Chicago Self-Publishing Group Message Board › Vanity Publishing vs Self Publishing
I thought this was a good article re Vanity/Subsidy Publishing vs Self Publishing. The waters are very muddy right now.
Subsidy and self-publishing exist as alternatives to traditional publishing when a traditional publisher does not want to make an investment in the author's work and in very rare cases where the author feels he or she can communicate with their market as well as or better than the traditional publisher.
Legitimate subsidy presses get paid to manage the process of getting your book into print. You can do it cheaper yourself but you will have to manage the process yourself. If you use a subsidy press, likely you will have to buy some number of books because that is often how they make their money (or at least amortize your investment). For example selling you 1,000 books at $8.00 each sounds more palatable than charging you $5,000 to edit and design your book plus $3.00 for every book you purchase. (dollar amounts are made up for this example) But in essence POD services like CreateSpace charge you for editing, set-up etc then charge you on a per book basis.
When considering self-publish POD, subsidy or whatever just compare the total cost then see if you are getting a fair shake. Consider how much you are qualified to do on your own and whether you are capable and willing to successfully manage your book project.
Here is the dirty secret: Whether you choose subsidy, self-publish, or traditional publishing the lion's share of marketing your book is your responsibility. Traditional publishers largely "take risks" on known authors or celebrities who have a following or fan base. The J.K. Rowling / Stephen King type success stories are one in a million and that is what keeps the Subsidy / Self-Publishing Industry in business.
Pay to have your book published yourself or via a subsidy press as long as you realize you are doing it because you want to see your project come to fruition and you have or are willing to create a fan base that you can share it with.