Let Me Tell You About My Publisher…

February 18, 2009 · 7 comments

Not too long ago, I was at a writers conference. During the lunch break, the people sitting at my table were talking about their publishing credentials and the state of the publishing industry in general. One person was obnoxiously bragging about her national publisher and how wonderful they are—specifically, how quick they were to recognize the quality of her work and to accept her, when all of the LDS publishers had turned her down (one of which had the audacity to tell her that her writing was not up to par).

I could tell that some of the others at the table were very impressed with her, particularly one struggling unpublished author. When the bragging published author offered to connect the newbie with her publisher, I spoke up and asked who her publisher was.

Author House.

I could see most of the other people at the table mentally realigning their assessment of her and her talent.

But the newbie didn’t know what Author House was, so she wrote down the URL the author gave her, excitedly promising to look them up as soon as she got home.

I didn’t say anything at the table. In my experience, it doesn’t do any good to tell an author like that the “truth” about her experience, but I did take the newbie aside before the conference was over. Not sure I convinced her not to try it but at least I did my civic duty, right?

So one more time for the record (and I realize I’m probably preaching to the choir here), Author House is not a real publisher. It is a vanity/subsidy press. So is Publish America. And iUniverse, and Vantage Press, and Xlibris, and. . . there’s no way I can put a complete list here.

But I’ve talked about vanity presses before here and here.

And you can find more info on them here

Is there a time when a vanity press is a good choice? Yes. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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{ 7 comments }

Annette Lyon February 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

Wow–painful and awkward experience. I’m glad you said something, though. At the very least, down the road, this author can’t come back and say she hadn’t been warned–even if she didn’t listen.

Stephanie Black February 18, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Good for you for taking the newbie aside. Sounds like you handled it perfectly.

Kirk L. Shaw February 18, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I bet the Author House author would also be great on American Idol. She should try out for next season, since I’m sure the judges would let her through…

Jennie February 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

All too frequently someone sends me one of these vanity press books to review. A few have some really good parts or an interesting idea, but are all sadly in need of a good editor. Like you, I’m faced with a quandry. Should I review it and be brutally honest, or should I point out the good things and downplay the not-so-good aspects, or should I simply ignore the book? I’ll admit I’ve done some of all three. I’ve also tried to talk a few writers who are close to being publishable (Kirk, is publishable a word?)into fixing some of the obvious problems and trying again to find a real publisher.

Marsha Ward February 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I dance on a fine line: I used iUniverse (again) for my third novel because of the quick turn-around they give me that I can’t get with traditional publishing. I’m acknowledged by readers and other writers as a good writer and editor, and my volume of work speaks well for my writing, too.

In some circles, using iU brands me as a rank amateur. Sorry place to be, but I’m happy to sell my books to eager readers.

LDS_Publisher February 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Marsha, the key difference between you and the writer I was harpooning is found in your first sentence: “…I used iUniverse…”

Very clearly, you see them as an avenue to fill your needs, not as a traditional publishing house.

Marsha Ward February 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Absolutely, LDSP. I’ve always had my eyes wide open to what I could expect. Being too busy myself to create a micro press, I opted to use iUniverse because they could do the job I wanted done.

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