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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 11:10 pm (UTC)
I'm most concerned about the quality of the place I'm submitting to. That's my first and main criterion. Tied for second would be circulation (or eyeballs) and money.

I've submitted poetry to nonpaying markets, and one poem that went up at a nonpaying market was nominated for a Rhysling, so that worked out okay for me :-) I think I've submitted short stories only to paying places so far, but as I mentioned in response to karen_w_newton, I'd submit to certain places that didn't pay, if I thought the exposure or prestige was worth it. Or, like amysisson says, for a charitable cause.

Nov. 5th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)
'...Tied for second would be circulation (or eyeballs)...'

An excellent consideration. Mind you, I'd have to wonder why a publication with a wide enough circulation to attract writers wasn't offering to pay, though it wouldn't necessarily stop me from pitching.

Case in point, back in January, I wrote an article for a local 'every house gets one free whether they want it or not' magazine. Quality paper, color print and circulation of (I think) about 10,000.

Not only did they not pay, they wanted all rights to my article, and any photos I provided.

I talked them out of the photo rights because they weren't my pictures, but since the article was about the two writing groups I belong to, I didn't mind the lack of payment, or loss of rights for the article - besides, it was the very first time I'd be published as a writer.

If they did some sort of non-paying 'Local Fiction' page, I'd consider it, but I'd sure resent it too - color magazines with that kind of circulation can spare a few dollars to pay their writers, they just don't see why they need to when folks will work for free.

Thanks for the input, and congrats on that Rhysling nomination :)
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 5th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 5th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
In a lot of ways I think it's important to view writing as a business. Not necessarily a business that will make you rich, but a business none the less.

Part of creating and running a business is taking care of the financial aspects.

A writer's job is to create stories that people will want to read. And there are very few writers who are able to get published on their very first attempts.

Writers may not go to school the way doctors or lawyers do, but there is a period of learning and honing and perfecting craft where the writer will make no money from their efforts.

Once a writer has gained the skills to craft publishable stories. Why shouldn't they get paid for their work?

To me payment shows many things. Appreciation, value, and the realization that a person is providing a commodity which they put effort into.

If I have to suffer submitting a single story to one market, and then having to wait four months for an answer. With that answer most likely being "Sorry, not for us." If I have to edit and rewrite a story multiple times in order to make it its best. If I have to follow guidelines and behave in a professional manner when submitting to a magazine and corresponding with editors and making changes.

Then why shouldn't I expect to get paid for the work I provide?

Nov. 5th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
Write on, Aaron!
(no subject) - jongibbs - Nov. 5th, 2009 10:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
I don't even look at non-paying markets, simply because the paying markets tend to be better quality. Mind you, I have, I regret to say, been in some shoddy publications, so that statement doesn't bear examining too closely. :)
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC)
Lol :)

From a strictly logical point of view, not paying just doesn't make sense to me, since you'd have to assume that all the good stuff's been pitched to (and rejected by) the payers.

Either that or you've a big enough circulation/prestige that writers think not getting paid is worth the exposure, but since they do that with actors, I don't see why they should do it with writers.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:56 am (UTC)
'...I want to sell books. That is an entirely different animal...'

Amen to that :)
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
I sub to precisely TWO non-paying markets. The first is Jupiter SF, who were the first market to print one of my stories, and who are continuously reviewed by the top review sites, and whose contributor's copies make it here, and which I really enjoy reading. I'd rather have a copy of Jupiter than, say, five bucks.

The other is Abandoned Towers Online Zine (they DO pay for the print issues), done for two reasons: I really enjoy working with the editor, who sometimes asks me to send something her way (which is very cool!), and Cuberwizard productions (which owns AT) is going to publish a collection of my short stories (for which they've already paid me the advance), so having my stories on their site makes sense from a promotional standpoint.

Other than these exceptions, which are infrequent, I'm with you on the "only for pay" front.
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)
It's not that I'm mercenary, it's just that no payment at all makes me feel like I'm being taken advantage of.

PS: I'd rather have the five bucks AND the contributor's copy ;)
(no subject) - bondo_ba - Nov. 5th, 2009 12:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 5th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
I'm mostly a hobbyist, so I've got no problem at all submitting and publishing in non-paying markets. Typically the only criteria I use in deciding is whether or not to submit is if the publication has good stories. I'm really just not too impressed with a lot of the paying market's fiction. And let's face it, there is no money in short fiction, anyway. There is barely money to be made in writing novels. (You can make a fortune, but not a living, right?) I've always kind of looked at it from the perspective of exposure, and I'd rather have my little doodles out there being read, than sitting on my hard drive getting edited to mush as I try to place them in some prestigious market I don't read anyway.

Seems like I might be the odd ball here; I do respect the wanting to get paid part, but for me, I really don't see the point. Factoring in money would really just take all the fun out it. I'd make far more money by *not* writing, and spending the time on (unrelated to writing) technical consulting, come to think of it.

With that being said, I've been on something of a hiatus from short fiction, and I am down from a short or flash every week to one a month or two, and have consequently become a bit more picky about where I sub to. Like Mark Twain said, "Write for free until someone offers to pay you." I figure if I've got any real talent somebody will notice and pay me a decent wage someday ... if not, hey, I'm happy just being another 3rd rate hack. :D

Nov. 5th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC)
I don't think the kind of payments were talking about are life-changing. For me, the token payment offered by (say) Flash Me or Every Day Fiction for 1,000 word or less stories, makes me feel like I'm not being taken for granted (or taken advantage of).

On a seperate note, how's the daiper-change practice going, or do you plan to just wing it when the baby comes? :)
(no subject) - bosleygravel - Nov. 5th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC)
I have and do submit to non-paying markets. I've had several short stories appear in non-paying ezines, as well as a couple in non-paying print zines. I've got a short story due out early next year in a non-paying zine. I produce a monthly horoscope column for a local magazine, which I get paid for in the occasional bottle of wine.


Two reasons: First, it gets my name out there. I've had some really nice emails from people who've read my work in these ezines, and that's always worth something.

Two: A lot of theses zines, online or otherwise, are run by people who do it for the love of stories. I think that's admirable, and if I can support that by contributing a story, I'll happily do so.

And, to be honest, $5 or whatever isn't going to impact on my life in any way whatsoever, especially after it's been changed to Bristish sterling, lol. Sure, it's awesome to be paid for writing, but for short stories, I'd never insist on it. Name recognition comes first.
Nov. 5th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
'...Name recognition comes first...'

That's certainly a consideration, and one which ties in with my Fine Art of Self-Promotion series - I think offline exposure is #7 ;)

Mind you, as txtriffidranch said in an earlier comment, some of these non-paying sites could pay, they just don't see the need.

Thanks for sharing :)
Nov. 5th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
Quick answer: no. If I knew a lot (1000+) of people were actively reading the stories there, I probably would. Otherwise, what's the point?
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing :)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 5th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
Another great answer, thanks :)

Whatever works, right? I certainly wouldn't try to tell people not to submit to on-paying markets, I just prefer not to myself.

You're 100% right about a few dollars not changing a writer's life, but for me, it's the principal of the thing.
Nov. 5th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
I haven't finished any shorts recently to be able to try and submit them, although I've got several that I'm working on. Personally, at the moment I wouldn't consider a non-paying market. I'm taking the time to write short stories, I'd like to get something for them if I can. Maybe it's a bit of an elitist way to do it, but I'd like to earn a living (well, part of one anyway) from writing eventually - if I'm not writing a novel, I still want it to have been productive time.
If I find that I'd like pub credits to improve query letters or something, and I have something that would fit with a non-paying market, then maybe I'd submit there, but that's a bridge to cross later.
Nov. 5th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting point about pub credits to improve query letters.

Thanks for sharing, Ailsa :)
Nov. 5th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
I agree. I'm far from a venue snob, but I think the paying model for authors' work is very important. I've been known to support a one-time charity anthology, and here or there I support an editor friend, but I think even a $5 honorarium up front is an important detail.
Nov. 5th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Of course, I'm hoping to start a new trend, where the publisher pays me NOT to submit stories to them :)
Nov. 6th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I have submitted to non-paying markets, and probably will again. Getting experience on being "out there" and gaining more points for your resume, cover letters, query letters, etc. is worth the effort, in my opinion.
Nov. 6th, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC)
Fair points all. Thanks for sharing Stephe :)
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