First some definitions…
Vanity press – a publishing house in which the author pays all or most of the costs of having the book published and generally require minimum number of copies to be purchased.
Small press – a small publisher with annual sales under a certain level. (One place I saw said $50 million) Often called “Indie Press”.
Traditional publishing – publishing with one of the “Big 6″, 5, 4, or whatever it is now, using an agent and editor.
Self-publishing – an author publishes their own book, without the aid of a publisher.
Publishing has changed so much in the last few years that it’s almost a different industry. Once, self-published authors were thought not to be able to get a “real” publisher. Now, more and more, it is becoming accepted to self-publish and looked at as a good thing, a personal choice. However, there are still those out there who would take advantage of a novice writer.
Vanity presses are those that charge the author to print their books and often require minimum purchases. Their money is made on what they charge the authors. For example, if a book costs $8.00 to print, and that’s about average, with a minimum purchase requirement of 150 books, that’s $1,200 out of your pocket right into theirs. Sure, you have 150 books but what are you going to do with them?
If you want your books on Amazon and formatted for Kindle, that’s an extra charge. One site I know of charges $200 for this service. Now, you’re up to $1,400 out of pocket. Many vanity presses also charge for cover creation, editing, formatting, and even marketing material such as bookmarks.
Do you have 150 friends and family members who will pay $15 for your book so you can clear a little profit?
Thing is, vanity presses have no market. Sure, they get your book on Amazon for a fee and may take them to a conference or two, but your book isn’t available at any bookstore. Is this really your publishing dream? If all you want is to publish a book then this might be the right option for you. However, if you want a publishing career, then consider other options such as small presses or even self-publishing.
A reputable small press makes money when you, the author, makes money. They have an interest in your success. Even self-publishing is inexpensive these days. (Just make sure you put a great book out there.)
Before you commit to any option, do the research. Get the facts needed to make the best decision for you and your publishing dream. You won’t regret taking the time to avoid a possible disaster.