24 June 2004

There was an interesting article just published in the San Antonio Current about a notorious vanity press. The article attempts to be somewhat even-handed about the subject, but betrays some real ignorance—ignorance that is exactly what the publishing industry wants, even if it denies it—with the following conclusion:

That last point is crucial. [PublishAmerica] certainly could be more forthright in how they present their services and business model, and everyone would profit if PA were more diligent in their practices, but it is up to prospective authors to do their homework.

Susan Pagani, "Paperback Writer" (24 June 2004). The obvious followup question one should ask is simple: "how"? The resources to do so simply aren't available to the general public, or even to the writing community. Inexperienced writers have no good way to judge the credibility of sources on publishing law and practice; and most of the major sources also have major conflicts of interest, both disclosed and undisclosed, even aside from the glaring inaccuracies and misleading pictures common in all of the print periodicals aimed at writers. Perhaps the reference to the Beatles song—which involved an almost stereotypically ignorant aspiring author telling everything he didn't know about publishing—is the most important thing one could get from the article.