Better to have a small slice of a huge pie than a huge slice of a small pie.
See also, Banoch-Tarski Paradox.
Yes, Ron Miller, it all comes down to the author him or herself paying to get his or work published (printed, distributed, promoted). The digital revolution makes that stuff very cheap and that is the reason vanity publishing, which used to carry a high up front cost, has essentially collapsed into self-publishing. It took a lot of vanity to sink 30 or 40 grand into getting your name on a book! Now it doesn't. Is vanity still involved? You bet. That's just human nature. Then it is still vanity publishing, just under a different name.But in the old days self-published work was rare because of the high costs (and heavy demands on one's vanity such costs produced) and, of course, the generally low quality of the work because that level of vanity tends to preclude one's being open to criticism or trying to identify and thus meet the highest standards.That’s not strictly true. Some pre-digital self-publishers simply went to a job printer to produce their books, thereby skipping every possibility of objective input, others went to legitimate vanity presses, such as Vantage, which did offer editing and design services. I would suspect that the motives were similar to today’s self-publishers: distrust of editors, lack of funds, etc.I would say that THAT is the core of the vanity press issue. Self publishing services like Lulu can help us finesse that and leave room for a better mix of judgment with our inevitable vanity. When my wife told me I was just throwing my money away on a vanity publishing effort I addressed that by pledging to her (but even more to myself) to go lightly on what I was prepared to invest. And I did. That doesn't, of course, serve a company like Lulu which wants to sell us more services and sometimes those services are probably worth it. But for most of us they probably aren't. And since The King of Vinland's Saga only ended up earning me about $3200 in royalties over three years, sinking more than that $730 into the project would probably have been a mistake at least if we assume the chance of enhancing my return from further investment was really very small which is what I had concluded.An argument might be made that your book might have done better had it been handled by a traditional publisher, with its editorial and marketing resources. And by traditional publisher I mean an established one, rather than the small start-ups you have dealt with.Nevertheless opportunities arose which cost me nothing including that contract with the agent (she would have taken 20% of anything she generated if I remember correctly) or the offer by SuperiorBooks.com which would pay me nothing up front but pledged to take over promotion and distribution and pay me royalties as they were earned. But I kept to my promise and never invested another cent into the book though I put in many, many hours of my time doing outreach for it online. And those events I coordinated were all undertaken because I figured they'd give me an opportunity to get my book wider recognition which they did though the direct impact on added sales was hard to measure. Just Kevin,I think we know that Lulu doesn't make its money selling books to readers but to authors. That's not a good forum for us to move our books to the general public but until Lulu can find a way (or decides to pursue a way) that focuses more on competing with online booksellers like amazon, they and we are stuck with that model. Frankly, if I was publishing my new one in the hopes of developing lots of sales I wouldn't use Lulu because Lulu's per book cost makes our retail price higher than the regular going rate for comparable books and its site is not a go-to place for readers who want to buy a book. I think more could be done by Lulu and that was what I originally was talking about when I first posted here but it doesn't seem like anyone is interested and I have other things I need to attend to. So I'll let that issue drop for now, too.