Should Brevity Charge for Submissions?
July 15, 2010 § 315 Comments
Brevity has begun considering a nominal charge for submissions, but first we’d like to talk it over with our readers and writers.
We are talking about a $2 or $3 charge, and all money would go toward establishing our nonprofit status and paying honoraria to the authors that we publish.
The reason is simple: inappropriate submissions.
We are happy to read and evaluate the work we receive from folks who have read the magazine, who have looked at our submission guidelines, who understand our concise approach.
Lately, though, since an e-mail submission is easy, free, and occasionally prone to be impulse-driven, we’ve been overwhelmed with submission from writers who simply don’t know that we are 1) a nonfiction journal only, 2) a brief nonfiction journal only.
We could live with that, frankly.
But worse, recently a number of college instructors have added “submit an essay to Brevity” as an assignment on their syllabus. In fact, one community college system out west has added this requirement to the syllabi of each and every section of first-year writing.
Now let’s be clear: we have published undergraduate writers, and hope to continue to do so, and we are happy to read submissions from creative nonfiction workshops at whatever level where the instructor has spent time helping students grasp the challenges of very brief nonfiction, but these first-year-writing assignments mandated in the syllabi simply encourage inappropriate submissions, often with cover letters – we aren’t kidding here – that begin like this: “My piece sucks but my professor said I have to send it …” or “this is assignment is mostly bullsh**, so if you publish it, change my name.”
Sure, it doesn’t take long to realize we aren’t going to publish such writing, but the simple act of opening the e-mail, reading the submission (at least in part), rubbing our eyes, sending a reply, closing the e-mail, and tagging it as ‘rejected,’ adds up in man hours (and we are volunteers here, remember), especially when these sloppy submissions get into the 100s.
If we go ahead with this plan to charge, which frankly, we are doing with some reluctance – even this means more work, but at least we can start to pay the authors and cut down on wasted time – we would use the fine new software at Submittable.
So, please respond on the blog comments below (or e-mail brevitymag[at]gmail[dot]com if you would like anonymity.)