Vanity press is technically defined as a publisher who requires an author to pay them to publish their books. Wait. Doesn't that sound like, um, Smashwords, and Lulu and all those other print-on-demand companies? Well, no. Liken this to a restaurant. (Maybe I'm hungry?) Dine-in five star establishments feed you first, then you pay after, pricing based on the quality of the product. Other places, with less overhead and little fanfare, require you to pay first, then you get to eat. That sounds a little more like a vanity press. But, there are still grave issues associated with a vanity press and this is why I don't like them.
- They are not selective. They take anyone who has the money to pay them and the dream to see their words in print. There is no editing, no quality control, and as a result, you see a finished product with little quality at all.
- the term itself indicates an author who is publishing out of their own vanity and therefore the work has no commercial value
- Presses that cater to self-publishers do little to no marketing. The author is basically left on their own.
- the subject of the vanity published novel generally tend to have a limited audience.
- publication from a vanity press is typically not seen as conferring the same recognition or prestige as commercial publication.
Now, this is not to say that you should only go with the Big Five and that's it. On the contrary, as I blogged about in the letter I, Indie Houses are amazing. I have the great fortune to be associated with three well-known and well-regarded indie houses: Astraea Press, Musa Publishing, and Secret Cravings Publishing. I am about to be introducing my tenth novel, WINGSPAN, through a fourth house, Eskape Press. Additionally, self-publishing by an author is another route I recommend and have actually gone with three of my horror short story collections.
Which publishing journey you choose to take, either independently, with a large house, or with an indie, the choice is personal. Make the one that best suits you and your individual needs. Do your research and make sure the house id reputable and credible. I have a favorite motto: Write, publish, and be informed! And good luck!