Wolves in sheep's clothing
Vanity publishers contact me, and I assume they contact as many authors they can find, from time to time either on my website or on the phone (which supposedly hidden on social sites, but I guess made accessible to those who pay for the list)
They hire great salespeople, I have to give them that!
I had a message and a pleasant female voice stated that she read my book, loved it and would like to offer a publishing contract. Not knowing where she was calling from I called her back.
"Which book did you like?" I asked.
I heard papers shuffling and keyboard clicking and then she said, "The Ancestors' Secrets trilogy."
"What did you like about the series?"
"Uhm… I really like the story and I'd like to publish it for you. It has great potentials and you will make a large profit after we publish and market your book."
It was obvious she knew nothing about my books and was trying to find a naïve and willing pigeon to make a large profit.
Lately, since self-published or first time publishing authors are more aware of the pitfalls of vanity publishers, they often pose as a traditional publisher.
When asked, they vehemently deny that they are vanity publishers.
"We don’t accept everyone who submits their manuscript." They'd say.
Yeah, right! They're hounding authors all over the net.
"We don't ask authors to pay for publishing but you're required to purchase a certain number of books!"
Their profit is coming from the 100 to 500 books sold to the authors. Why would they worry about selling books to readers?
Vanity publishers rely on the authors to pay for everything, therefore, they have little interest in selling books to other than the authors.
A few facts
A vanity publisher that poses as a traditional publisher.
They don’t mention their fees on their websites or when they contact you, you find out that money is due only after you submitted your manuscript.
They claim to share the cost:
Terms like “co-op”, “joint venture”, “partner”, “subsidy”, or any other phrase that suggests the publisher will be matching your investment with its own. They will not, their profit comes from the fees its authors pay and the books the authors buy.
Glowing referrals from literary agencies or freelance editors.
Reputable literary agents and freelance editors don’t work with vanity publishers. Period.
A promise (usually implied) of a profit.
They provide a nice sales projections chart supposedly showing that you can make thousands of dollars by selling X number of books.
A setup fee or deposit.
"You’re not paying to publish, you just contribute to the cost of preparing your book for printing."
A fee for some aspect of the publication process other than book production.
They ask you to chip in for editing, or for cover art, or for publicity (real publishers provide these things as part of the publication process, at their expense).
Fees for “extra” services over and above the basics of publication.
They offer you the opportunity to pay for expedited editing, or special website placement, or inclusion in book fair catalogs, or enhanced marketing. Because they say these services are optional, they can claim that they're not making authors to pay to publish.
A claim that your fee is only part of the cost, with the publisher fronting the rest.
They're making you feel better about paying a large amount of money. Their profit comes from the fees authors pay and the books the authors buy, rather than from book sales to the public.
Refusal to provide a firm price and detailed information.
The exact amount you are expected to pay should be stated and included in the contract with any extras such as warehousing or marketing. You could be hit with enormous additional fees.
Verbal promises that aren’t included in the contract.
If the publisher is willing to promise something, it should also be willing to include it to the contract.
They might say that they can’t risk a regular contract for someone who hasn’t yet published anything, but would be willing to split the costs and profits of the book. Or they may tell you that they’ve used up their traditional publishing budget for the year, but would be glad to work on a “co-op” basis. Or they may promise to publish your second book without charge if the first book does well.
They want to hook you quickly, before you change your mind. They might tell you that its offer is “limited time only" or if they feel hesitation on your part, they put you on hold for a few seconds and come back: "I talked to my supervisor and we can offer you a $$$ drop of the fees."
Run! Either find a traditional publisher that don't charge any fees, or self-publish your book with KDP, Nook, Smashwords, D2D, iBooks, Google etc.
A list of known vanity publishers
AuthorHouse is, according to the (BBB) Better Business Bureau just one of the alternative names for Author Solutions, LLC. Other alternative names include:
Trafford Publishing, LLC
Author Learning Center
Content Distributors, LLC
PublishAmerica, also known as: PublishAtlantica
PublishBritannica (not to be confused with the encyclopedia company)
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
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Erika M Szabo
Author of urban fantasy, magical realism novels and children's books,
READ MY PAGES