Self-publishing: Why you should (or shouldn’t) approach Vanity Publishers?

Self-publishing and vanity publishers have existed in various forms for a very long time. Despite the contrasting views about the pros and cons of this approach, the market for vanity publishing has grown within the writing community, especially for first time authors.

And there’s a reason for that. The traditional publishing model makes it very difficult for new writers to break into the industry. In comparison self-publishing allows anyone who wants to be known as a published author an equal shot at the game.

Traditional publishers are very (VERY) selective about the books they publish for several reasons:

– They invest heavily in getting each book published. This includes time, money and effort.
– The scope of work undertaken is comprehensive – editing, packing, printing, distributing, commercial aspects, the works.
– They take on the entire risk of the project being a success or a failure. Authors get paid (in the form of royalty) when the books sell, but the authors don’t need to shell out money from their pockets if the books keep lying on the bookshelves and warehouses.
– They focus on certain genres and have to ensure there’s a market for the books they publish
– Their reputation and credibility is at stake.

Vanity publishers operate in a very different manner:

– Authors pay the publisher to get their books published. There’s almost no monetary investment by the vanity publisher
– Most vanity publishing houses wouldn’t care as much (if at all) about the quality of the writing. There is no editing process. You give them a completed manuscript and they’ll start the printing press. Simple as that.
– Apart from printing the book, they will not get involved in any other activity like distribution or promotion. Some might offer additional services at a price.

So should you consider vanity publishing for getting your book published?

Consider the following aspects:

– If you aren’t keen on playing the ‘submit manuscript to publishers and be ready for a real long wait’ game
– You aren’t sure if the quality of your writing is on par with the standards expected by traditional publishers
– The topic of your book is very niche and so the market for your book ends up being very small. This may not allow a traditional publishing house to recoup its investments.
– You don’t mind managing the post-printing aspects on your own. This includes – stocking the inventory, distributing it to retailers (or selling it through your website).
– You don’t really want the stamp of approval that comes from the bigger publishers.

If your answer to all (or most of these) is yes then go for it. For the others, traditional publishing is still the way to go. And that means you’d better learn the rules of the game and compete with all the others who are waiting in the queue. More on that later.

Why I chose traditional publishing over vanity publishing

My book (Beyond the MBA Hype) focuses on the international MBA education market. There’s a growing market for this book (it’s much bigger outside India) and the content within the book caters to a niche demographic. But in terms of sheer numbers, it is big enough to get a traditional publisher’s interest. Whether the potential actually translates to sales is a different story.

I have no knowledge about the distribution channels, retail outlets and all the other operational activities that are involved in getting my book in the hands of folks interested in reading it. The resources provided by a mainstream publishing house were important for me. More importantly for me was the credibility that comes from being associated with a reputed name in the industry.

So despite the temptations of exploring vanity publishing, I decided to stick to the traditional arena. And I’m happy to see that the book is finally featuring on all the top online stores now. The actual release will happen sometime in early September.

5 thoughts on “Self-publishing: Why you should (or shouldn’t) approach Vanity Publishers?”

  1. Dear Sameer Sir,

    I had written a romantic book with my best childhood buddy. We got it published as an eBook on Kindle App where it hit century for sold copies and then it stopped. To reach masses and wider audience we approached Partridge and at a later stage found that they do not really help with Marketing and Publicity of the book, our primary requirement is Marketing and Publicity since we do not have a solid reach and a bigger friend circle which can help in that regard. They were selling our paperback book copy for a hefty price of 9.99$ which considering we were debutant no one purchased…it was obvious, also we were told that they will just create a website for us and also they provided a Social Media setup guide and mentioned that their job is done. For debutant writers like me which publishing house can be a best match for marketing and publicity, along with a nominal price for paperback copy which Indian audience can afford. your suggestion and guidance will be valuable for us.

  2. Ashish: Whether it’s traditional or vanity publishing, book marketing continues to be a pain area.

    While it’s legitimate for authors to expect the company to manage the book promotions and convert every book into a best seller, in reality that’s too much to expect.

    It’s in the authors’ interest to take the reins in their own hands.

  3. is partridge publishing india a fake company as i m going to pay a sum amount of 50,000 rs to them. Please reply should I do this or the process is fake.

  4. So you need to be a damn good salesman besides being a writer! Sounds ridiculous, but that’s how there’s so much crap in our market as ‘best-sellers’. These salesmen are damaging the reputation of Indian Writers. Publishers, it would seem, do not want good writers, but good hawkers to sell their wares; the content be damned.

  5. @Prem: Sorry, I can’t comment on individual companies. I’ve shared a lot on this site about both – traditional and vanity – publishing models. Do your homework, be aware of what you are signing up for and then take a call.

    @Ravi: Sad, but true. That’s how it is for authors across the world, not just in India.

    If you’ve followed the publishing industry news recently, a well-known senior editor recently left a top publishing company after losing the revenue-vs-quality debate.


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