The Vanity Bandwagon?

It has been announced that a company with one of the worst reputations in vanity publishing is now tied intimately to two large trade publishing houses. I will not name the entities involved, that is happening all over the net. I am posting my rambling thoughts without intent to cast aspersions on the publishers, but intending to express my concern for the publishers future and the jobs of the people connected to them. This is based on limited information from blogs and news outlets, I would love to hear from the publishers involved so I can gain a perspective without anybody’s emotion involved. I have seen prices of services from the parties involved under these new arrangements and I was disgusted. I have seen descriptions of the services these outrageous charges secure, and I was disgusted. There is no excusing it.

Take two respected companies and one apparent scammer, mix well. We are supposed to feel confident in the intentions of those publishers regarding their authors and readers? Thousands of cases are claimed to exist of the company in question taking money from authors without delivering on their claims. And we find now that one trade publisher has bought the company and given its CEO a place on their board of directors. Meanwhile another has employed their services to run a new vanity arm, just as dodgy in terms of claims, charges and conditions as the company they are employing.

I have the utmost confidence that the publishing industry is going to survive its lengthy transition and will in time encompass an environment that supports multiple arms, small press, independent, self publishing, and trade publishing all made secure and viable. Unfortunately, the involvement of the big boys with this crooked company means they are likely to suffer decimation in the transition. The trade publishing community is shrinking, in terms of author options, and decisions like those made by these two publishers will only make things worse for all stakeholders – writers, publishers and readers.

“Pay for publication” companies have already done nearly irreparable damage to the reputation of indie and self published writers, as well as trade publishers through their claims of legitimacy as publication companies. Their expensive vanity publishing operations (expensive for authors, not for the vanity publishers) should never be permitted to become legitimised by trade publisher involvement. Trade publishers are harmed by that involvement. Authors are harmed by it. Readers are left worse off by it. The perceived quality has suffered, now the ethics of trade publishing are set to go the same way unless something changes fast.

Like anybody who has a brain of their own, I will think twice before supporting any publisher who is happy to sell out to these crooks. I congratulate any trade publisher who is willing to grab the bull by the horns and enter the indie/sp marketplace, but this is not the way to do it. The services they do NOT offer by teaming with these vanity con artists are very telling. The exact services that a trade publisher should be offering are missing from the equation. The only attractive elements are being left out, and the publishers are likely to suffer a long slow company failure as a result.

If a true marketing engine is not included, it will remain a scam. If a true full featured content, conceptual, and developmental editing service remains omitted from the ludicrously priced plans, it remains a scam. No name, however big, will ever change that.

Until the trade publishers examine the market and see the incredible difference between a POD company providing true services and a vanity con artist providing near enough to nothing of value at all, they can never succeed. By just jumping on the band wagon in this way it appears they are simply hoping nobody notices they are ripping people off through their involvement with these kinds of morally bankrupt companies.

A snake oil salesman should never be made a doctor. A vanity con artist should never be made a publisher. The smashing of reputations is guaranteed. I sincerely hope the trade publishers involved can turn this around by changing their ways and ending the vanity scam.