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.