Publisher Pitfalls (VEDA Day 16)

Publisher Pitfalls (VEDA Day 16)

Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.

Today I want to talk to you about something I’ve been thinking about since yesterday, and it’s a very particular sort of pitfall that I see a lot of aspiring authors stumble into.

Most of us know about indie publishing and traditional publishing, right? Either you’re in control of it all and hire a team to publish and sell your book, or you hand your rights to a traditional publisher who does the grunt work for you in exchange for a majority of the profit.

But there is actually a third type of publishing out there, and it’s more prevalent than most people realize, and it’s always very disappointing to see.

There’s a particular breed of publisher out there who searches out aspiring authors and then tries to “sell” publishing services to that author.

In other words, the author pays the PUBLISHER to have their book formatted and placed in sales distribution channels, as well as some marketing.

Sometimes they also pay for the book to be edited and have a cover designed as well, but often times the author is expected to provide this as well.

But when the book is published and made available for sale, the publisher then ALSO takes a percentage of the royalties. Sometimes it’s a 50/50 split, but sometimes the author receives even less.

This sort of quote-unquote, “publishing deal” happens all the time. It’s happened to people I know personally, and I’ve seen it happen to countless other people online.

This arrangement is RARELY a good deal for the author. The publisher doesn’t make their money from selling books—they make their money from authors who want their books to sell.

Artists shouldn’t PAY their publisher for their services. The artist is already giving up the rights to their own intellectual property. Money is only supposed to flow one way: from the publisher to the author.

With a bigger, more established publisher, this will usually take the form of an advance: money given ahead of time that is then “paid back” out of the author’s share of the royalties.

Some smaller (but earnest) publishers can’t pay anything upfront, but will pay for production costs and then split the royalties with the author on the back end.

That’s the arrangement with Legacy Books at this time. One day I want to be able to pay authors an advance, but it’s just not possible right now, so all the profit sharing happens once the book is published and selling.

At the same time, I suppose it’s up to authors what they want to do. If they want to pay a small vanity publisher to get their work produced, it’s technically up to them.

But I’ve definitely seen it to be the case that most authors don’t KNOW their available options well enough. Self-publishing still has a bit of a bad name.

A lot of people see it as inherently inferior to ANY sort of publishing deal, not realizing that indies can produce work that’s just as good or better than anything traditional publishers can produce.

You can pay thousands dollars for a ‘publishing deal’ from one of these small vanity publishers.

Or you could take that same money and pay for your book to be edited to an extremely professional level, pay for a cover, and have lots of money left over for marketing.

And if you do it that way, you get 100% of the money from your sales. You’re not splitting it with someone whose business model is based on money they get from YOU, instead of readers.

I guess if you don’t want to do the work, sure, you CAN pay someone, but it just seems, from my perspective, that you give up SO MUCH in exchange for SO LITTLE.

I hope aspiring authors continue to become better educated about the options available to them. And I hope Legacy Books plays a role, however small, in changing the indie publishing landscape so that vanity publishers stop taking advantage of writers who just want their work to be seen.

That’s it for today, Rebel. I’d really appreciate it if you’d share this video around any writing community you happen to be part of. The more people who learn the difference between vanity publishers and a real publishing deal, the better.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you tomorrow. Byyye!

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at

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