I cover the topic of submission fees every so often. By now, you all know my stance. I just can't afford it and would even hesitate if I could.
More people are coming out in favor of fees, citing mostly beaten ground. I heard a new one yesterday, though, that writers are paying for the "privilege of having our voices heard". This sentiment bothered me.
Because the arts aren't manual labor, because we may actually find joy in it... we shouldn't be paid? Real writers work hard at their craft. We strive to improve. Yes, we want to be read! If we're any good, we're (hopefully) blessed with an audience, eventually. But to bow down and shell out money for the chance?
I'm grateful whenever anyone bothers to read my words. I owe more than I can articulate to those few souls who have written me e-mails just to say they enjoyed my poems. It is a privilege, in a way, to have a receptive audience. But, it is NOT a privilege to work my tail off to send a submission to an editor who believes wholeheartedly gazing at my work, deigning me with momentary attention, is the thing I should be grateful for. (Good editors are worth their weight in gold and add so much, I'm not addressing those.)
You wouldn't tell a novelist exposure will do wonders or he/she should just bask in the sun of a gatekeeper's eyes. Why is it okay to say that to us short-form types? We work our butts off, too!
Sometimes, the world of poetry and literary short fiction is so snobby, I wish self-publishing poetry was still a viable option to reach readers.
I'm happy most of you are novelists and other book-length writers!
I just wondered why you feel self-publishing is not an option? Or have I got it wrong? Many book length writers self-publish too...agree that writing is hard work though, some of the hardest that I've ever done certainly...ReplyDelete
Mostly, the only people interested in poetry in America are other poets. Where you can convince people to read a novel by a self-published author, poetry isn't the same. I wish it were different, but few people see poetry's wonder or value, here.Delete
Oh, that's true universally, not just America, most people have no inclination to pay for poetry, it's a tiny niche market. Poets can't hope to make any serious money, unlike the novelists or the writers of non-fiction books. Unless they win some poetry contest or something with a fancy prize, but again most of those are not free to enter, and I've no idea how free and fair the judging is either, though I'd like to assume it is.Delete
Paying for a chance to submit to a magazine? Nah...thanks, I'd rather keep the poems where they are.
A thought provoking post.
Have a great weekend.
It's a hard road. I would think it's easier to have a press behind your work as a poet because it adds legitimacy in the minds of other poets. And, since that's the audience you get as a poet...Delete
Though, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe people (not poets) would respond to it if it were an individual instead of a university or press asking them to make a purchase. Doubt it.
I understand fees for contests because they have to cover the prize. But a print magazine recently asked for a fee of $20 or $30 just to have them consider your submission. I didn't get that at all. It was a magazine with a name I'd heard before, too--but I can't remember which one. They publish fiction.ReplyDelete
I know which one you're referring to, and it's crazy. Even $3 a pop adds up for me, the little bit of money reserved for my craft goes to books, magazines, blog stuff, and the occasional donation to online zines I love. Those are the ways I use my money to support the arts and/or grow as a writer. If every magazine demanded a fee, I'd have to give up submitting...Delete
Everybody wants money for everything nowdays! Such a shame.ReplyDelete
I know. I thought contributing to a magazine WAS helping and supporting them.Delete
This is like a scam. Paying for a submission with no guarantee of publication would be an absolute rip-off. If you were guaranteed publication that might be a little different but then it would also devalue the work.ReplyDelete
Maybe they are getting so deluged with submissions that this is a way to mitigate them, but still isn't that why they are in the business of publication?
Just another way to get a buck from writers who are desperate perhaps. And in the meantime none will be likely to be published anyway.
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Thanks for the share, and the help!Delete
There have been a lot of articles on both sides of the debate. I just keep picturing a job applicant being told he had to pay before he was able to be interviewed for a position...
That's exactly my take. I'm not going to pay to work. I might invest in a business, but that's something completely different.Delete
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And I thought a literary magazine WAS a business (though admittedly, not a lucrative one). So they are essentially asking us to keep their businesses going with submissions AND money.Delete
Another argument for fees: Most people running literary magazines are paid nothing. Okay... granted. But what's that gotta do with me? They chose to work there and/or start the darn magazine (which is good for the continuing growth of literature and yadda, yadda) no one made them. I didn't know employees were expected to pay their boss' salary...
Then there's the poetry anthology scam that maybe you've received in the mail like I have. Once on a whim, I quick hacked out a poem in a few minutes and sent it in. I received a notice back that my poem had been accepted for publication in the anthology which was available to me for something like $50. I could get a discount for additional copies if I wanted to give them as gifts.Delete
I didn't order that book, but sometime later I saw one of these anthologies with many poems--some good, some pretty bad, but all accepted for publication. I don't know how many of these get sold, but I'd say that they manage to sell quite a few. And the poet does get to see their work published! But they have to pay and don't receive any pay in return for their efforts.
If you enjoy documentaries there's a fascinating one called Off The Charts: The Song-Poem Story which is about people who pay to have their poetry put to music. I found this DVD to be so intriguing.
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Yeah, I sent my poetry into those when I was a teenager. I didn't know better. If they would have been honest about being a vanity publisher, it would have been different, but they weren't. When I found out the truth, I was heartsick. I thought I was good.Delete
The documentary sounds interesting. I've never heard of it.
Have you checked out the site Writer's Relief? They have a ton of articles on submitting and formatting poetry as well as anthologies and current open calls for submissions.ReplyDelete
I'm lousy at links but here's the site: http://writersrelief.com/submit-poetry-submissions/
Yes, I have, thanks!Delete
Someday, I should make a page of all the places I find markets and keep it up and update regularly for others.
Thanks for stopping by!
There are some interesting comments on the IWSG blog today about getting paid for our writing compared to giving it away. No one should have to do that let alone pay fees. I know those poetry contests and short story contests often cost some bucks. What writer can afford that?ReplyDelete
I don't mind a contest fee as much, provided you get something in return (a subscription or feedback). But general submissions, even at a small fee of $3-$5 add up. I'm going to have twenty packets of poetry (if not more) out to literary magazines by the end of the week. That means, if every one charged even the minimum, I'd be paying $60 for the likelihood of rejection!Delete
Also, a lot of literary magazines that charge fees AND pay (some don't even pay) solicit manuscripts from well-known writers. Meaning, you're paying for less of a shot and someone "better" is guaranteed page space and a check lowly "slush" submitters helped fund...
I have entered contests with entrance fees, understanding that the venue is small and they need to raise the funds for the contest, but I won't pay a "reading fee" just to be read. If I can't find a larger venue, I could always just put it up on my blog where anyone who reads it does so of their own free volition (and doesn't charge me!).ReplyDelete
A contest that gives you a subscription of the magazine (or a book by the press, depending) is completely worth it. It gives contributors a chance for more readers, the entrants "something for their money" and the magazine a small boost in circulation.Delete
I understand contest fees because of the prizes, judges, extra work, etc.
But I'm with you. No reading fees. Maybe optional fees (like a tip jar, if it doesn't influence things) or fees for personal feedback or faster response.