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The Roundabout Blog

4 Unexpected Pitfalls of Vanity Press Self-Publishing

People make mistakes. Sometimes they leap before they look. Sometimes they’re led to the edge and pushed. Just last week we were reminded by a very well-educated and successful syndicated columnist why the vanity press publishing model is wrong for so many people and why it didn’t work for him.

If you choose a vanity press publishing model, here are a few pitfalls you should consider.

1) The vanity press publisher knows you are probably interested in paying as little as possible to get your book out there quickly.

By the time some authors get done with their manuscript, they just want it out of their hands. Any price that sounds too good to be true and lower than vanity competitors B or C sure seems attractive. If authors would remember that they’ll get what they pay for, cut rate vanity packages are all about the same.

2) They know you are probably not interested in learning the publishing process yourself. You want the publishing done for you and are willing to take your chances in the marketplace.

Most every second round author who arrives at Redbrush’s doorstep or website readily admits that they didn’t know what they didn’t know. Once they delivered their manuscript and payments to a vanity press publisher, all they were expected to do was sit back and wait to review their proofs for final edits (and there are always costly, final edits), and imagine their success as a published author. Last week’s author says their vanity press publisher clearly benefited from their lack of publishing knowledge, offered little to no educational assistance, and leveraged their ignorance to sell additional services over and above the package.

3) Cheerleading aside, vanity press publishers don’t seem particularly interested in your goals and audiences, or helping you reach them.

Based on the relatively poor results of vanity published books, it’s clear that book sales are not the measuring stick of their success. Authors pay for publishing packages. Any sales that do occur over time provide gravy for the vanity publisher and small royalties for the authors. The success achieved by vanity press publishing companies comes from authors who buy their packages and add-ons, not book sales.

4) You probably don’t know that vanity press publishing authors don’t have as much autonomy as you think. You’re not really self-publishing.

By definition, if someone else assigns an ISBN to your book, eBook, or other product, they—not you—are the publisher of your title. They get to make important decisions about its title, design, and retail price. The publisher can override your preferences or push heavily for their way. Authors have the option of canceling at any time and forfeiting funds paid for services provided. Refunds are uncommon.

At Redbrush, we do our best to make sure you know we’re an indie publishing services company. We are not a publisher. We help YOU be your own publisher. We go to great efforts to make sure you know the differences in your publishing options. Based on your goals, audiences, and project, we help you choose the best path and fit. If it’s not us, we’ll let you know. We provide educational resources, expert navigation, and professional publishing services.

We’re often reminded that we’re a rarity in the self-publishing world, especially by those authors who arrive after having done their first project through a vanity press publishing model or any author who’s done their research.

You’ve committed months if not years to your book’s manuscript. Redbrush hopes you’ll honor that time and commitment with intentional and motivated actions to indie-publish the best, professional book you can. We’re happy to help with exactly the help you require.

Ready to bypass the pitfalls? Want to discuss your manuscript’s next steps? Contact Phil at 855.379.6218 or to get started.