Vanity Presses

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!

Famous Pen Names and How to Choose Yours

  • Although authors can register copyrights for work created under a pen name, remember that this reduces the length of time the copyright will be active.
  • Using a pen name doesn’t protect you from lawsuits, taxes, or anything else.
  • You can acquire a trademark for a pen name. (But not your own real name!)
  • You can legally sign contracts using a pen name.
  • Don’t use another author’s pen name or real name.

Peruse this list of famous pen names: J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seus (this one is a registered trademark, also), Lee Child, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, and Lemony Snicket.

Choosing a Pen Name:

  • Choose the right age. One that appeals to your readers. You might use a list of baby names of your target year, or one or two years older.
  • Choose names that fit your vibe and genre. Amazon is a great place for ideas by looking for author names in your genre.
  • You’ll want to own the internet domain and social media handles for your pen name. Go to siteground to see if your choice is available. Be sure to check under both .com and .org.
  • Use a name that is easy to pronounce, spell, and remember.
  • Make sure the name you choose isn’t identical or similar to another writer’s.
  • Sign up for social media sites using the pen name, even if you don’t use them right away.
  • Choose a fake photo. How? Go to Generated.photos/faces. (You can choose age, gender, skin tone, eye and hair color, emotion). Note: The free versions cannot be used commercially.)

More next week…