Vanity Publishing Vs Self Publishing


One thing we can be sure of is that the publishing world has changed, and is still changing. Self publishing is rumored to be the way to go. Going indie can be profitable. I say “can be”, because while there are many indie authors who do exceedingly well, there are also numerous others who barely make a few dollars a year. Competition is tough. That being said, I would still choose self publishing over vanity publishing any time.


Many reasons. And don’t let competition discourage you. You found my website among over a billion websites, didn’t you? Yep, as of 2019 there are now 1.94 billion websites. Getting noticed between all those blogs and pages is already a success, wouldn’t you agree? It isn’t much different for books. So, hang in there, don’t give up yet. Let me list the differences between vanity and self publishing, and I’ll explain why I prefer self publishing.

How Did Vanity Publishers Appear?

What is a vanity publisher? Basically, it is a publisher which authors pay to have their books published.

busyWhy do authors have to pay for that? Like I mentioned before, the publishing world has changed. It is not easy to submit your manuscript to a traditional publisher. It wasn’t easy in the old days either, but compared to today, it was definitely a lot simpler, and there was less competition. Now, publishers take ages before they even read your manuscript and – based on my conversations with authors on Twitter – many are rejected.

Rejections are not uncommon. At the same time, traditional publishers still need to bring new books on the market. Now, however, with the high amount of people writing books, publishers do reserve the right to be a lot pickier. I understand that. They cannot publish just any rubbish. Nonetheless, they risk rejecting some good work, and other authors who are truly talented don’t get the chance to get their work seen …

That’s where vanity publishers come in. Instead of waiting years to get your manuscript published – or even looked at – authors can pay a vanity publisher to do all the work for them.

What Do Vanity Publishers Do?

For a fee, they will provide the following services:

  • editing
  • formatting
  • book cover design
  • basic author website or author website on their own page
  • press release

The rest is up to you. You can, of course, also pay for marketing services, but adding up those new expenses to the ones you already had to publish, the bill adds up … For some, it is not a problem to pay all that money, but for many it is. And think about it, why do you have to pay someone to publish something that took you perhaps a year to write, something that was a lot of hard work? As if that wasn’t enough, now you have to dig into your wallet to get your soul, sweat, and tears out into the world.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to discourage you from using a vanity publisher. If this is what you prefer, then go for it. They definitely make things a lot easier for you. They do everything. Formatting a book is a lot of work, and not everyone has the time or patience for it. I understand that. The first time I formatted a book it took me ages, accompanied by several frustrated outbursts. With practice, you get better at it. Now, formatting is a lot easier for me.

So, in conclusion, a vanity publisher is right for a writer who prefers to have someone take care of everything. I used a vanity publisher for the first book I published, and after that I used another one for two more books, but then I turned to self publishing, because it just seemed more profitable. By that time I had also gained more information about it.

Why Self Publishing?

As an independent publisher, aka indie publisher, aka self publisher, you have all the control. You control how and when your book is published and you make more profit than you would if you published with a traditional or a vanity publisher.

Does an indie author need an editor?

As an indie author you’re in charge of everything, but you still need help for editing and book cover design, unless you’re a professional book cover designer yourself. When it comes to editing, I recommend you hire an editor to revise your manuscript. It’s always best to have another set of eyes examine your work. They may pick up on things that you might have missed. Doing it yourself is possible, but it is not recommended.

team-workAn editor doesn’t only check grammar, but also content. Perhaps there’s a paragraph that is unnecessary and can be deleted. Perhaps a certain character needs more or also less background information. Editors are great for spotting these things. When you’re editing your own work, there are many details you might miss. The editor is part of the writing team and helps the author deliver a polished end product to the book market.

When you self publish you’re in charge of:

  • formatting
  • release date
  • website
  • royalties
  • marketing

For marketing, you can hire professionals to help you. As for a website, you can create one yourself in under a minute. Wait, you expected me to tell you to pay someone to set up an elaborate website for you, didn’t you? Nope, why would I say that when WordPress and Siterubix offer this for free? Creating a website is no longer reserved for the techies, it is very accessible nowadays and no special knowledge is needed.

If you’d like to know more about setting up a website, you can click on the below lick to read my article.

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And don’t worry if you’re new at this, Wealthy Affiliate offers 10 lessons to set up and run a successful website. I took those lessons, and believe me, if I can learn it, you can too 🙂


Conclusion: Vanity or Self Publishing?

It is, of course, always easier to let someone else do all the work for you, but your wallet will get thinner. Having a vanity publisher also doesn’t guarantee immediate or high book sales. You still have to work hard to promote your books.

Self publishing is more work, but your wallet suffers less, meaning that the debt level stays lower, and you can invest in marketing services if there is a need for it. And you’re in control.


I find self publishing very rewarding. The moment that you get your book up there – on Amazon KDP, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, or whatever platform you prefer to use – is priceless. Although I love writing, it is difficult for me to put into words that first moment when you see your book up on the internet, or that moment when you hold your first paperback in your hands. It is indescribable.

Whichever route you take, if you have a story to tell, write it down, and get it out there, Let the world know your story!

22 thoughts on “Vanity Publishing Vs Self Publishing

  1. Really interesting post. I thank you for sharing your experience as a writer and self-publisher. I’ll be looking to write a book in the years to come and for sure I will cross this question. I still don’t know what I will choose to do but I’ll check both possibilities. I’m glad I found your post, and even your entire website! It looks amazing.

    Thanks again 🙂


  2. Hi Christine! I have now self-published two short books (via Kindle Publishing) and I have to say that, while I haven’t seen the biggest ROI to date, my investment has largely been one consisting of time, rather than both time and money. Not being the most visually creative individual, I think my biggest struggle was learning to create cover designs that would help my books attract attention. I still don’t know that I have the best designs for my respective niches, but I think it’s important to recognize that authors can now contract out for these individual services (cover design, editing, etc.), rather than having to pay a company for ALL of the services you mention! 

    1. Hi Tucker,

      I’ve also self published most of my books, except for three of them. It is indeed important to know that we can contract out for certain services. I don’t know how to make a cover design, so I always need to hire someone to do it for me 😉 

  3. Hello; Wow! Happy to have found your post. I read it and it has revealed so much to me. I had felt intimidated to self publish my script all along, but now that I found your brave I might want to follow your foot-steps.

    Some of these traditional publishers give cause for concern when it comes to publishing responsibility and all that involves publishing. I believe that the bottom line is: you should not use a publisher who you both personally know each other. have you seen it the way I saw it?


    1. Hi Dorcas,

      Don’t be intimidated. I must admit that I was also intimidated at first, but you learn as you go. We all learn from our mistakes, right? And Amazon KDP and Smashwords have excellent self publishing tools available. As for your question, I am not really sure about that. I think it can be a huge advantage if you know someone who works for a traditional publisher, it may open doors.

  4. Great article. 

    Vanity publishing is interesting. If you are rejected enough times from a main published. Vanity seems like an interesting route to take. I wonder if you could get some of the stuff done from the Vanity Publisher and take care of some of the leg work on your own, to lower the fee, but still have someone there to assist. 

    Although, self publishing your own book all together could bring more risk/reward. I guess it really depends on how much do you believe in your writing. 

    Fun read! 

    1. You can get a vanity publisher to do part of the work, to save costs, and then do the rest yourself. I have done that too. 

      And always believe in your writing, and a good editor 🙂 

  5. I was just discussing this decision with my wife, as I finish up my first book. There’s a part of me that wants to self publish, but I’m a little nervous and realize that hiring somebody else to  do the publishing for me has its perks as well. If I decide to self publish and it doesn’t go well, would I be able to republish it through vanity publishing? I already have an editor and somebody to do the cover art, I just don’t want to make the wrong decision when it comes to publishing. Thank you so much for your help! 

    1. Hi Travis,

      If you decide to self publish and you want to try a vanity publisher after that, you can still remove your self published book from the sales platform (like Amazon for example) and take the vanity publishing route. Whether it goes well depends on marketing, and a vanity publisher will only market your book if you pay for that service. Many writers who used vanity publishers still ended up having to market their books themselves. 

      An author website is recommended and a presence on social media, getting your book reviewed, etc. Book reviews are very important.

  6. This is really interesting and educating, normally the two are very useful and as well productive, but when it comes to taking all glory for what you did and also wanting to spend less and make more, self publishing is very advisable, but for someone with busy schedule and wants helping hands, vanity publishing is good. I don’t dispute any of them and I think it all depends on the writer. Thanks for this information.

    1. Exactly, it all depends on the writer, your budget, and how busy your life is. If you are on a busy schedule and you need help, then a vanity publisher comes in handy. I prefer self publishing, but it is indeed more work. 

  7. To my own understanding, I believe a work done by just one head can still retain some imperfections that may never be visible to the person but with the help of some other people, it’ll made a complete and perfect whole. This is based on the author’s choice, we all have different proficiency level and it’s always best to think properly before deciding things like this. It’s very thoughtful of you to share this.

  8. I’m more of a Self publisher but i only did it twice, I had to reconsider when the work got too much for me, I had other businesses I’m doing by the side and it was affecting a lot so I had no choice than to employ a vanity publisher. This brings me to the main point here, both determines on the situation and the mindset of the author. It’s helpful to have come across this article.

    1. True, it all depends on the situation and the mindset of the author. If vanity publishing is easier and it saves you time, then you should take that route. I recommend that you do some research about some vanity publishers first, but I’ll publish some reviews about vanity publishers soon 🙂 

      Here is a review of SBPRA, a vanity publisher I have used in the past.

  9. Thanks very much admin for sharing with us this wonderful article of vanity publishing vs self publishing because I have enjoyed it though am not such a good writer and thanks for sharing with us your experience as a writer because you tried both publishing systems though you preferred self publishing because it is affordable. Me too I prefer self publishing. Thanks very much for sharing with us in advance 

  10. Hi Christine, and thank you for sharing your experiences of how to go about publishing a piece of work.

    Its only in the last 2-3 years that I have taken up writing content on my site and found it difficult at first but writing a book is something totally different for which I am not ready for.

    I have this idea of writing about my life-story and this may be something for the future and its nice to now know the different approaches to publish.

    Once again thank you for sharing.
    I have often thought about writing a book about my life but haven’t got around to it as of yet

  11. Hi Christine. I am glad to learn you worked with SBPRA, am currently working with them, I have paid them over 2000$ and book is currently under production, and again they have come up with advanced marketing package of another 495 dollars even before the book is released and I also understand there will fee for epub, please advise me on what to do

    1. Hi Cavin,

      Unfortunately, we have to invest in marketing. There are also free promotions but to get noticed among the millions of books out there we have to invest. $2000 + another $495 is a hefty sum. What marketing package are they offering you?
      As for the epub, when I published with them I had to pay $500 to get my paperback converted to an ebook, but we can do that for free on Amazon with an author account on Amazon KDP. Smashwords also offers the same option. If you have a contract with SBPRA, though, I don’t know if you could do that (at least, not with the same book title)

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