Now don't get me wrong. My publisher put together a wonderful packet of getting my book through the process of being ready for print, places to send copies for reviews, and such. It was a fine-tuned process, something I admire after being an editor for a small press in Kansas. I thought, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Really, as someone who gets published, the only responsibility of the small press is to publish you.
I was lucky. The editor put together the layout of the cover and inside for me. I know with the press I work for we are all volunteering, so we ask the author to provide the files at her or his own expense.
I've heard of a small press who asked my friend to provide for the layout and pay for the setup, too.
I can safely say Finishing Line Press not only charges a reading fee, but asks for presales, too. This is not uncommon.
Linda Rodriguez has a wonderful blog about what novelists should expect:
If you are like me, writing poetry, chances are a small press will be publishing you. You should really check out Small Press Distribution:
Here comes the nitty-gritty of the game.
Look at this page, the New Poetry:
Click on the first book and look at the publication date. What?! How can they have copies in, but the Publication Date is months ahead?
This is part of the trick. Ask your editor for a Publication Date months in the future, while actually publishing your book ASAP. You can explain this as the reason.
Another reason: Many reading groups, like The Rumpus, want books in hand before being published, too.
This also includes book reviews. An editor told me, just like blurbs, she is not sure if book reviews really sell books. However, do not underestimate the power of a book review in a leading online book review source. Chances are, they, too, will want a book review before the book is published.