What is publisher’s role in open access? Conventional publishers use a business model whereby subscriptions for access to content funds the publishing process. Keep in mind that “scholarly journals haven’t paid authors for their articles since the first scholarly journals” (Suber, 2012). So the costs of content are small or non-existent. There are other business models: the costs of publication can be supported by a research community, an institution, through advertisements or sponsorship. There are open source tools for production and editing workflows (i.e. Open Journal Systems) and the work of editing and managing the manuscripts can be done by volunteers to keep costs low.
In another model, often called the ‘Author pays’ model, the publisher charges article processing charges. While this is not the predominant model, it has gotten a lot of attention due to the existence of ‘predatory’ publishers. According to Jeffrey Beall, who publishes a list of publishers he calls ‘predatory’: “Predatory, open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the author-pays model of open-access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit.” Predatory publishers spam professional mailing lists with requests for manuscript submissions. Their editorial process is suspect and quality of the work they publish is variable.
There are many excellent open access publishers and journals to choose from to submit your work. Just be aware that there are is a minority that should be avoided.