A vanity press is a publishing company that offers publishing services for a fee. They are often associated with publishing scams because of the exorbitant fees they charge to do everything an author could potentially do for themselves.
A vanity press will accept any and all works—even those who would not be commercially successful.
The most eye-opening difference between commercial publishers and vanity publishers is this:
Commercial publishers focus on the general public as their intended market.
But, vanity publishers focus is on the author, because they pay high fees and buy copies of their books themselves.
With a vanity press (which will print anything for money), the books don’t go through approval or editorial processes.
But, hey, some famous authors self-published some—or all—of their works. Recognize these names? Zane Grey, Edgar Allan Poe, Carl Sandberg, Mark Twain, and Walt Whitman.
Not all were financially successful. Mark Twain’s publishing business went bankrupt!