Many of you will have seen various media reports this week about Lorna Page, the 93-year-old woman who published her novel A Dangerous Weakness with AuthorHouse, which supposedly paid her a £310,000 advance for it.
It seemed unlikely to many people, including me, that AuthorHouse would have paid any sort of advance to Ms Page, let alone one big as that. AuthorHouse is a well-known vanity press which expects writers to pay for publication, often to the tune of several thousand pounds. Which, as we know, is not how commercial publishing works--you know, the kind that pays its writers advances and gets their books into bookshops nationwide.
The story has been covered by the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Mail, the Mirror and the BBC, and has been discussed at Absolute Write (discussion starts at post number 393), Making Light, and Writer Beware!
I've been asked about this in the comments to one of my previous posts: you can read my responses here.
The BBC blog has now put up a response from Ms Page's daughter-in-law, Cate Allen, who has made it clear that Ms Page did indeed pay for her publication, and that no advance was given.
This story has been dreadfully misreported by the British media, but that's not the biggest issue here. That dubious honour is reserved for the thousands of people who have read the articles, consequently consider AuthorHouse to be a legitimate, advance-paying commercial press, and are now submitting their work to them.
To say it again: I strongly advise anyone to avoid vanity publishing, as this is not the way to become a successful writer. If you are determined to go that way, you'd better have low expectations and an open chequebook.