The Price of Submission

Posted on 27 October 2011

First, thanks to everyone for all the supportive and positive comments about my book cover. I appreciate it!

In other good news, the November/December 2011 issue of Poets & Writers magazine includes my article, “Price of Submission: The Evolution of Reading Fees and Their Cost to the Community.” (Available in print only.) I spoke to various editors and writers about those $2-3 fees some literary journals charge for electronic submissions.

If you haven’t noticed, the practice of charging small fees for electronic submissions seems to be becoming more and more common. In fact, when I reached out to interview one editor in particular, I thought I was contacting a lit mag that did not charge any submission fees — only to find out that they were gearing up to announce their new $3 per submission policy that very week. It wasn’t a decision they took lightly, either.

I’m curious: Where do you stand on these submission fees? Do you happily pay them to support the journal, or do you seek out the fee-free (or postal) submissions instead? And how do you see this fee system evolving in the future?

9 responses to The Price of Submission

  • Hi, thanks for your comments on the P&W website about my upcoming book. And congratulations on your book!

    Funny, I just read this article a few days ago, cool that you’re the one that wrote it! I can see both sides of the issue – you don’t want the submission costs to be prohibitive, but at the same time having no fees means enormous numbers of submissions because people don’t have to go to the trouble of addressing envelopes and doing all the paperwork/printing. I have sent poems to places that charge fees, since I think when you add it all up, you’re probably paying about the same in paper/postage/envelopes/your time. A good discussion!

    I’d like to add a link to your blog to mine, if that’s ok. Again, congrats!!

  • Teri says:

    First, I have a strong opinion on fees and it’s only because I worked on a lit mag. The amount of work that goes in is, in a word, unbelievable. I think you can get away with a small fee right now, like $3. It’s when you get over $10 that you need something else to offer.

    I also believe that having a fee keeps people from sending a story to 50 submission piles. Each of us has to decide if that’s a good thing or not.

    Second — and yowza, second! — you have an article in a magazine with Joan Didion on the cover. I feel faint.

    The writing world is a good place.

  • Lyra says:

    Congratulations on another article!

    The fees, oh, the fees. It seems reasonable with the amount of work required, and I can understand wanting to decrease mindless submissions. But at the same time it seems yet another case of dividing down a socio-economic line.

    I hate to think of people who can’t afford to send it out because they have no money. Why should their voice not get a shot. And yes, there is so much reading, but that is part of the job.

    As usual, I can see both sides and I’m irritating myself.

  • amyg says:

    i wish i had stronger feelings on this topic because that would mean that i was actually submitting stuff! funny, i’ve really never thought it a negative thing, but more something to keep the people reading submissions from being spammed.

    (i’m sure i’ll have a stronger opinion once i read your piece.)

    • My article also covers how lit mags approach the issue and how some editors are reluctant to institute the fees but feel they have no other option. Unfortunately, the bigger problem is the fact that the literary magazine community is struggling.

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