Friday, July 16, 2010

Meet the New Boss - Same as the Old Boss

Yay! How often do I get to use The Who's lyrics for a blog post?

Okay, okay, I know that line's used so much it's a cliche (and I'm a writer, I know cliches. :D) But in this case, it applies just so perfectly that I couldn't resist.

Anyone who's read this blog for any amount of time (and I really hope there is someone out there who has, winkwink, nudgenudge) knows how I feel about the pit of sleaze and ooze that is PublishAmerica.

Well, meet Independence Books.

Here is an email PublishAmerica sent out:

Dear author:

Sometimes a book deserves a new start.

Not labeled in book vendor databases as POD.
A low list price.
A new publisher.


Independence Books.

Independence Books is our new subsidiary. It is treated as an independent publisher. Not registered as POD in vendor databases. Not registered as PublishAmerica. Uniform list prices are $14.95.

Want a new start for your book? We will cause it to be published as an Independence Books title. It will receive a new ISBN and the new $14.95 list price. It will not show as POD. It will not list as PublishAmerica. ISBN-fed databases will show that your book is an Independence Books book, readily available from Independence Books.
Go to, find your softcover, add to cart, use this discount coupon: IndyBooks40. Minimum volume is 7 softcovers. For 12 or more softcovers use the IndyBooks45 coupon.
This will cause your book to be published as an Independence Books title. It will no longer be available from us as a PublishAmerica softcover. (Your book’s paperback or hardback versions, if already activated, will keep their PublishAmerica designation.) Your order today will be printed under the new Independence Books logo (, with its new ISBN. Transfer may take up to 6-8 weeks to be completed and will be permanent. Book remains under contract with PublishAmerica. Use this coupon for your softcover only; other applications will not be processed. PublishAmerica’s online bookstore will re-list the book as an Independence Books title generally within 24 business hours. Other vendors may do so at their discretion. Thank you.

–PublishAmerica Author Support Team

But, to quote the Disney movie Aladdin (one of my favorites, btw) "Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance."

Independence Books is no less a vanity press than PublishAmerica. Once more, the Three Stooges (Miranda Prather, Larry Clopper, and Willem Meiners - although Meiners has since left the company.  Still, Three Stooges has a much nicer ring, doncha think?) are operating a vanity press, but trying real hard not to let on that it is, in fact, a vanity press. Just as PublishAmerica tried to hide its true self by calling itself a "traditional publisher" (a term that doesn't even exist in the publishing industry. PA created it to "differentiate" themselves from other vanity presses. Non-vanity/non-subsidy publishers are called commercial publishers, NOT traditional publishers.), so does Independence Books.

So, it looks like PA is trying to start all over again, under a new name - one that isn't tarnished with the slime PA carries. For months, PA has been going crazy, soliciting their authors will all kinds of "deals" such as:

1. Buy x copies of your book, and we'll send x amount of copies to: Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, et al

2. Buy x amount of copies of your own book and we'll donate x amount of money to Haiti, The Gulf Coast, Katrina victims, et al

3. Buy x amount of your book in hardcover and we'll send x amount to... well, you get the point.

It's all been seen as money grabs, and now, even the authors on the PublishAmerica Message Board (PAMB for short) are getting weary of the non-stop solicitations. Even the staunchest PA defenders seem to be growing weary, which leads to the speculation that PA is trying to reinvent themselves by erasing only their past. It doesn't look as though they are changing their business format - which is still selling to their authors rather than the general public, as all commercial publishers operate. They are still a vanity press. And if Independence Books operates the same way PA does (and I see no reason why they wouldn't. The Stooges don't give a rat's ass about being a commercial publisher - they make far too much money operating the way they do. It's easier, less work, no publishing experience knowledge needed. And sadly, there will ALWAYS  be a glut of would-be authors who are either:

a. too lazy to research the industry
b.too naive to research the industry
c. only want a handful of copies to give to friends/family members
d. don't/can't accept the fact that they've produced a book that simply is not publishable and refuse to move on and learn.

Which means there will always be a pit of sleaze such as PublishAmerica willing to separate these people from their money.

Now, of course, there is always the possibility that Independence Books will try to walk the straight and narrow. Time will tell, but given what I know about the Stooges and PA, that isn't likely.

As far as I can tell, the only thing different about Independence Books is the name. Books will still not be edited, will be overpriced, will have stock covers that may or may not have anything to do with the book's content, will be extremely difficult to get stocked in bookstores, will only receive author-propelled marketing, and will lack serious distribution.

In short - PA books without the stench of PA tied to their names. For now. If Independence Books lasts, I won't be the least bit surprised to see google searches of "Independence Books" + "scam" bring up the same number of hits as PA does.


AstonWest said...

And it's not even a new concept. They had Independence Books, and even had a handful of books in the imprint, back in the 2001-2005 timeframe somewhere. The premise then was pretty much the same. Buy a bunch of books and you, too, can be ever closer to being able to get your books in bookstores. See that carrot? Jump, jump, jump...

Combine this with the recent e-mail I received (even though my contract was canceled several years ago) about placing an order to get a $9.95 price on my book (which ironically, my first book with a new publisher was priced at without any need to give them money)...and it sounds like they're getting desperate for funds.

Marian Perera said...

You saw the latest, right? PA's online bookstore sells sneak peeks of e-books in progress for $2.99 (e-books with no cover or blurb or even indication of genre).

It's insane.