Getting published is just like losing weight. Lots of people want to do both. And there are other groups of people who are more than happy to take their money and not deliver the results that were expected.
Warning signs abound, but when you want something badly enough, you overlook them.
Like look at this sentence from the AuthorHouse web page: "Join over 25,000 self-published authors who have trusted AuthorHouse to be their book publisher of choice. Publishing a Book is a great adventure! Let AuthorHouse be your guide." What's with the weird capital B Book?
AuthorHouse occasionally takes out full-page ads in the NY Times for a dozen books at a time. Look at these books. "A History Book, Sir Elton John, and the Grasshopper Man. The memory of an old man kidnaps a boy named Terry from the year 1998 and takes him to the bowery of New York 95 years earlier. An identical boy takes Terry's place while his sister races to find her brother." On the micro level, it's Bowery. Maybe the capital B got used up on on Book? On the macro level, the title and description don't make much sense.
How about this gem? "The Pedagogy and the Boys from Beal Alley Boulevard. This is a very entertaining and thought-provoking story involving an alien. The alien, called the Pedagogy, possessing extraordinary intellectual and physical abilities, teaches seven teenage orphans valuable lessons to survive, thrive, and live by." Hm, wonder why this one didn't sell to a mainstream press?
Or what about this "Editor's Choice" (obviously a very choosy editor) at IUniverse: Spirit Warrior is a futuristic action novel in which a young man becomes filled with the Holy Spirit and must use his newfound strength to fight an evil emperor and his nephew.
Book Description Fortified with their overwhelming verbal support, Megog dipped his muscled shoulder and shot forward. Quickly I dodged to the right, but he had anticipated my very move and crashed straight into my chest. He had guessed my path of escape. With a loud thud, my back slammed the mat and my head bounced off the hard rubber surface. Starbursts of pain rocketed through my brain like a meteor shower. I lay there dazed, unable to move.
The crowd jumped to their feet and cheered! Megog had executed a brilliant combination move. This society’s love of violence in sport was particularly keen.
This isn't a description, it's excerpt. And not a good one.
How about IUniverse's "Indian Point"? Count the cliches. "When Marco Frost has an ice pick shoved into his throat, his brother, Nicholas, a hard case with a checkered past, throws in with an old Jew and goes after the killer. The trail leads both men to the French Riviera where ten people are slaughtered in the middle of a nice lunch at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. Nicholas quickly finds himself knee deep in a hair-raising scheme to destroy a nuclear plant in the United States. All hell breaks loose as he stirs the pot and becomes a target of opportunity for people out to stop him from stopping them. This masterfully choreographed story, which leaves little to the imagination, soars through seven countries and across two continents: from the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan to a secret Russian ordnance base near the Mongolian border, to Prickly Pear Hill Road, a fork in the road on the outskirts of Chimney Corners, in Upstate New York."
I knew an author who monitored the PublishAmerica boards a few years back. Positive remarks stayed up. Negative ones were taken down within 24 hours.
(And don't believe the people who repeat the lie that John Grisham was self-published. He wasn't. His first book came out from a regular house and he received an advance, albeit a small one. He did sell his first book out of the trunk of his car at times. Probably every author I know has a few books in their trunk.)
If you go with one of these companies, you will more than likely spend your own money. You probably won't receive any editing, or maybe just spelling errors will be fixed. Your book cover will look like you made it yourself with clip art. You won't be reviewed by any publication you have ever heard of. You won't be carried by any bookstore you've ever heard of. The marketing will be on your shoulders. The books will be overpriced.
It is worth it to go the traditional publishing route. Your first book might not be published. Mine wasn't. It may take a long time to find an agent and then a long time to find an editor. But you will be professionally edited by an editor who will make your book better. Your book will look good. It will be in bookstores across the country. You will have salespeople working on your behalf. You'll still be responsible for quite a bit of the marketing, but you will be working with a first-class product that others will respect. Your agent may sell film rights, audio rights, foreign rights. It's hard to imagine these things happening with PublishAmerica or AuthorHouse books.
Remember, people who want to lose weight have bought fat blocker pills, glasses that supposedly made food look unattractive, and a "candy" called Ayds (unforunate coincidence on the name).
If you absoutely must self-publish, go the route of the authors of Himalayan Dhaba or Time Stops for No Mouse. Both of them were self-published by the authors, who were later picked up by regular publishing houses.
Just my two cents.