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Frequently Asked Questions about WordTech's Sales Policy
Why does WordTech require pre-publication sales of 125 copies?
We have implemented this policy to allow for more stable, predictable revenue from book sales. By requiring a certain number of up-front sales, we are able to substantially defray the book's setup and operational costs upon publication. And books that do well with initial sales tend to do better over the long run as well.
How can this requirement be met?
We partner with authors to generate interest before publication with promotional materials; many authors use these marketing materials to organize pre-orders for later fulfillment by the author. Many authors also order more than 125 copies of the book to accommodate their event schedules. Bookstores may also order copies for events.
Does this policy make WordTech a vanity press?
No. Asking authors to be active partners in the promotion and sales of their books is the reality in poetry these days, and is not "fee-for-publication." We publish with only the highest editorial standards. Our authors, both before and after this ordering policy was implemented, have published poems in with leading journals such as Iowa Review, North American Review, Poet Lore, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Women’s Review of Books, among others; have published books with such presses as Carnegie-Mellon, Johns Hopkins, Pittsburgh, Story Line, Tupelo, Wesleyan, and Zoo Press; have won significant literary honors such as the Paterson Prize for Literary Excellence; and serve as editors, professors, and leaders in major literary organizations. If a manuscript does not show achievement at this level, it will be rejected. We have even rejected manuscripts by our current authors, whose previous books have done well for the press financially, because the rejected MS did not meet our standards. In recent years our acceptance rate has averaged 20-30%: a bit higher than presses that publish one title per year, but certainly selective enough to disappoint many fine poets.
Are there any other funding models WordTech could utilize--grants, contests, etc.?
We abandoned the contest model in 2004 and have no desire to reinstate it, or reading fees. Accepting grants would require restructuring the press as a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation--a major undertaking with uncertain results, given the current funding environment for the arts. Other respected presses, such as Finishing Line Press and blazeVox, use some variation of this pre-sales model as well.
What about the judgment of the literary community?
We have never been one to follow fashion, but have preferred to innovate instead. We were the first press to make large-scale use of print-on-demand at a time when the literary community equated it with vanity publishing, and in general no one makes such an assertion anymore. We are the only significant poetry press to publish without using contests and reading fees, and we made this change when when our sales took off. We have made this change to help ensure that the press continues to continues to publish outstanding poetry over the long term. The achievements of our authors and their books speak for themselves. That is our contribution to the literary community.