So we got your cnf book contest info forwarded on the twitter (thanks Brevity), which was exciting. I'm super happy to hear of another press "Seeking engaging, innovative, or experimental creative nonfiction writing in the lyric essay, memoir, graphic memoir, meditative essay, personal essay, flash essay, literary journalism, nature meditation, or hybrid forms." All to the good. But what's up with the $45 entry fee for said contest?
I get that the economics of writing contests are tricky, especially so in prose, even more especially so in nonfiction (I wonder what the economics are of, say, the Bakeless contest in nonfiction; I know the AWP economics loosely*), and super especially so in any sort of vaguely experimental prose. And for a startup press a contest is a tricky beast indeed. But a $45 entry fee is quite a lot for a $1000 honorarium + publication. That's on the border of the golden 1:20 ratio between entry fee and possible prize money that I usually use to determine whether a contest is exploitative of its entrants.
It seems to me really likely to limit your entries (though I suppose you probably only need 22-23 entrants to break even if you're not factoring in administrative overhead and any judge's honorarium).
I'd be interested in hearing back from y'all about the thinking behind this. (I'd be happy to setup an account to post back here if you like.)
I post this in the spirit of open and frank discussion, not in the spirit of discouraging what looks like an exciting new press for the essay.
* As the preliminary judge for the AWP Book Prize in Nonfiction a few years back, I think I read about 120 book submissions, and forwarded ten to the final judge. As I remember, it was a $25 entry at the time (now it's $30 for nonmembers and $15 for members). So you can do the math on that. There's some administrative overhead, as any contest coordinators can tell you. I think it was still a $1000 prize + publication, though now it's up to $2500 (nice work, AWP). Which is pretty reasonable.