On Vanity Publishing…

Before Tamaishi, I knew virtually nothing about the world of traditional publishing. In the span of several months I spoke with other authors, and even went far down the path with what the industry calls a “vanity” publisher.

Well — okay. If you accuse Beaver’s Pond Press of being a vanity publisher, I’m sure they’d disagree. Their website seems friendly, and their attitude refreshing.

They offer a variety of services, ranging from editing and story consultation to printing and supposedly to marketing.

That’s what caught my interest. I don’t need a book designer, typesetter, illustrator. or anything else they were offering —  I need help marketing the book (like just about every other independent author out there.)

Long story short, I went down a path for several weeks with a rep, Julia (that’s not her real name) who frankly seemed way too enthusiastic. When I sent them a copy of Zosan for their “approval” of the print process I got this reply:

I got Zōsan . . . and I am SOLD, SOLD, ONE HUNDRED TIMES OVER!
That didn’t sit well with me. I’ve heard that vanity publishers aren’t above flattering authors to get their money. That’s all this felt like. Especially when they were trying to charge me $400 to use my own printer, and the $700 of “project management” which I could never get them to clearly define. On top of that, I confirmed from talking with another author who used this company that they never really helped with marketing. Sure, they gave them “tips”, but it was all on the author to actually do anything. So that author ended up being stuck with a garage full of books, $10k of inventory.
But that’s not actually why I bothered to write all this. Sure, I heard from everyone you should never pay to be published. I did that anyway. I gladly paid Eberhardt Press Kickstarter funds to have my book realized.
What really set me off was the last email I received, when I finally admittedly politely I was not interested in forking over $700+ for something so vague:
Well I’m sure not going to fault an artist for prioritizing their passions! I honestly admire how that is the way you measure your success as a creator—getting to love what you do. And as someone who has published a book myself, I understand how sometimes the “hustle” can take the joy out of the process.
If you ever find the goal of expanding your audience creeping into your dreamscape, you know where to find me!
I’ll be rooting you on.
Sounds great, right? Well…
I wrote to Julia after my book finally did get printed, and I received nothing. All that confirms to me is that the rest of the charm was nothing more than disingenuous blather hoping I’d hand them money. Or maybe she really did mean well and the email just got lost in her inbox; after all, she’s got lots of folks perhaps more willing to work with them. I had just wasted a few hours of her time debating the merits of her company. Or maybe she’s just not there anymore. I don’t know.
Either way — be cautious. My method of raising money on Kickstarter seems to have worked out for now. I’d gladly do it again. I meanwhile mostly hang dreams of making this a lucrative career on the shelf. I enjoy writing and illustrating on my own time on my own terms. The publishing world seems like it simply suck all the life out of all it for me, and I can’t let that happen, even if it means it remains nothing more than a life-fulfilling “hobby”. My work will be m own, and I will be proud of every line and every word.