1. friendly_meese
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    friendly_meese Member

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    reading/submission fees

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by friendly_meese, Jun 21, 2014.

    Quite a few short fiction markets charge you a fee in order to permit you to submit something to them. In some cases, the fee applies only to online submissions but not print ones, and the market explicitly states that the fee goes to cover server and hosting fees, and the fee is a nominal $3 per submission or some such amount. Other markets, however, charge a fee for all submissions, and the fees can reach $17 per submission. Contests are especially terrible about this, as there is always a relatively substantial contest entry fee even though, usually, only the top three of 10,000 submissions actually win a prize, so the odds of getting something back for your money are ridiculous.

    I have to admit that I'm uncomfortable about submission and reading fees. They smack of vanity publishing, although they are not the same thing. They definitely violate the principle that markets should pay authors and not the other way around. Although I understand that making online submission available costs the market money, I don't know how much I like the idea of hopeful, unpublished writers subsidizing a market's bottom line for the privilege of submitting. In the case of a few markets, it is receiving a submission that should be seen as a privilege on the part of the market, not the other way around. On the other hand, if what stands between me and publication is a payment of $3 that would likely be reimbursed when the publication accepted the submission and paid me for the work, the financial risk is minimal. The real issue is how to distinguish genuine markets from scams that see submissions as their primary profit center and are not really in the publishing business but rather in the writer hope farming business. I don't have a good feel for what the honest markets and what the scammers are.

    All comments on this issue are welcome.
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I would wonder how solvent a publication is if they honestly need their authors to help pay costs. I mean, is that how they can afford to pay the authors they do accept? :wtf:

    I have no problem paying a reasonable entry free for reputable contests, as that money helps pay the costs of the contest (typically a 'side project' for a journal or magazine). But as part of the 'normal' submission process? No Way.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are plenty of short fiction markets (for all genres and content) out there that do not charge a submission or reading fee. The submission fee is that market's/publisher's business model--how they earn money to keep the doors open. It's not through the sale of content (anthologies/magazines/ezines) or through advertisement.

    Contests, while a little different in structure, one should be wary of fees associated with submissions to that contest. A question to ask:
    Is the contest a prestigious one to win? What benefits will there be if one wins?
    Will winning help a writer moving their career forward?
    What is the payout for winters in proportion to the contest fee?
    What rights will the contest be given, not only through winning, but even by just submitting?
    What is the time frame? In other words, how long will the story be tied up in the judging?

    Again, with so many paying markets out there that don't charge fees, one has to really be interested in the value of winning, because it's more like throwing money away.

    Sometimes (in the past) I've heard that as part of the process, a critique will be given to all those who submitted a work, and some writers may feel that of some value, and worth the reading/submission fee even if they don't win.

    A few questions:
    How does one know the competence of the reviewer/reader?
    What is the quality of the read/review/commentary on a rejected piece? Several years ago I recall some writers bemoaning the quality of their critiques, receiving brief comments like: Not best POV for the story. or Weak opening. or Didn't grab and keep my attention.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Some of the most prestigious magazines out there charge a reading fee. While it's not ideal, that's the way it has to be sometimes. Just make sure it's a reputable/legit magazine before submitting.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bear in mind that many, if not most, contests are open to simsubs, so "tied up" is not necessarily an issue. It is, however, something to look for so your story isn't tied up unnecessarily.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree, but my thoughts on this were:
    1. Some markets do not prefer simultaneous subs, so if a piece is out there with a contest, that may limit where it can be sent.
    2. If you're going to spend money on a contest entry, then why send it elsewhere until the results are in? I've never seen a contest fee that is refundable if one withdraws the submission (although I guess it might be possible to find one).

    I have always maintained the view that once a project is submitted, wherever it's submitted, just move on and work on writing something else. The time goes faster and in the end you'll have more projects to send out to find a home (or resend for reprint rights). Just keep a good spreadsheet or chart to keep track of where a project has been sent and expected timeframes for it to be read and accepted or rejected. Contests are usually much more firm on this date than ezines and magazines and anthologies.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless a contest is particularly prestigious or the award larger than typical, I can't see submitting to any that don't allow simsubs. I wouldn't make contests my sole publication route, of course - ROI overall has to be considered. Likewise, if one submits to one place (regardless of fees) and waits until they hear back from that one place before submitting elsewhere, they are wasting a lot of time. I wouldn't advise sending out to more than 5-10 on one's list, because there's always a chance of feedback/acceptance, but definitely don't go one at a time.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the past I've submitted stories to markets that didn't accept simultaneous submissions. Sold a few short stories and even a reprint that way. If it was a market I really wanted to shoot for, or if it was a market that seemed a really good fit for a story I had, those factors weighed in my decision. Other stories/reprints I sold to markets that accepted simultaneous subs. But what's worked for me isn't necessarily the same path other writers should take.
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that's basically what I'm saying. If it's a contest you feel is important to you, for whatever reason, no reason not to sub. Same with pubs that require exclusive subs. But if you have no real compulsion to submit to them, may as well send to several pubs at once and cut down the overall wait time for responses.
     
  10. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    PANK and Glimmer Train both have interesting ways of accepting submissions. There are several months per year during which it is free to submit work - the rest of the time a small fee is required. Both pay the people they publish. I like this model, since it generates funds with which to pay accepted authors, but does not necessarily mean that someone must pay in order to have their work considered.

    One possible reason for the increase in the number of markets charging submission fees is Submittable. Many publications signed up to Submittable when it was first developed since it was free, and was far more versatile and user-friendly than email. It is now no longer free - you must pay a monthly fee if you wish to accept more than a certain number of submissions. This has introduced a new expense for publishers which didn't exist before - it also presents an easy way of absorbing this extra expense: the charging of fees for submissions.

    I think it's conceivable that some markets would feel justified in offsetting the money it costs them to read submissions via Submittable by asking authors to contribute. I, personally, preferred to stop using it, but I can understand why that would be a more difficult decision for a magazine with a larger and more widely-dispersed staff - it really is an excellent piece of software, the benefits of which cannot really be replicated through email.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, Glimmer Train's fees are only for their contests - and considering the prize money ($1500 - $2500), it's a pretty low fee. But you can submit for free otherwise.
     

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