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What is the difference between vanity publishing and assisted self-publishing?

We occasionally get mistaken for a ‘vanity publisher’ when this couldn’t be further from the truth. We are, in fact, an Assisted Self-Publishing company. Not sure what that means? Let us explain.

What is a vanity publisher?

“A vanity publisher is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published...a vanity press will usually publish any book that a writer pays it to.”

A vanity publisher will charge you a very large amount in order to publish your work (often upwards of £3000), they are unselective about what they publish, offer limited cover design and editing services and – here’s the major catch – your work becomes their property. When you sign up with a vanity publisher you forfeit all rights to your book so that epic, beautiful story you spent months or years creating becomes the property of a company that isn’t interested in helping you market or distribute it. They already made their profit from your initial fee and now they’ve moved on to the next book.

Are we self-publishers?

We are an Assisted Self-Publishing company. With traditional self-publishing, authors are left entirely to their own devices to publish their work. This includes sourcing their own ISBN, managing production of their book, creating and implementing their own marketing plan, editing and proofreading and setting up distribution. Here at Rowanvale, we want to make the self-publishing process as easy as we can for you, which is why we offer a huge range of services including pre-production, publication, editorial and marketing to assist you. And we’re happy to tailor our packages to suit your needs – we don’t want you to pay for things that won’t benefit you.

What makes us different?

As Jo Herbert from Writers and Artists puts it, “Proper self-publishing companies offer the author a whole range of services from editing to jacket design to distribution. The author has complete control over every stage of production - how the book will look, how many copies are printed and how it'll be promoted. All this costs money, but reputable self-publishers make it clear how much each individual service costs and exactly where the money is being spent. And what will be clear, is that the costs involved are nothing like the amounts vanity publishers charge for their lousy products.”

Here at Rowanvale Books we believe in complete author control throughout, therefore part of the ethos of our company is to ensure that you are fully involved in the publication process every step of the way. This includes your full involvement in both the cover design and editorial process, putting you in direct contact with both your Senior Writing Advisor and Designer with no third party to go through. It is of paramount importance to us that we produce a book that you are proud of, which is why we ensure that you are so heavily involved with the publication process and are able to review (and provide feedback) at every stage. We also send you a physical proof copy of your work before the publication process is complete to ensure you’re completely happy before signing off.

We offer global distribution that is renewed annually. Furthermore, we have a strategic alliance with three top book PR companies, who are industry experts in book marketing, as well as our own Marketing & Aftercare Service so, when your book is published, you won't be feeling left out in the cold. And we are entirely transparent about all our fees - nothing is hidden.

We are very selective about what we will publish. We have strict Manuscript Guidelines that all authors must adhere to before we will accept their work. We always insist on one round of proofreading when publishing your work (even if your book has been edited externally). This is one of our basic standards as, not only do we want to ensure we are comfortable with the content of your book, we also want authors to have the best chance at success, and readers and reviewers may be put-off by reading a book that may contain spelling/grammatical errors.

Authors are also 100% in control of the rights to their book. They are free, at any point, to take their book (with no fee and no hassle) away from our imprint so they can publish with another publisher or under their own imprint. Your book remains your property.

Assisted self-publishing offers authors more control over the process and destiny of their book, while removing all the hassle. A lot of extremely successful authors started their journey as self-published (Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain and E.L. James to name a few) and used the platform they created with their self-published book as a stepping stone to success. So what's stopping you?

For more information on the differences between self-publishing and vanity publishing, check out this article by the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors.

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