#10 - Vanity Press ... the real conundrum ...


It's that time of year again. The so-called 'Vanity Press' barons are hawking their wares once more looking for the best pickings of the very best season; Christmas and New Year. It is estimated that many millions will enter their already overloaded coffers by preying upon sentimentality and the vanity of a section of the public with too much money to spend. What are we talking about? We refer to those companies that haunt the social media with promises of fortunes to be made by you simply writing a book and the giving it to them, (along with several thousands of pounds) and within a matter of weeks, you will become a wealthy and well known writer.

They will tell you that Christmas, of course, is an ideal time for you to write a 'family' related biography or story of some sort and if you do it NOW ... it will be ready for the seasonal time of giving, Christmas and New Year. Your family will be impressed by the resulting poorly edited thin offering with a slightly shiny cover and a rather imperfect cover image of Uncle Ted, who has now sadly passed.

The whole process of getting to this point, and now not knowing what to do with the box of over one hundred copies blocking the entrance to the downstairs loo, will ensure you have parted with possibly several thousands and certainly several hundreds of pounds or dollars.

So, what is the rule? What can guarantee you do not fall into the trap of 'Vanity Press' merchants? The rules are easy to explain. There are only two!

Rule #1: You should NEVER have to pay a publisher or agent to publish your book. This includes any essential services such as proofing, typesetting, cover design, launch costs and ongoing promotion.

There is another, equally important rule to remember that applies to all possible publishing offers and here it is!

Rule #2: NEVER sign a contract with any company or individual who offers to publish your book until you completely understand what is being offered in exchange for you GIVING them your book, especially the part where your so called 'royalties' are calculated. All may not be as it appears!

Remember, this is the season of skulduggery in what many already see as the dubious publishing business, many representatives of which have failed to fully recover since the great 'Amazon' shock.

So, what are the alternatives to you having to resort to paying money to have your novel of story published? There are only two!

Option #1: Find a good, trustworthy agent who will find you a good, trustworthy publisher. This of course is the constant dream of all writers and if you find one, you will need to wait a very long time for a publishing date. Being able to find an agent will mean your work will have to be of a certain standard. If we were discussing writing standards in the 80's BC (before computers) we would be able to identify 'normal publishing' with certain ease, but in today's world of 'anything goes' we would not feel quite so confident.

Option #2: Publish you novel, biography, family history or picture book yourself. All it takes is good preparation, a level of patience and a good understanding of computer software (or Apps as we now know them to be) along with a serious presence on social media for promotion and marketing.

So, beware the inviting headlines, the guarantees provided by these so-called publishing houses and the special deals and offers that could come your way if you would only take a few minutes of your time to send them the first three chapters of your literary masterpiece.

Spend that time instead getting your head round the self-publishing process with Amazon KDP. The help files are endless and cover every possible dark corner of the process. Once you have done it, you will feel liberated and panting to get your next novel 'out-on-the-street'!