That’s a fair point! I said that about the marketing because the several vanity publishers I’ve worked for (as an editor for their authors) have actually taken the marketing and promotions seriously and tend to it well. I’ve seen them get their authors on many podcasts, articles written about them, and use experts for creating ads and stuff. That was just my experience seeing it happen.
However, in general I do agree that vanity publishers overcharge, especially for those marketing services.
It’s hard for new authors, because they don’t know how or where to find editors, cover designers, or formatters, and don’t know that the actual self-publishing is free. Many of them seem to be willing to pay vanity publishers simply to have it out of their hands and getting done, versus doing the research and finding vendors and doing it all themselves.
I get the appeal, I just don’t personally want to spend that kind of money when I could (and did) do it myself.
I also think it’s important to stress that just because vanity publishers can come off as predatory that self-publishing is bad or wrong. It can be a great tool and launch you into the world of publishing and books!