I was scrolling through an online literary magazine (something I do often to see what other magazines are doing in order to see what else is out there), and I came across a magazine that had an odd submission process. To be respectful to the publication (and spreading slander is tacky), it shall remain unknown—rather, I will call it Magazine X. I have never come across the magazine before (which isn’t that surprising: there are thousands out there—BOM is a small publication itself) and noticed a suggested donation process in order to get faster responses on the submission, which is odd.
How Magazine X Charges Writers
They have a free period
When the free period ends or you want to get a quick response: you are suggested to pay (normal response varies from a few months to almost a year) a ridiculous amount
The reason? They get a lot of submissions and it is helping THEM as a magazine
What it really is to me: Taking advantage of writers in an already tough market
No matter how you look at it, its bribery for an answer, and since publication = writer happiness and success, it’s seriously taking advantage of them. It’s no surprise creativity can be a hard field to make money in, especially if you’re a non-profit magazine like BOM. Now, having a link to voluntarily donate on your website is one thing, but shaking a writer for change (from a few dollars to over twenty bucks) is a bit insulting to a fellow publication and a slap in the face to writers.
Making Sense of Magazine X and BOM Editor’s Thoughts
Magazine X is in over it’s head. I know this feeling, as we have had weeks where it seemed the submissions were never ending and meetings were frequent. We still go through them and answer writers within, or slightly over, the 2-week response period (and let writers know when we are launching and we take a brief three-week break but still log their submission).
They have more costs than they can keep up with. This is for every magazine, but there are resources out there. For one thing, Submittable offers 50% off for literary magazines (still a little pricey) and there are cheaper alternatives, or generally utilizing free system with project management skill sets can suffice.
Small staff—well, I don’t know how small Magazine X is, but BOM is a full time staff of 3!
They want to create profit—nothing wrong with this. However, this should be separate from the magazine. Offering editing and critiquing services is a smart business model but not directly in the guidelines of your publication. As a writer, it feels sleazy.
It’s because of magazines like Magazine X that I started BOM and structured it to be personal with writers, and answer back why they were rejected or why a revision must be met for publication in a reasonable amount of time. Why? Because we as editors know when we are not interested in a piece, and find it useless to hold onto something we do not plan on publishing.
Why it truly doesn’t make sense to have such a bizarre system
It doesn’t mean good writer’s will pay and the magazine is going to spend more time on work that isn’t any good because they paid for it (and will most likely serial submit you), and that’s clear enough to see your publication has zero respect for writers.
I’ll just be embarrassed for you, Magazine X.
Or, better yet, I’ll mentally smite you!