Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Agatha Christie, Feb 15, 2012.
The difference, I think, is in how you do it and how many of your books you manage to sell. One can hardly speak of vanity publishing when an author manages to shift 10.000 copies of his self-published work. It's a little misguided, however, to believe that such a success is easy or comes cheap. Successful self-published authors usually put in a vast amount of work (besides writing) to get those sales.
Putting your book up on lulu or createspace and then sitting back, waiting for the dollars (or pounds or euros) to come rolling in? That's what I'd call vanity publishing! Also a little stupid / naive.
(I have no experience self-publishing a book; but I did release a couple of albums with original music all by myself... it's tough!)
i see no difference...
it's all based on the fact that the author's 'vanity' deems his/her work worthy of being published, despite what agents or 'real' publishers [the ones that pay you, instead of v/v] may think of it...
Vanity publishers charge you to publish your book. In that way, they aren't so different from these "publishing service" companies that are springing up (in fact, some of the old vanity presses are morphing into these service companies). Self-publishing is doing it all yourself, or contracting out to individuals for editing and cover design, for example, but otherwise handling it all yourself. I really don't consider self-publishing the same as vanity publishing. There are a many excellent writers out there with nonfiction books who have self-published, and there are fiction writers whose books just don't fit with a commercial publisher. Granted, there is an enormous number of writers whose pages should never be seen who are self-publishing, so they probably are publishing out of vanity - but it's not a vanity publisher.
Why such a narrow view? Even if most self-publishing is vanity publishing, the very fact that there is a multitude of highly successful self-published authors is proof that it's not all vanity. Besides, publishers don't really know what sells - at best they are better at guessing what might sell and have more tools at their disposal to influence and reach buyers. But it's not as if no publisher ever had a book flop.
Achieving success is hard, no matter which road you take.
I'm not familiar with the expressions in english, but in sweden there's this recent trend of starting your own publishing company and publish your own books, just to be able to see your own name in print and hold the book in your hand. If that is not vanity publishing I don't know what it would be. I haven't heard of any of them selling a lot though. One of them even printed 200 copies and gave them all away, which to me seems a little weird but hey, I guess some people have nothing better to do with their money.
In the US, there are business (ie, tax) reasons for opting to form your own publishing company, even if you only publish your own books. Perhaps that's the case in Sweden as well?
I'm not sure, I haven't researched enough about it since I won't go that way, but I guess that could be another reason, too. So people do that in the US too? is it very common among self-publishing writers? I just know that as any published writer here (even a traditional one) you seem to have to pay tax as if you were a company.
Quite a few of them do - and strangely, they take some criticism for it. People seem to think they're trying to hide their self-publishing status, when (I believe anyway), it's usually strictly a business decision. Many sole proprietors of "normal" businesses do the same thing (they register the business name and use DBA - doing business as - in all their paperwork). I don't know all the in's and out's, but some for some authors it makes sense, for others it's not necessary.
Well, they're both, IMO, a bad idea, but I see a huge difference. I should clarify to say that vanity publishing is _always_ a bad idea, while self publishing is only usually a bad idea, and could eventually, if the "winnowing problem" is overcome, be a viable alternative.
My understanding is that a vanity publisher charges you money _and_ takes some control, thus giving you the worst of both worlds. A traditional publisher takes control of your book, but pays for all expenses. A vanity publisher takes control of your book, and you still pay.
With self publishing, on the other hand, you pay and you have control. You still don't have access to a traditional publisher's experience, reputation, editing and artwork, marketing and distribution contacts, and so on, and that's why I think that in the current world it's a bad idea. But at least you have absolute power in deciding how you want to work to overcome those disadvantages.
Self-publishing sorts earlier alphabetically than vanity publishing.
There are different kinds ov vanity publishing, and different flavors of self-publishing. What they all have in common, though, is the reason vanity publishing is called that.
There is no threshold of quality you have to meet.
With traditional publishing, you have to convince someone knowledgeable in the publishing industry that your book is good enough that it has a chance of bringing in enough profit to cover the costs. And you do have to work hard to make that threshold.
Not so with vanity publishing. The only standard you have to meet is the green standard. Can you fork over enough green to line someone's pocket?
Oh, and one more distinction between self publishing and vanity publishing. No publisher labels itself a vanity publisher. They call it publishing, or self-publishing. Because the term vanity publishing somehow doesn't attract many custormers.
Thanks all for your input. ChickenFreak explained the difference very well, pointing out the balance between control and cash input in each scenario.
Separate names with a comma.