Hi there, MM...Your researched facts are incorrect.
Xpress Yourself Publishing is not a self-publishing "outfit." In fact, we are a small traditional publisher, with a moderate staff, publishing a variety of titles in all genres. To date, we have published over 50 titles and by the end of 2009, we hope to double that number, as well as double the size of our author roster. And, although we are African-American owned, we do not discriminate with the titles or authors we publish. We do not, in any way, shape or form, charge authors to publish and we pay royalties that are competitive with the publishing industry. Our only request is that our authors are very active in promoting their work, which is to be expected of any author--whether self-published or traditionally published. A publisher cannot attend author signings for an author. It is the expectation of all authors to conduct book tours, attend literary events, non-literary events, etc. After all, if I (the publisher) am putting 100% of my finances behind an author's project, then I expect 100% participation from the author. I make this very clear on my Submissions page, as to weed out those authors who are only interested in having their book published for hobby purposes, or simply to see their names on a published book. I am not in the business of publishing hobbies.
Second, I do not know of any publisher that will GUARANTEE a title to be shelved in every bookstore. It would be idiotic for a publisher (one that is worth its salt) to make such a guarantee. If this was a viable guarantee, then it would be etched in an author's publishing contact. I've not viewed every publisher's contract, mind you, but the many publishers that I've conversed with does not and will not make such a guarantee. I'm not sure if you're an author or on the publishing side of the business, but if so, then you should be familiar with the process of getting one's title into bookstores. It's not as easy as one would think. Especially for African-American titles. I'm sure you've ventured into Borders, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion, etc., and have noticed the extremely small selection of African American titles showcased on one or two bookshelves, out of the 50 plus shelves in the store. However, with the state of the economy and Amazon.com, bookstores are tightening their straps when it comes to placing titles on shelves, no matter who publishes it. Further, and this is practically the case across the board (and with any business), the author (as well as the publisher) must create a demand for that title. This involves heavy marketing and promoting on both the author and publisher's part.
As the publisher, I make no claims that are not true. It's not necessary. On September 26, 2008, in Harlem, New York, Xpress Yourself Publishing was awarded the 2008 African American Literary Award for Independent Publisher of the Year, beating out Urban Books (which is an imprint of Kensington) and Triple Crown Publications, a very well-known and prosperous African American-owned publishing company, of which I hold in very high regard. I take much pride in that award and because you have not heard of it does not mean that it holds no validity. In addition, we have several authors who have graced the ESSENCE Magazine (a national publication with a reach of well over 1.5 million readers) Best Seller's List, as well as authors who have been up for nomination for the NAACP Image Award, an Emma Award-winning author, and other award-winning authors. Because you've not heard of an award is not cause to discount it.
I browe Absolute Write regularly, becuase I do find great advice given, and I look forward to reading more great advice!
Publisher, Xpress Yourself Publishing