We saw a fantastic tweet made by River River books over on their twitter asking their followers the transparency of presses, and the most common reply we saw was regarding submission fees. I think that transparency can only create a healthier and more trusting environment, as as we have an upcoming submissions window in June, I wanted to create a blog thanking River River Books for their tweet, and clearing up why Fawn Press charges submission fees!
I want to begin by reassuring you that we are all on the same side. Many publishers are also poets and writers, we are all trying to survive in this community. Nobody is getting rich off anyone else, and conversations about the transparency of fees is actually a really great opportunity to build trust, and educate on how much hard work goes into an indie press! There are many indie presses that are a project of passion, with small teams of people who take joy in seeing books being brought into the world. There has been unfortunately instances which have shaken writers, and so they are understandably reluctant to be exploited, especially when it comes to their treasured poems. <3
It’s also worth starting this blog by saying that Fawn Press does not receive any funding whatsoever. (Sure, I know i need to set up an Arts Council application but as I am fresh out of hospital following a serious Multiple Sclerosis relapse, and I’m about to start a course of chemotherapy this summer, you’ll bare with me while I get my proverbial shit together before battling with the dreaded ACE platform lol.)
So where does the £££ go?
Let’s take a look at our last publication we had a submission window for; the ‘Elements’ anthology. Submission fees were £3. This fee was waived for a number of marginalised writers. This publication was the launching pad for the press. I had a small fund of about 1k in savings which supplemented the cost of production.
I believe very strongly in paying my team fairly, and so Lexia Tomlinson was paid £200 for her work done towards ‘Elements’, our fantastic co-editor. I did not pay myself (Scarlett Ward-Bennett) an Editors fee.
The actual cost of printing our books exceeded £900. It was important to me that we made our debut in style, so we made a foil design hardback thing of beauty. We also printed a run of paperbacks.
–Free contributor’s copy sent to everyone published.
The books are worth £10 each and there were around 50 poets. We also paid for postage. Some of these Poets lives overseas. (For future anthologies I will ask writers whether they would prefer the £10 payment or the anthology.)
-Launch party arrangements.
Not only did we hire a BSL interpreter from Sandwell Deaf Community Association who cost £122, we paid for a zoom license so there was accessibility, as well as providing free refreshments.
All this is before I take into consideration my time as the editor, director designer, public relations, marketing, email campaign writer, package department. I get Fawn Press poets gigs, book them into radio interviews, get them reviews, build relationships with bookstores, organise book launches. Obviously submission fees barely touch the outgoings of a press, especially if a press is unfunded. Luckily I do copywriting and this is how I support myself, pay my bills, and keep the press upright. I do not treat submission fees as a source of personal income.
Our Summer submission window for pamphlets:
We are charging £7 per pamphlet. We will give each submission careful consideration, and the attention it deserves. £7 is not even minimum hourly wage. I think my team and I deserve payment for the work demanded. There is a £15 option to receive feedback on the whole pamphlet, and this is way below any editing fees you can expect from an Editor.
It is important to notice that we have a ‘no questions asked’ option of subsidised entries for our current submission window. It is important that we do the work to provide a platform for writers who would otherwise be financially unable to.
The pamphlets cost around £500 to physically print. This is per poet selected from the submissions process. Due to the paper shortages this is expected to rise. We sell books at a 30-40% discount so that they can make a profit.
We pay our poets royalties, the agreement of which is made at the point of contract signing. I am proud to say that I worked on the payment options for a long time to ensure a fair contract.
Again, we are ignoring my time as an editor, graphic designer, web designer, cover designer, marketing manager, social media manager, PR person and packaging (as most indie presses do.)
I hope that this conversation makes the process of submitting to us a little more open and trusting. We are all on the same side, and I want Fawn Press to work because I will always, always put our poets first.
If you have any questions you can direct them to our instagram page @FawnPress or to our email firstname.lastname@example.org