Vanity Press

The other day I knocked off work early, went home and watched a Dr. Phil re-run. The story was about a mother and daughter feuding over publishing rights to a book. The mother claimed that the daughter took her real-life story and was planning to publish it as if it were her own, and was refusing to share the expected $3 million royalty. The daughter said that her publisher was initially very excited about the book and thought it would be a best-seller, but had now declined to publish the book due to the conflict with the mother. The publisher had a rep in the audience and got to put in her two-cents worth—along the lines of, yes, we would have published it, but not with this battle going on concerning ownership of the rights.

This is all very sad, but not my point.

My point is: the "publisher" was Publish America.

And everyone, including Dr. Phil, was talking about them like they were a REAL PUBLISHER!

I was shocked!

Publish America is not a real publisher. They are a vanity press. They do very little editing, no marketing, they print on demand (which isn't all bad, but...), their books are overpriced, bookstores won't stock them, and if you ever, ever try to use them as a credential with a real publisher, they will laugh you out of their office!

Two other companies that frequently show up as credentials in queries I receive are Author House (at least they admit they're a vanity press) and BookSurge (owned by Amazon).These are not real publishers either. Do not use them as credentials when approaching a real publisher unless you've sold over 2,000 copies of your book. 9And in that case, don't mention that you "published" through these companies, just say that you self-published and your book sold X number of copies. This will tell the publisher that 1) you wrote well enough to sell to more than your circle of family and friends, and 2) that you know how to market yourself and your book.)

I know how hard it is to have a good novel and receive rejection after rejection. Companies like this play on that heartache, promise you the moon, but they do not deliver. Stay away from them. Like the plague. Like a very bad plague with a 99.9% mortality rate.

Once again, I want to remind everyone of a wonderful site, Preditors and Editors. If you've found a publisher via the Internet (rather than a legit Writer's Guide), do your research before signing up with them.


Rebecca Talley said...

How would you classify iUniverse?

I agree that those you've mentioned absolutely play on writers' emotions. I receive mailings from them all the time (I'm not even sure how I got on their "list"--I've never made any attempt to contact them). They make it seem so effortless to "publish" with them and so easy to not only make back your investment but make a huge profit.

Preditors and Editors does a great service to writers. Too many people are out there just ready to scam an author. I almost got scammed years ago--thankfully that person is now in prison for defrauding so many people.

Marsha Ward said...

iUniverse is rated better than PublishAmerica, but it is the same type of company.

If you know what your goals are, your eyes are wide upon, you have correct expectations that YOU will be handselling your book, you have a marketing plan and understand you will do a tremendous amount of work, and still want to use a company of this type--as I have--to publish your book, you will be much better off than if you have stars in your eyes that you'll sell thousands of copies through their site and be a best-selling author in no time at all.

BTW, Jewel Adams and I will be presenting a class on Self-Publishing at the LDStorymakers Conference on Saturday, March 22 at 10:30 a.m.

Rebecca Talley said...

I think there are valid reasons to self-publish and there are some very successful self-published authors.

I believe that some of these companies that have been mentioned don't tell potential authors what they're really getting vs. what they think they're getting and the companies play on author's emotions to reel them in.

I think it behooves all authors to go into any type of publishing venture with their eyes wide open. We should research any company we hope to publish with and make sure it meets with our expectations.

Rachelle Christensen said...

I can't believe Dr. Phil's show didn't do some research and figure this out.
I'm also always surprised by how many people think self-publishing is the only/best way to go just because it's hard to crack into the publishing world. And I also think that many self-publishers are preying on newbie writers who haven't done enough research.

Don said...

I don't know - for a $3 million royalty, I think I'd let Publish America have my business.

As long as I could get it as an advance. ;-)

Janet Kay Jensen said...

Since does a vanity press offer a $3 million royalty?

Janet Kay Jensen said...

Er, I meant, $3 million ADVANCE?

Tristi Pinkston said...

Yeah, it's the $3 million I'm laughing over. I'd die of shock if an author *ever* got $3 million from anywhere who wasn't already established somewhere.

Marsha Ward said...

Maybe the mother had a great brand* or platform* going for her, so she expected a lot of book sales. (But PublishAmerica? Gaaah!)

*Industry buzzwords. Does LDS Publisher wish to address them sometime?

Katie Parker said...

OK, I hunted this one down. The original episode aired on Dr. Phil on October 3, 2007 and you can pull up a summary of what happened on the Dr. Phil website. From the summary it looks like Dr. Phil didn't believe for a second that $3,000,000 was actually at stake. Even the representative from Publish America affirmed that. Now what the mother and daughter thought may be a different story. But I'm just clearing Dr. Phil's name on this one here...

Unknown said...

Excellent advice. It's so easy to get ripped off when you believe you see a realization of your dreams just around the corner.