1. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    Vanity Publishers are not ALL bad.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Janus, May 23, 2010.

    I just joined, however I have been a reading lurker in the bushes for awhile now.:p

    I have seen alot of opinions here, and advice to new authors that as someone who is published, and has has moderate levels of marketing success I find more than a little worrysome.

    There seems to be alot of bad press (sorry for the pun) towards publishers who charge for their services. I want to offer my opinion and make two key clarifications.

    As far as publishers who charge for their services being POD, or are not worth their salt. I disagree...

    I was self published, and I also went to a pay to publish operation and got hosed for alot of money. However I also now am at one that is great. There are publishers out there that do charge for their services and they will market your book, set signings up for you, and file Copyright for you, and do editing etc. They will do everything a traditional larger publisher will do.

    And they are not a POD operation.
    I think there are a lot of shady operations out there, and there are a lot of "publishers" out there that frankly are nothing more than glorified printers.

    As far as the opinion of any publisher who charges money to publish your book is a fraud. This is an absolute false statement. There are alot of publishers out there that charge a fee for publishing. These are sometimes called "Vanity Presses" however this is a wrnng word for "some" of them. They offer a frankly needed service, as most of the larger publishing houses tend to ignore the smaller author.

    Now saying this I make this one caveat to my statement. Before moving forward with a publisher who charges ensure their reputation, and also track record. NEVER deal with someone that works out of their home. Ask for references. Look their authors up on Amazon and so on. Dilligence is key. Demand to see samples of their books they have done, and contact their local chamber of commerce and BBB to ask about issues.

    See my other post on checking publishers out.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the truth is that some [probably most] of the 'self' or POD publishers do turn out a substandard product but i haven't seen anyone here claim they all do...

    what publisher is that?... and if not POD, then what's their standard first run?

    i haven't seen that said here, either... and of course it's not true about most, since they're up front about the fact that you must pay for their services, so no fraud is being committed...

    all but the traditional publishers that pay the author [instead of the other way around] are called'vanity' presses, since it's generally considered that the author's 'vanity' in wanting their book in print despite no paying publisher wanting to take it on justifies [to them] paying for the privilege, instead... even the ones like PA where no money is needed up front still cost the writer, since they have to buy their own book in order to sell it, beyond the few [if any] sales an amazon listing may generate...
     
  3. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    I completely disagree with this statement. Fair enough, it may be damn near impossible to get in with the big publishing houses, but the lesser known author, or unpublished writer, generally doesn't bother approaching the large places until they have made a name for themselves with the small presses and gained a fan base. You always have to aim small in the beginning, before you aim for the top.

    Start with a few short stories, and work your way up to a novel. Once you have a novel published, try and get another novel published and just keep going. Eventually you may just break into the big markets and start making larger amounts of money. Avoid vanity markets that pay exposure, avoid places that publish through Lulu and the like, avoid places that make you pay them.

    A publisher pays you! Not the other way around.
     
  4. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    I agree. It is called 'vanity press' for a reason. The book has been rejected by the publishing houses, so you publish it yourself. The ones I have read (always because I have felt obliged because I know the person) are of quite a poor quality, so there is a good reason why they have been rejected. I think if people persevered and tried to improve their book instead of going ahead and publishing it themselves, they would be more successful.

    Of course there are a lot of good writers out there that haven't been published, but all of the self-published books I have seen have basic writing errors (even spelling errors) so no wonder they were rejected.

    Someone I know self-published his own autobiography which was full of very boring stories about his childhood and lots of pictures of him. A vanity press classic! And of course, everyone he knows felt obliged to buy it, and said it was very good (to his face) so he is happy.

    If people self-publish because they just want to see 'their baby' in print then fair enough. It is a nice thing to own, and something to show the grandchildren I suppose. Of course there are 'publishers' that provide that service (as with any demand in the marketplace) but it should be seen for what it is.

    There are lots of publishing houses that seek and publish new writers, national writing competitions that are open to all, magazines that regularly publish short stories by new writers, literary and arts events that seek new writers to read their work, radio stations, newspapers, even libraries that are happy to work with new writers IF the quality is good.
     
  5. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    Their first run of my book was 500 books for their own marketing useage.

    I agree in part, yes there are many that self publish due to their desire to see their book simply in print, however also there are a CORE group of authors whom go this way not because their book is substandard in writing quality, it is due to the fact that they have been rejected, and not due to writing quality issues.

    My point (opinion) I was making is in my opinion, their is a difference between 'Vanity' publishing, and the route that others take, even though it is pay to publish. Also, as far as errors in the manuscript, no one is perfect, heck I can read books through some of the largest publishing houses and find errors.

    Just dropping an opinion.
     
  6. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every writer out there has received a rejection, not simply because of quality issues, but because the piece doesn't fit that particular market. Which is why you thank the person who sent the rejection for their time (or don't) and you look for another place to submit to.

    It may take a week, a month, a year, but if you persevere, you can find a place that will publish your work. Not every story is suited for every market. That is why there are so many out there.
     
  7. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    Pay for publishing is called vanity press because it is the same thing. Any author who pays for their own work to be printed is called vanity press. Any author is able to do this, regardless of the quality of their writing. Just in the same way that anyone can pay for music studio time, pay musicians and record an album regardless of how well they can sing.

    There are many self-published books I have read with such basic errors (there/their mistakes/alot as one word/lowercase i) that clearly there are writing quality issues, the author is just completely oblivious to them.

    It is incredibly hard to get published as a new writer, but not impossible. The publishers are taking such a high risk because they don't know if they will make any money, so of course they will only choose very high quality writing, that is well suited to the market. They invest a great deal of time and money so of course they are only going to choose the best manuscripts.

    They are more likely to consider an author that has achieve some genuine commercial success (in well regarded magazines, competitions, etc.) than one who has self-published.
     
  8. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just a note about the particular publishing House Janus uses,

    I was browsing through their current 'authors' section, which entails details of each author and the books they've paid to be published there, with an accompanying photograph of that person.

    Now this is weird - who should I see but the very popular travel writer Bill Bryson amongst them? Amazing.

    So I pointed this out to my boyfriend, who then emailed the publishing house about the picture I'd seen, asking if they realised they have a famous author amongst them. Though of course, it was just some guy stealing his photograph...which is quite creepy if you ask me.

    They replied (Matt may post the answer here if he wishes, I don't know) by saying that they had no idea he'd stolen a photograph of an already famous author, and that they'd only spoken to the guy by email, and had never even met him face to face. That was the picture he sent to them as his identity...

    Apparently they've contacted Bryson's people to let them know that someone had done this, so it's good to know that they atleast took it seriously. I think they've also contacted the author who used that photograph to confront him about it.

    However, I just wanted to remind people that your identity is a big deal. If there are people paying for books to be published with someone else's (in fact, a popular author's) photograph slapped on the back cover, then I guess it's obvious how shamelessly desperate some of these people are to get noticed, even if it means going under a popular face.

    Weird is all I can say...
     
  9. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    There have also been cases of a person stealing the works of Stephen King and getting it published under his own name and just giving the works different names. Vanity publishers don't care, they just say they'll publish it and don't bother to read it. Next thing you know Stephen King's been ripped off by some idiot who can't even write. Just wanted to make a quick buck like the vanity publishers. This happened last year. The thief was only caught out when he submitted to some publishers that weren't vanity publishers.

    Vanity publishers make plagiarism a lot easier for so many people, because unlike proper publishing houses, they don't bother to read the submissions properly, and they never bother to do checks.

    I also checked out the website, so did my partner, we both agree that all the things that you pay for in those bundles, you can get mostly for free anyway. Also, buying one of those bundles does not guarantee you are going to make any money, or have a best seller. And it if IS good enough to be a best seller, why the heck are you paying to have it published when a reputable publisher would pay you for the privilege of publishing your work and you would make a decent sum through a proper publisher with a best selling novel. A vanity place will only rip you off.
     
  10. roadkilraven
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    roadkilraven Member

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    When I first started writing I almost signed with not one, but two vanity publishers. Thank God I didn't!

    The first wanted $2000.00 to publish my book, after 'reading' it in a day. They raved about how amazing it was, and how I would surely see it in print... once I paid the fee. They called me three times a day, pressuring me for the money, and making me all sorts of wonderful promises. I changed my number as a result.

    Then, a couple years ago an ex-girlfriend of mine showed a 'book of dark poetry' that her friend had published through another vanity publisher. I asked myself, when I saw it, how many people would buy that type of book? What sort of publisher would publish that? A month later, just for fun, I submitted an entire 40,000 word manuscript to them. Two days after that they replied that after 'reading' it, (anyone seeing a pattern here?) claiming that they would certainly publish it... and for only a small fee. This was followed by a letter from them saying how I should congratulate myself 'as it was a special time in the life of a writer when a publisher decides to work with him.' To make a long story short, I contacted my ex-girlfriend's friend, and asked him about his experience with that publisher. He raved about how he had not only that book in print, but a sequel, and was working on a third. When I asked how many copies he had sold of the two he smiled, and replied, "three. I bought one of each, and your girlfriend bought a copy for herself."

    So there you have it. If you take the easy way out then you get what you deserve.

    I also want to note that why is it everyone who raves about vanity press here seems to have the worst grammar? No offense to the O.P., but just reading your posts made me ask (as if I was a publisher), 'why would anyone publish this guys writing?' Be a little more professional, even here. Capitalize the beginning of sentences, understand when the words 'are' and 'is' should be used in a sentence. Understand the correct use of the words you use, as some small mistakes are understandable, but if you're trying to get published then it looks really amateur to make mistakes in grammar left and write (he he he... how many people got that one.)
     
  11. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    I am interested in this, as I am not aware of my publisher using images from another author to another. I asked my author rep about this, and he did tell me that there is a UK author that they dealt with who did send what they felt was an image that was not his.

    Side not here: I was informed that if the author in question does not rectofy this with a satisfactoey answer they are canning him as an author.

    I am not trying to argue here, however my publisher has helped me immensley. Now as far as being rejected, I agree. Being rejected is part of a writers very existence when they first start out. However I still do not agree with the term Vanity press, as I honestly think there is a difference, even among pay to publish operations.
     
  12. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well Bill Bryson pretty much looks like your everyday guy, so I wouldn't expect everyone to recognise him. I just do because I'm reading Notes From A Small Island and I love his thoughts/ideas about Britain and our culture.

    However, he is very popular and I would've expected these publishers to know better. Atleast, If they're going to put pictures/contacts to the author's name and the book, then I think it's really important to have a firm grasp on their true identity. Otherwise it's just unprofessional, and an irresponsible risk; even if they are just a self-publishing company. I'm just glad they've done something about it (assuming they really have).

    Keep us posted if you find out anything more!
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The matter of payment is relevant. A traditional publisher will only accept your writing if, in their opinion, it will stand a chance of earning back the costs of producing it.

    Pay to publish publishers have no such incentive. They make money on the deal irrespective of whether the book succeeds or fails. Now, if a piece of writimg falls into their hands that has innate potential, so much the better. Sure, if they put a token effort into making some improvements, they may stand to increase their profit, but there is really no incentive for them to increase their risk by putting more than a minimal investment into each book.

    It's the simple economics of the business.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly!... and that's the bottom line anyone considering vanity/self publishing should pay attention to and take seriously...
     
  15. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    Just a note. My publisher did indeed refuse a manuscript from me for another book. I think one of the problem here is a misconception. The idea as Cog said that Pay to Publish operation take anything as long as money is paid.

    My first publisher was that way. However the one I am with now is not. I also did call them earlier to tell them about this site, to see if they would be interested in coming here and answering questions and giving the birds eye perspective.

    They indicated they would be interested.
    Would this be allowed? I think it is unfair to classify all pay to publish operations under one banner.
     
  16. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    I think roadkilraven's post is interesting. I don't think "taking the easy way out" by self publishing always has to be a failure. Publishing the book is one thing, but if the author actually wants to sell books they need to be willing to promote. Most self publishers will charge for marketing and promotion packages, but authors can get creative about using their own resources to promote their work, such as attending local author events or using social networking sites for promotion. That's obviously not the same as going on a book tour funded by a well known book publisher, but self publishing means that you take on the responsibilities of promoting your work. Self publishing is only taking the easy way out if you refuse to promote your work or put any other type of effort into making the project worthwhile.
    ~Eliza
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's all true in re non-fiction for which the author may have an existing market base, but it doesn't really work for fiction...
     

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