self-publishing. When an author goes to a VanityPress to publish, this is erroneously called self-publishing. True self-publishing occurs when an author is the actual publisher.
A publisher is the person who owns the ISBN (international standard book number) for a book. A self publisher is a publisher who publishes their own writing. Vanity authors use vanity presses who publish using the block of ISBNs issued to the vanity operation.
Anyone who thinks they are self-publishing by using a vanity press are being scammed by the vanity publisher. Most PODs (print on demand) are the modern version of the traditional vanity press. They charge a lot and offer little. Quality is low. Contract terms are one-sided. They often try to sell worthless "services" such as alleged "marketing". PODs have grown fast due to the gross oversupply of digital copy machines bought by print shops. To keep these machines busy and justify their cost they have turned to selling vanity publishing services.
Reviewers categorically refuse to review POD or other vanity publications. The average POD book sells ten copies. Between the author, their mother, and other family that does not result in many real sales.
(Note: No book sells without marketing. Again, the orginal writer here is mixing POD vanity presses with the process. Reviewers have no problem reviewing POD books (including publisher's weekly) and depending on the production values, they can't even tell the difference.)
Some other sites with good info
NOTE: The terminology following is NOT standard in the industry.
Conversely, if the press (e.g. the publisher) pays the author, it is a venal [actually it is a Traditional press. The publishing industries fall into this category, but a venal press may not operate for profit. Copyright supports the publishers ability to make a profit in order to increase the number of functioning presses and the number of functioning authors.
If the author panders to third interests in order to publish, or if she writes and publishes at the behest of third interests, for the express intent of some selfish personal gain, this is a mercenary [or universisty press or co-op press - which are legitimate publishing businesss models]. Marketing firms falls into this category. Also, venal presses that publish political content at a loss.
In contrast to a mercenary press, modern times bring the free press which is afforded the freedom of speech. Traditionally these presses are "free" of the church (first estate), the government (second estate), the people (third estate), but now also of moneyed interests. Free presses were meant to form much of the FourthEstate?--the journalists.
Some post-modern thinking has that the journalists are no longer free.
Collectively, all presses from the ThirdEstate? form the popular press, but generally most people might exclude extremist publications that aren't even read by the mainstream. One could actually call the FourthEstate? the popular press.
The popular press doesn't necessarily support the vox populi (the voice of the people) as the popular press may be venal or mercenary. For example, the moneyed coup that deposed President Chavez of Venezuela was one of the most egregious abuses of private media in recent times, where the privately owned media outright lied to the public, not to mention physically attacked the public media infrastructure, to manufacture public unrest. Conversely, you will find that many online communities support the vox populi by not charging for publishing. To separate this mode from a the typical for-profit VanityPress, perhaps the term demotic press could be used.
Some radicals suggest the replacement of the FourthEstate? establishment with demotic presses.
Ultimately, I think the public role of publishers will be to separate good work from the pile of content, most of which is terrible. Their traditional role as distributors will disappear with the DeathOfCopyright?. -- SunirShah
I didn't say that, did I? How embarassing. --ss
Well, no. Without getting into a Clintonian dissection of the word "functioning", copyright reduces the number of presses. Fewer presses, more profit per press. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on whether you are a publisher or a reader.
I don't think the "vanity" part means they will publish anything. It's more that they will publish even without a good prospect of return from sales. The risks of production (and distribution) are usually paid for by the author, which means the author can be the editor. Normally the editor is employed by the publisher to reduce the risks of publication. Technology has encouraged vanity publishing because it makes those costs so low, so the publisher no longer needs an editor for that reason.
(I'm not really comfortable with all this but I can't find a better formulation just now.) -- DaveHarris
I'm not sure I understand the role of editor you line out. Not having worked with a VanityPress for several years, I have forgotten most of their inner workings, but I believe the VanityPress has very few roles:
NOTE: Distribution never occurs. No one will stock vanity pubs, and no wholesaler or distributor would try to distribute them. Sales are rare to non-existent. Worthless services such as marketing and editing are big sources of revenue for vanity presses.
(Note: The biggest POD printer in the world is Lightning Source, who is used by many of the vanity presses, in addition to thousands of other publishers. All Lightning Source books are available through Ingram, Barnes&Noble and Amazon.)
Most of the other roles are the author's responsibility. I suppose it is possible to hire editorial services from the VanityPress at additional cost, but I don't think that's economical for the press to offer. They just do whatever they are paid to do. -- SunirShah NOTE: they make a lot of money on worthless services such as editing and marketing. This is all high markup pure profit that often exceeds the printing cost by several times.
So how does that list different from a normal publisher? It seemed to me that the main difference is in selecting which books to publish, and rejecting others, which is essentially an editing job. -- DaveHarris
The Web is a giant VanityPress.