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Vanity Press and Self Publishing
Summary: There is some confusion between Vanity Press and Self Publishing. This article will clear up the differences.

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There is some confusion between Vanity Press and Self Publishing. This article will clear up the differences.

Vanity Press has classically been a way for small authors to get their books to print in the old model of publishing, but in recent years, the ability for an author to print their books on demand has created a few new categories of publishing in the Self Publishing, Indie Publishing, and a shift in Vanity Press. We will talk about these changes and what they mean in this article comparing the two types of publishing.

Vanity Press

This article will merely summarize the issues with vanity press because I wrote a whole article on this publishing method already.

Vanity Press will help you bring your book to the market with very little knowledge of the publishing industry. If your intention is to merely get a book to the market quickly, particularly if it is part of a greater marketing strategy, a Vanity Press company might be just what you need. You pay once, get all the decisions made for you except a few odds and ends, and poof! Your book is in nearly every online bookstore and people can buy it directly, and you will get a royalty check periodically. Like I said, there are valid reasons to choose this option.

But if you aspire to make an income on writing, you might need to reconsider Vanity Press and go with direct self-publishing instead. Have a look at my distribution strategy for some tips about my publishing methods to learn about how to get books to the market. The problem with Vanity Press is the income potential is stacked against you.

First, you need to pay up front to get the book in print. The fee covers the book cover and interior, ISBN assignment, Copyright Filing, eBook, and a healthy profit for the company (after all, most self-published books do not sell many copies). During the production process, you will have some say in how the book is laid out, but you will not be able to have multiple fonts, callout columns, or other attractive interior design unless you pay for an extra package. Once the book is complete, you need to pay a lot of money for copies of your own book. It is more than the production and shipping costs, you are also paying over half of your royalty to the company. Finally, when people buy your book from their favorite store, your royalties are very low. Expect to make a dollar or two on a twelve-dollar book.

While Vanity Press can have its place, an Indie Company is a better bet if you can find one to publish your work. Vanity Press is just too expensive for the quality of the final product.

Self Publishing

Self Publishing is when you are working directly with the various distributors or multi-listing services. I personally use KDP and IngramSpark, but Lulu and Draft to Digital are other options for publishing as well.

With Self Publishing, you retain full creative control over your project. Your interior design and cover designs can be as elaborate or simple as you like. You have the ability to create those yourself if you take the time to learn the process, but even if you do not take the time, you can choose who to hire for that task. Of course, if you are designing everything yourself, gather a team of people who can be very honest and give constructive feedback to fine-tune your work.

A major advantage to Self Publishing is the costs involved. There are very low to no fees for your various distribution and listing services. IngramSpark charges $49 for print and eBook listing, but there are many ways to wave that fee. Also, the author royalties are much higher, usually 3-5 times as high as you will get with any other type of publishing, and your author copies to stock your own inventory are much cheaper.

The trade-off for Self Publishing, however, is the operations. You need to be very organized, and it is generally recommended to set up an LLC to track all your costs and profits, so there could be extra fees for those processes. Do your homework, but it is my opinion that someone who wants to make a side income writing, or just cover costs for bringing joy into the world, the Self Publishing world is better than Vanity Press.