Monday, 4 May 2009

Vanity Presses: Might They Steal Your Work?

I've been alerted to an anonymous complaint concerning a UK vanity press.

It concerns a writer who withdrew his submission as soon as he realised that he was dealing with a vanity press rather than a mainstream publisher. He asked for his material to be returned: but he's alleging that now publication is no longer an option the vanity press is ignoring all his attempts to contact it and has not returned any of the materials he supplied, despite repeated requests for it to do so.

Now, in this writer's situation I wouldn't be too worried: I'm sure he won't have been foolish enough to send in his only copy of the material, so he should still have a copy at home, safe and sound, to submit to somewhere more reputable; and this vanity press isn't going to publish his book unless he pays for it to do so, as it just doesn't have the sales channels available to make money by actually selling copies of it like good publishers do.

However, if you have had similar (or more sinister) problems with a vanity publisher I'd really like to hear from you, either in the comments to this thread or by email. You can reach me on "hprw at tesco dot net", and I'll keep all correspondence confidential.


Anonymous said...

I think this is probably a non-starter, Jane. Unless the author provided a SASE, they are not going to return the work. Nor would anyone here in the US.

You Brits are probably a more genteel, polite lot, but over here, we won't cover mailing costs of queries/submissions. It's the the author's responsibility to provide proper postage.

And in truth, it's not really worth it to request the return trip because those pages get pretty beaten up. Authors can rest assured that nearly everyone simply recycles the manuscripts if there is no SASE.

Jane Smith said...

Lynn, I agree with you about returned mss, and the need to enclose postage: as far as I know an SASE was enclosed, by the way, so it wouldn't be a big deal for the press to return the work; but there's a little more afoot here than a simple refusal to return material which I'm reluctant to go into just now.

And yes, I'm certain that the writer concerned has no reason to worry that the work will be stolen in any way: the publisher couldn't do anything with it that wouldn't cost it money, and it's not likely to do that given its track record.

Anonymous said...

You know; after I posted my comment, I realized there was obviously more to this than meets the eye, so apologies for being a twit.

catdownunder said...

It might not be quite as simple as it sounds Jane. What does the 'publisher' say about submissions? Was there a written contract - or even a verbal one? Did the 'publisher' do any work for which they can demand payment?
I am not trying to say anything in favour of vanity publishers - just saying that contract law still applies. (The cat wearing legal hat.)

Maggie Dana said...


Have received no word from you about the articles we discussed. If you replied, it means my email is acting up again.