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Old 08-25-2012, 07:53 AM   #1
fjtorres
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Huffington Post - The New Vanity Publishing : Traditional Publishing

In the wake of the Grafton kerfuffle, there seems to be a bit more attention to the current state of publishing in the mainstream media and the subtleties between self-publishing, indie publishing, and Vanity Press publishing.
The Huffinton Post is hosting an interesting piece:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernar...b_1821945.html

As the piece makes clear with links, the meme isn't new.

Scott Nicholson in 2010, for one:
http://www.publishingguru.blogspot.c...ublishing.html

As far back as 2004--way before Kindle and Kindle Select self-publishing--it was being observed that traditional publishing wasn't adding much value to a lot of books:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/25809014/Published-or-Printed

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The old vanity publishing offered authors who could not attract the interest of a traditional publisher an opportunity to get their books published. The process was costly and often required that the author purchase large quantities of books. According to legend, garages throughout America are warehousing these dust-gathering volumes. Some so-called vanity books were written by competent writers who just couldn't find a way into the mainstream; others were exercises in ego building -- the books were sold or given away free to family members, friends and colleagues. These authors were willing to pay the price to boast, "I'm a published author."

Commentators on the current upheaval in publishing have observed that many authors desperately seek a traditional publisher when self-publishing would serve them far better. Traditional publishing has thus become, in many instances, the vanity choice.
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Can you count on a traditional publisher to substantially market your book? A prominent literary agent recently told me that unless an author receives a hefty advance of $100,000 or more most publishers will do virtually no promotion, leaving it to authors to create and exploit their own platforms via social media and networking connections, workshops and webcasts. So when you go the traditional-publishing route, you may well find yourself self-publishing without the benefits of self-publishing.
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My friend Mike (not his real name -- I don't want to embarrass him) has been sitting on a completed non-fiction manuscript for the last three years while going through several agents and running the manuscript past numerous editors. They all agreed that he's an outstanding writer, but publishers rejected his manuscript because he doesn't have a platform or relevant credentials for his current book. Mike says he would be happy to publish with any traditional publisher, even if this meant a small print run, no publicity and high pricing. The fact that his sales are likely to be low -- thus creating a bad "track record" when he goes to publish another book -- hasn't deterred him from the wish to have a "name" publisher's imprint.

I finally realized that Mike was representative of the new quest for vanity publishing. These writers are willing to forego the benefits of self-publishing for the unshakable belief in the "prestige" of signing on with a "real publisher."

If Mike would shed his prejudice, he couldn't help but notice that an increasing number of successful traditionally published authors are choosing to self-publish. Barry Eisler's rejection of a $500,000 advance to self-publish has encouraged other writers to take a fresh look at self-publishing. Amanda Hocking's phenomenal success with self- publishing has had a similar effect.
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Think about how much you are willing to sacrifice for a "real publisher." Is the "prestige" of a traditional publisher's imprint mostly illusory in the context of the new world of publishing? Ask what traditional publishing will do for you in the long run if you don't get effective distribution and publicity. Which platform is more likely to bring you sizable sales? Which will help you build a large following for marketing future publications? These are critical questions that deserve serious attention, especially if you are planning a career in writing.
The question that comes up in this discussion is how much actual, instead of *theoretical* value traditional publishing offers up, beyond their imprint. Yes, theoretically they can offer access to B&M shelves, but that shelf-space is declining, most books only get it for a short period of time, and the sales that access generates--as opposed to what an online-only pbook release--has to be weighed against the contractual minuses of traditional publishing.

What I find most striking is that the question is now actually open to discussion. What exactly does your typical, non-Turow writer actually get out of traditional publishing?
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:36 PM   #2
speakingtohe
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Many people equate a brand name or a long established company with quality and/or value.

All things appearing equal (quality, price etc.) many of us will take the name brand over the no-name or unknown name brand.

I think the idea that an established publisher thinks enough of the work to publish it is pretty important to an unpublished author. And whether the book is edited or promoted by the publisher is secondary.

Being accepted by a major publisher is probably a big ego boost to those that need it. Less money but more prestige.

Helen
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:48 AM   #3
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