Vanity Publishers or Self Publish? My Writing Journey


When I first contemplated the idea of attempting to write a book the first thing I did was ask myself … why?

The answer to that was that I had always enjoyed books. I collect modern 1st signed editions, and vainly imagined myself benignly autographing my own to an adoring audience. I was in for a rude shock.

My first move was to buy a range of ‘How to Write’ books written by authors most of whom hadn’t ever written a novel. I have a stack of them, and they are good for standing on to reach the top shelf of my library…

I next purchased a copy of ‘The Writers and Artists Yearbook.’ This much-flaunted tome has pages and pages devoted to Literary Agents, Publishers and advice on how to approach agents, what and what not to do or say.

I followed the advice and spent fortunes on paper, ink cartridges, post and packing. Dutifully, I sent off three sample chapters plus return postage and envelopes. I then sat back and waited. When the first reply arrived some weeks later it stated something along the lines… Thank you for thinking of our agency. Unfortunately we do not think this is for us, etc. This sharp rap on the knuckles was followed by similar replies.

The net result of these putdowns was that I had two or three completed novels that nobody wanted. I now know that I was not alone in this sad situation.

I looked around and there were organisations known as Vanity Publishers. Many have escaped that description by offering for large cash sums a published book with the opportunity of being posted on Amazon for a period of time. One or two even have bookstore representatives. I did well with one of these and promoted my book through Waterstones by having book signing mornings. I was selling up to fifteen to twenty copies per shop. Of course it dried up very quickly.

What I failed to understand is that the effort of doing that was all down to me, and nothing or any input came from the publisher. Almost without exception, these ‘quasi-publishers’ are fast to take money, but don’t give much in return. I can quote many cases... but not in this article.

A great swathe of literary agents, I realised, were obsessed with known writers and celebrity books, most of which are ghost written. New talent they see as a risk. 

With this in mind, I chose to go down the Indie route. It’s hard and difficult at times. But, there are unprecedented opportunities of positioning your book exactly where you want. You can promote, change prices at anytime, and edit even when the book is up and running on Kindle or CreateSpace. Used properly, it is an amazing opportunity if you are prepared to give your promotion full throttle on every available social media site. 

Author Ken Fry

When you find a resource you can trust, someone who can help you develop your books into something worth reading, and promotes it to the right platforms, it makes the Indie journey a lot easier. In this, I have Eeva Lancaster. She's an indomitable slave driver and whips me and my books into shape. With her assistance, I have self published 5 books, 1 of which reached the #2 bestseller spot overall, and #1 in 6 mystery thriller categories --- Suicide Seeds. The Lazzarus Succession was a #1 bestselling Religious Mystery on Amazon UK, and in the top 100 Religious Historical Fiction in the US and Australia. I have 2 more novels waiting to be published, and several short stories.

Readers are our lifeblood and you have to go to them as more than likely in the early stages of your career, they will never have heard of you! Successful marketing is king here and rules.

I hear some literary agents are going out of business and forever bellyaching about Amazon. They have only themselves to blame.

All power your to pen…