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Why did you go with PublishAmerica, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, or another publisher that you had to pay? Did you try other methods first? A traditional publisher, a small press, etc. Tell us what motivated you to use one of these often-talked about publishers!

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Publish America does not charge money to the author. Though regarded as a vanity press, it isn't. They take on the cost of the book cover and the editing. Little else though. Authors are fairly dissatisfied because the publisher may put the book everywhere on the distribution chain but it can appear to authors that the only way to make it sell is to buy your own copies and get out there. Books are returnable so book signings in real bookstores are possible. But will customers find your book without your effort as an author? No way. Not with this particular company.
Robyn, that's good that the publisher aids in the distribution chain and offers returns.
I thought I saw in another post in this forum that PA does not accept returns?
IIRC the problem is that PA doesn't offer a decent discount - if the store calls up Ingrams and asks about a discount they are told that PA will give them a 5% discount... compare that to ANY legitimate publisher which will give the store at least 40% discount and that just doesn't make it worthwhile for a bookstore to order any PA books. Heck, they'd lose money just with the shipping!

In addition to that PA authors have been seen chasing down "Author Support" to ask that their books be made returnable - I've never heard of *any* legitimate publisher having to "make" their authors' books returnable. Either they are or not; the author shouldn't have to be chasing down the publisher and have them "flip the switch".

PublishAmerica is a bad business move if you intend to be taken seriously as an author. At least with iUniverse and AuthorHouse it's understood that your book is totally under your control - if it's an unedited unreadable draft, then responsbility lies totally on the author. And at least you can price it properly. With PA you end up with an unedited, unreadable tome that not only is overpriced, but their main goal is to sell to the author, not the public - thus the problem with returns.

It's been proven in court that PA's primary audience is the authors, not the public. Google "Phil Dolan" and you'll see how the chief honchos of PA had to admit this in court. I'd hardly see that as a ringing endorsement for their services.

Better to be fully in charge at someplace like AuthorHouse than to be tagged as a PA author.
Let me begin by saying that I started writing as a second career after my retirement. My age undoubtedly influenced the choices I made.

I self-published four books through 1stBooks (now Author House). I have two additional books with Publish America, which is accurately described in Robyn's post. I went with 1stBooks after suffering through nearly two years of rejections and attempted scams by shady publishers and agents. I felt that if I ever wanted to get my book out there self-publishing was my only realistic option. After my first book, I did more research on publishers and submitted subsequent manuscripts to those that seemed reputable and would most likely handle my genre. Each time, after several months and piles of rejections, I ended up self-publishing. My next two books went through Publish America. There is no charge to the author for publishing, but they are a POD publisher and the retail prices of their books are rather high. I reserached PA before signing with them and knew what to expect. I considered them to fall somewhere in between self and traditional publishing. However, there are numerous message boards rife with complaints about PA.

When I switched from fiction to non-fiction in 2002, I was able to get a contract with a traditional small press. I've found a world of difference in promoting and marketing opportunities now that I don't have to overcome the stigma of self-published or POD products.

I believe that in my particular situation I made the appropriate publishing decisions.
I am a student of Dan Poynter and with four books out I think he is absolutely accurate.
I created one version of my book for a specialty market, education, and got a very good, reputable publisher who is well positioned in the market.
My contract consultant told me my deal was about as good as anyone like me would get: 8% of the price the book sells for. At that return, it is barely worth promoting the book.
It has helped my speaking business, but I wouldn't do it again.
For example, the publisher did not want to put my photo on the cover, which I wanted, and eventually got, because in a nonfiction book the author is as much the product as the content.
The publisher has refused to give me a list of the conventions where they will be selling their stable of books, which mystifies me because I could go there and speak or sign books.
When I speak, I often get a client who wants to buy 2-300 books. The publisher has been very cranky and secretive about what discounts are available, making it hard for me to push this kind of sale. I cannot understand their attitude.
In contrast, my new book was handled by a "publisher" whose only role is minimal copy editing, printing, design and placing the book with wholesalers. I have been very happy with their services.

insightpublishing.com they specialize in speakers with books

The books delivered cost about $2.50 each for paper (2000) and $4 each for hard back with 4-color dust cover (500).
I will use the hard covers for reviewers, reporters, talk show hosts, etc.
The sticker price on this (paperback) book is $24.95, with discounts as low as $12.50 for bulk buys.
You can run the numbers and see that, in terms of profit, this is much better than you can do with a traditional publisher.
In my experience, the publisher has been useless except to take a huge cut from sales, so why bother?
I will be promoting the new book to my target market and am already getting good response from bookstores and talk shows.
I decided to focus on Barnes and Noble because I've always liked their stores and their web site makes them easy to locate by city and call.
It's a mystery to me that one will eagerly schedule a signing with lecture, and another one is coldly dismissive.
One problem I've run into is I can't seem to get BN to "stock" the book. One community relations manager told me the book is "in the system," whatever that means, but requires special order and payment in advance.
I talked with one person at BN who said she would pass the book on to a buyer, so I sent one with a marketing plan, but haven't heard back.
It would be very helpful if you have any suggestions for getting BN to make my book easily available to the book stores in cities where I plan to target the PR and appearance effort, 15 in all.
http://www.KeepOnVoting.com
Hi Joel, My first book is a POD published by Eloquent Books. I can find it online everywhere and they are available at the independent bookstores by order only. I appreciate that it is at least available to be ordered. Doesn't do much for sales unless someone is looking for it. I did however email my closest Barnes and Noble and asked them to stock my book. They did in the one store. I visited the store and spoke with the man that showed me to where my book was on the shelf. We talked for a while and he told me he appreciated my visiting the store and taking the time to see it. He told me he would read my book and promote it for me. I am forever grateful to Barnes and Noble and will forever be beholden to them. My advice is to personally talk to one of the B&N stores and see what they will do. It worked for me. So far they are the only ones who was willing to order the book in and put it out there for the public to see. I agree, B&N is the best bookseller out there that will at least consider the author and what they might do to help their book. I hope you have luck with them. Best Regards, Launa McNeilly, Lies in a Season of Tribulation PS. The book was on an eye level shelf and easy to see in the Mystery aisle.
I have a book published with PublishAmerica. The only cost to me is when I want to buy copies of my book to sell to others. It's true that they don't do much of anything to market your book and that you have to do most of that work yourself. But being an unknown author, I wouldn't expect a big publisher to jump at the chance to publish my work. PA gave me a chance to get published and get my name out there. Now I'm working on other projects and hope that I can find a better publisher for my next book.
I went with an independent publisher for the second edition of my first book because I needed copies of the book by a certain date and that was the only way to guarantee I would have them. My other books were published by traditional publishers.
Aberjhani

Writing Community
I went with PA for my first book, a mistake I regret to this day~ 3 years later. Their poor editing is just the skim of it, that is something I could learn to adjust to by making sure I had a better product the next time around. But, their retail prices are extremely high. They sell my first book which is only 125 pages for a whopping $17.95~ I'm selling my new book printed by Lulu.com which is 260 pages, a larger size (6x9 compared to PA's 5.5x8.5) for a retail of $14.95. As much as the thought of PA having returns intrigues me, I know that a book the size of my new one would retail more than likely at something like $21.95. A price in which I'm not too confident that people would buy from an unknown author. Having a return policy sure is a help when it comes to setting up bookstores but it does no good when the people refuse to buy the book at its price.

But to answer your question... I chose to self publish because I've heard too many horror stories of people who have to rewrite some of their work for their publisher, or change the ending. Now granted, these people I've heard this from weren't complaining and were glad to have traditional publishers. And I'm sure that one day I'll break down and if fortunate enough to land a contract, I'll change things around. But for now, I'm writing my stories the way I like them. Besides I get a great feeling of accomplishment from self pubbing.
I chose Xlibris after getting the usual pile of rejections from traditional publishers, which I expected being a first time author. After researching several "vanity" publishers, VantagePress for instance said they would publish my book for $24K! My Harley-Davidson motorcycle didn't even cost that much. After I paid Xlibris a mere 6% of what VantagePress wanted I submitted my manuscript. Within two weeks I received the edited copy for approval, edit for spelling and grammar only and sent it back. Next came the inside design and cover. I sent them the images I wanted to use on the cover and how I wanted it to look and they gave me exactly what I asked for. I was told that the process could take up to six months to complete. It took 48 days from submission to the UPS driver dropping off my author's copies. I got an ISBN number, copyright in my name and submission to Library of Congress.
The product I received was very professionally done in both soft and hard cover.
Xlibris also placed the book with B&N, Amazon and Borders as well as their on-line bookstore. They also sent out press releases to numerous media outlets.

As for marketing the book...unless you pay for the service you're on your own.
Now that I have the book it's time to decide what I want to do with it.
Kim,

I went with a publisher you had to pay as there are so many books getting published that it would take a longer time to go through a traditional publisher. Also with a traditional publisher the books are available for a limited time rather than going with a publisher you pay. There is no guarantee with any publisher that you book will be a success, it depends on you the author. I have learned much since I started writing and I constantly learn more each day from other authors and sites such as this.

I wish you luck.

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