On Submission Fees & Survival
Our first reading period begins tomorrow.
Although many independent micro-presses are asked how they manage unsold copies of books, we hope that the small print size of our publications will help us survive as a press.
Since we do our own printing and binding, I am hoping 120 will be the ideal print run, 20 of which will go to the author.
In the 19th century, commercial publishers appeared. Editors selected manuscripts they believed would sell enough copies to make a profit for the publishing company as well as the writers to earn royalties.
As Gary Metras, the founder of Adastra Press states, this model can be characterized as “the cream rises to the top” model. Writers would submit, emerge from the slush pile, get published, and then make money for everyone throughout the chain.
However, this model broke down in the 20th century with global commercial pubilshers. Their primary goal was profit, not literature.
Gary reveals that “this model brought us James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, and not a single poet.
These corporate publishers are not focused on publishing literature, they are focused on sales and profit.
“It is no longer the cream rising to the top because there is no whole milk; it is all skim milk.”
Small publishing endeavors such as ourselves become a test of commitment. And this brings us to reading or submission fees.
“As for reading fees in general: If a publisher charges a writer a reading fee, contest or not, this returns the industry to the early book store/printer model where the business owner makes out doubly and the writer pays out doubly. A horrendously unfair state of affairs. Any publisher, of whatever level, for whatever reason, who charges the writer any sort of fee for the privilege of rejecting his writing is unethical. And let’s face it, the rejected writers are the super-majority. It is they who are paying for whatever publication is awarded, whether in a magazine or a book contest. The rejected writers in a contest pay the “prize” money to the winner and pay the production costs of the winning book. Those publishers/editors who say otherwise, that the fees charged do not balance out the award, the judge’s honorarium, or the printing and promotion costs, soon revise their publishing model, usually by increasing the reading fee along with increasing advertising of the contest so as to draw in more submissions, i.e., collect more reading fees.”
“Submission and reading fees prey upon the fragile egos of too many writers. Such a system inevitably becomes corrupt.”
Here at Sutra Press, we believe that freedom from fees make us both true to our calling. May we continue to hunger for truth, not money. Our door is always open. We value every submission and hope that you will submit your work as our very first open reading period begins tomorrow!