100% Legitimate

Published January 31, 2014 by swankivy

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Here’s the thing, new and naïve authors who want to get into publishing: Rip-0ff artists like some vanity publishers will do ANYTHING to get you to believe it’s normal to pay huge sums of money to get published.

1. They’ll bad-mouth “big” publishers, claiming those jerks only want commercial, low-quality writing. Good thing they, the good guy, are here to give you a real chance. Down with the man!

2. They’ll claim your “deposit” of thousands of dollars will be given back to you “when” you’ve sold X number of books. And then they’ll proceed to advertise your book to you and nobody else (despite claiming they’re “marketing” for you). When they sell your own book to you, those copies don’t count toward the grand total.

3. They’ll praise you highly if you send a submission and make you think the contract they’re offering is something you’ve earned rather than something you’ll have to buy.

4. They’ll play up how low the chances are of getting published the “traditional” way and make you think there’s no way to get published without “knowing someone.” They may make outright false statements about how “all” new authors have to get their start by paying for a contract.

5. They’ll have tons of testimonials from their clueless authors going on about how excited they are to be published with a Real Book with their Real Words.

But here’s the thing. You do NOT have to pay to be published. In fact, the publishers who do charge to be published are out to make money OFF OF YOU, not off of the consumer buying the product. Mainstream publishing invests in your work, uses their extensive network and know-how to market you effectively, and makes their money from selling the book to people who want to read it. They do not repeatedly advertise your own book to you. They do not have a submissions page that reads like an advertisement. Certain shady vanity publishers are very good at making naïve authors think they don’t have a chance to get published any other way while praising their skills and talents, and their whole business model is built on trusting you to NOT do your homework.

The authors whose books you see in the bookstore did not pay a company to get there. They were chosen by publishers who paid THEM. Know what your work is worth and don’t let the professional scammers trick you into thinking paying for publishing is normal and necessary.

4 comments on “100% Legitimate

  • Pretending to be a “real” publisher is deceptive, but there is a place for *self* publishing via the services of a Print on Demand company. The cost per book is higher than a print run, but the setup fee and initial outlay are much lower. They are up front about making money on selling their printing services (as opposed to fictional royalties). And, in fact, I work for a small publisher (Editorial Unilit – I am just an IT guy) and for low volume specialty books, it is often cost effective for a “real” publisher to use Print on Demand services.

    One word of advice for any self publisher: you *must* hire a competent editor. Sorry, no matter how good your writing, you need a competent pair of other eyes to read and correct/criticize every word. Sometimes it works to hire a freelance editor fresh out of college (with specific training), if your budget is that low. Furthermore, you need to hire a design artist for the cover at a minimum (the inside layout can be from a template, if the cover grabs you and the content is good).

    • Yes, all true. Vanity publishing isn’t the same as self publishing, though, and most people going into self publishing understand that they did not “get a book deal.” It’s perfectly legitimate to do it yourself and pay for the services if that’s the path you’ve chosen, either because you couldn’t get a traditional deal or because you think the self-publishing road is better for you.

      One of the publishers I got an offer from for my book used print on demand for their books, which is one of the reasons we decided not to go with them. Print on demand makes sense for some types of books and for some print runs but I didn’t think it made sense for mine.

    • Not to mention that some people use POD services without any pretense of “publishing”. Sometimes people like to just have copies of their book printed for family and friends, with no intent of selling copies and no thinking that they’re published authors.

      But, yeah. Useful comic for anyone hoping to be a professional writer. I bet a lot of young and/or naive people go into a vanity press thinking it’s a real publishing company. Gotta do your research. And if you’re self-publishing? Gotta do your work. (good tip on hiring an editor)

  • Good points, y’all. When I’m talking with writers about publishing, I try not to use the word “publisher” for companies that are actually printers or producers. The publisher is the one who bears the cost of production. If that’s you, and you choose to outsource that production to a company that specializes in creating books, more power to you. For businesspeople, especially those doing public speaking, it usually makes way more sense to do it that way than to wait a year or two for a book to get through a traditional publisher’s pipeline.

    I just really wish we could get for-hire book producers and vanity presses to stop calling themselves “publishers.” The publisher is the one who pays.

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