Publishing Strategies: Vanity Publishing

This week’s post is a little bit different from the past few in that I don’t particularly recommend this strategy to anyone. Yet it’s still in existence because people use this method of publishing, and so to be fair and cover all the strategies out there we’ll be taking a look at what is commonly referred to as vanity publishing, or vanity presses.

A vanity press is essentially any publishing house, or (usually) small press that will publish an author’s work, but only after the author pays them to do so. These are not traditional presses or houses, and often do not offer the same sorts of editorial, marketing, and publicity services or expertise a traditional house (or even you yourself) can offer. In vanity publishing the author will basically pay an up-front fee to the press cover the production of the book. In some cases as well, the vanity press might take a cut of the author’s profits from the book, if they make anything. Usually, there is very little editorial presence or marketing effort that goes along with production.

It’s worth noting that services like Lulu or Createspace, or even Amazon’s self-publishing services (which work closely with Createspace), that will print an author’s books and/or sell them on their website, are NOT vanity presses. These services cost authors money, but they work like self publishing (where the author has to put money down to produce their book anyway) and in fact many self publishing authors will produce their books in these ways.

Vanity publishers act like they’re the same as traditional presses, but instead ask for money in return for their services which may or may not turn a profit for the author. For comparison, self-publishing costs the author money but the author turns 100% of the profit; traditional publishing costs the author nothing (other than time) and the author will most typically receive an advance up-front as a part of signing with the publisher.

It’s possible that some publishers working under this model might be legitimate, but some are complete scams. They might offer sub-par services to those they promised, or do very little to actually make your work a success after they’ve taken your money. You should never have to pay someone to have your work published (self publishing is obviously a different matter). However, if you’re a writer who feels this is the most appropriate route to take, I urge to you take caution and do all your research before giving up your money to someone who might not use it the way they promise.

Question for the commenters: what do you think about this type of publishing? What would make you choose to go this route over self-publishing, or more traditional methods?

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. beckiw says:

    I think I would definitely choose self-publishing or traditional publishing over this method. I think there’s just too much chance you would fall into a scam or wouldn’t get what you paid for. I’m quite paranoid with my money so I don’t think I’d choose this method.

    But this was very informative! I always like your posts on publishing 🙂

  2. Nathan says:

    In the past, I think vanity presses served somewhat of a legitimate purpose. If you simply wanted to see your book in print, paying a vanity press to publish it was probably a good idea.

    But in the last decade, you’ve had self-publishing take off. If all you want to do is sell an e-book, then it doesn’t cost anything; just convert your novel into the e-book format and put it on Amazon. If you want to see it in print, you can do it through Lulu and all you need to pay for is the cost of printing it (usually $10). If you want Lulu to distribute it through online booksellers, then it’s just another $50. On the other hand, a vanity press can not only cost hundreds, but you also usually lose the rights to work without getting anything in return.

  1. May 4, 2013

    […] of course): they edit, market, oversee distribution for, etc the titles they purchase. And unlike vanity publishers, they […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *