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Thread: How do you feel about fees? (and super long waits)

  1. #1
    i'm a girl. (i have tendonitis) defyalllogic's Avatar
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    How do you feel about fees? (and super long waits)

    I know when it comes to looking for an agent reading fees are unacceptable.

    What's you take on short story reading/processing/admin fees? The weird things is, it seems that unlike with agents, it seems that completely reputable pubs do it. (glimmer train and ... well I was going to say American Short Fiction until i looked them up on duotrope and saw they were DNQ, but GT wasn't.)

    anyway. most contests seem to have fees. some pubs. between waiting months for a single story at a pub that doesn't accept simultaneous subs and paying fees at another, it seems like a lot of concessions just for a chance...

    just wondering what some of you have on your list of won'ts? or things that are just business as usual.

    ETA: Though it's like the 8th time I've read them, I now see the Glimmer Train reading guideline are not what they exclusively Fee based.
    We're happy to consider stories whether they're submitted as competition entries or standard submissions, for which there are no reading fees.

  2. #2
    Two years old now. Lyra Jean's Avatar
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    I entered a contest through the Missouri Review. It had a fee. I lost but got a "free" subscription. I think if you get a free subscription then you're just paying to subscribe to the magazine for a year.
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  3. #3
    Purveyor of Prose Ineti's Avatar
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    I don't submit my short stories to a fee-based publisher. Especially since the profit margin is fairly small on short stories to begin with.

    That, and the old adage about how money is supposed to flow TO the writer. Each writer's mileage may vary of course based on what their publishing and writing goals are.

  4. #4
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    One rule of thumb for contests is that the entry fee should not be more than 2% of the value of the prize. If the only prize is being accepted for publication, it is not a contest just a disguised reading fee.
    Emily Veinglory

  5. #5
    Court Jester Shadow_Ferret's Avatar
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    A wise man said, "Money should flow toward the writer."

    I won't send my stories anywhere I have to pay them.
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  6. #6
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Most contests have an entry fee - as someone else mentioned, the fee should be commiserate with the prize. Typically, I see fees of anywhere from $10 to $25, with prizes of $1000 and up (some way up), and *include* publication. I would never pay for a straight submission.

  7. #7
    ... with the High Command Dave.C.Robinson's Avatar
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    Small contest fees and large prizes I can live with - generally it's going toward a writer anyway.

    Anything else is a danger signal.


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  8. #8
    Doing the Space Operatic Izz's Avatar
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    What Emily and shadowwalker and Dave.C. have said. Even then, reputable fee-based contests are still somewhere near the bottom of my subbing list.
    Last edited by Izz; 07-27-2010 at 08:53 AM.

  9. #9
    Science, for the sake of...science! Dungeon Geek's Avatar
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    Money flows to the writer. Indeed it should. And I'd sooner eat my dirty shoe than pay someone just to take a glance at my manuscript.

  10. #10
    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Contest fees for highly regarded magazines like Glimmer Train are legitimate, so long as the fee is small enough in comparison to the prizes. (My standard is that the biggest prize is 100 times the entry fee, or larger. When I first started writing in earnest, it was 50 times the entry fee.)

    I figure a part of the prize package for the winner is name-dropping the prestigious award. If they throw in a subscription or something else of literal value, that's a bonus.

    But I don't enter contests of publications I've never heard of. In my experience, quite a few of them are run by vanity press authors attempting to assemble an email list to spam the holy hell out of for their work, and they'll pay somebody $20 or $50 as winner in order to harvest a couple hundred writers' names and email addresses.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by defyalllogic View Post
    I know when it comes to looking for an agent reading fees are unacceptable.

    What's you take on short story reading/processing/admin fees? The weird things is, it seems that unlike with agents, it seems that completely reputable pubs do it. (glimmer train and ... well I was going to say American Short Fiction until i looked them up on duotrope and saw they were DNQ, but GT wasn't.)

    anyway. most contests seem to have fees. some pubs. between waiting months for a single story at a pub that doesn't accept simultaneous subs and paying fees at another, it seems like a lot of concessions just for a chance...

    just wondering what some of you have on your list of won'ts? or things that are just business as usual.

    ETA: Though it's like the 8th time I've read them, I now see the Glimmer Train reading guideline are not what they exclusively Fee based.
    I don't and won't pay submission or contest fees; too many markets are available that I can submit to for free. Even Glimmer Train has four open submission periods each year in which you can submit up to 3 stories gratis.

    Waiting is another thing; just part of the writing career.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    I think it's pointless and counterproductive to pay a fee for anything. It's much easier to get published in a regular magazine that doesn't charge fees, simply because such magazines accept far more stories over the course of a year. In fact, they often accept more stories per month than fee charging magazines or contest magazines accept in a year.

    Why pay to enter a contest that has only one winner when you can submit free to a regular magazine that has several "winners" each month?

    Money should flow to the wirter, never away.

  13. #13
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Why pay to enter a contest that has only one winner when you can submit free to a regular magazine that has several "winners" each month?
    I think it depends on the contest. There are many out there that are not 'just' magazines. There are contests for full-length novels which include (on top of the prize money) publication. Others offer fellowships along with prize money. There's also the prestige attached to winning some of these contests, and, obviously, the exposure offered.

    I don't think a blanket "Don't Do It" should be applied here - like any "rule" in writing, there are exceptions. Automatically dismissing contests means missing out on many worthwhile opportunities.

  14. #14
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    IMHO you have a better chance of having a well-written novel published through a reputable publisher than winning a contest.

    I don't do it; I don't see why anyone would but those who want to, enter away and hope for the best.

    It just might be an indicator, though, that some of the people - Jamesritchie and myself for just two - who object to paying money to enter contests or to submit are people who are working writers, writing for decades.

  15. #15
    Commonsensical Maverick scope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnysannie View Post
    IMHO you have a better chance of having a well-written novel published through a reputable publisher than winning a contest.

    I don't do it; I don't see why anyone would but those who want to, enter away and hope for the best.

    It just might be an indicator, though, that some of the people - Jamesritchie and myself for just two - who object to paying money to enter contests or to submit are people who are working writers, writing for decades.
    Ditto,

  16. #16
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnysannie View Post
    IMHO you have a better chance of having a well-written novel published through a reputable publisher than winning a contest.

    I don't do it; I don't see why anyone would but those who want to, enter away and hope for the best.

    It just might be an indicator, though, that some of the people - Jamesritchie and myself for just two - who object to paying money to enter contests or to submit are people who are working writers, writing for decades.
    No disrespect intended, but if you haven't delved into the world of contests, then it's not really "tenured expertise" talking, but only personal opinion. Obviously there are good and bad contests, and it takes investigation (just as it does with publishers, agents, magazines, etc) to determine if a contest (and it's entry fees, which pay for the awards as well as the expenses of running it) is worthwhile, too expensive, or a scam. Contests do not require an agent, the number of "competing" stories is smaller than open submissions to a magazine or publisher, the judges are able to focus on just those stories, the prize money (even minus the entry fee) compared to the maximum word count is many times a higher per word payment than regular publishers...

    Certainly one wouldn't want to make entering contests their livelihood, but I see no reason why it shouldn't be looked at as another legitimate avenue for authors.

  17. #17
    Science, for the sake of...science! Dungeon Geek's Avatar
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    Not all contests are scams. But here's one potential scam for you: A contest charges a $10.00 entry fee and pays a grand prize of, say, $500.00. An unknown writer (who might even have a website and a few blog posts just to appear legit) wins the grand prize and then is never heard from again.

    Get the picture?

    Wouldn't be hard to pull off, I should think--in some variation or another. That's why I don't enter contests where I have to pay a fee. I'm too paranoid.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    No disrespect intended, but if you haven't delved into the world of contests, then it's not really "tenured expertise" talking, but only personal opinion. Obviously there are good and bad contests, and it takes investigation (just as it does with publishers, agents, magazines, etc) to determine if a contest (and it's entry fees, which pay for the awards as well as the expenses of running it) is worthwhile, too expensive, or a scam. Contests do not require an agent, the number of "competing" stories is smaller than open submissions to a magazine or publisher, the judges are able to focus on just those stories, the prize money (even minus the entry fee) compared to the maximum word count is many times a higher per word payment than regular publishers...

    Certainly one wouldn't want to make entering contests their livelihood, but I see no reason why it shouldn't be looked at as another legitimate avenue for authors.

    I won't say there are no good, worthwhile contests out there. There certainly are a tiny few, though most of the really good ones do not charge entry fees. But it has noting to do with scams. Legitimate or not, most contests are simply a complete waste of time and energy.

    And unless you're trying to sell to tiny magazines, payment is not better in contests. It usually isn't even close. I have no idea where you get the "many times higher" notion, but it certainly isn't true for most of the contests I've seen, compared to what even mid-size magazines pay.

    Yes, fewer people enter contests than submit to magazines, but the disparity is not nearly what you seem to think it is. In fact, or a stories bought basis, there are fewer submissions to magazines than to contests. Many contests draw ten times as many entries as magazines, compared to how many stories make the final cut.

    I won't say contests, at least a tiny few, aren't a legitimate route for writers, but I will say it's a route that's many times harder, much, much less likely to pay off, and one that means the writer isn't spending nearly enough time on better markets.

    I understand the logic behind entering contests, but it's almost always false logic, based on unrealistic numbers.

  19. #19
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    I'll stick with submitting to professional magazines (for a minimum payment of postage) rather than fee-charging contests. Otherwise, the money is flowing in the wrong direction. I have nothing personal against these contests. They just don't fit with my writing business model.

  20. #20
    Raises Turtles in his Basement TWErvin2's Avatar
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    I've never paid a fee to have one of my manuscripts read. There are enough markets out there that are not contest based.

    As far as super long waits, I guess that depends on what you mean by long. But if a market's average response time is four weeks, or four months, or longer, I guess it depends on if it's a market you really want to see your work published in.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW
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    What's you take on short story reading/processing/admin fees?

    Avoid.

    (and super long waits)

    I've not really “waited” since I started scribbling stories, but rather spent that time scribbling other stories. End result, I've sometimes been surprised to see letters arrive in the mail from editors wanting to publish stories I'd forgotten sending out, and in at least one case, waited six months before contacting an editor about a wayward paycheck. But it wasn't so much a real wait as it was simply the byproduct of being busy with egg-hatching as opposed to chicken counting. One has to be done before worrying about the other.

  22. #22
    Two years old now. Lyra Jean's Avatar
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    I no longer enter any contests. I'm looking for electronic submission right now because I don't have the money to spend on tons of postage.
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  23. #23
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    [QUOTE=shadowwalker;5184208]No disrespect intended, but if you haven't delved into the world of contests, then it's not really "tenured expertise" talking, but only personal opinion. QUOTE]

    Actually, it's a bit more than just opinion. While I don't throw my money away - remember MONEY FLOWS TO THE WRITER - I have judged contests for various publications - by invitation - and I assure you that in the vast majority of contests, it is a money maker for the sponsor and it's a crapshoot as to who will win.

    If there is an exception at all, it might be those sponsored by legitimate, professional writers organizations or guilds but I tend to shy away from those as well.

    Opinion isn't the voice of experience after multiple decades writing - and being published for money.

  24. #24
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    If you look at the Duotrope stats (not the most reliable indicator, I know, but bear with me) it ranks Glimmer Train's acceptance rate as roughly 1/1000. Considering people seem more inclined to report success than failure it's probably tougher than that, which explains precisely why it's so well respected. Even if 90% of submissions are crap (as 90% of everything is crap) that still only knocks it down to 1/100.

    Glimmer Train is a highly reputable market which carries a lot of weight, and pays very nicely. If you write literary fiction it's definitely worth a shot. Whether you take that shot during one of the free submission periods or pay the contest fee is up to you. There'll be more people submitting when it's free, but there's also a good chance there's a higher proportion of crap, too. There comes a point, though, where as johnnysammie says it's just pure chance. If you have 100 amazing submissions and only five slots to fill, the eventual selection is going to resemble luck as much as skill.

    I've submitted to GlimmerTrain during free sub periods, unsuccessfully. Didn't lose anything for it. However, I suspect if I had something I knew was right for them (more of a genre writer that literary, myself) I probably would pay, on the basis there'll be marginally fewer submissions and a bigger pay off if I'm successful. I'd have to be pretty darn confident in the piece to do so, though.

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  25. #25
    ... with the High Command Dave.C.Robinson's Avatar
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    Things like Glimmer Train are why I'm not entirely opposed to all contest fees. Having said that I've never paid for more than postage and don't intend to.


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