Distinguishing between vanity publishers and real publishers.


Categories: Personal

Real publishers put a lot of money into editing and printing a book in the hopes that it will sell well. They gamble. They have a lot of interest in checking work for quality.

Vanity publishers pay minimal to no advance (one famous publisher offers a \$1 advance so they can say they pay an advance!), and their goal is to get some sucker to front some costs so they can make money on even unsaleable works.

How to tell which is which? The SFWA decided to run a sting operation; they produced the worst book they could, and submitted it to a famous vanity publisher, PublishAmerica, who had previously claimed at length to be very picky about quality. Needless to say, it was accepted.

How bad? More bad than you can imagine. We’re talking material that would be flunked out of freshmen writing classes at a real college.

In short… PublishAmerica is not a real publisher. They’re a vanity press, but unlike, say, iUniverse, they don’t have a real business model for working with people who aren’t marketable in the big markets. (iUniverse is a real company. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not; they’re a vanity press doing print-on-demand and targeting people whose books have a small market or unusual requirements. Their service isn’t for everyone, but so far as I can tell, they’re honest.)

But the book. Oh, the book. It is far too funny. You can read more about it.

I think it can be best summarized by this:

-Andrew Burt (author of chapter 11 and the software used to machine generate chapter 34 :)

I mean, come on. But to those of you who enjoy reading, writing, or even editing… This is a brilliant, brilliant, “book”.

Comments [archived]

From: tubby
Date: 2005-02-11 14:47:14 -0600

Hilarious - no, not Seebs’ blog or the SFWA website, but the actual document itself! It takes a lot to make me laugh, but Atlanta Nights managed it.


Read the “book” at http://www.cs.du.edu/~aburt/StingManuscript.pdf

The authors plural create beautiful trash with flair and style… sort of. It helps to read this while trying to imagine what the vanity publisher thought while reading it… On second thought, I suppose they didn’t.

This is so bad but written with such camp class that is a good read. I know what to give my boss and my brother-in-law next Christmas.

One way the “book” works on you is that the style, setting and vocabulary entice you into expecting something exciting or intriguing. Your mind races to guess whats behind the next door, only to dicover yet another promising door, followed by yet another. If you like The FarSide cartoons, you’ll like this book. It works on, like a giant farce… which it is.

I wonder what my crazy boss will think? Bet he likes it!

Thanks for a good laugh, Seebs. Got anymore like it?