It's Your Book...

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       Don't Let A Publisher 
               Rush You!

  Don't let a vanity publisher pressure
 you to sign a contract or send money because "the offer ends tomorrow."There's nothing special about that "special offer."
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Lie To Me

Lie to me…is an old TV show I enjoyed watching when I had time. The experts on the show could tell when someone was lying by interpreting facial expressions and body language. They solved crimes by finding the truth behind the lies. 

Adolf Hitler's propoganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Vanity publishers, one and all, are doing just that when they repeat the big lie, You retain all rights to your book. Several other lies dovetail off the big lie. Let’s look at the lie and break it down.

Here is a direct quote from an online vanity publisher:

"As a self-publisher, you own all rights to your book."

You don’t retain or own “all” the rights, I don’t care what they say. They have repeated the lie so long, they seem to believe it themselves. Don’t blame the youthful sales people you talk to. They read from a script and answer objections by referring to the in-house reference booklet covering every possible objection authors may bring up.

1. You don’t retain the publishing rights if you have an “assigned” ISBN, and the publisher will make as much money as you (often more than you) on every book sold (and he hasn’t invested a dime). Most authors believe the ISBN is theirs—it isn’t.
 With an assigned ISBN, you are not a true self-publisher. And you will grossly overpay to print your own book.

2. Most vanity publisher contracts won’t give you access to the digital files to your book.

3. You typically won’t contractually retain the rights to the cover design or the interior layout design.

4. You won’t own or retain the rights to the print-ready files that go to the book printer (Few, if any, vanity publishers will provide any files to your book).
If they do, they will charge a hefty fee. I know the few publishers who will provide print-ready files either at no charage or for a reasonable fee.
Even though you paid for everything, as Ron Pramschufer put it, “You don’t own squat.”  (From a March 11, 2004 article by Ron

Oh sure, you own the movie rights and foreign distribution rights. Vanity publishers know there won’t be a movie or a need for distribution in Europe. And, yes, the contract is “non-exclusive,” which means you can cancel at any time and go with another publisher. One problem: you can only use the raw manuscript; the vanity publisher owns everything else. You will have to start from scratch with a new ISBN, new cover design, new interior layout, new everything. You will probably need to change the title as well, because your original book will still be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most online booksellers. Good luck getting any royalties once you cancel your contract.

One publisher I just discovered, acts like a traditional publisher by paying publishing costs, then requiring the author to buy a mininum of 2000 books at an "author discount" when the book is printed. (This is fast becoming the new vanity approach—you still pay through the nose.)
That said, so-called "author discounts" aren't all that great.
If your book sells for twelve dollars, you can buy your own book for six dollars each (50% author discount) times 2000 which equals $12,000. They will print the book (offset) for less than $1.50 each (without ever telling you the actual cost) and pocket the difference. You can self-publish that same book and get 2000 copies delivered to your door for about $4,500.
$12,000 minus $4,500 equals $7,500 you gave them for nothing (unless they make it clear they will use that money to pitch your book to Barnes & Noble and other bookstore chains). I know two well-known personalities who published through them and they will tell you their profit on books sold through bookstores was minimal. At best, only 25% of your sales will come through bookstores anyway (unless it's a New York Times bestseller—dream on). 
Actually, you can wind up on the New York Times bestseller list with your self-published book. Amy Fisher published her book, If I Knew Then, with Iuniverse and in the first two weeks, it climbed to number 14 on the New York Times bestseller list, selling 32 thousand copies. Iuniverse will not let you use your own ISBN, but, according to Ron Pramschufer, they are deep in publishing experience and can get you to the next level if your book sells. That happened with Amy Fisher.
Amy Fisher's book success was the result of her public image based on the scandals surrounding her. People knew her and wanted to read her story, simple as that. 
If your book takes off, you can simply hire a distributor and they will get you to the next level. You don't need a vanity publisher to reach that goal.
Like internet hackers, vanity publishers are constantly coming up with new, innovative ways to con authors out of money.

Writer Beware provides a great over-view of the new tricks and traps coming from vanity publishers lately.
*Check out Traditional vs Self-publishing to get an idea of how the numbers work if your book appears on bookshelves.

By the way, you don't need 2000 books to start with. 300-400 is plenty. You can always print more when you need them.

NOTE: The above-mentioned publisher, requiring a minimum purchase of 2000 books, can get your book on the shelf in brick and mortar stores. Another company, I just learned, operates the same way, and also requires authors to purchase a minimum number of books. They also can get your book on bookshelves. I just wish they were more transparent about the way they work by explaining the extra money goes to publicizing your book and pitching it to bookstore chains. That is a good thing. (I just want to be able to buy my own book at a minimum of a 70% discount.)

BOTTOM LINE: Any publisher who asks for money at any time during the publishing process, is not a traditional pubisher—they are a vanity publisher no matter what they say or how cleverly they spin it. Traditional publishers never, ever, charge an author.

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Updated June 11, 2015