I recently came across another new publication venture, World Enough Writers, a cooperative press for poets and fiction writers. What's the difference between a cooperative press and a self-publication press? Both require a monetary investment, but a cooperative also asks for an investment of your time and talent in helping the press to produce your book. It also expects that you will thereafter participate as a member of the cooperative. A typical self-publication press accepts any manuscript submitted as long as the check clears. With a cooperative, there is selectivity and editorial oversight. Only a limited number of books will be published per year. Since anyone could set up shop as a cooperative, you need to be sure that the founders and members know what they're doing and have high standards.
Typically, the publishers are themselves writers who initially banded together to publish their own books. Alice James began this way as did Marsh Hawk Press, both of which now have sizable catalogs and reputable authors. Both also run contests with submission fees and both do some advertising.
Alice James runs two contests each year, only one of which requires the winner to become a cooperative member. I don't think that the winner is required to pay towards publication costs which appear to be covered by contest fees. From their website: "The winners of the Kinereth Gensler Awards become active cooperative board members of Alice James Books when their manuscripts are selected for publication. These authors agree to a three-year commitment, during which they judge competitions, participate in the editorial and business decisions of the press, and participate in many aspects of their book's production. The process ensures that poets have a great deal of input into the final appearance of their finished books, as well as an integral post-publication role." The Marsh Hawk website does not specify if any investment of time or money is required. It appears that both of these presses have grown beyond the original model of the small cooperative press. Neither website provides historical background information. (Alice James has a link for History, but the page is empty.)
World Enough Writers appears to be following in their footsteps and starting out small. The founder of this press is Lana Hechtman Ayers, an accomplished poet with several books to her credit and a good deal of publishing experience. She is also the publisher behind Concrete Wolf Press, which has been publishing poetry chapbooks since 2001, and the publisher behind MoonPath Press, which publishes books by poets living in Northwest Pacific states.
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Submissions are read all year. You pay a $10 reading fee for 10 pages. These pages are then read by two members of the cooperative. If they like what they've received, they request the rest of the manuscript. Upon acceptance, the author is required to send a $100 fee for membership to the cooperative and $550 for the publication costs. The book is sold through Amazon but the author does not receive royalty payments for books sold there. The author is given a deep discount for copies from the press but should be prepared to do readings and promote his or her own book.
It's too early to say how either of these presses will thrive, but I suspect that World Enough Writers is better suited to poets; it's certainly more affordable.