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Now that self-publishing has arrived on Indian shores and now that a few Indian authors are taking that route, I see some coverage in the media. But most of the time the media calls it ‘vanity publishing.’

Self-publishing is not vanity publishing.

The two things are poles apart, one is a derogatory term and the other is a legitimate avenue open to writers today.

Several years ago when I was looking for a publisher, I met all kinds. It took me frustrating years of writing query letters and waiting months for answers. I had very little idea of what I was doing so some of the publishers whom I approached unawares would have fit the ‘vanity publisher’ label. What I mean by that is they asked me to fund the publishing.

It’s done in many ways. They tell you that they will do you a massive favor and make you a partner so you can reap more benefits. Run in the other direction. It’s just vanity publishing. They will charge you enough to make a profit and publish the book and forget about it. You will end up with a dusty pile in one corner of your room and not much else.

Others ask for a ‘buy back’. You buy back a certain percentage of the books at a discount. Usually a large percentage of the first print run, like 40%. Once again the money is coming from you, the author and once again, you are left with a dusty unsaleable pile of books.

Vanity publishers don’t need to sell any books and many won’t even try. After all they have already made their profit from the author. Not only is it your work and effort but it’s your money too. You get the satisfaction of calling yourself an author, the ‘vanity’ of it. That is all you get.

Self-publishing is not a scam designed to take gullible authors for a ride; it is a real publishing opportunity. The author does all the work. You get the manuscript written and thoroughly edited. You make a cover, but you do not pay to publish it. You upload your precious book for free and when someone buys a copy you get the major share of the profit.

The site which hosts your book, like Amazon Kindle direct or Smashwords function like a marketplace. It does not ask what you bring to market. If its good quality it will sell, if its bad quality it will sink, but there is room for all kinds.

It’s a new and exciting opportunity, giving authors, for the first time, control of the whole process and a very decent share of the profits.

Nothing vanity about it at all.