About Publish America from WNBC.com
edited: Sunday, April 17, 2005
By Daniel Rather
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Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005
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Publishing On Demand Can Cause Problems
POSTED: 3:52 pm EST January 24, 2005
UPDATED: 6:20 pm EST January 24, 2005
While thousands of people dream of publishing a book, only a handful actually do it. That could change soon, thanks to new printing technologies.
It's called print on demand - you can economically print one copy or a thousand. It's a great new idea for writers, as long as you remember distribution and promotion are still a big part of the equation.
Cate Caveneau's interest in writing about comparative religion led her to a publisher.
"My first book is 'Gifts of the Spirit,'" Caveneau said.
She was understandably excited when a Maryland-based company called Publish America accepted her manuscript. After signing the contract, Caveneau thought she'd soon be on the commercial bookshelves.
"Instead, they sent me two copies of the book and encouraged me to buy copies of my own book -- and then I wound up doing all of my own publicity," Caveneau said.
Publish America prints on demand. Book stores must order and usually pay for copies in advance.
It's a radical, bold step if you ask Publish America, but a step in the wrong direction if you ask some author advocates.
"They overprice these books, they sell them to the friends and families, and that's it. That's as far as authors are ever going to go," said Jenna Glatzer, a professional children's author.
Glatzer is a published professional writer who also operates Absolutewrite.com, a Web site for working and aspiring writers.
"Anytime you are asked for a fee -- whether it's a reading fee, an evaluation fee, a marketing fee, a printing fee, and editing fee, anything where they're asking you for money -- red flag. Big red flag," Glatzer said.
Caveneau said she feels her dream allowed her to be used.
"Even if the book never sells anything else, with their having 10,000 authors and each of those authors has family and friends numbering over 100, buying minimally one copy of the book at the very inexpensive cost of POD technology, they're making money hand-over-fist," Caveneau said.
The company president does acknowledge huge growth, and now more than 11,000 authors. He said purchases by the writer's family and friends make up a small percentage of sales. NewsChannel 4 asked him to name one big title or bestseller by Publish America. He couldn't, but quickly pointed out neither could most publishing companies.