Paying Submission Fees to Lit Mags

In recent years, a trend has emerged of literary journals charging submission fees to writers. This is a sore point for most submitters. As it is, the number of paying journals is far fewer as compared to magazines happy to compensate with ‘exposure’.

When Brevity started charging a submission fee, they explained their rationale behind it in a detailed post.

Most journals charge minimal fees of the order of $2 or $3. This is meant to partially offset the costs charged by Submittable or other online submissions management systems, and also to pay writers whose works are found suitable for publication.

Some journals like Narrative charge $20 and upwards to submit, which seems too steep, though I understand they pay their writers well.

Though Brevity charges a fee, they pay $45 for essays up to 750 words. This qualifies it as a Professional payment as per Duotrope.

Another aspect to consider here is if emerging writers really stand a chance in getting published in such magazines. It’s possible that the writers’ fees that are collected go towards paying solicited writers for their works. That’s something you have to weigh with each magazine. Check the bios of contributors. If it’s filled with familiar, known names, then new writers might not stand a chance.

The really objectionable ones are the magazines taking money but not paying writers. I’m sure their business model demands or at least justifies it, but it’s difficult to digest that writers input their creative work as well as part with precious currency merely to see their name in print.

There’s lively debate on this topic at several avenues:

Authors Publish takes a stand against submission fees

Writers Relief breaks it down for you

Michael Nye at The Missouri Review says they introduced fees to reduce the number of submissions:

My own experience

I usually wouldn’t part with my cold hard cash, but I do make exceptions in certain situations. For me, I found it quite convenient to submit online rather than go through the hassle of putting together a submission package consisting of envelope, stamp and printed out cover letters.

I did submit to two journals – Brevity and The Missouri Review by paying the submission fees. At $3, it works out to approx. Rs. 180, which is how much I’d spend on coffee for two at Starbucks. Though the pieces got rejected, I received personal rejections with glowing comments and an invitation to resubmit in the future. This doesn’t bring out such a big high as getting an acceptance, but regular submitters would recognize the value of a personal rejection as opposed to a standard form one.

In other lit mag news, Nathaniel Tower has another useful post on finding sustainable lit mags that don’t disappear taking your publications credits down along with them. Do take a look.

Stories & Ads

Since the last time I posted, I’ve had a few published pieces:

This is my first published poem – a fun, light piece aimed at writers and their obsession with big words. I enjoyed writing it and was delighted to see it published in Page & Spine. They showcase excellent fiction as well. Do check out the site and read the stories.

This is my first published YA story. A teenage girl is dragged into a football competition, and is petrified about playing and making a fool of herself. Maybe she will get lucky and not have to play after all, or will she?

Work continues on the Short Story Challenge. I submitted my first sci-fi story to the group and to my surprise it wasn’t torn to shreds. Issues were pointed out gently, of course, which proved quite a relief for me. This was also the longest story I’ve written to date, clocking in at around 4,500 words. This, from a person who couldn’t string together a flash fiction piece even if pressed to do so at gunpoint. As I sent in the story, it dawned on me how I’d grown from writing short pieces devoid of meat to 5000 word tomes that had to be pared down rather than fluffed up. It’s a welcome change, and I hope I can continue in this vein.

When I’m not writing in my spare time, I’m watching TV. The last few months I’ve become engrossed in House of Cards, and Elementary. Both have sharp writing and dialogues, and are a treat to watch. Of course, I’m honing my writing skills watching television! Who says I’m only getting entertained?

Speaking of television, a recent ad quite amused me:

Presenting, the Daddy Cool ad of Blue Star AC:

It reminded me of Christopher Walken’s superb performance in Fatboy Slim’s video:

Enjoy both the masterpieces of dancing!