Is the Advent of Vanity Publishing Diluting the Indian Literary Scene?

Here is a short explanation for the uninitiated: Vanity Publishing Presses or Vanity Publishers are those publishers who publish your novel or similar literary work for a certain fee. Where in traditional publishing you pitch your novel or story idea to the publisher, who can then either accept it, pay you an upfront fee, followed by royalties depending on book sales, a vanity publisher will publish whatever it is you want them to publish, while charging you a fee for their publishing service.

Vanity Publishing

Basically in the latter case you are paying the publisher to get your work published instead of the other way around. It is not to be confused with self-publishing which has zero upfront cost. Author’s Ink India, Partridge Publishing, Power Publishers India, are a few of the many vanity publishers in India.

Unlike in traditional publishing wherein your work has to be of a sufficiently high quality before it is accepted by the publisher, there are no such quality checks in vanity publishing. Many writers have taken to vanity publishing as a shortcut to get their book out, and in many cases these authors have churned out error-ridden books with improper grammar, and even basic errors of language in some cases! In their haste to get fame and renown as a ‘published author’, these writers usually sacrifice quality for speed, forgoing the use of beta-readers and editors who are exceptionally helpful in pointing out the many errors lying in a writers first draft. In fact, a number of times it so happens that these ‘authors’ end up publishing their first draft itself without any editing. In this case the vanity publishers are at fault as well, who in the process of making a quick buck ignore the need for good editing and beta-reading.

The old adage ‘A first draft is only to be written’ is oft ignored by both the writers and publishers, forgetting that even the greatest of authors also believe a first draft is one laden with mistakes and errors; it is only the rough structure which has to be improved by the second and third draft. There are many a renowned authors who believe that their first draft only served the function of being written, and it isn’t something they would want to open to the entire world for viewing.

Sadly, in their haste, more and more writers are turning to vanity publishers to publish their work without a thorough check, and in the process getting their names out quickly on sub-par work. Work which instead of elevating them high in the pantheon of literary greats will instead only lead to them being termed as hacks. Hacks who did not care for their craft enough to do a complete edit and weed out the many errors of language, grammar, plot, and much more.

The vanity publishers owe it to the writers- and to themselves- to let the writers know that their work needs to go under the knife, and that isn’t fit to be published, instead of catering to their demands and publishing work of low quality which will only dilute the literary scene.

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  1. Thre involvement of a meagre capital in exchange of the writeups have clearly been ruining the Indian Literature Environment. In an effort to make some quick bucks in exchange of the average or poor content has made the people in this business a little reluctant to work. This is something that must be pushed down! NGOs, societies and the government must take certain steps immediately to encounter this unseen danger.


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