I wrote a previous article explaining why I don’t like vanity presses. Unfortunately, because vanity presses have become so unpopular because they developed a bad reputation, they are changing their “skin” (outer appearance) to appear to be something else.
Sometimes they call themselves “POD Publishers,” (POD stands for Print On Demand) and they tell you you can get published for free. Others offer low or medium-cost fees to “get published” with a variety of packages that offer services that “take care of everything” (it’s the classic vanity press scam in new clothing). They often talk about paying “royalties” — after you’ve paid for all of their services. The reason they talk about paying royalties is that somewhere hidden in the contract they have taken possession of your copyright.
Their common services include:
— Preparing a PDF of the book interior. (Some may ask you to provide it.)
— Offering you a choice of their stock cover designs. A few offer more cover options or allow you to make suggestions or provide cover art.
— Submit your book to reviewers. (Most authors have a less than pleasant experience related to this. The book reviewers are not real bona fide book reviewers, because the important reviewers won’t accept a book that comes from one of these online subsidy publishers.
— Put your book in their online store (only frequented by other writers desperate to be published).
— Offer to put the book on Amazon.com (usually at an unreasonably high price). I suggest that instead, you go through Amazon’s REAL POD publisher, CreateSpace.com and get your book on Amazon all over the world for less than $50.
— Sell copies to you at a discount from list price, even though you have already paid them a lot of money for your book. Unfortunately, the average title sells less than 100 copies (including sales to the author) — this number is based on publicity reports released by some of these publishers. The discounted price is usually so high that you can only afford to make direct sales at speaking engagements, to friends, relatives and acquaintances, on the Internet, etc. You won’t be able to place your books into bookstores because the price you pay for them is more than the discounted price bookstores pay for them. The only way you might place your books into bookstores is to price the book well above a reasonable market price, but the bookstores know what price they can sell books for and will likely reject your book for being too expensive.
These Online Subsidy Publishers do not do any real marketing of your book like a traditional publisher does. You will have to do all of your marketing yourself. (These days, even traditional publishers require the author to do significant marketing.)
Frequently, their contract will restrict your book from any other method of publication and they will refuse to release you from their exclusive contract without further payment. If a traditional publisher decides to accept your book, you may be required to pay the subsidy press to release your book from their exclusive contract, as well as a percentage of any advance you get from the traditional publisher.
If you know your book has a very limited market, such as a “family history” that is likely to appeal only members of a family, then using one of these Online Subsidy Publishers may be an economical way to have the book published. It probably is still much cheaper to submit your book through CreateSpace.com and order enough copies for your family to that website. I paperback book that is 6 x 9, b/w interior with a full color cover and about 200 pages should cost you only about three dollars apiece.
If you are seeking a larger market for your book, these “publishers” are a waste of money.
For a list of general ways to spot a scam publisher, see the Warnings page at the Predators & Editors ™ web site: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/pubwarn.htm
Another helpful web site is Writer Beware at http://www.sfwa.org/beware/