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Things to watch for when submitting manuscripts.

Updated on April 11, 2011

Beware of 'vanity presses' and POD

I love writing. One of the best ways to improve this craft is to find magazines that offer a wide variety of interests. My favorite magazines are: Writers Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers magazines. But beware of where the manuscript is sent and understand what is included in the price paid.

I started writing in the early '90's, and published poems in about two or three vanity presses before getting a scholarship that paid for the extra courses I took in college in 1994. The one thing I don't like about vanity presses is that they tack on a fee for any of the extras an author wants in the anthology, like a bios, dedications, and other poems. In the three magazines I subscribe to, I don't see too many ads publishing vanity poems. I will admit that I recently published a poem in a vanity press. It was a challenge from my uncle who also writes.

Vanity presses are a lot like Publishing On Demand, or POD, one has to know what their getting for the price paid. POD means the author pays a certain price up front plus any extras they wish to have in their book, like prologues, epilogues, forewords, photos, and dedications. The more one wants, the more money paid. In addition, advertising is solely the responsibility of the author. Luckily I already have the Editor's Eye, looking at something objectively and being able remove unneeded items without worrying about the importance of certain lines. The piece one writes should flow smoothly. If one falls in love with their own work, that is a sign they aren't ready for publication of any kind. I personally don't care for POD because the publisher should seek the author not the other way around. Knowing me, there wouldn't be any way to recover the financial loss if my book didn't sell assuming I had the money to dole out for that in the first place.

Most of the POD services are sold as a package deal, the more one wants, the more money paid. On rare occasions, one can get a certain percentage off one of the options they offer, but it all depends on what a person is willing to pay. Unfortunately, while they praised my imagination, I was told that the novel I wrote was only good enough for POD according to Amazon.com's BookSurge. They were one of the two other houses that backed off after I told them I couldn't afford to POD.

I've seen some ads for POD in one of the writing magazines I subscribe to, but I checked them out on line. It got so bad with Xlibris, that I had to unsubscribe from their e-mails and block their number on my phone after telling them that their prices were too high. They pursued me because I went on line to check them out after being rejected by another publishing house. What bothers me is I am not very good at any type of risk that involves money.

Vanity presses and Publishing on Demand may work for some but not for me. I prefer the  traditional way of being published, being sought after because my work speaks for itself.


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