Thy Name is Vanity
As you write your book, one thing hovers in the back of your mind: Which publishing route do I want to take? Self-Publishing? Self-Publishing Service? Traditional Publishing? Vanity Publishing?
Let me define the four publishing routes first:
Traditional Publishing: These are the major publishers of the paperbacks and hardcovers you find in bookstores. They buy the rights of the work, paying the author a royalty. The cost to the author is zero, but getting your work accepted is tough. Your best bet is to find an agent first. Books published this way are what you find in book stores everywhere.
Vanity Publishing: An author pays the vanity publisher to publish their book and the costs to the author can quickly add up into the thousands of dollars.
Self-Publishing Services: This falls between Vanity Publishing and Self-Publishing. You pay for what you need, either individually, or a bundle deal. The costs can add up, but are far lower than a Vanity Publisher.
Self-Publishing: This is the solo routes that a writer takes to publish their book. The format for the most part is eBooks. You can also use a service like Lulu for POD (Print on Demand). Which allows you to have print versions of your book. Something like this allows you to make available signed copies as prizes in giveaways, or as a gift. With Self-Publishing, you are responsible for everything: finding an editor, paying to have a cover created or doing it yourself, formatting, and marketing. You can do all these things with minimal costs, making your bank account happy. Your biggest expense is an editor, next is cover design. If you don’t get your story edited, you receive bad reviews. Bad reviews mean loss of sales. A cover is the first thing seen by a potential reader, so make sure it looks great, not something done by a six year old.
Vanity publishers are concerned with one thing: their bottom line. How much they can make, not how many books you sell. Their primary income comes from what the author pays them. Keep that in mind if you are thinking of going this route. Even though they accept any manuscript they don’t guarantee your book will be properly distributed or sold. The next time you go to a bookstore, see if you can find any paperbacks or hardcovers from Vanity Publishers. Vanity publishers aren’t too picky about the books they publish, so you could write a story filled with clichés and they will accept it.
So what do you get for your money from a vanity publisher? Aside from headaches, it all depends on what they offer. Need your work edited? Pay. Design and Layout? Pay. Need ISBNs? Pay. Extra copies? Pay. Cover Design? Pay. Starting to get the idea? Marketing? Pay. This isn’t an all inclusive list of what services they offer. If you want it in black and white, they have one set of fees. If you want it in color, another set of fees. You pay and pay until your bank account screams in agony. With the amount you pay out to a vanity publisher, it’s unlikely you will see a return on your investment.
If you insist on going this route, for whatever reason, I have one piece of advice: RESEARCH! Stop mucking around on FB and use Google or whatever search engine you prefer and read up on these companies. Contact other authors who have used their services, buy a copy of one of the books they make to check the quality of the work. A good site to check is Preditors and Editors . Having your own work in print can be a heady feeling. When you see it sitting on your bookshelf you feel like you have accomplished something. But what happens if you have a whole box full of your books, but no bookstore wants to sell them? Money down the drain.
If you want a print version of your book, Lulu.com and Createspace are two good options to choose from. Going the self-publishing route you will save a great deal of money and get what you want. If you want to spend money, spend it on a reputable editor, and someone to design your book cover. First impressions to a potential reader is very important. Set up a budget for publishing your work. Again, using a search engine for research this is imperative.
When your book is published, the money you saved by not using a vanity publisher can be used to treat yourself and someone you care about to a celebratory meal. After that, it’s back to writing for you, my friend. Don’t rest on your laurels.
May the words ever flow!