Saturday, 27 August 2011

The infamous "Publish America"

has been news in writer circles again. As usual it has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
I was startled to see a couple of "tweets" suggesting that they have not yet been required to make a statement with respect to their use of JK Rowling's name.
Normally I would ignore any Publish America advertising. I know they are vanity "publisher". The problem is that not everyone else does. It is an even bigger problem when it becomes necessary to explain this to a child.
Yesterday the Whirlwind tore into the house as soon as she could get here from school. I have not seen her for a fortnight but I barely got the usual bear hug. She dumped a piece of paper on top of the tomatoes I was cutting up and excitedly told me to read it. I took one quick look and knew exactly what it was.
Yes, a print out of the page saying Publish America would, for a fee, put my work in front of JK Rowling. A friend of the Whirlwind, a child who has far too much access to a computer, had found it on the internet when doing a trawl for Harry Potter related material.
Of course the two girls thought they were doing me an immense favour. They have read and re-read the Whirlwind's copy of the novel I wrote for the Whirlwind. They would like to see me as a published author. It would be something they could boast about.
The Whirlwind was jigging up and down with impatience.
"You will do it won't you?"
"No because it is not going to happen."
"But it says..."
I explained in detail. I gave her a lesson in reading comprehension and suggested she ask her father, an expert in legal drafting, if he agreed with me.
At first she was sure I was wrong. She was, to put it mildly, annoyed with me. Her friend had gone to all that bother and I was not going to cooperate!
Before she could storm out of the house and go home in a huff I managed to calm her down enough to suggest we went to the computer and look at some of the material about Publish America. Reluctantly she agreed. The Whirlwind, like most people (including myself), does not like to be wrong.
We looked. She sat there, arms folded, glaring at the screen.
"Okay, so you are right. They're lying and they are stealing your money too," she finally told me. "So why don't people stop them from doing it?"
Why indeed? The language they use is as carefully crafted as a piece of legislation. They have obviously had expert legal advice for many years.
I just hope that JKRowling's legal team will prove even more expert. It would save more young Whirlwinds from being disappointed. It might even save some would-be authors from themselves.


JO said...

No-one can defend Publish America - no doubt JKR's legal team will huff and puff, though they may not be able to do anything - different countries, different laws, that sort of thing.

But - while it's tough for your Whirlwind, maybe this is a difficult lesson learned without blood being spilled. Not everything is as it seems, not everyone tells the truth - so look beneath the headlines, the brand claims, and think for yourself. Anything that looks too good to be true, is just that!

Donna Hosie said...

J.K.Rowling has the BEST legal team in the publishing world. If these sharks have broken the law in any way, they will be sued.

I just despair that so many writers will continue to be ripped off by vanity presses. There doesn't seem to be any regulation.

widdershins said...

Perhaps the knowledge that they have right royally pissed off JKR will be enough for almost everyone with two neurons to rub together to realise what scumbags they are ... perhaps ...

catdownunder said...

I am glad you three agree with me (and with numerous other people)but I do wish everyone could recognise them for what they are!