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Vanity Publishing A Different Perspective

By Expert Author: Steve Jenkins

If you are an aspiring author, you've probably heard someone say, "You're not a legitimate author if you published with one of those companies." Or you may have gotten specific advice to stay away from vanity presses.
Here's the truth in a nutshell. On the surface, it's pretty much black & white because there are only two types of authors. 1) Those who are fortunate enough to get a contract with a traditional publisher and are paid to have their book published or 2) Those who pay someone else to publish their book.
If you look at this situation at the most basic level, it comes down to which direction the money flows. Still, you will hear some self-published authors protest that they are not vanity published because they set up their own publishing company. But as my dad would say, "Regardless of how you slice it," whenever an author pays anyone for any service to get their book published, it is vanity publishing which isn't always bad.
I'm all for self-publishing today and I am a published author myself. With the improvements in technology and the ability to print on demand, I think it's a good option for many authors. Self-publishing, regardless of what someone calls it, has its pros and cons. What gives self-publishing a bad name is when an author pays to have the book published but they don't bother to have it professionally edited or designed. The consequences are usually an inferior product and often times, the author probably spent far more than they should have and didn't get positive results.
When an author gives their money gives to an individual or company just to get it into print without any consideration as to its quality or marketability, that's when it is truly vanity publishing.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in life and self-publishing is no different. So many factors go into the decision to choose the right option. Budget, time, and goals are just some of the factors an author should consider. Whenever I'm working with authors to find the right solution for their book, the first thing I always ask is why they want to self-publish. That answer determines the best route to take.
Many people consider companies such as CreateSpace, Author House, Lulu, and iUniverse, all vanity publishers. The fact is, an author can write a book, hire an editor, professional designer, illustrator if needed, marketing expert, and any other service and yet still use one of these companies simply to print and distribute. Would they then be considered a vanity-published author? In my opinion, they wouldn't but some people consider any relationship with one of these companies as vanity publishing.
Regardless of how you view self-publishing or what method you choose, the bottom line is:
Do your homework and understand the process as much as possible to produce a quality book.
What works for one author may not be right for another especially where budget is concerned.
You should not jump at the first option you find. Be a savvy consumer as you would with any product or service and comparison shop before you buy.
Have realistic expectations. Most authors don't get rich or write best-sellers but you can still enjoy writing and sharing your story or knowledge with others.
Regardless of what anyone tells you, it's your decision and you are the only one who has to live with it - good or bad.


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