The short answer is ‘NO’. The long answer is ‘Let me take you on a journey of educating yourself about how publishing works’.
Historically there were just two option for getting published.
Traditional Publishing House
The fussy and picky traditional publishers, who paid author upfront and took over the entire process of publishing (editing designing and marketing) the book only to later claim the major chunk of royalties and rights towards author’s intellectual property. Author hardly had a say for his own book. Yet these kind of publishers are most sought after because they are the ‘King Makers’.HaperCollins, Random House, and Scholastic are classic examples.
They are favoured by famous Yog’s law ‘money flows towards the writer’ also translated as ‘dignity lies in author getting paid by publishers’. It is believed that anyone who gets accepted by a traditional publisher will be a big success, which is actually not true and traditional publishers too have their fair share of not-so-successful books in the market.
But there is something off with this system. Frankly, to me it seems broken. Most reputable traditional publishing house will not even touch your manuscript if you do not have an agent. Most agents will not attend to you if you are not previously published by a reputable publisher and have some book awards to your credit. Most awards will not be willing to even nominate an unsolicited book. One gotta start somewhere!
Sensing the broken record of rejections in the field of traditional publishing, a newer discipline arose. An author can fund their way to publication. He himself edits the manuscript, formats it in to a printable book, draws and designs covers and relevant illustrations, then pays to a printer to get the number of copies he thinks he can sell and then markets them all by himself. If you do not possess the skill sets required for all these tasks you heir a freelancer for each task. Summing up all the money you will be paying at every step, it could get very expensive! All this works out well for many, some even have made it big through this process, but statistical numbers are still not promising.
Pay-to-play, print-on-demand and such titles are associated with this side of publishing.
A few businessmen saw the opportunity and started to offer the services all-at-one-stop. There were no filters apply. Anyone who can pay for the expenses and a little commission to the company can get as many as copies as they wish. Authors gets to keep all the rights of their books. But still marketing remained at the hands of author himself. Not many book stores are willing to list such books either. So, although you get your book published, your book might not ‘hit the shelves’ in the literal sense.
In the early 1940s sensing the vulnerability of authors exhausted by rejections from traditional publishers and perplexed by the chaos of self-publishing, the vultures flew in. This new kind asked the author for a huge chunk of money to pay for publishing services and produced a large number of copies of low-quality books, with nothing to show for marketing. As they do not accept books on any merit, they have no belief in the book produced and thus do not bother with marketing at all. Many vanity publishers were sued by authors while others announced bankruptcy. They are clear cut frauds and scammers. Vintage press and Authors’ solutions are classic examples.
Often vanity publishers claim to be subsidiaries or self-publishing companies. One needs to well research and do a detailed background check-up if going with anything other than a reputable traditional publisher.
Allow me to share an excerpt from a blog post by Richard Curtis:
“The line that once sharply separated traditional publishing (“We pay you”) and vanity publishing (“You pay us”) has all but dissolved in this corrosive environment of fabulous riches.’’
The new era is for hybrid publishing, and that’s what exactly Austin Macauley is doing. If they see potential in the author and the book is promising enough, they willingly take the risk and offer a traditional publishing contract. However, there are authors, books, and even genres like poetry that do not sell well and no traditional publishing company will give them a chance. To such authors, Austin Macauley will offer a contributory contract. Where the author will share the financial responsibility of the book. It’s different from self-publishing because they offer to market their book, get them listed in book stores and school libraries. They also push books through different media, radio television, and the internet included.
The average cost of publishing through the contributory contract of Austin Macauley is although un-known but some claim it is more expensive than self publishing. This might be accounted for the ‘professional finish’ of the book and additional marketing services they provide.
Austin Macauley Books are listed in most Barnes and Noble book stores (a reputed book store chain). Often children books author published by Austin Macauley are invited to attend the storytime, where the author reads from their book and interacts with the audience. Austin Macauley has also been part of certain controversies often accused by authors about ‘asking for money’, delayed responses, and every other thing that is part of the publishing business. Thing is, their business model is relatively new and many authors are unfamiliar with it. Competitors taking advantage of such naivety on part of authors, play with authors to harm the reputation of Austin Macauley.
However, Austin Macauley is yet a budding publisher and has a long way to go. At this stage, it really can not afford to be too picky about authors and content quality. So far it has survived the competitive market, doing a decent job at marketing but yet it has to expand its marketing network. Austin Macauley has been undergoing expansions quickly for the past three years. From the start of 2017, they have opened offices in New York, Sharjah, and Sydney. In the coming year, Austin Macauley also has plans to open offices in South Africa and Canada.
So basically because Austin Macauley sometimes offer traditional contracts and give marketing services to all their authors, they can not be classified as self-publishers. Austin Macauley state at their own website to be hybrid publishers. It seems advisable to me, to go for a small publisher, rather than self publishing. It makes your book look more credible if introduced with a name of a publishing house in comparison to be called as self-published.
While they still have margin to grow and places to go, it could be an excellent opportunity to get published with them as they are not yet as picky as Random House but still trying best to make their impression in the market. Runner up always tries harder in the next race, so it might be good idea to place your bets on them. It’s a great chance to grow with a s growing publisher.