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PSA: Publish America…

…is not a publisher in the sense that you would be considered published if you used their services. From an agent blog (the post is old, but I have a reason for bringing it back up):

“You told me that you were previously published by someone like PublishAmerica… and meant it. This is akin to telling me that you would consider yourself previously published if you had Xeroxed pages of your manuscript and stapled them together.”

This applies to Author House as well.

Self-publishing is fine for some purposes. That’s where you retain all copyright, get 100% of the royalties, and do all of the work. It’s a straightforward transaction – you pay to have the book put together, and then if any books are sold, you get all of the money. This sort of thing works well if you want to do a cookbook of Grandma’s recipes and get a copy for everyone in the family. It also may work for established, business-savvy writers with a following and a backlist to reissue. If you are brand new to writing with no established reputation, your average sales numbers will total less than a hundred copies. You don’t have to believe me. This is public knowledge.

Please note that if your one and only book was self-published through Lulu, you are not “published” in the sense that most people mean the word.

Vanity publishing is when you pay the “publisher” for editing (which is optional – they’ll publish anything you write) and what have you, and they pay you a percentage. Typical sales are still under a hundred copies, but it cost the writer more money up front, and he’ll get less from what he does sell.

I’m a little frustrated about this today. I was looking up local writing groups, hoping to find one to join. One group that meets quite near my house has their member bios on the website. I checked the credits of the authors listed as published.

All but one was “published” via vanity publishing. That last one had her first novel “published” through Lulu.

I’m sorry. None of those writers are published, and I can’t imagine spending hard-earned money to join a writer’s group that would think that way.

I have spent years researching the publishing process, agents, professional organizations, and more. I know there is quite a bit of drama over some elements of publishing – for example, I recently learned that my sale to Carina doesn’t count as being professionally published in the eyes of some people because Carina doesn’t pay advances, just royalties. (I’m trying not to rant about that one, though I’m tempted!) I know what the scams are, and I know some basic rules. But when it comes to publishing, what I don’t know would fill a very large library.

It is *my* responsibility to learn. I owe it to myself and to my career.

Giving someone money just so I could say I was published would be pissing all over my dream.

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  1. rick o
    March 12, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    You don’t live in Bakersfield, CA, do you? I moved to Bako from San Diego, and joined the local writer’s club, before I found out that everyone thinks self-published is published. I aim to make a living from writing, so I gave up here and joined a RWA group in Los Angeles. And two hours driving one-way doesn’t seem like such a big sacrifice anymore.

  2. March 13, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    No, other coast entirely, which gives you an idea as to how prevalent the idea really is. It’s sad. All you have to do is Google “Publish America” and Google itself tries to autocomplete your search with “scam” and “complaint.” Same thing happens with a Googling of Author House.

    I’m going back and forth about RWA – it looks like how helpful it is really depends on your chapter. Yours must be really helpful if you’re making that kind of drive. Hope you’ve got a convertible 😉

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