I interviewed Colleen Higgs from Modjaji Books in Cape Town last week. One of the interesting threads that emerged was the issue of charging (or not) for manuscript submissions. Higgs found that a small fee helped reduce the quantity and upped the quality. This technique is not unusual in the USA, but pretty rare in the UK still, though not for long I imagine.
Like most poetry publishers, Modjaji has had to find ways to adapt to the economic situation and stay afloat. ‘So last year in 2015 we decided to use Submittable’ Higgs says, ‘we got people to pay $10. I was a little bit anxious about it, I thought they’d be a lot of resistance. In the end, there might have been some mumblings, but I didn’t hear it.’ The main advantage of the fee, as well as covering the costs of Submittable, is that it ‘upped the quality of submissions and decreased their number.’ While previous years saw an average of 500 manuscript submissions, there were around 120 last year. From these, a maximum of 12 will be published, and of these 3 will be poetry.