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[Publisher] The Masters Review

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L.C. Blackwell

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I found an email from this--publication? in my inbox this morning, warning me that their fall fiction contest closes November 14. This disturbs me for a couple of reasons. One, I never signed up for their mailing list, and have no idea who they are. Two, I don't know how they got that particular email address. I only use it in dealing with agents. Which makes me wonder, might an agent sell his or her address book to marketers?

Here is what I received:

12 November Deadlines - Two Weeks Left for $2000 Fall Fiction Contest!

The Masters Review (contact email deleted)

The holidays are fast approaching! Before hunkering down with family and friends to gorge on turkey and mashed potatoes, give thanks for these twelve enticing contests. Our own Fall Fiction Contest ends on the 15th, plus contests from Writers Digest, Frontier Poetry, and more. (hotlinks removed)

(Short list of fiction links and the contest link "Fall Fiction Contest with Brian Evenson" follows.)

***
Does anybody have information as to the legitimacy or otherwise of this "offer"? And are agents now selling emails, or how in the world did anyone get this address?
 

hester

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I got the same e-mail--it looks legitimate (and I took a look at a couple of their winning stories from 2016--really, really good stuff). It's a twenty dollar entry fee, but I took a chance on entering--(I've used twenty bucks for worse things, lol!) I'll update if I hear anything new...
 

L.C. Blackwell

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Submittable may well be the problem. One of the agents I queried required me to create an account with them in order to submit a query. I didn't know they could market to third parties, but their site terms and conditions say they can change terms at any time, and the only notification necessary is to post the changes on their website. I'm going to have to see if I can get my account with them removed, although, if they've started selling addresses, it may be too late.
 

Quinn_Inuit

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These guys are still at it, and still charging a fee:

[FONT=&quot]Q: I don’t have any money for the contest fee, can you waive it for me?[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Unfortunately, we cannot waive contest and award fees. However, our New Voices category is open year-round, is always FREE to enter, and every author published is paid for their work.
[/FONT]
It's too bad we can't jail people for violating Yog's Law.
 

Elle.

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Did anybody find out if it was submittable that sold the email addresses? I've used them but so far I haven't received any unsolicited emails.

These guys are still at it, and still charging a fee:

[FONT="][B]Q: I don’t have any money for the contest fee, can you waive it for me?[/B][/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#7D7A7C][FONT="]Unfortunately, we cannot waive contest and award fees. However, our New Voices category is open year-round, is always FREE to enter, and every author published is paid for their work.
[/FONT]
It's too bad we can't jail people for violating Yog's Law.

I'm not sure what the issue is with them charging a fee. Pretty much every single writing contest charge a fee to enter, including the most prestigious one out there so it's not an uncommon practise.
 

Quinn_Inuit

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I'm not sure what the issue is with them charging a fee. Pretty much every single writing contest charge a fee to enter, including the most prestigious one out there so it's not an uncommon practise.

I suspect I'm as confused about your lack of concern as you are about my concern. Is this perhaps a genre issue? If you don't mind me asking, what genre(s) do you normally work in? I stick to SFF, myself, and IME SFF writers take Yog's Law as...well, a law.

Hmmm...this comment from Mary Robinette Kowal implies literary fiction has different rules. Perhaps I'm judging whoever these people are by inappropriate standards, then.
 

Elle.

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I suspect I'm as confused about your lack of concern as you are about my concern. Is this perhaps a genre issue? If you don't mind me asking, what genre(s) do you normally work in? I stick to SFF, myself, and IME SFF writers take Yog's Law as...well, a law.

Hmmm...this comment from Mary Robinette Kowal implies literary fiction has different rules. Perhaps I'm judging whoever these people are by inappropriate standards, then.


I don't mind at all, and yes, it might very well be a genre thing. I write general and literary fiction, and every contest has an entry fee from small contests to the big prestigious ones. That's why I wasn't concern about it. I had no idea things were different for SFF, so I've learned something new today.
 

ap123

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I suspect I'm as confused about your lack of concern as you are about my concern. Is this perhaps a genre issue? If you don't mind me asking, what genre(s) do you normally work in? I stick to SFF, myself, and IME SFF writers take Yog's Law as...well, a law.

Hmmm...this comment from Mary Robinette Kowal implies literary fiction has different rules. Perhaps I'm judging whoever these people are by inappropriate standards, then.

The bigger lit mags, like Masters Review, do have submission fees for contests, and usually smaller fees for regular submissions (often fees include a subscription to the mag), many have one period per year that's free. otoh, they also often pay real $ (not big $, but actual $) for acceptances/wins, and these are known mags where credits are widely recognized and respected by agents and editors of all genres, not limited to those who work with lit fic.
 

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I don't mind at all, and yes, it might very well be a genre thing. I write general and literary fiction, and every contest has an entry fee from small contests to the big prestigious ones. That's why I wasn't concern about it. I had no idea things were different for SFF, so I've learned something new today.

Oh, OK. So you run in almost completely different circles from me, then. That would explain that. In SFF, a fee would be pretty much anathema, so to have an unsolicited e-mail pop up advertising a contest with a paid entry fee set off tons of red flags for me. They might as well have been claiming to be Nigerian princes.
 

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The bigger lit mags, like Masters Review, do have submission fees for contests, and usually smaller fees for regular submissions (often fees include a subscription to the mag), many have one period per year that's free. otoh, they also often pay real $ (not big $, but actual $) for acceptances/wins, and these are known mags where credits are widely recognized and respected by agents and editors of all genres, not limited to those who work with lit fic.

I appreciate the information, thank you. That...um...doesn't bother you, though? I mean, I'm sure you're right that the Masters Review is a big-name lit mag, but I've been submitting stories for awhile now (with a small amount of success) and I can promise you that the big-name SFF mags aren't sending me unsolicited e-mail with requests to submit fiction.

Here's the thing: people only advertise stuff that makes them money. So when people send me e-mails trying to get me to read their SFF mag, I get it. They want exposure, eyeballs, and the associated ad/subscription revenue, and they're offering up what they think is solid fiction for me to read as their end of the deal. When the ad is asking me to pay money to submit a story, though...at that point, what are they selling, and what are you buying?
 

ap123

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I appreciate the information, thank you. That...um...doesn't bother you, though? I mean, I'm sure you're right that the Masters Review is a big-name lit mag, but I've been submitting stories for awhile now (with a small amount of success) and I can promise you that the big-name SFF mags aren't sending me unsolicited e-mail with requests to submit fiction.

Here's the thing: people only advertise stuff that makes them money. So when people send me e-mails trying to get me to read their SFF mag, I get it. They want exposure, eyeballs, and the associated ad/subscription revenue, and they're offering up what they think is solid fiction for me to read as their end of the deal. When the ad is asking me to pay money to submit a story, though...at that point, what are they selling, and what are you buying?

Nope, doesn't bother me. :) When I'm not in the market to submit, I just trash the emails along with the 80gazillion solicitation emails I get. Masters Review, for example, doesn't charge for their New Voices contest, and pays up to $200 per story. The email in the OP is advertising their contest and several others, allowing writers who are ready to sub to see who is accepting the month it was sent. Glimmer Train has a $2.00 processing fee, and pays $700 for accepted stories, up to $3000 for 1st place contest winners (depending on the contest, less for 2nd/3rd place. Ploughshares is free if you have a current subscription, payment on acceptance is between $90-$450.

I figure these are my version of buying lottery tickets (chances of acceptance are about the same, lol)

Honestly, the only one that gives me real pause is Narrative, because the reading fee is over $20. They do have an open (free) reading period in the spring (though submissions made during that period aren't eligible for their big annual prize), and they pay very nicely for acceptances, but for me, that's out of budget.
 

Thedrellum

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While it's true that a lot of big name literary magazines charge for submissions, there are also a significant number that don't. Masters Review just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, even though they have big name authors judging their contests, and so a significant amount of street cred. The fact that they ONLY have a free submission method for "new writers" and that for only part of the year pushes me away. In general, I feel like if a magazine can't survive on subscriptions alone (or University money if it's attached to one), then perhaps it shouldn't survive. Which is why the growing number of literary magazines who charge for submissions--and claim those fees are necessary to stave off the costs of production--disturbs me.

I used to have a Glimmer Train subscription for years, and loved most every story I read that they published. Even so, their model (which is extremely contest heavy) irks me, even though I know they put out quality work (or at least used to--the last issue I read was years ago).
 

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Nope, doesn't bother me. :) When I'm not in the market to submit, I just trash the emails along with the 80gazillion solicitation emails I get. Masters Review, for example, doesn't charge for their New Voices contest, and pays up to $200 per story. The email in the OP is advertising their contest and several others, allowing writers who are ready to sub to see who is accepting the month it was sent. Glimmer Train has a $2.00 processing fee, and pays $700 for accepted stories, up to $3000 for 1st place contest winners (depending on the contest, less for 2nd/3rd place. Ploughshares is free if you have a current subscription, payment on acceptance is between $90-$450.

I figure these are my version of buying lottery tickets (chances of acceptance are about the same, lol)

I earned a comparable amount of money on a sale last year (though not to that contest first prize) and didn't pay a cent, other than working my rear end off for weeks straight writing the thing and then another furious week trying to fix it to the specifications of the rewrite request. That doesn't make me special; I'm sure there are authors on here who've sold several pro short stories in that period and made way more than me. My point is just that there's another way to do things.

Honestly, the only one that gives me real pause is Narrative, because the reading fee is over $20. They do have an open (free) reading period in the spring (though submissions made during that period aren't eligible for their big annual prize), and they pay very nicely for acceptances, but for me, that's out of budget.

$20?! That pisses me off. I'll be honest: it's not out of budget for me, and my personal budget should have NO bearing on whether I get published and you don't. That also screws over the readers, though with that business model I have a feeling they're not in it for the readers. Readers should be getting the best stories, not just the stories written by authors who can afford the entry fee.
 

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In general, I feel like if a magazine can't survive on subscriptions alone (or University money if it's attached to one), then perhaps it shouldn't survive.

I agree. I don't want to operate in a closed loop of submitting to magazines that thrive solely/mostly on getting people like me to submit to magazines. How is that going to either get me readers or make me a better writer for any meaningful sense of the term "better"? And, if it's not getting me readers or making me better, why am I doing it? If I just wanted to earn money, I could do so more efficiently and reliably by working some overtime at my office.
 

ap123

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I earned a comparable amount of money on a sale last year (though not to that contest first prize) and didn't pay a cent, other than working my rear end off for weeks straight writing the thing and then another furious week trying to fix it to the specifications of the rewrite request. That doesn't make me special; I'm sure there are authors on here who've sold several pro short stories in that period and made way more than me. My point is just that there's another way to do things.

The benefits of AW, I had no idea there were mags with free subs that paid comparably. (Mind you, I'm unpublished, so this is me dreaming, regardless) I have looked at a $2 or $4 fee as along the lines of when everything wasn't online, and submitting meant paying for paper, ink, postage.

$20?! That pisses me off. I'll be honest: it's not out of budget for me, and my personal budget should have NO bearing on whether I get published and you don't. That also screws over the readers, though with that business model I have a feeling they're not in it for the readers. Readers should be getting the best stories, not just the stories written by authors who can afford the entry fee.

As for $20 (over $20, actually) to submit, I originally typed something similar to your thoughts, but then deleted, because for me, that budget is purely theoretical. I don't think I would be willing to pay that much for the reasons you detailed, but there are other writing-related things I would spend $ on if I had it, like a once a year retreat or conference, which are also opportunities where you have to have the $ to access those opportunities. They aren't necessary, they aren't the only way to go about this, but they are (the legit, respected ones) opportunities.
 
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Elle.

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In general, I feel like if a magazine can't survive on subscriptions alone (or University money if it's attached to one), then perhaps it shouldn't survive. Which is why the growing number of literary magazines who charge for submissions--and claim those fees are necessary to stave off the costs of production--disturbs me.

I guess we'll agree to disagree on that one. In nowadays society, pretty much no publications can exist via subscriptions alone. So if me paying a small fee to submit, or a bigger fee for a contest then I'm happy to help to make there continue to be as many publications as possible to put stories out there and publish writers. I don't see the point of letting those publications die and then there will be even less places for writers to publish their stories.
 

Thedrellum

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I guess we'll agree to disagree on that one. In nowadays society, pretty much no publications can exist via subscriptions alone. So if me paying a small fee to submit, or a bigger fee for a contest then I'm happy to help to make there continue to be as many publications as possible to put stories out there and publish writers. I don't see the point of letting those publications die and then there will be even less places for writers to publish their stories.

There are magazines which exist without charging, though. Both Grievous Angel and Isacoustic pay their contributors and don't charge anything to submit--both of those are supported by their editors, I believe, rather than through submission costs of those hopeful to be published.

I see where you're coming from, though. I'm just not sure of the good of having lots of places to publish writers if those places aren't also hooking in readers--as a writer, I want my work to be read, not just published. And I know (not just from the two examples above) that magazines can exist and publish without taking money from those submitting to them. (I'm not counting contests here, which I see as a special case in literary publishing.) It's just that many choose not to, especially as asking for submission fees becomes more and more the default, easy choice.
 

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