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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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Comments

txtriffidranch
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
You'd be amazed at how many never get past the first issue. In fact, that used to be a standing joke during the zine days, as you'd get new publishers telling everyone without the slightest bit of irony how they'd use the money made from the first issue to pay for issues 2 through 5. When they didn't make the money they thought they were owed, or didn't get any attention, they shut down the magazines in a huff.

Now what's sleazy is that a lot of these characters took and continue to take subscription money, and figure that the person who takes over the magazine will make good on that. In some cases, such as what Warren Lapine has been doing with Realms of Fantasy, that's literally true, and I have nothing but respect for Warren because of that. However, for every one of him, you have fifty dogfelchers such as Seth Friedman of Factsheet Five, who screwed over subscribers, advertisers, and contributors, myself included, with promises that he had a new buyer for the magazine and all debts would be paid. Last I heard, Factsheet Five still didn't have a buyer, especially not at the $70,000 Friedman seemed to think it was worth in 1998, and he was still cashing subscription checks as late as 2004. I personally know one crew here in Dallas that decided to put out a science fiction magazine in 1989 and promoted it heavily, getting quite a few subscription offers. The magazine fell apart as its multiple editors fought over getting "their share" of the profits before the first issue ever came out, and I understand that several subscribers had to threaten legal action to get refunds.

The other thing to remember is that while a lot of writers are willing to work for free for a short time, reality is going to get in the way sooner or later. Back at the end of 1996, I got involved with a monthly magazine in Portland, Oregon called Anodyne, and should have seen trouble when the first staff meeting noted that the publisher couldn't afford to pay writers. While writers were expected to work for free, and I had been laid off the very day of that staff meeting, the myriad editors were all stabbing each other in the back for the opportunity to become the first full-time editor on staff. I quit when the Comics Editor threw one temper tantrum after I apparently hadn't scanned his mind enough to know exactly what he wanted from one article, and threw another about how I wasn't willing to skip out on a job interview in order to make a last-minute deadline. I'll note that the job I got from the interview paid a hell of a lot more than the magazine ever did, and that editor's tantrums managed to drive everyone else away. It was easy for him, seeing as how his parents were paying for him to stay in Portland, but some of us had lives other than writing for a shitty monthly that couldn't get advertising other than from cigarette companies.
jongibbs
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
Isn't it weird how some people seem to have had their common sense surgically removed?

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


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