Book publishing has come a long way in the last twenty years. What was once only the available to author through large companies has now become accessible to any independent author. But that has meant many new players in the game. How are you to tell the good — the ones who want to produce the best product for you — from the bad, the vanity press, those who only want to get money from you and don’t care about your book or your success?
When I first started writing, one of my earliest experiences was with a vanity press. This was a company that solicited authors to submit poetry to them for an anthology. They pretended there was a selection process before the author was selected for publication. The elated author was then an offer to buy the book and to attend a pricey gala event.
Fortunately for me, I became wise to the scam before investing more than the cost of one overpriced book. But this experience introduced me to the world of the vanity press and the people who prey on the dreams of authors.
So, when I started Utility Fog Press, and its facilitated self-publishing imprint Quantum Dot Press, I did so with the goal of providing a friendly, affordable path for independent authors to avoid vanity press.
Just What is a Vanity Press?
A Vanity Press is a term for a company that pretends to be a traditional publisher, but lacks the quality control, interest in books, or the business model of such companies.
Traditional publishers earn their money on the sales of the books they publish, so they want to publish the best books they can.
Vanity Press earn their money from their authors, who buy a publishing package which includes a large quantity of books (where they make all their money). They will put the book online for sale, but aren’t interested in serving the author or ensuring the book sells after that.
While traditional publishers will ensure all steps of the publication process are handled by dedicated professionals, Vanity Press will offload steps like cover design or editing to partially-trained staff or sometimes the owner themselves while leading the author to believe they are being handled by professionals.
Dishonesty and a request for a lot of money upfront are what you can expect with a Vanity Press.
What is Facilitated Self-Publishing?
Instead, the world of self-publishing has opened doors for a great many independent authors. The tools have becoming increasingly easy to use in the last decade, the distribution wider, and royalties more reliable.
But the options have also become more numerous and the learning curve broader as independent authors have to learn an increasing amount to produce a book of the same high standards as traditional publishers, while remaining competitive in the marketplace.
With the need to manage writing, editing, cover design, publishing, and marketing and promotion, it’s only reasonable that indie authors outsource the parts of the process they can afford to. Enter: Facilitated Self-Publishing.
Facilitated Self-Publishers are individuals or small companies that will help an author publish their book, their way, using the same self-publishing tools that are available to anyone.
Are you an Indie Author who...
- wants to focus on writing and book promotion, not the technical side of publishing?
- lacks the time to learn the ins and outs of the publishing process?
- lacks the technical knowledge to use the self-publishing tools?
Why Choose Facilitated Self-Publishing?
Authors will typically use such a service for one of three reasons:
- They want to focus on writing and promotion and not the technical side of publishing
- They don’t have the time to learn the ins and outs of the publishing process
- They lack the technical knowledge to use the tools.
Facilitated Self-Publishers will often take half or no payment upfront (unless their skills are accessed through a freelance service), relying on the satisfied customer to pay when the job is completed.
Facilitated Self-Publishers are also honest about the services they can provide and will often recommend others who can provide services they can’t.
range of services?
What Services are Offered Through Facilitated Self-Publishing?
Any step of the publishing process can be offered by Facilitated Self-Publishers, although most will specialize in certain parts of the process.
- ghost writing
- editing (detailed line and structural edits)
- copy editing (proofing and continuity edits)
- interior design
- print and e-book formatting
- cover design
- upload to online self-publishing platform
- website design
- marketing strategies
While the prices of each service varies greatly (from cover design at £50-£100 to hiring a book marketer for thousands), the prices within each are generally consistent for similar quality work.
What are your thoughts?
Are you an independent author? Have you self-published or used facilitated self-publishing services? What were your experiences? Share your thoughts on our FaceBook group.