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View Full Version : Vanity's such a seductive sin...



ASeiple
05-25-2016, 11:35 PM
Had an interesting experience a few weeks ago...I was at a little local festival with my family. The place had a lot of tables set up, with local merchants and entrepreneurs and charities and suchlike hawking wares, running games, and doing other neat stuff. It was pretty nice, had a vintage car show off to one side, a cover band living it up, and a bunch of other Americana coolness.

One of the booths had a guy hawking his book. A new author, pretty awesome fellow. Wrote Mongolian khan-era fantasy with a historical twist, definitely sounded fun. Nice quality doorstop of a book, price seemed reasonable at $18, good cover art—

The list price on the back was $30. For a trade paperback.*Needle scratch*

I asked him about it. Turns out that his publisher had charged him $1000 for the privilege of being published, and insisted on putting a $30 price tag on the book. He was stuck buying his own books at $12 and selling them for $18 to try and sell them.

We talked shop for a bit, exchanged cards, and I moved on. Tempted as I was to preach the virtues of self-publishing... well, to be honest, that would have been arrogant of me. It certainly LOOKED like he was getting screwed over, but I had no idea of his circumstances, his logic, the full story of the deal, and all the other stuff. And I'm only a little over a year into the game myself. I'm hardly an authority on anything yet. But he emailed me and we corresponded a bit, and I got the full story.

He didn't know what a vanity press was until I explained the notion, and yeah, that was what he had. He showed me his contract, and I'm no legal guy, but I could already point out a couple of things they'd promised but just hadn't done for him. Fortunately, the contract states that he retains all rights. And that it can be terminated by either party at any time given cause.

Some further discussion, and he mentioned that he'd like to take a whack at self-publishing. He was interested in Createspace, particularly when I mentioned how much I pay for my books.

I amended a copy of a self-publishing guide that I'd written up for a friend of a friend a little while ago, tossed it his way with links to the forums here and also to KBoards.

The reason I write this, is that he could have been me, a year ago. If I hadn't lucked into these boards and all you lovely people, and various other resources... if I'd failed to do enough research, or listened to the wrong people, or any number of other things, my dream would have been hurt. So hurt and so setback.There but for the grace of gods go I, y'know?

I just did a search for his vanity press. They're over in the Bewares forum, with an 85-page long thread.There but for the grace of gods...But fortunately, he's not boned. In fact, he might be reading this now, in which case hey man! Welcome to the pro leagues! For some reason they let me in here and ain't thrown me out yet, so it's cool. :D

Gonna take my new ese time to try this different path. A harder one to start, when you're still learning what's what and how to work the 'Zon. But hopefully he'll try it, and I'll help him if and when he asks for it. And even then that's no guarantee of success, but... well, his chances are better, I think, then with the vanity press. Either way, it's certainly much cheaper.

AW Admin
05-25-2016, 11:59 PM
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ASeiple
05-26-2016, 12:04 AM
Got'er fixed! Just took time and a new browser. Thanks for the help!

J. Tanner
05-26-2016, 03:22 AM
Yep. The self-publishing platforms in an ideal world should have put the vanity publishers out of business but it's not always an ideal world, and many of the vanity outfits morphed their sales pitches to make them sound like self-publishing platforms which further confuses people.

There are some rare cases where (over)paying for certain conveniences for a more soup-to-nuts solution makes sense but for most, like you said, DIY and contracting out individual tasks is the way to go. Best wishes to your anonymous (for now) friend.

AgathaChristieFan
05-26-2016, 05:29 AM
The reason I write this, is that he could have been me, a year ago. If I hadn't lucked into these boards and all you lovely people, and various other resources... if I'd failed to do enough research, or listened to the wrong people, or any number of other things, my dream would have been hurt. So hurt and so setback.There but for the grace of gods go I, y'know?

Back in 2011, my cousin posted that he published a children's book through AuthorHouse. I asked him if he liked his publisher and he highly recommended them. Being the natural skeptical person that I am, I researched the company which led me to this wonderful, informative website. I lucked out too, not being hosed by a vanity press. I decided to self-publish two years later, bartering all services so that it was practically free. Before then, the price tag of $595 didn't look so bad because I hadn't known any better...

ASeiple
05-26-2016, 05:46 PM
Back in 2011, my cousin posted that he published a children's book through AuthorHouse. I asked him if he liked his publisher and he highly recommended them. Being the natural skeptical person that I am, I researched the company which led me to this wonderful, informative website. I lucked out too, not being hosed by a vanity press. I decided to self-publish two years later, bartering all services so that it was practically free. Before then, the price tag of $595 didn't look so bad because I hadn't known any better...

::Slides a mug of beer down the counter:: Then cheers, huh? Here's to we who lucked out and dodged that bullet early.

And it's on us to pay that good fortune back, and give a leg up to new writers. Ain't too hard, really. Just feel'em out and make sure they know their options... and point them over to a few good websites. Win/win for everyone involved!

AgathaChristieFan
05-27-2016, 04:25 AM
Absolutely! I tell my local writing buddies about Absolute Write all the time lol