You may remember that I sent two manuscripts to a small press publisher that was having a crime novel contest. It took so long that I'd almost forgotten about the whole thing, but today I remembered to check their website. It turned out that they had picked the winners. I wasn't included. (The winner, Heikki-Antero Laurila, quite recently sent me stories to use in Isku. Congrats to Heikki, you'll be hearing from me soon!)
It also turned out that it was a good thing that I didn't make it. I heard from a reliable source that the contract they are offering is a vanity press contract. There will be a print run of 200 (which is very small, even in Finland) and the writer has to buy half of the books for himself! (And in cash!) I've pretty much suspected this, since the publisher puts out so many titles a year, but there's no mention of it anywhere on their site. I hope The Union of Finnish Writers (Kirjailijaliitto) makes a case out of this.
I'd also make out a plea that if you really want to pay to become a writer, do it yourself! Haven't made any calculations, but I'm pretty sure that a good old self-published book is cheaper to do than the ones vanity presses do. (And you don't pay anyone else - beside the printers, which is okay.) And it's not difficult, let me tell you that. (Well, okay, it requires a computer and an internet connection and some software.)
It's worrying that vanity presses are really coming to Finland. There are lots of writers who want to have their books published, but the results are so poor or mediocre they never make it. There are of course those who say that the publishers are stupid and that they - the writers - are great. You know, Vincent van Gogh didn't make it either. (I just read someone calling this the Van Gogh Fallacy: because van Gogh didn't make it and I can't make it, it means I'm a great artist too.) The vanity presses are making money on these writers and what's more important, they really don't promote their books. Do you see them in book stores? I don't. Do you ever see any reviews of them in magazines? But they get all the money.