My dealings with a vanity publisher

Just before Christmas, I received the email that every writer dreams of receiving…

A publishing house was interested in one of my books!! After reading the sample chapters that I sent them, they wanted to see the full manuscript and said that they would get back to me within 4-5 weeks.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s been a very long wait since then. And no matter how hard I’ve tried, its been at the back of my mind, like I’ve been waiting for some sort of judgement day to arrive. Every time I’ve opened up my emails, my heart has fluttered with a mixture of both optimism and fear, simultaneously anticipating either outcome of the verdict.

Yesterday, I finally received a response. Ironically, it was one of the few times that I checked my emails and I wasn’t expecting a reply… they do say that a watched pot never boils, don’t they? But anyway, their response was something of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, they said that they loved my book and wanted to give me a chance. But on the other, they told me that I would need to make a contribution towards the initial publication costs. I still don’t know how much they’re going to ask for, as they said that this would be included in the proposed contract, but you can bet that it’ll be thousands of pounds.

I’ve since done a little research into this publisher and it seems that they are quite well-known for their attempts to extort money from aspiring authors. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find a newspaper article about them and read some comments about other authors who have had similar experiences with them. All of a sudden, their praise about my book meant nothing, as they probably say the same thing to many hopeful writers.

The practice is known as vanity publishing. For a fee, the publisher will publish your work, but it will never get big. What’s so horrible about this company is that it tries to hide the fact that it’s a vanity publisher and preys upon the hopes and dreams of writers, some of who probably cough up the money. Just in case you didn’t know, most publishers and agents DON’T ask for upfront fees because they take a commission from the book sales later on.

For the last few weeks, I have put a lot of energy into visualising what it would be like to get published. I have never wanted fame or fortune, but I did revel in the idea of my books being shared and read, imagining what it might be like to do book signings or see my books in the shops. But unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to go it alone.

Out of curiosity, I asked the publisher for some specific feedback about my book, which they said was “confidential” and could not be discussed until we were in production. This just confirmed my worst fears about them – had they even read my book?

So now I’ve decided to revert back to my original plan: self-publishing. I have three books under my belt now and I would very much like to share them with people. Fortunately, we live in a time where it is technologically possible for writers to take matters into their own hands and that is what I intend to do. I am grateful for my recent letdown because it has made me more determined than ever to share my work. So watch this space, folks!