Is Publish America A Scam?

Publish America is a well-known business that promises to help authors bring their written work to life, but there are many negative reports online regarding how the service operates.

Publish America

Having had some experience with author-related resources here at WFHW, I decided to take a closer look and see if there’s anything about Publish America that makes it stand out from the other similar services that we’ve reviewed.

Right from the start, Publish America states on their website that they “treat authors the old-fashioned way by paying them” and that you can become a published author for free.

They also state that you get the following:

  • Free Layout
  • Free Amazon Listing
  • Free Cover Design
  • Free Illustrations for Children’s Books
  • Free Press Releases
  • Free ISBN
  • Free Ingram Listing
  • Plus Your Book is Available to All Bookstores

However, all is not as it seems from what Publish America states on its website.

Ingram is a book wholesaler and they will NOT stock Publish America books. Barnes and Noble will also NOT stock Publish America Books either.

Publish America are what is termed as “print-on-demand”, or in other words, they only print when an order has been placed and paid for.

Unfortunately, the prices are well above what is deemed normal and if you are an unknown author nobody is going to pay a high price for your book.

Here’s how this all works…

You have a book that you have written and would like to have it printed. Anyone reading the list above of what you get for free at Publish America would think it’s the perfect site to satisfy their needs.

But in reality, you will be purchasing copies to sell to your family and friends which might at first seem not such a bad idea. However, you will make virtually nothing doing this.

To get any Bookstore to stock your book you will have to go around and visit in person and more than likely have to ask them to stock it for you.

This I can say they will not do because the book will be un-edited, overpriced, and non-returnable.

Also, you will notice that it says above, ‘Your Book is Available to All Bookstores’.

Being available to all bookstores is a lot different than being available in all bookstores because your book is not in any store at all.

The only way someone can purchase your book is to “special order” it, but because Ingram or Barnes and Noble will not stock Publish America books, there will be very little chance that the bookstore can order it.

I also discovered that the free Press Releases were again not what you would think.

Instead of a properly written review of your book posted to any number of press release sites, it was instead an ad placed in a newspaper.

Publish America does not currently do the following:

  • Print a catalog.
  • Have distributors/sales reps go to bookstores.
  • Send personalized press releases.
  • Generate sales from book clubs.

The author has to do all of the distribution, publicity, and marketing for the book.


I am concerned by what I have discovered about Publish America.

At Work From Home Watchdog, we have been looking into how difficult and costly it is just to get something into print.

Most of the reviews I have written really have put me off ever trying to do this. Still, I do believe there must be a worthwhile company out there…somewhere.

Do you have any experience with Publish America? Let us know using the comments section below.

Neil – WFHW

Leave a Comment


  • I am sorry for the people who experienced stress from dealing with PA. I too, initially was furious at them. I have not made a penny off my books either and because PA has reputation of publishing anything, trying to get agents or whatever puts the author in a bad place.
    That said, I wouldn’t be a published author though without PA. I have published two children’s books and a novel with them. I just sent them a synopsis of another kid’s book I want them to published for beginning readers.
    My books are pretty and I think well-done by PA. It is virtually impossible to get a contract these days. The so-called legitimate publishers and agents want one page of your book(Not enough to actually tell how a writer writes)and some spell-binding query . Unless you are Oprah or Brad Pitt, forget about it.
    I just feel when I am financially able to get a good marketing company behind me, I will make money. That’s my bottom line. In the meantime, I feel pride when I do see my books online.
    Sandra Y. Lowe

    • Thanks for your input, Sandra!

      Delighted to hear that you have had some level of success with your own publications, and I hope your latest creation is just s successful.

      It’s definitely a tough slog trying to get recognized within this industry, but if you continue to believe in yourself and push your work, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of getting that lucky break.

      All the best for now,

      WFHW Founder

  • I made the mistake of publishing through PA; being an unkown author I read the contract and it sounded good. After getting my book published I have had nothing but aggravation. I received an email which stated that I could “buy my rights” for just $99.00!!! but I had to act within 24hrs. I contacted them immediatly informing them that I would like to buy my rights however, I was unable to do so at this time. I asked for an extention and never received a reply. Does my contract bind me only to the book they published or to any future work I may do??

    • Hi Joyce,

      The contract should only apply to this book.
      However I would check thoroughly the conditions of your contract.

      I do suggest that you have a look through the Absolute Write Forum because they are well aware of all the issues associated with P.A.


      WFHW Team

  • I have published three books through PublishAmerica and any sales have been through personal sales, which are minimal. However, I will say this: PublishAmerica may list my book for $24.00 or $27.00 which is ridiculously high, but does/did offer deeply discounted prices to their authors deep as 60% . The one catch was the shipping….no matter how deeply discounted the discount, once you added the $250 or $300 shipping cost the cost per copy rose significantly.
    However, that being said, I did also self publish another book through Author House and the cost to do the book was close to $2000.00 and I got exactly the same promotional help that I received through PA, zilch. So that being said, I understand that if it were not for PA some authors would never be published and I know that there are some authors whom I have met, who enjoy doing book signings at various functions (quaint book stores) and meeting people. I understand that there are fewer and fewer people reading these days unless it is in an email or on Facebook or Twitter.
    So when one does become aggravated at the high retail price of their book one must understand the cost of setup, layout, printing and shipping. They are a business and if your book costs $24.00 you will probably be able to buy it at $12.00(ish).
    Personally, I am going to convert to Ebook format and try a few online outlets and see if that leads to any success.
    Good luck to all writers out there.

    • Hi Tom,

      Thank you for your comment.
      You must be one of the lucky one’s with PA as it’s not a site I would use.
      Apart from that you are quite right in what you say, book publishing is expensive.
      I have reviewed many sites now and I focus on the user experience and what you get for your money.



  • I was published by pa A few months ago and now I regret it. Anyway if they try to scam me like they do when I call they will be in breach of contract. Anyway good review I only wish I could have read this sooner

  • I was inspired by what was expressed of Publish America’s website, and the contract seemed logical at the time. Though in learning the application of trying to communicate with the publisher I experienced a value of resistance, aggravation, and I was put down as if I was non educated. In aspect I have only experienced values of conflict with this publisher. I have decided to establish my own values of publishing and establish another book through self publication.

    • Hi Jeremy,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I am pleased that you are using an alternative site for publishing.



  • Thanks for the review. I have been researching for months about the possibilities of becoming published. I stumbled across PA today and just could not believe what I was reading on their website so I started to dig in and found out my suspicions were correct. Bummer. it is expensive to get published. Most companies hide alot of their costs which make it difficult to sift through all of the crapola to decide who is truly the most affordable publisher to go with. thanks for the post and sorry to anyone who uses PA.

  • I was a victim of theirs, too. But I am one of the very lucky few who managed to get out of my contract. How? Become a pest. Become a royal pest. I nagged them on a daily basis. I think they were just happy to see me go.

    I mean really, who pays $29.95 for a PAPERBACK from an unknown author? The cover was dismal and uninteresting. Nothing eye-catching. No editing. So no sales, very very very low royalties, no author support. The sad thing is that PA is preying on the people who don’t know they can do the same thing themselves through companies like CreateSpace and have higher royalties, lower book prices, etc.

    I have since rereleased my book through CreateSpace and am having much better results with it. I make more sales in the print edition in one month than I ever did at PA in the entire 1.5 years I was with them.

    Oh, I was going to mention to those that are trying to get out of their contracts… A word of advice. If they don’t give you back your rights, start telling them now (and get something in writing!) that you don’t intend to renew your contract. They have a teeny tiny clause in the contract that states unless you tell them otherwise, the contract will auto-renew for another 7 years. Be warned.


    • Hi Jeffrey,

      Thank you very much for your comment.
      I am very happy that through perseverence you were able to get out your contract.
      The final piece about an auto-renewing contract is alarming.

      All the best


  • I have, unfortunately, allowed myself to become a victim of the Publish America scam. When I first became aware of PA, I did what I thought was my due diligence. I researched on the net, I spoke with my local bookstores, and even took the contract to an attorney. All in all, three months after being “accepted” by PA, I finally signed on the dotted line. When I first started, the plethora of negative criticisms did not exist on the web. Most existing complaints were from people that had not (based on what information I had at the moment) read their contract. And even then, the complaints were poorly written, which led me to believe that the authors really needed to polish their craft a little more. It was difficult to take them seriously. Oh, how I wish I had.

    PA does NOT issue press releases for free. You have to pay for them and even then, one is lucky if they ever see it. I did so and my local paper NEVER received a press release of any kind.

    Having your work listed for Amazon for free is available for ANYONE.

    They do not follow through with their advertised “specials” and when you call them on it, you receive zero communication back. Giving them the benefit of doubt, I signed up for a few of these specials. One in particular was to have PA contact the local bookstores in my area. After some time, I received an email from them stating that they were sorry, but the bookstores in my area would not carry my book. I then, personally, spoke with a contact from one of the larger stores and their response was “Publish America who?”

    My book is listed as used on several sights. When I contacted PA they stated if I were to offer a ‘shred of proof’ they would investigate the matter. I sent them screen shots of the listings and received a reply from PA stating that my email did not go through. My email was ATTACHED to their response.

    I have come to the realization that I will just have to wait out the contract and then I will revise and rename my work and attempt to submit it under another name. It is so disheartening, particularly when everyone who has read my work has really enjoyed it (I bought the copies when discounted and passed them on) and asks when I will be publishing another. The old addage of “live and learn” most certainly applies here.

    • Hi M Pike,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I am really sorry this has happened to you.

      All the very best