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SusanH
03-04-2009, 05:34 AM
I just hope every author out there knows about AW because Vanity presses should be put out of business. I have them contacting me. I don't know if it is through them reading here or what. I would rather not be published than have to pay to be......

ok I have a question....what is the difference between a Vanity Agency and a Boutique agency.....

IceCreamEmpress
03-04-2009, 05:54 AM
Vanity presses should be put out of business.

I disagree! There are some good reasons to use vanity presses, if all the fees and expectations are stated honestly up-front. People who might find vanity publishing a good solution are:

a) people who want to publish a small number of copies of a book for circulation among friends, family, or a small group of colleagues, and who don't have the time or skills to self-publish;

b) people who want to publish a very limited-interest niche book with a small and specific market (like a history of a very local landmark that would be sold at tourist sites and shops in that area only), and who don't have the time or skills to self-publish;

c) people who have a career as a speaker or workshop presenter, and who would like to create an accompanying book or workbook that can be sold at their lectures or workshops, and who don't have the time or skills to self-publish.

Now, if you can do your own self-publishing or find a good self-publishing consultant who will do the set-up, etc., then that's probably a better deal, financially, than vanity publication. But not everyone can do that.

That said, nobody should pursue vanity publication unless a) they've accepted that their book is not going to be sold in bookstores; b) they are willing to risk the cost; and c) they are confident that the vanity publisher delivers a quality product and adheres to the letter of its contract.

SusanH
03-04-2009, 08:57 AM
Well, that shows you how much I know....... I thought they were only out to scam people. Good to know they all aren't bad.....

What is a Boutique Agency? I found an agent the other day that calls her agency a Boutique agency......

Phoenix Fury
03-04-2009, 12:19 PM
I have to say that I respectfully disagree with ICE here:


I disagree! There are some good reasons to use vanity presses, if all the fees and expectations are stated honestly up-front. People who might find vanity publishing a good solution are:

a) people who want to publish a small number of copies of a book for circulation among friends, family, or a small group of colleagues, and who don't have the time or skills to self-publish;

Given what most vanity press publications look like, I'm not sure what extra time or skills would be required to make the self-publishing route at least equal in terms of quality. Many vanity presses don't typeset or format manuscripts, let alone spell check them...so at that point, what's the difference with even an unskilled self-publisher? Kinko's can get you a neato binding and nice colorful paper if that's the concern. ;)



b) people who want to publish a very limited-interest niche book with a small and specific market (like a history of a very local landmark that would be sold at tourist sites and shops in that area only), and who don't have the time or skills to self-publish;Such books can sometimes be funded by grants from the local area or historical society--and since we're not talking about high quality stuff, the cost is relatively minor anyway. Some university presses will also deal with these kinds of books at times (though in that case the author would have to meet some quality standard).



c) people who have a career as a speaker or workshop presenter, and who would like to create an accompanying book or workbook that can be sold at their lectures or workshops, and who don't have the time or skills to self-publish.
But again, what time or skills are we talking about? How difficult is it to get a manuscript bound which wouldn't be quality checked at a vanity press anyway?



Now, if you can do your own self-publishing or find a good self-publishing consultant who will do the set-up, etc., then that's probably a better deal, financially, than vanity publication. But not everyone can do that.
Why not?



That said, nobody should pursue vanity publication unless a) they've accepted that their book is not going to be sold in bookstores; b) they are willing to risk the cost; and c) they are confident that the vanity publisher delivers a quality product and adheres to the letter of its contract.Amen to that. Of course I respect ICE's opinion greatly, but I disagree with her general premise here: the vast majority of arguments in favor of vanity publishing essentially can be answered with a self-published book, at a much better financial cost. Naturally both models are complete death to any kind of a serious writing career 99.9 percent of the time, but as stated above, if people know what they're getting into and don't have any long term aspirations as an author, then self-publishing could be a good option. And I fear that giving anyone the idea that vanity publishing has any redeeming qualities is a dangerous path.

Just my two cents.

IceCreamEmpress
03-04-2009, 09:05 PM
Amen to that. Of course I respect ICE's opinion greatly, but I disagree with her general premise here: the vast majority of arguments in favor of vanity publishing essentially can be answered with a self-published book, at a much better financial cost.

I agree completely.

But I think there are people who make a considered decision that they would rather pursue vanity publishing than true self-publishing. I have known people who were happy with that decision.

I would always argue for true self-publishing, though, and for those who don't have even the most basic computer skills there are a lot of ways to find competent, affordably-priced consultants to manage that end of things.

And rather than work with a large national/international vanity publisher, I would encourage people to instead work with a local printer--it's much more likely that they'll get a quality product.

That said, I think calling for vanity publishers as a group to be "shut down" is inappropriate, because there are people who use them in full understanding of what they can and cannot provide.

But I do think that any vanity publisher who misrepresents its services, or what it can deliver, should go away. And that, at least in my belief, includes most of them.


On edit: Sorry to contribute to the off-topic drift! Maybe a mod will prune some of this to somewhere more suitable.

victoriastrauss
03-04-2009, 09:51 PM
This interesting conversation arose in one of the agency threads in Bewares & Background check. I've ported it here, where it can be discussed separately.

- Victoria

blacbird
03-04-2009, 09:57 PM
Real "Vanity" publishing outfits (Trafford, Dorrance, Vantage, etc.) depend purely on up-front charges by authors for producing X copies of a book, with no significant attempts at distribution. They are nothing more than very expensive printers. Very few bookstores will even look at a title produced through them.

Some other "self"- publishing outfits are quite legit, notably Lulu. They don't pretend to be anything but a printer, with a few optional frills, should you want those. At base, they cost nothing up-front, and make their profit off individual book sales, either to, or by, authors. They are an excellent choice for niche books, like club handbooks, family histories, class manuals & materials, etc. I know (not personally) of one Civil War buff who has reproduced a bunch of out-of-copyright memoirs, histories, etc., related to that, in a very nice format. I purchased another historical account of an exploration through New Guinea via a Lulu author, and found it quite good. But don't expect to hit the NY Times bestseller list via this method.

And we have an entire set of massive threads about PublishAmerica here, so no further comment is required about them.

caw

Phoenix Fury
03-05-2009, 12:10 AM
But I do think that any vanity publisher who misrepresents its services, or what it can deliver, should go away. And that, at least in my belief, includes most ALL of them.


Fixed. ;)

No, no, kidding. And what you say makes sense. But I guess the point should be that self publishing is almost always a better solution than vanity publishing, even if you've exhausted your other options (of which there are many, by the way, including reputable small presses and the like).

scarletpeaches
03-05-2009, 01:02 AM
I shall now list the positive aspects of vanity presses:




















That is all.

Ms Hollands
03-05-2009, 01:13 AM
I came to this thread looking for enlightenment as to why vanity press is worthwhile. Haven't been enlightened.

But it does remind me of a family member who spent years writing his memoirs, then handed it to his sister who read it only because she felt obliged to. She then told me that most of the childhood memories were not as she remembered them, and that he had twisted things to make him look great throughout his life and that it was totally wrong. I remember thinking it's all subjective, and it's probably totally right for him. It never even made it to vanity press despite, I think, his wishes that it would.

Phoenix Fury
03-05-2009, 01:13 AM
I shall now list the positive aspects of vanity presses:




















That is all.

That's a serious slap at blank space, you know.

nighttimer
03-05-2009, 01:40 AM
Is Xilbris considered a vanity publisher because they've been calling and e-mailing me for months?

I politely told the guy that called yesterday, I don't have a book ready to be published at this time, but when I do, I'm going to look for an agent and a contract before I consider self-publishing.

veinglory
03-05-2009, 01:51 AM
I think the first thing to do is define what is meant by vanity, because different groups of people use the word to mean completely different things. For example Using Lulu but paying an add-on fee for one of their recommended editors or cover artists--that is an upfront fee but is it "vanity"? I think it is more of a continuium.

Ken
03-05-2009, 02:53 AM
...reading through this thread I've found out a few things I didn't know about Vpubs. For one, they pester people to get them to sign up for their services. Pretty annoying :-(

I don't think they should be put out of business, except for a certain infamous one often written about here. It really amazes me that this "publisher" can get away with what they do.

SusanH
03-05-2009, 03:05 AM
Yeah, Dorrance was after me for awhile.....they backed off when I said I decided not to self publish.....

Phoenix Fury
03-05-2009, 09:06 AM
Yeah, Dorrance was after me for awhile.....they backed off when I said I decided not to self publish.....

Wonder what they would have done if you had said you decided not to go with a vanity publisher...which is what Dorrance is (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8500&highlight=dorrance), of course. You dodged a bullet there, Emerita! :)

Matera the Mad
03-05-2009, 10:19 AM
I was reminded recently of the perils of vanity presses. At a social function I ran into an elderly man I know slightly who "published" a book through a very small and obscure vanity press. He has a bitter attitude toward publishers in general because of his experience. His book is one of the sort that could not be published any way but vanity or POD, a local history. But if he had shopped around some, had some better advice, he might have done much better, even ten years ago. Presently he has a good many copies of his book, while if you search for it online you will find only a couple of used copies for sale at an exorbitant price.

It is very sad. This man is intelligent, and a fine artist, but knows too little about publishing to avoid being taken for an expensive ride. Every time I see him, he tells me that authors do not get paid, they have to pay the publisher. I haven't got the heart to tell him about Yog's Law, or explain the difference between writing for a small audiece vs. writing a novel.

RobJ
03-05-2009, 11:43 AM
It does not follow that all vanity publishers are underhand, and those who tell you there is never a need for an author to pay to have a book published or that all vanity publishers are 'bad', simply display a lack of knowledge and understanding of the publishing world.

http://www.vanitypublishing.info/index.html

Cheers,
Rob

sindy9001
03-05-2009, 01:06 PM
The author should be paind good money. http://photo-collection.co.cc/img/3177/a08b1010ygij/grin.gif

NeuroFizz
03-05-2009, 05:16 PM
Rob is correct, although there may be a difference between a vanity publisher and a book printer, like Lulu, even though the author still pays for publication. In poetry, chapbooks are frequently published (printed) at the author's expense since there is such a small market via traditional publishers.

From that same article that Rob quoted (see his link above), the following quote really nails the reality of vanity/self-publishing:

If you cannot find a mainstream publisher to publish your work at their expense, you must look on the whole process of publishing not as money invested to make you a return, but as money spent on a pleasurable hobby which you have enjoyed and which has provided you with well-manufactured copies of your book. If you do also manage to make a small profit, then that should be looked upon as an unforeseen and unexpected bonus!

Exceptions do exist, and the vanity publishers always highlight them to try to draw in customers, but the odds of a bestseller coming from vanity-published book may well be in the Lotto range.

Phoenix Fury
03-06-2009, 12:46 AM
It does not follow that all vanity publishers are underhand, and those who tell you there is never a need for an author to pay to have a book published or that all vanity publishers are 'bad', simply display a lack of knowledge and understanding of the publishing world. http://www.vanitypublishing.info/index.html

Cheers,
Rob

Or they may be displaying a much more developed knowledge, one gleaned from years of experience of seeing vanity publishers pretend to be something they are not, taking in (and down) desperate and unknowing authors left and right.

Sorry, I'm not buying. Find me a vanity publisher which goes out of its way to stress how little like a regular publisher it actually is. I'm sure there are a few, but the vast majority of these places are misleading at best and downright liars at worst--because they know they're ultimately selling something which people could do for themselves, and at considerably less money. If I walk across a busy street in Manhattan at rush hour without looking and survive (a vanity press not pretending it's a regular press) that's lucky for me. If I then take that circumstance as the norm and recommend it to all my friends and family as a great thing to do (all vanity presses are like this!), I'm being foolish.

Self-publishing is by far the better option if your other alternatives--of which there are many--are exhausted.

RobJ
03-06-2009, 02:51 AM
Sorry, I'm not buying. Find me a vanity publisher which goes out of its way to stress how little like a regular publisher it actually is. I'm sure there are a few
Well, if you're sure there are a few then I guess you're saying you agree that not all vanity publishers are underhand, which is consistent with the quoted text.

Was that your intention? Is that your position?

Cheers,
Rob

Phoenix Fury
03-06-2009, 03:42 AM
Well, if you're sure there are a few then I guess you're saying you agree that not all vanity publishers are underhand, which is consistent with the quoted text.

Was that your intention? Is that your position?

Cheers,
Rob

My position is that straw men are fun to knock down, but not much use in an argument. The fact that a few vanity presses are honest about their intentions and what they will do and not do for an author is, based upon the law of averages, a virtual certainty. But to be frank, so what? Why is this important? If the vast majority of vanity presses are unreliable, disreputable, disingenuous and expensive, while self-publishing (along with small presses of many descriptions, to say nothing of writing a better book) is a better alternative in nearly every case where a vanity publisher is being considered, why waste time (and confuse matters in the process) by bringing up the one in a million exception to the rule? I'd rather we focus on the real issue, which is leading authors to honest and cheaper alternatives, than searching for a very small needle in a very large haystack.

Nothing at all personal, of course, Rob, and that article makes some good points. I just think the section you quoted isn't particularly germane to what we're talking about here.

scottVee
03-06-2009, 03:49 AM
If the only difference between vanity and self-pub is that vanity presses charge a lot more, then who needs them?

I'm with Phoenix ... and Rob's reply that "saying they're not ALL bad" somehow validates the main argument is just silly. If the best you can say about an industry is that they're not all bad, then who needs them?

The basic premise of the vanity pubs is deceptive. Their ad blitzes in mass market magazines rave about "getting published", and are just trolling for suckers. They don't say "get (sort of) published and be left in a half-assed limbo where you have to fight for one shred of respect".

Any of the above arguments for limited editions and tiny niches can be filled by Lulu (etc). The vanity presses remain unique in their predatory position and deceptive claims. Presses with a conscience go out of the way to distance themselves from the term.

I liked Fizz's comment about the Lotto range -- but, um, how do you get a bestseller AT ALL for something with a limited printing and no support? It's worse than a lottery. I can't support any businesses which are borderline fraud. Yeah, they can mince words and say they only offered to print books, but their ads do scream "GET PUBLISHED." Is that all that publishing means? I don't know why it's legal to dangle that carrot and then screw with your "customers." It's a classic "bait and switch" scam.

I see no argument (here or anywhere else, or over 20-odd years of dealing with authors and publishers) to acknowledge or support vanity anything.

benbradley
03-06-2009, 04:48 AM
Well, that shows you how much I know....... I thought they were only out to scam people. Good to know they all aren't bad.....

What is a Boutique Agency? I found an agent the other day that calls her agency a Boutique agency......
Geez, no one answered this, but who knows. You could ask her.

I shall now list the positive aspects of vanity presses:




















That is all.


That's a serious slap at blank space, you know.
It's also plagiarism (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3277133&postcount=2)! Scarletpeaches is a plagiarist! Someone hit the Red Triangle!!!



Is Xilbris considered a vanity publisher because they've been calling and e-mailing me for months?

I politely told the guy that called yesterday, I don't have a book ready to be published at this time, but when I do, I'm going to look for an agent and a contract before I consider self-publishing.
Geez, I've never gotten any such emails. Perhaps I should post more about that manuscript I have in the trunk...and to think I could have copies of my book in the trunk...

But really, this is spam, and if they don't stop when requested, forwarding it to the sender's ISP and webhost should stop it really quick.

...reading through this thread I've found out a few things I didn't know about Vpubs. For one, they pester people to get them to sign up for their services. Pretty annoying :-(

I don't think they should be put out of business, except for a certain infamous one often written about here. It really amazes me that this "publisher" can get away with what they do.

Cyia
03-06-2009, 05:53 AM
The difference, IMO between vanity publishing and self-publishing is transparency.

If someone answers an ad for a publisher (or one of those "contests") thinking that the "publisher" is being selective and only putting the best of the best out there after consideration and editting, then that same outfit pesters the "author" to buy his/her own book -- it's vanity.

If someone has a niche topic that they know won't be a big seller, but they have access to a small market where it would sell (like an auto show, or a renaissance faire, etc.), they approach a company who makes no promises other than "we print what you give us", and buys books to resell understanding that that's all they get, it's self-published.

MumblingSage
03-06-2009, 07:06 AM
I've been contacted by vanity publishers through my Fictionpress account. They had an option for 'if you don't want us to contact you again,' I used it, and haven't heard from them since.

But yeah, they get around.

scope
03-06-2009, 09:26 AM
Subjectivity is wonderful, isn't it?

I am a die hard believer in most everyone trying the traditional sales route. However, I do realize that there are exceptions when publishing through a self-publisher, or yes, even a few vanity presses may be valid.

Frankly, I haven't read a single post here or on past AW threads imploring the overall virtues of vanity publishing, yet the backlash here against the use of a few for very specific reasons is something else. Again, in general I'm against publishing (printing) through a vanity press, but there are a few specific reasons, as coherently outlined by IceCreamPrincess where it may make sense, even though you could print something up at Kinkos or somewhere else. The whole idea is vanity printing may make sense for a few who want little if anything to do with the publishing process. The have the extra money to spend but they don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved. They just want some printed and bounds books (forget quality of any sort) for whatever their reasons.

Today self-publishing is thought of by many as an alternative to submitting a manuscript to an agent or to traditional publishing houses. Forget it's merits over vanity presses, that's not the question here. Although some writers on AW have done well going the self-publishing route I'm sure they would tell the uninitiated that when you self-publish you are starting a publishing business of your own. And that means such things as knowledge of production, cost, publicity, merchandising, sales and distribution, fulfillment, accounting, record keeping, and having a hefty amount of expendable money and a whole lot of time to devote to the business. So there is an enormous difference between vanity publishing and self-publishing. Again, just read IceCreamPrincesses posts.

Phoenix Fury
03-06-2009, 10:39 AM
Subjectivity is wonderful, isn't it?

I am a die hard believer in most everyone trying the traditional sales route. However, I do realize that there are exceptions when publishing through a self-publisher, or yes, even a few vanity presses may be valid.

Frankly, I haven't read a single post here or on past AW threads imploring the overall virtues of vanity publishing, yet the backlash here against the use of a few for very specific reasons is something else.


That might be instructive.



Again, in general I'm against publishing (printing) through a vanity press, but there are a few specific reasons, as coherently outlined by IceCreamPrincess where it may make sense, even though you could print something up at Kinkos or somewhere else. The whole idea is vanity printing may make sense for a few who want little if anything to do with the publishing process. The have the extra money to spend but they don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved. They just want some printed and bounds books (forget quality of any sort) for whatever their reasons.
But this is precisely the problem: writing takes, well, work. It's deeply satisfying and fun too, of course...but like all art that matters, at its core it takes time and effort to do well. Honestly, in what other artistic field could you imagine someone who is described as wanting "...little if anything to do with the publishing process. They have the extra money to spend but they don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved" being taken seriously as an artist of any kind? How would that go over in music? "Yeah, really, I want little if anything to do with the singing process. I mean, I have the extra money to spend, but I don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved. But absolutely, I'm a musician!"


Today self-publishing is thought of by many as an alternative to submitting a manuscript to an agent or to traditional publishing houses. Forget it's merits over vanity presses, that's not the question here.
But with all due respect, that's exactly the question here. If self-publishing is a better option than vanity publishing for the niche, small market book--and it is--then that's absolutely what should be under discussion. In many cases there are better alternatives than self-publishing too, but that's the subject for another thread.



Although some writers on AW have done well going the self-publishing route I'm sure they would tell the uninitiated that when you self-publish you are starting a publishing business of your own. And that means such things as knowledge of production, cost, publicity, merchandising, sales and distribution, fulfillment, accounting, record keeping, and having a hefty amount of expendable money and a whole lot of time to devote to the business.
You mean for the people, cited above, who don't have the "time or desire" to write for real in the first place?



So there is an enormous difference between vanity publishing and self-publishing. Again, just read IceCreamPrincesses posts.Agreed, including this part (from Ice Cream Empress, by the way...she probably wouldn't want you to be demoting her to Princess level ;) ):


But I do think that any vanity publisher who misrepresents its services, or what it can deliver, should go away. And that, at least in my belief, includes most of them.

RobJ
03-06-2009, 04:50 PM
But this is precisely the problem: writing takes, well, work. It's deeply satisfying and fun too, of course...but like all art that matters, at its core it takes time and effort to do well. Honestly, in what other artistic field could you imagine someone who is described as wanting "...little if anything to do with the publishing process. They have the extra money to spend but they don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved" being taken seriously as an artist of any kind? How would that go over in music? "Yeah, really, I want little if anything to do with the singing process. I mean, I have the extra money to spend, but I don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved. But absolutely, I'm a musician!"
I don't think it matters what other artistic fields do, because we're capable of taking writing on its own merit instead of comparing it with things that are not writing.

It may not be what you would choose to do, which of course is fine, but there are people who think in just the way outlined already, wanting to have something published but not get involved in the process. Being taken seriously as an artist in the sense you're suggesting may not be their primary goal. Writing is a very broad activity, and not everyone wants the same results.

Cheers,
Rob

citymouse
03-07-2009, 12:59 AM
The topic is the Merits Of Vanity Publishers.
As far as I know there are no “vanity publishers among AW members. However, I may be wrong.
So let’s look at the issue as the merits of vanity/POD/self-publishing.
Here are a few that come to mind.
• What you have written, whether good, so-so or really stinky will get into print.
• In most, if not all cases, your contract is non-exclusive. You retain all rights to your work.
• The title you choose is the one on your book.
• You may use a pen name without getting permission.
• You cannot be required to rewrite your story.
• POD companies have CS reps to guide you. Some like Booksurge and Author House have phone reps. In the past iUniverse (now owned by AH) preferred to respond via email. That may have changed.
• Your book will be placed in the amazon.com online catalogue, as well as others, such B&N. This may vary according to the company you select.
• Your book will have a cover designed, often by someone who hasn’t read your book and is unlikely to do so. Nonetheless you will get a cover.
• As long as you do not cancel your contract your book will remain for sale at the POD online bookstore as well as those online catalogues the company supports, unless the POD company folds or if amazon.com folds.
• If you have read and understood the MSWord instructions on how to format your own manuscript into book form and if you know how to convert a Word doc into a PDF file you can avoid some of the high costs many POD companies charge for this service.
• If you have the talent to create your own cover art and know how to layout a cover you can do so without sacrificing your book to lousy cover art. Most POD companies do charge you if you do this.

These are a few of what I would term merits that come to mind. Perhaps there are more.
Oh, one thing more. The argument is often made that those who opt for POD must be somehow under par writers or surely they will have been published by what is often termed “legit” publishers. As I was trolling amazon.com I found that Senator Dick Lugar’s book Letters to the Next President (2nd edition) is an Author House (2004) product.
Let me be clear. I don’t have a horse in this race. I see validity on both sides of the issue. It’s a personal choice, one I would neither encourage nor discourage. That said, authors need to do their homework about self-publishing it’s not for everyone.
C

scope
03-07-2009, 05:45 AM
That might be instructive.

But this is precisely the problem: writing takes, well, work. It's deeply satisfying and fun too, of course...but like all art that matters, at its core it takes time and effort to do well. Honestly, in what other artistic field could you imagine someone who is described as wanting "...little if anything to do with the publishing process. They have the extra money to spend but they don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved" being taken seriously as an artist of any kind? How would that go over in music? "Yeah, really, I want little if anything to do with the singing process. I mean, I have the extra money to spend, but I don't have the time or desire to get heavily involved. But absolutely, I'm a musician!"

But with all due respect, that's exactly the question here. If self-publishing is a better option than vanity publishing for the niche, small market book--and it is--then that's absolutely what should be under discussion. In many cases there are better alternatives than self-publishing too, but that's the subject for another thread.

But you are missing the point. I'm specifically addressing those people (let's not call them "writers" or "authors" as you define the words) whose only desire is to print a few books for their own purposes, whatever they are. These are people who don't know or wish to learn all there is to learn about writing and/or publishing. Let them have som fun and spend their money. I'm not talking about unpublished or published writers who want to make writing and publishing a profession.

You mean for the people, cited above, who don't have the "time or desire" to write for real in the first place?

No, I mean for any serious writer who wants to get involved in self-publishing.

Agreed, including this part (from Ice Cream Empress, by the way...she probably wouldn't want you to be demoting her to Princess level ;)
):
a

Phoenix Fury
03-07-2009, 12:28 PM
I don't think it matters what other artistic fields do, because we're capable of taking writing on its own merit instead of comparing it with things that are not writing.
Writing on its own merit should be seriously represented as such. Vanity publishing is not the destination for serious writing.



It may not be what you would choose to do, which of course is fine, but there are people who think in just the way outlined already, wanting to have something published but not get involved in the process. Being taken seriously as an artist in the sense you're suggesting may not be their primary goal. Writing is a very broad activity, and not everyone wants the same results.


But you are missing the point. I'm specifically addressing those people (let's not call them "writers" or "authors" as you define the words) whose only desire is to print a few books for their own purposes, whatever they are. These are people who don't know or wish to learn all there is to learn about writing and/or publishing. Let them have som fun and spend their money. I'm not talking about unpublished or published writers who want to make writing and publishing a profession.
This site is called Absolute Write, not Absolute Right. People have the "right" to waste money on whatever they want. But this is a writers' board, and aspiring writers need to know that vanity presses not only don't advance their careers but will in fact set them back to a significant degree--information which no vanity press will ever convey to those authors. People who aren't writers and thus don't care about a writing career aren't likely to be coming to a writing site, and they can burn money as much as they like.



No, I mean for any serious writer who wants to get involved in self-publishing.
If they're serious writers, they'll be serious about seeking out alternatives for their work, and if those alternatives fail, they'll be just as serious about making sure their self-published work is presented as well as it can be.

Finally, this thread was ported from a thread on the B&BC board and really should have been called "Pros and Cons of Vanity Publishing," which is what the discussion over there had been centered on. People looking for lots of merits in vanity publishers aren't going to find them here because, well...there aren't lots of merits. :)

Phoenix Fury
03-07-2009, 12:52 PM
The topic is the Merits Of Vanity Publishers.
As far as I know there are no “vanity publishers among AW members. However, I may be wrong.
So let’s look at the issue as the merits of vanity/POD/self-publishing.


Vanity publishing is not self-publishing (although there are drawbacks to both), and I don't think conflating the two is a good idea.



Oh, one thing more. The argument is often made that those who opt for POD must be somehow under par writers or surely they will have been published by what is often termed “legit” publishers. As I was trolling amazon.com I found that Senator Dick Lugar’s book Letters to the Next President (2nd edition) is an Author House (2004) product.
This is truly not intended to be snide: why can't a senator be a sub-par writer?

citymouse
03-07-2009, 04:55 PM
PF, Conflating Vanity to POD is so common in other threads that I didn't think to separate it here. Personally I dislike the term Vanity. Who here is prepared to tag our fellow members with the moniker of excessive pride?

Let me tell you a story. I know a man who left school with but a sixth grade education. He wrote a detective mystery. Like so many of us this story had been rumbling in his head for literally decades. He wrote this story after teaching himself how to read and write with nothing but a yellow legal pad, a pencil and a dictionary. At the time he was 40 years old. His writing has no soaring prose, no memorable lines. It's a complex tale told in simple language. After years of submitting to agents and even to publishers large and small he found himself terminally ill. He hired an editor and then he turned to a POD outfit, or as some would say a Vanity outfit, because he simply wanted to see his novel in print. Now, his book is sold on amazon.com. A copy resides in the Library of Congress. If the earth lasts long enough the day will come when the letters on this man's gravestone will be eroded away. The words of his book won't, at least as long as the LOC is around. Vanity? Perhaps, but it's not for me to say.
C

RobJ
03-07-2009, 06:29 PM
This site is called Absolute Write, not Absolute Right. People have the "right" to waste money on whatever they want. But this is a writers' board, and aspiring writers need to know that vanity presses not only don't advance their careers but will in fact set them back to a significant degree--information which no vanity press will ever convey to those authors. People who aren't writers and thus don't care about a writing career aren't likely to be coming to a writing site, and they can burn money as much as they like.
Once again, you make general statements about what writing is and what writers want, but you don't speak for everyone. Absolute Write is open to people who don't seek stardom or to be top of the bestsellers list, yet still seek advice and support. As I've already said, writing is a very broad activity.

Cheers,
Rob

Phoenix Fury
03-08-2009, 01:38 AM
Once again, you make general statements about what writing is and what writers want, but you don't speak for everyone. Absolute Write is open to people who don't seek stardom or to be top of the bestsellers list, yet still seek advice and support. As I've already said, writing is a very broad activity.

Cheers,
Rob

But Absolute Write is for serious writers, and the careers of serious writers are not advanced by vanity publishing, ever. For the little old lady who just wants to print a cookbook, self-publishing--or going to Kinko's--is a far better, and cheaper, option. Pretending this isn't true is neither accurate nor helpful for desperate authors who want to be told that it is as easy as vanity publishers tell them it is, that it's not them, it's not a limitation of their work, it's those nasty "traditional" publishers that can't see their genius. I will personally never, ever, allow that myth to go unchallenged, and I don't think other writers should either.

If you don't believe me, check with Victoria, or James Macdonald, or any of the innumerable experienced authors on this site, and ask them if vanity publishing is (in 99 percent of the cases) a legitimate option--and whether the non-writer who just wants a book for friends and family wouldn't be better served (in 99 percent of the cases) with self-publishing than vanity publishing once other options have been exhausted.

Lost World
03-09-2009, 11:44 PM
These outfits do have their purposes for the aforementioned reasons. If one must vanity publish it's better to go POD; that way the unpublishable book that interests few is only printed when it's wanted, and the author isn't left with a full run of printed books sitting around boxed in the basement.

ChaosTitan
03-09-2009, 11:55 PM
But Absolute Write is for serious writers,

Yes.

It is also for hobby writers, beginning writers, good writers, bad writers, amazing writers, awful writers, writers who can't tie their shoes, and writers who just want to try. This place is exists for EVERYONE to learn, to play, and to grow. If they so choose. It's why we have an entire sub-forum dedicated to POD and Self-Publishing.

Perhaps it depends on your definition of what a serious writer is, but these forums have thousands of members. Not all of them have ambition toward publication or a writing career--just because someone is a writer, that doesn't mean they hold aspirations toward a career in it. For some, writing is a hobby and they come here to improve at that hobby.

For those writers/members who do seek a writing career, your statements about POD not being a good choice are very true, and I agree with them.

Phoenix Fury
03-10-2009, 02:13 AM
Yes.

It is also for hobby writers, beginning writers, good writers, bad writers, amazing writers, awful writers, writers who can't tie their shoes, and writers who just want to try. This place is exists for EVERYONE to learn, to play, and to grow. If they so choose. It's why we have an entire sub-forum dedicated to POD and Self-Publishing.

Perhaps it depends on your definition of what a serious writer is, but these forums have thousands of members. Not all of them have ambition toward publication or a writing career--just because someone is a writer, that doesn't mean they hold aspirations toward a career in it. For some, writing is a hobby and they come here to improve at that hobby.

For those writers/members who do seek a writing career, your statements about POD not being a good choice are very true, and I agree with them.

Your call, Chaos--you're the mod--but I totally disagree. To my mind we do no one any favors by pretending there is value to vanity publishing when there isn't, or at least not in 99.95 percent of the cases. And one doesn't need to have career aspirations to be a serious writer; one needs to want to be taken seriously, even if the work in question is just "a hobby," and vanity publishing will not help you be taken seriously. I note that AW does not have a forum called "Vanity Publishing." But I've been duly chastised, and I'll shut up on the subject now.

ChaosTitan
03-10-2009, 03:22 AM
My post was not intended as a chastisement and I'm sorry you interpreted it as such. I don't mod this forum--I was simply offering my opinion as a member. *shrug*

aka eraser
03-10-2009, 03:44 AM
Phoenix, I'd hardly classify Chaos' post as chastisement. She disagrees with your take on what AW is all about - as you do with hers. No biggie.

Old Hack
03-12-2009, 12:02 AM
At the risk of a little self-promotion, here's a thing (http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/78168-how-self--publishing-really-works.html) I wrote for the Bookseller blog about self-publication vs. vanity publication, which might help clear the waters a little. I hope it helps.