Press Update: Funding Anthologies and Paying for Submissions

Since we first started pulling Autonomous Press together, the idea has always been that we would start paying for submissions as soon as possible. This is important to us because so many markets for writing are not really markets at all, they are opportunities for writers to attempt to get their work seen that are at best comparable to unpaid internships–they help boost your resume, but they don’t pay the bills or really advance your career unless they lead to a paying gig pretty quickly.

At the same time, though, as an academic publisher, or a publisher of academic books among our other offerings, we do have to acknowledge that to some degree scholars publish without an expectation of direct compensation. Partly, this is because their professional model requires them to publish, and so their compensation is indirect, coming as it does from their academic affiliation. Partly, it is because many academic anthologies are at best small investments with small returns.

With this tension between writers whose labor is otherwise uncompensated and those for whom it is compensated through their other affiliations, we have split our anthologies into two groups. This allows us to fund the anthologies that need to pay their writers, to ensure that our contributors are paid for their labor and that they can continue to afford to work with us. It also allows us to identify anthologies that might be risky, or that have a niche audience, and to produce them according to a scholarly model, to ensure they reach their readership even when that readership might not be large enough to fund a major outlay for royalties.

You can read the full details here, but this is the highlight reel:

  • Funded anthologies pay. This money comes from previous anthologies we have put out, and the amount we can afford to pay is determined as late as possible in the process, so that we can offer as much as possible to our writers.
  • Funding will be determined before any acceptances or rejections are determined, to keep it fair.
  • The funds come from previous funded anthologies, as well as a few choice unfunded ones that have been selected to help expand our pool.
  • Basically, we set aside 15% of the cover price for each sale of a qualifying anthology and use it to pay for future submissions. How we pay (flat rate vs. per word) will be determined by how much money we have available on the last day we accept submissions.
  • Rates for each anthology will be announced on the blog as soon as they are determined.
  • The Spoon Knife Anthology will be funded. The sales from Typed Words, Loud Voices are making that happen.
  • Our goal is to offer competitive rates that reward professional writers, but we need to build up the capital to do that. This system gives us a sliding scale that remains sustainable as we grow.
  • Unfunded anthologies do not pay–or at least we do not pay for submissions. If the anthologies have external funding because they are being overseen by non-partners, this may change things a little.
  • Some unfunded anthologies will help to pay for our funded ones. Other unfunded anthologies might have other purposes, such as allowing us to raise funds for a cause or serving as an investment in a new area of development for the press.
  • Anthologies will be announced as either funded or unfunded from here on out.
Posted in Announcements.