It’s one thing—an important, vital thing—to read stories from other lives and get to know them, and it’s another—also vital thing—to read stories about experiences and emotions and situations you or your friends have lived, to feel those things as deeply as it can be felt because you are linked to them.
I will shut Hyacinth Girl Press down before I charge a reading fee. If someone wants to support my press, I ask that they purchase a chapbook and I am incredibly excited and grateful for every order I receive. If someone cannot or does not choose to support my press, I do not begrudge them.
My press will never be one that sponsors AWP (though that’s for more reasons than money related ones), it will never be a press that awards a $5,000 chapbook prize or gives a 2,000 copy print run (though we do give chapbooks print runs and reprints—we are not print on demand). But I make no airs about any of that. I will love your chapbook and I will try to do right by it and you so long as you (the writer) are a decent human/otherwise creature to work with. I will send out review copies and I will wrestle with university bookstores and I will give myself callouses to put your chapbooks together and I will never, never, never ask you for money.
Coconut loses about $3,000 per year. Or I guess I should say I lose it out of my own pocket. But it’s totally, 100% worth it when we can help more than a dozen poetry books find their readers annually!!! It’s wonderful and rewarding to be an editor—definitely worth “paying for”!!! The only thing I ever ask our authors to pay for are additional copies above their 25 free author copies. They get a 50% discount off of additional copies. That said, we don’t fund our authors’ readings, other than AWP—I think that’s true of pretty much every small press.