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Is Using a Vanity Press for the Vain or Naive?

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

By Michael Heath /

Is Using a Vanity Press for the Vain or Naive?

We are sometimes asked if is a vanity press. It isn’t. is a book printer with publishing services. Yes, people pay us to get their books published but there is a distinction between our business model and what most other self-publishing companies do.

The term “vanity press” is pejorative. It refers to a company that publishes books for an author who, for vanity’s sake, will pay to have his/her rejected book project published. Before the age of home computers spawned desktop publishing, authors had two choices for publication. Either their manuscripts were accepted by a traditional publisher or they went to a “vanity publisher.” Today, the internet is replete with companies offering authors self-publishing services.

Certainly, no company would advertise itself as a vanity publisher. Some may identify as full-service publishers, full-solutions publishers, self-publishing companies, or some other term. Ron Pramschufer, the owner of the old, used to call them “paid to be published” publishers. Whatever descriptions they use, they are all publishers. That is an important distinction. It means that, even though the author pays the company to edit, design, print and distribute his/her work, the vanity press company holds the publishing rights. Does that seem fair? We do not think so. Why should authors be talked into signing a contract relinquishing their publishing rights when they wrote the manuscripts and pay for the services?

There is an incentive for self-publishing companies to tie their authors to such a contract, even if the arrangement may be limited to two years. It's all about free money. The self-publisher will likely say that they “only” take a dollar of every sale which on the surface may sound innocent. But think about it. What happens if the book is successful? Let’s say 10,000 copies are sold. The self-publisher will get an extra $10,000 for doing nothing more than getting the author to sign a contract. I ask the question again: Does that seem fair?

Three big reasons why authors should use

· Author owns the copyright

· Author retains the publishing rights

· Author owns the print files is not a publisher. We are never the publisher. There is no contract, but we do have an interest in the author’s success. Not because we share in the author’s royalties or profits. We don’t! Instead, we hope the author sells out of their books so that they come back to print with us again. Now that is a business arrangement we can all agree is fair.

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