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Thread: Sakura Publishing & Technologies

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Sakura Publishing & Technologies

    A search turned up a complaint on Ripoff Report, but with several people coming to the company's defense. See here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Derek-...uds-Int-776100

    But then Sakura Publishing was shown as being exposed as a vanity publisher--where poetry was concerned anyway--on ChicagoPoetry.com. Here is the link: http://chicagopoetry.com/modules.php...ticle&sid=1519

    I'm asking because I got a response to a query that I send, just for the heck of it. Was wondering if I should bother responding after these findings.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    We are not a vanity press, but we aren't a major publishing house either. We are a new kind of publishing house known as a hybrid. This means that we expect our authors to contribute more to their success than if you were to just sit back and let a traditional publisher do all the work for you. So we expect you to contribute financially towards your book editing, ebook formatting, book cover design, and if you want, a website design for your marketing platform.
    If they expect you to contribute financially, they are a vanity press.

    All the smokescreen talk doesn't change that.

    Vanity press is synonymous with not caring, and we don't think that describes us at all.
    I'm sure they care all right. They care about your money.
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    Grumpy writer and editor Absolute Sage Gillhoughly's Avatar
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    just sit back and let a traditional publisher do all the work for you.
    Which rather IS their job, after sending the writer a CHECK.

    So we expect you to contribute financially towards your book editing, ebook formatting, book cover design, and if you want, a website design
    In other words, all the stuff a publisher is supposed to do. Only in this case the writer pays THEM money to "just sit back" and have a good laugh at putting one over on another desperate and gullible victim.

    Good on you for doing a background check!

  5. #5
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    From Derek, the founder of Sakura Publishing

    Hello all. I am not sure if it's okay to post on here in defense of my company, but I'm going to in hopes that I can clear up some stuff written on here and elsewhere online.
    For years, my company has been helping authors get their books into print. I did my very best to model Sakura after a traditional press and not accept manuscripts just because money was involved. In fact, I've had to turn down several big contracts simply because the writing wasn't there for me. Still, I guess we got lumped in with the rest of the vanity press pond scum because we charged authors for services. But my goal was ALWAYS to one day get Sakura made into a traditional press and as of this week, that has finally happened. It's just that I couldn't have done it without being able to charge writers initially during our first few years.
    As a side note, virtually NONE of the up front money we received from authors went into my pockets. I paid freelancers to help me with the work involved using that up front money. The only exception were website jobs for authors. I did those myself, so sure, I took some of the money for time spent working on those sites. I also spent a great deal of monies received on marketing. And I'm not talking about a few social media postings. For one of my authors, I commissioned a series of giclee prints based off her poetry. For another author, we made a series of bookmarks and necklaces with her poetry verses attached. Whenever we could, we went above and beyond the usual route of blog postings and press release work for our authors. I even did SEO for their sites for free, all in hopes of making sales.
    And we did make sales. Quite a few, in fact. That's another reason why I was able to finally make the switch over to being a traditional press.
    So I am writing on here because of two reasons. First, I respect those on here and I hate that in the publishing world, there are so many snakes and sharks that will seek out unsuspecting authors who don't know any better and take advantage of them. I can't tell you how many authors have come to me because somebody like Authorhouse completely ripped them off, and they wanted my help to get out of their terrible situation with that awful company. So I sympathize with trying to find a decent publisher who means well and isn't trying to destroy an author's dreams. I am an author as well, so I try to approach managing Sakura publishing with an author's mindset.
    The second reason I'm writing is because I've had, unfortunately, individuals post negative comments about Sakura online that, of course, Google shoves to page one for all to see. I call this Google's "Shame Algorithm," as whenever somebody sees those bad reports, they then immediately look at all the GREAT and WONDERFUL publishers using GOOGLE ADWORDS. And when somebody decides to click their link instead of ours, guess who makes money on that?
    Ah, but I digress.
    I think it should be noted that the one rip off report written about our company was because I was going to hire somebody to do a freelance job and asked them to submit a sample of their work first, but when they thought they should be paid for that sample, though I clearly told them it wouldn't be, they naturally went off the deep end and blasted our company. Easy to do, right? Especially when this person felt so angered that there was no alternative like, oh I dunno, talking to me about it, that he could've pursued. Nope. He just went straight to Rip off Report and now, Sakura's screwed for life, thank you very much.
    The other person who posted something terrible about us was CJ Laity from Chicago Poetry. Based on what several people that know him told me, he was upset that Sakura Publishing attended an Annual Chicago Poetry Fair, so he did his best to make it look like all I cared about was getting his money. Don't ask me how the two are related in his mind. Anyway, he sent me some of the worst poetry I have ever read, but I still tried to be kind and helpful and tell him that if we did some editing work, maybe we could do something with it. I didn't say we would necessarily have a contract put in place as a result. That's the part he completely left out. COMPLETELY. It was a case of me being a nice guy and not a jerk to him, as I thought maybe it could've been a case of just a poor choice of submitting the wrong piece for consideration (that's actually happened to us before with a query that turned out to be a best seller on our label!). And as a matter of standard practice, I told him up front that there were costs involved, so we could avoid maybe getting to a place where both of us want to publish together but the author can't afford to do so with us. Then all that time has been wasted talking about publishing. I hope that makes sense. It wasn't like all I cared about was getting this guy's money. But Mr. Laity felt it necessary to paint the devil mask on my face. He probably also did it because negativity always attracts readers (remember: Google's SHAME ALGORITHM!). I suppose it's partly why Chicago Poetry is so popular... if you go on there, you'll see CJ routinely goes out and does stuff like this. Some of it I am sure is well deserved when he sniffs out bad companies and scam artists, but I have to wonder if he lies about what happens with them like he blatantly did with our interaction, just to get readers to read his posts?
    I am sorry to write such a ridiculously long post but I want anyone who reads this to consider that not all vanity and subsidy presses are made equal. There are some genuinely good ones out there that are doing what they can to help authors with their visions. Sure, I admit that they are VERY few and far between, as I would say about 98% of them are scam artists. But I'm not one of them. And I'm proud to announce that we don't make authors pay anymore for ANY part of their publication process once we accept their manuscript, so I am hoping it will never be part of any discussion about Sakura Publishing ever again.
    That's not to say that we still don't expect authors to help themselves as well. Authors and publishers in this day and age need to understand they are in a business relationship that extends both ways. And my company still has a long ways to go in terms of all we can offer authors and what we can do for them. But right now, we are doing what we can, and we are even offering a few writing contests, including one for horror and the other for fiction/poetry. It's a start for us, I think.
    Again, sorry for such a long post. If anyone has anything they want to talk about in terms of our business practices, I am more than willing to engage anyone in a real conversation about what we've done and what we want to do and will continue to do for our authors (e.g., we still offer services INDEPENDENT from our publication process). Thank you so much for reading this if you actually made it this far! I wish all you writers out there good luck as well.

  6. #6
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    Still, I guess we got lumped in with the rest of the vanity press pond scum because we charged authors for services.
    This is like saying, "I guess we got lumped in with the rest of the drug dealing pond scum because we sold people meth."

    Whatever your intentions were, if you charge writers for services, you're a vanity press. It doesn't matter where the money went or if you did some things for free.

    That being said, I checked out your website and there's this in the FAQs:

    So for the record, we will NEVER charge authors a dime to publish their book and do all the things relating to publication, such as editing their book, formatting it, designing their book cover, and ebook conversion. Just to avoid any confusion, we still do offer services independent of our publishing efforts, but if you decide to use the services we provide, we can't publish the book that needs these services. It would be a conflict of interest for us, and we suppose people might think it could be a sneaky way for us to still get paid but have the advantage of being called a traditional press and not a vanity or hybrid press anymore. We don't want to give anyone that idea, so our service department is entirely a separate entity from our publishing house.
    That's a step in the right direction, but then I kept reading... see below.

    I am sorry to write such a ridiculously long post but I want anyone who reads this to consider that not all vanity and subsidy presses are made equal. There are some genuinely good ones out there that are doing what they can to help authors with their visions. Sure, I admit that they are VERY few and far between, as I would say about 98% of them are scam artists. But I'm not one of them.
    A press can be a very bad choice for writers without being a scam.

    For instance, I checked out your submissions page and saw this:

    If you plan to not market your book at all, please let us know so we can toss your manuscript into the garbage. We donít mean to sound rude, but honestly, authors need to have a budget prepared for publication. Not having one and expecting us to do everything for your marketing wise is not feasible for us, as we are effectively business partners once your book is put out there into the world for public consumption. So what you might want to do is let us know exactly how you plan to market your book, how many books you are going to buy up front (500 to 2000 is what we are hoping you will consider
    Wow.

    but we donít expect it or require it from our authors. At the same time, NOT saying you will be this many books does weigh somewhat on our decision to publish your manuscript), and if you plan to hire a publicist or not. Not telling us these things in your query doesnít inspire a lot of confidence in working with you, so please donít skip this part of your pitch to us. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THE FOLLOWING: We donít make ANY money off books you buy for yourself, like some presses do.
    You don't? So if an author buys, say, 1000 copies of their book, who gets the money they pay?

    Also, there's this:

    READING FEE: Sakura Publishing is a very small press. To help offset what it costs for us to devote editorial time towards reading and responding to your manuscript, there is a non-refundable reading fee of $25 dollars, payable to Sakura Publishing & Technologies. Manuscripts that arrive via email or snail mail without this fee paid will not be considered for publication.
    So as far as I'm concerned... you're still a vanity press.
    Sleeping Beauty m/m retelling : 28,064 words.

  7. #7
    Oh, the humanity. Giant Baby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    I did my very best to model Sakura after a traditional press and not accept manuscripts just because money was involved.
    This sentence contradicts itself. Badly.

    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    And we did make sales. Quite a few, in fact. That's another reason why I was able to finally make the switch over to being a traditional press.
    You've done nothing of the sort. Below, from your submission guidelines, as of 9:49pm tonight EDT:

    FOR EMAIL QUERIES:
    First, pay the reading fee by clicking the Paypal BUY NOW button below.
    Next, use our contact form on the contact page HERE.
    and

    FOR SNAIL MAIL QUERIES:
    First, pay the reading fee with the BUY NOW button above in the email query section. Or if you prefer, you can send along a MONEY ORDER to the address below, payable to Sakura Publishing & Technologies. DO NOT SEND A CHECK. It will be ripped up and discarded.
    I won't get into the trade/traditional press semantics here. This post seems argument enough against your understanding of and/or your plans for the field.

    No "traditional" publishing for you.
    Moral of the story: Soy yogurt is evil and don't cross picketlines. -Twizzle

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Misundertandings and presumptions abound

    Wow, I guess Absolute Write isn't kidding when they branded me as somebody needing to thicken my skin!
    I really appreciate the instant feedback, even if it is a bit... misconstrued? Anyways, allow me to retort:
    The comparison of calling me a drug dealer who sells meth because I had a press that charged authors is basically adopting the attitude that ALL vanity presses are bad. Maybe that's a deserved conception, as most are as I had mentioned, but my question is, when did it get to be a BAD thing to charge an author to help put their book out? Or better yet, are all presses that charge automatically considered evil drug dealing scum, so to speak? I guess I don't understand how you can lump me in with vanity presses that were or are less than scrupulous with their business approach, being that I was always up front with my authors about what they were paying, why they were paying it, and where that money was going. So I can't agree with your analogy. I made no qualms about charging authors because I don't see the inherent problem in doing that when the authors I charged BEGGED ME to help them and had NO ISSUES at all paying, even after I spent hours on the phone with them to educate them about self-publishing possibly being a better option for them. Most of them wanted somebody to hold their hand and help them, which is exactly what I did, and which is exactly why several of our authors became best sellers.

    As for still being a vanity press, where the heck are you getting that from? Because I charge a reading fee? For your information, there are HUNDREDS of reputable and amazing presses that charge reading fees, simply because of the expenses over their heads. So I won't even dignify that comment. Many other presses who couldn't even BEGIN to be called vanity presses do that.

    And finally, the whole part about where I suggest buying books. Okay, I knew that somebody out there would look at that and think what I'm suggesting is buy books so I can make a quick buck off each sale. Here's the deal: If a book cost me 2.55 to print and I charge my authors 2.55 to get that book, does that answer your question where the money goes, or do I honestly need to spell that out for you? (HINT: It starts with "P" and ends with "RINTERS" lol). I mean, seriously? Authors get the books AT COST for me to print them, or what I factor at least if I am doing a print run of their books ( I do both POD and short print runs), so how I am making money off that is beyond me.
    The reason I suggest buying books to start is simple: It works. When authors have a strong support group right at the beginning and can build that support group up to hundreds of people, then it makes sense to get hundreds of books, right? Also, if they somehow get thousands of people to commit, that's even better. I have actually worked with authors who have bought as many as 8,000 books AND SOLD A THIRD OF THOSE BOOKS THE DAY THEIR BOOK CAME OUT. So I am basing this number off past experience of seeing what happens when an author can drum up those great numbers for their book's debut. And why wouldn't I, as a publisher, indie or major, NOT want that? So I want authors to be thinking in a marketing, business sense already. That's me preparing the authors to realize they now have an item to SELL to the world, and it's good to have the STOCK to do it.
    Does that make sense? If it doesn't, I would have to ask you what your experience is with publishing, because I feel that charging reading fees and encouraging authors to buy books so they can have a strong opening for their book is part of doing business as a small, just beginning indie press. And I hope authors who come to us see that and think the same.
    But thank you for your opinion. I really appreciate it. I wish you the best of luck if you are an author or a publisher and are trying to do the right thing in the publishing world, whatever "RIGHT" is to you.
    -D.

  9. #9
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    The comparison of calling me a drug dealer who sells meth because I had a press that charged authors is basically adopting the attitude that ALL vanity presses are bad.
    No. It's saying that if you charge authors for any part of production, you're a vanity press.

    It's not making a value judgment about whether vanity presses are good or bad.

    Maybe that's a deserved conception, as most are as I had mentioned, but my question is, when did it get to be a BAD thing to charge an author to help put their book out?
    It's not a good thing for authors who believe they're being "traditionally" published.

    Or better yet, are all presses that charge automatically considered evil drug dealing scum, so to speak?
    All presses that charge are vanity presses.

    I guess I don't understand how you can lump me in with vanity presses that were or are less than scrupulous with their business approach, being that I was always up front with my authors about what they were paying, why they were paying it, and where that money was going.
    It doesn't matter to me whether you were up front about what your authors were paying or why they were paying it.

    The bottom line is : if you charge money, you are a vanity press.

    So I can't agree with your analogy. I made no qualms about charging authors because I don't see the inherent problem in doing that when the authors I charged BEGGED ME to help them and had NO ISSUES at all paying
    Doesn't matter.

    If someone BEGS me to sell them meth, and if they have NO ISSUES at all with paying for meth, it still makes me a drug dealer if I sell them meth.

    I don't get to hide behind, "But they wanted it!" Or, for that matter, "I spent hours on the phone to educate them about rehab and they still wanted meth, so I had no choice but to sell them some. That doesn't make me a dealer!"

    As for still being a vanity press, where the heck are you getting that from? Because I charge a reading fee? For your information, there are HUNDREDS of reputable and amazing presses that charge reading fees, simply because of the expenses over their heads.
    Oh really?

    Name some of those reputable and amazing presses. Go on.

    And finally, the whole part about where I suggest buying books. Okay, I knew that somebody out there would look at that and think what I'm suggesting is buy books so I can make a quick buck off each sale. Here's the deal: If a book cost me 2.55 to print and I charge my authors 2.55 to get that book, does that answer your question where the money goes, or do I honestly need to spell that out for you? (HINT: It starts with "P" and ends with "RINTERS" lol).
    But you do get the money, though. The author doesn't pay the printer directly.

    The reason I suggest buying books to start is simple: It works.
    It works if you want your press to make a quick profit off of authors, certainly.
    Last edited by Marian Perera; 07-18-2014 at 06:45 AM.
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  10. #10
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    arguing about two different things I think

    I think you are misunderstanding, once again, my point. I am not saying that we weren't a vanity press. In the past, sure, I guess if you want to call us a vanity press, fine. But what I am NOT okay with is the negative stigma attached to being called a vanity press. I won't stand for that, as we didn't adopt the unscrupulous practices that many vanity presses do. So whether we were a vanity press or not doesn't make a bit of a difference, it's what we did when we charged authors for work done. And I would like to think that our record of helping authors succeed speaks for itself.

    However, you are trying to provide a weak argument saying that we are STILL a vanity press. Why, because we physically process the money that we take from the authors to get their books printed by the printers that we use? I can understand that for some people, this is a wonderful chance for a crappy publisher to sneak in some dollars, over inflate the cost of a print production, and then make money that way. But by even suggesting this, you are accusing US of doing that. I won't stand for that. We have NEVER done that, not even when we were a "VANITY PRESS." When we say authors get the books at cost to print, we mean exactly that. But just because we handle their orders doesn't make us automatically crooks.
    Sadly, I don't blame you for the distrust. I really don't. After all the authors I've personally had to talk to on the phone and try to help them through their crappy deals with the kind of vanity presses you keep linking us to, I really get where you are coming from. Too many easy ways to scam the author. But like I said before, I am an author, too, and I have always approached publishing to do what's best for the author. If I had a million dollars or heck, even a third of that, I could've probably started a traditional publishing label and never charged a dime for anything, but I started out doing ghost writes for individuals who didn't know how to tell a story themselves, and every time I did one, the next question out of those individuals was "HOW DO I GET THIS PUBLISHED?" I looked into so much of the impossibility of getting published by the NY sisters, and I realized that it would be better to try and help authors by opening up a press of my own. This, keep in mind, was way before I even really considered small presses or indie presses to be possible for these individuals. But small presses are just as difficult, it seems, to get works accepted by, so even if I HAD considered a small press at that time, I just felt I could do the same. And yeah, I charged. So what? I made as many authors happy as I could, and I don't regret that one bit. I do regret though that many people have this large assumption of all vanity presses are bad. They aren't. What I did was proof that's not the case.
    Still, I'm not here to defend vanity presses. The majority don't deserve it. I just want to defend what we're doing because I believe in it. You don't have to though.
    And one final note before I get back to selling books, reading fees are something, again, I don't need to dignify at all. It takes time to read all the manuscripts we receive. And as for presses that are reputable that have reading fees, geez, where do I even begin? Aqueous books (open free periods and then contests, which is the same type of deal), Ahsahta, Tupelo Press, Cooper Dillon, etc., etc., etc. And I'm proud to now be listed amongst presses like these.

  11. #11
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  12. #12
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    I think you are misunderstanding, once again, my point. I am not saying that we weren't a vanity press. In the past, sure, I guess if you want to call us a vanity press, fine. But what I am NOT okay with is the negative stigma attached to being called a vanity press.
    It's not just in the past.

    If you charge writers reading fees, you are a vanity press. If you sell authors their own books in bulk and encourage them to make these purchases, you are a vanity press.

    I won't stand for that, as we didn't adopt the unscrupulous practices that many vanity presses do.
    It doesn't matter. If you charge authors for any aspect of book production, you are a vanity press. Whether you are scrupulous or unscrupulous about it is another matter.

    However, you are trying to provide a weak argument saying that we are STILL a vanity press. Why, because we physically process the money that we take from the authors to get their books printed by the printers that we use?
    If you encourage writers to buy their own books in bulk from you, that makes you a vanity press.

    I can understand that for some people, this is a wonderful chance for a crappy publisher to sneak in some dollars, over inflate the cost of a print production, and then make money that way. But by even suggesting this, you are accusing US of doing that. I won't stand for that. We have NEVER done that, not even when we were a "VANITY PRESS." When we say authors get the books at cost to print, we mean exactly that. But just because we handle their orders doesn't make us automatically crooks.
    Who said you were crooks?

    I said that your charging authors for any aspect of book production made you a vanity press. Trying to obfuscate the issue with claims that you didn't actually take their money because you had to pay the printer makes no difference.

    But like I said before, I am an author, too, and I have always approached publishing to do what's best for the author.
    What's best for authors isn't paying reading fees and buying hundreds of copies of their own books.

    And yeah, I charged. So what?
    So that makes you a vanity press and one that cannot be recommended.

    And one final note before I get back to selling books, reading fees are something, again, I don't need to dignify at all. It takes time to read all the manuscripts we receive.
    Part of the cost of doing business. Fobbing that cost off on the author isn't what reputable presses do.

    And as for presses that are reputable that have reading fees, geez, where do I even begin? Aqueous books (open free periods and then contests, which is the same type of deal),
    A contest is not the same as a press which charges a reading fee for each submission.

    More about whether or not to pay a contest fee.
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  13. #13
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    agree to disagree

    So what you are saying is that Tupelo press is a vanity press because they charge a reading fee? Wow. We are just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.

    It's obvious you just don't want to hear that authors have a responsibility to invest in their books they write. But let me just say that nowadays, it doesn't matter if you are with a traditional press or small press. The game has changed in the past several years. Your way of thinking is the old way of thinking. If you have a press who encourages you to buy copies of your books at the onset, they are being forward thinking about the fact that they want you to succeed and know that this makes sense on so many levels I don't have room here to type them all. It's smart BUSINESS (assuming of course these presses aren't scamming through book buying). You are looking at publishing as this romanticized notion of send your manuscript in, get accepted, sit back and let your publishers do all the work.
    UH, no.
    Maybe twenty years ago that miiiight have been somewhat true, but today more than ever, with all the options authors have at their fingertips, this makes no sense for authors to do their best to market themselves in addition to what their publishers do. And one of the best and most easiest ways for an author to do that is to buy books, sell them to their friends and family, and get a bunch of reviews put up on amazon that way. If you can't see how that isn't good business, we're done talking about this.
    But then again, by your logic, you think the presses I listed are vanity presses, so maybe I am fighting a losing battle here if you seriously want to call those presses vanities.
    And curious, why wouldn't you recommend Sakura? If it's for the reasons you've discussed, then that means you wouldn't recommend a company like Tupelo, one of the most distinguished presses for poetry writers in the WORLD, because they charge a reading fee?
    Enough said I suppose. Good to talk to you and take care. Good luck to you with all your publishing endeavors, if you are even a writer.

  14. #14
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    So what you are saying is that Tupelo press is a vanity press because they charge a reading fee?
    I'm calling Sakura Publishing a vanity press because you charge reading fees.

    If you don't understand the difference between reading fees and contest fees, check out the link I provided.

    It's obvious you just don't want to hear that authors have a responsibility to invest in their books they write.
    The investment is writing the book.

    The investment should not be paying a vanity press.

    If you have a press who encourages you to buy copies of your books at the onset, they are being forward thinking about the fact that they want you to succeed and know that this makes sense on so many levels I don't have room here to type them all.
    If you are a press which encourages your authors to buy their books in bulk at the onset, you are being clear that you want to make a profit off your authors at the start. This has nothing to do with authors succeeding.

    It's smart BUSINESS (assuming of course these presses aren't scamming through book buying).
    It may be smart BUSINESS for the vanity press.

    It's not smart BUSINESS for the author because they are now out of pocket.

    ETA : Also, how can the author know for certain that the press doesn't make any profit off of such bulk book orders?

    You are looking at publishing as this romanticized notion of send your manuscript in, get accepted, sit back and let your publishers do all the work.
    And you are looking at publishing from the point of view of a vanity press.

    Maybe twenty years ago that miiiight have been somewhat true, but today more than ever, with all the options authors have at their fingertips, this makes no sense for authors to do their best to market themselves in addition to what their publishers do. And one of the best and most easiest ways for an author to do that is to buy books, sell them to their friends and family, and get a bunch of reviews put up on amazon that way. If you can't see how that isn't good business, we're done talking about this.
    Authors becoming salespeople to their families and friends, and getting those families and friends to write reviews, is not a good way for an author to market themselves.

    But then again, by your logic, you think the presses I listed are vanity presses
    You're wrong about that too, unfortunately.

    so maybe I am fighting a losing battle here if you seriously want to call those presses vanities.

    And curious, why wouldn't you recommend Sakura? If it's for the reasons you've discussed, then that means you wouldn't recommend a company like Tupelo, one of the most distinguished presses for poetry writers in the WORLD, because they charge a reading fee?
    I don't recommend Sakura Publishing because Sakura Publishing is a vanity press which charges reading fees and which encourages authors to buy their own books in bulk, with the founder apparently believing that an author should become a salesperson selling these books to families and friends.

    Enough said I suppose. Good to talk to you and take care. Good luck to you with all your publishing endeavors, if you are even a writer.
    Stay classy.
    Last edited by Marian Perera; 07-18-2014 at 08:48 AM.
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  15. #15
    Grr. Argh. Thedrellum's Avatar
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    dvj124, Tupelo, Ahsahta, Copper Canyon (which you didn't mention, but is another highly respected poetry press) all charge fees, either reading fees through their open submission period or through contests. I would not call them vanity presses.

    However, they are also mostly poetry presses, and poetry presses (mostly, again) don't make money. In fact, many of them are non-profit enterprises and the funds for the contests generally goes back into production, not into a bonus for the CEO (not that a "bonus" would probably happen for any publisher). They also are generally really--to repeat myself--are highly respected in the poetry world, so if you are published by them it's a credential to be proud of.

    BUT they also generally don't sell thousands upon thousands of copies of books. AND they also don't sell copies of the books to their authors and expect to get marketing done that way. All of those presses spend money on advertisements in trade magazines and go to the major book fairs and have distribution in place to find an audience for their authors, however small that audience might be (because we're talking about poetry here).

    Slight de-rail, and I apologize. As for the strictest definition of "vanity press," as Queen of Swords has stated, they might still be considered such. However, note that being called a vanity press doesn't include any judgment about the press involved, it is simply describing the process of production.
    Last edited by Thedrellum; 07-18-2014 at 08:36 AM. Reason: cross-posting clarification

  16. #16
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thedrellum View Post
    dvj124, Tupelo, Ahsahta, Copper Canyon (which you didn't mention, but is another highly respected poetry press) all charge fees, either reading fees through their open submission period or through contests. I would not call them vanity presses.

    However, they are also mostly poetry presses, and poetry presses (mostly, again) don't make money.
    Plus, that's three or four presses, if you count Aqueous. Hardly the "HUNDREDS" that Derek originally mentioned.

    BUT they also generally don't sell thousands upon thousands of copies of books. AND they also don't sell copies of the books to their authors and expect to get marketing done that way.
    Exactly.

    As far as I know, Tupelo and Copper Canyon don't encourage their authors to buy 500 - 2000 copies of their books, via claims that this is good marketing strategy for authors and the wave of the future and so on.
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  17. #17
    Moody Floridian Bunny Latina Bunny's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what the confusion is? I'm a newbie to publishing industry, so I may be entirely wrong...

    From what I have learned about publishing, if an author wants to be published in the "traditional" sense, the author (who writes fiction) shouldn't have to pay to be published. They write (the best story they can), revise it, then query and sub. (While waiting for the rejections/acceptances, authors should be writing their next book).

    The author does not pay for marketing, if I remember correctly. Sure, the author can create a blog, website, etc, but that is a little extra promotion, not the main marketing that trade publishers should be doing.

    Yes, some epubs or small presses may need some author promotion, but I have not seen them require authors to pay for it. Neither do they require for authors to buy their own copies.

    If my research is correct, if an author is to pay anything to the publisher for any aspect of the publishing process, then that publisher is a vanity, regardless if it has good intentions or not. And that's not a judgement on whether you're a scam or not. It just is.

    If my research was wrong, please correct me, so I can be better educated.

    Edit: I don't know what LuLu and other similar companies are called. Printers? POD?
    Last edited by Latina Bunny; 07-18-2014 at 08:48 AM.

  18. #18
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    ETA: link

    Do you offer advances to authors?

    No we do not, and for very good reasons. First, the whole idea of offering an author an advance means that the publishing house who wants to work with you is taking a huge chance on your book succeeding.
    That's surely part of the business, isn't it? It's important to know the market well enough to predict sales. No advance translates as 'I don't think your book will sell enough to recoup our outlay'.

    There are alarming statistics in the publishing world that indicate for every book a publisher house offers an advance on, that book rarely, if ever, makes back its advance.
    Citation needed.

    That means the author who wrote it never sees a dime past what he or she is given for the advance, as all royalties go directly to the publisher until the advance is completely paid back to the publishing house. That just doesn't seem like good business to us.
    It means that the author gets some payment for the huge investment of time involved in writing a book. Without an advance, they might get nothing at all.

    Instead, what we've done is cut out that part of the publication process and offer a traditional royalty split with authors, the terms of which are discussed in your contract with us. Typically, your royalty rates will be split into three categories: Physical copies sold, ebooks sold, and third party sales (this includes sales to bookstores, book clubs, etc.). Each of these categories will have different royalty rates applied to them.
    You've cut out the only bit that guarantees income to the author.
    Last edited by Helix; 07-18-2014 at 09:03 AM.


  19. #19
    Perpetually in transit Helix's Avatar
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    I realise that not every small press offers an advance. I'm not furrowing my brow over the lack of upfront cash, but at the reason for not offering it. I see there's a slightly different statement on the front page.

    Our thoughts on advances

    Sakura publishing does not offer advances. The reason for this lies in the fact that we are a small press who has to weigh our options very carefully with each publication. If we offer authors a lump sum of money like other publishing houses, it might not bode well for our future, should the publication not earn back the advance. Typically, major publishers offer an upfront sum of money to an author, but until the book earns back that upfront sum for the publisher, the author doesnít receive any royalties for book sales. And since nobody has any idea whether or not a book will earn back its advance, itís possible that you might get a lump sum payment upfront for your book, but you wonít see a dime of royalty payments. Perhaps in the future we will offer advances, but right now it makes more sense for us to shy away from this component of the traditional publishing model.


  20. #20
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Browsing around Sakura's website a little more...

    There's a "Horror Writing Contest" with a non-refundable $30 fee per submission and this disclaimer.

    Also, please keep in mind that we may not select anyone if the entries arenít what we are looking for, especially since this involves a publication contract. We reserve the right to not extend an award if this happens.
    Ditto for their "Fiction and Poetry writing contest". Not sure why horror and fiction are separate.

    And this part is hilarious:

    Typically, however, our acceptance rate for manuscripts is about 22%. Yes, we know this is a low number
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  21. #21
    Behind the door of a small house.
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    Most of them wanted somebody to hold their hand and help them, which is exactly what I did, and which is exactly why several of our authors became best sellers.
    How are you defining the term "best seller?" New York Times? USA Today? Wall Street Journal?

  22. #22
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    I'm guessing that it means "Amazon sub-category" bestseller.

  23. #23
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    So what you are saying is that Tupelo press is a vanity press because they charge a reading fee? Wow. We are just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.
    Your press looks like a vanity press to me.

    In addition, I've worked in publishing for over thirty years now and have had over thirty five books published. I have encountered many publishers and literary agents which charge reading fees in that time: not one of them had a good record of sales. It's a red flag.

    It's obvious you just don't want to hear that authors have a responsibility to invest in their books they write.
    I think the opposite is true.

    But let me just say that nowadays, it doesn't matter if you are with a traditional press or small press. The game has changed in the past several years. Your way of thinking is the old way of thinking. If you have a press who encourages you to buy copies of your books at the onset, they are being forward thinking about the fact that they want you to succeed and know that this makes sense on so many levels I don't have room here to type them all. It's smart BUSINESS (assuming of course these presses aren't scamming through book buying). You are looking at publishing as this romanticized notion of send your manuscript in, get accepted, sit back and let your publishers do all the work.
    UH, no.
    It's a writer's job to write books.

    It's a publisher's job to publish books effectively. That involves selling the books in good quantity. And no, insisting that writers buy their own books is not smart business sense, it's cheap, distasteful, and unethical.

    Maybe twenty years ago that miiiight have been somewhat true, but today more than ever, with all the options authors have at their fingertips, this makes no sense for authors to do their best to market themselves in addition to what their publishers do.
    Try this instead:

    "Maybe twenty years ago that miiiight have been somewhat true, but today more than ever, with all the options publishers have at their fingertips, this makes no sense [sic] for authors to do their best to market themselves in addition to what their publishers do."

    The options that authors have are open to publishers too. Good publishers have sales and marketing specialists on staff who take care of these things; authors don't.

    And one of the best and most easiest ways for an author to do that is to buy books, sell them to their friends and family, and get a bunch of reviews put up on amazon that way. If you can't see how that isn't good business, we're done talking about this.
    Nonsense.

    I have never, ever been required by my publishers to buy the books I've written. They've sent me a crate of each one, for nothing; but my contracts expressly forbid me to sell those.

    If an author is busy trying to sell her books to her friends and family chances are she's not going to be writing new books. She's certainly not going to be able to sell the "500 to 2000" you "expect" her to buy. As for getting Amazon reviews out of those bought books: that's your publicist's job. Not your authors'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Helix View Post
    I realise that not every small press offers an advance. I'm not furrowing my brow over the lack of upfront cash, but at the reason for not offering it. I see there's a slightly different statement on the front page.
    Our thoughts on advances

    Sakura publishing does not offer advances. The reason for this lies in the fact that we are a small press who has to weigh our options very carefully with each publication. If we offer authors a lump sum of money like other publishing houses, it might not bode well for our future, should the publication not earn back the advance. Typically, major publishers offer an upfront sum of money to an author, but until the book earns back that upfront sum for the publisher, the author doesn’t receive any royalties for book sales. And since nobody has any idea whether or not a book will earn back its advance, it’s possible that you might get a lump sum payment upfront for your book, but you won’t see a dime of royalty payments. Perhaps in the future we will offer advances, but right now it makes more sense for us to shy away from this component of the traditional publishing model.
    The statement that "Typically, major publishers offer an upfront sum of money to an author, until the book earns back that upfront sum for the publisher, the author doesn’t receive any royalties for book sales" is not strictly true.

    The advance is an advance against royalties, so the author not only receives royalties when paid an advance, she receives a whole chunk of them in advance.

    Sales don't "[earn] back that upfront sum for the publisher", they earn back the royalties the publisher has already paid to the author, and they earn the publisher an income too.

    Note, too, that most books fail to earn out their advance. But most books DO turn a profit for their publishers. The two issues are separate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Swords View Post
    Typically, however, our acceptance rate for manuscripts is about 22%. Yes, we know this is a low number
    That's a ridiculously high rate of acceptance.

    I doubt that good trade publishers accept even 0.5% of the books submitted to them.

    The quality of submissions just isn't there; and even if it were, publishers don't have the resources to publish that number of books effectively.
    Last edited by Old Hack; 07-18-2014 at 09:01 PM. Reason: Tidying up.

  24. #24
    Wilde about Oscar aliceshortcake's Avatar
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    Authors are expected to buy between 500 and 2000 books? That's insane. Vanity-pubbed books - and Sakura is a vanity publisher - are unlikely to sell more than 100 copies. The brutal truth is that only the author's family and friends know that the book exists and want to buy it, particularly if it isn't good enough to have been accepted by commercial publishers who typically reject well over 95% of submissions.

    An acceptance rate of 22% confirms that Sakura is a vanity press.

  25. #25
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djv124 View Post
    It's obvious you just don't want to hear that authors have a responsibility to invest in their books they write.
    Not with money. No.

    That is where the chasm between professional trade publishing writers and vanity presses is to be found and why we are pointing into it.

    The alternative being true self-publishing.
    Last edited by veinglory; 07-18-2014 at 09:26 PM.
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