Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Unwanted Vanity Press Solicitation

Don't have much in the way of a personal writing update as everything is still status quo from last week, but since this is Writing Wednesday, I do have something that is writing related.

Last Saturday (10/8), I was at the post office finishing up the last of my morning errands, which in this case was buying money orders for bills. One of the other things that I do at the post office is check my mailbox. I check it about a couple of times a week to see if anything in the way of book orders (no), mail (junk), or business correspondence (yes) was delivered to me.

So before going to the window to buy my money orders, I checked my mailbox. This time around, instead of finding dust bunnies, I found a large envelope and my local newspaper. I ditched the newspaper (my local paper is a freebie and is about twenty pages in length) and opened the envelope. After skimming the letter and getting just a little bit peeved while reading it, I saved the person's business card and shredded the letter.

The reason as to why I saved the card was not so I could contact these people but so's that I could remember the name of the company that I want to rant about.

I will give the person who works for Vantage Press (on Writer's Beware Preditor & Editor's list) a small modicum of credit in that she did do a little bit of basic research on me before sending me this letter. In the letter she did mention the name of my latest book (Line 21), which she more than likely got while reading my blog. And this is all the credit I'll give, because the rest of the letter I found to be highly insulting and unfortunately geared towards those people who would be desperate enough to pay to see their name in print (I was unfortunately one of those the first time around back in '08, but by '09 I learned a lot more about the self-pubbing game and again tried my hand, only this time I had a long range plan worked out, but that's been covered elsewhere).

The opening paragraph irritated me, because it said that one of the agents that I'd queried passed my manuscript on to them and thus the reason for the solicitation.

First of all, no good self-respecting literary agent would even remotely consider recommending a vanity publisher for a rejected manuscript. If they didn't like it, they might recommend it to a co-worker to look at. Secondly, good literary agents don't even ask for a full manuscript unless they found the requested query letter AND synopsis AND partial manuscript compelling enough to make that last stage request. If they didn't like the full manuscript, they would tell you why they didn't like it and perhaps ask you to fix those things that they didn't like and to resubmit afterwards.

Thirdly, this shows an incredible amount of arrogance in assuming that the recipient of this letter, which would be me for the sake of argument, was querying agents to begin with. While it is true that I first started off by querying agents this past Spring, because of the sexually graphic content, I decided to concentrate on publishers instead.

Finally, after reading the remaining page and a half of blather and usual assortment of boiler plate language, I got down to the nitty gritty of this letter, which was the price of self-pubbing with this "respected" publisher. The price range that they quoted my friends, represented about one quarter to one third of my yearly salary, which in this case was $8K to $15K, depending on what kind of services I wanted to purchase.

Yeah, like I really want to drop that much money to get my book out there to the buying public. My friends, the only way I would drop that much money, is if I controlled every aspect of my book and decided to job it out to people who do this type of thing for a living. More bang for the buck, so to speak.

But since I don't want to drop that much money to get my book published, especially since there are myriad of other options of self pubbing (of which two good examples are Lulu and Smashwords, which cost very little to use and basically are the best P.O.D that you can get out there, 'cause you can decide whether you want print or e-book), I'll stick to trying to get myself published the old fashioned way: querying publishers and checking out the occasional writing contest that doesn't concentrate on niche markets like literary fiction.

Some day I may again try my hand at self-pubbing and if I do, it will definitely be with one of those two aforementioned publishing companies, and not with a vanity press. Until then, I'll keep on doing it the old fashioned way with the latest twist, which my friends is doing it via the e-mail.


  1. Definitely going to have to check those out, just finished my second one, could always use more views.

  2. Sounds like a good plan, G. I actually recently purchased a book from Lulu. Seems as though it was print on demand. My home town is known for its mental hospital and someone mentioned a book written about the history of it and I found it there.

  3. I worked at a publishing company once and this place's reputation sucks.

  4. Pat: Some of the higher quality self-pubbed books and e-books have come through both Lulu and Smashwords, and a lot of people absolutely rave about the product. The last couple of book reviews that I've done have been self-pubbed jobs and they rival what you might find coming from a traditional style publisher.

    If you're gonna self-pub, that is the way to go. Not through a company like this, or even the company that I used for mine, Author House.

    Lynn: Lulu is really good for niche subjects like the one you picked up. You only print what you sell and no more.

    I only wish that I'd used Lulu early on when I was doing the self-pubbed thing. Maybe things would've turned out differently for me.

    R: If you want to be a vanity press, that's fine. Just don't lie and tell half truths about what you do, who you're partnered with and how you found out about the writer. This company actually lost a lawsuit in the 90's I believe, because of all the crap that they pulled by lying and telling half truths.

  5. Wow, their price has gotten a bit steep lately! I got a similar ad from them over a decade ago, btw. Must be easier to run searches for prospects online these days just by searching taglines.
    I've also heard bad stuff about their customer dissatisfaction from back then.

  6. Snaggle: I have no doubt that it's easier to run searches online. I'm sure that people actively search for publishers like that as well, and I'm sure that some would click on the ads that crop up in their Gmail or elsewhere touting the benefits of self-pubbing.

    However, for them to solicit me, they probably either did find me on my blog or on another blog. I don't exactly make myself easy to find on the internet as there really isn't that much out there with my full name attached to it that's related to writing.

  7. Sarah: Thanks for the compliment and thanks for stopping by.

    Unfortunately, this wisdom was an expensive lesson to learn.

  8. I've gotten a couple of these in the past, but it's been a pretty good while.

  9. Charles: I've gotten various brochures whenever I got a form rejection for a contest imploring me to order their fine literary joural, but this is a first.

    And hopefully the last.


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