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All is Vanity

Lee and I have communicated with many authors who have faced exploitation. Many of those stories have directly related to publishing, although there have been many tales of other types of scams. It is something we feel strongly about and we learned long ago that vanity publishing works because authors are often quite isolated. It doesn’t help that we spend half our lives in our heads, living an alternate life in a fantasy world.

According to some statistics, scams have affected up to 15% of all authors.

When I was writing my first book, I was determined to enjoy it. Although later I was to learn that it was almost impossible to put in print, four of my watercolour paintings accompanied my work. So, I decided I would not have a deadline and that the paintings would be part of this initiative for however long it took.

When it was complete, I really wasn’t sure what to do with it, and that was when I researched self-publishing. It seemed ideal as I wanted some control and realised that my work was quite quirky anyway. Years later, during regional meetings with other authors, I learned that some traditionally published writers relinquish a lot of control.

Of course, the downside of SP is that we then must do everything ourselves or find someone we can trust who will support and help us on that journey. When paying someone to assist with any part of the process, trust is important.

I respect anyone who takes the traditional publishing route, and I believe that, if you will be patient for a year, perhaps two years, then you will get what you desire as long as you are happy to post many submissions.

It is the ‘in-between’ that is the problem. Many authors think that the only choice they have is between traditional publishing and self-publishing, but in the world of hybrid and vanity publishing, there are many (dark) grey areas too. Above, I have posted a link to one of our ‘15-minute author interviews.’ This one is with Mickela Sonola. Her disappointing experience came as a surprise to me, as it was unique among the many stories we had heard.

For those of you who aren’t sure what vanity publishing is, I will try my best to explain, although there are many variants. I should start by saying that if somebody is asking you for money to publish your book, there is something wrong. If you get a publishing deal, they should offer you a financial deal as part of it.

They usually advertise by saying something like

‘We are currently accepting submissions from authors.’

It is tempting to send in your script. You wait and they write back to you, extolling your masterpiece. Then they will discuss the publishing cost and process. We have known people to pay anywhere between £2000 and £10,000 to get books published. Often they are just printing books and you will still have the responsibility of marketing it. Surprisingly, I have also met several traditionally published writers who say that the marketing became their responsibility.

If you simply wish to have paperbacks printed, there are some low-cost printers in Europe.

As I write this, I understand that many of you are well into this process and have already made your decisions. Some of you have expertly dealt with every part of the process.

It is no secret that Lee and I offer services that range from courses to ghost-writing and from virtual book launches to video excerpt readings ad that is all separate from ASPA. If you read the ‘about’ a section on the ASPA site it will tell you about our unusual meeting (although we have never met in person yet).

We agreed that from day one anything we did would have integrity and that we would support sometimes vulnerable people at reasonable cost. We soon decided that we should create a separate site that would remain free for anyone it may benefit.

As a last word, if you feel you are on the cusp of entering an arrangement with a publisher and are unsure, please run it by one of us or someone else within the ASPA community. That is what we are all here for.

Rob 😀

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I often wonder why writers pay out all that money when you can get it all free, Amazon KDP and Draft2Digitall are just 2 of them.

Replying to

Absolutely! Even a technophobe like myself has managed to use Kindle Create with only minor hiccups. So far, cost zero. Any expense will be on marketing, where I am pretty useless.


Vanity publishing is a problem because first time authors believe. They are like young boys or girls who are told they are wonderful. The hardest part about being successful is the marketing.

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