What is a vanity press and how does it differ from self-publishing?

The stigma of the vanity press has changed in recent years. With so many literary success stories in which previously self-published books have been "discovered" by big publishing houses, as well as  the advent of the e-book, and the ability and ease with which one can now self-publish, it has become a much more popular option.

The initial difference between publishing oneself and "being" published is that when a publishing company wants your book, they pay you.

If you decide you would like to publish your book independently, you must pay the press. The other difficulties that can come with using a vanity press include marketing and publicity. Large media outlets do not usually review novels and short story collections that have been self-published, and large bookstores will not usually carry them. If publishing an e-book, however, a vanity press can help you promote yourself through social-media and personalized websites. If you self-publish your book through Kindle-Direct or Amazon, you will also have the option to do this yourself.

For a fee, with a vanity press, you have the option to have them proofread and copyedit your manuscript, design a cover, print the book, and even provide some basic marketing services. If you choose a self-publishing platform, you will have the option to do these things yourself and you will only have to pay for the platform.

If you are interested in simply having your book edited, there are a number of ways go to about this without having to hire a company to publish and market the book. Click here for info on hiring a manuscript editor.

If you have a memoir or family history or a personal children's book that you would like to see in print to distribute among friends and family, or if you have a nonfiction title -- such as a business book -- that you feel confident you can sell on your own, a vanity press is a good option.

For fiction writers hoping to attain critical attention and decent sales, independent or small presses might be a better route.

Some vanity presses or "self-publishing houses" have packages in which you can pick and choose which aspects of the book you need help with. For instance, if you are looking for artwork for your cover and promotional services, you can purchase a package that covers only the things you need help with. Companies offering a la cart services like this include Balboa Press, Xlibris, and Fast Pencil.

Check out these two self-publishing success stories:

How I Returned to Writing at 84 Years Old and How to Self Publish Your Fiction

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