A long time ago when traditional publishers ruled the book industry, a small group of publishers appeared called vanity publishers. For a price, they would print anything you wrote and turn it into a paperback or hardcover book. The goal was just to let authors see their work in print. Whether they actually sold any copies was secondary and often non-existent since bookstores almost never sold books published by vanity presses. A vanity press gave you a book and it was up to you to decide what to do with it.
Fast forward to today and many traditional publishers are becoming vanity publishers just to pay the bills. A friend of mine was once scheduled to give a talk at a stock trading conference so his name, face, and contact information had already been printed on the brochures, web site, and schedules that anyone could see. At the last moment, a family emergency forced him to cancel, but his name and face was still printed on every conference schedule that every attendee received.
A few days after the conference ended, my friend received an e-mail from someone representing a well-established and reputable publisher that has been around for over 100 years. This e-mail message basically said that the publisher had attended the conference and was impressed by his talk and topic. Then the e-mail went on to suggest that this topic could be turned into a book. If the author were only willing to pay a fixed number of copies, the publisher would be willing to help him publish his book.
Of course this e-mail was fake because my friend had not attended the conference so it was impossible for the publisher to have seen his talk. That means the publisher (the company has been around for over 100 years) must be sending out mass e-mail messages (like spam), trying to trick people into writing a book and buying a fixed number of copies so the publisher makes money. Whether the book sells or not is irrelevant to the publisher, just like it used to be with vanity publishers. Today’s well-established publishers are now turning into vanity publishers just to make money, and they’re doing it by tricking people into thinking their conference topics are worth turning into books whether someone from the publisher actually saw their conference talk or not.
When so-called traditional and reputable publishers (who have been around for over 100 years) have to resort to such trickery to make money, that’s when you know the world of traditional publishing is collapsing. When you have to rely on deceit and dishonesty to make money, you’re already in trouble.
So be careful. If you give a talk at a conference and a traditional publisher (with a well-established name) contacts you and offers to print your book if you’d only guarantee purchasing a fixed number of copies, chances are good you’re being conned. You don’t need to pay money to get your book printed. You can publish it yourself as an e-book or a print-on-demand book for free. Be careful of traditional publishers. If they have to resort to lying to make money, they’re as good as gone already.