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

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.