Submission Fees – To Pay or not to Pay?

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Following on from my message to new writers (TL; DR I advised fellow newbies to not shell out their hard-earned money to get published), I got some questions from writer friends about submission fees. Basically, they said, you told us not to but you pay fees for short fiction submissions, don’t you?

I do, indeed I do. But there’s a few points to note about how I do it:

  1. I search for literary journals that don’t take submission fees.
  2. I stay alert for fee-free periods for literary journals I am interested to send my work to.
  3. I pick and choose where I put my money.
  4. If I’m paying submission fees, the literary journal must be paying writers within the professional/semi-pro range.
  5. I define a budget for my submission fees and stick to it.

If you are interested in the discussion around whether submission fees should be charged at all or not, there’s a plethora of links all over the place, arguing both sides of the case. Authors Publish, a fantastic resource for writers, has vowed to stand against submission fees. They only feature resources that don’t charge fees.

I somewhat understand the compulsion of literary journals having to charge fees, because I’m not myself sure how I would monetize the whole thing and make the necessary sales.

Most of the resources I’ve listed here focus on magazines that don’t charge fees. But you would do well to check out submission guidelines and Duotrope to gauge whether the journals pay or not before sending work out.

Do you pay submission fees? What is your stance on this? Do let me know!


  1. Maybe if I were the editor of a literary journal, I’d feel differently, but I know so many aspiring writers who are struggling financially. Making those people pay submission fees seems rather unfair. There’s got to be better ways to generate revenue.


    1. That’s true also. To be fair even most journals that charge fees also host fee-free periods to allow struggling writers to submit. Better ways to generate revenue may remain challenging given there are more writers writing short fiction than readers reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

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