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AllyWoof
03-25-2011, 06:05 AM
Why is it good for new writers to persue non-paying publicatis vs. trying to earn money right away.

Cyia
03-25-2011, 06:17 AM
It's not.

Birol
03-25-2011, 06:21 AM
Who told you it was good to pursue non-paying opportunities? If you want to eat, if you like having a roof over your head, go after the paying markets always.

Remember, writing has value. It's a service/product you're providing and, as such, you deserve to be paid.

AllyWoof
03-25-2011, 06:25 AM
I have food and shelter and all that. lol And a friend told me.

Chris P
03-25-2011, 06:25 AM
I agree with Cyia and Birol. Why send something to a non-paying market if you might get a pro rate for it? Start at the top of the pay and go down from there.

There is an idea that in order to be successful you have to build a following by giving your first stuff away. This is not true. How in the world would you know how big of a following you have anyway?

AllyWoof
03-25-2011, 06:28 AM
I agree with Cyia and Birol. Why send something to a non-paying market if you might get a pro rate for it? Start at the top of the pay and go down from there.

There is an idea that in order to be successful you have to build a following by giving your first stuff away. This is not true. How in the world would you know how big of a following you have anyway? Don't you get your hat thrown into the ring either way?

Karen Junker
03-25-2011, 06:31 AM
For example, in SYW, you can see how many views your piece got, so you can guess that's how many people read it.

Birol
03-25-2011, 06:32 AM
I have food and shelter and all that. lol And a friend told me.

Uh huh. Food and shelter can disappear quickly and unexpectedly. As an artist, don't count on others providing them. As a business person, value your craft.

Forgive me, but your friend is full of shit. What are their qualifications for giving such advice? That's what you, as an individual, must ask. Have they been there, done that? Or are they just spouting assumptions with no real world support?

I'm not saying there aren't non-paying markets with value, but they're not the norm.

Chris P
03-25-2011, 06:41 AM
Pub credits from paying markets are worth more than credits from non-paying markets. How it was explained to me is that it counts as a credit if someone was willing to part with money to publish your work. The more they paid, the more impressive the credit.

I think the "nonpaying first" approach came from an idea that you will get a publisher's attention if you can produce a list of published works, even if they were non-paying pubs. I used to think this too, and perhaps there's truth in it. But what I've learned since coming here is that non-paying markets don't really count as publication credits, since there is no way to tell if your story was selected on its merits or if it was posted to a site that takes everything.

Besides, how many stories do you need to have in non-paying markets before you can move up to token payment, then semi-pro, then pro? 5? 10? 25? None, actually. A pro market will buy your story if they think it will sell their magazines. That's the final criteria they use.

Polenth
03-25-2011, 08:20 AM
Don't you get your hat thrown into the ring either way?

It's the difference between throwing your hat in the ring when no one's watching and throwing your hat in the ring with a full audience. Most non-paying publications don't have a big audience (I suspect many have no audience). There are exceptions, but generally, the more a place pays, the bigger the audience is likely to be.

Few no pay markets have the sort of reputation that makes them good credits for a cover letter. You're better off having nothing than listing a bunch of markets the agent/editor has never heard of.

If you're not going to get money, readers or a good publication credit... that doesn't leave much.

IceCreamEmpress
03-25-2011, 08:53 AM
I think the "nonpaying first" approach came from an idea that you will get a publisher's attention if you can produce a list of published works, even if they were non-paying pubs.

That's true to some extent of some forms of journalism; for instance, if you want to be the restaurant reviewer for a great big publication, the ordinary course of things is to start by writing for a small local publication (which may be low pay or no pay), then get work with a bigger, better-paying publication on the strength of your "clips" from the low-pay/no-pay publications, then parlay those "clips" into even bigger publications, and so on.

But apart from that, not so much.

IceCreamEmpress
03-25-2011, 08:56 AM
Pub credits from paying markets are worth more than credits from non-paying markets. How it was explained to me is that it counts as a credit if someone was willing to part with money to publish your work. The more they paid, the more impressive the credit.

There are some very prestigious journals for literary fiction and non-fiction that are low pay, but those are definitely exceptions to the rule.

BigWords
03-25-2011, 03:52 PM
Some of us write for friends websites because they are friends - it's entirely different to picking random non-paying markets to sub to. I generate more than enough material to do this as well as subbing to paying markets, so it isn't as if I am making a choice between one or the other. There is no reason to go hunting for non-paying markets.

quicklime
03-25-2011, 04:09 PM
Don't you get your hat thrown into the ring either way?


as said, your friend is full of it. This might be a bit like me taking love and relationship advice from Mike, a quasi-friend in high school who was convinced alcohol was the height of seduction......he didn't know shit about relationships, and it appears your friend does not know shit about pubbing.

In GENERAL, the more prestige a mag has the bigger audience it will have. the bigger audience, the bigger the pay. This is not a universal, so actually you want to aim for the BEST place you can sub; not the highest or the lowest paying, but the one that is most difficult for you to get to.

Think of it this way: If you wanted to show you were a skilled scientist, do you think a publication in Nature would be equal to an essay in grammy's family newsletter? Then why would it be different in writing fiction? Non-paying markets usually carry far less weight, and a publication the agent has to google just to find isn't going to count as a publication credit at all. Might as well try to polish that story till it goes someplace that matters, unless you're just shooting for a bit of self-validation, and there can be value in that, but I would run far, far from anyone's advice that included "ideally, you should publish with nobodies first".

Quick

Susan Littlefield
03-25-2011, 08:04 PM
Why is it good for new writers to persue non-paying publicatis vs. trying to earn money right away.

It isn't- never. Start at the top of any magazine, agent list, publisher list, whatever, and work your way down.

MJNL
03-25-2011, 08:14 PM
Also, generally speaking, the works that appear in non-paying venues are of lesser quality than those of paying. Which is why if you have a bunch of random token or non-paying credits on your cover letter it's a big red-flag to pro publishers. It's worse than no publications at all, because it tells them you probably aren't up to their writing standards, whereas no publications could simply mean you're new. And they know that new doesn't equal bad.

So, don't shoot yourself in the foot. How will you know if your work is pro-quality if you don't submit top-down? If you start with the lowest possible market, how are you to know when you're ready to move up? Subbing to non-paying markets, but wanting to be a successful writer, is kind of like saying you want to marry a nice guy someday, so you're going to start by dating jerks. It makes no sense.

Phaeal
03-25-2011, 10:04 PM
Yes, start at the top and work your way down. But don't sneer at the non-pro markets. Some garner high prestige in their fields. One way to figure out the prestige markets: Check out the "Year's Best" anthologies for your genre and the prizes given out by its organizations.

Also, read the markets to which you might submit. Don't sub to those which publish stories you consider inferior. Respect your standards. (And work to make them high. ;) )

AnonymousWriter
03-26-2011, 01:25 AM
If your writing is good enough, there's no need to assume you have to submit to non-paying markets first. If your submitted piece is of a high standard, a paying market won't (or at least shouldn't) care if you've got a list of publications behind you.

AllyWoof
03-26-2011, 04:26 AM
If this is so, why do so many choose to go that route?

Kate Thornton
03-26-2011, 04:32 AM
Ally, I can't speak for others, only myself. I write short stories. Most of them go to paying markets. Some go to non-paying venues that belong to friends and I give them freebies to help support their endeavors while they get off the ground. A very few go to non-paying venues that are just plain niche - too weird, too tiny to pay, very small select circulation and I enjoy the exercises.

But as someone else observed, your friend is full of shit - start at the top of high-paying venues and work down. Make sure your work is polished enough for the big guys, and worth every cent when that contract comes in the mail (and the fat check, too!)

,,

AnonymousWriter
03-26-2011, 04:39 AM
If this is so, why do so many choose to go that route?

They choose to go that route because, like you, they've been led to believe that's what you're supposed to do. As a beginner writer, I thought that too. I thought paying markets would need to see a long list of publications before they'd consider you.

Either that, or they don't think they're good enough/ready for paying markets yet. In some cases, that's perfectly valid.

IceCreamEmpress
03-26-2011, 06:55 AM
If this is so, why do so many choose to go that route?

I think they get inapplicable information from people whose experience in fields like features or review journalism does support that strategy. Or they get bad information from people running no-pay/low-pay venues with poor exposure.

There's a lot of bad and inapplicable information out there in the world. Some of it's honestly mistaken; some of it's on purpose to draw people in.

Chris P
03-26-2011, 07:21 AM
I think the attitude is reinforced by the music business, where musicians play at run-down dives until they "get discovered" and make it big. (Living where I do in northern Mississippi, I know people who saw some scrawny guitar picker named Elvis Presley perform before anyone knew who he was.) It is common for musicians when starting out to post free track downloads on MySpace or their website to build a following. I don't think that works as well for writers.

Where music and writing differ, is once a musician builds up their library they can perform the same songs over and over in different venues. The equivalent for writers would be to sell the same story to different markets over and over, which doesn't really work for us. Most publications want to see new stuff, while club owners want the musician to perform the established crowd pleasers. Another sort-of difference is the free tracks are part of an album which hopefully the consumer will purchase; the equivalent for writers would be to offer a prologue as a free teaser for a novel. That's different than publishing a free stand-alone story.

MJNL
03-26-2011, 08:25 AM
And, sadly, some do it for the ego boost. In most cases, it's far, far, far easier to get accepted at non-paying publications than pro or semi. They're desperate to say, "I'm published," and know that people who don't write won't bother to ask, "professionally?"

FocusOnEnergy
03-26-2011, 08:42 AM
I think the attitude is reinforced by the music business, where musicians play at run-down dives until they "get discovered" and make it big.

Or they are told by people who own businesses or are organizing festivals that they should not expect to be paid to perform, instead they should feel priviliged to be allowed to play "for exposure", not for money.

Find the publications that work for your writing and pay you.

The only reason I can see for writing for non-paying markets is if you are getting something else out of it besides money, and that usually means trade publications where the piece serves as a form of marketing with a much higher level of credibility than advertising.

Although it's better to write other people's trade magazine articles and get them to pay you to do it. That way, it is still a paying market :)

Focus

Linda Adams
03-26-2011, 03:11 PM
They choose to go that route because, like you, they've been led to believe that's what you're supposed to do. As a beginner writer, I thought that too. I thought paying markets would need to see a long list of publications before they'd consider you.

Either that, or they don't think they're good enough/ready for paying markets yet. In some cases, that's perfectly valid.

Very true. When I started writing for professional publication, that was a pretty common thing to see. Granted, I think it has its roots in a time when getting published period meant something more. Now, anyone can pay for a website and create an online magazine, so there isn't any quality control. Now professional writing organizations have to post names of magazines that qualify for membership, and they didn't have to do that before.

I did write for free in short stories for a while because I was trying to figure out where my writing fit. But I didn't realize that the short story market is extremely limited--the genres I later gravitated to were never available to me via short stories. I always ended up writing things that were outside what I preferrered.

But I stopped writing for free when I kept seeing magazines with the expectation that they didn't have to pay. I'd hit the guidleines and see things like, "We can't afford to pay you, but we'll post your bio and a link." Yet, they were charging for subscriptions. I also saw a lot of anthology calls where it was pretty clear that the "editor" was hoping to get all these manuscripts from writers for no cost and make lots of money off them. A lot of them make it sound like they're doing the writer a favor by publishing them, and that's a huge problem.

quicklime
03-26-2011, 07:17 PM
If this is so, why do so many choose to go that route?


1. newbie mistakes

2. bad information

3. they get tired of waiting to see their name in print so they go for an easy sub or sub stories all the way down until they're at a very low tier, instead of working to make the story worthy of the higher-end mags (personal instant gratification)


I pubbed my first story that way, because a few heavy hitters wanted nothing to do with it. Now I have it in a laughable webzine, under my real name (I intend to write under a pen) and to me at least it feels less than kosher to take the same story, spruce it, and try to re-sell it anyway. So other than a warm fuzzy feeling that lasted a week or two, until it was obvious I fucked up, tell me what I gained? Putting that in a query would either do nothing or actively hurt me, it isn't a credential for having gone there. I can't use it again. It's just gone.

"Low credits" count for the same or less than no credits. So, you've asked us why not to do it, besides that your friend said you should, can you tell me the rationale for pubbing in nobody-zines? Not being snarky, you seem to feel there is some underlying value proposition we're missing, and i'm guessing the assumption is flawed but without you addressing it maybe we're never going to through random guessing be able to address the topic or argument you are most interested in. Why WOULD you want to do this, in your mind?

Quick

jaksen
03-26-2011, 10:41 PM
I suppose there are good reasons for submitting to a non-paying market, but they don't work for me. I've never submitted to a non-paying magazine, ezine, anthology, etc., and I never intend to...

With one exception. I would so as part of a fund-raiser or charity.

Rhoda Nightingale
03-28-2011, 08:06 PM
My two cents:

I think this misconception by newbie writers might come from their perception of most of the rest of the working world: Any entry-level job is lower-paying and carries less prestige than the jobs of the people who have been there longer and have more experience. That's just how it works--you start on the bottom rung, and then "limb the ladder."

There is no ladder in the writing world. It's more like a slide, so it's best to start at the highest point.

/metaphors

Anyways, yes, it's better to start at the best possible venue and work your way down. I understand how it can be counterintuitive to do this though. At least this is the way I initially felt about it.

Kricket
03-28-2011, 09:18 PM
If this is so, why do so many choose to go that route?

This has been said before, but I agree that maybe 90% of the reason people choose to go that way is just to see their name and their work in print. It gives you the warm fuzzies.

Plus, I believe that the reason the notion is even around is because back in the day, before TV and before record players, people had to go out to be entertained. They had to go to plays or concerts, there was no way to bring that into peoples homes. But books and magazines, on the other hand, were easy to get and the #1 form of entertainment at home. So at that time, yeah, it might have worked well for a new writer to get published in some non-paying market. There was actual exposure because everyone read those lit mags.

But these days, we writers are competing against TV, movies and widely obtainable music. We have to work harder to grab people's attention and we should be paid for that hard work.

So as others have said, work hard, perfect your craft and story and make it worth a publishers money to publish.

quicklime
03-28-2011, 09:21 PM
well, Rhoda, I agree you should start high and work your way down.

I also think what you said about "working their way up" is semi-reasonable for writers--but I"m saying getting something into a semi-pro, before a pro magazine, and both before something like Esquire is a reasonable progression (although I'd still start by querying Cemetery Dance before I went to something paying 2 cents a word and with 1/3 the circulation, for example). the problem for the newbies you mentioned is learning where the "apprenticeship" or "low-pay" bar is.

There are some very prestigious zines that pay little or nothing. Those are perfectly fine to pub in, although also competetive, like the paying ones. There are also a sea of nobody-mags out there, dozens of no-tier websites that don't pay and honestly it reflects in most of the work posted. If you aren't ready for a 'zine with some recognition, you aren't ready--that's how it is. Make it ready, or work until something is.

starting by sending to no-name and no-pay 'zines isn't cutting your teeth or working your way up the way a newbie may believe it to be, on that I couldn't agree more-- actually, I think it is a little more like going out and picking up dogshit for free all summer and hoping it establishes you later as a frontrunner for a groundskeeper job--it isn't enough to really count as a qualification, and all you did was busted your ass all summer, for free.


sub where the name counts for something, above all else. But in general, these magazines do pay. And you're never better off pubbing in a place that nobody knows of than you are remaining unpubbed.

happywritermom
03-29-2011, 12:50 AM
Never say never.
Much depends on what you write and what kind of writing career you are pursuing.
For instance, if I were an editor at a good-sized newspaper and you wanted to freelance or land a job with me, there is no way -- no way -- I would hire you without seeing some published clips. My legal butt would be on the line if I hired you and I would want to know that you are capable of interviewing, investigating, appropriately interpreting what you have researched and writing it up in layman's terms. To build that portfolio, you might have to write for a few low- or non-paying markets first. My first internship was for college credit. My second was for low pay. After that, I got hired at a pretty good starting salary for a journalist. My route was typical.
As for short stories, some stories are more appropriate for college-funded publications. They are more literary and a bit harder to access. Not stuff that I, personally, want to read, but there is a market for them and that market doesn't pay much. The magazines don't sell ads and they are funded by small university stipends and magazine sales. They often pay in copies.
Sometimes, writing for certain paying markets can hurt you. I would be turned off, for instance, by a writer who queried me with an article and her only experience was with SEO writing. I'd rather see that she wrote an excellent blog with 3,000 page views per month or that she was a regular contributor to some reputable website that didn't pay.
Book-length works are another story. Publication is your pay-off for years of work, not just a few hours. You should always be paid.

So while for the most part, you should get paid for writing, there are circumstances where no pay or little pay is appropriate. Use good judgment and only write for free or for little pay when there is a significant benefit to you or your career. But never, ever, ever, say never.

quicklime
03-29-2011, 01:00 AM
happy,

True, if you're looking to write nonfic--I assumed she was subbing stories, rather than articles or editorials. Know what they say about assuming....

RobJ
03-29-2011, 01:30 AM
Why is it good for new writers to persue non-paying publicatis vs. trying to earn money right away.
Because it's less competition for the rest of us.

But seriously, as a piece of general advice there's no value in it. Why did I submit my first x-many short stories to non-paying venues? Because I could. Because I thought it would be easier to get in. Because I wanted the buzz from someone taking my story. Because I wasn't writing for money. Because I wanted to test myself and see if I could get something accepted anywhere at all. Because my friends were doing it. Because some of them put it into print and I could have that on my bookshelf next to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Because I didn't know any better. Because I was just learning and turning out stuff and didn't care where it ended up. Because it convinced my wife that I really was writing till 3 in the morning.

I could probably think of more reasons, but you get the idea.

I recall someone on another forum a few years ago who'd had maybe a hundred short stories accepted around the web, and tried to get into a respected organisation by claiming them as credits. Understandably, he got laughed at. It came as something of a surprise and a blow to him, but not before he'd embarrassed himself by arguing about it.

Do I regret sending my stuff to non-paying venues? Not at all. Because I was just learning and turning out stuff, and none of it means anything to me. People write for all kinds of reasons, and not everyone is doing it for money, and that's fine. But as a general piece of advice, there's no reason why new writers shouldn't aim for paying publications, and there's no reason why they should consider non-paying publications as necessary.

Anne Lyle
03-29-2011, 10:58 AM
I agree with quicklime, that a good semi-pro market is a reasonable entry-level for a new fiction writer - on the one hand you might be missing out on a sale to a pro market, but realistically, chances of your first story being good enough are slim. If you get lots of rejections from these markets you'll know you need to improve, but if you sell well, it gives you the confidence to try those big-name publications, as well as some reasonable credits to put in your cover letter.

Personally, I've never written for nothing, not even non-fiction. Sometimes the latter was no more than beer money, but even then it was for a free ezine, so it's not like anyone was trying to make money out of it at my expense.

Terie
03-29-2011, 12:50 PM
What if you had a story that was good enough to sell to a pro publication for a couple thousand dollars? What if you subbed it to a non-paying market first? Do you think that the non-paying market would decline it for being too good?

That's why you start at the top and work your way down.

AllyWoof
03-30-2011, 12:50 AM
Why did I submit my first x-many short stories to non-paying venues? Because I could. Because I thought it would be easier to get in. Because I wanted the buzz from someone taking my story. Because I wasn't writing for money. Because I wanted to test myself and see if I could get something accepted anywhere at all. Because my friends were doing it. Because some of them put it into print and I could have that on my bookshelf next to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Because I didn't know any better. Because I was just learning and turning out stuff and didn't care where it ended up. Because it convinced my wife that I really was writing till 3 in the morning. This sounds a bit like the answer to the question of why you started doing some bad habit you are now unable to quit. That said, I do understand everything you said here. I totally agree with all of you. There are certainly good and bad merits to any place you send out your writing. The key is to send it to the right location. And of cource, edit it so that the spelling and so forth is correct.