No payin’, no gain?

The good news is that the number of journals I’m interested in sending to is rapidly decreasing, as I — at the moment, anyway — refuse to pay a fee. So my workload is decreased. I know the thinking — no one subscribes, a mag needs income somehow, the Submittables of the world charge for use, etcetera. But I’m not in the position where this passion can COST me more money than it already does. I can live with never making any money from it, but it can’t drain me. Add submission fees to contest fees plus whatever I spend a year on a little creative development — a workshop here, a residency application there — and the books I buy to keep developing on my own, and it all adds up to too much. Yes, a small handful of magazines pay their successful submitters. But my ROI is terrible. The odds of my winning a spot in one of those magazines are far too unfavorable, given my submission-to-acceptance ratios. Yes, as the investors say, “past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.” But still. Trying to hold down my submission outlays while I’m still trying to build my case as a strong poet may sound counterproductive — we all know that a good, strong list of publications in which your poems have appeared is a nice skid-greaser for publication of a book. But I’m not going to be able to carry the literary magazine world on my back. Such work would require…a new pair o’ shoes.


2 thoughts on “No payin’, no gain?

    • Yes, it is certainly true. People work hard. I buy a few individual magazines a year — different ones, so I can see what a range of writers are up to — and I only have one subscription in any given year. So I’m part of the problem. In a way. But isn’t writing the only arts medium in which the artist has to pay to get work seen, and gets no compensation as a result? I don’t know. The whole thing is screwy.


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