would you pay to submit a story?

Many publications are now charging a fee to submit stories for consideration. This is not news, and I expect the trend to continue. Though there has been some backlash — at least one writer I know has said she will never pay a fee to submit a story — I don’t think the objection is strong enough to stop the trend.

In part I think this lack of a backlash is due to the fee-charging apparently occurring mostly in the high-end literary journals. Many writers would love to see their work appear in such respected rags, so they’re either willing to pay the fee for the chance, or they’re willing to be less vocal in their objection lest they offend the almighty lit mag, at least for now. It’s a seller’s market when you consider that the publication is selling you the chance to be published.

I’m not sure how I feel. To begin with, I’m not sure my stories would ever have a chance at publication in the really high-end journals anyway, so why would I want to pay for the privilege of getting a rejection that I fully expect to receive anyway. Conversely, it may be that such fees will scare away so many submissions that my work won’t get lost in the sea of documents these places face each day. (I still doubt that my stories would have a chance in some of those places.)

I can remember a couple of years ago a lot of posts in the blogosphere about the disdain for ereaders. There were many vocal folk who insisted they would never abandon the traditional printed book in favor of one of those gizmos. You don’t hear that talk much now.

So we’ll see what happens next. Though I think fee charging will probably become a fixture at some publications, I also think the trend will peak soon. Let’s see how close my guess turns out to be.

So would you pay to submit a story?

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4 Comments on “would you pay to submit a story?”

  1. Annam Says:

    What irks me is when I pay to submit, and the response begins with “Dear Writer.” Sheesh. They presumably expect that work should be better if you are paying to submit, so I take it as an insult when I receive those generic rejections after having paid. I know my work is not that bad to warrant that. I would prefer paying even a bit more to get a personal response–something that would ensure that my work was read and taken into consideration. As it is, I am not sure of that, especially when the replies are so generic.

  2. Pete Says:

    Unless the journal pays very generously for publication, no, I wouldn’t pay a fee. And I agree with Annam that paying a fee should entitle the writer to a personal response that would at least indicate that the journal bothered to read the story instead of just pocketing the fee. (And for what it’s worth, I still insist I will never abandon printed books in favor of e-books. I may dabble in the electronic versions, but the vast majority I read will be tangible ones.)

  3. Averil Dean Says:

    No, I wouldn’t. I don’t have the money, and those submission fees add up. I find the trend disturbing the more I consider it.


  4. I wrote an entire article about this for Poets & Writers and it’s a complex issue. After talking to some lit mag editors, I learned that the fee does not necessarily cut down on their submissions — they get just as many or even more! Even if it did reduce submissions at first, eventually, that benefit will disappear as paying a fee becomes standard practice industry-wide. Which I fear is going to happen.


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