Authors owe it to themselves to be very clear on the difference between vanity publishing, traditional publishing and self-publishing, before making any decisions. If not, they could find themselves spending thousands of dollars to trying to get your book published with nothing to show for it.
I often speak with would be authors who are unsure of what self-publishing is. Unsure of whether or not to sign a contract with a publisher who has contacted them, or they have contacted about publishing their book. Sometimes after multiple rejections from traditional publishers would be authors seek out vanity publishers to publish their book. After a great sales pitch, many settle for someone else taking control of their hard work. Unfortunately, for these reasons the publishing world has its fair share of scammers and disreputable companies. I’ve talked to many authors who have fallen prey to such people who take advantage of first-time authors.
Authors owe it to themselves to be very clear on the difference between self-publishing, vanity publishing, and traditional publishing before making any decisions. If not, they could find themselves spending thousands of dollars trying to get your book published with nothing to show for it.
Traditional publishers are book investors, therefore they only take on work they believe they will make a return on when the book hits the market. They purchase manuscripts and rights, pay advances, and royalties. Their financial investment is recouped from the sale of books and from the exploitation and licensing of subsidiary rights. There’s no cost to the author with traditional publishers, but it's difficult for new authors to get published through a traditional publisher. As with any contract, be sure to read the small print and ask lots of questions.
The vanity publisher also called a subsidy publisher charges a large fee for the author to sign over the exclusive right to distribute their work. Costs include production services, printing and binding and distribution, and the publisher's profit and overhead. Once the manuscript is published by a vanity publisher it becomes their property, right down to the ISBN. Vanity publishers assign an ISBN to your book and publish your book under their imprint, which gives them certain rights to your work. Vanity publishing is usually much more expensive than self-publishing.
You should know that the company that publishes your book, will forever be the official publisher on record. You cannot transfer the ISBN, or buy the ISBN from the company. Regardless of what they tell you, the book is linked to them. If you want to break your contract with the publisher and go to a different company, the book will still be registered to the first company. To unlink your book, you will need a new ISBN and start from scratch. I have talked with prospective clients who tell me they have offers from publishers and then tell me they are being asked to pay a significant amount of money. I encourage them not to sign any contract and to consider true self-publishing, which is much more cost-effective.
Like vanity publishing, self-publishing requires the author to bear the entire cost of publishing their book. Self-publishers do all the editing, design, printing, distribution, marketing, and publicity themselves. True self-publishers own all their rights and receive 100% of the profit. They own their own ISBN and have access to all the digital files associated with the production of their work. Their imprints are displayed on their books’ spines and title pages. The truth is self-publishing companies don't do anything you can't do yourself with a little patience. There are many, many books on Amazon and other online bookstores that look homemade, inside, and out. This is a huge turnoff for book buyers, no matter how good the story is.
If your intent is to sell books, don’t sabotage your pricing, profits, and efforts by using a vanity press or attempting to produce the book yourself if you don’t have the skills. Do everything you can to ensure your book is excellent from cover to cover. Hire a reputable book production service or a book coach to guide you through the process. If you want to truly self-publish a professional quality book Williams DocuPrep offers a one-stop-shop for all your publishing needs including book design, editing, and worldwide distribution setup. You keep your rights and royalties.