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.