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View Full Version : Vanity press ads in professional paying fiction mags



K_Woods
04-27-2010, 03:05 AM
Cutting to the point: how common is this, and does it make anyone else uncomfortable? I don't mean advertisements for books self- or vanity-pubbed, but ads for the vanity publishers themselves.

I ask because yesterday I came across not one, but two of these in a magazine, and there might be more lurking in the pages that I missed. One was half-buried in the very back amid a slew of other ads, but it was the other one that caught my attention, in a quarter-page gray box with lettering the same size and different font from the magazine's content. And as soon as I read it I wanted to throw the magazine across the room.

I went and checked the other magazine I picked up on the same trip, and the only ads were for books put out either by the magazine's publisher or another small press. (I looked said press up, just to be sure, and it seems to check out.)

What really irked me was that the offending magazine is one that pays pro rates to their writers, and here they turn around and run ads that encourage paying to publish. Maybe I'm too idealistic, but that is a very uncomfortable thought.

(I don't feel comfortable naming either mag publicly, at least not right now. If it'd be proper to out the offender, I'll do so -- but I don't know if it is.)

Ineti
04-27-2010, 03:08 AM
It's common, at least in the handful of magazines I read. I don't see it as a concern, really. Magazines need advertising dollars and probably aren't too worried about whether those dollars come from a vanity press or a major publishing house or from Joe or Jane Average who want to pay for ad space in the magazine.

KathleenD
04-27-2010, 04:33 AM
I can remember seeing at minimum a "classified" ad in every magazine I read as a kid, so I don't think it's new. I also remember seeing more ads and realizing they were not real publishers as I learned more about the industry. It wasn't the magazines accepting more ads, it was me becoming more informed.

There's a connection between selling very expensive ads and paying premium rates to writers. As long as the ads are clearly ads, I'm in favor of the writer getting the most possible money :)

blacbird
04-27-2010, 06:13 AM
These outfits pay the mag money for the ad. The mag doesn't very often turn down money.

The End.

caw

Medievalist
04-27-2010, 06:44 AM
It's an ad, which is a pretty hard thing to turn down. The magazines are hurting.

blacbird
04-27-2010, 06:47 AM
The sad part isn't the mag accepting the ad. The sad part is that the ad is working, attracting dumbass victims like a pitcher plant, otherwise the advertising entity wouldn't have the money to pay for the ad.

caw

K_Woods
04-27-2010, 08:24 AM
I know the magazines are hurting, and that's what really bothers me about this -- that it's gotten this bad. I went digging through some back issues of this publication and found that previous issues had vanity press ads buried in in the 'classified' (I suppose that is the best name for it) section of the magazine, but nothing as egregious as what I found last night. Now that the initial outrage has passed, I'm really worried; of the 3 magazines in this genre that I've gotten this month, this is the only one with vanity pub ads.

It might be stupid of me, but I keep wondering 'Why? And how representative is this of all print mags in the genre? And have I just been oblivious up until now?' It doesn't make it any less uncomfortable -- if anything, it makes it worse.

Ineti
04-27-2010, 08:32 AM
Why?

It's all about money. One way to combat it, or at least help, is to subscribe to the magazines in question if you're not already doing so. Give gift subscriptions, encourage all your writer friends to subscribe.

shaldna
04-27-2010, 12:06 PM
I don't understand why anyone would be uncomfortable about it. Or why the magazines are 'hurting' over it.

Vanity publishers are a business, and they pay for adds just like everyone else. Some people do choose to go down that route, and that's fine.

BenPanced
04-27-2010, 01:16 PM
One publication used to run ads for vanity presses with a little blurb underneath for their reprint on vanity presses, essentially a warning on they operate. Now? I guess they don't want to insult the hand that feeds them.

Terie
04-27-2010, 01:37 PM
I don't understand why anyone would be uncomfortable about it. Or why the magazines are 'hurting' over it.

Magazines aren't 'hurting over it'. Magazines are hurting in the current conditions and therefore need whatever advertising they can get. I believe that was Medievalist's point. :)

shaldna
04-27-2010, 02:04 PM
Magazines aren't 'hurting over it'. Magazines are hurting in the current conditions and therefore need whatever advertising they can get. I believe that was Medievalist's point. :)


Ah, got you now.


This conversation strikes me as being a bit silly to be honest. So what if a magazine runs an add for a vanity publisher? Sure, we can sit here and make comments about how 'bad' they are etc etc etc. But at the end of the day, it's no worse than a McD's add, or a Carlsberg commercial, is it?

K_Woods
04-27-2010, 09:54 PM
It's all about money. One way to combat it, or at least help, is to subscribe to the magazines in question if you're not already doing so. Give gift subscriptions, encourage all your writer friends to subscribe.

This is a mag I only pick up intermittently because it doesn't click with me enough to make me want to subscribe. I still don't, but now I'm not sure I want to give them any more of my money at all.





This conversation strikes me as being a bit silly to be honest. So what if a magazine runs an add for a vanity publisher? Sure, we can sit here and make comments about how 'bad' they are etc etc etc. But at the end of the day, it's no worse than a McD's add, or a Carlsberg commercial, is it?

I'm not sure it can be equated with fast food (or whatever Carlsburg is if it isn't, I've never heard of them). On the other hand, we aren't talking about, say, Zynga, either. I was posting and asking partly because I was wondering how common this actually is, and if the predominant attitude about this kind of thing is "meh, business as usual" -- and that's what it looks like so far.

veinglory
04-27-2010, 09:57 PM
Well, my own blog generally has a banner ad for a vanity press on it. I thought it over and decided that I was okay with it. After all the presses who have popped up so far are all ones I have bought books from at one time or another.

scope
04-27-2010, 10:46 PM
What's the big deal? Although I have no use for vanity houses, what you suggest we do -- play big brother and ban them from advertising? Ban magazines from accepting ads from vanity publishers? What about all the other ads we see in magazines for all types of garbage? Our job, if we accept it, is to be wise consumers. Anyone opposed to certain types of ads could write the mag, express their views and tell the editors that because of same they will no longer purchase the magazine.

veinglory
04-27-2010, 10:47 PM
There is a balance though. I would block a Publish America ad.

Claudia Gray
04-28-2010, 02:23 AM
This is a mag I only pick up intermittently because it doesn't click with me enough to make me want to subscribe. I still don't, but now I'm not sure I want to give them any more of my money at all.





So, you feel bad that the magazine is in such dire straits that they have to take ads from advertisers you find unworthy, and therefore you intend to make sure they are going to be in even more dire straits?

veinglory
04-28-2010, 02:51 AM
Fair or not, when I see a mag absolutely full of vanity press ads I assume it is aiming at newbies, not serious writers. E.g. look at the ads in Writers Journal versus Publishers Weekly.

scope
04-28-2010, 03:13 AM
I just don't get this issue. If for any reason you don't like the contents (ads, literary contents--whatever) of a magazine you don't have to buy it.

Fulk
04-28-2010, 05:03 AM
This conversation strikes me as being a bit silly to be honest. So what if a magazine runs an add for a vanity publisher? Sure, we can sit here and make comments about how 'bad' they are etc etc etc. But at the end of the day, it's no worse than a McD's add, or a Carlsberg commercial, is it?

I suppose the difference is while fast food at worst might give you some indigestion (well, unless you make a daily meal of it), in the case of a vanity pub ad, an unsuspecting and aspiring young writer might fall into the trap and risk getting burned by the experience, as the anecdotes concerning Publish America illustrate all too well.

veinglory
04-28-2010, 05:45 AM
Of course you can just not buy it. You can also talk about not liking it.

K_Woods
04-28-2010, 06:23 AM
So, you feel bad that the magazine is in such dire straits that they have to take ads from advertisers you find unworthy, and therefore you intend to make sure they are going to be in even more dire straits?

Would subscribing (or buying issues off the stand) be tacit approval of the blatant vanity pub ads? That's the question I'm turning over in my head (and one reason I haven't ruled it out completely yet); so far the answer is yes. To draw a comparison from another form of media, it would be akin to approving a game publisher's nightmarish DRM scheme by buying one of their games. I don't like that thought (and I don't touch such games with an eleven-foot pole, either). Granted, that might not be the best analogy, but it's the one that comes to mind.

And, as someone pointed out earlier, the magazines are free to run the ads they can, and I'm free to choose not to buy. Especially when there are other publications that don't do this, in the same genre, that I can spend my money on instead (and do).

I was thinking of writing a letter to the mag (as was suggested upthread) and seeing how that goes. More and more, though, I'm suspect I'm just weird for being bothered by this, much less to this degree. If so, will writing do any good? Or am I wasting my time and theirs?


I suppose the difference is while fast food at worst might give you some indigestion (well, unless you make a daily meal of it), in the case of a vanity pub ad, an unsuspecting and aspiring young writer might fall into the trap and risk getting burned by the experience, as the anecdotes concerning Publish America illustrate all too well.

Bingo. At least the ad wasn't for PA.

scope
04-28-2010, 07:08 AM
Of course you can just not buy it. You can also talk about not liking it.

Okay.

shaldna
04-28-2010, 12:01 PM
At the end of the day there are always people out there who will use a vanity publisher. Some just want a small run of books for themselves and family etc, so where else are they to go to do that?

Celia Cyanide
04-28-2010, 06:19 PM
I suppose the difference is while fast food at worst might give you some indigestion (well, unless you make a daily meal of it), in the case of a vanity pub ad, an unsuspecting and aspiring young writer might fall into the trap and risk getting burned by the experience, as the anecdotes concerning Publish America illustrate all too well.

Publish America is NOT a typical vanity press. What is wrong with Publish America is that they claim to be a "traditional publisher" when in fact they are a vanity press. The people who get their work "accepted" by Publish America believe they have a publication credit, when in fact they don't.

There is nothing wrong with vanity publishers who honest and upfront about what they do.

Jamesaritchie
04-28-2010, 08:16 PM
I know the magazines are hurting, and that's what really bothers me about this -- that it's gotten this bad. I went digging through some back issues of this publication and found that previous issues had vanity press ads buried in in the 'classified' (I suppose that is the best name for it) section of the magazine, but nothing as egregious as what I found last night. Now that the initial outrage has passed, I'm really worried; of the 3 magazines in this genre that I've gotten this month, this is the only one with vanity pub ads.

It might be stupid of me, but I keep wondering 'Why? And how representative is this of all print mags in the genre? And have I just been oblivious up until now?' It doesn't make it any less uncomfortable -- if anything, it makes it worse.

There's nothing new about this. Magazines take paying ads, and always have. There were vanity ads in really high paying magazines way back when I was a kid, and long before.

There are actually fewer today than when I was young. Far fewer. Most vanity publishers now find it easier and cheaper to advertise on the Internet, rather than paying substantial ad costs in magazines.

Really, magazines have always run junk ads of all types, ranging from vanity publishers, to quack cures for impotence, to "super-science" machines that can defy gravity.

Forget the ads. Read the stories.

Phaeal
04-28-2010, 08:34 PM
This would only annoy me if the magazine took some kind of superior attitude toward vanity publishing, in which case it would be hypocritical to publish a vanity ad. I kick hypocrites down the temple stairs quicker than Jesus.

Otherwise, meh. Caveat scriptor.

Fulk
05-01-2010, 01:24 AM
Publish America is NOT a typical vanity press. What is wrong with Publish America is that they claim to be a "traditional publisher" when in fact they are a vanity press. The people who get their work "accepted" by Publish America believe they have a publication credit, when in fact they don't.

There is nothing wrong with vanity publishers who honest and upfront about what they do.

Fair enough. I suppose it depends on the sorts of vanity presses being advertised in the space, and whether they are up-front or deceptive. What I was trying to say was while people SHOULDN'T think this way, when someone sees an ad in a magazine related to the magazine's subject (in this case, vanity publishing/editing services/etc in a writing mag) people have a tendency to assume there is an endorsement or legitimacy in the service, which may not always be the case.

Jamesaritchie
05-01-2010, 05:19 AM
Would subscribing (or buying issues off the stand) be tacit approval of the blatant vanity pub ads? That's the question I'm turning over in my head (and one reason I haven't ruled it out completely yet); so far the answer is yes. To draw a comparison from another form of media, it would be akin to approving a game publisher's nightmarish DRM scheme by buying one of their games. I don't like that thought (and I don't touch such games with an eleven-foot pole, either). Granted, that might not be the best analogy, but it's the one that comes to mind.

And, as someone pointed out earlier, the magazines are free to run the ads they can, and I'm free to choose not to buy. Especially when there are other publications that don't do this, in the same genre, that I can spend my money on instead (and do).

I was thinking of writing a letter to the mag (as was suggested upthread) and seeing how that goes. More and more, though, I'm suspect I'm just weird for being bothered by this, much less to this degree. If so, will writing do any good? Or am I wasting my time and theirs?



Bingo. At least the ad wasn't for PA.

Honestly, I think you're analogies make no sense at all. The ads have nothing to do with the magazines, and the only way you even remotely give approval to any ad in a magazine is if you answer the ad and buy the product or the ad services.

It makes no more sense that boycotting the Internet because you don't like some of the ads on it. I love Google, but they run all sorts of junk ads, including every type of vanity press ad imaginable.

You're supposed to buy a magazine because you love the writing therein, not because you approve of disapprove of the ads. Really, go run your own magazine for a few years, and then tell me what you think about vanity press ads.

Not, of course, that anything is wrong with a vanity press. Vanity publishing is a horrible idea for anyone who wants to be a pro writer, but they have their uses, and outside of PublishAmerica, most say "Give us your money, and we'll publish your book." What's dishonest about that?

I might understand it if the magazines were running ads for a Ku Klux Clan membership drive, but they aren't.

It's a vanity press ad, and most magazines would be damned fools for turning down such ads.

K_Woods
05-03-2010, 11:36 PM
Okay...after taking a few days to let my head clear a bit (and hope the pollen count goes down meaningfully, it messes with my mood), I've realized this probably has been blown out of proportion--and the blame rests entirely with me. I was in a prickly mood and shouldn't have been posting in the first place. So I want to apologize for dragging everyone who replied into this.

shaldna
05-05-2010, 03:40 AM
So I want to apologize for dragging everyone who replied into this.


hey, no! Don't appologise. Not for voicing an opinion.

You are as entitled to your opinions and thoughts as everyone else here. It's what makes this place so awesome. Even when you don't agree, you still learn something.


We migh disagree, but that's half the fun.