I read with interest Jane Wenham Jones’ column in February’s edition of Writing Magazine. A reader had sent a question in on vanity publishers. She had received a contract accepting her book to be published but was being asked to provide between £1,000 - £3,500 to do so. The reader was in a quandary as to whether she should go ahead. Jane advised her categorically not to.
As I read the article I found myself nodding in agreement. In an ideal world everyone would love to be published via a traditional route and to be paid for it, but not everyone is going make it. Who knows why, maybe the timing’s not right, the subject‘s not right, or maybe you’re just not good enough as a writer.
I can certainly understand the frustration of not being able to published in this way, I’m sure most writers’ ultimate aim is to earn money from something we love to do and put a lot of effort into, but as I read this article my thoughts were that I would never part with this kind of money to see my book in print. (Although the saying never say never springs to mind). I would though consider going down the self-published route if I thought it appropriate.
However, I had an experience a short while ago, which goes to show how far some publishers will go to extract money from people. And I do mean “extract”.
Towards the end of last year, my youngest son had a piece of homework to write a 200 word piece of fiction. Naturally, I gave him a bit of help and advice and by the end of the week he had an acceptable piece of writing. The children’s efforts were entered into a writing competition and we soon forgot about it.
However, over the Christmas holidays I was delighted to receive a letter to say that my son’s piece had been shortlisted and, with my permission would be published in an anthology. Well actually I was more than delighted, I was puffed up with pride, for a short while at least.
As well as the permission slip, the letter also contained an order form for the proud parents to buy a copy – well who wouldn’t? And I was certainly tempted. Until I saw the price that is.
I don’t wish to sound stingy but I wasn’t expecting a cost of £16 plus post and packaging for what effectively would be 200 words of my child’s writing. But then again, I didn’t want him to think that I wasn’t proud of him. So I showed him the letter and asked him whether he would want me to buy the book. Bless him, his response was, “Nah, I didn’t like it anyway.” So I was relieved to be let off the hook. The letter stated that each school would receive a copy so at least I’ll get to see it.
I later found out that my son wasn’t the only one who had been shortlisted from his class, in fact everyone had.
To me this is taking vanity publishing to another level, guilting parents into making a purchase. If the book had been a more realistic price I probably would have been persuaded, but at £18, I’m afraid the publisher’s greed has been their downfall and I hope that other parents feel the same.
What do you think?