Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reading fees: Not even once.

Posting this makes me feel a little like a cranky Luddite, but this new trend of magazines charging reading fees for submissions is really terrible. I get why contests do it--it's why I don't enter contests, but there has to be some pool from which to draw the prize money. But regular publications? No no NO.

This crab with a plastic fork conveys my feelings.

Here's the thing: writers generally write on spec. At least that's the case for beginners, and for a lot of the rest of us who don't have a multi-book contract. We have to put in a whole heck of a lot of work, up front, with no guarantee of payment. That's the burden of risk the creator bears in the market.

Editors and publishers have to sort through all the not-awesome submissions to find the ones that are both wonderfully written, and fitting for the publication. Slogging through the slush pile is not the most fun part of editing (and I say this as a former slush-pile-slogger) but that's part of the burden of risk the publisher bears in the market.

When a publisher charges a writer to read their work, that's shifting more of the burden of risk onto the writer, who is already bearing enough by working without any upfront pay. It's a crappy thing to do, and unprofessional. STOP IT.

And writers, do not pay these fees. Revenues should flow to publishers from advertisements, crowdfunding, and subscriptions. Not from the writers. The implication is that somehow you'll get a more fair read by paying for the privilege, but I wouldn't count on it. If you want to sink more money into your craft, take a class. Go to a convention and network. Hire an editor and a cover artist and publish your own work. But don't pay someone to do their job. If they can't make it work without your fees, they're probably not ready for the big leagues anyway.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dear Short Story:

Oh shiny new short story, I'm begging you: Please, please, please do not turn into another novel.

I can't juggle another novel right now, no matter how adorable your characters are.


The Writer

Picture courtesy of my sister Margaret Bibber, who arms crabs in her spare time.