NOTE: This is an opinion piece. Names have been left out to protect the (allegedly) guilty.
In the last few years, an amazing number of Print-on-Demand (PoD) small-presses have sprung up in the publishing world.
Some of these presses are run by very professional people who have an amazing level of talent when it comes to editing, layout and cover design. Some have a great deal of talent when it comes to sourcing other professionals with an amazing level of talent in editing, layout and cover design.
These presses run a very tight ship, they put out high quality perfect-bound paperbacks, eBooks and, sometimes, hardcovers. I have many of these books in my collection, and they are quality books, written by quality authors and edited by quality editors.
These presses pay their authors, give advances (admittedly, not as high as the bigger publishers, but still advances), and pay royalties for all sales. Sometimes, they put out 'for the love' anthologies (not very often), or publish free pdf downloads of selected short stories to get their name (and their authors' names) out there. There is nothing wrong with this. It's great exposure for all involved.
I have the highest respect for these people and the publishing houses they run. This new paradigm of PoD is giving authors a chance to get their names out there.
The publishing world is changing, and this is one of the biggest changes.
And then you have the other PoD presses. The ones that are run by authors who believe that they have an amazing level of talent when it comes to editing, layout and cover design. It's a shame they don't.
They're not editors, they're not cover artists and they're not layout artists. They're nothing but authors that have received too many rejections (that they feel aren't warranted) and have decided to self-publish. At the same time, they decided they'd do more than just self-publish: they decided they'd put out a submission call for other authors.
They put out 'for the love' anthologies all the time (and sometimes novels, if authors submit them); they don't pay authors, they don't give advances or even contributors' copies. Not often, anyway. The only ones who make money from their books are themselves.
The authors who trustingly submit to them, hoping for some exposure and to see their name in print, and the authors' families and friends, are the only real customers. These anthologies and novels are as close to vanity-publications as you can get without being vanity publications.
I don't think they do it with any real desire to deceive anyone. I don't think they realise that the books they release are sub-standard. Here is the problem. They really think they are putting out quality stuff.
I don't understand why they don't give royalties, nor why they don't give contributors' copies.
I do think they don't sell many books at all; only to the authors themselves, and the friends and families of the authors. If they did pay royalties, it wouldn't be much, but it'd be something.
Something is better than nothing. Something is something.
Sometimes, these presses move into the realm of more professional releases, and they start paying. More often than not, they don't. They keep on releasing 'for the love' anthologies until they run out of authors who want to submit.
Sadly, that never happens...
So, all you budding writers out there... have faith in your work, have faith in its strength and have faith in its ability to sell (yes, sell) to someone who values it enough to at least pay you for it.
Your time is valuable, and if you don't value it enough to want something in return, then who will?