In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette poetry feature, Bob Hoover writes that "Michael Simms started the operation after he noticed that the 'large traditional commercial presses, had either been bought up or merged and were emphasizing literary titles less. I saw a need for a high-quality poetry press to fill that vacuum.' " Launched in 1998, the press publishes books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by such authors as Ruth L. Schwartz, Gerald Stern, Chana Bloch, Ed Ochester, Sue Ellen Thompson, Robert Strong, Anne Marie Macari, Andrea Hollander Budy, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Frank Gaspar, Sheryl St. Germain, and Raza Ali Hasan, as well as a number of comprehensive anthologies including When She Named Fire: an Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women.
Autumn House also publishes Coal Hill Review, an online poetry and nonfiction magazine; sponsors three national literary contests; and collaborates with Pittsburgh community venues to present The Autumn House Master Authors Reading Series. The press has been honored by annual grants from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, and others. In describing the press's success, Abby Mendelson wrote "Kudos for their efforts abound, as do national awards, prestigious prizes from North Carolina and Philadelphia... Autumn House work has been anthologized, blessed by radio ace Garrison Keillor, garnered national press." Autumn House Press titles have been reviewed in such venues as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, The Georgia Review, The Hollins Critic, The Jerusalem Post, and The London Times Literary Supplement, and Autumn House authors have been featured on Prosody (WYEP radio).
Autumn House and its authors have won a number of prestigious awards and prizes including a 2013 Whiting Foundation Award for Love for Sale and Other Essays by Clifford Thompson, garnering $50,000 for the author, and annual grants since 1999 from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Autumn House's submission policies  stipulate that they "ask that all submissions from authors new to Autumn House come through one of our annual contests."
Michael Simms, founder and Editor-in-Chief, is a poet who has taught at the University of Iowa, Southern Methodist University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duquesne University, as well as in the Chatham University Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.