J.K. Rowling and PublishAmerica's unfulfillable promise
J.K. Rowling's lawyers have issued a cease-and-desist letter to the company PublishAmerica, which claimed it would, for a fee, bring its authors' books to the attention of the woman who created Harry Potter.
PublishAmerica is a print-on-demand company that offers hopeful authors the opportunity to be published outside of the mainstream publishing ecosystem. It accepts manuscripts without agents and has little of the traditional retail distribution and marketing infrastructure that established publishers do. That may be to the detriment of the writers who give their trust -- and money -- to PublishAmerica. The company "has a long history of making dubious marketing promises to its authors" writes Publishers Weekly.
In this case, for $49, the company promised:
“We will 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!”
J.K. Rowling was not going to be making herself available for any presentation, according to her representative. "A spokesperson for Rowling said the claim was 'completely false'," Publishers Weekly reports, "and that Rowling would take 'appropriate action.'"
PublishAmerica's original offer has been taken down, but the company hasn't given up. "PA requires that your client issue a retraction immediately," a lawyer representing the company wrote in response to the Rowling's lawyer. The letter, full of lawyerly language, is available in full at paidcontent.org.
Earlier this summer, the typically media-shy Rowling came forward to announce the beta launch of a website, Pottermore, that provides an enriched reading experience of her Harry Potter books. The site, which will sell the first Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks, is expected to open its doors to anyone curious -- for free -- in October.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: J.K. Rowling at the London launch of Pottermore, June 23. Credit: Carl Court / AFP/Getty Images