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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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Nov. 4th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
Urgh. Back when Sovereign Media finally decided to join the Interweb Revolution in 2000, it did so with SciFiNow.com, a horribly ill-designed mess that was supposed to incorporate both content from Realms of Fantasy and SCI FI magazines and a lot of new material. Not knowing what I was setting myself up for, I volunteered to become the content editor, and spent six months being buried in crap. Oh, besides the Cat Piss Men who assumed that I had nothing better to do than help them track down the original ruby hourglass from The Wizard of Oz and the control freaks who screamed at me because they disapproved of the Skiffy Channel's advertising (and yelled louder when I tried to explain that I had absolutely no control over Skiffy's programming), I had all sorts of tales.

The first and most obvious was that I didn't want to step on the toes of the print magazine, so I was trying to focus reviews on books, videos, and other items other than the latest television and movies. That naturally led to the entitlement brats who told me "I can't believe you haven't published a review of Dungeons & Dragons yet", and sent me a review even after I'd sent submission guidelines. We had one reviewer who didn't want to get paid (I discovered later that she was receiving disability checks and didn't want any paper trail of alternate payments) for her book reviews (where her additional income was based on selling review copies to used bookstores), and she felt she had to resort to plagiarizing others' reviews to keep the gravy train going. Oh, and there were always the wankers at conventions and movie preview screenings who would make pitches on wildly inappropriate subjects, and then expect to get paid before they'd send them in so I couldn't rip off their works of genius.

My favorite, though, was the first one. Literally six hours after I'd taken the job, I got a letter from an occasional contributor to SCI FI, wanting to show me several articles he had available. I was intrigued by his descriptions, but warned him that I had a very limited budget: $30 for feature articles and $10 per review, to a grand total of $400 per month. He sent them in anyway, and I discovered that they were all sloppy seconds that Starlog and Cinescape had passed on weeks or months before. I still offered to buy them, and then he threw a hissy fit because I wasn't willing to pay him what he thought they were worth. Last I heard, he still hadn't received a thing for them, and he spent months badmouthing me because I just couldn't give him the $2000 that he was sure he would have gotten elsewhere. And people wondered why I quit at the end of 2000.
Nov. 4th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
It's a shame that all this crud soured what I'm sure you thought would be a fun job.

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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

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



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