Boxfire Press Website:
Do you pay an advance?
We only discuss financial terms when we reach the contract stage with an author.
That's not a good sign. An advance is a yes or no question. I don't need to know the amount they're prepared to pay because that is something to be negotiated, but Boxfire could do themselves a lot of good by saying up front whether they're paying one or not rather than this mealy mouthed non-response.

Boxfire Press Website:
Where will the stories be distributed?
It depends on the story, but over the last year we've developed relationships and have contracts in place with some of the top eBook distributors out there right now, including Apple, Amazon.com, Sony, etc. We'll give your work the widest distribution we can.
Distribution's great, but I also need to know what they're doing to promote the works so that people know to find the books/stories there in the first place. There's no point putting something on Amazon and just expecting people to know that it's there.

Boxfire Press Website: (BOLDING MINE)
Shouldn't I just publish my stories myself?
You certainly can. Many eBook distributors have developed self-serve platforms for authors. However, we always think it helps in the mind of the reader if the book or the story has been vouched for by a third-party. Even though, for example, I own the company -- my own stories have been independently shaped and edited before they ever went out the door.
That's a little disingenuous. Currently Boxfire Press has two books for sale on its website and both of them are by Justin McLachlan, who owns the company. In effect, he's saying that the benefit of Boxfire over self-publishing for other authors is that it gives readers the benefit of third party vouching, and yet there is no such obvious vouching for his own work.

He can't have it both ways. Even if he had the book independently edited and put together, he's still effectively self-publishing it and that independent editing is not obviously being used to sell it.

In any event, using a third party publisher should be giving you something more than independent 'verification' that your work is any good. A publishing company should know how to sell, market and distribute your book to maximise the money made for both the company and the author. If you end up signing with a company where you're doing all the sales activity but they're taking 80% on each copy sold, then you're better off self-publishing IMO.

Boxfire Press Website:
How much will my stories sell for? Will you make them free?
Financial terms, including the retail price, are left to the contract stage. We'll develop a pricing strategy that we think best fits your story and your goals. Free eBooks will get your name out there and maybe even generate a lot of attention and reviews, but they won't make you--or us--any money, obviously.
This concerns me. I don't expect the cover price of the book to be a subject for contract negotiation. The company should know how much it charges for short works and novels and have done its calculations based on the same.

Boxfire Press Website:
I know what it's like to fight against the publishing machine, a machine that leaves a lot of good authors outside the door while pushing the works of tried and true, but sometimes, mediocre ones. I really want Boxfire Press to be a place known for discovering and developing new authors.
Oh great. A veiled accusation that commercial publishers aren't interested in good authors. This also makes it sound as though Boxfire was set up because the author couldn't find anyone else willing to take his work. That in itself is not a good sign.

Boxfire Press Website:
Do you take print rights? Can I resell my story?
The exact rights we ask for with your story will be decided at the contract stage. In general, we ask for worldwide eBook rights, the option to exercise some prints rights for a certain amount of time and the option to sell some subsidiary rights. The specifics can be complicated, so, again, we'll worry about it all at the contract stage.
Again, this is the kind of thing that they should be able to say straight-up without hiding behind contract negotiation.

There's nothing on the site to indicate that they can do a good job selling printed books, so I don't see why they should have printed rights. If they do want print rights then that should be limited to the USA/Canada at most given that this is where Boxfire is based.

There is absolutely nothing on the site to indicate that they can sell subsidiary rights (which I assume means at most audio rights) so I don't see why they should have them. I would definitely want to bottom out what subsidiary rights they are taking because it sounds to me that they don't know.

Boxfire Press Website:
You're a writer, so is my story safe with you? I don't want it stolen.
I do read all the stories, but I'm not in the business of taking other's work. That being said, there's a very, very small chance that you might send something that's similar to something I'm already working on or something we're already developing with another writer. That's just the chance you take when you send an unsolicited manuscript on spec. If you're really worried, feel free to send us a query letter first and if it sounds too similar, we'll let you know.
Erm ... no. If you're holding yourself out as a publisher, I want you working as a publisher full time, not working on your own stuff which might "coincidentally" end up looking something I sent you.

Boxfire Press Website:
We launched in 2009 with a couple short stories available on the Amazon Kindle.
So it started as a self-publishing short story publisher, with those short stories presumably being by the author.

Boxfire Press Website:
In 2010, we expanded to the iPad and one of our best pieces hit the top #10 in the iBookstore.
That's pretty meaningless given that it doesn't say how long it stayed in the top 10. It's possible to spike a book's sales figures to make it appear in the top 10 of many sites if everyone places their orders at the same time - unfortunately that doesn't make it a bestseller.

In short - see if this publisher is still in business in a year's time and if so, what the experience is of the authors who've signed with it.

Personally though, there is nothing here that would make me want to sign with it because there's just nothing to suggest either previous commercial publishing experience or the ability to make a lot of sales - notwithstanding the owner's obvious enthusiasm.

MM