Thursday, January 22, 2009

PublishAmerica’s latest offer

Emails went out to PA’s “thirty thousand happy authors” yesterday.

Dear Author,

Frame this: February is royalty month. Your next royalty statement is due in less than six weeks.

Receiving their royalty check is a high moment in every author's life, no matter the dollar amount. A moment worth framing.

Since PA sends out biannual royalty checks, and since their contracts hold authors for a minimum of 7 years, this means authors will have 14 moments worth framing during their time with PA.

We are offering to frame your next royalty check for you, in a distinguished, transparent 8x10 hard coated frame that "floats" the check between sheets of glass and plexiglass.

Because nothing says “distinguished” like plexiglass.

Note: you will still receive a negotiable version of your check that you can deposit, ensuring that the framed copy is a keepsake forever.

Thanks to the glass and plexiglass, you too can enjoy the PA version of the Precious Moments figurine through eternity. And beyond.

Reserve your framed check today. Price: $19.95, plus s&h.

For most authors, the frame would be worth more than the check (though as PA was quick to point out, it’s not the check you’re framing, it’s the magical moment). The same email stated, “Checks will be mailed February 28; statements regarding titles that sold zero copies will be forwarded by email.” I don’t suppose anyone will want to frame such a statement, though.

Threads about this sprang up on at least three discussion boards, and not even PA’s defenders seemed happy about it. The good news is that whether this offer is prompted by greed or desperation or both, it’s so blatant that it may alert at least a few new authors to what PA wants out of them. PA doesn’t charge for publication - which lures people in - but it charges for

1. Books (a 182-page paperback is priced at $24.95)

2. Shipping and handling ($4.99 for the first book, $2.99 for each additional book)

3. Advertising (PA’s auction, which has since been repeated)

4. Lack of advertising (after some authors found inappropriate advertising in their books, others wanted their books free of advertising. PA offered to make it so for $300)

5. A frame for each royalty check ($19.95 + s&h)

6. The return of rights (starting at $300)

I wonder what PA will try to sell to authors next. A frame for the dollar advance? Cover art? A special certificate saying “Congratulations, you are now a Published Author”? A frame for that? With PA, you never can tell.


Kami said...

This is so despicable. With so many authors having easy access to scan beds and/or color copiers (plus you could customize around the check with your own graphics) and frames going so cheaply these days ... wow. I could get a pretty big and/or fancy frame for $19.95. How much do you want to bet PA's is a cheap aluminum jobbie? sigh. But, of course, some people will take them up on it.

BTW, if folks want to do this on their own with any check or contract or whatever, it's a lot more fun to play with vellum, found frames at Goodwill or shadowbox frames from a craft store, feathers, gold trim, glitter, bits out of magazines, WordArt, corner cutters, stamps, end pieces of wallpaper, beads, magazine or newspaper clips--you could really go wild.

Marian Perera said...

Yes, you could probably get a check from the dollar store and dress it up for far, far less than $19.95.

Framing the check just seems tacky to me, though. I don't frame my paychecks because I don't need to show anyone what my salary is. So why would I need to display my royalty check?

It's one thing to keep a copy of the check as a memento, a private thing. But framing it to hang up sounds public. And not classy.

Kami said...

Yeah, it could be a tacky thing. On the other hand, some restaurants have their first dollar framed behind the desk. I like that. I didn't frame my first dollar that I got at my first real job, but I kept it and still have that in a jar in my bedroom. I scanned my first short story sale check over the last page of my contract and framed that. I haven't put it on my wall yet, though. Is that my inner tacky-ometer going off rather than my procrastination? I dunno. I do put firsts in a separate category. Would it be less tacky if the amount was obscured? There's a line, and I think it moves around. I might scan and frame my first royalty check from a novel sale, but I don't think I'd do that with every successive new novel's first royalty check. Just the first novel. And maybe not the royalty check, but the advance? I dunno. I'm not there yet. I wouldn't put it in the entry or anything, though. It's definitely an office or bedroom item.