With the rise in self-publishing, traditional publishers are scrambling to keep their side of the market afloat. They’re beginning to approach self-publishers, presenting them deals they may not have received otherwise. Self-publishing has opened doors for creative minds. With the addition of #pitmad and #askanagent on Twitter and G+, self-publishers and aspiring authors are able to pitch directly to the people in the business without forking over loads in travel costs and convention fees.
But writer beware, publishers and agents aren’t the only ones drifting through the waters.
There’s a separate sect of publishing known as:
*cue hisses and dramatic music*
In the past, they’ve masqueraded themselves as traditional publishers, offering their services to every writer they come across. Now, with the increase of self-publishing, they’ve morphed into new and improved self-publishing facilities. They offer you professional-grade covers, editing, and even offer both paperback and eBook to all major retailers, all royalties earned included, but there’s a small catch.
There’s a nominal fee. And when they bring up that fee, you better turn tail and run. A fee is the key in distinguishing a real publisher or publishing house from a vanity publisher. Don’t let your excitement of FINALLY getting published cloud your judgement. And believe me, what they call a “nominal” fee turns out to be a small fortune. And while this may seem common sense, their new platform as “self-publishing service” costs much more than the average self-publishing platform. To put it in perspective, I’ve made a list, detailing the many differences between the three publishing options and how to spot the dreaded vanity publisher.
- Real publishers get paid when YOU get paid
Never. Never, never, never, never will a traditional publisher ask you to pay for their services. They take their money from your royalty payments. Same goes for self-publishing services. Use your best judgement. $100 for a cover design is one thing, $5000 for the whole pie before you even get to taste it sounds like a bad deal to me. Don’t confuse actual services with the over-inflated scam artists.
- Self-Publishing services offer you services, you don’t pay for them immediately
This goes along with the first point, but I feel it needs its own separate bullet. Createspace offers cover designers, formatters, and bells and whistles ALONGSIDE their free, do-it-yourself services. Never will a self-publishing service only allow you to pay for things you could do yourself. If the self-publishing service is asking you to pay for something and is unwilling to give you the chance to do it yourself, then that isn’t a self-publishing service. You’re being swindled into a vanity publisher.
- Most vanity publishers will actively seek you out
Most traditional publishers ask you to send things to them for consideration of publication AFTER you’ve already contacted them. Only special circumstances will dictate a traditional publisher contacting you without former inquiry on your end. If you haven’t been doing the #pitmads and you haven’t been shopping your work around for a while, but end up getting contacted by a “publisher,” a little red flag should go up. It’s not unheard of to be contacted if you have previously published before, but to have never been published, self or traditional, and you’re getting contacted, is something to be wary of.
- A publisher won’t advertise to you
If you are contacted and are given a whole list of pros and services if you choose to publish with them, then you’re probably looking at a vanity publisher trying to con you. A traditional publisher would give you the minimum of what they have available, such as:
And that’s basically the gist of it. You may also see awards and authors they have published. A traditional publisher will want to advertise their prestige to you, so that you may send your work in. A vanity publisher will tell you that you will get all your royalties and will have all these pretty shiny things given to you if you’ll just send your work to them. They will also guarantee publication to every manuscript sent in. You know why? Because they’re going to take your money first. It doesn’t matter if the book sells. You’ve already sent them $1,000+ to them. What do they care if it sells or not?
- If it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it
Like I’ve said before, never let your excitement of being published cloud your judgement. If you notice certain things that make you question the integrity of a publisher, whether they’re vanity or not, don’t publish with them. You’ve worked too hard to just sell your work to a crap publisher.
Be careful with your work. Love what you do, keep trying to publish or publish yourself, but be smart.
Have you ever been in contact with a vanity publisher? Have you published with one? What are your thoughts? Let me know, and comment below.
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