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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do we really need another euphemism for "vanity publisher?"

After two years of fighting against what I considered to be a semantic outrage, I recently caved in, gave in and threw in the towel.

Since many people--and publications ranging from Writers Digest to the Wall Street Journal--think the term "self-publishing company" makes sense, I decided to go along. I am no longer banging my head against an unyielding concrete wall or peeing into the wind, and have moved on to fight other battles.

Lots of companies that have been referred to by detractors as "vanity publishers" or "vanity presses" prefer the "self-publishing company" label.

Some of the other labels and descriptions these companies use are: publish-on-demand, print-on-demand, subsidy publishing, alternative publishing, indie book publishing, cooperative publishing, on-demand publishing service, independent publishing, indie, do-it-yourself-publishing, supported self-publishing, joint assisted self-publishing, co-publishing, joint venture publishing, assisted self-publishing, author originated book publishing, hybrid publishing, short-run book printing, custom book publishing, independent self-printing, book publishing services company, provider of services to independent authors, fee-based publishing, and America’s best self-publishing value.

Well, now there's another label.

In her recent Principles of Self-Publishing, Theresa M. Moore (who previously concentrated on vampires and sci-fi) has come up with
self-help publisher.

While I share Theresa's apparent distaste for "self-publishing company," I disagree with her new terminology. The main problem is that the term has already been used many times by publishers of self-help books. Their books help people deal with  problems relating to self-esteem, smoking, addiction, alocholism, bad relationships, anorexia, sleep, bankruptcy, rebelious teenagers, anger, unemployment, ugly houses, malfunctioning motorcycles, and more.

Google shows nearly 8,000 links for the term, and most of them are to companies like New Harbinger Publications, which publishes self-help books.

Ironically, Author House and Balboa Press advertise that they'll help you to self-publish a self-help book.

Apparently, Theresa would say that these companies are self-help publishers of self-help books. That's too damn complicated for me. I'll stay with "self-publishing company," a least for now.

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