Vanity Press to Indie Self Publishing

In 2010, I self-published my non-fiction tinnitus self-help book with a Canadian Vanity Press in Victoria, British Columbia. The publishing package seemed good. It included ebook (any format), paperback, hardcover, ISBNs, book cover design, interior formatting, worldwide distribution, author proof, author copies of paperback/hardcovers. I own the copyright. I set the pricing which I thought related to royalties. Almost immediately this Vanity Press was bought out by Author Solutions. An American publishing company that buys out smaller presses, keeping their name the same, but running them all the same way. I found out independent booksellers (e.g. amazon, barnes & noble, kobo, iBooks, etc.) could set the price to whatever they wanted and keep any profit. All payments to publisher after 2010 were in US$. Which always costs more in Cdn$.

Vanity Press 75% Royalty Share (2010 – 2016) = $$,$$$

My Profit (2010 – 2016) = $700
Profit = my 25% royalties minus publishing costs including costs to run my website, giveaways, etc.

My Vanity Press Costs (2010 – 2016)

  • $$$$ = 2010 publishing package cost
  • $$$ = per block of 25 changes when I updated book © 2012
  • $$$$ = 2012 marketing package including US copyright registration and Library of Congress number so book can go in libraries; my sales decreased after
  • $$ = 2016 more marketing. What was I thinking? It was for free ebook giftcards. Nobody wants them when I run giveaways. For ones I have given out, I have a 10% redemption rate. What a waste of money.
  • $$$ = Price in 2017 to submit book content to vanity press for updates
  • $$$ = Price in 2017 for vanity press to do “unlimited” interior changes
  • $$$$ = Secret Price in 2017 for a new publishing package if Vanity Press thinks there are too many content changes (They accidently sent me an email telling me this, then tried to recall it unsuccessfully).
  • It is a big problem to have such high revision fees especially for a non-fiction book where changes in technology and therapy tools happen over time.

Since I’m working on 2017 updates, I asked my Vanity Press if I could drop prices of my books. They said yes. I asked them to drop prices. They told me I can only change price for eBook. It’s “too complicated” to do for paperback/hardcover. I asked them to drop eBook to $.99. They will at their bookstore, but I can never change the price again. They told me it would take 3-5 business days. It has been 10 business days. Now they have “system maintenance problems” so they can’t lower the price yet. Independent booksellers have all lowered the price to $2.00 or less.

I can’t afford the 2017 Vanity Press updates, and I don’t like their control over pricing and revision costs. I looked at indie self-publishing. For various reasons including many free features, I picked amazon.

  • eBook and paperback editions
  • Amazon automatically assigns an ASIN number when you self-publish your book. So I don’t need to buy an ISBN ($$$) which they wouldn’t use anyway.
  • If you’re Canadian, amazon includes a tax form you can fill out for 0% withholding. I don’t know what the withholding is for other countries.
  • I own copyright.
  • Worldwide distribution
  • Digital Rights Management so people can’t copy and illegally use book content from their e-reader (same as Vanity Press)
  • I set the price. I can change the price whenever I want. Run a sale whenever I want for as long as I want.
  • Royalties depend on how I set the price (e.g. 35% – 70% for eBooks; 60% for paperback minus printing cost).
  • I upload the content/cover/book description for free. I can update the content/cover/book description whenever I want for free. After rough draft, first draft, beta draft, second draft and final draft, I uploaded the book and published. I was reading it to my blind Mom and found 3 more typos. Ten minutes later, my content was fixed and uploaded to replace current published version for free.
  • KDP select program if you only publish your book on amazon. If you join, it’s a 3 month term. Every 3 months you can do one free book promotion (up to 7 days) and one countdown deal promotion (e.g. I think the book starts free for a set number of days, then ½ price for a set number of days, then full price). Books doing countdowns are promoted by amazon at their website countdown deals section.
  • Amazon is currently working with Goodreads so authors can do e-book Goodreads giveaways.
  • Amazon is still in beta stage for paperback print on demand. I’m waiting until all features are in place before doing a paperback (e.g. author proof, author pricing on own books for paperback giveaways/promotions, etc.)

I signed up to be an amazon author for free. I do my own copy and story editing. I do my own formatting in Word according to amazon guidelines which is much easier than I thought it would be. Very little formatting required. If you don’t know how to do something in Word (e.g. linkable table of contents), explanations are online including in amazon formatting guide. I actually write in their format so I don’t have to change much when I get to uploading. I tested indie publishing out with a short story. No problems. Then I published a horror anthology. No problems.

If you are indie publishing, there would be a cost for graphic design (e.g. book cover). I’ve seen various prices for that on-line, including around $200 depending on graphic designer. Fortunately I have a graphic designer in my attic. In exchange for food and housing, I get free graphic design services.

I’m looking forward to publishing the © 2017 edition of my tinnitus book with amazon in about 2 months. E-Book and paperback editions. I think it’s the right decision for me.

2012 Tinnitus Treatment Toolbox eBook is now $.99 – $2.00 at on-line bookstores. (Did I mention you can change a book price on amazon within 24 – 48 hours?) Any updates since 2012 are on my blog.

 © 2017 Jan L. Mayes