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Stepping Stones, Ladders And Bridges.

Start small work your way up. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Climb the ladder one rung at a time. Get your foot in the door and the rest will follow. Well worn platitudes all. But what does it have to do with writing? Many writers think that the secret to getting published by a major house is working their way up.

Write a book, get it published by a vanity/utility publisher and thatís the first rung on the ladder to success. But is it? Do these books count for anything other than massaging the ego of the writer that they are indeed now Ďpublishedí? No. The publishing industry doesnít consider a vanity book as a writing credit because it hasnít been vetted. No one has determined that the book is well written or has market value. Quite a few agents and publishers look down on a writer that includes a vanity book in their resume as being unprofessional and naÔve.

Some even consider it a disadvantage because they assume the writer couldnít get the book published or they would have. A vanity book indicates to them poor writing. What about the motivation that is sparked by holding your very own book in your very own hands? Well odds are your hands will be the only ones holding that book. The average number of copies a vanity published book sells is about 100. Most literary agents are unimpressed until the sales level reaches 5000 or so copies. And those copies have to verified, the author canít just go on a credit card spending spree and buy tons of their own book. Itís not really a fair assessment because it is next to impossible to get a vanity book stocked in a bookstore. Bookstores are where most books meant for the public are sold. The stores demand 90 day payment terms and most vanity books are publish on demand which means paid for when ordered. Most publish on demand books are not returnable and bookstores want to return unsold copies.

Publish on demand books are priced from 30% to 50% higher than an offset printed book. Bookstores want competitively priced books. And finally publish on demand houses donít offer discounts that allow enough profit margin for the stores. Vanity published books are appropriate in lots of circumstances. The author has a book that appeals to a niche market that is too narrow for even a small press. The author lectures and speaks and wants a book that can be sold in the back of the house. The author has a book that is meaningful to their family or other personal relationship group but doesnít have much appeal outside that group. However much writers would like to believe it, a vanity published book is not a step up the ladder to a writing career, or a stepping stone to greater publishing achievements.


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