While I have information about vanity publishers in my book, and on my podcast, and likely somewhere on this blog, I think it’s important to reiterate this information. I’ve seen more and more instances of predatory vanity publishers taking advantage of authors, and I’ve seen many posts by people who have gotten themselves in a situation that they can’t get out of. I’m so angry on their behalf, and I WISH I had gotten to them sooner. If this post helps one person avoid a costly error, it’ll be worth it.
1. You are not “Self Publishing” if you are paying someone else (A vanity publisher) to publish your book. They are the publisher, not you. As a matter of fact, when you use the free ISBN from KDP and Ingram Spark, they, (KDP and IS) are the publisher. However, in this instance, it’s not really a big deal, and many people take the free ISBN with no negative repercussions. (***Raises hand***) However, you should know that YOU aren’t officially the publisher unless YOU own the ISBN.
2. If you are approached by a publishing company, please do a simple google search about the company before entering into any agreements. Go and ask your trusted writing group, check the BBB. This is YOUR work and you need to protect it.
3. NEVER sign a contract without having a lawyer, paralegal, even a law student look into it. NEVER sign anything without knowing the terms of the contract.
I once spoke to a woman who was locked into a publishing contract with a vanity press. She had already paid them a great deal to publish her book, but that didn’t cover illustrations. Per the agreement, she had to use one of their illustrators, but couldn’t afford the “package upgrade”. The company now owned the rights to her book, she couldn’t afford to get the book illustrated, AND she couldn’t find someone else who was more affordable. The book was dead, and she was out $2000. Had she read her contract before signing, (She admitted that she did not) or if she had done a simple google search before signing, she would have seen that this company had MANY complaints lodged against them.
Not all companies are this outwardly scammy. Some of them are a lot more slick about things and you really need to dig deep into the finest print of the contract. Only a legal professional can help you with this.
4. Look at the stats of other books the “publisher” has published. Most vanity publishers are making $$$ off of the authors and not off of book sales.
The key is to Research.Research.RESEARCH.
In the spirit of not promoting myself, so that you know that my intentions are good, here are some links to more information from organizations that I have no affiliation with.
THIS article is the BEST