A business arrangement where a publishing company agrees to publish a book while expecting the author to assume the financial risk.
In the era of traditional publishing, many authors were rejected by publishers or were unable to raise interest in their work.
The vanity publishing industry offered these authors a way to have their work published, but instead of the advance offered by a traditional publishing contract, the author was expected to pay to have the work published.
Unfortunately, many vanity publishers demanded inflated prices, preyed on the author's emotions or ego, or used other unethical business practices to ensnare authors.
As a result, vanity publishing earned a generally negative reputation, and came to be seen as a scam, unworthy of "legitimate" authors.