The Parasites of Publishing

The multi-talented Keith Snyder makes my favorite comment yet about PublishAmerica, Authorhouse,  and other vanity presses. Brace yourselves, because he tells it like it is:

THESE PEOPLE ARE OUT TO SCAM YOU. There is nothing about that
question that’s the least bit in question, except in the minds of the
ignorant and naive.

If you want to see your stuff printed and bound, and get (wow!) an
ISBN number and see it (wow!) on Amazon, that’s your business.

But Jesus Christ, you legion of suckers, open your goddamn eyes.
Whether vanity presses have a place in the Grand Scheme of Things or
not, they are parasitic entities that base their business models on the
assumption that talentless wannabes will not only empty their bank
accounts, but volunteer to become shills for other talentless wannabes.

[…]On the other hand, do you want to be published? LEARN TO ####ING WRITE!

[…]Vanity press suckers can scream all they want that they ARE
published, they ARE they ARE they ARE!!!, but that’s all it is: Lots of
screaming.

There’s an actual publishing industry. It’s as screwed up as any
other industry–and mores screwed up than some–but it’s not evil.
There is no conspiracy to keep newbies out.

He is so right. It may be painful to hear, but that’s the  cold, hard truth.

19 thoughts on “The Parasites of Publishing

  1. Hm, three posts on the same topic today. Which one shall I comment on, I wonder.
    Anyway, I come fresh from smacking down yet another possible scammer who actually threatened to sue me, but who shall remain nameless for the moment because he’s actually going to send me his ‘write a book real quick’ course so I can evaluate it, rather than just the specious claims of his ugly website.
    As I have said before, and I’ll say again – there is a place for self-published stuffs. For example, if you speak at conferences, or give seminars, for sure call up a book PRINTER and have a book run off. That way you can slap it on a table outside your room and sell it. No need to pay for all the fake services these fake publishers offer as they pretend to be real. One should probably hire a real editor to go over your manuscript. And hire your own cover artist too.
    If you’re planning on writing a novel, then don’t go either the self-publishing route or the vanity publisher route. And yes, those are two different animals, although the line had unfortunately blurred recently and practically is the same this these days.
    Self-publishing is – or was – paying a real book printer to print and drop ship your books to you. This usually runs you 1 to 3 bucks a book depending on binding and number of pages. Vanity publishing is when you pay them big upfront fees (usually $4500 to 10 grand) while they pretend to be a publisher as they tack on fee after fee after fee and lie through their teeth. Plus they try to tie you up with stupid contracts that steal your rights.
    If you just MUST put out your own novel (duh), and nothing will stop you, then use something like Lulu.com or CafePress.com where you DO NOT PAY BIG MONEY UPFRONT. if someone wants your book – like your auntie – point her to lulu.com and she can put in an order there. they’ll print it and ship it, keep some of the money she pays for themselves, and give the rest to you. Oh yeah, AGAIN – get your own editor and cover artist.
    The ONLY ‘extra’ money you should consider paying them upfront is for an ISBN so you can get it listed on Amazon. That’s something reasonable, maybe 50 bucks, or was it a 100. Anyway, that’s cheap. And you’re actually getting something real for your small amount of cash.
    Most books on Lulu seem to NOT be fiction, although of those that are, there sure are a lot of Christians and Science Fiction types putting books there. Hm, hopeful people and people who live in fantasy world – ok.
    Check out this cool Lulu.com published book – http://www.jpgmag.com – NOT a novel, by the way!

  2. You have to pay $50 or $100 to get an ISBN number?
    Hm.
    Here in Iceland ISBN numbers are free and only one phonecall + one e-mail away. Basically you just have to state the esstential facts about the book.
    ISBN is the international database so without an ISBN number a book is practically nonexistant, or invisible rather.
    I don’t know how it is in the US but in Iceland publishers (and that, of course, includes self-publishers) are required by law to send three copies of every book published to the National Library. And the definition of “published” is basically “something with an ISBN number on it”.
    Friends of mine have used lulu and are very happy with it. I’m planning on using it but only after I’ve checked with local print-shops to see if they can be coerced into giving me a good deal.

  3. Can it seriously be any worse than the millions of idiots putting themselves on YouTube (even published authors) pretending to have their own talk show or televised commentaries?

  4. One can identify an issue without having to adhere to “purity.” It’s odd, your question is exactly what vanity press defenders say of me for having two vanity press books. How can I, therefore, be a critic? There, it’s learning by experience. Such a conflict.

  5. But if you think vanity publishing includes blogs, and you’ve learned from experience to avoid vanity publishing, why do you keep blogging?
    Also, unless I’m wrong, you actually advertise your vanity press published books on your website. Surely if experience taught you that vanity presses don’t count, you should take them down?

  6. Well, I advertise them because they haven’t been taken out of publication. Hell, they were free at the time so I suppose as with Pod-dy mouth finding the gems in the pile, according to her at least, what’s been done is done. My message is still firm: don’t do this. There is a certain circularity to your contention that I’m a hypocrite somehow. Perhaps I should just disapear from the face of the Earth because diagree with me? Not a chance.

  7. You say vanity publishing is bad.
    You continue to promote your vanity published books.
    I never called you a hypocrite, but I think your actions undermine your position. As I agree with you on vanity publishing, it saddens me to see someone’s inconsistent behaviour making the side look bad. I don’t think that’s circular at all. You’re being a bad advertisement for your own argument.
    I’d never suggest you disappear from the face of the Earth. I’m calling you inconsistent, that’s all. Why the sudden hyperbole? Nobody ever died of being disagreed with, and that’s all I’m doing. This ain’t a war, it’s a website, and I’m not trying to destroy you or anything. Cheer up.

  8. “You’re being a bad advertisement for your own argument.”
    Uh no, they are Exhibit A as to why this doesn’t work. It’s the argument from experience not ignorance. Concentrate real hard. You can do it.

  9. *Concentrates…*
    Ah, I see it now! They’re wrong, you’re not. That puts all my arguments to flight. Clearly, your vanity press books are ‘experience’ and ALSO ‘not out of publication’, hence fit to be promoted as published works, while everyone else who goes to a vanity press is not published at all.
    You’re a towering force of logic, and not at all someone who’s still trying to reap the benefits of a mistake he’s officially renounced.
    That’s me put in my place.
    *Retires, crushed*

  10. I think you’re using woman’s logic to be frank. You with imaginary novels. I have no pubished “Novels.” My books are specialized nonfiction you could say. Practically everyone in publishing ackowledges some nonfiction and poetry are the only legitimate candidates for vanity presses. The difference is knowing what the difference is, which you clearly don’t. What benefts. This conversation? Combine that with the $1.60 in royalties every six months and wow: Happy days are here again!

  11. There’s no such thing as woman’s logic. There’s logic. It’s a method of thought, like mathematics. Sometimes women use it, sometimes men use it. And any man who uses the phrase ‘woman’s logic’ to complain about someone who disagrees with him is forsaking reason for ad hominem, or possibly ad feminam, attacks. The same would be true of me if I tried to undermine your points by saying you were using ‘man’s logic’. Logic either is or it isn’t. Evidently you don’t agree with my logic, but based on that last post, I’m forced to conclude that you don’t understand the concept of logic at all.

  12. On the contrary I got an A in the class. And not too long ago either. I was being facetious. There is fallacious logic, and this is what your using here. Oddly the same falty logic as the PA folks use when they discover I have two vanity press books, and then use them as you are to discredit anything I say about the subject.
    It’s still the argument from experience. Lee has a couple back in print ones and so does Mr. Wheeler from the same company. My books are testimony as to why this method of publication doesn’t work. The supporter, active supporters, argue a book is a book: the overgeneralization fallacy. It isn’t and that includes mine. If they weren’t currently available and I had no blog for a platform what I have to say would be nothing more than the personal opinion of an anonymous Internet troll.
    I do stand by what I wrote in the books and the claims I make on my blog about science and other topics. They’re travel journalism about science and homesteading in Alaska. I published them as part of my first mass media class in a time when it looked like a new trend in publishing. It didn’t pan out. I say as much.

  13. Finally, an actual answer to my point. If you’d bothered to say anything along those lines before, that would have been much more reasonable.
    I still think you’re weakening your position; considering how aggressively you attack vanity presses, you’re giving people a weapon by promoting your books in the way you do. If you’re going to attack what other people do, obviously your own behaviour becomes open to examination, and your site doesn’t make it clear that your books are self-published. Most people assume if a book is presented as published, that means published by a legitimate company. The fact that you don’t clearly acknowledge, in advertising your books, that they’re published through a vanity press, makes the promotion likely to mislead a lot of people. This is not unimpeachable honesty where it counts. And if you’re going to be as vocal as you are in a debate, you need to know where your weak points are. The fact that PA authors keep pointing out your vanity publishing just proves my case that you’re making your argument less convincing to a lot of people by your actions.
    And I’m not trying to discredit your views on self-publishing. As I said before, I agree with them. I think the one casting discredit on them is you.
    And conflating ‘woman’s logic’ with ‘fallacious logic’ isn’t facetious, it’s utterly contemptible.

  14. I care less and less for your perosnal opinions. So let me get this straight: you want a disclaimer on them, otherwise the poor easily consfused writers, including you who can’t seem to find anything under the surface for the overgeneralization fallacy looming over your head? Readers really are dumb. Tough shit.

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