Getting Out of My Publish America Contract

#PublishingFoul Logo Indies UnlimitedGuest Post
by Brenda Perlin

This past Sunday, I wrote about my nightmare experience with Publish America. After the way they treated me, I knew my only course of action was to try to get out of my seven-year contract.

Seven long years! I blame myself for signing such a miserable contract but I didn’t know any better. I had high hopes and was flattered that someone actually wanted to publish my story. If they would have said hang from the highest chandelier, I might have done so. I was naive and didn’t realize they were a company that published books not because they thought they were good, but because they thought they could make money off of an inexperienced first-time author.

I began my desperate campaign with relentless emails and phone calls. Most of the time no one picked up the phone but when they did, I begged to be released from my contract. It became THEM against me, and I felt powerless.

Finally, I received a reply from Publish America:

Dear Brenda Perlin:

We have received your request to terminate your book’s contract. As a general rule, publishers are not in favor of that. When a publisher agrees to contract a book, it is done with an expectation of entering into a profitable venture. Publish America never charges any of its authors any money in return for producing and publishing their book and making it available to a worldwide audience. This is why we enter into contracts with a seven-year lifetime, which affords the book ample opportunity to turn a profit.

If your request was granted, Publish America would be denied, prematurely, any hope of recovering its expenses. This is why we would prefer to keep the contract in place until its expiration date.

Therefore, if you were to persist on wishing to relinquish your status as a published author, we can only grant your request if you agree to a $299 compensation payment, which will help to offset some of our losses. If you want to proceed with termination, please go to: http://www.publishamerica.net/service/term-rights4.html. Be sure to enter your book’s title in the “order comments” field. If not, we will both understand and applaud your decision. As said, we prefer to keep the book under contract.

“Prefer to keep the book under contract” – what a racket. Now they wanted me to pay $299 to get out of the contract, which I almost paid just to get my sanity back. But I couldn’t make myself do it.

I had already paid for many services that I never received, though my biggest complaint was the price they had set for my book. Even though I was a first-time author they were asking $27.95 for a paperback and $27.95 for the eBook! When I tried to reason with them about the price hurting my sales, they got nasty and refused to respond. When they would comment, they did so in a rude manner.

While Publish America claimed not to be a vanity press, they charged for so many services on the other end of the transaction. I paid $99 for my own agent who was supposed to help my book get press even though I never had the pleasure of talking to this person. I also paid $89 for a book tour; what I got for that was one book signing in the deadest coffee shop in San Juan Capistrano. Sadly, it was just me, my boyfriend and a few friends. I would have been better off standing on a street corner with my books. Oh, and let’s not forget the $199 that I laid out for the publicity package. These seemed like a great deal at the time – I didn’t have the experience or the knowledge to do these things myself. But now, I would really like to know how were they spreading the word. It was all just fancy talk, and I was the victim.

When all was said and done, I’d paid out:

  • $209 to get them to lower the price of the print book from $27.95
  • $119 to do the eBook conversion
  • $199 to get them to lower the price of the eBook from $27.95
  • $119 for their Prime Time News Publicity Package
  • $99 for “My Own Agent” press coordinator
  • $89 for “My Book Tour”

That totals $834 for a slew of undelivered items. But don’t forget the money they made off me selling me my own paperbacks at an exorbitant price! I didn’t have much choice – I needed those books in order to do the book signings that never happened. And now they wanted me to pay $299 more to get out of the contract? That shifted me into warrior mode.

I was relentless and called them every single day. I threatened to report them to all my Facebook and Twitter followers. I emailed them non-stop. Finally, a termination notice showed up in my inbox. I wanted to celebrate! The fight had taken a lot out of me, but it was worth it.

More than anything I wanted this story to be read. I know with a title such as “Home Wrecker” which was the original title, it was open to scrutiny. I was going to do whatever it took to have this book in circulation. Who knew Publish America was really a bunch of scam artists? Well, I do now, and so do you.


Author Brenda PerlinBrenda Perlin is an independent contemporary fiction author of five titles and numerous short stories. From memoirs to illustrated books, Brenda evokes emotional responses in her readers by using a provocatively unique writing style. Her latest book in the Brooklyn and Bo Chronicles captures the soul-wrenching conflicts of a personal struggle for emotional fulfillment. Learn more about Brenda on her website and her Author Central page.

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62 thoughts on “Getting Out of My Publish America Contract”

    1. Thank you Yvonne. It was a battle worth fighting for! Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Let’s hope others don’t have to.

    1. Thank you so much J.R. They didn’t act as if they had a care in the world. They already had a good portion of my money. Haha. Shame on THEM!

  1. can anyone confirm if Publish America has renamed itself: Author Solutions? This co. does what PA has done, and is now promoting itself at every book festival. They showed up at Tucson Fest of Books.
    BTW: Best organization for women mystery writers: Sisters in Crime, both National, and chapters in every state of the union. 25% are men–because they know a good thing when they see it!

    1. Sisters in Crime is a great organization. 🙂

      Author Solutions has a whole slew of imprints, which David Gaughran helpfully listed in his post here at IU earlier this month. (Click on the ref at the top of the sidebar to see all of our posts this month. 🙂 )

      Interestingly, one imprint that Author Solutions *hasn’t* bought is PublishAmerica/America Star Books. I guess even ASI can’t stomach PA’s business model. 😀

  2. Applause, applause. It is right that experiences like this are shouted from the rooftops, because all first-time authors need to learn as much as they can about the book business before they get their fingers burnt.

    1. It was a real education for me. I cried tears of joy when I was released from that terrible contract. I should have been happy to have my book out in the universe but it was all misery on my end.

      Thank you Rosanne.

        1. Yes, we are quite clear on that. I was even invloved in a class action case but I never saw one cent. I might have had I paid the $299 to get out of my contract. For me sharing my story with this law firm was a big waste of time but I wanted to see them suffer as I had.

  3. Brenda,
    I knew that this sort of thing happened. However, hearing your personal experiences with this publisher has helped shed some light on at least one company to avoid.
    Thank you

    1. Thanks Lance. I am certain there are many and they are NASTY! Being an Indie author has been the best thing for me. It is a freedom I didn’t have with any other press. Also, why would you want to give away a large percentage of your earnings? I have had MANY leasons, thus far.

    1. I so appreciate that Linda. You are most kind. I am so pleased that Indies Unlimited has taken this on. So important and helpful.

      Thank you for reading this. 🙂

  4. Wow, Brenda, what a rough experience. I admire your persistence in battling with them over the rights to your books. Thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully others will see the post and avoide these guys like the plague.

  5. Brenda, your story is a cautionary tale that is all too familiar, but in most cases the ending is not as satisfying as yours. Unfortunately, I have heard many of these horror stories. I am a self-published author (seven titles, to date) and recently, I formed my own “publishing company.” In essence, it is more of a publishing consulting company that offers editing, formatting, cover design, and, perhaps most importantly promotional assistance. I help clients set up blogs, and design budget-based ad campaigns to assist them in the most important facet of self publishing, which is self-promotion. The first thing I tell a prospective client is that the average self-published book sells less than 100 copies in its lifetime.
    Many of the authors I have helped are really not authors in the truest sense of the word, but rather individuals with a story to tell, either about an illness they have experienced, or a philosophy of life that they would like to share with others. A few are aspiring novelists.
    If all the “vanity presses” out there were more honest with their clients, there would probably be a lot fewer self-published books on the market, and a great deal fewer disappointed authors. Kudos on getting out of your “deal” (which I assure you it certainly never was, sad to say).
    Thanks for writing your article. Hopefully, it will save many aspiring authors lots of hard-earned money. 🙂

    1. Joe, I keep hearing this figure of 100 books bandied about, and I’m dying to know the source. Do you know where it’s from? Because I’m pretty sure it’s wrong.

    2. Thank you so much Joe. Glad you are out there and doing it with integrity. That is something that this company surely lacked.

      I do have a good ending but while I was stuck in this situation my days were filled with heartache and stress. Not to mention all the money wasted. Thank goodness the word it getting around. 🙂

  6. What still gets my goat are the accusations of gullibility aimed that those who got scammed, saying they did not do their due diligence. Not too long ago the information wasn’t even available.

    As well, there is not one of us who has not relied on “experts” without checking their credentials in every place we can. We rely on them to be ethical – doctors, bankers, mechanics, etc. None of us can be experts in every field. Why should publishers be any different. Anyone who has never been taken in at any time in their lives is lucky – no more than that. It is not dependent on intelligence or wisdom.

    1. It is a very low ball move and they know what they are doing. Sadly they are the criminals in all of this. They know the books are not up to standards but they tell their writers otherwise. They are scam artists and the worst kind.

      Sometimes you get an education the hard way and for many of us this is where we started from. Thankfully word is getting out and less people will be scammed in the future though I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. This is a good place to start. Getting it all out in the open liike a dirty secret.

  7. I think that we writers need to unite against all predatory publishers. The sums Brenda lost by dealing with Publish America are unconscionable, but they are almost chump change compared to what Author Solutions regularly bilks from its victims. Just to go to one of these book fairs and sign and give away 75 books in half an hour cost $4,000, and hundreds of people fall for this each year. Then there’s the “Pitch fest” where people pay $2,000 to try to interest Hollywood producers in their books. It’s all one huge scam.

    1. Yes, it could have been so much worse for me. I am feeling pretty blessed right now. Thank you. So heart breaking for others though!

    1. Yes, I remember reading about this story. Of course that was after I had already signed with them. How pathetic is that? Thanks for sharing that. Totally forgot about that one and it is pretty bad.

  8. Kudos Brenda! I’m glad you stuck with the fight and got out of the contract without having to pay another fee. Yours is a lesson for all of us to heed and share.

    1. Thank you sweet Greta. I seem to learn the hard way, most of the time. I am just thankful this is behind me.

    1. Thank you Leland. If I had Angelo I might not have been in this mess. Haha. But seriously, I am just so glad to be on my own and not depending on anyone. It’s the best feeling.

      Love all the support though. You guys are the best!

  9. Brenda, I’m glad you finally got out of your contract. They set a price of $17.95 for my book of only 65 pages. Since I am in Canada, I had to also pay the currency exchange rate. At that time it was really high. Here is a good article on why not to publish with PA: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10211 If you scroll down a ways, you will see the example of the man who wrote one 30-page chapter and repeated it over and over until he had a novel-length “book”. PA gladly accepted it.

    Brenda, did anyone sign your release? I received mine via snail mail and it was unsigned. At that time they didn’t charge for a release. Later they added a charge of $99.00, but I see they have discovered a way to fleece people even more by charging $299.00 for those desperate enough to pay. My book is still offered on Amazon.com for $12.95, Amazon.uk from 45.93 pounds to 26.33 pounds, on infibeam.com in some currency I’m not familiar with, and who knows where else. They all claim that books are available – both new and used. So, PA is still making a profit from my book that they no longer have a contract to sell?

    1. Diane, you can notify Amazon’s copyright violation department and they will yank the new ones down immediately. Amazon takes copyright infringement very seriously.

        1. I had to contact PA to take my books down. They did not make it easy. They said they had. Got it all worked out with Amazon. When it doubt you should always at least contact a live person at Amazon. It is worth a try. Emails don’t work as well.

    2. That is amazing. Hard to believe how so many of us got scammed like this.

      I did have a signed release. They mailed it to me but it took a long time to receive it. My book with them is still on Amazon but they are used copies from who knows who asking crazy amounts of money. I would hate the thought of these people making another dime off of me. Infuriating.

      It’s a crying shame there are so many of us that have suffered. Thank you for visiting, sharing your story and this link. We aren’t alone in this. Best wishes to you!

        1. Amazon will continue to list copies from individual owners. Right now you can get my PA Home Wrecker book on Amazon for as low as $895 and new for a measly $1,134.31+ $3.99 shipping. Haha. Really!

  10. Well done Brenda in having the persistence to insist on your principles and not pay anything to recover your rights. I’ve no doubt you could have won more than a little compensation if you’d gone to court, but what the hell, made better use of your time promoting your book, not squabbling in court and making lawyers fat.
    This company needs to get a lot of publicity, under all their various disguises, particularly i the places where newbie authors get their first contacts with the publishing industry. The more negative publicity they can get, the better.

    1. I agree Ian. That is why this is so good. Word is getting out! I appreciate your kind words. I had enough negativity in my life. If I had to I would have hired a lawyer and gone to court but I am so thankful I didn’t have to. Never fun going through the legal system. I was just happy to have my rights back and Publish America out of my life… forever!!!

  11. What a horror story! but seven years ago, we didn’t know any better and so many of us fell for these pseudo-publishers. There were also fake agents (such as a certain L.A. Royal Gillette who must have had a good lunch on my $500. Under Preditors & Editors http://pred-ed.com/pealr.ht He is listed as “not recommended” in red!).

    Anyway, now you are out, Brenda (kudos for persevering), GO INDIE! It’s great to control the entire birth and lifespan of your creation.

    1. You are so right Inge. Sorry you too had to swallow a bitter pill too. I agree, Indie is the way to go. We are now in control of our destiny and we can be our authentic selves.

      Kudos to you too. Yes, we are warriors, for sure. (Valley girl talk) 🙂

    1. It was by email. The company that published the eBook on Amazon did not have permission. I think there is somewhere on the site that goes directly to the copyright infringement department and BAM within a day the unauthorized book was down.

      1. My friend tried more than once. I believe she sent an e-mail, but I will contact her again and tell her about your experience. And I will try it for myself. I’ll let you know what happens.

  12. Thanks a lot for this post, Brenda.
    I’m a new author and only lately I self-published my first short novel.
    However, if I ever decided to try the more traditional approach, you can bet I would take your advice to heart.

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