Saturday, 27 September 2014

No thanks

Today I received an invitation to submit a romance story to an anthology. If accepted, I would have to pay  $597 (£364) to have my story edited, formatted and printed and I would also receive ten "free" print copies. That means each copy would cost me $59.70. For an additional $297 (£185) I could attend a weekend party to launch the book.

No thanks.

Compare this rapacious exercise in vanity publishing with the work of genuine publishers, which bear the full financial risk when they back little known authors. I know from working with the great team at The Wild Rose Press how much work is done behind the scenes.

Bridge House Publishing in England will soon publish its annual anthology. It also plans a launch party in December, to be held in a London pub. I and my fellow contributors will each pay a modest £15 ($24) for lunch, followed by readings and the chance to get to know each other. Not a money-making scam but a nice gesture from an author-friendly publisher.

Writing is a long, lonely slog. If only there was some way of warning would-be authors that success costs time and effort, not money.  

Image courtesy of Noomhh at  


  1. Great post Madeleine. I agree about the time and effort, writing is hard work. With the advent of Amazon I'm surprised there are still vanity publishers out there.
    Thanks for the warning.

  2. Good post Madeleine. Another scam to be aware of are book contests that make you pay for the award (not be be confused with the entry fee.) No legit contest makes you pay for winning.

  3. I've spoken to a few people in my area that use a vanity publisher. They tell me they don't want strangers judging their work and telling them to change it. Isn't the constructive criticism and professional editing an important part of the process? I figure I can learn from the process up front or take harsher criticism in reviews when it's too late to make changes.

    1. Why don't they self publish - which is very different from vanity publishing?

  4. I am finding as an author that I have to be so careful. I love writing for TWRP because I feel respected. I've thought about submitting to some others but then I hear a story about some horrible thing they've done to their authors (and these are the "big" publishers). I'm sure there are some good ones out there but now even the big ones have gotten on the vanity publishing bandwagon and it makes me wonder about them.

  5. Thanks for all the comments. Sandra, you've hit the nail on the head. If we can't learn from constructive criticism, we'll never make good writers.

  6. I know even after I've gone through 2-3 rounds of edits and I have the final book in my hands, I still find things I wish I could fix. I don't understand those who think everything they write is gold.

  7. Your post is so timely. At my writers meeting today a visitor told us about her publisher. Poor thing didn't know it was a vanity press when she signed the contract. They promised to pay her 50% royalties AFTER she proves she's sold 1500 books. Bless her heart, at the price she'll have to sell the books, she'll never recoup her $$$ investment.

  8. Great blog post. I've found that many people are in such a rush to get "something" in print that if you point out to them the cost is rather high, and there might be a few grammatical mistakes, they shrug and say, "Yes, but I'm now a published author!" Go figure.

  9. I was lucky in that the first writers group I joined told me about vanity presses and to steer clear of them. Too bad others haven't been as fortunate. Good post, Madeleine.

  10. A family member of mine paid $6000 (aussie $ ) to a vanity publisher despite me warning them a reputable publisher will never ask for a cent. At the time I wasn't published and my advice was met with 'what do you know? '. The day they received their box of 1000 "free" books I signed with The Wild Rose Press who have laid out the financial cost to take a chance on an unknown author.

    In this age of the internet there is no longer a reason to be duped. Do your research. Visit sites such as editors and preditors, absolute writer - or even a Google search for publisher fees - the warnings will flash up. Do not hand over a single cent to someone who wants to publish your work. If they do, run.

    If, after you've done your research and have authors telling you to run in the opposite direction, you still want to hand over your cash, then ho hum.

  11. I can assure you, this is not a scam. The $597 includes:
    Evening Welcome Reception by the pool for all authors
    •Full three-night weekend at the beach
    •Optional private beach lounger with shade shell
    •Located at a lovely boutique hotel overlooking the waves
    •Beach time to write, reflect, daydream, suntan, or just relax
    •Eat at an Exclusive Restaurant right on the beach
    •Tiki Bar on site for drinks by the sea
    •But there is more! This is one fabulous Beach Retreat Weekend on a Florida beach.
    •Welcome reception for all attendees, with appies by the pool. (Bring your sandals and sarong.)
    •Focused workshops on writing and marketing romance.
    •Your own private beach lounger with shade shell, for writing, brainstorming, sunning, napping, whatever.
    •Hotel right on the beach so you can go to sleep and wake up to the sound of the waves. Dreamy!
    •Steps away from a sugary-sand beach where you can stroll, jog, hunt for seashells, sunbathe, or swim.
    •A beautiful bag filled with special treats and gifts chosen especially for beach and book love.
    •Private group banquet at an Exclusive Restaurant with stunning views of the water.
    •Tiki Bar where you can kick back and have drinks by the pool.

    1. Read the invitation again, Kim. Publication costs $597 and publication plus party costs $894. In tiny writing there is also a line stating "Travel expenses, hotel and meals not included." No reputable publisher asks its authors for money, and there are much cheaper workshops and networking events.

    2. I am sorry, Madeleine. I was too excited to share this with you I did not read the small print, but in defense of these ladies I can assure you neither are scam artists. Both are well-respected, award-winning authors, as well as writing and publishing coaches who have published dozens of books in Canada and the U.S.A. and helped others to publish theirs. All you need to do is just google their names.
      I did not expect travel, hotel and meals to be included in the fee, but I should hope at least the banquet is. The price to have the book published is $597.00. It includes editing, proofreading, design and formatting which really is not bad, but, as a published author you can attend the book launch only for $397. That is not cheap, but I know what is involved in organizing an event, create fun and interesting programs, organize workshops, marketing, arrange for speakers, interviews, surprises, find an appropriate venue, order a menu for the banquet, negotiate prices, advertising, etc. Published authors have a chance to sell their books and join in the fun and do some networking.
      Now it did say that once you register and your story is accepted, they’ll send you hotel info and their special conference rates in which case you’ll be paying less for the hotel than their regular advertised rates for that time of the year, and wouldn’t it be lovely to spend a couple of days in February on a beach in Florida?
      I only sent the link to you because you are a romance writer and thought you might be interested. Not that you would necessarily participate. I myself would not travel the ocean to attend such an event, especially, not on another continent, but I am sure there are some who would.

  12. I learned about these scam artists through a duped cousin years ago, Madeleine. He wrote a sort of "based on a true story" book on one of our long-dead relatives from the 1800s or so. He paid well over $1000 for the same services mentioned here, plus 500 print copies. This fee didn't include any luncheons, book release party or what-nots. It was just the editing, cover copy and printing +copies of his book. My brother heard about it first and purchased several copies to share with his siblings (me and sister). I was put in touch with the cousin I'd never heard of until then who told me his publishing nightmare after I gently pointed out some editing issues. He was so unhappy about the final product he stopped selling the book. He said he took the issues to the publisher who offered to "fix" it for an additional $500! He declined and like so many others, is stuck with a bunch of books he's ashamed of giving away. I can overlook the issues simply because it's based on a family member I'd never heard of, a cousin of my gramma's I believe. But it's so sad he got that bad deal and never tried to get it sold to a legit pub house.

  13. We all need to be careful in our dealings with industry - from double-glazing salesmen to model agencies - and publishing is no different. David Gaughran highlights the less reputable side of the publishing industry. The current blogpost is concentrating on mainstream publishers, but in the text there are lots of mentions about, and links to, vanity and not-so-vanity publishers. It needs to be read.

  14. A salutary notification and a great warning to the unwary, Madeleine. As you say, asking for money in this way is nothing to do with offering a service and everything to do with making money. Those of us who write professionally know only too well the dangers of engaging with vanity publishers, and posts like this act as excellent warnings for those not in the know.