I have a gmail acct and they sneakily give you ads based on key words in your emails. So of course because I'm on a couple publishing lists, I had an ad this morning "How To Get Published".
I was baffled. What kind of idiocy is this? You take your manuscript, format it according to the FAQ at kindle and 5 min. later you are published.
But no, this is XLibris who will do it for you. Why do you need them? Have you never heard of CreateSpace?
I'll tell you a brief story. I had a dear friend who was incredibly intelligent but she had a hard time channeling that into anything productive. (The smartest person doesn't always succeed.) So let me call her Chantal just to be over the top. So Chantal was a good enough writer. She was fine and she could have been published IF she had ever written anything anyone would want to read. But she didn't because all her stuff got in the way. She came upon an agent who took her on and then who quickly found her a publisher up in Canada--Commonwealth I think it was called--and they wanted to publish her non-fiction book, the Christian Cuss Book. Because Chantal, with all her amazing brain power, had gone through the Bible and determined what cuss words good Christians could use.
Chantal explained the facts of life to me. "I know publishing has changed since you started and Commonwealth has asked for $3000 to cover the costs." I tried to be calm and nice about it. "Listen to me, Chantal, you don't pay them, they pay you." "Yes, that's the old way," she explained patiently as if I didn't get it.
Turned out Commonwealth was running a huge scam and was closed down by the Royal Canadian Mounties. The "agent" was the wife of the publisher or some such thing. So poor Chantal got caught up in this mess. Her mother lost thousands of dollars and Chantal took another body-blow to her already frail self-image.
I don't know what makes writers stop thinking clearly when it comes to their books. I see it weekly on the mailing lists, not this but close enough.
Another story, not mine. This is a big Chassidic story that's told often. A man needs to get to a town, he's not familiar with the way. He comes to a crossroads where a boy is playing and asks for directions. The boy says "You can go the long but short way or you can go the short but long way." Well DUH. The man says "I'll go the short way." Okey dokey. The boy points and off the man goes. The short way turns out to be awful, it's got potholes and brambles and pretty soon it's blocked entirely. The man has to backtrack to the crossroads. "What the heck kind of information did you give me?" He demands. The boy shrugs. "Didn't I say that way was also long?"
If you take shortcuts, if you don't do your homework, and the research, you're not going to get where you want to go. Doing the work, going the long way, being patient is how to get to your destination.
XLibris, and many others, count on people wanting to go the short but long way.