Virtual Bookworm

I got this email today:

I am considering publishing with Virtual Bookworm. I saw them listed on your list. Anymore you can tell me  about  them.

They are a print-on-demand publisher, also known as a "vanity press." They will not get your books distributed to stores. They will not promote your book. And you will have difficulty getting the book reviewed or taken seriously by anyone (not to mention selling any copies). You may have even more problems than that… just a simple "Google" search on them turns up nothing but complaints and warnings, like this one:

Writer Beware has received a number of complaints about Virtual Bookworm. Most involve unpaid royalties, or royalty statements that don’t reflect the actual  number of books sold. Some authors are looking into legal action.

I found all that out in about 8.5 seconds. Have you done any research at all yourself? If so, you wouldn’t be asking me about them.  If you are intent on paying to have your book published, try  iUniverse.

36 thoughts on “Virtual Bookworm”

  1. Lee, as you suggested I did my research. I actually found many more negative posts about I-Universe than virtual bookworm. Furthermore, for both publishers all the material seem dated (as in old) and not a fair representation of the present business practices of both. Just my opinion. Please advise.
    John S Meade

  2. In Lee’s stead, I’ll tell you to make your own decision. If you want to spend your own money to publish your book instead of being paid to write, by all means do so. If its the question of one company is less negative than the other…well…it seems like either way is not a great deal. Why not try the conventional way of getting an agent and finding a publisher who will pay you?

  3. I am a published Virtualbookworm author. I believe you listing Virtualbookworm in your approach with caution is inappropriate based on my experience.
    POD offered me what I was looking for: a finished product within 90 days.
    I did my research and knew what I was getting and what I would not be getting. Actually, I believe irtualbookworm exceeded my expectations, concerning the cover and text layout. My story may not be glamorous —
    overcoming child abuse — but it was important enough for me to self-publish with my own money. I am fully aware of the limitations of a POD book.
    The slowness of some online retailers and the broad
    generalization that all POD books are trash are two good examples.
    I consider Virtualbookworm a respected publisher. They are not perfect.
    They could do a better job in responding to emails, but so could most publishing companies. There are many scams out there, but I think you are doing your readers a disservice with your listing of Virtualbookworm.
    Feel free to list my email address and I will respond to any questions from your readers.

  4. POD is something new. It could be akin to vanity press or it could be something more. It’s undoubtedly changing the way we think about book publishing. The warnings about VBW would seem to be excessive and hysterical in my opinion. They have quita a good general reputation.
    Perhaps you should update your attitude to POD.

  5. I am a published author with VBW, and am satisfied with their POD services. To set the record straight, POD is NOT vanity press. You do pay for the publishing set up, but that’s all. VBW does review manuscripts, and have a good reputation. If you opt for additional marketing, you will have to pay for it, but no more than if you go the conventional publishing route. Rich

  6. What you just described is a vanity press, Rich. What do you see as the distinction between VBW and other pay-to-POD services?

  7. POD vv Vanity Press: POD offers lower risk for all concerned, viz. no inventory. Paying up front say 35k copy is expensive, fundamentally you’re paying a lot to get before the public. In a basic sense, we all want to vent our vanties (or Bonfires thereof) to an audience. Given the climate in the conventional publishing world, my stuff, at least, bodes well with POD. It’s all a matter of degree(5) [451?] Rich

  8. With POD you won’t have an audience outside of friends and family. That’s the definition of vanity. You’re just a customer of the company. No one will ever see it, which is mercifal in most instances.

  9. POD publisher ‘VirtualBookworm’ has been nothing but trouble. You can’t legally pull
    your book from their control, and you’ll be lucky if you see a dime. BEWARE

  10. I paid for a Virtualbookworm “H” package and received few of the benefits. After one year I still havent received the advertised book reviews, cards & bookmarks or publicity releases. In addition the promised editing was either not done or done very poorly.
    My e-mails to VBW are not answered and phone calls only returned when I order my own books. I recently discovered it’s no longer possible to reach someone at VBW and have to rely upon them returning phone calls which they often don’t do.

  11. I must add to my above comments that Virtualbookworm has been sending me ongoing monthly royalties that seem to reflect book sales matching expectations

  12. My name is Edward Muesch, I am the author of PERSONAL BEST, Chasing the Wind Above and Below the Equator (published by VBW). Because the name is similar and not wanting to be confused with the comments directly above I want to set the record straight. I am more than satisified with VBW and am currently considering them publishing my next book.

  13. Virtualbookworm produced a good printed product for me but after that very little. A brief listing of complaints: mistakes on their website never corrected; many e-mails not returned; paid ad space order lost and not filled for nearly a year. I dont think they are dishonest I just dont think they have the staff to back up ther claims. In fact, it is the poorest customer service I have ever received.

  14. “Most vanity presses are chronically nonresponsive unless you’re sending them money.”
    Correct and even when I sent them money for ad space or to buy my own book I received poor service.

  15. Well, the publishing industry is changing. Traditional publishers are less eager than ever to take a risk with a new author or unusual book. On the other hand, the quest for “famous” writers, ala Britney Spears, etc., has never been more concerted. TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS DON’T TAKE RISKS.
    In this changing market POD has emerged. How it will evolve remains to be seen, but in theory it allows the small man or woman to get a professionally produced book out on the market for a very small outlay (as little as $500). Who can guess at the long term consequences as traditional publishing houses freeze up with fear? Is a Britney book by a well known publisher any better?
    VBW is usually ranked within the top 3 POD Publishers with Author House and Llumina Press.

  16. I am a Ugandan writer trying to get in touch with a P.O.D publisher who wont ask me for a credit card number or SSN, since these are not avaiable in Uganda. Are there any publishers you can recommend?

  17. Wait a minute, I don’t get this. You’re bad mouthing the POD industry when your books are published by Five Star Books, a ‘partnership publishing’ company? What the hell is ‘partnership publishing’ except POD publishing. If you look at their web site, that’s precisely what they’re offering. Do you really have a problem with VBW or are you just shilling for 5 star?

  18. I just had my book go to the printer. All, that I can say is that my experience with Virtual Bookworm has been great. They’ve responded to my questions quickly, normally the same, or the next day. Now, considering that I got one of the cheaper printing option I call that service.

  19. I for one commend you on your approach regarding POD publishing. I founded Speir Publishing as a way to publish my own book. A friend soon wanted me to publish his, and it took off from there. I publish a very select few books, thoroughly screen them first, and I’m known (to my authors, at least) for my hands-on approach when publishing. I am very up front with the authors who contact me–I tell them the ins and outs of the publishing business, which route would be best for them to take, how much money they’re likely to make (if any), the fact that nobody takes POD books seriously even if they are produced well, etc. I lose business this way, and oftentimes I turn away business if I believe the manuscript has a good chance of being published by a traditional publisher. And as such I’m a small time publisher–and I’m okay with that, as it’s an art to me, not something I really make money doing.
    The point is, I commend you for being up front and truthful, even if blunt, about the bad points to POD publishing. Even as a POD publisher I do the same. It’s important for people to make an educated decision. On the other hand, POD does have its uses. Some people just want to see their book in print, don’t care too much about making a million dollars with it. And sometimes POD books can succeed. I have one author who just sold the movie rights to his book–to an independent filmmaker, sure, but that’s still an accomplishment. Another author’s book is selling quite well. I suppose the point is to keep people informed–but by doing that it’s good to point out the pros as well as the cons.

  20. When I was ready to publish my first non-fiction book I chose to go the POD route for the simple reason that I would have more control over the book and also retain the copyrights of the book. In contrast, traditional publishers have the final say on the book contents and hold ownership to the book. A good friend of mine had to buy back his own book, at a ridiculous price, from the traditional publisher when they chose not to run a second printing.
    Before choosing a POD publisher I researched each company thoroughly and finally chose Virtual Bookworm. I published my first book with them five years ago and was very pleased with the final product and the service. Since then, I have published six more books using their services and would not even consider changing publishers or even going the traditional publishing route.
    In one of the comments above someone stated “With POD you won’t have an audience outside of friends and family.” This is not necessarily true. I have sold thousands of books and am close to making this my full time job.
    One other advantage to POD services, Virtual Bookworm in particular, royalty payments are much higher than what you would receive from a traditional publisher. With a traditional publisher you are lucky to get fifty cents royalty on a book sold, probably more like twenty cents for an unknown author. With Virtual Bookworm I receive an average of three dollars and eighty cents for each copy sold.

  21. Count me as a most satisfied client/author with Virtualbookworm. The quality of the finished product, the book itself, is the first thing people comment about after they’ve purchased by book. They offer separate “marketing” packages and the such and every bit of that is make perfectly clear going into it. Other than that, they do exactly what they say:
    Store your book in digital format and create a book when it’s ordered.
    They do indeed make absolutely certain your book is available through *all* major online retailers, making it easy to order a copy through local merchants. But no, you won’t see copies of your book sitting on shelves.
    And you know what? It is, at the very least, upfront and honest unlike traditional publishers which gamble on a first run of, oh, maybe 50,000 copies only to see a fraction of those and see the rest returned and trashed.
    The previous, of course, suggests one can find a traditional publisher to begin with. The entire publication process is so subjective and driven by what are purely capricious and arbitrary standards of what “might” sell that by the time a would-be published author sends out hundreds of manuscripts, he could’ve easily afforded POD.
    The difference(s) seem to be that “traditional” publishing is driven by money, by sales, to publish only what will turn a profit. And don’t misunderstand: There’s no harm in that.
    What seems to annoy the hell out of traditional publishing is that POD affords those of us who write out of passion first, money second, at least a chance to be heard, well, read.
    So I’ve been with VBW three years and will, within the next few days, have an e-version of my book available. In short, I’m a happy client.

  22. you can call them any time yiu want bobby usually answers…but the rest may be true…never got a cent for my book and i know severa were sold

  23. i had my book published by VB three years ago and i have never received a cent, yet i know i have sold several copies and have 3 stars on amazon…this points to a growing problem with pod publishing.there is no way an author can be sure he’s not gettin screwed somewhere along the line…this bodes a federal investigation…perhaps a group of malcontent authors forming a group or class action could force the issue.

  24. Okay I have read lot’s of bickering and differences of opinion but other than “make your own decision” as advice for POD or self-pub, I haven’t heard anything useful. I have a children’s book self-published through Virtualbookworm and I am pleased with 90% of the deal. It came out last holiday season 2009-10 and sold minimally but that is my fault. I am looking for marketing Co’s to expand visibility for sales from US to International but not with VBW. Or perhaps get picked up by a traditional Pub Co.with the first book and the continuing story in book II. We shall see and I do exhaustive research with everything I do.Any suggestions for marketing?

  25. Re: Dan’s comment. You don’t know if you’re getting screwed by a traditional publisher either. If you’re going to self publish, pick a mid-tier company (Wingspan Press, Booklocker, Dog Ear), not a tiny one no one’s ever heard of or one of the Authorhouse/Publish America conglomerates. At least you know they’re likely to be around for a while plus they aren’t in a bunch of lawsuits.
    I’d avoid Create Space and Lulu unless you really know what you’re doing.

  26. Saying that no one outside of friends and family ever sees a POD book is just wrong. I’m a professional writer who published through conventional houses, couldn’t get a publisher to bite on an idea, published it through POD, and it’s sold — not well, but sold — far outside of friends and family. The difference I’ve found between vanity and POD is that vanity presses glamorize and overpromise and POD presses tend not to so much.

  27. I wonder if people do investigate before they speak out. The worst publishers in the book industry are Dorrance and RoseDog. The two publishers belong to one management. After paying over three thousands dollars, they could not even publish my book after six months, I made a fresh payment to Virtual Bookworm and they published my book within six weeks. My bitter experience with these two publishers is in a book coming out early next year.

  28. Hello Lee, even if you may take VBW to be same as vanity publisher, I think the packages are hundred percent better than a real vanity publisher like Dorrance. Andrew Rouce of Dorrance publishing gave me an amount of $8.100 package for a single book and I cancelled the contract, whilst the package from VBW was $790. Now judge. Who is the criminal here? If people will not praise they should stop spoiling the names of others. If I were to be the president of America, the first publishing companies I will close down is Dorrance and RoseDog publishers. They are the most fraudulent publishers in the history of America publishing industry.

  29. Im considering VBW after going thru Dog Ear and Xlibris. Are you sure they are good? They already approved my manuscript and I’m supposed to send them all the materials this week. Thanks!

  30. Well…I THINK this was enlightening. I can see that lots of research is required, not just looking at this conglomeration of conflicting views! !I’ve been advised by a friend who’s published five books to avoid traditional publishers completely. She’s sold well over 50,000 of her one book printed the traditional way, making only a pittance. I’m curious about the dates on these messages; and that the last one is from last March. That one asked a question. Where’s the reply? This makes me wonder how useful this website is!

    • I wrote that blog EIGHT YEARS AGO…and you’re wondering why I don’t keep up on people who comment on it? That said, my opinion on the question is obvious, Leslie, to anyone who read my post, which is another reason why I didn’t answer it. I have no sympathy anymore for people who fall prey to these vanity press hucksters when a) there is so much information out there about what a monumental rip-off they are and because b) now you can publish your book FOR FREE on the Amazon, Kobo, B&N platforms…as well as through services like Smashwords. You’d have to be a complete idiot to get into business with Virtual Bookworm or their ilk. Satisfied?

  31. I am so confused at all these discussions. I have been researching for a year, I have read so many sites and no one not one person ever has the same opinion on a POD.
    I am again at a loss as I was about to sign with Virtual Bookworm

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