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Free Fiction



Nothing seems to draw some writers' scorn so quickly as nonpaying markets. As an aspiring writer myself, the thought of working so hard for no money is...well, not so warming a thought as pro rates. But I imagine that another potentially more important reason for such scorn is, for some writers, psychologically, acceptance is validation of one's skill/talent, and payment the validation of the validation. How can you be sure if you really have made it if you weren't paid? After all, if the editors didn't have to pay for it, how good can it be?

I had already recommended a story by Tom Miller Juvik, published by Compass Rose. And if you haven't already checked out these sites, do so--especially if you happen to be one of the doubters...These sites prove it's not the pay rate, but discerning editors (many of whom work voluntarily) that make the mag.



And don't forget, there are aspiring editors as well as aspiring writers. And some of the best, most experienced editors may not be working for pro rate magazines. Which leads to a question: as a writer, where would you rather see your work? Would you rather be paid pro rate by an aspiring editor or in contributors copies by an established one?

But back to the free fiction...the sites above feature great stuff. Their editors may not pay their writers, but boy do they deliver!

Michael Penncavage, a fellow member of the GSHW, turned me onto Thug Lit with his Derringer Award winning story, "The Cost of Doing Business."

The current issue has some real winners as well...

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
jongibbs
Oct. 24th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
Interesting post.

I agree that some non-paying sites offer good fiction, but I still feel they should offer payment, particularly if they expect to make money from their site (whether from advertising revenue, or publishing the stories in print form at some point).

It's not like a couple of dollars would change the writer's life, but (for me at least) it's the principal of the thing. Besides, it's not going to break the publisher's piggy bank.

Just my 2 cents worth :)
aalford
Oct. 27th, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
You'll get no dispute from me, especially if the the market expects to make money off the stories. At a bare minimum, contributors' copies should be offered if it's a print venue.

But what if...

A simultaneous submission you've made has triggered acceptances at Prairie Schooner or Third Coast (both of which, I believe, are nonpaying or pay in contributors' copies and/or subscriptions) as well as a fledgling market (run by as-yet unproven fledgling editors) that's going to pay you somewhere on the scale from semi-pro to pro rates (perhaps depending on your own fledgling/veteran status).

First, we should only be so lucky to have this scenario!

But second, who gets your story? Holding aside the current state of the economy, natch! ;-)
jongibbs
Oct. 28th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Assuming they all accept simultaneous submissions, I'd go with whoever accepted it first :)
dqg_neal
Oct. 30th, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
If you submitted simultaenous, then your answer should be the first one that accepted you no matter what the pay rate. Otherwise you are wasting that editor's time and hopefully it bites you on the butt the next time around.
dqg_neal
Oct. 30th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
I'm not adverse to sending to a non-paying market, but I prefer paying. I feel that an editor for a paying market has to be sure of your work before they accept it, because there is a monetary exchange going on. It means you work is worth at least as much as what they are paying. Much more of a vetting process in my mind.

aalford
Oct. 31st, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
I should have added, "the responses are also simultaneous."

So...Foiled! Drat! You guys defeated the hypothetical question!
Evidently I should have spent lots more time revising. Ouch. As a writer, that hurts...

But, for the benefit of any editors that might get the wrong impression from my post, of course I'd go with the one that accepted first. I can't see responding to an editor with, "Well, would you hang on until I hear back from Magazine X? You were only my second choice." Definitely not good to play games...

I'd only ever send a piece out as a simultaneous submission if AND ONLY IF I'd be equally pleased to have the story accepted at any one of the target venues.

Now...back to the money issue. By and large, I prefer paying markets also.

But on a personal note, and despite the economy, I don't always send my pieces to the highest paying markets first. For example, Weird Tales doesn't pay pro rates, but they're a personal holy grail. So, they're likely to get my submission ahead of even the highest paying markets out there.

The fact remains, I'll never get rich off a short story. And given that, I'd sooner have my story appear in Weird Tales at 3c a word than in Fly-By-Night (not a real mag title, I hope!) for 9c a word.

A story should, in theory, be worth at least as much as what a market pays for it. But, the rigor of any vetting process is going to depend on the caliber of the editors involved, and not on their wallets. But then, how do you measure a story's worth in money anyway? Other than N cents per word?

I think that volunteer editors at places such as I've named also have to be "sure" of the work they receive. I don't doubt that they feel equally passionate about their work as the pro markets, if not more so. After all, short story writers don't expect to get rich--they work out of passion. What's keeping them going? The same fuel, I bet...

Finally, as money comes into the equation, does it become harder for editors to take risks? To take a chance on a newcomer's story, one they may feel strongly about, but which they know will not achieve consumer recognition on a cover?

Just some scattered thoughts. And of course, by now you realize I'm only writing this as a cheap form of procrastination. I really should be revising "The Mist Scrambler" yet again...

Happy Halloween!
jongibbs
Nov. 2nd, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
'...I feel that an editor for a paying market has to be sure of your work before they accept it, because there is a monetary exchange going on...'

I could be wrong, but I don't think editors of paying markets (the 1-5 cents per word in particular) take their jobs any more or less seriously than most of the non-paying ones. I imagine that most of the smaller publications are labors of love first, and a serious attempt to make money second.

Just mt 3rd & 4th cents worth :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )