(By Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)
Fortunately, it has become common enough that writers pay for publishing services that it should not be an embarrassment for writers to compare notes amid their peers. In my opinion, there are some extraordinary writers who paid someone to turn their manuscripts into marketable books (I have published some exemplary poets, myself).
It’s a relatively recent trend: publishers focusing their efforts on accommodating the transformative “pandemic” of writers with needs to share their words in a tangible fashion. Some are up front with services (the publisher’s time) charged to the writer. Others are more subtle with “free publishing” bound to a book-buying requirement, but the price of “books” then pays for the books, the publisher’s time, and then some. Another downside to the “free publishing buy books” strategy is that the author comes to realize that his/her thin paperback must sell for $30 (and it must sell) for the writer to ever dream of recompense (when, truly, a reasonable retail price is likely lower than what the publisher charges the author). That’s why I stand behind up-front subsidy publishers in practice. It’s a step up from the vanity label, it’s not criminal, and it’s win-win.
Either way, it’s all the same: far more often than not, writers pay to get their words in print, and it’s obvious that they have no problem with it (considering the mind-bogglingly immense industry that has manifested of necessity).