. . . is not a good idea. I've done it four times
, albeit for collections of previously published work that had a limited readership.
The company I used was once pretty good to work with when it was owned by a family and offered personal attention as well as a reasonable (and negotiable) set-up rate. Now, it's gone the way of other vanities and offers lots of "services" for big money.
It used to be I could order twenty copies of my books at 40% off the cover price, get free shipping if I ordered a minimum of twenty copies, and get paid a royalty for what I bought myself. I could make a little bit from the books I sold from the trunk of my car (which is the main marketing method of vanity-pubbed authors). Now, there's a "handling fee" of $4.50. Consequently, I don't often order copies.
Recently I got this email from the company:
Dear Rebecca S Mushko;
With the arrival of Spring, we at Ixxxxxxy are making preparations for a fresh new season. And we would like to give our authors an opportunity to Spring into marketing their book. As with any growing company, we are taking stock of our inventory and the limited space in which to store it. Our internal review has uncovered that we have an over run of copies of your printed book “The Girl Who Raced Mules & Other Stories” which is great news for you!
We would like to offer you a fantastic opportunity to purchase your books at 65% off the $11.95 cover price of your book. That means you can purchase the 4 units we have in stock at $16.73 plus shipping and handling ($13.49). To our authors with multiple titles, please contact us to see if we have any inventory of your additional titles that we can include within this very special deal.
This is a limited and rare special offer which will expire on May 24th, so contact us as soon as possible to take advantage of this incredible deal.
To place an order for these books please using a credit card email [addy] or call Brittany at 877[toll free number] extension 12 or you can print a copy of this email and enclose with your check/money order.
To receive the proper discount please reference Spring13 when placing your order.
PS Please note: This one-time special discount book offer is for as-is books, and all sales are final. Additionally, royalties are excluded from the sale of these discounted books. Infinity retains the right to dispose, sell or retain any of the remaining books after the end of this promotion at its sole discretion. This offer is not valid for web orders, an author must email, call or mail the order to Infinity Publishing. This special offer cannot be combined with any current or ongoing promotions or specials.
... followed by another, almost identically worded, except the book title and number of copies were different:
Our internal review has uncovered that we have an over run of copies of your printed book “Peevish Advice” which is great news for you!
We would like to offer you a fantastic opportunity to purchase your books at 65% off the $10.95 cover price of your book. That means you can purchase the 7 units we have in stock at $26.83 plus shipping and handling ($13.49). To our authors with multiple titles, please contact us to see if we have any inventory of your additional titles that we can include within this very special deal.
I am not impressed by the "fantastic opportunity"or "special deal"or whatever. How could there be an "over run" (did she mean "overrun"?) when there's no press run? Since vanity publishers are print-on-demand, they print the number that are ordered—and already paid for. They should have no books in stock. And what's with the "as-is"? Are they damaged?
Doing a bit of math, I see that with the discount, the four copies (plus shipping) of The Girl Who Raced Mules
comes to $30.22, or $7.50 a copy. However, if I'd ordered 20 of them at the regular 40% off and paid $4.50 handling, they'd be $7.40 a copy before I got a royalty which would discount them more. I'd actually do slightly better with the overrun copies of Peevish Advice
, but still. . . .
I'm not taking advantage of this "special."
And I'm not vanity-publishing anymore. I've gone with a small press for the last two of my print books
, and recently I've recycled some of my previously published work into Kindle e-books
. Neither option cost me a cent.
For those thinking of paying to publish with a vanity company (Some of them call themselves "self-publishing" companies. They're not.), you might want to read David Gaughran's recent blog post
Remember, the way it should work is that the publisher pays the author, not vice-versa.
Labels: publishing, writing