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In amongst last Friday's 'Interesting posts' collection, was one about non-paying markets, by my friend, aalford. in which, he lists some of the non-paying sites that he enjoys reading.
The question of why many writers look down on these types of publications also came up, as well as one about whether or not his readers would ever submit to one.  I gave him my answer (for me, some form of cashy-money payment, however small, is a matter of principal), but it got me thinking about this from the other side. 

Assuming the publication or e-zine is attempting to make money - even if it's just to cover costs - I'd say they darned well ought to pay their writers, just as they no doubt pay their printer/site designer/web-host etc.  I really can't see the downside of offering (say) $5 per story as opposed to a big fat zero.  Unless writers don't care if they get paid or not, in which case, why bother offering, right?

There's certainly all manner of non-paying markets, so maybe it's just me.  Maybe most other writers submit to paying and non-paying markets alike.  If they don't, then I'd say the non-payers are making a mistake, 'cause their paying competitors are getting first dibs on all the good stories.

How about you?

Is asking for free materiel a good business strategy for a publication?

Do you ever submit your work to non-paying markets?

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( 73 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 4th, 2009 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'm not big on it. I'm not so concerned about the money (in fact with my only decent payment to date I poured it write back into a subscription to that magazine), so much as the quality issue. I think a lot of the time the non-paying markets just aren't that attractive. If a magazine's payment is low, but they're putting together a fine publication, I'm all for it. One of my story sales, the money went to charity, in that case I could totally except non-payment as well.
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
I've only made the one sale, but I donated the $3 back to the mag. As I say, for me, it's more about the prinicipal of the thing.

Thanks for sharing :)
(no subject) - justin_pilon - Nov. 4th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
I don't necessarily look down on non-paying markets - some have a very high reputation - but I don't submit to them, no. It's only under particular special circumstances that I sub to markets paying less than 1 cent per word (EDF is the main exception - which I submit to because of the level of readership, and the feedback from that readership).

I am always prepared to make exceptions if the right combination of circumstances arise, but in general... I want to make money by writing. I have made money by writing. So I see little reason to submit to markets that won't pay me for my writing.
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
'... I want to make money by writing...'

Sounds like a plan to me :)
(no subject) - tchernabyelo - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
I suppose it would depend on the reputation/appearance/readership of the market.

I've never yet submitted to a no-pay market, and I don't have plans to do so any time soon, but that doesn't mean I won't ever. Never say never.
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
I just feel it's an insult to the writer, unless of course it's a 'for the fun of it' publication which they're giving away and they aren't selling advertising space etc.

Thanks for the input :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
I don't submit generally to non-paying markets unless it's some kind of favour for somebody I know.
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
'...unless it's some kind of favour for somebody I know...'

I'd definitely do that too
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
No, it's not a good idea, and I'll give you one good reason. I made the mistake of working for a lot of magazines that pleaded poverty in the Eighties and Nineties, and all of them had the same MO: "We can't afford to pay right now, but we hope to pay in the near future once we're successful." Problem is, if they're getting you to work for free, why the hell would they ever want to become profitable and then have to share profits with the people happily working for free?

A case in point: until 1996, I worked as a regular contributor to Science Fiction Eye, once one of the most prestigious of the science fiction essay magazines to come out of the zine boom. Shortly after I came aboard, I noticed that the editor/publisher, right after jettisoning the guy who actually made the magazine what it was, went out of his way to scuttle any chance of it being successful. He deliberately categorized the "Eye" so the vote was split for the Hugos. The magazine became later and later, and he'd come up with insane lies as to why it was late. (My favorite was that he had a printer in Wisconsin that shipped copies by truck to him in North Carolina, and the six-month delay between issues was that the truck broke down...in Alabama.) For years, I'd joked about how he'd constructed his business plan on too many viewings of The Producers, and it wasn't too far from the truth. He finally scuttled the magazine in 1999 after it received the nickname "The Last Dangerous Magazine", and he didn't even have the decency to let the subscribers know so he didn't have to offer refunds.

Likewise, I had a lot of reasons to quit writing, but the final decision came when I received a query from yet another E-zine, wanting me to write something - anything - for the premiere issue. Considering that I was working at a liquor store and desperately broke at the time (I could afford groceries or rent, but not both), I made the mistake of asking about pay rates. I immediately got back a snotty letter stating "Well, since I'm not a well-heeled trust fund baby, we aren't going to pay until it becomes successful," and that's when I realized that I could look forward to a life of these entitlement brats continuing to demand content and then gleefully walking off the moment they didn't become as famous as they expected.

Likewise, one of my oldest and dearest friends worked as an artist for a whole hell of a lot of semi-pro magazines and zines in the Eighties and Nineties. If you were reading US science fiction magazines in the Nineties, you probably saw a lot of his work. He had the same epiphany about five years ago and quit art for being a librarian, because of the same attitude from editors and publishers. As he told me, "Every time I asked about pay, I was told 'you have to pay your dues.' I've been doing this for fucking 20 years: when do I stop paying?"
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
I bet those guys weren't telling the printer to pay his dues.

Every month, I compile a list of newly opened horror/science-fiction/fantasy markets for the GSHW's newsletter (taken from Duotrope's excellent weekly updates emails). The non-payers outnumber the payers by a ratio of about 3:1. I never see them mentioned on LJ. I wonder how many fold within a couple of issues, if they even manage a first one.

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed comment. I appreciate it :)
(no subject) - txtriffidranch - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
I don't look down on them but I don't submit to them either.
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
I don't have any strong feelings at the publications themselves, but you have to assume the stories they get have been rejected by all the relevant paying markets.

Imagine being a slush reader for one ;)
(no subject) - txtriffidranch - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
Like Every Day Fiction? ;)
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
It really depends on the market. There are some very good non-paying markets that have excellent editorial control and the fiction they produce is nothing short of outstanding. Why wouldn't I want to be in a venue like that one, even if I don't get paid?

Yes, it's always nice to be paid. I'm not arguing that point. But I've had markets offer to put up a banner to my website and promote me through their magazine when they published me. Sheesh, from my perspective that right there is worth something on any scale.
Nov. 4th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
'...and promote me through their magazine...'

You mean, like an interview or something?

I can see why that might be worth foregoing a few dollars.
(no subject) - kmarkhoover - Nov. 4th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Um - a question-
What constitutes "pay"? I wrote a background myth for the novel I'm working on, and, on my sister's advice, sent it to "Mythic Circle", the literary zine of the Mythopoeic Society. They accepted it right away, but I only got one free copy. Still - this is a society I've heard of all my adult life; the magazine's been around awhile, and they did give me a free copy. This was (other than a set of books I won for a Lewis essay contest) the only pay I have ever gotten for anything I've written as of yet, so I didn't mind. Far from it! However-

Though I, most of all, want to tell a good story and find readers who appreciate and enjoy my work, and though I'll never make a living solely through my writing, I would prefer to get some kind of payment. I hope the next sale I make will have a monetary payment attached, and I expect most of my fellow writers would feel the same way. But there is more than one sort of payment for one's work, isn't there?

My two cents-
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: What constitutes "pay"?
I guess that's up to you. For me, it's a cash payment. It doesn't have to be a lot eg: Every Day Fiction (www.everydayfiction.com) and Flash Me magazine (http://www.wingedhalo.com/index.html) offer a token payment of (I think) $3 and $5 dollars respectively.

As you say, though, there are other ways to pay, though personally, I tend to include contributer copies in with non-payers.

If you're looking for a database of paying markets, I recommend www.duotrope.com, or cloudscudding's www.aswiebe.com :)
Re: What constitutes "pay"? - mary_j_59 - Nov. 5th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: What constitutes "pay"? - jongibbs - Nov. 5th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
I gave a story to a convention program book. I would be willing to consider giving away a story for a charitable project. And under very special circumstances, I would consider subbing/selling a story to a market paying royalties only -- but there would have to be a good reason.

Other than that, I generally stay away from the no-pay markets.
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
'...I would consider subbing/selling a story to a market paying royalties only ...'

I think that's how GUD works, isn't it?
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Nov. 4th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 5th, 2009 10:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
People moan about the death of the short fiction market but it seems to me short fiction is like the cockroach-- it used to be much bigger and it survived by getting smaller. If you think it's bad in genre, try looking for mainstream short fiction PAYING markets. There pretty much aren't any except The New Yorker, occasional stories in women's magazines (if that counts as mainstream), and maybe The Atlantic runs a fiction piece once a year. A friend has been published multiple times in small literary journals that print two or three issues a year of lovely, well written stories. She has not, however, been paid in anything except copies. The difference, I suppose, is that since there is virtually NO paying market the non-paying market actually commands some respect.

I write very few short stories; I have submitted the few I have done to some paying markets but not to non-paying markets. It sounds perverse to say it, but I don't want to get published in a non-paying market until I have been published in a paying one.

Nov. 4th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
I guess there are a lot more people trying to get their short stories in print than there are book writers.

Thanks for the input :)
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 4th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 5th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 5th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
'...The object of writing is to be read by someone, anyone, to share these incredible thoughts with the world, no matter how large or small the audience is...'

Not me, I want to sell a book :)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 4th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
I used to, but no longer.
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
Any particular reason for the change in policy?
(no subject) - jjschwabach - Nov. 5th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 5th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
Heheh well I'm still a n00b. The single story I've published so far, was published by a non-paying online zine. It was a good experience, the people were professional and prompt in their dealings with me, and I'm glad that I did it, because it meant the satisfaction of finally feeling like a real writer. For my next story however, I would only like to submit to paying markets (at least until they all reject me, and then I'd commence with sending it out to the non-paying ones). Personally I don't want to make a living as writer, so to me it's not about money per se. But it seems to me that a payment, even a token one, represents a greater commitment on the publisher's part, to quality and follow-through.
Nov. 4th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
'...It was a good experience, the people were professional and prompt in their dealings with me...'

That's good to hear :)
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
I sometimes send my stories to non-paying markets. I sometimes just get impatient and want them to find homes. But I have to like the market. I wouldn't send them just anywhere.
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
'...I sometimes just get impatient and want them to find homes...'

I feel the same way about my first novel :(

Thanks for sharing :)
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