RLLauthor@outlook.com and @RLL_author GO TO AMAZON KINDLE STORE AND TYPE RLL. YOU WILL FIND MY BOOKS.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

VANITY PUBLISHING AND SUBSIDY PUBLISHING. THE VENUS FLYTRAP MODEL: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

No disrespect to the Venus Flytrap.
   Technically, the carnivorous plant is pretty much an ant-trap. Creepies and crawlies wander across the plant’s surface…
   There’s a hair-trigger. The plant doesn’t want to waste time and energy trapping and releasing pebbles or twigs that blunder by. So there are other triggers.
   It takes two trips within a twenty-second period to drop a hint that a creature has wandered over the trap. Snap! The prison walls close and a creature is caged.
   Creatures find it almost impossible to break through the bars of the cage or force the prison walls open again. Harsh? We farm cattle.

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The Venus Flytrap is American. And the term vanity press seems to have originated in America. Vanity publisher is a variant. And vanity publishing is the resultant insult derived from the business.
   I’ll also call it subsidy publishing here, for that is yet another important term.
   How to publish a book? Let me count the ways.
   First, go to YouTube and search for Paperback Writer. Listen to that song. I’ll wait.

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You want to be a paperback writer. So you try famous publishers. They don’t want to know. And they don’t go out of the way to court your business. Important point.
   But wait a bit! You spy publishing companies that ask, in adverts, if you want to be published. They tell you to publish.
   Are you an author? Publish with us!
   Fantastic.
   Bear in mind that advertising ALWAYS lends an air of legitimacy to proceedings. That’s a Top Tip™.

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The sarcasm filter’s intermittent performance may affect your enjoyment of this blog post.
   A vanity press preys on ants. Lots and lots of ants. They blunder in and are consumed. There’s no way out. A vanity press gains from consuming this regular trickle of ants. The ants give up everything.
   Those ants are small. When eaten in vast quantities, they provide enough sustenance for, oh, the Venus Flytrap. Or a subsidy publishing company.

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How to publish a book? Let me count the ways.
   Publishing Model 1. Traditional conventional publisher. You manage to sign a deal with this behemoth. The book will see publication. In hardback first, most likely. Paperback to follow.
   You don’t pay to publish that book. The publisher pays production costs. And the publisher edits the book. You’ll have little say in the cover. That’s the publisher’s business, and the publisher pays for the art or photography.
   The publisher may front you money out of the eventual proceeds. That’s an advance on royalties. The publisher palms a cut of the take. Everything I’ve listed in this publishing model is grossly oversimplified.
   For example, the massive advance shamelessly announced in the media never matches reality. The advance is sliced into chunks, paid out when certain conditions are met. Signing the deal. Turning in a manuscript to the publisher’s satisfaction. Publication of hardback. Later publication of paperback.
   But this is a blog post, not a book. Simplification will do.
   The standard publishing deal involves giving a large slice of the book’s profits to the publisher in return for all the work the publisher says the publisher does.
   Sarcasm filter is working just fine.
   No money goes directly from the author’s pocket to the publisher’s bank. There will be many clauses in the contract relating to who does what, when. Getting into a contract takes a signature.
   The business of getting out of the contract should be written into the contract.

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Publishing Model 2. Self-publishing. So many options here. The one I use is digital. Kindle. I write my stories and publish electronically through Amazon.
   Go to Amazon Kindle Store. Type RLL.
   Amazon hosts my bookshelf. And Amazon takes a cut of the proceeds. I don’t give Amazon any cash directly from my pocket. That’s an important point.
   This is a blog post, not a book. We’re here to talk about the other model…

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And Publishing Model 3. The utter bastards.
   Publish with us! And pay us! Never escape from your contract! We do so much for you. That’s why we’re too busy to respond to your entreaties.
   In the dusty dim and distant days, when I chased paper publishing deals, I was all-too-aware of the vanity press. Yes, I knew the danger back in my schooldays.
   I recall a conversation with a young woman who said to me…
   You can pay to have your work published.
   (Fucking hell. Did everyone know I was headed for the writing game?! She was a year younger, and that put her in a different universe within the same school. But somehow, she knew a writer at fifty paces.)
   I said nothing in reply. Mentally, though, I had this floating around…
   You can pay to have your work published, but why would you?
   Out comes the derogatory publishing term. Vanity.

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The vanity/subsidy publisher signs a deal to publish books that you must pay for. Your target audience? That’s you, immediate family, and friends. If you are lucky, friends of family, and friends of friends.
   And that’s all. The end. Your subsidy company sets the price of the book. That price is massive. As author, you probably receive a discount on any copies you want for yourself. The first few copies, anyway.
   What does the company do for you after that? Everything – at a price. For a further fee, the company will actually edit your work. A book published by a vanity/subsidy outfit is easy to spot…
   High price. Zero editing. Disclaimer at the start, stating that the publisher allowed the author to publish the work without editorial interference.
   Public-spirited.
   No, it’s one of those WHAT THE FUCK?! moments. That disclaimer is an odious piece of legal claptrap. It pours scorn on all, and splashes more back on the pourer.
   Backstage, the contract cuts deep. To escape the contract you’ll have to carry a gold ring to a volcano, and throw it in.
   You’ll have an in-box. That in-box will flow with entreaties from your publishing company, offering special deals on bonus features for your book. All at a price. Horses die under the flogging dished out by the subsidy publisher.
   I could go on, and I should. So I think I will. You want out of the contract? Hell, that can be arranged. At a price. There’ll be a shakedown for cash as you squeeze out the door. To be released from the contract, as a favour to you, there’ll be special production costs the company must reclaim in order to stay solvent.
   A diet of ants.

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You are caught in the cage of the contract, and you’ll be slowly digested. The carnivorous publisher squeezes every last drop out of you. For you are valuable to the subsidy publisher. You are subsidising the publisher.
   They’ll sell your e-book on Amazon. And they’ll flog the anatomical distortion that is the bloated cost of the physical page-turning version. It’s on Amazon too. As a Print on Demand production. If someone orders a copy, it’s printed. So the company shouldn’t be charging you a shakedown exit-fee for production costs it must recoup.
   Do you want out of that flytrap or not?

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I could go on, concerning specified sales-targets. By that, I mean the chicanery of Find-the-Lady proportions exhibited by the company in ensuring you don’t find that prize. They set the terms, and shift the field on a whim.
   Playing basketball on a football field is tough. Tougher when you thought you were on a basketball court for the duration of the game. Half a minute in, and the world blurs.
   Dealing with a subsidy press, money bleeds from your pocket. Every struggle is uphill. Still feel like playing basketball, knowing that?
   I was not bitten, and I am not even once-shy. This is a point of publishing I knew in my schooldays. And I mocked it then. Away with sepia-toned reminiscence. You want to know about now. Now, these utter bastards are on the internet…
   They have been for some time, and they are not going away. Curiously, the utter bastards have their supporters. I say that as I suspect their supporters of being phantoms. Let’s reel out Mark Twain. Supporters of subsidy publishing often do just that, with a fishing-rod. It’s a cheap trick to drag a spinning man from his grave.
   Twain is often cited as an example of a writer who paid to have his work published. Twain was this wonderful self-publishing bankrupt. Sarcasm filter held its head high until that last word.

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This isn’t a detailed feature on why you shouldn’t sign with a subsidy publisher. One isn’t required. Don’t sign with a subsidy publisher. I’ll rephrase. Don’t sign with a vanity publisher. Not quite there. Don’t sign with a vanity press.
   If you have done so, get out of your contract. Read copyright law. Talk things over with an Intellectual Property lawyer. If a shakedown for cash is the only way out, pay the bitter price of experience and reclaim work you can publish yourself.
   Format the work for digital distribution. Look into Print on Demand publishing. Ask yourself what services are worth paying for. A subsidy publisher will charge cash for editing. What’s the difference, in going to a freelance editor? You still own the work after paying a freelance editor. There’s no flytrap.
   I’ve hit 1,500 words and barely scratched the surface. Run a search on vanity press, vanity publishing, and subsidy publishing. Look for publishing scams. I won’t name subsidy publishers here. They don’t deserve the publicity. Google the terms I’ve mentioned, and they’ll come up anyway. Then you’ll know what to steer clear of.
   Check out THE SOCIETY OF AUTHORS.
   Have a look at WRITER BEWARE.
   And beware.

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