Let this be a perfect learning example to any writers out there who don’t do their due-diligence when researching potential agencies/publishers.
Back in 2009, I was sending out treatments of my first novel to potential agencies and publishing houses. Like most unknown writers, I was sending these out to anyone who accepted unsolicited queries; not exactly paying much attention to who might be getting it, instead focusing on saturating the market with my name and the book’s then working title.
About three weeks into this process of whoring myself out, I got a bite from a small, self-publishing company called PublishAmerica. I didn’t really read over their congratulatory email much; all I saw was “Yes!” So, thinking that self-publishing might be a route to consider, and seeing as how they were seemingly enthusiastic about the treatment, I figured, “What the hell?” and signed their contract without really even reading through it. Stupid, I know, but I was a little too eager to get this ball rolling to be bogged down with petty details like “contract terms and duration” or what the fine print actually had to say.
About a day after signing the contract and mailing it off, I awoke in a sudden panic. What the hell was I thinking? I didn’t even read the contract, or bother to look up a single fact about the company that I had just signed my rights away to.
I hopped online and started digging around, only to find, of course, that PublishAmerica was nothing more than a vanity press; a snake-oil “publisher” created specifically to lure naive, wannabe authors into paying them thousands of dollars in exchange for doing exactly nothing in terms of editing, marketing, and publishing — you know, all those things an actual publisher does? I had just signed myself up for seven years of nothing more than them emailing me quarterly asking me why I haven’t “taken this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to drop thousands of my own dollars on their third-rate “services.”
I was hardly disheartened by this turn of events; the book was nowhere near ready for publication anyway, and I could just as easily sit back and wait for the contract to end without even bothering trying to end it with them sooner.
But today, I get this email from their “acquisitions manager,” Tina Shipe, working under the guise of their new company, called America Star Books; apparently, PublishAmerica’s name was getting dragged through the mud so much that they had to re-brand and hope no one would notice.But, of course, everyone noticed, myself included.
I just couldn’t help myself and had to reply to their carefully-phrased email meant to intimidate or scare unwitting authors into paying them to get out from under their contracts.
So, here’s to you America Star Books!