal of time promoting the work on line and in various other ways, but I could never overcome that mind-blowing sticker shock.

Of course, like many who were suckered by PA, I soon began to understand just how the business model for the enterprise worked. Basically it tapped into the vanity of would-be writers, ceaselessly cajoling "clients" with a plethora of e-mails that presented various schemes in which an author's work might be promoted. These almost always involved purchasing several copies of one's own book, and featured ridiculous and outlandish assertions, such as: buying a given number of copies of one's own work would assure representation at a major book fair, or accord one the opportunity to be read by Oprah, Tom Hanks, etc.

Needless to say, I was never insane enough to avail myself of any of these chicanery. And for those who say that an unknown writer shouldn't expect to get his/her work published for free and have it sell in book stores and the like (and actually make the author a reasonable income), I just have to wonder how much such people know about publishing. The fact is, I'm getting my next book published "for free," and it will be distributed in bookstores, and the publisher will actually promote it. Imagine that. Moreover, I'm being paid for this privilege, and have, indeed, received a respectable advance. Of course, this probably wouldn't have happened if I hadn't got myself a good agent, and I suppose in an indirect way I can thank PA for that. Had my experience with them not been so truly awful and crushing (to the point that I almost gave up writing), I'd not have learned some invaluable lessons--not least of which (as far as I'm concerned) is that you really need an agent if you hope to have an actual writing career. My agent has made me a much better writer in all respects, and without her I can honestly say I'd not have found a home for my second novel.


Sam said...

I submitted my novel to PA - they accepted and gave me a dollar for my efforts.
Several of my friends have purchased copies - hundreds - have I been compensated NOPE.
After being scammed for over $1,000, I'm now thinkinga bout PAYING $99 to have the privilage of getting my intellectual property back.
PA is a scam - trust me on that folks.
Whomever this "Anonymous" is that works for PA / America Star Books has a sad life indeed. Seriously, how bad does your life have to be when you are paid to scour the internet and defend scumbags like PA. I mean, when ya go to bed at night, realizing that your company preys on the hopes of writers then takes them for everything they got...do ya look in the mirror and say, "Great Job, I made a difference today!"
Do everyone that is trying to create a good story a favor, send them far, far away from these crooks!

Anonymous said...

I submitted a book a few years ago, Book came out really nice. Just too expensive to buy and ship to Canada. Special online deals have stopped. Real scam, never any royalties and they keep saying no books have been sold in months, not true, I bought some even via Amazon. NEVER use them again

Don Davidson said...

They got my book almost 7 years ago. The contract finally runs out in July 2014. In all that time they've sold 3 copies, because I won't buy it myself. You can read my story, with complete documentation to back up everything I say, on the PublishAmerica page of my web site, ChristianityForThinkers.com.

Dreamer24 said...

Everyone who says they are not renewing their contract or ended it prematurely, please read over your contract. Better yet, go to america star website and see if they are still selling your book. I think this clause means they have rights forever to your first edition print of the book: 19. Whereas this agreement refers to a First Edition of the said literary work, as designated, the
Publisher may produce as many editions thereof, consisting of as many copies as Publisher shall
deem advisable, at any time after it ceases to produce copies of the First Edition. On all such
subsequent editions that the Publisher may produce, the Author shall receive a return as specified
in Provision # 3 of this agreement of the sales price of every copy that may be sold and for which
the Publisher shall receive payment in money.... I hope I'm wrong. Can someone interpret this?

Jim Hartley said...

Well, they don't edit the books they publish for readability, why should they do any better for their contracts?

I don't know about non-renewable (I didn't let it get that far), but when I paid their extortion fee to cancel early, the letter I got clearly stated they would not produce any more copies of my book, but they did reserve the right to sell copies on hand (big laugh, it's a POD operation, anybody think they really have a warehouse full?). Of course I'm really worried, they were listing my book for $24.95, you can now buy an e-book for $5.50 or a CreateSpace paperback for $8.95 (and possibly discounted). Who would want to shell out $24.95 if they did have some left?

Anonymous said...

PA is the worst. I have a best selling novel with a ranking number under 10000 yet they told me I sold seven copies. I wonder how much money they have made off of every author through them. I never expected to get rich but it would be nice to receive more than one dollar for my effort. Thankfully I got picked up by a huge publisher that actually respects my work and pays me for my time. I will save you all time. Don't ever consider PA for a publisher you'll just spend more time and money trying to get rid of them.

Nonnie S said...

Publish America AKA America Star DOES make changes in your script for correction, and then tell you that you can get at most 15 mistakes changed free of charge. Any after that you have to pay for. Contrary to what I just read here, they leave you with nothing, but a downloaded manuscript that is covered and given to you as completed with their disclaimer on the second page. Their new contract is for 10 years of publishing rights opposed to 7 previously. I was one of those who was excitedly flim -flammed. If I die before the contract ends I have left in writing that I do not want to renew and hope my work can be redone correctly.

Robert said...

Do not trust this company. I did and was a pain to get my rights back. Write your book and Google: tools to publish a book, and use it for free. I do recommend to have a professional editor.

J.M. Poole said...

Independence Books, aka PubliSHAMErica, aka America Star Books should be avoided like the plague.

Traditional publishers my eye. I don't need to go into details. I was misinformed, like everyone else. I fell for their scam but was one of the lucky few to break out of their grip. How? I made myself a downright nuisance to them. Hourly calls, asking about unpaid royalties. Daily emails announcing I wouldn't be renewing my contract. I looked up the email addresses to everyone I could and fired off message after message, stating they were in violation of their precious contract.

Once I said that they fired back INSTANTLY, stating I was being rude and if I kept talking like that then I needed to get a lawyer. That didn't bother me. What upset me was knowing they have been in business for so long that they clearly knew how to write a solid contract.

I was screwed for 7 years. I switched tactics. I now demanded they return me my rights. I renewed my efforts and increased the phone calls. I copied & pasted emails. The end result?

After a year and a half of harassment, they returned my rights and told me "You have lost your status as a 'published author'. Your book is no longer available. Have a nice life."

I framed that letter. I have since released my book through Createspace, along with its sequels. Guess what? I'm making sales! I have accurate reporting at my fingertips. I have a responsive support staff waiting to help if I have any questions.

It was the difference between night and day. Someone had asked about publishing rights for first editions, thinking PubliSHAMErica retained the rights to sell it? Not for me. The only thing they told me was that I couldn't use the cover they created (it sucked - why would I want to??) and that their formatted text of my book's interior was theirs, meaning I couldn't leave the book's interior as they created it. Again, not a problem. A 4th grader could have done a better job.

Sorry for prattling on. I've sold thousands of my books and I did it as an Indie author. If I can do it, so can everyone else. Just do me a favor. Steer clear of those creeps in Maryland. If I can prevent another author from getting sucked into that hellhole then it would make my day.

Have any questions about self publishing? Look me up on Facebook. I'd be more than happy to give a helping hand.

J.M. Poole
Bakkian Chronicles trilogy
Tales of Lentari fantasy series

Jim Hartley said...

Gee, I wish I had known I could get shut of RubbishAmerica by just making a nuisance of myself. I ended up paying their Danegeld to cancel the contract. But you can be sure I tell everyone I know to stay away from them. Once I was free I managed to get my book published as an e-book by a small indie press who had done some of my other work, and then, since they left me the print rights, as a CreateSpace paperback.

LB said...

As a follow-up to an earlier comment I made, I'd like to suggest that anyone with a Publish America or America Star Books contract review it very carefully--particularly if you're approaching the termination date. Foolishly, I had not read mine since I signed it back in October of 2006 and had assumed that when the seven year term of the contract expired my rights would revert to me. Alas, it turns out that Publish America/America Star Books employs a version of what we in Canada used to refer to as "negative billing"--which is to say unless you notify PA/America Star Books(at least three months before the end of your contract) that you wish to terminate the relationship, you will automatically be renewed for seven more years.

As a consequence, I now find that my book remains in America Star Books' hands unless I fork over a larcenous $299 to reclaim my rights. I was informed of this after I recently received an e-mail from them suggesting I buy copies of my book (which I have never done). I replied that my contract had ended in October of 2013 and that I wanted them to strike my book from their catalog and all other listings. The response was an e-mail with a rather nasty and threatening undertone that told me the contract had been renewed and the only way I was getting my rights back was to fork over the dough. They implied they had invested considerable money in publishing my book and had a right to expect to recoup those costs. I have to assume this was a joke on their part because I can't see that they invested anything. No editing. No proof-reading. I did my own cover. I did my own back cover blurb. I wrote the announcement they were supposed to mail to people on a list I gave them--a service they maintained they provided but never actually did. I did all my own marketing.

The fact is, about the only thing PA did was format the book, and I could have done a better job of that than they did. Oh, and they listed on various sites, which must have taken someone all of a few minutes and cost them nothing.

Well, tough beans America Star. You can keep that book in your catalog. I hope you choke on it. Oh, and enjoy watching as the money doesn't roll in--since it never has. As for me, I've moved on to bigger and better things and that novel is a thing of the past. It was never what I wanted it to be (largely because I got no editorial guidance) and I couldn't care less if it sits gathering dust. I won't be paying an exorbitant fee to a bunch of scam artists to get back what is mine. I'll wait out the next six and half years.

Meanwhile I've signed a deal with Capstone Books, and instead of the one dollar advance PA gave me I'm getting a five figure one from Capstone. My book, Becoming Darkness, will be published through their new YA imprint, Switch Press, and should be available sometime in the latter half of 2015.

Even if you don't want to go the more traditional route of publishing (i.e. getting an agent and signing with a traditional publisher) there are so many better, safer, and more profitable ways by which to publish rather than getting sucked into the execrable black hole of America Star Books and falling victim to their odious practices. My advice to anyone who cares about his/her work is to steer well clear of this company.