Last week I promised a posting about…the…
Yep, that’s it. That word. Vanity, as in vanity press. There are still misguided souls out there raising an eyebrow at writers who take this route. They question the validity of a digital publication, believing that digital publishing is more rooted in author vanity than in market needs.
This is simply not the truth.
However as advances in digital technology continue to shift the ground artists create on (think of all the bickering in the 20th century over whether or not photography counted as an art form, nevermind those who still decry photoshop), it certainly bears clarifying the differences between a vanity press and a legitimate one.
To get the goods, I grabbed my publisher Greg Ioannou for a quick Q&A.
CB: What’s a vanity publication?
GI: A vanity publication is published entirely to make the author feel good. There is never any real intention to see copies go to the public.
CB: How do these differ from what I’m doing with you?
GI: I think your book is really commercial, and I want to sell a zillion copies.
CB: The editing process I’m going through with you is the same I would go through with a traditional house. In other words, it’s extremely rigorous.
GI: Vanity publications are usually not edited to professional standards. No-one’s going to read the book, so why make it as good as you can?
Vanity publishers make their money from the authors, not from selling books to readers. So they will charge for editing as a way of getting money from the “writer”. The motivation is different, and so, usually, is the process.
CB: Let’s talk about being eligible for government grants, which to my mind makes it all legit.
GI: We are being careful to keep the company eligible for government publications grants. Those are based on number of books published and sold, and on royalties paid to authors. Vanity publications aren’t eligible for grants, and can only make up 25% of the titles a publisher puts out. (And most of the major publishers are right at that 25%.)
CB: What’s the snob factor from others in the industry and is that changing?
GI: I’m oblivious to such things. I assume it is there but I don’t notice it.
DB: When do you think the reading world will be all digital?
GI: People who have discovered the convenience of e-readers love them. But the tech is still primitive and I’m not expecting a wholesale switch to it for a couple of years, by which time digital will be so compellingly better that there will be no point to print.
And that’s it for the V word. Once again, please feel free to post your opinions on the blog. And speaking of that, next up, a discussion of blogging, an important part of the writer’s new life on the digital frontier.