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Wednesday, December 15, 2004
 
Another Publisher to Avoid?

The question raised on the Absolute Write Water Cooler message board was "scammer or gormless"? Most agreed that the publisher was merely gormless. I really do think the owner is sincere. That doesn't make this publisher a great choice, however. OK, I guess it's a better choice than a scammer. But the end result to your career if you try to published this way can suck just as much.

This publisher refers to what it does as "partner-publishing." As far as I can tell, that's a fancy name for subsidy publishing. In other words, the author pays to get published. That's almost always bad, period. (There are times when paying to get published is OK, but it's usually for niche books such as family histories, poetry, and very specialized nonfiction. And in those cases, you might be better off self-publishing anyway because you can better control the rights, the costs, etc.) With this publisher, the costs start at $549. On top of that, the colors on that web page (unless it has changed yet again) have been known to drive some humans insane. ;-)

You can read a post (plus comments) about it on the Making Light blog. (If you can't get all of it to display, go to the Making Light front page and read the entry for December 13, 2004. You can also read the comments from there.) And here's the thread that started it all. (Note: If you get an error message, try again. Sometimes the Ezboards get tired.)

Here's the ultimate irony. Ordinarily, few people would have heard of this site. Then, on the Absolute Write Water Cooler message board, published author and scamhunter James D. Macdonald came across it because of a discussion about PublishAmerica and wrote a couple of posts on it in the PA thread. Then, the founder/owner of this publishing company joined the fray and started defending herself -- badly. It was clear that she didn't really understand why people had these questions, why writers might not want to pay to get published, might be suspicious of her site, etc. The result of this was that there were so many posts it got its
own thread (see above).

What went wrong here? This publisher seems quite sincere and really does think she's helping writers. She could have made people respect her and her site and understand what she was trying to do. But by getting defensive instead of asking people questions along the lines of "OK, why do you have an issue with what I am doing? What can I do to make my service better?" she kept getting angry. She thought everyone was attacking her. Someone calmly asked if she really did offer returns, and instead of explaining her policy more fully, she referred to that poster as "whoever went off on the 'return policy' issue." Sheesh! People who were looking for a subsidy publisher probably came across that thread and said "Whoah. Never mind. I'll look for someone else." Once the fuss dies down, I hope she will calm down and read the threads and realize that she can improve her service. She really does seem to want to help authors, so it would be in her best interest to do so. And of course, to learn more about publishing. (Some of her posts, I must admit, make it clear she has some ... rather large information gaps. Never ever leave your book in the hands of a publisher owned by someone with ... rather large information gaps.)

Unrelated to this publisher in specific, and related to the lure of self-publishing and vanity presses and such, Jim has a terrific post at the top of the Absolute Write thread I mentioned above. He admits how frustrating it can be to try to get published the traditional way and how the long wait often drives some writers to vanity presses and their ilk -- a move that only makes a bad problem far far worse.
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