What Is a Vanity Press

Glossary > Vanity Press

💬 Definition of Vanity Press:

Vanity Press is a publishing model in which an author pays to have their work published rather than having a traditional publishing house finance and handle the publication process. Vanity Presses don’t select the books they publish since the authors pay for the entire publication process.

Related questions about a vanity press:

What is the difference between a vanity press and self-publishing?

Vanity publishing differs from self-publishing because the vanity press will handle much of the creative side of the process, whereas an indie author will have to take care of these after finishing the manuscript – either by editing and designing the book themselves or by hiring professionals.

However, since vanity presses accept all manuscripts and their primary goal is to make a profit, they may not offer top-quality services when it comes to editing and design. So, since you have to pay either way, self-publishing is how you have complete control over the publishing process.

What is the difference between a vanity press and traditional publishing?

Some traditional publishing houses also have vanity presses as subsidiaries (Penguin Random House has Xlibris and Author Solutions, and Simon & Schuster has Archway Publishing). Simon & Schuster mentions that since these are their subsidiaries, the books will get the same attention as with traditional publishing.

However, in most cases, there are significant differences between traditional and vanity presses.

A traditional publishing house:

  • Pays the author an advance to help them get started and secure the book rights.
  • Handles the editorial process.
  • Handles the book cover design.
  • Handles the store distribution.
  • Will choose the right market price.
  • Will plan a book launch or have a marketing strategy to promote the book.
  • Will pay authors royalties on each sale once the advance has been paid off.

A vanity press:

  • Doesn’t give the author an advance.
  • Often outsources the editing to someone else, and the author pays for the editing process.
  • Often outsources the book cover design, and the author pays for it.
  • Lists the book with a wholesaler.
  • Chooses a retail price that is higher than the competing books.
  • Handles the marketing process if the author pays for it.
  • May withhold royalties unless the book reaches a certain sales target.

Are vanity presses worth it?

Vanity publishers do not provide effective distribution or marketing services because their primary source of revenue is the fees charged to authors at the beginning of the publishing process rather than royalties from book sales. Because of this, they may have little incentive to invest in promoting the books they publish, resulting in limited distribution and marketing opportunities for the author.

Write more.
Worry less.

Publish and distribute your books to hundreds of stores worldwide in ebook, print or audio formats.

Publish Your Book


Are you looking for something on PublishDrive?