Frederick publisher sued for allegedly duping authors

FREDERICK — Several authors claim in a federal lawsuit that Maryland-based book publisher PublishAmerica deceived them with false marketing claims that included offering to show summaries of their works to “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling.

The three authors filed the complaint June 8 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the Frederick News-Post reported Friday. They are seeking class-action certification, unspecified damages and a court order releasing their publication rights.

The company denies the allegations.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are without any basis and we are confident that they will not hold up in court,” PublishAmerica said in a statement. It said the allegations “distort the facts, omit relevant information, and in some cases are just plain false.”

The Frederick-based publisher has long been cited by industry watchdogs for allegedly deceiving authors.

The lawsuit alleges it charges fees for promotional services that in many cases are not delivered.

The complaint says PublishAmerica offered to bring authors’ works to Rowling’s attention at a 2011 book festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, for a $49 fee.

Writers were asked to submit 50-to-100-word notes that a company delegation would present to Rowling, according to a message PublishAmerica posted on its website in 2011.

Rowling spokesman Mark Hutchinson said in August 2011 that the claim was “completely false” and promised “appropriate action.”

The festival organizers sent the company a cease-and-desist letter, according to the lawsuit.

PublishAmerica is a print-on-demand publisher founded in 1999. It claims to have published books by 47,000 authors and says nearly 15,000 of them also chose PublishAmerica as the publisher of their next book.


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