I wanted to chime in with another take on reading fees, contests, etc.
Mostly because my opinion changes!
I'm going to hold off on having a reading fee or contest until I've
published more books, so that I can offer books in exchange for the
fee. Also, so that there is no good reason someone would enter a
manuscript (or send me one) without having read any of the books I've
I send an announcement about the press' first book, and while I don't
sell any books, I get some queries about submitting manuscripts. In
the case of Maryrose's book, I haven't completed distribution
contracting yet, i.e., you really have to buy it from me or her to get
it, and this means that there is no possible way that those who
queried read the book (or, likely any of my own). I googled every
querier -- just to make sure the poets weren't fab poets and really
But, isn't this a "there's a sucker born every minute" (just learned
the origin of that saying was gangland Chicago) entrant / submitter?
I mean, I can't imagine WANTING anyone to publish a poem, a book of
mine, let alone give me comments on my writing, if I don't know what
they publish, how, etc.
And frankly, I don't care if anyone buys. They can look at poems the
authors and I have published online. They can get their library to
order it, or if their library has it, they can check it out. They can
read it standing up in a bookstore or newsstand. They can buy it
used, or trade something for it. They can read it on google books
But not doing due diligence before sending or querying is being dumb.
I am insulted by getting subscription forms in with a submission. I
understand the impulse, but if you won't have me, why should I pay
you? Either that, or I obviously have not gleaned the knowledge I
needed to psych out editorial needs from reading your publication.
So, then I'm not really your best reader.
Ultimately, this comes down to audience and business head. There are
a lot of publishers who aren't developing audiences. There are a lot
of publishers using poets as the only audience for poetry
publications. There are some authors, editors, and publishers
fighting for the same limited audience of purchasing and buying poets
- readers of poetry. There are people who say -- look, this is good,
and I will publish it, and come what may.