In February of this year, a blog post that claimed that Z Publishing was nothing more than a vanity publisher began to circulate the web. For two reasons, this was not an article we ever took seriously. First and foremost, the author of the said article—who we won’t name to avoid giving her more exposure than she has already garnished from us—utterly neglected the first rule of journalism, which is to reach out to the subject of your article for comment prior to publication. The author never messaged us on Facebook, never emailed us on any of the email accounts that we’ve publicly listed. Never asked for a quote. Never attempted to verify a single detail. Nothing. Clearly, the author was not after accuracy, and as the blatant advertisements for her books on her blog post implied, she was getting what she wanted: our web traffic.
As such, the core accusations the author makes in her piece all fall into one of three categories: those that are utterly untrue; those that are greatly exaggerated; and those that, while more or less true, are quite peculiar things to criticize. For months, we neglected to respond, knowing that our readers, our writers, our distributors, and our employees saw through the piece as easily as we did. Unfortunately, several more editors and bloggers—all, of course, promoting their own services along with their comments—have since followed suit, leaving critical reviews on sites like Quora while using the aforementioned article as the only “evidence” they need to back their claims. Now, unfortunately, we feel as if we must respond.
Well then, let’s go through some of the core points of accusation the author provides in her piece:
#1. Claim: Z Publishing outsources its printing to other companies.
Of course we do. We aren’t Random House; we are a three-year-old press that doesn’t have the funds to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollar equipment for a service that can be granted more conveniently by third parties. Anyone who suggests that this is a sign of a “scam” or “scheme” should probably never attempt to run a business. Maybe someday, if fortunes grant it, we will purchase our own printing mill. Until then, we see absolutely no issue with outsourcing our printing. Next.
#2. Claim: Z Publishing has hired overseas employees.
Now, you may be wondering, “So what if they have?” Our thoughts exactly. Nevertheless, let’s piece together this claim. The author’s “extensive” research takes her to LinkedIn, a site we haven’t used since our first year in business. Two or three of the dozen or so employees listed as having worked for us were indeed from overseas. They provided freelance services to us as we put together our very first book—plagiarism checks, mostly, and some file organization.
Currently, between part-time, full-time, and freelance workers, we maintain nearly fifty employees, and 40 of them are from the U.S—not that any of this matters. Just another informational tidbit the author could have learned if she had taken a few minutes to contact us.
#3. Now, to the brunt of the author’s criticism: our affiliates program.
Truthfully, we were a bit hesitant to begin this program, as we know how these programs can sometimes appear. In our first couple of years in business, our affiliates program was restricted to industry bloggers and social media influencers. During this time, our authors couldn’t earn any money from their selling of the books, even if they wanted to. Finally, enough authors asked for a means of earning a commission that we opened the program to our writers as well. We don’t encourage them to join it; we provide the link to join once and make it absolutely clear that the program is entirely optional and entirely free. Authors are not able to “recruit” others to become affiliates, despite what the author seems to imply. As all of our authors will attest, this is flat-out untrue.
Similarly, the author claims that we impose upon our affiliates that the best way to promote the book is through “spam.” Ironically, all of our affiliates must agree to a policy that unequivocally forbids spam. Who could have known?
The author goes on to suggest that we accept everyone who submits to us—as is the case for vanity publishers. Though we do accept a relatively high number of those who submit to us, this is only because we are very good at recruiting high-quality writers to submit to us. However, we do turn down writers on a daily basis. To prove this, we allow all those who are interested in submitting to us to download a free eBook of one of our anthologies. The author apparently didn’t take the time to download a file and read through it—if she had, she would have realized that there were no “weak links,” so to speak; all of the writers we’ve ever published are high-quality writers. That is a claim that no vanity publisher could ever make.
There are many other false claims and instances of faulty logic found throughout the article—such as criticizing a “Lifetime Membership” we offered for 24 hours on Cyber Monday in 2017 ($100 for unlimited digital access to any book we ever publish; a pretty darn good deal in our opinion) and claiming we’d be defunct within one year (we’re three years strong and running!)—but we’ve already used more of our time to respond to this than we had ever hoped we would. So, we’ll leave it at this:
There is a famous quote—often misattributed to Gandhi—from which we draw inspiration here at Z Publishing: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” When we first began as a Facebook group, we never could have foreseen that three years down the line, we’d be responding to bloggers criticizing our mission. No one knew who we were, and in a way, we liked that. For the most part, we were ignored. Then we transitioned into a blog and began expanding our team of writers and editors. Still with a minimal base of readers, other companies would laugh at us when we inquired about possible collaboration.
Fast forward. We’ve now published over 100 books; our physical retail base is expanding; our products are appearing in blockbuster movies; we’re being hired out by major companies for writing, editing, transcription, and translation work; and we have just begun a program to offer distribution deals to our favorite writers—meaning no blogger can any longer claim we don’t “pay writers.” The more we expand, it seems, the more traditional publishers and clickbait-happy bloggers want to push back at us. Only thing is, we aren’t backing down.
The author did get one thing right: we do have “grandiose plans.” Indeed, our original mission of providing an alternative to the scam of traditional publishing and the by-and-large uselessness of self-publishing is still alive and well. And the fact that we are now being criticized for it by those who have interests in protecting the old model only solidifies to us that we are close.