Vanity/Subsidy Tips

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How can I avoid dealing with a vanity press?

Avoiding the Vanity Press Trap

Beware of ads that say "Attn: Author" or "Manuscripts wanted" or "First time authors wanted" or any combination of the above. A real publisher does not ask an author for money...period. No matter how great the acceptance letter sounds, if there is a mention of you paying any money, throw it in the trash. If you are going to self-publish your own book, self-publish it with a reputable self publishing book company. You don't need a vanity press agency to publish a book for you, it's a waste of time and money.

Should I consider using a vanity press like AuthorHouse?

Avoid Vanity or Subsidy Presses

A real publisher gives you a check. A publisher who asks for you to pay for anything is a vanity press and should be avoided unless you have money to burn. You should know that you are not a self publisher if you use a vanity or subsidy press—these are not self publishing companies. Some publishers who fall into this category include:

  • AuthorHouse
  • Xlibris
  • iUniverse
  • Trafford
  • Vantage
  • Dorrance

*Don't be fooled!

What is the definition of a vanity press?

Definition of Vanity Press

A vanity press prints and binds a book at the writer's sole expense. Costs include the publisher's profit and overhead (vanity publishing is usually more expensive than self publishing). The completed books are the property of the author, and the author retains all proceeds from sales.

Vanity publishers do not screen for quality - they publish anyone who can pay - and typically provide no book editing, book marketing/promotion, or book warehousing services. They are a book publishing company not a self publishing company.

Am I self publishing my book when I publish with a subsidy publisher?

The Big Lie

Subsidy presses exist by deceiving authors into believing they are "self-publishing" when in fact they are not. Self publishing your own book implies that you, yourself are the publisher. If you use a subsidy press (or vanity press), they are the book publishing company, not you. If you want to self publish, you need to buy a set of ISBN's from RR Bowker (not anyone else).

Is there a difference between subsidy presses and vanity presses?

Subsidy Press vs. Vanity Press

A Subsidy press or vanity press (often the terms are used interchangeably) accepts books from authors without regard to the content of the book. They accept the book for publication, but then charge the author a set amount of money to publish the book. The costs vary from publisher to publisher but it's not uncommon to see ranges of several hundred to $5,000.

An author choosing subsidy/vanity publishing needs to really do his homework to make sure he understands exactly what he is signing. The publisher may or may not copyright the work, may or may not set it up for distribution, and may or may not agree to promote the work. Some charge extra fees for copyright, distribution, and promotion of any kind.

*Usually vanity presses are more expensive than a self publishing company, so it pays to look into any press before you sign a contract.

Who sets the price for my book when I use a vanity publisher?

Vanity Presses Set the Price for Your Book

When you choose a vanity publishing company, there is another issue to consider. Since they own the ISBN for your book, they set the price. They literally will tell you what to charge for your own book! This is more than a loss of control—it can even damage the sales of the book if the vanity publisher sets the price too high or too low. Once an ISBN is set and printed on the back cover, and imbedded in the UPC bar code, you cannot change it. So, this is another reason to think twice before printing your book with a vanity publisher.

What is a subsidy press, and is it a real publishing company?

Definition of a Subsidy Press

A subsidy press (also known as a joint venture publisher, a co-op publisher, or a partner publisher) takes payment from the author or self publisher to print and bind a book, but may itself contribute a portion of the cost, as well as adjunct services such as book editing, book distribution, warehousing, and some degree of marketing the book.

With vanity publishers, it's the writer's cash, not the quality of his/her work that counts. As with royalty publishers, the completed books are the property of the book publisher, and remain in the publisher's possession until sold. Income to the writer comes in the form of a royalty.

*It pays to look for a reputable publishing company if you choose not to self publish your own book.

How do I find a reputable book publishing company?

The Difference Between a Subsidy Press and a Vanity Press

Beware of the publishing predators! There is virtually no difference between a vanity press and a subsidy press. Both make authors pay to have their books "Published." They both prey on the uneducated self published buyer and take advantage of the author's inexperience.

*Steer clear of these companies and instead look for a reputable self publishing book company that has been recommended by other self published authors.

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Guru Spotlight
William Pirraglia