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How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors

22 September 2016

From David Gaughran:

The most prestigious event in the UK publishing calendar, the London Book Fair, welcomes predatory operators with open arms, deliberately positions them opposite author events for extra cash, and then helps to whitewash their reputation – even running misleading interviews and puff pieces on its own website to help them get more leads.

I’ve been campaigning against vanity presses and author exploitation for five years now, and one thing that became apparent is the key role of book fairs and industry events in this mess.

Vanity presses are always keen to appear at these events because it:

  • lends their seamy enterprise an air of legitimacy to inexperienced authors who don’t know better;
  • gives them direct access to a pool of newbie authors attending the events; and,
  • creates an opportunity to sell various products to their users such as book signing services and book display packages costing thousands of dollars.

. . . .

I called the London Book Fair this morning posing as a potential exhibitor called Arthur Kerr (sorry, couldn’t help it). Actually, the person I dealt with so nice and helpful that I felt terrible for the subterfuge, but I needed to establish some key points:

  1. It costs more to exhibit near the Author HQ, especially directly opposite same.
  2. Part of the deal (costing several thousand pounds) is a marketing package which includes “lead generation” – marketing speak for “we will deliver even more authors into your clutches.”
  3. No vetting whatsoever is done of exhibitors – even those who explicitly state they are engaged in author services and wish to take a stand directly opposite Author HQ. There were more questions about how many chairs I would like than what my “company” actually did (a big fat zero on the latter).

You might have guessed all of this already, but it was good to get it confirmed: the London Book Fair has absolutely no problem with exploitative author services being positioned where most writers will congregate.

Link to the rest at Let’s Be Digital

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David Gaughran, Self-Publishing

12 Comments to “How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors”

  1. Where’s Gomer Pile when ya need him?

  2. Kudos to Mr. Gaughran for his effort to keep us informed about vanity publishers.

  3. It might be more effective to contact some of the celebrity authors who draw the crowds to book fairs and convince them not to attend unless the organizers of these events agree to stop selling space to vanity presses.

  4. I recently had to explain the difference between vanity publishing and self publishing.

    Then had to explain how vanity publishing wasn’t ‘cheating’ because you pay for it. It’s a scam…

    Not sure why I tried. -shrug-

    • To clarify. They used the term ‘self publishing’ to mean going with one of the vanity publishers. Self publishing they called ‘putting it on Amazon.’

      As in, ‘self publishing is cheating, I’d rather just put myself up on Amazon.’

      I explained the differences, how the words are commonly understood in the indie community. Then explained how vanity pubbing isn’t cheating, it’s more akin to being cheated.

      They were trad hopefuls that think of ‘getting published’ as an ultimate goal, the ultimate pat on the head. Paying a vanity publisher for that pat on the head was ‘cheating’.

      Sorry for any confusion…:-)

  5. It might help if these big book fairs forced vanity publishers to prominently display their prices as well as their services.

  6. Who produces the London Show? If there is a profit, who gets it? If there is a loss, who pays it?

  7. I wonder what David recommends authors who are actual indies and trad [published can do about this. It seems there are enough of us to make the ship tilt.

    • Dunno. There are still too many dreamers for an actual boycott to have an effect and you can’t shame the shameless.
      Only solution is keep the light on and try to warn the unwary. Kinda like a lighthouse…

      “Here be cockroaches.”

      • I wonder Felix if pressure be brought to put proper signage on the pows of these folks, if the london book fair insists on their presence. Im pretty sure the LBF wants the enormous fees for table space these roaches take on. The tables fees are stiff.

        • Exactly.
          Big fees trump shame.
          And they are not going to do anything that puts those fees at risk.

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