The Late, Not-So-Great PublishAmerica

#PublishingFoul Logo Indies UnlimitedHere we thought the vanity press industry was on the ropes – what with PublishAmerica being sued out of existence and Author Solutions (and its eleventy billion imprints) having to resort to recruiting new authors overseas because aspiring authors in the US were on to them. Every now and then, though, one of them turns up again, like a bad penny. And so it is with PublishAmerica.

To recap: Before Kindle Direct Publishing and even before Smashwords, if you wanted to self-publish, your only choice was to hire a vanity press, also known as a vanity publisher. These so-called publishers would charge you to publish your book, offering little or nothing in the way of editing or marketing help (no matter what they told you before you signed their contract), and saddle you with boxes full of copies of your book to stash in the garage. Even after other, less expensive and far more lucrative avenues for self-publishing opened up, a lot of authors got sucked in by these vanity presses. We devoted a whole month’s worth of posts to this issue and called it #PublishingFoul. You can find those posts here.

Okay – back to PublishAmerica. Writer Beware has the sordid details of this scammy publisher’s fall, but basically: After one co-founder sued Willem Meiners, the other co-founder, in May of 2015, and reached a settlement with undisclosed terms in July 2016, the company morphed several times. First, Meiners rebooted it as America Star Books. Then the name changed to ASB Promotions, and submissions were “temporarily” suspended through the end of 2016. In mid-2017, Meiners announced plans to morph the company into Paperback Services, which was supposed to operate “side-by-side” with “Paperback Radio, America’s only live 24/7 station about books and writers.”

Writer Beware also noted in 2017 that ASB had been hit with tens of thousands of dollars in liens. And the same year, the lawsuit settlement was reopened in court for failure to comply with its terms. I’m just spitballing here, but I’d guess that means Meiners didn’t pay his co-founder what he’d agreed to pay him.

All of the websites associated with these various companies are now defunct – except for the one for PublishAmerica. That one still works. I’m not going to include a link, as I don’t want to make it any easier for them to ensnare new writers, but feel free to do a web search if you want a laugh. The site design is straight out of 1998, the content hasn’t been updated since 2013, and a lot of the links are broken – but the submissions page is still active. (One clue the site hasn’t been updated any time recently: it offers a comparison between publishing with PublishAmerica and going with CreateSpace, which Amazon brought under its KDP umbrella more than a year ago.)

Of course, it’s a free country here in the good ol’ USA, and you can spend your money any way you want to. Vanity presses have always appealed to authors who just want to write, who don’t know anything about publishing, and who don’t believe they can learn.

But here at IU, we have faith in you. We know you can do it because we’ve done it. And we’d really hate to see anyone else get taken in by a shady publisher.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

18 thoughts on “The Late, Not-So-Great PublishAmerica”

  1. Interesting. I guess you can’t keep a “good” scammer down. My wife and I used PA for one book in the early 2000’s. At the time it didn’t seem a bad deal because we didn’t have to lay out any money for it, but over time it became clear they were doing things to make money off of authors. It’s just you could choose not to oblige them.

    One small correction: there have always been ways to self-publish without vanity presses. You could hire your own services, either piecemeal or from a packager. But probably most authors didn’t go that route because it was a lot of work and involved paying for those services. If you could land a publisher, it was a lot easier . . . except that landing a publisher isn’t easy.

    1. Yup, you could always self-publish. In the really old days, you could approach a local printing plant and contract with them to run off copies of your book. But most folks had no idea how to go about it, and a lot of people simply dreamed of being an author…and vanity presses sold them the dream for a price.

      I’m glad you were smart enough not to get taken by whichever vanity press you used. 🙂

  2. I recently won a publishing deal with Authorhouse/Authorsolutions. I haven’t signed the agreement though they keep phoning me and sending it for signature. I’ve told them the book isn’t written yet. Lately I haven’t heard anything more about them after the bad publicity last posted. Is there an update? I am wary, and also, purchasing books from them costs authors around $11. which is double Amazon’s price. I have self published successfuly with the defunct Createspace and now going strong with KDP. Please update info or source of any, if you can. Thanks for so much great info from all at IU.

    1. Hey Ester, please tear that contract up. These people are notorious for scamming authors. Since you are a pro at self-publishing, please stick with that. We ran that #PublishingFoul special series and had between 1 and 3 articles a DAY from authors who had been scammed. The problem with these guys is they make their money off of authors, not readers, and they don’t deliver what they promise. The update is: they’re still scammers. Please steer clear. <3

      1. Thanks so much for your response, favored one! The thing that worries me most is I got it at a writers conference from the head of the whole thing. I will message you with info. This is awful—I obviously can’t post more here without compromising some good people. More later…

    2. Looks like Yvonne and K.S. beat me to it. I’d tear up that contract. In fact, if I could find one of those shredders that made teeny-tiny pieces out of a document, I’d use that. 😀

  3. With KDP and freelancing services out there, I’m still not sure what one of these companies can really do that a dedicated writer can’t. I try to encourage people to not be too intimidated (not that it’s easy) and give it a go rather than run into the arms of these kind of “services”.

  4. Hi Lynne, loved this post on pest control. No matter how much you hit ’em with the heel of a shoe, those cockroaches keep on sneaking back. Let’s hope they don’t live to inherit the Earth. :/

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