27 May 2013

Small presses

I run the small press The Alchemy Press. It’s a small “small press”: we only publish a few titles per year. This is because of time constraints and, importantly, trying to keep the costs to a manageable level. Last year we published two anthologies, The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders and The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes. This year we will be publishing three anthologies:

Astrologica: Storiesof the Zodiac edited by Allen Ashley
The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic edited by Jan Edwards & Jenny Barber

The line up for these three books is amazing ... and doubly so, because we – The Alchemy Press – only pay a nominal fee. But we do pay something. We also supply a copy of the book (print and ebook editions) to all contributors.

It surprises me when I see other small presses that take stories without offering payment and, worse, without offering contributors’ copies. The small press I've seen – I won’t mention its name here – looks to be, in fact, much bigger than The Alchemy Press. (Apparently there are no royalties, either).

I just checked on Amazon. One of their paperback books will cost you and me and the contributors over £10 to buy. I have to ask: Who gets to keep all the profit? No wonder they are bigger if they have hardly any expenses.

I accept that there are many markets for short stories that do not offer payment in terms of £ or $, but at the very least they provide contributors’ copies. By not offering money or copies I feel that they let down the small presses that attempt to do it properly.


  1. I bet I know who you're talking about!

    My first publications were with a publisher who didn't give copies, but a "discount". If they paid, which was rare, it was something like $6 - and this is for an anthology which they'd be asking $19.99 for on Amazon.

    Because of being a newbie, I just accepted it. I was so excited to be published.

    The last short story I sold (which was ages ago, because I moved onto writing novels) paid me $50. I also got TWO contributor copies of the book, a blog tour, and even cards and banners to advertise with.

    I now realise the difference between a good press and a bad one, but I can also see huge differences in success rates. The ones who look after their contributors go a whole lot further.

    Just my two cents...

    (I've used an awful lot of americanisms/dollar signs considering I'm British!)

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