Underwriting the costs to pay for the publication of one’s own story is an age-old practice. For the last few centuries, writers seeking to raise money or get their messages out have paid to reproduce their words for distribution. At its essence, publishing for one’s own self is vanity publishing.

An entire industry devoted to publishing anything and everything, regardless of quality, style, or genre, covers both vanity publishing and self-publishing. In fact, the definition of a vanity press squarely hits self-publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, and others.

The key difference between a vanity press and self-publishing is transparency. There are other differences, too.

A vanity publisher will offer a publishing contract to an author agreeing to publish the author’s work in exchange for a fee. That fee may or may not include a battery of services that a traditional publisher would use to produce a professional product: editing, proofreading, page formatting, cover design, copyright registration, ISBN registration. Online publishing platforms offer many of those services, such as templates for cover design and ISBNs. Vanity publishers, however, want to register the copyright to their ownership; the self-published author owns the copyright.

Vanity presses may suggest the fee being charged to the author as the author’s share in the speculative investment that produces a book. What they fail to disclose is that not only do vanity presses make their profits from authors who pay their fees, but they also take the lion’s share of royalties earned through book sales. Self-published authors–at least those who care to produce a professional product–pay editors, proofreaders, graphic artists, etc. to produce their books, but those vendors are open about how they make their living. They provide specified services for fees charged; they do not earn a share of those royalties.

Many vanity publishers promise to market and promote their authors’ books. Those authors frequently report that marketing efforts depend entirely on them: the publishers made little or no effort to garner book sales. This is telling, because it shows that vanity presses don’t make their money primarily from selling books (i.e., from royalties); they make their money from payments made by authors. A self-published author understands that book promotion and marketing is his or her responsibility. Those who have the time and inclination may do it themselves; others hire publicists and book promoters to take on that responsibility. A vanity publisher doesn’t particularly care whether the book sells; they’ve got their money.

Unfortunately, that lack of marketing support has infected traditional publishers, too. They invest their marketing budgets into authors whose books they know will make a profit. That, of course, gives unknown and little known authors short shrift.

So, now that I’ve made the point to distinguish vanity presses from self-publishing, what’s the difference between assisted publishing and vanity presses? After all, the author pays for the services provided for assisted publishing just as he or she would to self-publish or publish through a vanity press.

The difference, once again, is transparency. As a provider of assisted publishing, Hen House Publishing offers a menu of services for fees. The author retains control throughout the publishing process and pays for the services he or she wants. That may or may not include the actual publication process itself during which the book is uploaded to the author’s preferred self-publishing platform. Here’s the catch: the author keeps the copyright.

Why would an author opt for assisted publishing? As stated above, producing a book meeting professional standards entails skills that most authors don’t possess and/or may not understand. Editing isn’t the same as writing; proofreading isn’t the same as editing. Page layout and cover design are similar, but not the same. Navigating the publication process requires a touch of marketing savvy helped by familiarity with the platform. These employ different skill sets that most people don’t acquire, much less combine.

As a provider of assisted publishing, Hen House Publishing brings the needed skills, experience, and knowledge to the project. This shortens or even eliminates the author’s learning curve while assuring a better quality book.

If you’ve written a book and seek to publish it, but don’t know where to start or need help along the publishing process, e-mail Hen House Publishing now. Or call (937) 964-5592. Let’s talk about your project, what the publishing process entails, and what you need to produce that book.

Every word counts.