Tag Archive: about vanity press

It is Tulip Time here in Portland, and my bulbs of do it your self publishing are getting ready to bloom.

It is Tulip Time here in Portland, and my bulbs of do it your self publishing are getting ready to bloom.

I’ve blogged about this issue of definitions within the term “self publishing” before, but I am doing it again because I think it is so important…

This new publishing landscape is driving the need for new publishing terminology,

Self publishing versus Do It Your Self Publishing

Self publishing generally refers to hiring a company – or a series of professionals, to turn your manuscript or project into a book . You pay for it your self, and that makes it self publishing. I don’t think it is a misnomer for self publishing, because you are hiring services same as you would if you were the CEO of a traditional publishing company.

Do It Your Self Publishing is doing all of the work yourself – hiring pieces out if you can afford it, or taking on the whole process personally. Sometimes including the cover production.

This is important (at least to me) because I am focused on Do It Your Self Publishing… intending to pursue it to get my books out until I can lure a traditional publisher to get them out with me.

The fundamental issues are quality and cost. Do It Your Self Publishing is definitely lower cost than Self Publishing, but the challenge is to match the quality. By doing everything myself, I am more likely to make back my costs through book sales (at all, or quickly)… but not if I do a bad job of the editing, layout, ebook programming, cover, and promotion.

Another reason I’m re-blogging about definitions is because I’m SO CLOSE to releasing my second book, “When No On Else Would Fly” the biography and memoir of my grandfather, Colonel C. J. Tippett, aviation pioneer, and handsome glamorous guy. But instead of announcing the release, I’m waiting for my copyproofer to finish proofing the copy.

My copyproofer is a teenager and although she can finish a twilight novel – or anything related to dragons or vampires – in about 15 minutes, it seems to be taking her longer to read MY book.

Which does NOT mean it is boring or flawed. It means that it has no vampires in it. None at all. And maybe also has something to do with the fact that I’m paying her …. not much. I offered to tell her her birth story again.

We use what resources we have, here in DIY Self Publishing – but our products are excellent. Our books are compelling.  And ALMOST ready for release!


Horned Lizard and The Westchester Press

The Horned Lizard of Self Publishing is researching How To Turn A Blog Into A Book. How to make a blook. Horned Lizards want to know.

So I am testing each of the blog to book methods I can find to add “How To Turn A blog Into A Book” to my “How To Self Publish A Book” series.

I am investigating this topic because our blogs contain super-awesome-mega content and breathtaking photos, and turning them into books is a great idea. Making a blook!

My standards for the process are high.

  • I want a nice looking book, but I don’t want to have to spend hours formatting it, because I could do that manually, the same way I usually make books.
  • I want the photos to look good, and that’s going to be a challenge because while 72 dpi looks great on screen, it doesn’t look great in print.
  • The book probably needs to be in color, because of all the effort I’ve put into the photos, and color print books are expensive to produce… but, ebooks!  It could be an ebook (future posts on ebooks coming soon)
  • And I want to be able to access the book file. For cut and paste, for other uses of my materials. I want to create a file that I can take anywhere, print anywhere.

Blurb.com has the lion’s share of Google’s keyword hits, and so I started with them.

They advertise a blog to book method and they offer color books – hardcover or soft. They claim they can slurp my blog and drop it into a book, which I can then order for myself and sell online from their service.

First I set up an account, which was easy. Then I went to “Make Books And More” where I found “Blog Book”, and then was instructed to download their software, Blurb Booksmart. Which I did.

Ah soooo… the software resides on my computer, and therefore so do all my book projects, until I am ready to order a copy of the book. This way, I don’t take up their server space – clever ducks.

The software was free. There was no charge at all, actually, until I was ready to order the printed book. So that’s good.

There are seven book size options, and two of them are my preferred book sizes… 6×9 or 5×8. But there is only one blog-to-book layout option – which has the picture in a small square, and the text in a shorter column to the right.

If I want a different layout, I have to go into some heavy manual formatting while learning their Booksmart software… only to find that my low res pictures are looking very bad in my chosen layout.

The process supports four kinds of blog platforms: blogger, live journal, typepad, and wordpress.com. Which is great, unless you’ve moved your wordpress blog to self hosting, like I have. In which case, this process will not work. Game over for all my blogs except one.

Okay, forward I go with my Blogger.com blog, which has more than 100 posts and gets slurped into Blurb’s program without a hiccup. Where it looks like crap. And where I can’t do anything with it except print it out through Blurb.com. Hmmm.

My blook was 256 pages, and not all of the posts were properly separated, so it would have been even more pages. It is very easy to price the potential book using Blurb.com’s buttons, so I could see right away – before doing any more formatting – that my 6×9 softcover color print book would cost $37.95 per copy.
Ummm… oh dear. That’s not exactly the base cost I was looking for. 

If I gave up color, then my book would cost $12.95 per copy… but, but, I have to have color!

In summary, Blurb.com has a very nice system to capture a hard copy book of a blog as a novelty or one time gift.

It will take time to format it nicely, and unless you posted gigantic pictures on your blog, your images will be either tiny or blurry – your choice. I don’t consider this a commercially viable option for making a book out of my blog. And it doesn’t give me an electronic document to have my way with.

But it sure is a nice piece of software… which makes a nice, pretty, pricey book.

I will keep looking. This is not How To Turn A Book Into A Blog. Not in my blook.





The sundog of Self Publishing Advice

This is a SunDog. It’s like a mini rainbow… just like Vanity and Subsidy Press are like mini self publishing. There’s less chance of a pot of gold at the end of a sundog than a rainbow… do you see my analogy? I hope so… cuz it’s a stretch, I know.

What if true self publishing is not for you?  What if the time, learning curve, effort, follow-through, and set up are beyond what you are willing or able or ready to do?

Possibly some of the other kinds of publishing solutions are a good idea.

While there are a few “bad” publishing solutions out there in this new and exciting world of self publishing, not all of the vanity or subsidy presses are wicked. And not all of the self publishing helper services are a waste of money. Different book self publishing projects match different book self publishing solutions.

Vanity press is called “vanity” because the author pays to have the book published. There is no editorial oversight. The author can have a published book in hand with no obstacles other than actually writing it. It could be a book of blank pages, so that’s not actually an obstacle either.

Subsidy press is another kind of “vanity” press, again tied only to the author’s ability to pay. And both those kinds of publishing services are often dissed because of the lack of perceived effort on the author’s part in getting the book to market. In both these publishing solutions, the ISBN number is given to the author by the press, either for free or for a fee. So those companies are the publisher. It isn’t self publishing, but the author doesn’t have to go through the gauntlet of traditional publishing rejection or the mountains of work in do-it-yourself self publishing.

Vanity or subsidy press are an ideal solution for a book that the author wants to make available to either family and friends, or even the general public, but has no concerns for the long term rights ownership, publishing contractual details, or profit margin.

A family memoir, for instance. Or a fundraiser cookbook. Or a collection of a child’s poetry or artwork.

The long-term rights ownership is a concern because of the ISBN number having been assigned by that press, and that affects the publishing contract issues and the author’s ability to have the book printed anywhere else. The book may also be more expensive to print and sell in small quantities, which can make it unfeasible for a true self publishing approach.

For an author with a serious plan to market and support a book, but no time or ability to go the whole journey into self publishing, subsidy press can work well. The cost makes turning a profit on the book more difficult, but at least the book is out there and in reader’s hands.

The key to choosing the right solution for self publishing a book is to match the right publishing solution to the publishing project.

And the right match depends on the author’s ultimate purpose for the book.


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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