With apologies to David Gaughran.
A year or two ago, an ex-colleague of my husband’s (he works as contractor in IT, changes jobs a LOT, so there is nothing dramatic about the ex bit) mentioned that he was writing a book. The book was historical fiction and he wanted to know how to publish it.
My husband passed him my email and I wrote him with some pointers about publishing and self-publishing.
Today, my husband met him. He’d published his book–with a vanity press.
I can hear people cry.
The book he got is nicely designed. He received promotional materials, postcards and bookmarks. He didn’t have to shop for and negotiate with an editor. He didn’t need to figure out how to format an ebook, and buy software to do it.
He didn’t even need to open an Amazon account, or do all the tax stuff that’s related to it.
Likely, he paid thousands.
Could he have done it cheaper? Sure, but it would have cost him time. This is someone who has no interest in the business side of writing. Someone who has a really good job, I might add.
But what about the false hope these companies sell?
Well, he got a “launch package”. Not sure how much it cost, but he thinks it’s cool. He gets to invite his friends and be the centre of attention for a night, while he reads from the book and signs copies.
He’s hoping the book will take off on its own. Well, loads of people who self-publish believe that their books will take off, too. They didn’t pay thousands, but spent a lot of time on producing their books.
One way or the other, they’re unlikely to sell unless the author does the hard work. At the start, the author probably has unrealistic hopes.
My husband’s ex-colleague spoke to me, and I told him what I do. He chose to go with a vanity press, because what I do is a lot of work (like, a metric shit-tonne of work), and he had no time or wish to do it. He just wanted the book. He had no trouble paying (through the nose) for a one-stop shop.
That’s why there is a place for vanity presses. Of course it’s heartbreaking when people spend wads of money they can’t afford to lose, but really, how much do we need to protect people from their own stupidity anyway? Like, if you don’t have the money, don’t gamble with it in any shape or form. Some people really just want the book, want their hands held and don’t care about the money.