There is a difference. As Robert Bindinotto explains, vanity presses are:
…companies that make their money, not by selling an author’s books to paying customers (readers), but by selling expensive publishing services to authors themselves. They couldn’t care less how many books are sold; they care only how many authors they can enlist to buy over-priced “packages” of services.
It used to be that these companies (“… including AuthorHouse, Trafford, iUniverse, Xlibris, Palibrio, BookTango, WordClay, FuseFrame, PitchFest, Author Learning Center, and AuthorHive” among many others) were on the forefront of internet-based self-publishing. That all changed when e-books meant anyone could finally get their books in front of anyone else. As Robert writes:
“You do not have to buy ‘self-publishing packages’ costing $2,500 to $10,000 or even more, from companies that promise you the moon in promotion, marketing, and advertising . . . but never deliver. To cite my own example: I self-published HUNTER…all for under $1,000.
So there are changes all through publishing, even in the sector that changed it all. What path have you taken or will take with your book? What have you experienced and what will you do different next time?
Planning to go the traditional route, personally, though really it’s kinda early for me to be deciding one way or the other. Wouldn’t be caught dead going to a vanity press, though 🙂