Today is Veterans Day, and that made me think of the memoir my grandpa published a few years back based on his time in the Marine Corps during World War 2. He had no wish to try to get it placed with a traditional publisher and make money off of it. His goal was to get that story in book form so he could share it with family and friends. Because of this, he chose one of the vanity presses (a service that he paid for to print and bind a number of copies of his book). It worked beautifully. The book turned out great, and he passed out copies to the family and his friends. He would even keep extra copies with him where ever he went so he could give them out as gifts of sorts to people he met. For my grandpa, paying to become a self-published author was the best way to go.
Those of us who are tying to make it in the publishing industry as authors usually have it drilled into our heads: it is rarely a good idea to pay money to get your work published--you should be paid instead. This is good advice. Something we need to remember, however, is that not everyone comes into the writing game with the same goals. If someone's goal is to simply be published, paying a self-publishing house to get this done is a fine option. There are people out there like my grandpa. We, as writers, shouldn't discourage people with such goals.
Writers need to know their options about their work. They need to look at both their long and short-term goals. Personally, I hope to find an agent and publisher for my work, but not everyone is the same. I've seen and heard of authors saying vanity presses are the worst thing out there, but that simply isn't true. While it is important to study up on which publisher to trust (as in all industries, some companies are better than others), if you simply want to have your work in print, self-publishing can be your best option. My grandpa discovered the joy of handing his book to people, and others can have that feeling, too. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.