Now, on the Automat homepage, you can see the submission button loud and clear. This should also be a warning sign. (We are not accepting submissions so you don't need to look for ours- and probably won't unless I decide to go through the headache of royalty reporting.)
Harlequin's is buried. In fact, most major publishing companies highlight the books they are selling and hide submission buttons or bury them in the footer at the bottom of the page (like Simon and Schuster or even the smaller Quirk Books). Thousands of people submit to real publishers every day. Thousands (or more). If you want to submit to them, they are certainly not going to make it easy on you. On the other hand, scam artists, vanity presses, and those who make money off other's ambitions without offering much in return WANT thousands of people to submit to them - that's how they make money. They will have it right out in front.
The purpose of legitimate presses is to make money off the books they sell, so those will always be highlighted on legitimate publishing company websites. However, you would expect even vanity presses would have some way of buying their books. Looking at Automat's doesn't impress me..."Please send check or money order" for $11 to... Uh, okay, that is an epic fail. If you are advertising your books online, you should have some sort of online method of allowing people to buy them. Dreaming Reality does (although I haven't tried it myself, so I really don't know if it works - however, people clicking on the CreateSpace links on the home page can purchase the books through Amazon - my preferred method of business anyway); Harlequin (HQ) allows you to buy from them; Quick books links you to the retailers where you can buy it; Simon and Shuster does both. NONE say - send your check or money order here... although HQ offers a "Bill Me" option, but hey, they also send people free books to get them to sign up to buy more.
In addition, the Automat offers 42 books - 7 of which were written by the Automat founder. Obviously, our website is the same - I have written or helped write all the books on it. Still, if the founder of the publishing company has authored most of the books, it usually means you are supporting their writing habit. And, if Dreaming Reality were accepting submissions as a vanity press, that is what we would be doing, too. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that HQ has so many books you could sink the Titanic with them.
If you further read Automat's submission guidelines, you will see that each book costs $10 (plus shipping and handling) and that you will have to market it yourself. Again - warning bells should go off if any publishing company says you need to do all your own marketing (most vanity presses will offer some marketing, even if it costs). All authors need to do marketing but publishing companies help with that. That is their job. If you want to do your own marketing, publish on Amazon. (Please note - Automat does not sell its books on Amazon - one of the biggest book retailers in the world.) Also, $10, for a paper bound - that's right not even a paperback, but a stapled together (that is what a chapbook is), B&W, light cardstock bound book I could print out and make with my home printer will cost you (and your customers) $10 even if its 50 pages long. Frankly, I could get better quality at Staples for less. It does seem the author will get a discount if he/she buys books to sell, but no royalties. Honestly, even at $7.50, you are going to have a hard time getting anything other than sympathy sales.
One final note: if you scroll to the bottom of the Automat's ordering page, you will see the covers of several (all?) of their books. They do not scream "buy me" or even make me want a cover like that on on any of my books. Some are quite good, but in essence they are all pretty much similar and some have really amateur artwork and design work.