Service Interview with Michael J. Sahno

Today we're doing a different type of interview, and it should be enlightening to both writers and readers following the blog. 
My guest today is Michael J. Sahno.  Hello!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to see you again. 
Hello! Thank you for having me here.
Of course! 
Can you tell us a little bit about your publishing company, and how Writing in the Modern Age readers can benefit from it?
Absolutely. I’ve been asked if Sahno Publishing is a vanity press, and the answer is definitely “no.” A vanity press will publish anyone’s manuscript, whereas we publish only novels that we feel represent literary excellence. We intend to raise the bar within the current fiction market, and that’s exactly the opposite of the idea of a vanity press.

There are many challenges that an author will face while trying to publish their work, including trying to appeal to publishers who don’t truly review the work with a critical eye for literature.

The author may be less well known, they may write about a topic that is outside of the mainstream and more special interest. And we want that; we want to encourage literature that pushes the envelope, gets people thinking again.
Sahno Publishing offers comprehensive training for our authors in several areas not addressed by typical publishing houses. Among them are marketing, coaching and business development.
Wow, that's great! 
Michael, are you also a writer? What genre or genres should we expect to see you in?
I started my first novel when I was about twenty-five, and immediately launched into my second novel before I ever thought about looking for an agent or publisher. Mostly these books represent literary fiction: this is an area where the story takes readers through an experience.
I was so inspired by what I wrote that I didn’t want to slow down. When I was ready to write, I couldn’t just stop that process. That’s what writers do: we write! We’re inspired, so we’re not thinking about the constraints that come from trying to work with large publishers.
That's true.
So, what gave you the idea for your services? And can you elaborate a bit on your premise, "Written to a Higher Standard"?
I originally started the company so I could be the publisher and the writer, but it quickly evolved with the guiding principle that books should always find an audience, if written well. Bottom line, literary excellence is more important than a financial formula. I want to help people who went through what I did, with rejection after rejection from large publishers.

The “Written to a Higher Standard” idea is not new. This has evolved over hundreds of years. People have talked about and reviewed classic literature since publication of the first novel, Pamela, by Samuel Richardson. The problem is that, through media and the development of TV, radio and the internet, we have lost an element that Sahno Publishing is trying to recapture. That’s literary excellence which drives a story that shapes the minds of the people living in that time. You can see it through the works of authors like Charles Dickens, who had an active role in shaping public policy because of his work about the plight of the poor in Britain.

We need to get back to having literature that is profound, not shallow. We are seeing a dilution of thought in our literature, and I think we need to focus on literature that shapes the society where it’s published.

Interesting! I actually own a rare copy of Pamela.
And I agree. Literature should make us think about the human condition, as well as the world in which we live.

So, tell us...How do you intend to expand Sahno Publishing?
Slowly and strategically! First our focus is on my three novels, Miles of Files, Jana, and Brothers’ Hand, which are available through the company website,, as well as via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, etc.

I don’t want to make it sound like this will be an exclusive club, but in some ways it is: I have a Master’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, so I will evaluate at least the first few pages of any submission. It’s my name on the book, too, not just the author’s, so it has to be high quality to be considered for publication. We help authors with marketing their book. Then we help them create a business and a brand. The service tiers all include publishing, but offer different levels for different needs.
I am responsible not only for the actual publication, but also with helping clients learn marketing, and being their publicist as well. A large publisher would most likely tell their client, “We’re going to spend time and money marketing you, but you have to market yourself, too.” But they’re not going to train inexperienced writers on how to be marketers!
No, they certainly do not. I admire what you're doing here, Michael.
So...let's try some general questions.  
Do you have any favorite authors?
Sure. I suppose I was an English professor’s dream student, because I recognized literary excellence every time they gave it to me. I loved most of what I was assigned, and then went out on my own and read many other novels by authors who have been, at one time or another, considered “classic.”

My personal favorites are Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Fowles, John Gardner, and Kurt Vonnegut. Those are some of the top ten. Actually, I wrote an article about it on my blog a couple months ago.
:)  I admire Vonnegut as well.  
When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks? And why?
I love paperbacks, and I encourage anyone buying books to buy a hard copy. I love the entire sensory experience of relaxing with a book. It’s a better experience for the reader. And since I live in Florida, I can tell you I really don’t want to read on a tablet at the beach!

When I set up Sahno Publishing, I invested in producing quality work: excellent covers and interior design work, a nice matte finish, and acid free paper. You want your book to be a quality product that you’re proud to sell. I can honestly say that I’m proud not only of the contents, but also of the finished product. When people hold one of my novels in their hands, they say, “Oh, this is really nice!” I think people expect a so-called “self-published” book to be cheap, like the cheaply-made pocket version of a novel you might find in a pharmacy.

All that being said, there is a place for e-books. They are, of course, much less expensive, so people on a low budget can buy one, or more than one. But my preference is always going to be for printed books. I’m old school.
Oh, me too! One professor called me a Luddite once because of my old school ways - reading hard copies and continuing to write papers and stories by hand first. LOL.
Can you tell us what you're reading for fun now?
Funny you should ask, because the last couple novels I read were actually e-books! I just finished some non-literary light reading, a book called Devil in the Grass. Then I’m going back to my typical “fun” reading: one of Balzac’s many fine classic novels, Pierre Grasson. Of course, for my work, I have to read a lot of business books, and I just finished re-reading Outsmarting Social Media by Evan Bailyn.
All right.
Well, to wrap this up, here's my last question, or questions, I suppose.
Are there any words you'd like to impart to writers? Any advice you can give us? 
Also, how can writers contact you to inquire about submissions on your site? And how can readers follow you as an author?
I’ll answer the last question first, about following me as an author. Here are a few pertinent links:


We are accepting submissions via email at 
There’s no need to send an entire manuscript; just a query letter and the first chapter in Word format. Again, we will accept non-genre, or literary fiction only.

Words of wisdom to writers? Enjoy the process. Even if you’re a writer like me – someone who doesn’t so much “like to write” as to “have written” – remember that it’s really all about the journey of the creative process, not the destination. The work you have ahead of you in terms of promotion, marketing, and speaking is much more demanding than the actual writing of the book. So I always tell people the same thing: grab onto that brass ring and hold on tight. You’re in for the ride of your life!
Great tips!
So...this sounds like an interesting publishing company to work for, a nice service, which is just about perfect for Writing in the Modern Age, isn't it?
Thank you for stopping by Writing in the Modern Age to tell us all about your publishing company, Michael!
About Sahno Publishing
Sahno Publishing evolved out of the notion that literary excellence is more important than a financial formula. The company enters the publishing world with the guiding principle that books should always find an audience, especially if written well. The goal of the company is to help as-yet-unpublished writers reach a wider audience.
There are several problems that unpublished authors often face, even if their manuscript is of a high literary quality. Publishers’ work fits into a financial formula rather than a literary excellence formula, and they typically don’t give in-depth feedback or sufficient review to newly-written work. Most literary authors are frustrated, or even quit, because the current system doesn’t work. And there is a lot of mediocre work that gets published and degrades, undermines, or dilutes the overall quality of world class literature, all in the name of financial formulas.
Sahno Publishing resolves these problems with a world class system that includes a start-to-finish marketing and business coaching program.

Service Link:

Michael’s Bio
Michael J. Sahno began writing stories at an early age. Eventually, he was selected for Editor-in-Chief of his high school literary magazine. The quality of his work led to several honorary titles and academic awards by his senior year, which made it clear he was predestined to serve a role in literary excellence.

Mr. Sahno earned his Bachelor’s from Lynchburg College and later went on to earn his Master’s in English from Binghamton University.

After college, Mr. Sahno served in several management positions, including Director at a marketing research firm, Assistant Vice President at a Tampa-based mortgage company and college professor in the field of English composition.

Sahno became a full-time professional writer in 2001 and, in the following years, wrote more than 1,000 marketing articles on a wide range of topics. His experience with quality copy, research and resourcefulness put him in high demand in the business community across the southeastern United States. In fact, several of the publications with which he was associated won Addy Awards in 2008 and 2010.

Mr. Sahno has written and published three novels: Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Files. He is the founder of Sahno Publishing and available for professional speaking engagements upon request. For further information, contact
Michael's Books:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all you do, Marie. This is a great blog, and your work is reaching a lot of people who could use some help with their writing, and especially with marketing it.
    It's funny, but there are people out there who read a post like this and still don't understand what it's all about. After this article ran, I got a query from a writer with the word "submission" (not capitalized) in the subject line. Bad sign right there, yes? I dutifully answered the query, noting that the author had quite a few adverbs in the first chapter. She responded by defending it, noting that SHE had edited the work seven times before submitting it to a publisher. Uh oh.
    I directed her to the service tiers on my website, pictured above - beautifully, I might add - and waited to get a response. Sure enough, she had blindly submitted a query and first chapter to me without knowing anything about my company.
    So...a few extra pieces of advice to authors:
    1) Use capital letters in the subject line of your email (duh).
    2) If an editor or publisher has even the mildest of criticism of your submission, don't angrily defend it! Suck it up. This is the business.
    3) Speaking of business, publishing companies these days are paying out tiny advances, if any, and are paying extremely tiny commissions on sales. In the case of a company like mine, it's not like that at all. In fact, I pay more than twice what a traditional publisher would pay for commissions. I am a sole proprietor, so I don't have thousands of dollars sitting in a bank account that I can pay out to authors. I offer a premium marketing coaching and business development training to authors, and yes, shockingly enough, I do want to get paid for my hard work. Which leads me to my final point...
    4) Research the company before you send out a query. This person not only wasted my time (and hers, I would think), but never even bothered to see what my company offered before querying. She didn't like the fact that I charge for services, all of which I clearly list on my website...but why didn't she know all this before she emailed me? My inverted business model - in which I pay the author a much larger commission than a trad publisher, IN PERPETUITY, did not appeal to her. Okay, fine, but don't insult me...which is exactly what she did. So now she not only doesn't have a publisher, she also has made me really, really not want to buy her books. I support all sorts of indie authors, but I won't support that one.
    We are all in this together...Authors are a small, creative community. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all that. So let's be friendly and helpful to each other.


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