There are very definite opinions on both sides of this question. I did a lot of research before I published my book and just couldn’t find the scales tilting strongly enough either way, so I went with my cheapskate nature and published for free. I did pay for a cover design, but that wasn’t exactly required. However, it may have enhanced a little attention-getting, which could have brought me more sales. That’s debatable.
What’s also debatable is whether you get what you pay for when you go with a vanity press. It may be expensive, but might it be the right balance of time, effort, and potential success? There are a lot of aspects to cogitate upon.
Here’s one discussion of it that examines several factors, by Barbara Lane in the San Francisco Chronicle, and it’s worth a read and some pondering on the subject.
Is it worth paying $7,500 to have your book published? Maybe
In many cases, however, having your book published by a vanity press, as the name implies, carries something of a stigma. After all, if your book is any good, wouldn’t one of the reputable publishing houses want the honor of bringing it into the world and pay you for the privilege?
Not necessarily. As the publishing world becomes increasingly competitive and the purse strings ever more tightly drawn, it’s become harder and harder to get a contract with a traditional publisher. To meet the needs of writers dying to get their work out, a new crop of hybrid publishers has sprung up. It’s a whole new game out there.
One of the most robust and well-regarded is She Writes Press, co-founded by Berkeleyites Kamy Wicoff and Brooke Warner in 2012 as a response to the formidable barriers to traditional publishing.
Warner, the executive editor at Berkeley-based Seal Press for eight years, had become disillusioned as she rejected books she loved because the submitting author didn’t have a strong enough “author platform.”
An author platform, for those not in the know, means having a strong online presence: a highly visited website, big Twitter following, a popular podcast, etc. I hear J.D. Salinger shuddering in his grave.
She Writes, by the way, deals with literary fiction, memoirs and some self-help written by women. Its sister company, SparkPress, publishes more commercial work by both men and women.