We think poets as such should be lousier business people on the whole, kind of like those politicians who mine the family fortune on a pipe dream (but not rich, not politicians). The least exciting presses are typically the ones who’ve sorted the market part out without breaking a sweat, and in most cases it takes a special effort or an accident to remain vital once you can afford an employee. It’s not just that we think you should be willing to lose money with your poetry press (which, in general, we do): we think your press should be a refusal of professionalization, at least if the work you publish rejects same (& if it doesn’t, we probably have very little interest).
What does small press publishing need most? Apart from many wealthy benefactors, small presses need more (reasonably affordable) venues to generate visibility for themselves and their authors. AWP, SPD, and bookstores are all great (most of the time), but their cost and cuts are often large enough that presses like ours can’t afford to take advantage of them. We could really use a soulful Amazon that doesn’t take 40% of the book price, which is sometimes the entire profit margin of our books. While small presses are trying to globalize the voices we represent, we also need a more localized book economy, including more readings and independent literary conferences, especially as AWP becomes more inaccessible and hostile to organizations and people who aren’t already in power in the lit world. We see small presses as a destabilizing and disruptive force, maybe even socialist in a way, and we would like to see that becoming more visible.