Small Press Points: Gold Wake Press

Every small press faces the choice of whether or not to charge submission fees, which can help keep a press afloat but can also exclude writers who don’t have the money to submit. Some publishers, such as Atelier26, Sundress Publications, and Gold Wake Press (, offer an alternative: A writer can submit a manuscript after purchasing a book from the press’s catalogue. While the cost of purchasing a book will surely still prohibit some writers from submitting, the model not only ensures that writers will get something in return for their submissions, but that they will be more familiar with the press’s aesthetic before sending their work. “We found the usual model of requiring a submission fee to be unethical,” says Nick Courtright, who runs Gold Wake Press with writer Kyle McCord. “We’d also heard so many stories of presses not really doing much to sell books once they were published, as if the whole point of the press enterprise was not to sell books but to elicit submission fees. Because we want to support our authors, this is a great way to get their books into the hands of prospective readers.” Located in Austin, Texas, and Des Moines, the press publishes about eight titles a year across genres. “We’ve done crazy poetry books, serious poetry books, novels, illustrated memoirs, short story collections, and flash fiction,” says Courtright. The editors look for work that combines “daring content with meticulous attention to form.” Recent titles, such as Erin Stalcup’s novel, Every Living Species, and Frances Cannon’s graphic memoir, The Highs and Lows of Shapeshift Ma and Big-Little Frank, have blurred the line between image and word, while others, such as Glenn Shaheen’s short story collection, Carnivalia, have combined poetry and prose. In the fall the press launched a triannual journal, Gold Wake Live, which is open for submissions in all genres year-round via Submittable. For those who have purchased a Gold Wake Press title, the press is open to full-length manuscripts via Submittable from March 1 to April 15.