Written by Emily Harstone October 18th, 2018

The Shame List: Manuscript Publishers Who Always Charge to Submit

All of the publishers included on this list are traditional publishers. They are not vanity or assisted presses that charge their authors in order to publish their books. Many are respected publishers with good distribution. Most primarily publish poetry manuscripts. We have written at length before about why this problem affects poets the most. We have also compiled a list, for poets, of 62 manuscript publishers that do not charge.

Every single publisher on this list charges all unsolicited submitters a fee just to consider their work. Most of these publishers do not consider work from agents at all (literary agents are very rare when it comes to poetry – but that is an entirely different matter).

Most of these publishers charge authors $25 just to submit their work. In the past, two of these presses have been repeatedly caught in the act of not reading the work they were paid to consider. Although this practice is probably uncommon, there is no way to monitor such things.

If a publisher has a fee-free window for submissions, or does not charge fees for all the genres they publish, we did not include them in this list. This list is only for manuscript publishers who always charge writers a fee.

It goes without saying that we at Authors Publish do not condone these practices. We would never review any of these presses. Presses like these discourage diversity in publishing and put even more financial stress on authors. We could go on, but we have talked more about this issue mostly in terms of literary journals here and here.

If you know a press that should be added to the shame list, email us at support@authorspublish.com. The list, as it is now, is far from complete. Also if any of this information becomes inaccurate because a publisher is now accepting manuscripts without a fee, please tell us. We would love to take a publisher off the shame list.

Thankfully with this update of the Shame List, we were able to take one publisher off the list – Engine Books now has free submissions.

With no further ado, the shame list.

Tupelo Press

A small press based out of Massachusetts that has published a number of very respected books of poetry. They run several contests and open reading periods a year. They charge fees for the contests and for the open reading periods. They have been accused in the past of not reading manuscripts.

C&R Press

This press publishes novels, poetry, short story collections, creative non-fiction, memoir, experimental and hybrid work. They charge $25 for their open reading period, $20 for their chapbook competition, and $10 to submit to an anthology they are putting together, one that already has solicited submissions.

To make matters worse, I’ve heard of reports of people not ever getting a rejection or acceptance after paying the fee, and worst of all there is this report at Absolute Write (just scroll down to post 20).

Sarabande Books

They offer a “year worth of writing opportunities”, and they do, but they charge for every one, from their open reading period, to all their prizes. They charge writers to submit collections of poetry, short fiction, and essays.

Lacewing Books

One of the few publishers that charge that does not focus on poetry or collections of short fiction or essays. Engine Books publishes novels and short story collections. Lacewing, an Engine Books imprint, publishes Young Adult fiction. Any query that Lacewing receives, from an author directly, or a literary agent must involve a $10 donation. Engine Books now accepts fee free submissions.

Copper Canyon Press

A non-profit poetry publisher, they charge everyone who submits unsolicited work.

Autumn House Books

They publish fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. They used to just consider contest entries that had a submission fee of $30, but recently they have started to also have contests and an open reading period, with lower fees (the lowest being $10 for an open reading period submission).

Dzanc Books

Till this year they accepted unsolicited submissions fee-free. They have switched to a three-contest system. They charge $25 to enter any of the three contests they run. One is for novels, one for non-fiction, and the third is for short story collections.

Alice James Books

They publish poetry exclusively through contests. The entry fee is $30.

Ahsahta Press 

They publish poetry. Their open reading periods do not happen every year, but they only charge $5 per submission during that time. Their main manuscript contest that happens every year costs $25 to enter.

Trio House Press

A poetry press. Their open reading fee is $20. Their contest entry fee is $25.

Glass Lyre Press

They charge a non-refundable $25 reading fee for full length books and a $15 fee for chapbooks.

Bio: Emily Harstone is the pen name of an author whose work has been published internationally by a number of respected journals. She is a professional submissions adviser and spends much of her time researching manuscript publishers.


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