PublishAmerica Sting

Would they publish the worst book ever written?

To dispel PublishAmerica's statements that they are a "traditional publisher" and claims that they inspect submitted books for quality like a true traditional publisher does, such as--

If indeed you have been dreaming of getting published, and you want us to review your work, please fill out the form below and let us know who you are and what you have written. Your manuscript will be reviewed by our Acquisitions staff, who will determine whether your work has what this book publisher is looking for.


a collection of SFWA authors (and, ahem, non-authors) concocted to write a very poorly written book. Under "direction" of James D. Macdonald, each author was given minimal information from which to write a chapter (with no idea of the chapter's location in the book, time of year, background of the characters, what the plot was, etc.), and encouraged to write poorly. It's a truly awful book, a serious contender for Absolute Worst Book Ever Written. The result was submitted "for review" by PublishAmerica to see if "has what this book publisher is looking for." It did. :-) PublishAmerica offered a contract.

PublishAmerica will publish any work, regardless of quality, despite their claims.

Here's the book, "Atlanta Nights" by "Travis Tea" (say the author's name quickly...) Be aware, as Allen Steele has said, "A note of caution: reading this thing may cause temporary brain damage." :-)

Tip to aspiring authors: Non-vanity publishers (Random House, etc.) pay authors substantial advances [payment in advance of publication, usually measured in thousands of dollars, typically calculated as the publisher's estimate of how much the book will sell and earn the author]. Vanity publishers do not pay authors significant advances (PublishAmerica pays $1 just so they can claim to pay an advance). Vanity presses pay at best only royalties, and usually collect sizable fees or other consideration. Publishers from which authors earn real money put their own publishing company's money at risk up front, to the extent of a great many thousands of dollars, and bear the responsibility to earn it back by selling the book for the author (and themselves). This is what differentiates the two types. Vanity presses do not put any of their own money at risk, and thus engage in no (or minimal) marketing to sell the authors books. Most authors of vanity presses are unable to market books in any significant quantity (beyond family and friends). They thus do not sell many copies -- studies of data from Xlibris and PublishAmerica suggest the average sales are under 100 copies total -- and authors make little or no money (and are out whatever fees or other consideration they paid).

Vanity presses and self-publishing may have value to you for projects where you have a captive audience and are able to tap it; established authors can profitably use such avenues to bring older works back into print, for example. The critical point is this: For ordinary books from new authors, do not expect to earn any money or build any readership from this path. You may even lose money. Do not believe claims to the contrary from outfits like PublishAmerica.

For more information on this topic, see

--Andrew Burt (author of chapter 11 and the software used to machine generate chapter 34 :-)