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Vanity Publishing: The Rising Menace

DISCLAIMER: If this post comes across as a bit harsh, I deeply apologize, but I felt it needed to be told.

The Monday last (28 March 2016), a Facebook Group named For Writers, By Authors along with Sip 'N' Read conducted a workshop for those interested in self-publishing. While a few of the attendees were experienced people, even the hosts, many of them were indeed novices. Even though some of these had already self-published a book or two, they were ignorant of what it really meant. It seemed to the group administrators that many of these authors who had wanted to choose this route did not really understand the concept and had gone about it blindly, led by a lot of sponsored advertisements on social media networks by unprofessional and unethical organizations the industry has termed as vanity publishers. Hence, the need to conduct a workshop that teaches the nitty-gritties of self-publishing and how different it is than vanity.

The truth is that these authors, ignorant and naive, unknowing to the perils of encountering vicious sharks that feed on their hard work and efforts, did approach many such publishers, who they thought would do wonders for their pet project. And when these so called publishers failed to do so, despite charging hefty amounts which these authors have worked years for, they couldn't do anything but feel helpless and cheated. In fact, all of them wish they had never fallen into the vanity trap.

Coming to the psychological aspect of it all, why do the authors approach these publishers? Why do they get so easily ensnared by these organizations? There are multiple reasons why. Let us explore them one by one.

1. My manuscript got rejected by traditional publishers multiple times or my response has not been queried to in weeks, and I want to publish soon now.

These are the ones who are the most gullible. So desperate are they to see their name in print or having lost any hope of getting selected, they fall into the hands of vanity publishers as easily as the naive fish falling into a fisherman's net. In their hopelessness or desperation, they fail to see other options. For example, self-publishing or crowd-curating or crowd-funding.

2. I want to publish my manuscript by self. Yet I need to find a publisher who helps me does it.

These people are the ones who have not done their research. Some of the authors who are in category 1 may fall into this category too if ever they decide to self-publish. They don't know the definition of self-publishing and they haven't taken time to research it. Desperation can also play a great role here in motivating them to swoon over colorful advertisements and videos made ready to ensnare them. Self-publishing means author is the publisher. You only need hire pre-production and post-production services, and even that is an option. But I advise you to contact these for your own good.

3. I know what self-publishing is. But we are still big on print. I need someone to help me do it.

These authors have done their research; they are moderately knowledgeable. And I can understand the problems self-published authors face when it comes to print books and their distribution. It can be a chore finding the right printer and a distributor, and making it available in stores. But if you are willing to pay a vanity publisher who will print just about anything, surely you can pay for a good printer yourself? Why do you need a publisher? And if budget is a problem, Print-On-Demand is certainly an option. In India, we have Pothi and Cinnamon Teal among many others.

4. Self-publishing is a new concept in India. I don't have anyone for guidance.

Now this is true. Not many people truly understand the nature of self-publishing in India, in spite of Amazon's efforts and the articles written by prominent bloggers who have written about self-publishing. The concept just does not have the reach. And even if it does, it is misinterpreted. A lot of them do not really have guidance. Hence the decision to conduct workshops and get people to know what self-publishing really is. This is the group the vanity publishers target the most.

These are only few of the prominent factors why authors choose vanity publishing. Frankly, this business model does not work well for the author. The vanity publisher prints a lot of drivel and is not good for an author's reputation. An author should not pay the publisher any upfront money, even if you have the dough to shell out. Money should come to an author and not vice versa. Vanity publishers don't even check your manuscript. They take upfront money and sit quiet. There is no motivation for them to express further interest in your book. The services they have charged

an author for will definitely not be rendered. Add to this, they will even chew off your royalties and many also do hold the rights to your book.

Why go to all this trouble when you can hire the right kind of services and publish your book yourself? Kindle Publishing is quite easy (this was covered in the workshop too) and if you need to have paperbacks and hardcovers, there is always POD or offset printing. This way, you get to keep the royalties as well as the rights.

My final advice to the authors: Either publish traditionally or by doing it yourself. Do not go for these vanity publishers; they will do you no good. Alternatively, you can choose to crowd-curate it (for this, you have Bloody Good Book and Inkshares among many others).

More discussion on self-publishing can be read here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1885790504980848/

About The Author:

Varun Prabhu is a full-time writer and editor with an acumen for business and entrepreneurship. He likes to have full control over what he does. Along with writing and editing, he also reads a lot and watches TV shows with dedicated addiction. This has also made him want to experiment with screenplays. Fantasy is his favorite genre but he is just about passionate about everything. You can follow him on Twitter here.

He writes under the pen name V P Allasander.

#Writing #Writers #Publishing #SelfPublishing #Authors #VanityPublishing #Amazon #Kindle #KindlePublishing #PrintonDemand #Pothi #CinnamonTeal #BloodyGoodBook #Inkshares #Crowdcurating #Crowdfunding #Manuscript #Facebook #Groups #SipNRead

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