"That odious label 'Vanity Publisher' became 'Creative Financier'."
Front cover of 'Leaves of Grass', Whitman's self-published volume
Public DomainFront cover of 'Leaves of Grass', Whitman's self-published volume

According to the British Advertising Standards Authority, a vanity publisher is 'any company which charges a client to publish a book; or offers to include short stories, poems or other literary or artistic material in an anthology and then invites those included in it to buy a copy of that anthology.'  Johnathon Clifford, who has campaigned long and hard against exploitative publishers (visit his website) claims to have coined the term vanity publisher himself. There is a fine line between self publishing and vanity publishing -  the latter generally charges a high premium to publish work of poor quality and offers little or no marketing help. Less mercenary publishers offer self-publishing packages which offer editorial and marketing services. Alternatively the author may choose to manage the entire process himself. Walt Whitman, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Alan Edgar Poe and Rudyard Kipling all self-published at some point in their lives.