Vanity Publishing- Writer Beware.

You may not have heard the term Vanity Publishers and they themselves don’t advertise as such, but they are out there and are a danger to both your self-esteem and your bank account.

 

A warning sign you should heed. Photo by Erica Nilsson

 What are vanity publishers and how do they differ from hybrid or assisted self – publishers?

Quality Control- is totally unselective with vanity publishers because their business model isn’t about the quality of your writing or its saleability. That doesn’t matter as a vanity publisher would happily publish your shopping list and tell you it was great if you paid them. They often approach you directly and you think you have hit gold. How do they find you?  Maybe you won a contest or signed up for a course or a newsletter.

Wrong way Neobrand
Don’t let it put you off course. Photo by NeOBRAND

I personally signed up for a free writing course, a week of writing prompts and interaction with the course leader. She was a personable and engaging personality. The course was interesting, and some exercises worked, but then the hard sell began. There was a contest for a mentoring spot. An ‘associate’ called me to say that unfortunately I’d not won, but I had placed high, and I had so much potential. They could offer me a spot at a reduced price of $3,500. I politely declined saying that while I was sure it was an excellent opportunity it was way out of my budget and comfort zone.

It didn’t end there. There were a couple more phone calls, a blend of flattery –‘you have so much going for you,’ to warnings, ‘time  is running out,’ and ‘we can’t hold a spot for you much longer.’ The price was reduced to $2000, and it was suggested that maybe I had savings or could take out a loan. Warning bells ringing loud and clear  I thanked them but still said ‘ no’.Their final call offered me the whole course for $ 397. They said it was bargain I couldn’t refuse. But I did refuse, and I haven’t heard from them since.

Austin Chan the sign you;'ve been looking for
Keep your wits about you! Photo by Austin Chan

This is the kind of intense pressure which encourages people to sign up with a vanity publisher. Vanity publishing is all about selling you, the writer, a service at inflated costs. As well as persuading you to buy tons of copies of your book. They don’t need to bother with marketing your book, because they made their money from you. Getting out and promoting the book is up to you. They may offer to put the book up on Amazon, but you can do that yourself if you self- published.

If you can, check out other books from the publisher, what’s the quality like? Also, be careful as their contract may take away your copyright and author rights. Buyer beware! Contact their authors and ask about their publishing experience.

The American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association keep an updated list of publishers to beware of- it doesn’t hurt to go online to check it. Even if you simply do an internet search for Vanity publishers you will find that a heap of names come up.

Hybrid and subsidised publishing are legitimate and do charge you for partial costs but as always you need to be careful and compare costings and even research the company name to check complaints about them.

As always if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! Save your dollars and your peace of mind by doing a little checking.