I remember when my kids were in their teens – oy, what a nightmare that was. They had a curfew. Midnight.

12:00 a.m.

If they blew in late, they had consequences. So when they came in at 12:30 or 12:15 they complained bitterly when they got extra chores packed into their Saturday mornings.

Oh! You are SO unfair! What’s the big deal? We got in around midnight.

Whazzat? What is it about AT midnight do you not understand? If we give you a specific time, then you need to get home at that time, not around that time. Why? Because it’s parsing – splitting hairs.

And that’s what I see happening in the publishing industry. When I confronted a publisher about his vanity imprint, they insisted it’s not vanity because he’s honest and has real editing. I’m sorry, but that’s parsing. Vanity publishing means that an author pays money to have their book pubbed. Nothing more, nothing less. That some publishers have chosen to be dishonest is a sad offshoot of this particular modality, but that dishonesty is NOT the definition of a vanity press, and no one should be confused with this issue. It’s one of the reasons I worry about the vanity option – there is too much room for abuse.

Just because you say you aren’t a vanity press doesn’t make it so. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it’s a duck.
Are there honest vanity presses out there? Yes. You just have to do your research.

The same thing goes when asked about distribution – the lifeblood of publishing. “Do you have distribution?” should be an easy answer. Sadly, it’s anything but with some publishers. The standard answer is: “Of course we have distribution! Ingram, Baker and Taylor distribute our books.”
This is not distribution. Ingram and B&T are warehouse distributors, meaning they ship to stores and libraries when a purchase order comes in. They don’t have sales teams who pitch your book to genre buyers and work to expose your book to the marketplace.

It’s parsing, and it serves to confuse the author.

My feeling is that anyone parsing and nitpicking who they are is someone who may need further scrutiny. Publishing should be a straightforward enterprise, and anyone who can’t answer your questions clearly and succinctly should send up a red flag for you to slow down and dig deeper.

Have you felt there were times when someone was parsing who they were and it confused you?

3 Responses to Parsing

  1. NinjaFingers says:

    And there is a place for vanity publishing and for self publishing services. But it is a *niche*…some of these dishonest types would like to push out real publishers.

    PublishAmerica, anyone?

  2. Drax says:

    Parsed and confused so many times there’s barely anything left of me. Barely.

  3. Digital Dame says:

    Unfortunately, new writers won’t even understand the response about Ingram, etc. if they get it from a vanity press. They’ll likely think it sounds great and won’t bother to dig any deeper.

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