Many more people than you might think believe that they have a book or two inside of them, and they are yearning to get it out. In fact, almost every day I get e-mails from folks asking for help or information on how to write and publish a book or ebook.
These folks are not planning to be the next Hemingway or anything like that - they're just regular people who have a story to tell or some information to share. A few of the optimists are hoping to write the next block-buster novel, but the majority of them have much more humble writing/publishing ambitions. They want to write about such subjects as: their family, their kids, their job, their hobby, their invention, their pet, their travels, their personal experiences, etc.
If you've surfed around the Net looking for help getting your book/ebook published you've probably run across one or more of the so-called "vanity" publishers. Since you're reading this, there's a chance that you haven't yet signed up with one of those outfits - and that's good news for you!
BEWARE: If you are a new or aspiring writer and/or self-publisher you are being targeted by scores of "vanity" publishers which populate the Internet. These outfits want you to sign up with them so that they can pocket 90% or more of the proceeds from sales of YOUR book. Sorry, but that's the sad truth!
So, "What exactly is a vanity publisher..." you ask? Keep on reading...
The word "vanity" is defined in the dictionary as "...conceit and desire for admiration because of one's personal achievements...". Accordingly, these publishers are known as "vanity" publishers because they focus on this "desire" and offer anyone who has written a book, the ability to get it printed and published, and out into the public domain.
The vanity publishers are well aware that anyone who has labored hard to write a book will do almost anything to get it published. They are also aware that the chance of one's book/ebook being picked-up by one of the established publishing houses is slim, at best. This knowledge gives them a lot of leverage.
That's why they tend to target first time authors, and focus on their often desperate need to get published.
HOW TO IDENTIFY VANITY PUBLISHERS AT FIRST GLANCE:
• They are so-called "publishing houses" that focus on first-time amateur authors and tell them that they will accept ANY manuscript and get it published, no matter what.
• They promise to publish your book for free or at very low cost. (and they will - but with a few little catches).
• They offer many supposedly low cost ancillary services such as proofing, editing, graphics, marketing, etc., "should you ever need them."
• Each one claims that it is somehow "different" from all of those "other" vanity publishers.
Essentially, these operators use a type of "loss-leader" approach, offering you all kinds of benefits up-front so you'll sign a contract with them. Once you've signed on the dotted-line they have achieved their goal because they will then have a "lock" on 90% or more of your book sales revenues for the foreseeable future.
THE LITTLE KNOWN TRUTH ABOUT VANITY PUBLISHERS:
• They often require "exclusive rights" to your book/ebook so only they will be able to sell/distribute it - normally for a period of years.
• They pay you very low royalties, usually about 7% to 10% of the cover price, and they keep the rest.
• They sometimes charge the author incrementally for various support services such as editing, proof-reading, design, graphics, marketing support, etc.
• Many of them make their money by charging the author substantial printing costs whenever the author needs additional copies of their own book to distribute to their buyers. (e.g. only 10% to 30% off of cover price).
• Most have little or no distribution network, and are counting on you, the author, to find your own buyers.
So, whatever you do, DO NOT sign up with one of these outfits WITHOUT at least requesting a copy of the contract, and then reading it in careful detail!
THE BOTTOM LINE ON VANITY PUBLISHERS:
Vanity publishers will indeed get your book "published", and eventually you will hold a copy in your hands.
BUT, and this is a big but...
• From sign-up, until your book is ready, there's a good chance it will cost you many months and many hundreds of dollars.
• You will make very little money from book sales, if any, due to a combination of: "unforeseen" publishing/printing expenses, lack of a significant publisher distribution network, and paltry royalty payments.
In the end, what a vanity publisher really wants is the exclusive rights to print and/or distribute the hard-earned fruits of your writing labours... YOUR BOOK. After all, it costs them next to nothing to print your book because they already have the resources and technology in-place, in any case. In exchange, they get as much as 90% of the proceeds from each sale of YOUR book!
So, if you are serious about selling more than a few dozen copies of your book to friends, family and acquaintances, I strongly advise you to avoid these vanity publisher outfits like the plague.
It was when I realized exactly what vanity publishers are all about, and how they operate, that I decided to develop what I have since dubbed the Online Publishing Model. Using that approach to self-publishing allows people to take charge of their own book. In fact, the OPM shows you exactly how to publish, distribute and market your book/ebook online so that YOU will be in control, and NOT at the mercy of the exploitive "vanity publishers".
If you're looking for a successful publishing experience, you might want to give this independent approach to self-publishing, using the Online Publishing Model, some serious consideration.
Copyright © Shaun R. Fawcett. All rights reserved.
Shaun Fawcett is the author of numerous "how-to" books on everyday practical writing help. He also writes about how to create and publish books and ebooks. His popular book that explains how to implement the little known Online Publishing Model can be found at: http://instantbookwritingkit.com