Currently Browsing: Vanity Presses

From Traditional to Self Publishing and Back

When I first thought of writing a book I had no confidence in producing anything people would want to read. So I took my (brief) manuscript to the local printer, who mostly produced posters and newsletters. The finished book (a bit of nonsense called One Dog and His Man) cost me just £1 (Irish) in 1984 and sold quickly at £2, so whatever it made was doubled. I sold 500 copies locally and thought I should rewrite and improve my work and offer it to a publisher. A writer friend found me an agent and everything stopped for more than a year. My book was rejected again and again, making me think I should have stayed with the printer. My agent was ready to give up and I asked him to try just one more publisher. He tried the Blackstaff Press in Belfast and they accepted at once. It was out in a matter of weeks and got fantastic reviews. I followed with a sequel, One Dog and his Trials and that did well too. I turned the two books into one, One Dog, his Man and his Trials, which stayed in print for many years and is still popular. Before I acquired an agent, I had tried to place ‘One dog’ with a publisher myself. Having no idea how to start, I thought I’d send it to the next publisher whose name I saw in print. I went to Church and noticed that my hymnbook had been published by Collins of London. I duly sent the handwritten copy to this august firm. They answered! They liked it! They said they would contact me if they wanted an animal book. Because the book wasn’t accepted at once, I thought ‘it’s no good. Forget it.’ I was 54; old enough to have more sense, but I didn’t recognise the personal...

Beware Online Subsidy Publishers

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.  Now, many of them are calling themselves Online Subsidy Publishers. 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....

Why I Don’t Like Vanity Presses

Over the years, vanity presses have gotten a pretty bad reputation for duping people into printing a whole lot of books that won’t sell. (Ironically, one of the biggest reasons that the books won’t sell is that they were published by a vanity press.)  Since the term vanity press has become synonymous in some circles with “ripoff,” many have taken to calling themselves subsidy presses instead. Whether you call them vanity presses or subsidy presses, they are the same thing. Vanity Presses require the author to pay all the costs to print and ship your books. Many of these presses will claim to help you with marketing, sales and placement of your books. From the many experiences that I have read from people who have used vanity presses, it does not appear that they do any real marketing, sales, or placement of your books, even though the contract you sign with the vanity publisher may give the impression that they will market and help place your book. As part of their services, the vanity/subsidy press will file copyright documents, provide ISBN, and secure LOC (Library of Congress) CIP (cataloging in publication) data as necessary. The author pays all the costs (usually higher than normal) of editing, design, production, and printing. Vanity presses try to make you think they will “take care of everything” for you. Some might even tell you that you don’t have to do much to sell your book. Every published author knows that whether you are self-publishing your book, or going with a big mainstream publisher, you have to do a massive amount of the marketing yourself. Only the very biggest name authors, less than 100th of one percent, get a big marketing budget from the mainstream publisher. It will be your job as the author to promote your book as much as you can by...

Publishing Choices For Authors

An aspiring author wanting to see his or her books in print has a more options today than just a few years ago. E-BOOKS A very popular option is to publish your book as an e-book. E-books come in several formats. I’m sure you have seen people who are hawking their how-to books online and offering them for some pretty high prices such as $79.99, or even $139.99 for a downloadable PDF of their book. Of course, they claimed the book is worth much more (but I highly doubt that it is worth anywhere near the cover price). Anyway, selling your book in PDF format is a possibility. You can also sell your e-book on a variety of popular platforms such as Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.  Each of these requires special formatting, agreeing to their contract terms, and agreeing to their pricing structures. Going this route means your books are published through the channels of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apple. They sell the books and keep a portion of it for themselves. The amount you get ends up being the “royalty” they pay to you. These channels pay royalties faster than traditional publishers, so you will see your money sooner. They also pay you a higher percentage of the cover price of your book than traditional publishers do. E-BOOK AGGREGATORS For authors who cannot or don’t want to learn all of the specific ins and outs of creating an e-book for publication, there are services called e-book aggregators. The two e-book aggregators that I have seen recommended most often are SmashWords.com and Draft2Digital.com.  SmashWords has a few more requirements than D2D, but those requirements force you to submit files that are well formatted and meet other quality requirements. Some people use these aggregators only for certain vendors.  Four instance, I know someone who publishes their books on Kindle themselves but uses Smash...