Part 1 – Oh, the Vanity of it all! of this multi-post arc dealt with some folks I knew who vanity published their books back when we called vanity publishers “vanity publishers”.
Vanity publishing was great in its heyday. Heck, it still is. The vanity house had no skin in the game. You paid them to publish your book. They did their best to upsell you on marketing, cover design, hard v soft cover, an ISBN, paper quality, print quality, print size, editing, proofing, copy editing, …
Again I ask, any of this sounding familiar?
What they couldn’t do is put your book on bookstore shelves. The book industry has buyback policies that no other industry (that I know of) has; If your book doesn’t sell, the bookstore can return it to the publisher and get their money back. Such a policy requires the publisher have a staff in place to handle returns and a warehouse to house returns. Vanity publishers didn’t have that.
Umm…neither does self-publishing. That’s why you can order your self-published book at a bookstore but can’t find it on the shelves.
Vanity publishing was like self-publishing in that it was POD (Print On Demand). Except printing required about a month turn around. And a normal print run could be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 books that you purchased at a discount and sold at whatever price you wanted.
Note that I’m not making any statement about the quality of your writing, I’m making a statement about your publication process. And caveat lector, I self-published two fiction and three non-fiction books. I also published lots of books through recognized trade technical publishers (again, years ago).
So, are you self-published? Then you’re vanity published. You’re self-published because nobody who makes a living publishing other people’s books thought your book worth publishing. Don’t sugar coat it. Deal with it.
Publishers greenlight a book when topic, writing quality, market size, audience, business plan, business strategy, marketing plan, sales staff, existing inventory, … create a perfect storm (a nod to Part 1 of this series, I know) insuring your lonely book steers toward success. That’s why most large trade publishers and agents seek the next Harry Potter, that’s why Fantasy wasn’t a recognizable market/genre until Conan, Gormenghast and Middle Earth caught on.
See that greenlight list above? You, the author, can only respond to the first two items in that list: topic and writing quality. Everything else is out of your control. And as far as that goes, you can change your topic as often as you breathe but if your writing (quality) sucks, your writing (quality) sucks and there you go (or don’t).
And today, IMHO, your writing has to truly suck for a publisher to pass on your book if you’ve got a good topic and all those non-author controllable things are going for you.
Next up – What self-publishing camp are you in?