My Author Webpage

My Author Webpage
If you like this blog, please support my books.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is Self-Publishing Really "Vanity Press"?

Is self-publishing really nothing more than what used to be called (with disdain) "vanity press"?

Or let me ask this question another way.

"Are you paranoid if someone is actually following you around?"

The answer lies in the quality of the product. Can anyone get a really lame piece of writing POD printed and onto Amazon? Sure. "See my book? It's in print." That's Vanity Press.

But if you have really worked, and you have some writing talent to go along with your work, and you've engaged any help you need to make a great finished product, well . . . that's a whole different animal. That -- in my mind -- is "self-publishing."

Are you paranoid (or in the case of writing, self-deluded)? Or is someone really following you around (in the case of writing, you have a GOOD book)?

These are the factors that determine the appropriate label for your work. Not whether Simon & Schuster has validated your art by taking a cut. Not whether an overworked and underpaid literary agent has been able to (miraculously) recognize your talent on the basis of an email query.

Publishing is changing. And self-publishing is at the forefront of the change.

So self-publish proudly, if you wish. But do so in a way that makes all self-pubbers look good. Hold the qualities of self-pubbing high, and readers will follow.

That's it for today.

All the best.


P.S. Love Mel's comment below.


  1. Bill Quain recently commented that the term "vanity publisher" applies more aptly these days to authors who desperately want a NY publishing house to publish their work. Bill suggests this is true 'vanity' and we agree. It's like wearing Prada - it's a label; they're all labels.

    Association of Independent Authors (AiA)

  2. Thanks Mel. I like that perspective . . . a lot! Cheers!


  3. John, thanks for this post. When I ask other authors why they self-publish, I rarely have them tell me it's because they couldn't get an agent or publishing contract. More often it's because they didn't WANT an agent or publishing contract. Go figure.

    Most writers have told me they self-published because they wanted to maintain creative control of their work, and to collect the largest part of the profit.

    So in the end, I think all of the hollering that goes on by the "literary mafia" about the self-published is a bunch of B.S. Thanks for maintaining this blog!

  4. Thanks for pitching in, Jon.

    I certainly don't feel defensive about self-publishing my books. On the other hand, there's something appealing about a $25,000 advance that you might get from Random House. So I don't begrudge folks who want to go the traditional route either. It's just unfortunate that the "traditional route" has changed so rapidly -- and detrimentally -- in recent years. It's really not fair to call it "traditional" anymore.

    Thanks again for you comment.