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Summary:

PublishAmerica, a shady print-on-demand publishing company located in Maryland, is making news this week with a dubious promotion that promi…

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

PublishAmerica, a shady print-on-demand publishing company located in Maryland, is making news this week with a dubious promotion that promised to bring would-be authors’ books to J. K. Rowling’s personal attention for $49. PublishAmerica has now responded to J. K. Rowling’s lawyers’ cease-and-desist letter with…a cease-and-desist letter of its own.

PublishAmerica had promised that, for $49, it would “bring your book to the attention of Harry Potter’s author next week while our delegation is in her hometown, and ask her to read it and to tell us and you what she thinks. Tell her what you think: in the Ordering Instructions box write your own note for JK Rowling, max. 50-100 words. We will include your note in our presentation for her!” The page has since been pulled from the site, but you can view it in Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Cache here.

A J. K. Rowling spokesman said that PublishAmerica’s claim was “completely false” and that “appropriate action” would be taken.

I asked PublishAmerica for a comment on its J. K. Rowling promotion, and almost immediately received a link to a letter to Rowling’s lawyer. Here’s the letter in full:

August 17, 2011

Steven Hudson
Schillings
41 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3Hx

Re: Cease and Desist on behalf of J.K. Rowling

Dear Mr. Hudson:

I am an attorney for Publish America, LLLP (“PA”). I have been asked by my client to respond to your August 16, 2011 demand letter, which was written on behalf of your client J.K. Rowling. In that letter, you accuse PA of publicizing a promotion that invades your client’s privacy and falsely creates the impression that your client has endorsed PA’s “product”. Based upon these claims, you demand that PA cease and desist the promotion. Your letter also vaguely asks PA to refrain from further tortious conduct without giving any details about how to comply with your demand.

Please be advised that your demand letter lacks justification. First, PA has done nothing to harass your client or invade her privacy. The simple fact is that your client’s Edinburgh residence is public knowledge; she even publicizes this fact on her own website!!! Accordingly, PA did nothing wrong by repeating that fact in its promotion. If she wants to keep her residence private, perhaps she should not publicize that fact.

Second, PA’s promotion does not create the impression that your “client has endorsed, recommended or approved the Promotion.” To the contrary, PA’s promotion creates the exact opposite impression, implying that the opportunity to deliver books to her is but happenstance. PA created this impression by mentioning that it is already going to be in your client’s home town for the Edinburgh Book Festival at the same time it plans to deliver the books. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the only information revealed about your client, i.e. her Edinburgh residence, is in the public domain. By revealing only well known information about your client that is generally available to the public, PA specifically contradicted the impression that it has some direct line of access to your client.

Not only is your letter replete with factual errors, but it is built upon a false premise. In the caption at the beginning of the letter, you indicate that your letter is “NOT FOR PUBLICATION”. This creates the impression that you were looking to resolve this matter confidentially. But no sooner had you sent the letter than your client’s spokesperson, Mark Hutchinson, published a false and defamatory statement to the media, indicating that PA had been cited by industry watchdogs for “allegedly deceiving authors.”

Of course, there are no legitimate industry watchdogs who have ever said anything of the sort. The ones who have made such representations have been totally discredited. David Kuzminski, owner of the Preditors & Editors website was ordered to pay over $50,000 after he defamed one of PA’s representatives. Attorney Charles Petit was suspended from the practice of law regarding his representation of the elderly daughter of famous author, John Steinbeck. Sinthyia Darkness and Phil Dolan, two longtime PA muckrakers, are currently being sued by another PA representative for defamation. No reasonable person would ever rely upon anything they said. By doing so, your client and her representatives have subjected themselves to a defamation suit.

In light of the above, PA requires that your client issue a retraction immediately. “Our client’s approach . . . to damages . . . will be determined by the speed and nature of your response to this letter.” In any event, PA reserves all of its rights in the interim. However, it will be more than happy to discuss an amicable resolution of this matter.

Sincerely,
Victor Cretella
Victor E. Cretella III, Esq.
For Publish America, LLLP

[Link to the letter]

PublishAmerica, which says that it is a traditional publisher, not a vanity press–i.e., that it pays authors advances to publish their books, the authors don’t pay it–published over 3,000 titles in 2010. It has been criticized by authors for not promoting their books or making them available in bookstores. PublishAmerica says its books are “available to virtually all American big chain bookstores from sea to shining sea.”

PublishAmerica also knows where President Obama lives, and this week launched another promotion: For $29, it will let “the president, John Boehner, Harry Reid and your local Congressman, AND your local TV, know” about their clients’ books, under the context that it is a company creating new jobs.

  1. Wow. That’s disgusting.

    Mostly for the 3,000 poor souls who fell their scam last year. I hope someone finds a way to take these idiots down. I mean, I almost hope they do try to contact Rowling, just so that gives her the right to actually sue them. Cause you know she can afford attorneys who could cause Publish America to be shut down.

    Also, you’ve got to love any “lawyer” who uses triple exclamation marks in a cease and desist letter.

    More thoughts on the blog: http://www.pfspublishing.com/workshop

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  2. I used to work in law… never known a (real) attorney who would use exclamation marks… never mind the over-the-top language. None of that hides this ridiculous scam by Publish America.

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    1. You should see the “tone” letters they send their authors.

      “Your accusations are delusional and obviously false, and don’t take that tone with us.”
      “Oh, quit your whining, you’re not going to find a better deal than us.

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  3. Ah yes, having a go at Preditors and Editors again. Publish America consistently try to undercut the names of those who take a stand against them.

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  4. PAULA COMMERFORD Thursday, August 18, 2011

    I WAS THE ONE WHO SENT PROMO’S TO J K ROWLINGS AND I AM PROUD OF IT ! I HAVE ALSO BEEN THE ONE TO SENT COPIES OF PROMO’S TO DISNEY. SCOTLAND, LHJ, WALMART AND ALL UPCOMING BOOK FAIRS AND FESTS. ALL COPY’S AND REPLY’S I HAVE . NOW I AM HELPING OTHER AUTHORS TRYING TO GET OUT OF THEIR CONTRACTS WITH PUBLISH AMERICA.MY WEBSITE IS                                                                                                     http://paulaspublishamericainformationsite.weebly.com/

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    1. >website was ordered to pay over $50,000 after he defamed one of PA’s representatives<

      Does PA's silly lawyer really think a lawyer for JK Rowling would blink twice at that pathetically tiny amount of money? To threaten someone of that stature there would need to be a few more zero's there:)

      Paula, you did REAL good! I remember reading about all of this on your blog (and the "tone" letter you were sent personally) keep up the fight!

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    2. I published one of my first poetry books with PA, and the only advance I received was for one dollar, and never once got the publicity they claimed would, even after I submitted a few bookstore names in my area, and the only response they could give me was that they never got a response.  I have decided to never use them again, for i only received one copy of my book, but i do see it listed on amazon.com; the title is my inner most visions of my soul, by s.s. rowell, and many of my friends and family tried to purchase this book from publish america’s site, but was unsuccessful.

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      1. Selynn Schnell Thursday, March 1, 2012

        Dear Sheila,  I understand where you are coming from.  I published my first children’s book with PublishAmerica and the exact same thing happened to me.  I have also been stupid enough to buy quite a few of their packages so I can get my book out there and seen.  If they are just a scam it is really depressing because I desperatly want my books to get attention. I am almost done with my second book which is a sequel and I really don’t know what to do with.  I feel if I stay with PublishAmerica at least it is published, but I don’t want to be stuck for 7 years on a book that I really feel is so much better and stronger than the first.  I just wish I knew what to do!

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  5. A letter from a lawyer that uses triple exclamation marks? They are serious indeed. Isn’t this the same crew that the Edinburgh International Book Fair asked to cease and desist? I thought they just had a bad publicity intern writing copy for them, but turns out they’re actually semi-sinister.

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  6. I am confused by the photograph running alongside the left edge of this article. Has Publish America put Ms Rowling in some Alice In Wonderland/Willy Wonka room? Why is she only allowed a nightgown? Is that a radiant heater? I’ve had one of those, and would like to suggest that Ms Rowling be provided a pair of socks, at the very least.

    So these people are holding Ms Rowling in this room until she reads all of these manuscripts? The publishing world astounds me. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Asshats.

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  7. Despite the disgusting circumstances (I do feel sorry for the people who fell for this) I find the letter itself highly entertaining. 

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  8. PAULA COMMERFORD Friday, August 26, 2011

    This just came out from Publish America
     can’t believe PA posted this!
     
    PA posted this big lie on their facebook page.  It is the real story of what happened in Scotland.
     
    “That mission was accomplished, just as the earlier mission of making Harry Potter author JK Rowling aware of a number of PublishAmerica books, fan mail and all, was also accomplished, yesterday.”
     
    So Rowling’s people were lying, they did make her aware of PA books and got the author’s little massages to her as well.
     
    The Library, Book Festival and Rowling all lied about PA…lol  Bet they would like to know that.
     
    So help spread the true story.
     
     
    [name redacted]: We noticed your post about that story from Scotland.
    It includes a line that says that “No-one from PublishAmerica[...] could be contacted for comment.” That’s funny because PublishAmerica was open for business all day, and has been for the past twelve years. It’s a known phenomenon. A reporter believes he has a juicy story, and he doesn’t want the truth to get in the way of that.
    It’s even funnier in light of the fact that a PublishAmerica delegation visited the National Library of Scotland at around 3:30 PM local time today to deliver on our promise to make the Library aware of our books. That mission was accomplished, just as the earlier mission of making Harry Potter author JK Rowling aware of a number of PublishAmerica books, fan mail and all, was also accomplished, yesterday.
    If you re-read our special promotion offers from the past few weeks with care, you will see that none of the claims that this story alleges were actually made by PublishAmerica. Our delegation spent a full week in Scotland, roamed the Festival grounds extensively, promoted our authors, and delivered on every single promise that was made to participating authors. No one at the Festival ever mentioned any problem, the Library official was very kind and helpful, and our delegation enjoyed spending time in the Elephant House across the street from the Library, where JK Rowling wrote most of her first Harry Potter book.
    Finally, while in Edinburgh we also surprised our three Scottish PublishAmerica authors with complimentary special Festival editions of their book.
    Any other questions? If not, please help spread the real story.

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  9. i wish they would publish a book with all the notes to jk rowling, ill bet there is some awesome stuff in there.  oh but I hope they don’t print my letter.  damn it.

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  10. Robert Devillier Friday, September 16, 2011

    It is free…YEP! I was sucker by PublishAmerica to publish my book. My hope one day these thieves be put out of business and all rights give back to the authors.  I get at lease 5 emails a day wanting me to buy some type plan to sell my book.  Hope authors who been sucker like myself are not giving their money to these scammers.  Where are the State and USA district attorneys when the people need them?

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  11. I published recently with PublishAmerica, “Jacaranda Blues” but it is impossible to find my title unless you have typed it in and not many people know about my title so how the hell is my book going to sell?  Besides not a single copy of my book is in any Australian bookstores. PublishAmerica has stopped responding to my emails and did not send complimentary copies to my reviewers as per contract.

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