Keith Snyder
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iUniverse and MWA

The Mystery Writers of America is reviewing its contract with iUniverse, which may or may not be renewed in the near future.

Currently, MWA members get a discount at iUniverse, and iUniverse gets to brag that it's affiliated with MWA.

I've always been a little uneasy about the association between the two. Whatever else it may be--the wave of the future, an economical way to print books--iUniverse is primarily a vanity press. I'm familiar with all the print-on-demand benefits, but when you go to, what you see is "GET PUBLISHED!" and "ROADMAP TO PUBLISHING SUCCESS!"

That's a vanity press, and those selling points at the top of its website are aimed directly at iUniverse's primary market: frustrated people who can't get published. As the more traditionally legitimate and professional of the two organizations, MWA appears to endorse iUniverse, not the other way around. Whatever MWA's intention, that's the appearance. Should a professional writers' organization endorse a vanity press?

Getting the best deal on vanity printing for those members who will choose it anyway is not, in my view, the wisest use of MWA's time, resources, and reputation, and I've said so to Those In Charge. Even if I were to use iUniverse, which I very well might at some point, depending, I wouldn't want it endorsed by MWA.

I think it's unethical for a professional writers' organization to appear to endorse the misleading claims made by any company that profits by targeting the unpublishable, regardless of the inarguable benefits to our own members.

But what do you think?

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