So you want to hold a copy of YOUR book in your hands! Writer beware of “vanity” publishers – I have learned this through personal experience.

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Do not be impressed by the enticing packages that several small vanity publishers offer, touting that they are affiliated with well-known companies like Random House or Penguin. Before you make any decisions, go on the internet and check out the many reports of scams that result in financial loss and broken dreams. (ie. http://bit.ly/1TbkTCr )

I have learned this through personal experience. In 2011 and 2012, I self-published two books through two different “vanity” publishers who assured me that my work was mine and that I had full control over everything. I was reluctant to invest in the high-end packages, so I chose the middle of the road ones, which gave me no book trailer or web page but since I already had my own web page that didn’t bother me in light of the extra cost. (Later I discovered that I could hire a private individual to create a book trailer at a very small fraction of the cost that the vanity publisher put on making it and the web pages that they created were very basic, and seldom visited. Today I could easily set it up myself and it wouldn’t cost me more than $150.00)

When I decided that I wanted to expand my market, I quickly learned that I did not own the “print ready” files for my books. When I offered to buy them, I was told that I would have to pay a given amount and my contract would be terminated.

That really annoyed me. I had already paid for a cover change and it had taken weeks to go through all the paperwork. Also, I only had ONE opportunity to change the price of my ebooks.  If I lowered them once, that was where the price would stay.

In the end, I decided to use PDF’s of the final prepublication files that I had sent to the companies and I published through Smashwords without the print ready files.

My husband has always believed that you have to invest to succeed. He has never shied away from hard work and he was absolutely convinced that writing, publishing and marketing would result in the same success he had achieved in his other business ventures.

He believed that his books were best-seller material, so he published through one of these houses in 2013 and went with high-end packages. After the books were published, he was expecting the company to market for him, but they only offered him many different marketing programs that resulted in money in the company’s pocket and vanishing dreams for him.

To lower his purchase price of one of the five books he had published with this company, he was persuaded to buy 3000 copies of it for a total of $12,000.00 USD (we are Canadian so figure the exchange on the dollar into that too). I listened in on the phone call because I was very unhappy about this contract, and the company representative PROMISED him that real people would take that particular book to bookstores and if they didn’t sell at one place, a real person would take it to other stores until all of the books were sold.

He had 1000 of the books shipped to our home in Canada, and over two years, with perseverance, dogged determination and hard work, he has sold more than half of them. To date, less than 50 of the 2000 books that went into a company warehouse have been sold. Tonight I checked on Amazon to be certain that I had the correct date of publication, and the book is listed as being out of stock, availability unknown. Yet the company assured him that all sales would be taken out of the big print run that is languishing somewhere.

In March of 2015, I knew I would never publish that way again. I had worked with Steve Caresser at @ePrintedBooks.com when I published on Smashwords, so I chose to use them again to edit, format, create a custom cover and upload my four book series (The Belanger Creek Ranch Series) to Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. It cost me less to publish all four books than it did for one of my husbands high-end packages and the work is done well. ePrintedBooks is a small, privately owned business and they offer many different services. The people that I worked with were extremely accommodating and friendly and I still maintain great relationships with them. I am very happy with the quality of the paperback books from CreateSpace and when I want to make a change on the cover, or an ebook price change it’s simple and quick to do.

In 2015 one of my husband’s books, as well as all four of my books received the Readers Favorite 5 star reviews. My husband had to go through the whole procedure and reams of paperwork to add a simple sticker to the cover of his book. It cost $179.00 USD and took almost three months to see it happen.

I emailed the girl who had designed my covers and she placed the seal on each of the four books, as well as a proudly Canadian symbol for $40.00 in total, and the covers were changed through CreateSpace in a couple of days.

There is no magic bullet for authors wanting to publish. My advice is to research thoroughly before you put your work into the hands of any company, no matter what they promise.  When you get to the fine print, their only obligation is to get your book into print. They do not market for you unless you pay them more, so you’d better have deep pockets. Marketing is hard work and ultimately YOU have to do it. You are the one who has invested your heart and soul in your work—and truly, in these situations, you are the only one who really cares if you are successful or not!

To check out The Belanger Creek Ranch Series on Amazon.com click here