unsolicited advice

How Vanity Publishers Rip You Off

You know the publishers I’m talking about. You’ve seen them. The ones that aggressively advertise on the internet. The ones that promise big returns for a small fee from you.

I have a client who published her first two books with a vanity publisher. She paid the publishing company up front in the form of a membership to their website and to have access to her “author dashboard”. Then she paid quite a bit for copies of her books in print. Many, many copies. I’m talking thousands of copies she didn’t know what to do with. The worst part about the entire thing is that she doesn’t even own her books. The copyright belongs to the publisher.

My client got scammed. By the time she came to me, it was too late. There was nothing I could do with the books she already had published since she wasn’t the copyright owner. The only thing I could do was advise her to talk the publisher into letting her out of her contract. Sure, she could have rewritten her book and changed 25% to 50% of it to make it a new story, but would any of us want to do that? Our books are our babies.

This is the problem with vanity publishing. The author pays the publisher and assumes all the risk, and most of the time, the publisher walks away with the rights to the author’s work. The author is then responsible for making their money back by distributing the print copies themselves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the resources, the time, or the energy to distribute my books myself. To me, trying to makes thousands of dollars back by distributing print copies myself would be an insurmountable task.

Vanity publishers have been around for years. It’s rumored that Edgar Allan Poe first published through a vanity publisher, but back then, it didn’t have the sour tone it does today. Vanity publishers are still around, as evidenced by my client’s predicament.

So, the bottom line is:

1. Vanity publishers make you pay them to print copies of your book and then you assume all the risk involved in selling and distributing those copies.
2. Vanity publishers retain the copyright to your work. YOU, the author, should retain the copyright to your work.

Please, please stay away from vanity publishing. All they do is rip you off.