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.