The Big Difference Between Traditional Publishing & Vanity Publishing

The Big Difference Between Traditional Publishing and Vanity Publishing

The Big Difference Between Traditional Publishing and Vanity Publishing
Photo by CongerDesign / via Pixabay

The Big Difference Between Traditional Publishing and Vanity Publishing

Do you have a polished novel manuscript ready for publication? Have you begun your search for a publisher? Are you considering paying for publication services? Does the short publication process intrigue you?

Before you sign a contract for your new novel manuscript, there are some things you should know.

Traditional publishing comes with some stiff competition. It can take years to find the right agent for your novel, and then it can take even more time getting your book sold to a publisher. After that, it takes even more time for your work to see the light of day in bookstores. And this is all provided you do, in fact, find an agent who is willing to take on your project and your agent finds a publisher willing to buy it.

With the long wait times and the uncertainty of the publishing industry, it’s no wonder writers are eager to explore other options.

One of those other options many writers consider is vanity publishing. Only they usually don’t realize what that means or that they’re even considering it.

Vanity publishing is enticing, especially to writers who aren’t aware of how the traditional publishing world works. It gives authors the ability to publish their work and see their name in print and to have physical copies of their books to give to friends and family. But it comes with a steep fee. If the writer is lucky, the vanity publisher will claim to give her a good discount.

For some writers, this is all they’re looking for. They just want to see their name in print and give a copy of their book to someone special. Or to have a copy for their own shelf. If that’s all they want, and they’re willing to pay the fee, this option is acceptable.

But for writers who want more than those things, knowing all their options is an absolute must.

There is more than one difference between traditional publishing and vanity publishing, but the most notable difference is this: a traditional publisher makes money when the book is purchased by a reader and the vanity publisher makes money when the author pays for its services.

With traditional publishing, a writer should never have to write a check in an effort to publish her manuscript. But with vanity publishing, a writer writes a check (usually in the thousands) made out to the vanity publisher to have her manuscript prepared for publication and printed.

In actuality, the writer who chooses a vanity publisher is self-publishing her work. The vanity publisher may want quality manuscripts, but it doesn’t have an incentive to demand them because most of the money it makes comes from the author. What the author may not realize, however, is that there are cheaper routes to self-publishing her work.

A vanity publisher will claim to edit and polish a manuscript, but the writer will likely have better results hiring her own freelance book editor.

As far as the mechanics of getting a manuscript published with Amazon or Barnes and Noble, there are so many resources and tutorials available, that it’s almost impossible for a writer not to be able to figure it out.

So, before you sign the contract and write the check, be sure you understand what you’re getting into.

A vanity publisher makes it feel easy, but don’t buy into the idea that you can’t figure it out on your own. Publishing a novel isn’t that complicated. If you’re not willing to give traditional publishing a go (and have patience while you wait), go the self-publishing route. But be careful what services you’re paying for and the quality you’re going to get.

Jody Calkins
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