A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine told me about her friend who had written a novel and was looking for a publisher. Would I know of editors the friend could send her manuscript to, she asked.
I hadn't read the novel ( and I didn't want to, cos I don't want to be sued in future by someone claiming that a story I wrote is based on characters he/she created), but my friend gave me a brief synopsis of the themes covered in the novel. Based on that, I gave my friend contact details of a few publishers who work within those genres.
This morning my friend forwarded a letter her friend received. It was from a well-known international vanity publisher ( clearly the writer did her own research to find more publishers) and the editorial consultant was blathering on about how she has been assigned to help the novel writer make her masterpiece ready for publication. My friend wanted to know if I know anything about this publishing house.
My response was,"tell Forrest Gump to RUUUUUN!"
Okay.I also did explain why she should not accept the deal they were offering her.
I understand vanity publishing is an integral part of the publishing industry today. Some would even say a necessary part. And I'm very definitely pro self-publishing if and when the manuscript calls for it ( I'm planning to publish a children's book launching 1st September, so this is not just talk). That said, I get very angry when people manipulate the truth. Right from the beginning, a newbie author should be told that the publisher is a vanity publisher; that he/she will be expected to put upfront money to get the book published. She should also know the exact figure this will cost, and what the publisher will do to market and promote the book, if anything.
Don't hide the real cost of publishing under the too sweet "your story is soo wonderful and I'm so excited to be appointed to help get your manuscript ready for publication!" For that matter, make sure the new author understands that you're simply going to package the book for them; they still have to launch the publication and promote it.
I also believe that, when it comes to the business of writing and publishing, money should flow to the writer ( in any business deal that involves their works). The writer has done the work (writing) and should now benefit from it once the publisher's role kicks in.
And if the writer adds the role of publisher to her credentials, she should know about it, not have it happen accidently while she gets her manuscript ready for publication.