It’s amazing to me the extent to which vanity press authors delude themselves into thinking they aren’t vanity press authors. The latest example comes from the current issue of CRIMESPREE magazine, one of my favorite publications. Sandra Tooley wrote a column entitled "Self-Publishing Myths," in which she attempts to debunk "the misconceptions about self-publishing." The astonishing thing is that, rather than debunk the "myths," she manages to substantiate every one of them. I’m sure Sandra is a very nice lady, but reading her column is a painful and cringe-inducing experience. It’s like watching a fall-down drunk arguing that he’s sober even as he vomits on your shoes.
The first "myth" she targets is that "writers self-publish because no one else will publish them." She says the real reasons come down to time ("not all writers have the finances or time to devote toward promoting a large print run..and they have home and family obligations"), age ("playing the query-letter two step game for ten or fifteen years just isn’t in some writer’s goals for the future"), patience ("you can have your book out in six months or less"), total control ("Self-publishing allows the writer the creative freedom to publishwhat he wants when he wants") and rights ("A self-published author can keep all the rights").
Let’s tackle her first argument — that self-published authors simply don’t have the time and money to devote to promotion (but they do have the bucks to pay to have their work printed in book form). If you "publish" (and I use that term loosely) a POD novel, it’s not going to sell if you don’t promote it. So what’s the point of doing it in the first place…besides printing your manuscript in book form for yourself? She’s arguing that there are authors out there who would would rather pay to print their book POD than be paid by Simon & Schuster for the right to publish and widely distribute their work… just to avoid having to do any promotion. That hypothetical author would have to be a complete moron.
The other arguments about age, patience and control simply justify what has always been said about vanity press authors — they have neither the patience nor the perseverance to be professional writers. They just want to see their work printed in something resembling a book as quickly as possible so they can call themselves authors.
That said, Sandra later contradicts herself in many respects.
She says that "print on demand is a printing process NOT a publishing process," and on that point, we agree. So why do vanity press writers consider themselves "published authors" and get pissed off when they aren’t accorded the same respect as authors published by traditional publishers?
Sandra goes on to say that when going the POD route, "marketing is mostly up to the author." Wait a minute…I thought authors went the POD route, not because they can’t sell their book to a publisher, but because they had neither the time nor money to devote to marketing and promotion?
And finally, she concludes her column with:
"…to the determined writer who refuses to believe his book is too similar to THE DAVINCI CODE to be marketable, and to all frustrated writers buried in form rejection letters, take heart knowing giving up is no longer an option."
In other words, if no one else will publish you, you can self-publish. So what’s her final conclusion? That the "myth" that writers self-publish because no one else will publish them is true! (Did she even read her own column after she wrote it??).
This kind of labored reasoning — no, self-delusion — is typical among vanity press authors. It’s truly sad to see…unless you work for iUniverse, PublishAmerica, and xlibris.