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Vanity Publishing

On the subject of descriptions for various categories of publishers:

A "Vanity Publisher" is someone who will accept an author's money to produce X number of titles for the author regardless of the quality, nature, or marketability of the author's manuscript.

The appellation "Vanity Publisher" can apply to any POD publisher, Subsidy Publisher, Small Press Publisher, or Self-Publisher who exercises no regard for the quality of the writing, commercial viability of the book with respect to the marketplace, or offers little (if anything) of editorial or marketing services to the author whose money is accepted for printing their book.

The term "Vanity Publisher" cannot be accurately imposed on any POD Publisher; Subsidy Publisher, Small Press Publisher, or Self-Publisher who does indeed impose some sort of editorial controls or eligibility requirements on manuscripts submitted to them for publication -- even when the author bears part or all of the costs of production, distribution, or marketing.

I'm probably one of the very, very few reviewers who are willing to consider Vantage Press -- one of the oldest and most successful of the notorious "print" Vanity Publishers. I've seen some great stuff -- and I've seen a lot of dreck. The reason I still accept Vantage Press titles for review is not out regard for the publisher, but out of regard for the authors.

What I find particular fascinating is that I'm seeing the same "good stuff to dreck" ratios in POD publishing that I see in Vantage Press productions.

And the same deficiencies of editorial standards and marketing services.

With the advent of desktop publishing in general, and POD publishers in particular, the dreck continues to be wearing away at the "name brand" value of POD publishers, just as it did with Vantage Press and its ilk of an earlier publishing era.

Therefore, when Xlibris, 1st Books, iUniverse and other POD titles cross my desk, I make sure to look at them. Not out of regard for these publishers -- but out of regard for the authors. So many of whom would have benefited greatly from some editorial input. Yet I find some of them to be "naturals" and whose books are as good as anybody's and deserving for as wide a readership as can be mustered in their behalf.

As for the original question which launched this discussion thread -- I would say that the publisher sounds most like a Subsidy Publisher in terms of nomenclature. Subsidy Publishers are an honorable part of the publishing community.

To avoid being also considered a "Vanity Publisher", it will be necessary for you to impose some sort of editorial guidelines on the quality of what you are hired to publish. Otherwise, if money is the only entry fee required of your client authors, you are indeed a "Vanity Publisher" in addition to being a Subsidy Publisher.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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