We report and detail a method to achieve growth of vertical self-catalyzed GaAs nanowires directly on Si(111) with a near-perfect vertical yield, using electron-beam-defined arrays of holes in a dielectric layer and molecular beam epitaxy. In our conditions, GaAs nanowires are grown along a vapor–liquid–solid mechanism, using in situ self-forming Ga droplets. The focus of this paper is to understand the role of the substrate preparation and of the pre-growth conditioning. Without changing temperature or the V/III ratio, the yield of vertical nanowires is increased incrementally up to 95%. The possibility to achieve very dense arrays, with center-to-center inter-wire distances less than 100 nm, is demonstrated.