Are There Honest Vanity Publishers? Don’t Bother Finding Out.



I’m a firm believer in exceptions to most rules. So who knows. There might actually be some honest vanity publishers out there.


I just haven’t come across them yet.


I’ve looked plenty of vanity publishers up before. I’ve talked with others on the phone. And I’ve read the letters they’ve sent to some of my book-writing clients.


And every single bit of what I’ve seen of them has been slimy.



Years ago, I remember reaching out to one based on a recommendation from a typically trusted source. Foolishly, I didn’t really look into who they were before I emailed them. So I was pretty surprised by the prompt reply I got.


They wanted to talk.


By that point in time, I was used to not hearing back from potential publishers. Which means I was instantly suspicious.


That’s just not how it’s supposed to typically work.

It was a Christian vanity publisher I contacted in this instance, for the record. Though as far as I’ve seen, they’re not any more honest than any other variety out there.


A vulture is a vulture is a vulture – no matter whether said vulture keeps a cross on their website or not.


Once I realized exactly what I was talking to (i.e., a vulture) – and it didn’t take long at all when he immediately set to praising my proposed book, The Adulteress, and talking about pricing plans – I’ll admit I had some fun trying to get actually honest answers out of him.


For instance, when he told me that the company’s “self-publishing” division was directly connected with its traditional publishing division… I asked him how often “self-published” books were picked up for mass distribution.


He hemmed and hawed. A lot. Until I finally got him to acknowledge that it wasn’t the norm.


I’m sure that was the understatement of the decade.

You’re probably better off with Amazon or Lulu.


There might be some vanity publishers out there that aren’t despicable. Somewhere. And there could be some legitimately beneficial reasons to utilize them. Somehow. But if so, they are few and far between to the point where they’re barely even worth contemplating, much less pursuing.


In short, you’re much better off going with a legitimate self-publishing company such as Amazon’s KDP (kdp.com), Lulu (lulu.com) or their competitors. These companies come with a wide range of resources and options to choose from.

There are three I’d like to highlight especially.

With vanity publishers, you're going to pay for absolutely everything. And don't expect any honest discounts either.


Here’s what you can get from real self-publishing companies instead of their leech-like vanity publisher associates though:


  • Free templates to smooth out the book and e-book formatting process

  • Free templates to create your book jacket and e-book cover

  • Significant discounts when ordering copies of your own books.

Vanity publishers can’t, won't and don't want to beat that.


I used to say that you might need a vanity publisher if you wanted to publish a hard cover book. But that was then. This is now.


I don’t think that Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) works with that kind of format. But I do know that Lulu does.


That means you don’t have to worry about slogging through the list of vanity publishers – which is really long – on the mere possibility that you might find an honest one.


Avoid the whole lot of them altogether and stick with self-publishing instead. Like I said in yesterday’s Writing Challenge, “It’s either that or” possibly and probably “forever wish you had.”

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