I got this question today about publishing with a small, “cooperative press.”
Is Jan-Carol Publishing a vanity press? Should I publish my book with them? They are asking for my book and I just cannot tell clearly what the answer to this question might be. perhaps that is reason enough to be concerned.
I wouldn’t call it a vanity press…but pretty close to it. Your tip-off is that they describe themselves as “a cooperative between a small independent publishing group and a motivated force of authors.” That means you, a motivated author, will need to kick in money. And “small, independent publishing group” usually means either a token advance or none at all and most likely digital and print-on-demand publication, and very limited distribution for “select titles” (if your dream is to have your book stocked by Colonial Heights Pharmacy in Kingsport, TN, or Hindman Settlement School Gift Shop in Hindman, KY or Poor Fork Arts and Crafts Guild, this is the publisher for you). They also describe themselves as “a progressive small press publisher with a competitive edge and promotional blend of self publishing and traditional publishing.” In other words, be prepared to write a check.
You have to ask yourself Jan-Carol offers you in return for your “cooperation” and their share of the profits that you can’t do for yourself through Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s free self-publishing platforms. Is it distribution? Nope. You can get into Amazon and B&N yourself and their list of retailers for “select books” is unimpressive, to say the least. Is it professional cover art? Nope. Their books look like grade school art projects. At best. Is it editing? Nope, at least not based on the samples I’ve read. Is it featured space on a slick, high-end website? Nope. Their website is pretty basic and the only exposure they offer is a list of author websites and links..but the Amazon & B&N links don’t even go to the individual books, just to the main pages for Amazon and B&N. Amateurish. If there is an upside or “competitive edge” to publishing with them as opposed to publishing on your own, I don’t see it.
I’d recommend self-publishing rather than going with any small-time, “cooperative” outfits like this.