Vanity publishing is to authors as a prostitute is to love – Prof. Okpoko

Professor John Okpoko is a Mass Communication scholar, who has taught book publishing in many Nigerian universities for years. In his book titled “Understanding Book Publishing, he reveals different genres of book publishing and their peculiarities. Excepts below

Generally, there are three kinds of publishing arrangements commonly in the practice today. They are: Corporate publishing, subsidy seduction or vanity publishing and self publishing.

Corporate publishing is the traditional or conventional publishing arrangement, whereby the publisher accepts manuscripts from the author and undertakes the funding and sponsoring of the production of the book, starting from editing, type setting and page layout, filming, printing, binding, trimming and finishing.

The publisher is also in charge of marketing and distribution of the books; while he pays royalty to the author based on sale of the book on an agreed basis or conditions. The publisher bears much of the risk in case of poor sale.

Here, the publisher is absolutely in charge of the production of the book. In some cases, the publisher buys off the manuscript and pays off the author. What the author owns in this case, is only the authorship.

Corporate publishing makes the author famous; but no author can make a living through writing with corporate publishing. Even though, your confrontation with the corporate giant has thus far been profitless and largly painful, continue to let them know you are out there writing and struggling and dreaming.



In this type of publishing, subsidy publishing tempts the weary writer with praise and promises. The so called vanity press resembles corporate publishing in several ways. You still “submit” your manuscript, wait for publishers’s acceptance, sign a contract, and receive royalties for books sold.

The critical difference can be summed into two words: You pay. And this is the best advice for you. However, frustrated by rejections and enticed by “manuscripts wanted” advertisements, and impressed by promises of fat royalty payments, you may need only one word: Don’t, vanity deceives, vanity publishing is to authors as a prostitute is to love.

The typical vanity press contract requires that you pay all publication cost, of course, the publisher’s profit and usually calls for one third of the money upfront and another one third on approval of the galley (not page) proofs, and the final one third on publication.

Self publishing has become one of the more prolific examples of the rapidly growing phenomenon. In self publishing, as against subsidy publishing, you pay to have your books published.

Unlike vanity publishing, you own what you pay for and are free to market and give away your books, or just lovingly fondle your books. Brief look at the lineage of self publishing in America suggest that this second alternative to corporate publishing is much more than an ego massage for the rich illiterate.

Infact, self publishers have helped shape our nation’s political and literary history.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply