As described by Writer Beware, an author mill is:... a company that publishes a very large number of authors in the expectation of selling a hundred books or so from each (as opposed to publishing a limited number of authors in hopes of selling thousands of books from each, as commercial publishers do). Author mills don't require authors to make any financial expenditures at all, hidden or otherwise. However, they do rely on their authors as their major source of income (through books purchased by the author for re-sale, or sold to "pocket" markets the author him/herself is responsible for identifying), and so can be defined as vanity publishers, despite the lack of upfront or other charges. Also, author mills tend to share a business model with vanity publishers: no editorial screening of submissions, no meaningful pre-publication editing, no meaningful post-publication marketing or distribution.
Victoria Strauss has used the examples of PublishAmerica and VDM Publishing to illustrate the concept of author mill. More precisely, she has characterized VDM as “an academic author mill”.
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