As you most likely know, I'm in support of self-publisning / using POD services to get your book published. I would prefer to be picked up by a traditional publisher/epublisher (who wouldn't?), but depending on what you write, it can be down right impossible to get the Big Guys to notice you. And that's not without good reason; the economy sucks, people are being more careful where they spend their money, new authors rarely sell out of their first printing, etc., etc. I don't fault the big publishing companies for being the way that they are, I just wish I'd worked harder at writing and getting published 20 years ago when it was marginally easier to get your foot in the door.
I'm always on the hunt for publishers/epublishers who might be interested in my work; m/m erotic romance is one of the places still open to new authors. It's also a heck of a lot of fun to write! I have a more ideas than I have time to write them (which is why my poor Torchwood fans have been left to wait months on end without any updates, for which I do feel guilty, really I do.)
Today, after prowling around Amazon a little looking for new potential leads, I looked closely at Nazca Plains Corp., trying to figure out if they were a traditional publisher or a POD company... and the answer is an odd yes and no. That, in itself, isn't inherently a bad thing, mainly because they appear to be up front about their practices (unlike some of the true scams out there.)
There are a few red flags; they claim to be able to get back to a an author who has submitted a manuscript in a single business day. No one works that fast. At least not if they actually read your manuscript. One day isn't even enough time for most editors to read through your synopsis.
The larger issue for me, however is their payment policy; some authors would balk at simply not being offered an advance. Very few of the publishers I'm looking at offer one--but they offer good royalties, so it's a trade off (and if it keeps them in business to keep publishing books/ebooks, I'm totally okay with not getting money up front.) What bothers me about Nazca, however, is that they don't pay their authors a single cent on the first 200 copies sold. The reason: so they can re-coop their costs. BUT, they don't hire an editor for you, you have to do that yourself (or not, it's up to the author). They DO put a cover on your book (and the covers do look good) and assign it an ISBN at no charge to you. However, you can buy your OWN ISBN for $125.00, or a block of ten for $250.00, if you expect to publish a lot of books yourself. (https://www.myidentifiers.com/index.php?page=isbn_blocks). You can buy larger blocks of ISBNs for a greater discount per number, which one would presume is what a large company does. You can also put together a cover for yourself if you're at all graphics savvy, or hire an artist to do it... or work some sort of trade with one. Most artists who are in the beginning stages of their career are more than willing to barter; if you're a mechanic, a plumber or a computer person in your day job, you just might have something to offer a starving artist in exchange for some artwork for the cover of your book!
It does look as if Nazca does some publicity work, at least in the form of having some distributors lined up, and of course your book ends up on Amazon.
They use as part of their sales' pitch that they don't charge the author up front for his/her work, like a vanity press... however, you can go to Lulu.com or Amazon's Createspace and get your book printed with no start up costs (other than that artist you bartered with to create a book cover for you!) You also get to keep all of the royalties on ALL copies sold with both Createspace and Lulu. Yes, you have to get your own ISBN and do your own book cover, and certainly you have to do all of your own formatting, but that isn't as hard as it sounds. (Both Amazon and Lulu offer those services for a fee, but I'd rather skip the fees and put in a little extra work.) Amazon also has some sort of bonus program, pay them forty bucks and get a bigger cut of royalties (their standard pay out looks like it's a bit over ten percent, that more than doubles if you enroll in the bonus program.) And you do, most definitely, have to do all of your own leg work--but even Nazca says up front in their blurb that the authors who do the best in sales are the ones out there interacting with their readers.
Please understand, I'm not bashing on Nazca the same way I've used other companies to illustrate why never would I ever... I'm just wondering why anyone would agree to not be paid for their first two hundred copies sold. I would rather put my pennies together and buy my own ISBN, do my own formatting (it's REALLY not that hard), than to agree to that kind of contract. Maybe that's vanity on my part? I don't know. Maybe some writers are just so exhausted after completing their books they don't have the 'umph' to do anything else but turn it over to a publisher/printer and let them worry about details like ISBNs, formatting and book covers.
As a follow up, I looked at the Absolute Write Water Cooler thread for Nazca Plains and found very little information there (Absolute Write is where you can go to check out publishers and agents to see what other writers are saying about them, if they're scam artists, have a habit of not paying their authors, etc.) One person said they knew someone who was happy working with them, most everyone else simply had a hard time finding the correct website.