I apologize for the inconsistent number of posts over the last few weeks. Other writing projects that had to take priority over what I post here and the lack of any really interesting movies about which to write have kept me away. This was also the reason my 31 Days of Horror posts were not wrapped up until the middle of November (but I promise I watched every film in October).
Unfortunately, between some upcoming travel and the need to focus on finishing some short stories, the month of December looks like it will be even more sporadic when it comes to new posts here. But I do have a question to ask of any other fiction writers who may read this.
Do you submit your fiction to markets that do not offer payment or only offer royalties with no advance?
I ask because I only submit to paying markets. My reasoning is that I work hard on my stories, investing hundreds of hours in writing, rewriting, research, rewriting some more, editing out most of what I rewrote, rewriting again, and then scrapping the whole damn thing and starting over from scratch. This is my system and it rarely works for me, but I’m comfortable with it. The problem is it’s an inefficient system that finds me putting in a lot of time and poking at some touchy scars in my subconscious. It does not seem unreasonable to me that a small press—whether we’re talking anthology or magazine—should find a way to pay me if they want to publish my story.
Before I get swamped with angry comments and e-mails from small press publishers and editors, I understand that many of you are putting out your publications purely out of love. I find this admirable but also more than a little irresponsible. If you want to run a money-losing hobby, that should be up to you, but please don’t ask for submissions and then tell the writer there is no money for them, but there might be if enough copies sell.
Most writers understand that when they are offered a deal that only pays royalties, they will never see any money, and if they do, it will be far less than what they would have made had they sold their story to a market that paid even one cent per word up front. So when I look at a call for submissions and it lists only royalties as payment, I feel a bit insulted (even worse are the ones that list “exposure” as payment).
It’s not that I think I’m the greatest writer in the world and deserve to get paid top dollar. What I do think is that I’m a pretty good writer and I shouldn’t give my work away to someone who might get lucky and turn a profit from it.
Beyond just the pure pride factor at play, there is the fact that the more writers who do give their work away for nothing makes it easier for small press publishers to offer nothing to writers who seek payment. If they are going to publish stories by unknown or semi-known writers, why should they pay them anything when they can take a story from a writer who doesn’t feel their work has any value? But you know what? You get what you pay for.
This brings me to the other reason I only submit to paying markets: I want my stories published with work by other good writers. By sticking to my guns when it comes to being paid, I’ve had my short fiction published alongside stories by Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee, Ramsey Campbell, Andrew J. McKiernan, and Kathryn Hore among others. That’s a pretty good list of authors and I feel fortunate that I get to be in the same table of contents with them.
So I ask you, fellow writers, am I being too stubborn? Am I shutting myself off from too many potential publication options? Hell, am I being a snob? Sound off in the comments if you want, hit the contact button and send me a message, or e-mail me at email@example.com.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and read all the extraneous crap that goes through my head by following me on Twitter.
Matt, to see my name amongst that list of authors is incredibly gratifying! Thank you! And a great article too 🙂
You’re welcome, Andrew! And thank you for the compliment on my born from frustration post.