Dog Ear Publishing

Publish America


Dog Ear Publishing

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Publish America Review

Publish America may not charge a fee to publish your book, but what do you call it when they charge an exorbitant amount of money for an author to purchase their own books? Publish America has simply moved the cost of publishing a book from the front end and instead attached it to each and every book they sell to or for the author. This, in the long run, ends up being much MORE expensive than almost any self publishing company in the market.

Compare the Numbers
Publishing Control:

Publish America: No

Dog Ear: YES

Book Cost:

Publish America: $15.16

Dog Ear: $4.28

Author Profit:

Publish America: $1.52

Dog Ear: $7.09

Total Expenditure:

Publish America: $2,274

Dog Ear: $1,741

How does Publish America compare to Dog Ear Publishing?

Publish America is an anomaly, not so much because they offer any unusual services (they provide the exact same things most self-publishing companies provide), but because Publish America and the Publish America web site are so unwilling to provide any information about Publish America. If you've been to the Publish America web site, you'll know what we mean. It is for the most part devoid of any information that would help you make a decision about whether or not to use Publish America to produce your book.

Other than this: it doesn't cost a dime to get started.

How can you beat that, right? NO upfront cost whatsoever...

Or, is it all just another way to get authors to bite and not realize what they are getting? Read further and see what we mean. We will say this though – if you don't think your book will sell 150 copies or more (or don't believe you'll ever purchase about that many over its lifetime) then PA may just be the publisher you've been looking for...

If you do think your book might sell more than 150 units, read on. We also welcome your calls and emails to discuss Publish America directly:

The one thing that is evident, however, is that Publish America is not a 'traditional' publishing company -even though they state that they are different because they don't charge authors a fee to publish.

Publish America may not charge a fee to publish your book, but what do you call it when they charge an exorbitant amount of money for an author to purchase their own books? Publish America has simply moved the cost of publishing a book from the front end and instead attached it to each and every book they sell to or for the author. This, in the long run, ends up being much MORE expensive than almost any self publishing company in the market.

Let's explore some other anomalies:

Cover copy - from the PA site: "Do I have to send you back cover text? Yes. Not only will the text be used on the back cover of your book, but we will also be using it for other promotional items such as press releases and announcement letters." You have to write your own back cover copy. This is fine (and typical), if you are self-publishing...

Editing - from the PA site: "We do not edit for content, style, voice and the like..." EVERY traditional publisher edits the heck out of each book - including 'content, style, voice and the like...'

When you fully explore the true costs of producing a salable book with a realistic wholesale discount and decent profit margin, you may find what you thought was a great deal, actually costs you more than you bargained for.

We've dug through the Publish America site (the welcome email is another thing...look below for this) to see if anything can be gleaned without having to call a sales person - here are our notes.

  1. Bookstore availability - most of the self publishing companies make their books available at the exact same places as Publish America. Publish America seems to lead readers to believe the books are physically on shelves in a large number of Barnes & Noble and Borders stores. For every title we checked, that was not true. Just like most self publishing companies, the books are available for special order. And just like most self publishing companies, only a small fraction were available in stores, on shelves. (If you'd like to check this on your own, visit Amazon. Look up Publish America under Advanced Search in Books. List the titles by "Bestselling" and get the ISBN and call your local stores. You can also check store inventory at both B&N and Borders Stores on their respective web sites.)

  2. "We only accept a small portion of the manuscripts submitted to us" - This is a quote from their web site, and it's funny because all the manuscripts we offered to Publish America were accepted for publication. We just had to be willing to sign over rights and sound like we were going to buy a good number of books. I'm guessing that unless your book violates their publishing rules (hate, pornography, etc.) or you act like you have no intention of purchasing books, you'll get published by Publish America. I'm also guessing that 96% of the customers who submit manuscripts are unaware that it costs far more for an author to purchase a book from PA than ANY other publishing company. If you actually add up the cost of purchasing author books from PA against paying publishing fees and then purchasing books at a discount - guess which one wins 'money-wise'? See below.

  3. "We pay royalty percentages that are slightly above average industry standards." - a direct quote from their site and it isn't true in the broader market. Dog Ear and many others pay much higher author profit rates. See below for more detail on this part.

    Royalties are 8% of the net sale for the first 2,000 units. 10% on the next 8,000 units. An interesting statistic - if you take the number of claimed titles published (30,000) and divide out total units claimed sold (2,000,000) you get an average sales rate of 66 books. Doesn't look like too many authors even get close to the 2,000 unit mark...

    A 150 page book typically has about a $18.95 retail through PA. A Publish America author only makes $1.52 per sale maximum via places like Amazon, and the book costs the author $15.16 per unit to purchase...ouch!

  4. "PublishAmerica, Inc. is not a subsidy publisher." - We can't argue with that, but they aren't a traditional publisher either. We suppose someone you pay to publish your book is a self-publishing company. Although PA is not charging authors upfront for services (like design, production, editorial, distribution), Publish America charges dearly by selling you books and keeping an incredible portion of your sales. They may be different from many of our competitors, but they still aren't a traditional publishing company.

Moving on, we'll provide you with a framework around which to phrase some very direct questions to your author representative. Here is what we believe is important in choosing a company to self-publish your book. (Note these are standard for ANY self-publishing company you call...)

  1. CONTRACT- do you keep all your rights and can you terminate your agreement at any time without penalty? The author contract should be short and easy to understand. It appears you do Not at Publish America.

  2. RETAIL PRICE. Can you set your own retail? Does the publisher force you into ridiculously high retail prices? (see our page on setting your Retail Pricing here.) If a 150 page paperback actually costs $18.95, no one is going to buy it other than friends, family, and the author (who, as we noted above, will pay an incredible amount to buy their own books...)

  3. BOOK PRINTING COSTS. Your Retail is almost always a function of your cost to print the book. If your book costs more to print, you need to push your retail price higher just to break even.

  4. AUTHOR PROFIT. Some call it ROYALTY, we call it a NET SALES PAYMENT. Whatever it's called - it's the amount you receive from each book sale. Don't let the rep get away with talking 'percentages' - you don't pay the light bill with a percent. Make them give you an example, based on page count and retail price, of how much you'll make in DOLLARS for each sale through Amazon (where 90% of your first year sales will occur).

    Be careful of any company that gives a huge royalty, but forces unreasonable retail prices on your book. It makes no sense to get a "50%" royalty on a book that will never sell. Also watch for royalties that are increased by REDUCING your WHOLESALE DISCOUNT. Again, if no store will buy it, what's the point of a royalty?

  5. CUSTOMER SERVICE - Publish America appears to excel at this. Staff seems incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Can you actually speak with someone who actually knows something about the book industry? Do you have access to "decision makers" that can make things happen for your book?

  6. BUSINESS MODEL- what is their business model? Everyone is in business to make money, and that's an honorable thing... but watch WHERE they make their money. Look for hidden charges, or charges that show up to actually create an effective and salable book for you.

Here are some numbers to let help you get more in-depth with Publish America. Ask your rep to provide a comparison amount for each item. Write 'em down, add 'em up, and see what it comes out to.

The specs are pretty typical of the books produced in the trade category at any self publishing house. Information and self publishing costs are derived from the Publish America web site and contract.

  • 6X9 trim size, 150 pages, one color interior, 4 color cover, 5 interior images
    - Paperback or hardcover
    - ISBN, bar code and Library of Congress Control number
  • Custom cover and interior design– no template designs
  • a PDF or laser proof delivered to author
    - Available at Amazon and most major online retailers
  • Available through major distributors like Ingram and Baker and Taylor
  • Available for order at over 25,000 retail bookstores
    - Inclusion in the Google Book Search Program
  • Availability as a Google Editions eBook
  • Author wanting to purchase 150 additional paperbacks (Dog Ear’s total cost for this package and options is $1,741, our per unit book printing price is $4.28, and you get 5 free author copies of your book.)

Publish America Costs

  • Standard Paperback Publishing - $0
  • Hardcover set up - Not Available
    Custom Back Cover Only - Not Available
  • Library of Congress Control Number - $0
  • Proofs - $0

WOW! Sounds great so far! But wait - now comes the hard part...

Printing Services - $15.16 / unit X 150 units = $2274

Total Expenditure: $2,274 (for a company that doesn't charge to publish...)

$533 more expensive than Dog Ear Publishing- and it goes up from there if you buy or sell more books. At Dog Ear Publishing, you'd make over $5.57 per book more by using Dog Ear rather than publishing your books through Publish America. Let's say you only sell the average 66 books through PA - at Dog Ear, you'd make $467.94 in profit, at PA only $99.66. Now you are an additional $368.28 'in the hole' for using a company that doesn't charge you to publish.

All of a sudden a company that 'doesn't charge authors anything to publish' seems rather expensive, right?

For other insight into Publish America, Google the company name and see what comes up. ANYONE can post information on the web, so anything you find should be taken with a great big grain of salt. However, consistent criticism should be a warning for the prospective author to exercise care in deciding the right company to use.