I am still trying to find a home for my most recent novel, “Silent Waltz.” Yesterday I received an e-mail reply from one of the publishers on my submissions list. I had only sent the query, along with the first three chapters of the book, a few days earlier, so I assumed the e-mail was simply an acknowledgement of receipt and a projected timeframe for a publishing decision. That’s the normal process.

No. This publisher was willing to consider my novel for their traditional publishing option if I could answer a series of questions, one of which asked if I could basically guarantee the sale of a certain number of books. That number, by the way, is well above the sales I have been able to generate. Of course no writer can guarantee anything when it comes to sales, but that isn’t the point. I thought I was submitting to a small, traditional press, but it turns out I was wasting my time with a stealth vanity publisher. I immediately fired off an e-mail withdrawing “Silent Waltz” from further consideration.

The bad guys are getting smarter and, yes, vanity publishers are bad guys. In fact,I don’t consider them publishers at all, not in any real sense of the word. I would call them vendors if I was feeling polite, but I’m not feeling polite. They’re predators trolling for victims, writers that will pay. And pay. And pay. These “publishers”are people without morals, business ethics, confidence, talent, or working capital. They make car salesmen and plaintiff attorneys seem benign. Frankly, I’m surprised they still exist in the current self-publishing environment. Unfortunately, they’re still out there.

Thanks for listening. You’ve been warned.