Approved Publishers Guidelines

Requirements for inclusion on MWA’s list of Approved Publishers

Application Procedure:

Publishers interested in being on MWA’s Approved List must fill out an affidavit and submit a sample contract. If a publisher is able to meet all the criteria listed below (absolutely no exceptions), contact the national office to request an affidavit. Once the affidavit and standard contract have been returned with all sections answered, the Membership Committee will review the application to ensure that the publisher has met all the following criteria.

Please note that, on average, it takes about two months for the vetting to be completed and approved by the board. In order to give the committee time to properly consider applications in advance of the deadline for Edgar submissions, no new applications will be accepted after September 1 until the start of the next calendar year.

Requirements for inclusion on MWA’s list of Approved Print Publishers

The publisher must meet all the following criteria:
1. Within the last two years, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $1,000 to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies of books.
2. Works of fiction or nonfiction must be widely available in brick-and-mortar stores (not “special order” titles), through standard wholesaling/distribution channels or, available directly through major U.S. internet retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Book Store, Kobo, etc. and not solely through the publisher’s website. (For e-books, publishers must also meet the separate criteria regarding that format.)
3. The publisher must have been in business for at least two years since publication of the first book by a person with no financial or ownership interest in the company. (Exception: a new imprint by an established, approved publisher.)
4. The publisher is not a “self-publishing” or “subsidy publishing” firm in which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher or book packager. Among (but not all of) the situations defined as “self-published or cooperatively published” are:
a. Those works for which money has flowed from the author to the publisher to cover the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher, website owner or book packager;
b. Works published by a privately held publisher or in collaboration with a book packager wherein the author has a familial relationship with the publisher, editor, or any managerial employee, officer, director or owner of the publisher or book packager;
c. Those works published by companies, websites, or imprints that do not publish other authors;
d. Those works published by a publisher or website or in collaboration with a book packager in which the author has a direct or indirect financial interest;
e. Those works published in an anthology or magazine in which the author is also an editor, except an anthology or magazine for which the author is a guest editor;
f. Those works published in an anthology or magazine wherein the author has a familial relationship with the editor or publisher5. The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors paid publishing services, paid editorial services, paid promotional services or literary representation. If the publisher has a financial interest in any entity that meets the definition of a subsidy publisher or that provides for-pay publishing, editorial, or promotional services, there must exist an ethical wall between the publisher and the entity in question. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publisher must not refer authors to any for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to submitted manuscripts that were edited, published, or promoted by affiliated for-pay entities. Furthermore, to avoid misleading authors, the for-pay entities shall not be mentioned or advertised alongside information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising for any affiliated entity’s for-pay editorial, publishing or promotional services must include a disclaimer that it is advertising only and that use of those for-pay services will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted to the publisher.
6. The publisher must publish at least five authors per year other than those with a financial or ownership interest in the company, such as an owner, business partner, employee, or close relative of such person. Those persons should be listed on the application.
7. The publisher works with agents or other authors’ representatives.
8. Royalties must be based on either published price (i.e., “list price,” “cover price,” “manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” or similar) or on net receipts, where the definition of the latter is functionally identical to MWA’s recommended language (“Net receipts means actual cash receipts from all sales of the Work in any media or format less shipping costs, returns, and sales or value-added taxes remitted to Publisher by the purchaser”). If royalties are based on net profit or on a net receipts definition that deducts the cost(s) of editing, copyediting, design, cover art, production, advertising, marketing, distribution, or any other aspects of production, a publisher is required to meet the following additional criteria:
a. The royalty rate should reflect the proportion of costs shared by the author. If costs are equally split, the royalty rate shall be no less than 50%. If only some costs are shared by the author, the committee shall use its discretion to determine whether the royalty rate satisfies MWA guidelines. Under no circumstances, however, shall the royalty rate be less than 25%.
b. All shared costs will be accounted for and regularly reported to the author
c. The author shall have reasonable approval over costs
9. The publisher must not be engaged in the practice of wrongfully withholding or delaying the payment or reporting of royalties to authors.
10. Any university press that is a member (at any level) of the Association of University Presses is automatically approved; all other academic presses must be reviewed.
11. Publishers selling primarily to the library & university market rather than to retailers must meet ALL of the rules above with the following exceptions/additions:
a. During the preceding year, the publisher must have paid a minimum of $1,000, in advances and/or royalties, to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies of books.
b. Works of fiction or nonfiction may be distributed primarily to libraries and universities. However, the books must be readily available for purchase by the public through internet retailers (not just your own website) or by special order from bookstores. A copy of your library/university sales catalog must be included with your submission.
12. The following is a sample contract that reflects MWA’s views and standards. In addition, here are some general “must have” and “must not haves” for a standard publishing contract. While there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to publishing companies or contracts, these documents may serve as a resource for what a good author/publisher relationship might look like in legal terms. Publishers interested in being on MWA’s approved publishers list should have contracts that substantially meet these standards. If a publisher’s contract differs significantly from the required MWA language, they are required to explain how the contract protects the author and meets, or exceeds, MWA stipulations. Any application that does not include this information will be considered incomplete and returned to the publisher.

Requirements for inclusion on MWA’s list of Approved Periodical/Webzine Publishers

The publisher must meet all the following criteria (the terms “publication” and “magazine” refer to print as well as e-formats; “publishing” refers to print, web, and other e-formats):
1. During the preceding year the publisher must have paid a minimum of $25 per story to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company.
a. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies or any other considerations.
b. Payment must be actual—not, for example, a donation of your writing deemed worth a given amount.
c. Payment must have been made and not merely promised.
d. A contract alone is not payment. Proof of payment may be requested by the committee.
2. The magazine/webzine must have been in business for at least two years since publication of the first magazine/webzine story by a person with no financial or ownership interest in the company.
3. The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors paid publishing services, paid editorial services, paid promotional services or literary representation. If the publisher has a financial interest in any entity that meets the definition of a subsidy publisher or that provides for-pay publishing, editorial, or promotional services, there must exist an ethical wall between the publisher and the entity in question. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publisher must not refer authors to any for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to submitted manuscripts that were edited, published, or promoted by affiliated for-pay entities. Furthermore, to avoid misleading authors, the for-pay entities shall not be mentioned or advertised alongside information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising for any affiliated entity’s for-pay editorial, publishing or promotional services must include a disclaimer that it is advertising only and that use of those for-pay services will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted to the publisher.
4. The publisher must publish at least five authors other than those with a financial or ownership interest in the company, such as an owner, business partner, employee, or close relative of such person. Those persons should be listed on the application.
5. The publisher is not a “self-publishing” or “subsidy publishing” firm in which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher or book packager. Among (but not all of) the situations defined as “self-published or cooperatively published” are:
a. Those works for which money has flowed from the author to the publisher to cover the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher, website owner or book packager;
b. Magazines/webzines published by a privately held publisher or in collaboration with a book packager wherein the author has a familial relationship with the publisher, editor, or any managerial employee, officer, director or owner of the publisher or book packager;
c. Those works published by companies, websites, or imprints that do not publish other authors;
d. Those works published by a publisher or website or in collaboration with a book packager in which the author has a direct or indirect financial interest;
e. Those works published in an anthology or magazine in which the author is also an editor, except an anthology or magazine for which the author is a guest editor;
f. Those works published in an anthology or magazine wherein the author has a familial relationship with the editor or publisher
6. The publisher pays for editing, copyediting, design, cover art, production, advertising, marketing, distribution, web design, graphics, and all other aspects of publication in print or on the web. They do not require authors to pay for any of the above.
7. An issue, in print or on the web, must be available for a minimum of thirty days to be considered published.
8. The publisher must not be engaged in the practice of wrongfully withholding or delaying the payment of acceptance fees to authors.

Requirements for inclusion on MWA’s list of Approved E-Book Publishers

The publisher must meet all the following criteria (the term “book” refers to all e-formats; “publishing” refers to print, web, and other e-formats):

1. During the preceding year the publisher must have paid a minimum of $500 to at least five authors with no financial or ownership interest in the company.
a. The publisher must have paid a minimum royalty of at least 25% of net receipts to authors, where the definition of net receipts is functionally identical to MWA’s recommended language (“Net receipts means actual cash receipts from all sales of the Work in any media or format less shipping costs, returns, and sales or value-added taxes remitted to Publisher by the purchaser”).
b. The royalties must have been paid at least annually, with a detailed statement, breaking out books sold through affiliate sites, through the publisher’s own site, as well as print books if applicable.
c. Payment must be in monies, not in barter for advertising or copies or any other considerations.
d. Payment must be actual—not, for example, a donation of writing deemed worth a given amount.
e. Payment must have been made and not merely promised.
f. A contract alone is not payment. Proof of payment may be requested by the committee.
2. The publisher must have been in business for at least two years since publication of the first e-book by a person with no financial or ownership interest in the company.
3. The publisher, within the past five years, may not have charged a fee to consider, read, submit, or comment on manuscripts; nor may the publisher, or any of the executives or editors under its employ, have offered authors paid publishing services, paid editorial services, paid promotional services or literary representation. If the publisher has a financial interest in any entity that meets the definition of a subsidy publisher or that provides for-pay publishing, editorial, or promotional services, there must exist an ethical wall between the publisher and the entity in question. They must not share employees, manuscripts, or authors or interact in any way. For example, the publisher must not refer authors to any for-pay entities nor give preferential treatment to submitted manuscripts that were edited, published, or promoted by affiliated for-pay entities. Furthermore, to avoid misleading authors, the for-pay entities shall not be mentioned or advertised alongside information on manuscript submission to the publishing company. Advertising for any affiliated entity’s for-pay editorial, publishing or promotional services must include a disclaimer that it is advertising only and that use of those for-pay services will not affect consideration of manuscripts submitted to the publisher.
4. The publisher must publish at least five authors other than those with a financial or ownership interest in the company, such as an owner, business partner, employee, or close relative of such person. Those persons should be listed on the application.
5. The publisher is not a “self-publishing” or “subsidy publishing” firm in which the author has paid all or part of the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher or book packager. Among (but not all of) the situations defined as “self-published or cooperatively published” are:
a. Those works for which money has flowed from the author to the publisher to cover the cost of publication, marketing, distribution of the work, or any other fees pursuant to an agreement between the author and publisher, cooperative publisher, website owner or book packager;
b. E-books published by a privately held publisher or in collaboration with a book packager wherein the author has a familial relationship with the publisher, editor, or any managerial employee, officer, director or owner of the publisher or book packager;
c. Those works published by companies, websites, or imprints that do not publish other authors;
d. Those works published by a publisher or website or in collaboration with a book packager in which the author has a direct or indirect financial interest;
e. Those works published in an anthology or magazine in which the author is also an editor, except an anthology or magazine for which the author is a guest editor;
f. Those works published in an anthology or magazine wherein the author has a familial relationship with the editor or publisher
6. Royalties must be based on either published price (i.e., “list price,” “cover price,” “manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” or similar) or on net receipts, where the definition of the latter is functionally identical to MWA’s recommended language (“Net receipts means actual cash receipts from all sales of the Work in any media or format less shipping costs, returns, and sales or value-added taxes remitted to Publisher by the purchaser”). If royalties are based on net profit or on a net receipts definition that deducts the cost(s) of editing, copyediting, design, cover art, production, advertising, marketing, distribution, or any other aspects of production, a publisher is required to meet the following additional criteria:
a. The royalty rate should reflect the proportion of costs shared by the author. If costs are equally split, the royalty rate shall be no less than 50%. If only some costs are shared by the author, the committee shall use its discretion to determine whether the royalty rate satisfies MWA guidelines. Under no circumstances, however, shall the royalty rate be less than 25%.
b. All shared costs will be accounted for and regularly reported to the author
c. The author shall have reasonable approval over costs
7. Books must be available through major online retailers, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Book Store, and not just through the publisher’s website.
8. The publisher must not be engaged in the practice of wrongfully withholding or delaying the payment or reporting of royalties to authors.