This series of comics was posted a short time back at Greenhorn, and the attached comments are pretty antagonistic toward vanity publishers and vanity authors.
My attitude toward vanity publishing is somewhat indifferent at this point. I know that the general philosophy of the professional writing community toward vanity press is generally negative – after all, any hack can put a book up for sale and then demand respect from the pro community. ((The likelihood of said hack actually receiving that respect is highly dubious.)) I also know that it is exceptionally difficult to actually make a profit from self-publishing. Yes, there are success stories out there that vanity authors like to point to, but statistically speaking, those stories are “non-significant”:http://girlondemand.blogspot.com/2005/03/so-thats-where-midlist-went.html. Plus, vanity authors do not have the marketing resources available to them that they might find from a professional publishing house.
There are lots and lots of articles out there on this topic already, though, so I won’t belabor these points again here. What I _would_ like to focus on for just a moment is the hate reaction itself. It’s one that I don’t completely understand. If someone wants to _try_ their hand at self-publishing, I say more power to them. Granted, if they want to actually make any real money from doing so, they’re going to have to work very, very hard at self-promotion, but I can’t begrudge them the chance to at least try. And if someone simply wants to put something out there for fun, for friends and family to read, who am I to stop them? It’s their prerogative. Let them go for it. Meanwhile, you can focus on your own writing and getting published the more traditional way.
To be fair, I think what our friends over at Greenhorn are actually reacting to are those self-published authors who exude arrogance. Some of these authors think that, just because they have a book you can hold in your hands, that puts them on the same level of quality and professionalism as those writers who have gone through a major publishing house. While it is true that their book may be of the highest quality and caliber, chances are good that it is not, that the manuscript is, in fact, rife with problems. It is these individuals, who have no reason whatsoever to be arrogant, that many pro authors react negatively to – and with some level of justification, I might add. But I do think that it’s unfair of them to react to all vanity authors this way, particularly since I know quite a few who do not fall into the arrogant crowd. Vanity press and POD(print-on-demand) ((Consequently, despite all objections to the contrary, I tend to think that vanity press and POD(print-on-demand) are one and the same. I may write more on this topic at a later date.)) have their place, I think, especially for those writers who don’t necessarily want to gain fame or fortune and simply want to have their one or two novels in a bound version sitting on their shelf. Such is the case with the “100 Voices”:http://100VoicesInTheNight.com project, which very likely will be distributed through a POD(print-on-demand) publisher.
So, for those of you expressing your disdain for self-publishing, I say to you – move on, and quit wasting your time and energy here. There’s books and stories to be written that will be done better if you’re not distracting yourselves with negativity. I would venture to say that, if you simply ignore those cocky vanity press authors, they’ll bother you a whole lot less.
Now go write something better.