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.)

Tagged: , ,

§ 315 Responses to Should Brevity Charge for Submissions?

  • Tonya says:

    Sorry, uh, no. Look, maybe you do have hoards of people sending you stuff, but being a writer is hard enough without having to pay someone to read your submissions. I’m sorry that teachers have people submitting stuff. And I’m sorry you have to take the time to read the “I’m sorry but this sucks…” bit, but damn, I’ve worked on a literary mag and read my share of crap, too. Why do you want to take something that is hard (being a writer) and make it harder (now I gotta have 3 bucks to submit. I either gotta paypal it or write a check and either way it’s another step for me that I don’t want to have to keep up with.)

    I’m discouraged by this post and by Tin House’s new “Buy a Book” requirement. More elitist MFA, “aren’t I clever to require this of you b.s.”

    And I realize that mine won’t be the majority voice, but by God, it bothers me that in the midst of a recession you want to charge “a nominal fee.” You do realize that for a waitress, 2 or 3 bucks is busting her ass at a table? Or an hour of play from their employer (waitresses minimum wage is $2.13 an hour) or quite a lot to a grad student who is borrowing money to live on while they complete a degree?

    To you 2 or 3 bucks is “nominal.” To me, 2 or 3 bucks has been the difference between if I have supper or not. Shame on you people!

    • Liz Prato says:

      I understand that paying to have your work read may feel like a financial hardship. But I wonder about the math: Postage alone is at least $1 (usually more, but since we’re not sending 20pp pieces to Brevity, we’ll average on the low end). Then there’s the cost of paper, envelopes, and printer ink. And don’t forget the extra stamp for the SASE. That works out to about $2 or $3 anyway. And, either way you slice it, it’s tax deductible (assuming you’re treating this as a profession). All professions have costs associated with them. Writing is actually one of the least expensive. -Liz (sans “elitist MFA”)

      • brevity says:

        Plus, remember that we are volunteers doing the reading. Does the worth of our time factor in here?

      • Tonya says:

        Yes, writing a cheaper artistic endeavor. I agree. But, while I do pay for my own postage, I’ve always asked for paper and envelopes and paper for gifts on Christmas and my birthday. And, if I could get it, I’ve asked for stamps.

        I realize it is a cheaper profession. But I also realize that not everyone has a even the money for envelopes, paper, and postage. Much less contests or submissions.

        Consider– John Steinbeck was, at one point, so poor he had to sell his geese (which he enjoyed very much) to buy paper. Imagine if he had to pay to submit somewhere. He couldn’t have afforded to. Now, wouldn’t you hate to miss out on publishing Steinbeck? I know I would.

      • scott says:

        Steinbeck certainly paid the post office. If the post office didn’t exist to put some tension on the process and Stienbeck’s manuscripts were sitting in the piles of spam submissions, we probably wouldn’t be talking about him today.

      • ce. says:

        I 2nd Scott’s response that Steinbeck, in fact, had to pay for every single one of his subs in the form of postage for both the sending postage and the SASE. Even 3 or 4 years ago when I first started submitting, I was dropping at least $1-2 per sub on postage.

        In light of the free email age, I’d gladly pay a fee, because I’d much rather that $1-2 go to the journal, especially when the journal is forthright in saying those fees would go directly toward further establishing the journal and honoraria.

      • sarahlearichards says:

        Glad to know the fees are tax deductible! Two or three dollars is fine–I give myself a monthly allowance on how much to spend on fees (I don’t enter anything that costs more than ten dollars to do so); I think of the entry/reading fee as a lottery I have a much better chance on winning. You are right when all is said and done, the paper and ink and postage would cost about that much anyway, plus, e-mail is more convenient. I only send my best work regardless (because I want to win), but I can see how easy entry would encourage some people to not have a stake in it.

      • Amy Holman says:

        The postal workers have no say in whether my work is accepted at any publication, I am only paying them to transport it–or possibly the phone or cable company for the internet connection. The fee is a small amount and I do like Brevity, but it is an unfortunate (no fortune?) practice to charge the writers who seek to fill the pages with their hard work. The costs of preparing and sending through a third party are not equal to those of receiving and reading said work. Paying the writers is a good idea. Being paid as magazine editors is also good idea, just not by the contributing writers.

    • I do appreciate your response, Tonya, and your well-put one on the site. I just think that they have no other means to generate revenue, being on-line only, and that’s unfortunate. Perhaps they could charge a subscription fee, but I do, like I said, think the vetting is a good thing (having read the gazillion submissions that even the fee-contest… See More at the Pinch brought in). I submit, also, to Narrative occasionally, and do it somewhat happily because they actually pay writers so well, and they are all volunteers. Meaning, I’m directly supporting other writers.

      • Laura Moe says:

        I think paying a reading fee lends the journal some credibility, and elimintates some of the “writers” who write just to see their names in print. I agree with the Firzgerald piece that few of us read enough anymore. Most contests, online or print, demand a reading fee. Three bucks is reasonable.

    • Ashley says:

      I have to admit, I agree with Tonya. I checked my account to find the newsletter from Brevity, and was immediately disheartened by the headline.

      There is a certain amount of flack and/or ridiculous/terrible/inappropriate submissions at any literary magazine, though. Not to be offensive, but in some ways, you signed on for that.

      As Tonya mentioned, being a writer is hard enough without having to PAY someone to even give your work a glance. And despite colleges requiring that students submit to Brevity (and I’m sorry about that, really), should the rest of the serious writers truly be penalized for that?

      Already, writers are paid less and less (if at all) to write. Attaching submission fees is a slap in the face, quite personally.

      I realize that many lit magazines and journals already have submission requirements in place. But generally, if there is a submission fee, it includes a full year’s subscription to the magazine or journal. Brevity’s content is free for internet users to peruse, and I’m assuming that you wouldn’t start printing “journals” and locking your online content along with attaching a “nominal fee,” would you?

      There are plenty of other ways to raise funds if you want to become a recognized nonprofit organization. But charging writers a “nominal fee” is the easy way out, and not the best way to do so.

      Fundraisers, literary events, and other numerous projects are great (and truly substantial) ways to raise funds. For an example, The Rumpus (therumpus.net) does an awesome job of curating wonderful content, while hosting various literary and community events to raise their funds. You can really get more creative about it.

      • Tonya says:

        Thanks, Ashley. I concur!

        I appreciate that the volunteers are just that, volunteers. And yes, their time is worth something. But, I’m guessing that it goes on CVs, that it counts toward things that are outside my range of knowing. I know when I volunteered to read the slush pile, I got class credit and free snacks.

        If you want to save them time, deal with the issue of the professors having students submit when they are not ready. Don’t penalize someone who honestly trying to work within the system and do it the way it’s supposed to be done.

        And I realize 2 or 3 bucks isn’t much. I do. But I also realize that I’m submitting to an online journal. Sure, if you publish me, great, a line on my CV or resume. Wonderful. But I get no physical manifestation of my work. And I have a problem paying to be published on something that’s the same format as a blog. I have a blog.

        If you want to save volunteers time, address the issue at hand, the abuse of the system. If you want to make money, have contests, or have advertising.

        And yes, I realize that if it was a physical journal I would have to pay postage, but since it would be such a short submission, would I really have to pay more than .50? Would you throw me out of the running for not using a big envelope?

        As for Steinbeck, he had an agent, Elizabeth Otis, who sent his work out– even in his earliest days. So I doubt he much cared about the cost of postage.

      • James Reed says:

        Writers already are supporting literary magazines. Most of these journals fill their pages with work for which we are not paid, and we’re supposed to be delighted for the privilege. And we are, but I’ve been publishing fiction in literary magazines for over 25 years, and in that time I’ve been paid money for my work by a grand total of three of them. Most will give a contributor’s discount for extra copies beyond the two or so issues that count as the honorarium, but some (a very few) will charge the full cover price. Now we’re being asked to pay money just to have someone look at the work. Please.

        James

    • halibutrodeo says:

      Narrative, one of the best journals in the country, charges $20 a submission. 2 or 3 bucks is a very small price to pay. I’ll gladly dish it out.

      • Nicholas Liu says:

        You must be joking. Narrative is infamous for gouging its submitters as no other lit mag in the world does. Use it as a benchmark and almost anything looks reasonable.

    • RJW says:

      Of course you should charge. If someone gets published it is helping their career one way or another. Your time is valuable. I recommend a $5 fee that way you won’t have to raise fees for a while.

      Randy

    • Amy says:

      I’m with you, Tonya. I worked for many years at a literary nonprofit and part of my job was to advise writers about fair publishing. If a magazine requires payment to be published, whether with a submission fee or by purchasing a subscription, than the magazine is not legitimate.

      I realize that much has been changing but I do not like the responsibility for running a magazine to be put off on the individuals who want to be published in it. I know that online magazines have recently been charging small fees to offset the printing of the prose submitted by writers–because the electronic format may be easy on the wallet but not on the eyes. I don’t like this, either, but if I did, I’d take exception with Brevity’s brief prose.

      Really, it is true that publishing this magazine is up to you, Dinty. I like Brevity and I’d like it to stay. You have got to handle the time management, and the better reworking of it will be to contact the college professors and tell them to properly inform their readers. If need be, get them to hire you to go to their schools and talk about the brief essay and the best cover letters. The payment will better offset the costs of your business, and encourage writers to grow out of college students.

      Authors are the ones who need to be paid for the work they do, by the editors of the magazines that thrive on showcasing excellent writing, be it concise or not.

      Educating the public would be better than charging them. (It’s always better.)

      • Amy says:

        Also, I forgot to add that virtually all literary journal editors are volunteering their time. I also just read the other responses I had not seen, and again, Tonya brings up a good point about blogs being free to begin with, and writers not receiving a hard copy of the journal as payment. Ashley brings up many good possible revenue generating solutions to the problem, which could involve volunteers with backgrounds in fundraising and communications who would put this success on their resumes, and develop the survival instincts of the editors of Brevity.

    • David Dinner says:

      Given the circumstance, your solution is appropriate, in my opinion. The cost would only discourage frivolous entries and no one who is serious about submitting an entry could object to such a nominal charge.

    • I’m going to submit something, reading fee and all, because I have money kicking around in PayPal, and I suppose it’s true you don’t know until you see my work whether I’m wasting your time with something totally inappropriate or not. Do you allow people to submit free of charge once you’ve accepted their work?

    • pronoysarkar says:

      Being a writer is hard. Or, being a writer who manages to write for an audience and not for personal pleasure is hard. But to balk at submission fees is naive. Writing and literary culture is not strictly built by writers. There are editors, designers, marketing specialists, and publicists. There are publishers and first-readers and sub-rights specialists. To be published is a privilege. To be published means your submission not only satisfies the editorial expectations of a given publication, but is also valuable and worthy of someone else’s time.

      There are plenty of options available to writers who wish to submit for free. The lowest denominator being blogs.

      But let this be clear: it is a privilege to be published; it is not a privilege to write. If the fee is disheartening, make sure your submission is worth the cost of submission. Revise and re-write, guarantee it’s not self-congratulatory. Earn your byline.

    • JLS says:

      I realize I’m a few years late to this, but …
      I loved my undergrad writing program — it was amazing. I also resent the program/professors/whathaveyou for not pushing us to submit. There’s a huge gap between the writing and publishing world and almost a decade later, now in grad school, I still feel overwhelmed with where and what and when to send pieces out.
      Maybe you shouldn’t hate on the schools/professors/kids who are submitting to you, especially when “I know this sucks … ” could be seen as much a statement of insecurity as of carelessness. They’re at least out there, trying. Learning the process.
      I’ve read through slush piles, and can empathize with slogging through all the muck. I don’t think sending out pieces should be mandatory in lower-level undergrad classes, but once majors are chosen and professors are supposed to be training us to be writers, maybe they should be harder on their students, demand better revisions, and help us create something worthy of sending out as a final project.
      For me, learning the art of the cover letter and finding the right place to submit are as important as learning the writing process. We need all of it to be successful.

  • Michael says:

    Tough decision. I would say, Yes. I’m biased, of course: TMR charges $3 for online submissions, a policy established before I began with the magazine, but one I support.

    I think an ethicist might argue with a magazine collecting a submission fee. But, when the writer adds up all the factors – postage, SASE, printing costs, envelopes, printing costs – that’s pretty close to $3. But now the $3, which would have been spent anyway, goes to the magazine.

    And it’s support we need: the server space, spam and virus filters, administrative costs, and other factors need to be paid for, and that’s what the $3 covers.

    One other thing: it doesn’t slow down submissions. At all. In fact, because of the ease of use and growing savvy with online transactions, writers continue to submit to TMR more and more every year. Maybe write some of these professors and say “Hey, thanks for the love, but could you knock that required-to-submit assignment off?”

    Thanks for asking your audience – readers, writers, bloggers, etc. – for their thoughts!

    • kathy hughes says:

      it is a tough call but the argument that it costs a good 3 bucks to submit hard copy w/an sase anyway, online submissions are relatively free. i worked for storyquarterly when we started taking on-line submissions. what a zoo! we went from about 3k submissions a/month to 6k. the ‘business’ of writing – the logistics – has always been a pain – for submitters and submittees alike. i’d have to think that if it’s a course requirement, it ought be included in the class fees. i also think that these professors ought be contacted and either cancel the policy or only submit pieces they think are publishable. finally, i know there are john steinbecks out there who can barely afford the paper to print on; but there are a lot of mfas who’ve paid a boat-load of cash for their degrees and likely wouldn’t grump at a minimal submission fee. i know i would be happy to. you’ve made a good case, dinty. good luck.

    • Tonya says:

      Yes, but at TMR you have an option of NOT paying the fee by sending snail mail and if you ARE published then you are in a paper copy journal. I fail to see the correlation.

    • Steve Barber says:

      I do this with my carpenter. He gives me a fee so he can work on my house. After all, it takes time for me to explain what I want done. If I like the work, I’ll give him a token of my appreciation. Anyone know a good carpenter I can hire?

  • Stephanie says:

    We get those same kind of submissions (at Toasted Cheese) and I don’t think charging writers a couple of dollars will stop them from sending submissions they don’t believe in or ones they’ve been assigned to send. They’re also going to send you sparkly unicorn fiction, poetry and grocery lists.

    My concern would be that by charging a submission fee, however nominal, a great story might pass us by. Writers are told all the time to be wary of sites that charge any kind of fees, be they reading fees, contest entry fees, etc. We’ve considered adding small entry fees ($5 or less) for our contests but we don’t know if a fee would be a sign of legitimacy (we’ve been running contests nearly 10 years) or if it would signal that writers should go somewhere else. Our free contests are one of our draws as well.

    We had good success with running a small online workshop for which we charged a small fee, as far as fundraising goes. For weeding out bad submissions, they’ll always be there, IMO, fee or not. We make it known on our submissions page that cover letters may be published in whole or in part. You could make a page devoted to the ridiculous ones😉

  • Liz Prato says:

    I’m having a hard time arguing with the logic here. Editors like to say, “Good writing rises to the top,” but that’s getting harder and harder with “the casting a of wide net” practice that the internet simplifies. Spam submissions (and, my GOD, the college assignments!) demonstrate a lack of respect for the editors and, moreover, for the art.

    That being said, it’s easier to justify the submission fee is there is some payment involved for work accepted.

  • My knee-jerk response is NO! But, the more I think about it, the more I am coming to agree that this might be a good option for Brevity, particularly in light of the uninvited freshman flood (which, I must say, is kind of rude on the profs’ part). Even without that odd caveat, I think that Michael Fitzgerald’s points are salient and dead-on. There is a sort of vetting that a fee provides, and that’s a good thing. The flip-side, of course, is that good writers with small means are likely to look to other, non-charging, journals for publication. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Brevity’s niche and reputation are narrow and esteemed enough to make such a down-tick in submissions relatively small. And the benefit of being able to offer an honorarium is pretty wonderful (says the girl who fawned over a recent $5 check for a short piece!).

  • Robert says:

    Charging for online submissions is a good idea, as long as submission fees don’t exceed what a writer could expect to spend on a print submission – which, as Michael pointed out, is roughly three dollars. Submitting to journals has never been free, but now journals have the opportunity to benefit from the money spent on them, rather than letting the postal service – which I love, but which I imagine receives much more support from our federal government than Brevity does – benefit from it.

  • It seems to me that this may not deter bad submissions, though it will certainly affect the submission of writing from first-year composition classes. Many novice writers are willing to pay money for publication. Yet, unfortunately, every dollar matters to many of those who submit quality pieces and are accepted. Writers know that several good pieces are not accepted simply as a matter of space, theme, etc. Writers also know it is a privilege to be accepted to Brevity with or without payment. It’s a unique problem, Dinty.🙂 Good luck!

  • Michael Geisser says:

    Yes, I think it would clean out the brush and give serious writers a better shot at being heard. I understand that the fee could be a burden on some, but it is a small price to pay for some clarity.

  • Lee says:

    I wholeheartedly support Brevity charging for submissions.

  • corinne says:

    No! I think that maybe you need to make the submission guidelines more clear about what you’re looking for and speak with said colleges about the impact their mass submissions are causing you but I don’t think it is fair to have writers who don’t fall into that category start paying. In fact, I worry that the fee will turn away many writers you might otherwise want to publish.

    Thanks for asking our opinion though!

    • As a former editor, I can attest to the fact that clearer submission guidelines do not “protect” from bad submissions. Those who would submit such work are very very unlikely to read the guidelines, or are just willing to disregard them altogether. I can’t count the number of contest submissions (for which we charged) which had the author’s name on the top corner of each and every page – the absence of which is a rule for every single contest I’ve ever seen.

  • Bradley says:

    First of all, I wanted to note that it’s really thoughtful for you to ask your readers (and contributors) to weigh in on this question. Such an invitation leaves you wide open to unwarranted criticism, but it reveals the respect you have for your audience. Well done.

    I always thought that The Missouri Review’s policy made a lot of sense– writers should expect to spend a small amount of money in order to get their work in front of editors. When I was in grad school, this money was spent at the post office; now, that money goes directly to the magazine itself to offset the cost of printing the electronic submissions (or to perhaps compensate the people who do the hard work of putting the magazine together, to to perhaps compensate the writers who have done the hard work of creating the magazine’s material).

    Frankly, it seems clear to me that nobody’s getting rich running a literary magazine– electronic or print. Your reasons for charging a nominal reading fee seem sound to me. If it helps you run your magazine more efficiently and with less stress, I’m all in favor of it. Brevity is one of my two favorite literary magazines, and I’ll continue to submit stuff even if it does cost me $2 or $3 to do so.

    • RJW says:

      I should have been more articulate in my comment, but I agree 100%. All your readers should be thankful you asked.

      I even think you should file for 501(c)(3) status to receive to receive tax deductible charitable contributions. And, if you already are and I couldn’t find it, please send me a link and I will donate.

      Randy

  • Mill says:

    Oh no! Imagine that, teachers are asking students to write essays and submit them to a real journal. The horror. The horror. What a terrible class assignment!

    Your editors do not mention how many of these “awful” first year English teachers also manage to use Brevity as a text in their classes, thus promoting your publication to a brand new generation of readers as well as adding greatly to the number of subscribers and single issue purchases.

    If you are short on money, hold a contest. If you need to cut down on the number of submissions, then revise your guidelines so you do not get inappropriate submissions.

    There is no good reason I can think of to charge writers.

    • brevity says:

      Mill, you should read our magazine before jumping in with sarcasm, maybe?

      Single issue purchases? We are an on-line journal. Free to everyone.

      And yes, we like the idea of teachers introducing students to literary journals, but what kind of teaching is going on with cover letters such as those?

      • Dan says:

        Further support: as someone who’s been directing students (both high school and college) to Brevity for seven or eight years now, I can attest to the fact that it is–however surprisingly–quite possible to encourage new readership of literary journals without foisting responsibility on the editors of those journals for students’ sense of “writing to a ‘real’ audience” (which, I might hazard, may be at the institutional root of the requirement to submit Comp essays).

  • Skoticus says:

    Who likes paying money? But at the same time, I’ve never cringed at a $2 reading fee. That seems about right. Also, as had been said 100 times already, if it were a print magazine $2 is about the same as I would spend on envelope, mailing, etc.

    Also, I like the idea of paying contributers to Brevity because someday I hope to be one and maybe I’ll get my $2 back! That would be awesome.

    • Tonya says:

      See, though, with a print magazine, I get a print copy. I have something physical, which I don’t mind spending the postage on.

      When published in an online journal, you receive no physical manifestation of your work.

      If you need to make money, have ads like facebook. Don’t punish me because some professors in California are abusing the system.

      • ce. says:

        But, you’re not guaranteed contributor’s copies. You spend the money hoping you’ll get accepted and thus contrib copies.

        And to be honest, as great as it is to hold a journal in my hand and see my name and work in ink, I’ve come to realize how much nicer it is to see that people have clicked a link on my blog to read one of my works on an online journal.

        It’s nice to see evidence, however digital, that someone has gone to read my work. With a journal, you don’t get to see that. This better supports my ultimate goal as a writer to see my work being read rather than simply seeing my work in ink.

        But, this gets more into the conversation of pros/cons of online v. print publications than it benefits the current conversation, I think.

  • Sharon Knapp says:

    Absolutely. Brevity’s proposed submission fees are a bargain. Many organizations charge more.

  • I don’t think anyone can really get *angry* about a mag charging a fee. Mag’s choice, writer’s choice to submit or not.
    Mostly, though, I wouldn’t sub to a mag with a fee. It just doesn’t make financial sense if you’re a writer for a living, subbing frequently to many outlets/mags.
    Also, how about just not responding to cack-handed cover letters? They don’t sound like they merit being taken seriously. Write back to the profs responsible instead?

  • Kirsty Logan says:

    I think that the logic here is flawed.

    You will still get crappy submissions, because crappy writers do not know that they are crappy. They think that they are good, which is why they have made the effort to submit. A few dollars will not deter them.

    When I submitted a piece to Brevity, the rejection said that the story came “very close, up to the final round of decision making” but that you had ultimately passed on it. Although the story wasn’t quite right, I take this as a clear signal that I was submitting the right sort of thing; I did my research and submitted the strongest piece I had. I can tell you without doubt that I would not have submitted this story had I been charged to do so.

    Charging a fee will not weed out the bad submissions, but it will stop a lot of the good ones.

  • Scot Siegel says:

    We do not charge a reading fee, but then we are not a paying market. A $3 reading fee is reasonable if Brevity becomes a paying market. Serious writers who feel like your journal is a good match for their work will consider submitting. If you do not already allow simultaneous submissions, I would encourage it. I would also suggest establishing quick and reliable response times, so your contributors know that their money is going toward improved customer service; an ethic of professionalism is a good thing, even (especially) in nonprofit/charitable organizations. Personally, I think the issue you’ve described is a ‘happy problem.’ Other journal editors might be envious.
    -Scot Siegel

  • judith kitchen says:

    My knee-jerk response is yes, by all means require a small fee of either $2 or $3. No, it won’t stop inappropriate submissions, but they will pay for the appropriate ones. When we were publishing chapbooks, we very quickly realized that non-profit didn’t mean no-expense. The economics of publishing these days means that nothing comes for free. If all the labor of reading submissions is free, that’s the generous spirit of the editors. But the rest of their lives should be made easier.

    On another note, I think it would be a good idea to write to the professors and tell them that it’s not appropriate for them to make such a requirement–just because THEY have to read undergraduate essays doesn’t mean you should. They’re being paid!

    I, for one, would pay to be read by Brevity. It has that quality and reputation, and I don’t believe you’ll lose good writers with such a requirement. Judith

    • Anne Beauforet says:

      As a teacher of creative nonfiction who has urged a few of her best students to submit their work to Brevity, I am chagrined at the bad pedagogy of others that is creating this problem.

      Charging a fee might be one solution, but what about contacting the institutions that are causing this problem? If that info isn’t available, you could possibly ask those students submitting to identity their school/class/instructor. Or, you could put out a general plea on any number of professional listservs that teachers would read. NCTE, Writing Program Administrators, APW, etc.

      Good luck and thanks for asking for readers’ input. Your magazine is wonderful. I appreciate the standards for quality that you hold.

    • Jan Priddy says:

      to Judith Kitchen: Thank you for saying what I wanted to say. A fee won’t stop the submissions Brevity doesn’t want, but it will help pay for time wasted on them. I don’t believe I’ve submitted to Brevity, but a $2 for online submission doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Postal submissions are expensive and time consuming.

    • Barbara Baldwin says:

      I have great respect for J.K’s position, but I’ve spent part of my summer writing online book reviews ,gratis, for a renowned site.I have a good deal of work published,no book out yet-but a BA and MFA help me find homes for my writing. I vet poetry FREE now for a wonderful print journal, as an online Assistant non-paid” Editor.” Unfortunately, as a single woman, suddenly on Early Disability(think author of SEABISCUIT status)I have decided no more $ or months of my life will be spent waiting
      for editorial responses to my work.As Elizabeth Bishop famously said:”I’d like to see work published in my lifetime!”In a similar vein, I follow Bill Stafford’s plan…and keep sending out,
      and needn’t always be paid in money for my work.However, is my work so VALUELESS that I have to pay yet another site
      to even consider publishing my pieces. I’ve taught at undergraduate level-Anyone who encourages students to submit in that way is unethical.That person isn’t teaching….and Brevity’s problems aren’t mine! In this economy, on Disability,
      I’d ben foolish to send money for possible ! publication.It’s September 2011…hope it’s working for Brevity.I do admire
      many of it’s contributors…and the publication.

      The journal assumes everyone has $3 to throw away.I don’t.
      blessings.B.Ellen

  • Benjamin says:

    Michael F’s argument ticks me off a bit: “Submission fees gives my stories a better chance. I’d much rather my story was sitting in a pile of 200 other stories being read by a somewhat happy editor, rather than a pile of 2000 submissions being read by a miserable increasingly-cynical editor who can’t possibly read more than a page or two.” As an oft editor myself, and slush reader before that, the cynicism won’t be helped for very long by a reading fee, even if it decreases spam submissions.

    I can’t believe teachers make students send you work, especially silly freshman comp classes. I had no idea. Is the fee really going to stop those submissions? Won’t you still get tons of junk, (including my work)? I suppose you have to do what you have to do, the business is leaning in this direction: $20 to enter prose contests instead of $10, $30 instead of $20 to enter book contests, and now $3 instead of a few stamps to send in work. I send out 50% less work then I did 3 years ago, and I get published 50% less, too. It’s what it is though, so go for it–especially if the writers get some form of pay.

  • Josna Rege says:

    Dear Brevity Editors,

    Please don’t take the decision to start charging for submissions. Brevity could start looking like a vanity press. If your concern is the volume of inappropriate submissions, particularly from college courses, perhaps you could create a special category for them and charge for that, and/or require that students submitting as part of a course requirement fill out an additional form, and have gone through a stringent revision process before they submit. Then you could have someone skim the submissions/forms and discard ones that don’t meet the criteria.

    Best wishes in your decision.

    Josna Rege

  • Michael Ray says:

    I think that if you contacted the professors and asked them to stop the submissions, that it’s hurting your operation that they should stop. If not, block the school email address and have a form reject for any that leak through.
    Although the financial support would be nice, it seems that you are creating a barrier to submission for everyone (however small) to discourage a certain group. Just eliminate the certain group.

  • I would support charging a fee. I think online submissions has made it so easy for anyone to submit anything (regardless of quality), that there is a danger of drowning our publishing sources in an avalanche of mediocre writing. Sending a piece off for publishing used to mean something, back in the day. It took an active effort and we had to really care. Now it’s simply a click of the mouse.

    And while we writers must struggle to get noticed, yes, it’s not as if literary magazines are swimming in resources themselves. We’re all in this together.

  • Karen Craigo says:

    No, no, no. Editors know that bad or inappropriate submissions take very little time — a couple of seconds, maybe? — to respond to, but the writers who are providing us with their work are doing us a favor and should be rewarded, not charged a fee.

    I hope you won’t.

    • Amy Holman says:

      I’m with Karen on this, and earlier in the discussion as I posted in response to Tonya and Ashley–I’ve been yessing and hissing throughout these posts. The magazine flourishes by publishing the work of writers its editors deem worthy and exciting. The writers are the ones who should see the money if there is any to be seen. Also, this notion is awful that a paying market can better expect its submitting writers to pay a fee since the accepted work will be paid for from the money collected. That means we’re all contributing to an account, from which withdrawals will be made on our behalf when we’ve done well.

      You wanted to edit a magazine. You chose online because it gives better range and costs less than paper, printing, postage and subscriptions, I’m guessing. You are asking for concise, visual essays to give to your readership. You are telling the writers you publish that their essays are what the public wants. These writers are not part of a club with dues. Even if the fee is small, it’s a fee charged to the people who are putting your magazine on the map. There are myriad ways to generate funds to support the magazine, but having writers grease the palm of the editor to get in the door is not one of them.

  • Amber says:

    I can only speak for myself as a struggling writer. I don’t send my work to places with a submission fee. Period. More and more, it feels like we writers are having to PAY to get our work out there–through a variety of contest entry and submission fees. In my heart I feel writing is a job we should be paid for–we are, after all, providing a service, and we spend hours slaving over a computer or typewriter to this end.

    I can’t help it, I resent it when editors want money. I am happy to donate money to a e-zine (and do, frequently), but to charge me for my own work seems contrary to the whole principle that work should be compensated. It’s like showing up to work and your employer saying, “hey, you have to pay me 3$ before you can enter this building, and even then there’s no guarantee I’ll give you a paycheck.”

    • JJS says:

      I agree with Amy and Amber, and many other commenters.

      While I feel the pain of painfully inappropriate submissions, charging writers to read their work is not the solution (even if it is more and more accepted thanks to endless contest fees as the only way to send work to many publications). It doesn’t move us forward in solving the online/print status tension, the problem of editing-for-free and getting overwhelming amounts of bad submissions – it just shifts the burden to the manufacturers. As someone said, it’s equivalent to requiring employees to pay to work.

      Subscription fees for readers make sense. I will pay to read, as I can. I will support journals with donations and purchases as I can. The fact is, these days I often can’t: at this moment in economic history it seems especially wrong to charge writers who may be losing their houses, unable to find jobs at all, etc.. Not all writers have academic gigs or rich spouses. And free email submissions are not equivalent to postage.

      For me, the bottom line is that even if I wanted to, I can’t afford to pay to be read, and don’t send work to anyone who requires it.

      Good luck with the decision, Dinty. It’s a weird and kind of impossible historic moment we’re in, and Brevity’s great. I hope you can find an alternate form of income – and support the idea of writing to professors and/or putting up a statement about the problem on the submissions page and just ignoring mass garbage.

  • Nancy says:

    I think charging a small fee is regrettable but would be more palatable and even reasonable if you were committed to reading the submissions blind. I know you occasionally publish writers who don’t have many credits to their names, but the vast majority of what you publish is by established writers, many of them with university jobs. Of the 12 essays in your current issue, for example, 9 are by people who teach in universities. I am including in that figure the writer-in-residence at Kalamazoo, but not the person who teaches composition at Colorado State who is publishing for the first time. This leaves one person who teaches in a high school program (recent MFA) and another who recently graduated from an MFA program. Believe it or not, there are very good writers out there with other sorts of resumes. It isn’t fair to have a de facto scenario in which one group is subsidizing the other. (Yes, I have read your “Note from the Editor” on this subject, but I feel more soul- searching on your part is in order if you do begin to charge a submission fee.) I am, as ever, a fan of Brevity.

  • Sandy Sims says:

    I don’t think 2 or 3 dollars will stop those teacher-mandated submissions. I think the best bet would be to take the time to write to those schools/professors/whatever, and tell them this is a professional publication edited and published by volunteers, and while you welcome fresh new writers, you only want submissions that are top quality. And please do not mention Brevity on your syllabus. Then send a copy to the department chair.

  • KatherineH says:

    I would say a reluctant yes. It’s hard to watch the process become monetized, but $3 is not much. Some people pay more for the coffee they drink while they’re writing. If the piece you’ve written means enough to you, and you respect the journal enough to want it to publish you, $2 or $3 shouldn’t be the deciding factor. For me, a small fee would probably make me read my essay one more time just to make sure I’m not wasting my money. Hopefully it will do the same for all the creative writing students out there.

    • Amy Holman says:

      It does not matter what writers spend on their cups of coffee, their groceries, or their haircuts. In each case, they benefit directly from the exchange.

  • ella says:

    Not unless you plan to start paying for publication. I would never submit anything to a place that charged a fee and didn’t somehow reward it (free issue for print journals, or the possibility of payment, however small, if my submission was accepted for publication.

    I completely understand all your concerns and your point, but as a reader I also know that you can pretty much tell the really bad/worthless submissions from the first line or two so why not just stop reading there, especially if the person actually prefaces the submission with a line that says it sucks?

    I agree with the commenter who said you should speak with the offending colleges/professors directly instead of punishing the rest of us.

  • Maggie says:

    If the ONLY reason you want to do this is inappropriate submissions, then I don’t think it’s necessarily an effective tactic. $2-3 isn’t enough to deter a professor from requiring it of her students–after all, it’s not the professor’s money.

    If the reason you want to do it is so that you can pay contributors, I’m all for that.

    And if the reason you want to do it is so you can pay for overhead, I’m all for that too. I guess I’m saying I’m not opposed to the idea, but I believe, as some others have said, that it won’t do a heck of a lot to reduce your volume of submissions.

    And by the way, I’ve been published in Brevity and would have happily paid $2-3 to submit.

  • Effie says:

    I’m a professional writer with many publications. I prefer to be paid for my work but will sometimes accept payment in copies when the journal is prestigious. I’m also a reader. Brevity has earned a lot of cred. Though I rarely submit to markets that charge, I would submit to Brevity as long as it isn’t cheesy like that magazine that asks for a dollar _in cash_ to put you in some special slush pile. I’ve also edited a literary magazine and I agree that reading a bunch of crap is part of the experience and would hate to rob anyone of that opportunity.

  • Two qualifiers: 1) I don’t submit a lot of pieces. 2) I don’t earn my living by writing.

    But I am in favor of a small fee, no more than $5. Though Brevity is edited by volunteers, there are massive expenses in addition to print costs, and I am happy to support that.

    It would be great if this could be paid online by Paypal or something, so that the online email submission could continue with ease. Is Brevity a nonprofit? If so, perhaps the fee is tax deductible as a donation.

  • I’ve thought about this issue for my own press and have decided not to do so. Yes, it would generate some funds but it would also cause some people I would like to publish not to submit to my press. It’s simply not worth it in the long run.

    You’d probably make a few bucks, yes, but you’d also have more and more bookkeeping to do. And I suspect Brevity would suffer from having fewer good writers submit their material to you. I see it as a “lose/lose” situation.

    H. Palmer Hall

  • anjie says:

    I think you build a good case for charging submission fees. I’m wondering if you could have a submission-fee-free period once a year — maybe mid-August, or some other time when teachers won’t be assigning submissions? — just to have a no-fee option for those who really, really have no money, or no desire to pay submission fees… Maybe?

    • Dave Bonta says:

      That would be a great compromise!

      I hope qarrtsiluni never gets so popular that we have to make these kinds of decisions, but $2 doesn’t strike me as unreasonable and personally wouldn’t deter me from submitting work to Brevity (as I have a couple times in the past). As a few people have pointed out, it’s not much greater than what we’d pay to submit by post, only this way, the magazine gets all the money. I also agree with those who suggest you should contact the teachers who do this and ask them to stop disrespecting you. I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

      • Amy Holman says:

        I’m not sure that your analogy of postage works for other things. Do you send more e-mails to people than letters with stamps? I do. It’s easier, less costly, so quick. Would you send them if a pop-up asking for 44 cents appeared every single time before your message could land in the mailbox of your friends, realtives or colleagues?

    • Elizabeth A. says:

      Now THIS is a fantastic idea.

  • Vicki Lindner says:

    Yes, go ahead and charge. It’s way better than sponsoring some contest that nobody I’ve ever known has won. When I teach essay writing, I sometimes assign a 750 word essay and have the students read Brevity. But I don’t say they should submit. I encouraged a few of the best to submit. I don’t agree that all student essays are worse than those you publish. In fact, I’ve seen some great ones that in my opinion are far better, but that could be a mother talking. I also think there are very few students who can ‘t afford a $2-$3 charge. They enter contests, don’t they? Maybe they’ll have to skip a second beer that night, or not rent a movie. Isn’t writing about sacrifice? At least sometimes? I also don’t think that charging will significantly cut down on the submissions. What might cut them down is 1) calling for submissions according to specific themes 2) calling for submissions by age, publication experience, and gender, like you need to be a woman over 55 who has published at least five pieces. Or a writer under 25 who is writing about nature. Meanwhile, you’ve done a generous job for a long time, and I think we writers all need to thank you.

    • Dave Bonta says:

      In our experience at qarrtsiluni, asking people to submit work only in the context of themes does significantly cut down on submissions — and may also be responsible for the consistenly low proportion of dreck we receive. (I don’t know if you’d really want to change your basic operating procedure like that, but it’s something that other readers of this thread might want to consider for their own publications.)

    • Katherine McMullen Snow says:

      I really like Vicki’s argument here. The idea of calling for certain types of submissions might be easier on the editors since they will be able to determine inappropriate submissions within the first few words. A nominal fee to submit is not asking much and it might challenge some to revisit their works and do extra polishing before submitting.
      The adage “spend money to make money” is absolutely true. As writers, our ultimate goal is always to be able to make a living as a writer, is it not? A career goal. How many of us have spent untold thousands of dollars for a college degree only to take a job that has little or nothing to do with what we studied? How many people pay professional resume writers in order to give them a leg up on a job? How many of us have ever gone out and bought a new suit/blouse/tie before an important job interview? Publishing in a journal like this is a stepping stone to making a living as a writer. It’s part of the job search. Pay it, or go back to hurling yourselves on the martyring pyres of the starving artist. At least you’ll be out of my way.

  • Anne Panning says:

    I would pay that. It’s cheap, very reasonable, and a great pub.

    Anne Panning

  • anjie says:

    One more thing: I don’t think you should target the professors. I wish I’d been required to submit something as an undergrad or in my Masters program. Maybe I wouldn’t have waited ten years to get my feet wet. I think making students submit during a school course is a powerful educational lesson.

    • brevity says:

      I would agree, if the students were instructed on proper submissions guidelines, cover letter etiquette, etcetera.

      • Calvin says:

        Yes, I think this is a good idea. In any case, the rules are clearly changing in publishing. People can rant all they want about the inappropriateness of charging a small reading fee (that’s what contests are basically about, along with increasing subscriptions), but if they aren’t doing any of the work, they shouldn’t get to dictate how the bread gets made. It’s unfortunate that fees need to be charged, but if contributors are subsequently going to be paid, I think you folks at Brevity are taking the honorable route.

      • Amy Holman says:

        Dinty, I mentioned in an earlier post now lost in the slush of responses, so to speak, that you could get yourself hired to talk about Brevity to students, and educate them on cover letters. This would be a better revenue stream.

  • Jeff Gundy says:

    I’m not excited about charging a fee, but I see the reasons for it. What I really want to know, though, is what’s going on with these writing instructors. The publishing world is too full already with people who actually want to publish their writing and work hard (if not always well) at it. Why clog things up any more? What do they think students will gain just by submitting?

    • brevity says:

      My instinct here is that it is a bogus way of making it seem as if the students are “engaged in active learning” without the teacher/school actually having to do any work. (And I’m not talking here about responsible cw teachers who prepare there students well for the submission process; I’m talking about the community college system that put the assignment on the syllabus of every online instructor.)

  • Lea says:

    As a professor who uses Brevity on a regular basis and successfully (I think!) in my classrooms, I find it troubling to learn that others are using it to try to educate young writers about the act of publication without preparing them for it. I am sorry to hear about the effect that this has had on Brevity staff. I support the small fee for submissions, but more than that, I think that we as writers, teachers of writing and editors need to educate about submission etiquette and responsibility. You have my support for whatever you decide.

    Lea

  • Nels says:

    My impulse is to say $2 is cool, but that would mean, looking at my submission list, that I would have spent well over $200 for all of my submissions in the last year. Add to that the couple of hundred bucks I spend subscribing to journals. Wow, that’s starting to feel a bit much. I already had to let a couple of subscriptions go last year when I had a car repair right at a time they were due.

    Now, if that fee came with a guaranteed critique of a couple of hundred words or so, then I might be willing to pay more. But I also might like the subscriptions go.

    • ella says:

      I really like this idea. I would gladly pay $2 if I knew I was going to get at least a few hundred words of personal feedback rather than the usual thanks for submitting but no thanks rejection letter.

  • Thanks, Dinty for even asking for feedback. It seems to me that a lot of the comments aren’t focusing on your other reasons for instituting a reading fee–supporting the magazine financially and paying contributors. Unfortunately, people seem to be focusing entirely on the possible vetting of inappropriate submissions. What about supporting a unique literary magazine that every single person here reads for FREE? How about paying writers? Is anyone against that? Would it be better if Brevity charged people to READ their magazine (like every other print magazine in the world)? In a time when magazines (staffed, produced, promoted, edited almost always by unpaid volunteers) are folding every year due to lack of institutional support, writers need to step up and support the magazines wherein they hope to be published. I don’t see any morally relevant difference between this and a contest fee, which Brevity hasn’t done but which MANY other magazines must do in order to pay for production. I also don’t really have a problem with Tin House’s recent effort to get people to buy a book at a book store. Is this really that controversial? If you’re writer who doesn’t buy books or subscribe to literary magazines, isn’t that sort of like a musician who doesn’t buy CD’s or even listen to music? I don’t get it.

    SC

    • Bradley says:

      Well said as always, Steve.

    • Nancy says:

      The difference between this and a contest fee is that reputable contests read blind. There needs to be more faith in the process if writers are to pay for non-contest submissions. But yes, if you’re reading Brevity several times a year for free, and you are allowed only two submissions a year and thus have to make only two small payments, it does seem like you’re getting a good deal.

      • Nels says:

        Yes, if submissions were 100% blind and no essay was ever published from being invited to get a big name into it, that might be different. I’m not sure how I feel about, “Hey, Woman Who Won Five Major Awards Last Year, would you write for us? We’ll pay you from the funds of people who submitted an unsolicited submission.”

        Why not do what the editors of Hint Fiction did last year. To submit for free (or, in the case of Hint Fiction, to be allowed to make more than two submissions), you have to write a 200-word response on your personal blog or Facebook page or whatever. For every substantial review you write to help promote the journal and its writers, you can make one submission for free. All others, pay $3.

  • Tom says:

    I don’t mind forking over a couple of bucks.

  • Rebecca says:

    I say charge us. When I submit by mail, I spend nearly that in postage for the manuscript and the SASE, and I don’t mind being asked for a reasonable fee to help offset costs and support payment for authors. At least $2-$3 is not the rapacious $20 like Narrative. I don’t have the feeling Dinty, et al, are trying to build an empire, just stay on top of the wave. There is no shame whatsoever in that, and I am willing to make a small investment in keeping Brevity on the “best of” list.

    After reviewing the past several years and the demise of small presses and print publications everywhere, I would think we’d all be rattled enough to recognize it’s a new day and want to work together, which would be in everyone’s best interest.

  • My gut response was NO! For instance: I love Narrative Magazine, but they are rough to get into, and legions who submit are paying their established writers who seem to get in a lot. At some level it seems wrong to me to have struggling writers pay those who’ve already struggled and appear to have it made (right!). But really, maybe it isn’t. At any rate, it’s cyber reality: What can we expect without advertising! And with the ease of electronic submissions, charging does add the gatekeeping function you seek.

    So after reading what you’re up against, I say, Do it. But try to implement what Narrative Magazine does, easy credit card payment. You may not cut down quite as much on submissions that way, but you’ll eliminate the humiliation for legit contributors of making them write that check. And when your submissions go yet higher, look at their on-line submission-management system that should all but eliminate your having to send emails.

    Richard

  • Jon Loomis says:

    Saw this on Dinty’s facebook page–interesting discussion. I came of age in a different era, obviously, but back in the day we were told “legitimate publishers/agents/journals never charge a fee to read your work. If they do, it’s a scam.” Being kind of an old school guy, I still operate on this principle, and would not submit to any journal that charged me a fee to read my work. In fact, I’d go a step further and suggest that such a fee would feel, to me, like a violation of the long-established symbiosis between literary journals and writers: you don’t pay me to publish my work, and in return you treat my submissions with respect, even if you don’t use them. Now, admittedly in the digital age that crusty old paradigm is pretty much out the window, but I still cling to it, at least in theory.

    I have an alternative plan, however, which may or may not work–which I offer free of charge (heh). First, send an email to the chair of the department that’s requiring its freshmen to write to you, and ask them politely to fucking knock it off. It’s obviously an abuse of your time, and a terrible idea. Tell them that if they keep coming, you simply will not, under any circumstances, publish anything that comes from their email domain, end of story. Second component of the Loomis Plan: include a code phrase deep in the heart of your submission guidelines that submitters must include in the subject line of their email submissions: program your email to trash any submission that doesn’t include the code (or just ignore them). Change the code every month or so, so it won’t just end up in instructors’ syllabi. That way you’ll stop the frivolous submissions, but you won’t piss off old farts like me.

    • Evie Lou Wolf says:

      Oh Jon, give me a break, I’ve met you and you’re not that old. (Though I’d bet you’d catch the subject-verb agreement error in my main posting in a flash.) But you are showing your crustiness: you embrace community among writers–a great thing–but you do so by encouraging its clubby exclusivity. Old, unwritten ethical codes? New, buried electronic ones? Implicit agreements so entrenched you’d rather colonize Brevity’s pages with advertisements than consider where times can change for the better? If you can blog–or submit to an online journal–you can wrap your head around the new-fangled notion that a submission fee is not a scam. Serious, dedicated communities–even ones made up of writers and publishers–can lose their secret handshake and still endure. Or even figure out a way to thrive as they haven’t before. In that regard, surely Brevity is a promising work in progress.

      • Jon Loomis says:

        Evie–well, they say you’re as old as you feel, and I feel freaking ancient, particularly in this discussion. I never submit anywhere that charges a reading fee, period, as a point of pride. It may be an antiquated and inadequate as codes go, but it’s all Ive got. I am a bit alarmed that you know about the secret handshake–we’ll have to get right on that.

        Where did we meet? Forgive me for not remembering–probably early Alzheimer’s.

    • Evie Lou Wolf says:

      Hi Jon–Can’t figure out how to reply to your last note, so that tells you what a sorry pair we make (and I was born in the 70s. But you’ve been on Facebook, so I don’t know if I should trust any of your insistences). In any case, it was brief, it was Gainesville, and I was a friend of a friend at a party. Alcohol and firearms were involved (in the party, not our meeting in particular). Are we supposed to say stuff like this on a blog? It’s my first time. I fear the personal aside I inspired might be bad etiquette on my part. Also it’s keeping me from going to stand in the unemployment line. They still have one, right? In any case, we might need to agree to disagree (and just submit where we choose!). Best, E.

  • Neil White says:

    Dinty,

    Yes. Charge. It will keep folks from firing off a bunch of junk your way. In fact, I think $2-$3 for students; $5 for non-students. Submissions shouldn’t be a numbers game. They should be thought through, deliberate and conscientious.

    I’ve been working on my BREVITY submission for years . . . not ready yet (perhaps you should charge me $100).

    Love what you do.

    Neil White

  • Sarah Sarai says:

    I haven’t read all the above comments so I may repeat… A few journals which accept online make submitters read and sign off on a sort of agreement (simultaneous or multiples….some of the many mistakes we submitters make) BEFORE they can submit. One such caveat could be: We are not here to read your college papers. Your submission implies acknowledgment yours is not sent to meet class requirements (or the like). Sure, charge if you want. It’s hard for writers like me, on unemployment. No matter what, contact the college teachers by way of huge cartons of your personal trash, shredded, compacted, bagged, boxed, allowed to mold.

  • Mme.G says:

    A $2-$3 charge is a pittance compared to what other journals and magazines charge for submissions. I say, go for it – and reduce the number of professors who are using you to grade their students’ papers!

  • Jon Loomis says:

    In response to the notion that charging for submission would help to support the journal: I guess it would, but I’d be inclined to go with a subscription fee or advertising over a scheme that allowed users to access content for free, but that charged prospective content providers a fee. Seems bass-ackwards to me, but as I say, I grew up in the era of the typewriter.

  • First, I am excited to see such a thorough & considered discussion of the idea. If ever anyone wants to bring the discussion over the Luna Park, be my guest!

    My view is: NO. As Michael points out above, some print mags like TMR charge for online submissions—which are insanely easy to do, and so to send off without really considering if the piece is appropriate for the publication. But this fee generally equals the amount someone would spend on paper & postage. Charging for submissions, such as Narrative does, to generate revenue for online mags that give away their content for free smacks to me of a trend in this post CW graduate degree world of the writers being the customers & target audience for the lit mags. (Sure, it is probably true that writers have always been the dominant audience for such mags. But they should have to pay to read the magazines, not to work for them.)

    Why not put up a pay wall and charge for internal, specialized content? (Probably because it won’t work to generate revenue–I know.) Readers—sadly, myself included—expect the internet content to be free.

    And, generally, lit mags can’t support themselves through content alone. They need a generous patron.

    And, today, they throw parties to raise money. Sell T-shirts and shot glasses.

    Sorry for the length, but I think it’s not a good idea for a writer to pay you to offer up their content for free online. Looking over our long list of online mags on Luna Park, I can’t see any of them that make any money. I believe all are done for free.

    Though, selfishly, I would love for someone to come up with the solution that gets writers and editors paid for online content…

  • Tricia says:

    I didn’t have time to read the 50 comments before mine to know if this has already been said, but this might get you less stellar writing and here’s why: Writers might submit to non-fee charging mags first, then as a last resort, after it’s been rejected by all the rest it will then come to you. Dregs in your inbox could be worse than first year writing assignments.

    There are hundreds, thousands of lit mags, and I would guess most don’t charge (I’ve only come across two and avoided those). My personal reasons for objecting are with all the time involved already, besides writing. Research alone takes a big chunk of time when you need to read some of what they publish to see if you’re a fit. I go to guidelines first to see if they take online submissions and if they charge (I don’t even care if they pay because it’s usually not much and if it were, yay, bonus). If the words “postal” or “fee” come up, I’m on to someone else.

  • Evie Lou Wolf says:

    I’m in favor of the reading fee, though I cringe at the absurd notion of using this to “clean out the brush” (and I know I’m not quoting Brevity here). That smacks of the elitism that has another poster so panicked: our access to and appreciation of writing should not, of course, be subject to a writer’s ability to pay. But I don’t think the small fee Brevity is proposing would even begin to weed out serious writers–and I say this as a recently laid-off college instructor who has never been paid for her writing. I can also say, as that same writing instructor, that it would discourage the mandatory student submissions (my lord, I’ve also encouraged students to submit their work for publication, but to make it mandatory!). But back to finances: as I’ve said, I’m pretty much broke, and that has much to do with the relative lack of wealth in the fields of teaching and writing–part of the larger issue of the way our world runs, an issue I attempt to confront in my writing itself, and wherever else I can–but I think that hardly warrants a stinginess between members of the same literary community. Given the current system (I’m talking capitalism here), I think it makes perfect sense for us to support each other; when I have 20 bucks to spare at the end of the month, I tend to use it for contest submission money or to renew a subscription rather than check out the newest Hollywood blockbuster. I don’t resent the fact that the contest or subscription cost money. (I understand that some writers don’t have any money to spare at all–a point I address below.)

    That said, I did find Dinty’s posting a bit disingenuous. I cringed here too: the emphasis on the absurd student submissions gave the impression (whether it’s true or not) that this entire thread was a bit of a decoy for the eventual charging of a fee. Why not just say your volunteer staff is stretched thin, and you’re pressed to find the resources to read all submissions, weed out the insincere and carefully consider the sincere, and pay your contributors? A separate posting expressing appreciation for the use of Brevity in the college classroom with a request not to coerce students to submit (along with the appearance of a reading fee) would go a long way to solving that problem.

    And, finally, why not charge a reading fee, but invite writers who cannot afford the fee at the time to opt out? This strikes me as a far more genuine gesture than the call for blog debate on the subject (though obviously, I heartily leapt to join the forum–not a dig at free speech here, just don’t like when it feels as if we’re going through the motions to make ourselves feel heard–or to alleviate guilt). To allay any fear of bias, you could guarantee writers that the payment process is completely divorced from the reading process–that readers won’t know anything about money (lucky them), and the piece will be given equal consideration whether accompanied by a fee or not. Surely this would raise funds with most submissions, show good faith and support for those who are truly struggling, and, I suspect, shame those professors into leaving the choice to submit up to their students.

    • Amy Holman says:

      Suppose those college freshman still didn’t pay attention, and still submitted their long, wayward essays to Brevity, but with a fee, would it be such a hardship for the editors?

      It does not matter the amount or that any particular person has it to pay. I’m in the camp that paying the magazine to consider your writing for its content is bad business. A magazine IS its content in the eyes of its editors, and the writers provide that content. It’s not any one writer’s fault for not providing the content the editor wants if that writer is not paid staff.

      I’m not paying for a magazine editor’s burnout. All literary journal editors get iritated by the stuff that isn’t right. Nearly all work for free. If it is no longer the exciting project it once was, take a break, come back.

      Online magazines are inexpensive to run compared to their print counterparts. I know, there comes a time when you look around and say, hey, I should get paid for this. Writers feel the same way. If we get paid for our work, it should not come partly from our own pockets.

      • Tricia says:

        Right on, sista

      • Evie Lou Wolf says:

        I came back to this thread, a month later, to read the postings I’d missed, and I can’t help but reiterate my initial point with a response to Amy Holman’s comment and Tricia’s “Right on.” Regardless of Brevity’s ultimate decision, this sort of attitude reveals what is no doubt true of today’s creative writers: we are concerned only with our own success, not with any larger exchange of ideas or more enduring literary enterprise. I am not saying that literary magazines should survive (or thrive) at the expense of individual writers. On the contrary: we should be part of the same project, whatever we believe the literary project to be. What Amy Holman depicts here is, unfortunately, accurate: a world in which the magazines and published authors are the “haves,” struggling writers are the “have nots,” and the goal of the game is to find a way into the camp of the “haves” — giving up as little as possible along the way. The whole dynamic seems entirely perverse, and completely disheartening. If the only reason we write is to be recognized and remunerated, then we might as well give the whole thing up. If there is more to what we do, why on earth can’t we figure out a way to shift the dynamic, instead of becoming more entrenched–on both sides of the divide–in our refusals to give anything up?

  • Barbara H Berger says:

    I haven’t submitted to Brevity yet but when I have a short piece I deem good enough, I will, small fee or not. I’m an otherwise published writer with a lot of respect for Brevity and I love reading it. If a small fee will help to pay the writers, possibly help with expenses, and possibly lighten the volunteers feeling so swamped, I’d support it. Everyone’s argument above makes sense, and I struggle with money too, but two or three dollars still seems very modest and reasonable to me. Even if it doesn’t weed out the unwanted submissions, maybe it’s worth it for the well-being of the magazine and the writers chosen for each wonderful issue.

  • Dolores says:

    I wonder how come so many folks are scapegoating college freshmen. And I wonder how come it is considered disrespectful to editors for freshmen to submit while it is not considered disrespectful to insult freshmen writers.

    • Bradley says:

      I think the initial post makes it abundantly clear that the problem isn’t college freshmen– it’s composition instructors forcing those freshmen to submit work that’s inappropriate for this magazine. Brevity publishes creative nonfiction, not scholarly arguments, which is typically the focus in the composition classroom.

  • So many–SO MANY–respected publications charge a lot more.

    I think it’s fair to charge simply because you shouldn’t be expected to do this for free.

  • Jinny Marting says:

    I am saddened, but not surprised, that university professors would require students to submit to Brevity. Shame on them for not making the distinction between freshman comp and creative nonfiction. (I’m a former composition director, textbook writer, and editor of several readers.) I know that some professors teach composition as creative nonfiction, but…. It reminds me of my reaction to grad students being required to submit proposals to national conferences. The stakes seem higher for the (more often than not) uninformed, leaving those in the know with unnecessary competition.

  • Kirsty Logan says:

    If this plan does go ahead, I implore you to take payments through Paypal. If writers have to submit with a cheque, the magazine will become very US-centric because it is so difficult for international writers to submit US funds.

    I live in the UK, and it is extremely difficult for me to send work to magazines in the US that insist on SASEs. It is complicated and expensive to get US stamps, and I can’t even think how I would go about getting a cheque from a US bank.

    Remember that as an online magazine Brevity is accessible all over the world; please do not ensure that your only submitters are American.

    • ce. says:

      That’s a really good point, Kirsty. Hadn’t even thought about how difficult calculating and obtaining the postage for a SASE would be for foreign submitters.

    • Nels says:

      I thought it was going to be by credit card, which implies a certain class status. I do know people who don’t make enough to get a credit card. The payment method would have to be one that doesn’t allow discrimination based on class.

      • Umm, I don’t use credit cards at all. However, I do have a debit card connected to my paypal account. And, for that matter, paypal will actually just debit from a bank account, which, I’m thinking, most people, regardless of “class” have. Seriously red herring, in my opinion.

      • Tonya says:

        Not everyone has good enough credit to have a debit card. They check your credit now to see if you can have a checking account. So, yeah, it does imply some things class-wise.

  • I implied earlier that this is a hard decision, and I don’t have a concrete response to it. Either way, I think Brevity is going to be fine. And editors do need a way to manage the work which can so often seem thankless. Writers, too, have a larger platform in Brevity since more people are likely to read it free online than purchase a print subscription, so it may be a fair trade to ask for a small reading fee.

    First-year composition is a serious and essential course that also makes upper-level courses possible, and, by the way, I get paid below the poverty-line to teach it while I work on my own writing. As in all disciplines, some professors and instructors are more effective and trained than others. But the point of these assignments is probably to show composition students that writing does matter in the “real world”; this is an evolving trend in composition pedagogy.

    Now, I would never ask my first-year composition students to submit to Brevity en masse, so let’s be clear about that. While I haven’t required my students to submit to Brevity, I have certainly made use of it in nonfiction workshop to discuss and imitate literary elements. As others have pointed out, this increases the readership. If budding, terrible writers want to submit to Brevity, they should. They need to learn how to do this, and they need to learn what it’s like to experience rejection. If any one of my students in any class has an interest in doing this, I’m not going to stop them, no matter what their writing looks like. At the same time, if they want to submit, I can and should advise them about the whole experience and approach that I have found works best.

    In response to the suggestion that you should publish terrible cover letters…please do not do that. The ones who think it’s a bullshit assignment don’t need a further platform. But maybe some of these people are actually interested or are apprentice writers. Maybe they wiIl learn from their mistakes; maybe not. And, even if they are bad writers, it’s quite possible that they are still reading published work. We need readers. Let them feel the sting of the rejection – I would wager that’s enough since irritated editors can write some pretty nasty notes, and we all know that some of our most respected writers have been lambasted by editors, agents, and presses before achieving a successful publication. Ridiculing writers in a public space only feeds that notion of elitism and turns away a potential readership. Simply put, it’s bad form. Smug. We know what this kind of attitude has already done to the literary world.

    It’s easy to assume that several of those who submit pieces don’t read the magazine, but there is no real way of controlling a readership. Come to think of it, a classroom could be and is often utilized for that purpose.

  • Dorothy Alexander says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that you are justified in imposing a submission fee. And I certainly understand your problem regarding submissions. As the owner of a micro poetry press, I know the problem well. People who have no clue, and have not bothered to read guidelines, requirements, etc. for publication will submit what can only be called trash and then expect instant celebrity to follow.

  • Russ Tomlin says:

    Your proposed nominal fee represents a prudent and restrained effort to sustain Brevity as a serious on-line journal. The thoughtless assignment of a Brevity submission as part of any writing class in effect commandeers the journal and its staff for ludicrous egalitarian sentiments. Implementing a modest submission fee will reduce the volume of opportunistic submissions. I’d like to know that my next rejection from B was grounded in a serious review by serious editors and not simply due to dealing with a mass of submissions that compromises the reviewers’ ability to read with discernment.

  • […] Brevity Magazine asks if they should charge for […]

  • Rosetta Johnston says:

    I am a fifty-seven year old non-traditional student.I have been in the professional world for years and my writing wasn’t ready to submit when I was a freshman.Is there any way to ask the schools not to make this a requirement? I guess it would be unfair to not accept all mail from these schools as that would punish “all” their students.

    I understand the need for the fee. However, with my limited budget it will be difficult to submit to many magazines if this becomes a trend. There is a misconception that there is no cost to people (writers) who access various websites.We pay hefty cable fees to gain access the World Wide Web. If we did not pay these fees the web would not be what it is today.Having said that, I like Brevity, I like your content and hope to submit to you.Having the chance to earn some money in return would offset the small fee.

    Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of emerging writers.Brevity is a quality magazine and writers (emerging or experienced)need quality magazines to showcase our work.

    If there is any way that I can help please let me know.

  • Barbara Davenport says:

    I’m of the old fart generation & initially my toes curled at the implications of paying to submit. But the assumptions of publishing are changing fast. The old barriers against the slush tsunami are crumbling. Publications, especially online ones need new ways to exercise the functions for which we value them: making discriminating judgements, & finding gold in all that slush & dross.
    Is a $3 fee the most effective screen? I don’t know; I expect you don’t either. But you gotta try something. I say go for it.

  • Dorothy Alexander says:

    Where is it written that anyone who aspires to be an artist is entitled to have others spend an enormous amount of effort and money to show their art to the world with only minimum and irresponsible effort on the part of the artist. Such sense of entitlement is misplaced and unreasonable. I say to aspiring artists/writers, “Grow up. Expect to pay your own way in the world!”

    • Jane says:

      I’m pretty sure the undergrads who are cluttering their email in-boxes aren’t “artists.” And vice-versa.

    • Amy Holman says:

      Oh, it is written lots of places. Patrons of the arts need artists to patronize. Publishers, such as yourself, need works to publish. I’m not sure where the irresponsibility of the artist comes in, here, or how pride in one’s accomplishments can be misconstrued as entitlement, but if you want art, you have to pay for it. We are talking business, here.

      Paying one’s own way is exactly what an artist wants to do. In part or whole, we should expect to make a living from the writing in order to achieve that goal. If that cannot be worked out as adequately as we wish, jobs in other fields can be pursued.

  • Dianne McKnight says:

    I would happily pay a small fee to submit. I recently read a 1970 Charlotte Observer article about the end of Red Clay Reader, the famous North Carolina magazine that started publishing in the early sixties (I think). The volume of submissions the magazine received literally shut it down. How sad.

    I’ve heard many lit magazines used to publish short-shorts way back when but stopped because they were getting so many contrived submissions. Everybody thinks writing short is easy and fast. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said if he’d had more time he’d have written a shorter story?

  • Renée E. D'Aoust says:

    Yes, yes, and yes. Do it. Charge. Dinty: If some dance companies now charge 25.00 for an audition, then Brevity is more than welcome to charge 3.00. Not 2.00, Dinty, start with 3.00. This fee in no way decreases my respect for Brevity, and this fee can also be part of a green charge. No paper, no mail, reduced student submissions. (By the way, I assign Brevity to my students to read at an out West college. I would never suggest those students submit their work. Those same students are often blown away by these essays.) I look forward to submitting this fall and to paying the fee. Thanks for the opportunity to voice an opinion.

  • Robert Stewart says:

    I thnk that Brevity has the right policy when it comes to submissions. I certainly do not object to a modest submission fee. If I believe my work is good enough to be published in Brevity it is not a problem for me to pay a small fee. However, I do believe that there should be reciprocity. I spend hours working on revision after revision to get it right. I deserved to be compensated for that work just as any artist is. You don’t find many artists giving away their paintings. As long as you agree to provide an honorarium I think the fee is justified.

  • Marita says:

    The fee is nominal. Go for it! Thank you for being a “sustainable” organization — one that shows respect for its community by seeking opinions before instituting change.

  • Antonio Vallone says:

    I was present at the birth of Brevity, so I have a special affection for the journal and its editor, Dinty W. Moore, who was a colleague of mine and who, from a greater distance now, I still claim as a good friend.

    However, I’m torn on this idea (growing among literary journals) of charging $2 or $3 per submission.

    The financial goals for the submission fees are good ones: establishing non-profit status for the journal and paying authors published by the journal an honorarium.

    But charging a submission fee to achieve the side benefit of cutting down on the number of submissions seems wrong-headed to me. Many good writers live on very little unless they teach full-time or hold a corporate position. A fee would exclude them, and it might not exclude the droves of college students required to submit their essays. The $2 or $3 would just be yet another required fee for them.

    A better idea, as writer in a previous post has suggested, would be to write directly to individual instructors and to whoever is in charge of the community college writing program including submission to Brevity as a requirement and explain to them, just as the blog post did, why that is inappropriate and financially (and psychologically) draining to the journal’s volunteer staff. Certainly, they would see their illogic at the requirement and opt for the greater good. Let those students submit to the college’s literary magazine or newspaper. Have the class produce a literary magazine of its own.

    Michael FitzGerald’s blog didn’t sway me in favor of the submission fees either. Yes, small independent publishers are dying, but that has always been the case. Small independent publishers have always come into and passed out of being; it’s just that the ones he mentioned did it while we were present to see it happening.

    FitzGerald’s point that paying a small submission fee makes him write better stories is laughable. Shouldn’t he—or any writer—be trying to write the best they can every time they write? What should a fee have to do with it? With his logic, a higher fee should make him an even better writer. Ridiculous.

    Sure, submission fees give his story a better chance by cutting down the odds, but again I’m concerned about who’s being left out. Why not cut down the odds by not letting white male authors who have tenured teaching positions submit? Crap. That includes me. Ok, no Italian-American poets who also on occasion write non-fiction. Crap! Me again.

    FitzGerald like to hold print copies of journals he’s been published in. So do I. But publishing online journals is less expensive and easier. When the old Ohio Review stopped being printed by letter press, I thought that signaled the death of literature. It didn’t. Nor has digital print-on-demand technology. I was published recently in an online journal that offered it authors the chance to purchase print copies of the issue they were published in. I didn’t need to, but I did.
    That still leaves us with the question what is Brevity to do about its financial goals? As the publisher-editor of MAMMOTH books, a micro-press (small is way too huge a term for us, our name aside), I know some difficult decisions need to be made. Maybe the goal of paying writers will have to be put aside, at least for now, or forever. But non-profit status isn’t too expensive to achieve. Maybe once Brevity has non-profit status its volunteer could begin to solicit donations and apply for grants, all good experience for the graduate and undergraduate students who I imagine must be staff members.

    Sadly, I don’t have the answers, just some suggestions. But I don’t believe charging even what seems to be to some people a small fee will achieve the goals that the staff of Brevity hopes it will. Whichever way they decide to go, though, I wish them well!

    • Jeff Grieneisen says:

      Tony makes many great points here. I wanted to mention the non-profit thing. At Florida English, we established non-profit status recently (I think it’s been 2 years for us); luckily, I didn’t have to do it (one of the other editors takes care of that businessy portion). The cost is minimal, but there IS a cost, including certain annual fees that we even covered out of our own pockets. However, once you are nonprofit, you are eligible for donations and grants.

      Otherwise, I’m ambivalent about the submission fee–it’s minimal, but feels like the “foot in the door” opener (it’s $2-3 now, but maybe it’ll go to $5, then $10) and feels like pay-for-publication. However, it IS minimal, and I like the idea of financially supporting the published writers.

  • Benjamin says:

    I’d pay $500.00 for you to read my work. And let you have a DNA sample for cloning.

    What a thread this has become.

  • Jen says:

    I, too, enjoy reading Brevity and appreciate the staff asking our opinion on the matter.

    I am happy to pay $2-3 for many reasons listed by others (ideally as a credit card payment), but mostly if it means published authors will receive payment. As I move through my writing career, I’m less inclined to submit to journals / magazines that don’t pay at all.

    Why? I make my living as a freelance writer first and a teacher second because without the writing / publishing, no one would give me a job teaching. And remember, expenses associated with any job are tax deductable. I think many people are afraid of looking at writing and submitting to journals as a business model, but it is. We write and publish so that we can build a reputation, get tenure, secure book contracts, pay our bills…it all leads back to making a living.

    I know many writers who won’t submit to non-paying journals and magazines. So while you might lose some submissions, you’ll gain others.

    I say charge a small fee and pay your authors.

    Best,
    Jen

  • Papatya says:

    1. I think what you are really deciding and what we are really discussing is not just whether or not Brevity should charge a fee but whether or not magazines in general should charge a fee. Each major magazine that successfully charges a submission fee will cause others to follow. So I would only proceed if you feel comfortable with other magazines following your lead and this becoming the dominant model.
    2. We probably all recognize that 2-3 dollars is what we would have paid to mail a paper submission…but while it’s the same two dollars (did anyone else get a flash of Dinty Moore on a bicycle riding after John Cusack screaming “I want my two dollars”? No, probably not), it doesn’t feel the same because of what it’s being used for. Paying for postage and supplies used to be an unavoidable cost– so there was no resistance to paying it. But the thought of having the majority of writers who won’t get published subsidize the few who will feels very uncomfortable. Likewise the thought of paying money so that other people won’t submit. I wish there were some other solution to your difficulties…but I also accept that this might be the best one. If writers want high quality literary magazines to continue to exist, we will need to support them one way or another.
    4. As someone who has had the pleasure of being in Brevity, I confess a fee would have made me reluctant to submit. However, because it’s the only magazine of its kind and one I really admire, I eventually would have sucked it up and paid.

  • Maureen S. says:

    I think it’s fine to charge this small fee, both to cover the cost of the editors’ time to read and the word that you do for the journal, and to support the journal in general. I never minded paying reading or submission fees, as I know they help keep literary journals in print, and because they are tax-deductible anway (for me). If in fact you use some of the fees to pay writers, all the better, as writers should be paid for their work.
    Your magazine is exemplary, important, and widely read, and I’m in support of whatever it takes to support it.

  • David Bradley says:

    Writers make me tired. We live in a country that allows free expression. We also live in a country that charges money for almost everything. We charge people for critical health care—never mind who pays; we charge. We charge for reading glasses. And we are part of a profession that, one the one hand, rewards some kinds of writers (like the President) with million-dollar contracts, for books (and audio tapes) for which the public pays twenty and thirty dollars. Most of those publishers only review solicited manuscripts, or manuscripts from agents.
    At the other end we have—and have always had—small, independent journals which have their quirks and flaws, but which are published, primarily as labors of love, with the tremendous and usually unpaid and always underpaid assistance of a handful of dedicated souls. And some of us think it robbery to be asked to support one of these journals that actually accepts unsolicited work (doesn’t charge a penny to readers? We read for free. If one of our pieces is published, we are, in fact, published for free. We can tell our friends about it and they can read the piece for free. And the next time we are at a cocktail party and some jerk academic asks that snotty question, “Have you published anything?” we can give him a URL and say, “It’s only 750 words; it should tax your literacy.” Of course there should be a reading fee. Of course it should be more than three dollars. Maybe five… to start. The alternative: advertising. I’d gladly pay $3.00 to avoid that.

  • David LeGault says:

    Since Brevity allows 2 submissions per year, would it make sense to implement a system where you only pay a fee the first time? This would stop the spammers, but soften the blow for writers who can’t afford to pay for every submission.

  • Paul Ketzle says:

    I think it entirely depends upon what you want to accomplish. If the idea is to cut down on submissions, that seems easily justifiable. There is probably some trade off because the stories that don’t get submitted won’t necessarily be worse than the ones that due (I’m unaware of financial commitment being directly related to talent.

    Philosophically, though, I’m more circumspect. At Quarterly West, I debated with the staff about whether to charge for online submissions when I converted us over, but there was generally not a lot of support for the idea. We got more submissions, but dealing with those submissions was much easier for everyone.

    Dinty’s question about whether the editors’ time is worth the fee is interesting. I suppose that depends upon how we look upon the submission/magazine relationship. I always viewed my position as an editor as looking for the opportunity to publish good material, which the author has submitted for my consideration. That places the value upon the work. Charging fees (and, similarly, not accepting simultaneous submissions), I believe, creates a relationship where the magazine is primary to the work.

    Much of the work we receive may not actually be especially good, so I totally understand why this philosophical orientation is difficult to value. I’ve been arguing along these lines for a while and I don’t think my perspective here is gaining much traction.

    And I’m not passing judgment on Brevity or anyone else for making that choice. There are logistical and financial justifications for doing so that in this current environment I suspect are necessary to consider.

    I do, however, think it’s worth talking about what this kind of shift does to the relationship between writer and magazine.

    • Amy Holman says:

      I agree with you about the magazine and author relationship. I agree that times are tough, but the solution is not to make the writer pay to be considered worthy of the magazine.

    • Nancy says:

      Paul, Your statement makes the most sense to me. Brevity’s choice does depend on what they want to accomplish. I hope they decide in favor of nurturing the kind of submission/magazine relationship that values the work above all else.

  • Kathy Page says:

    Yes, I think Brevity should charge, and make it $5. I think it;s awful that you are having to wade through these time-wasting submissions and I am all in favour of authors being rewarded, even minimally or symbolically….

  • bo moore says:

    The only valid reason to charge a fee is if you can prove that being “published” online has a value for the writer equal to greater than the fee. I suggest that most sunmissions satisfy vanity, and not any career-improving results.

    I had totally forgotten that your website existed, until you sent an email soliciting my opinion. So here it is!

  • Kathie says:

    As a reader, I’ve often thought that I should be paid $100 an hour for some of the awful crap that I’ve had to read. When I read something delightful, original, sparkly, and fresh, I feel honored and would have paid to read that person’s writing. My vote: charge a small fee.

  • Barb says:

    It seems like there are two issues here: 1) dealing with the onslaught of crappy submissions, and 2) making Brevity profitable.

    Simply put, crappy submissions are the cost of doing business. Welcome to the world of publishing. To charge $2 or $3 for a submission is not going to deter many people. Charging $20 will. So if you want to cut down on submissions, you’re going to have to charge much more. I’m not advocating charging a fee. I’m simply saying your logic is flawed. Personally, I think it’s smarmy for journals to charge a fee, and if they do, I want something in return…at least a comment or two (serious ones) about my submission. Now THAT, I would pay for. In a heartbeat.

    I believe what you really want is to see Brevity turn a profit (or heck, just net out). You want to pay yourselves and your writers. I see nothing wrong with that. But charging for submissions is not going to be your bread and butter, and will likely hurt you. (Can you see Sherman Alexie or Ron Arias going through the process of shelling out $3?) If you want to be a profit-generating center, then you need a well thought-out business plan, one that looks at the bigger picture and encompasses all potential income-generating channels, not just submissions.

    I like Brevity. I like other journals too. I spend $250/year on journal subscriptions. I support independent bookstores. I buy books that aren’t on the NY Times Best Sellers list. I borrow from my library. I go to readings. I write and submit. I read blogs by authors and journals and artists. I consider myself an active and engaged participant in the world of the written word. It’s an exciting time to be in the midst of it all and I see lots of opportunity for all the Brevitys out there to either make money or to continue to operate simply “for the love of the game.”

  • T. says:

    Yes, I believe you should charge a nominal fee for submissions. I have worked as a volunteer for a non profit group and I know how much blood, sweat, tears,not to mention cash that go into running an enterprise such as Brevity or any other NFP. Literary journals are becoming an endangered species these days so if it means spending a few bucks to keep one, (of my personal favorites), alive and functioning I’m in…do what you must to keep Brevity up, running, and monkey free.

  • bryan parys says:

    Being one of the countless new jobless MFAs, it is, at first, sad to think that one of my favorite places to submit will be charging a fee. However, given Brevity’s request that a writer may only submit twice a year, that’s an annual total of $6 per person, and that’s if one goes for both. I find more in my ripped, thrift shop couch in a year. Plus, an added bonus is that if comp students are still required to submit, then one of our beloved lit journals has that much more a chance of surviving, and these begrudging students are indeed having a positive effect on the writer’s planet that they’re so quickly trying to escape from. It breaks my New England-frugal soul to say it, but: I vote yes.

  • lynn doiron says:

    I’m for charging a nominal fee for submissions.

  • After my initial knee-jerk negative reaction–I edit an online journal, and we don’t charge–I changed my mind. The idea that this small fee–less than a cup of coffee–could add up so it’s used to pay contributors is a good one. I love that online litmags are free to readers. My students read online litmags, when they’d never pay a subscription fee and wait around for a print mag to get delivered. They discover new writers they love by doing a google search and stumbling on something that writer has published online. But there are still many writers who don’t like getting published online, and it’s partly because online venues rarely pay even a small honorarium. This kind of fee is a regrettable necessity, with far more benefits than drawbacks.

  • Jean R. says:

    I don’t see a problem with charging a small reading fee. As many other writers have posted, the online submission process eliminates the cost of paper, postage, and a trip to the PO, so paying a few dollars to submit electronically is not unreasonable. Glimmer Train charges a reading fee for their monthly contest categories, but they also provide a quarterly “Standard” submission window for which there is no reading fee. Brevity might consider starting out with a similar format. I understand the sentiment that writers don’t want to pay to have their work read, but I’ve come to accept this as part of the process. I subscribe to several print journals a year and rotate the subscriptions from year to year. That way I can see the type of writing that each journal supports and help to keep the journals in print. An online journal like Brevity does not get receive the financial support that subscription-based journals receive. I’d also like to say that I don’t see the literary journal publishing landscape as a “writer vs publisher” situation. I think the relationship is more symbiotic in nature, with the support and sustenance going both ways. I love Brevity and appreciate the journal’s presence and accessibility. Best to you, Dinty! (Goucher CNF Conference, Summer 2005)

    • bryan parys says:

      Ah–Jean R. makes a good point. Perhaps a ‘fee’ could be in place during the times where the ‘inappropriate’ submissions are the heaviest. So, maybe there would be no fee at the beginning of ‘semesters’ nor during the winter recess. This could be making things more complicated, I admit, but I do like the idea that serious writers would catch a break for at least one of their biannual submissions.

  • Chris Offutt says:

    Please don’t charge a submission fee.

    Writers shouldn’t have to pay people to read their work.

  • pat matsueda says:

    Your arguments are quite persuasive. I vote for charging people to submit.

  • allehall says:

    I not mind that you would charge a minimal sum, particularly for an electronic submission. I think that you should.

    I teach at Hugo House, focusing on what I call my “Get Published!” series. At each class, I ask students where they subscribe. Nobody subscribes anywhere. (Well, that’s not completely true. A few folks subscribe to People Magazine.( it appears that nobody wants to spend any money to read. Yet this same group of people want the magazines whom they would like to pay them to publish their work also to read it for free.More than that, they want feedback on their rejected work.

    Generally, this same cross-section considers reading fees for contests to be some sort of Communist plot; contests they subscribe to every year. This and the following irony appears to be lost on them: writers are able to write in direct proportion to their ability to observe and synthesize.

    The decentralization of publishing can only benefit writers, particularly literary writers of the sort who hope to publish in quality venues such as “Brevity.” We are charged nothing to research, submit, connect with other writers, you name it, all in the name of broadening our readership. I don’t wee why the millionaires who made their millions running literary magazines should have to shoulder the entire load.

    Alle C. Hall
    About Childhood
    http://allehall.wordpress.com/

  • David Prater says:

    I suggest contacting the Department Chairs/Academic Deans (via e-mail to save cost!)at the offending institutions protesting the misuse of your journal resources by instructors/professors who are being paid by the institutions to evaluate their student papers–

    I also would submit a formal proposal for charging the institution for these services should they wish to avail themselves of your resources in the future. Such a program will not only help to identify potential “hidden talent” in their classrooms but also offer an opportunity to reimburse your volunteer readers and selected writers a small stipend.

    I understand the concerns of many of the earlier submitted comments opposing a fee. Unfortunately, there are no entitlements in life and finding $5/annually for 2 submissions if there are no other solutions may be necessary. “Starving and struggling” is a fact of life for many of us who choose this life–BREVITY and other free literary journals are not “our entitlement”.

    A difficult choice, but BREVITY’s future survival as a viable, quality journal is more important than $5 to our writing community.

  • John Bresland says:

    I say give it a try, Dinty. It makes sense.

  • Seems like a reasonable solution to a crap problem.

  • I was just thinking about this—and whoa has this thread expanded since I was last here.

    Just start using Submishmash first. Then see if it is still a problem (all the submissions).

    The software is so easy to use and fast.

    Which you no doubt already know.

    Just typing to hear myself type.

  • Joyce Boatright says:

    Charge a fee if you want a revenue stream. It will not improve the submissions, but it may make you feel better about reading them in order to find the treasure in the trash pile.

  • J.T. Bushnell says:

    My answer is no. The amount of the fee is reasonable, but it seems unreasonable to penalize serious authors for the inadequacies of the hacks. An honorarium is nice, but because of submission volumes, I suspect there will be more good work turned down than rewarded. In these comments I’ve found very compelling reasoning on both sides of the argument, but I simply don’t submit places that charge a reading fee. Adding this fee makes Brevity a different type of venue than it is now.

  • Leslie McGrath says:

    I’ve not had the chance to read through the 100+ replies, but as the former managing editor of Drunken Boat, I think the time has come for online literary magazines to charge a fee ($2) for submissions. We had over 20 volunteer readers at DB when I left this spring, as well as editors, and still the volume of submissions was close to unmanageable. Many submitters failed to read or follow our guidelines in terms of word count, number of submissions, or where they submitted. A small fee might help keep submissions at a readable level and encourage submitters to follow the guidelines. Few people understand that there are costs associated with running an online magazine. Hence, appeals for contributions go unheeded. Using the collected funds to move toward nonprofit status, pay for your server, underwrite graphics design, and hell, even pay for a bottle of wine for a hardworking volunteer staff every few months is eminently reasonable.

    And yes, I gladly submit to places that have begun to institute a submission fee.

    Leslie McGrath

  • ce. says:

    I’ll admit, $3 seems a little much (probably not in a few years with inflation and upcharged postal rates), but I really think if you keep the sub fees pretty equivalent to what writers would be paying to sub through the post office, it’s no big deal. I have a huge issue with Narrative’s policy, but a nominal reading fee like $1-2, I see no reason to argue against.

    I see a lot of, “Boo hoo, it’s so hard to be a writer, and now you’re wanting to charge us sub fees?!” but hell, how hard is it to be an editor?

  • Sari Fordham says:

    I actually think this is a great idea. My first thought was a quick no. But I also value Brevity and I think this sounds like a decent solution.

  • Fritz says:

    I have no problem paying a few dollars to support a magazine by offsetting administrative costs. That’s completely fair (esp w/ print magazines since most submitters don’t subscribe anyway). I just don’t care for the argument orginally made here, that the fee is designed to filter out mostly undergrads. Isn’t that an editor and reader’s job, to filter submissions? Sure, your time is valuable, but to say that the rest of us need to pay because editors here are, quote, “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,’…” That’s the job description. I know. I’ve done it. No disrespect, but if that’s not how you like to spend your time, then find a new volunteer job. Editors here and elswehere get something out of this deal too: work experience and magazine content. Karen Craigo pointed that out earlier in the thread.

  • Tracy says:

    By all means, charge a nominal fee. On the occasional day when I feel truly unmotivated to write, I admit to spending $3.00 (or more!) on a fancy cup of coffee, hoping the high-priced caffeine will jolt me into the proper frame of mind. The pleasure I get from reading Brevity FAR surpasses the pleasure I get from that overpriced cup of java. Go for it.

    • Amy Holman says:

      This means Brevity should charge a fee for you to read their magazine, Tracy. That would be a direct result of paying for something and getting that something, such as paying for a cup of coffee and getting one. It is not an analogy for the cost of paying to submit somewhere and not being sure what you, the buyer, is getting.

      I agree that Brevity’s content is great, and I’d buy it on the newsstand. Again, a direct result.

  • Janíce says:

    Yes, by all means charge a nominal fee of $2-3. I’d pay it, and I feel good knowing the authors are paid (and me, if I were published in your wonderful magazine). I’d hate to see Brevity go by the wayside of other small publications.

  • The Writer’s Chronicle and other journals devoted to writing pedagogy (in both “comp” and “creative writing”) would be good places to address the ethics of these mass submission requirements. They show absolute lack of respect for journals like Brevity and make a mockery of the notion of standards. I suspect too that individual instructors who make such requirements are fishing for a credential: “My students have published in Brevity.”

    Has anyone stepped forward to defend the practice?

    • Barbara Baldwin says:

      Yes! That IS exactly what is happening,particularly in community colleges. Instructors can say:”My students are submitting,this week!”Not a laudable activity.

      This is a THIS IS TOO LATE post, because I’m writing it in Sept 2011…after deciding I will NOT
      pay just to have my piece considered!
      I submit to many many places, and cannot afford in this economy to PAY just to have some overworked,uninterested volunteer lay eyes on my lines.I wish Brevity good fortune…the
      people with money to burn can afford to do this.Good for them.
      I’m shocked. B.Ellen

  • Gina Betcher says:

    Yes!

    I have taught sections of freshman comp and I can see clearly the rolling eyes of the student who crafted the crux of the average cover letter. If I were to teach a section higher than I’ve been allowed (I have an MFA in fiction and a few story publications) and I added such a requirement, I’d add man hours to student work by involving them in a panel review session two rank two essays that should go forward and as the instructor I would gladly arrange the submission (I’d supply postage paid envelopes or something).

  • brevity says:

    A few clarifications:

    1) I agree with those who say my logic is flawed. At least, my logic in the original post. I should have focused _more_ on the fact that we could start paying writers and much less on the annoying freshmen comp assignments.

    2) I am not complaining about young college students. I am thrilled that they read, value, submit to the journal. I _am_ complaining about these “instructors” who put the assignment on the syllabus and then never discuss the submission guidelines/ etiquette with their students. And I can’t complain enough about the community college system that is essentially scamming its students with an online course that has assignments such as “submit to Brevity” but no real instruction.

    3) I have logged many personal man hours contacting the schools that have gone overboard with sending unprepared students, and the following semester, even more schools show up doing the same thing. Very disheartening.

    Thanks,

    Dinty

    • Amy Holman says:

      Dinty,
      It’s all disheartening, after awhile, and we must find ways to bring back that heart that fights for the good. When you read the submission guidelines in reference books you’ll laugh at some of them when you recognize a compatriot editor snarling at the potential submitter with what not to submit. And still, the wrong work is submitted. I still don’t think fees are the way; it is for me disheartening to have a magazine that wants to support writers by publishing their work to a broad readership to ask them to pay for it. Especially to pay a portion of what may be paid back. Even if other magazines are doing this does not make it a good trend. There must be a way to offer subscription content for a fee–something easy to manage like advice from the authors you publish on a particular subject, or answers to a few questions concerning their work–that would be a better solution. An extra to the main content.

  • Kathryn says:

    A submission fee (I’d charge $5-$10) will elevate the perceived quality of the journal to deter slop and invite excellence such that Brevity will exponentially become a literary masterpiece commensurate with the very fee it charges.

    • bryan parys says:

      While I agree with the nominal fee of $2-3, you’re suggesting that there is a connection between excellence and the willingness to spend money. There are all sorts of philosophical ideas on meritocracy that could speak to this fallacy (see de Botton’ ‘Status Anxiety’). Suffice it to say: you can have a full wallet and have no idea you’re writing slop, and you can be living on oyster crackers and writing brilliance.

  • Marian Conway says:

    I am a nonprofit professional. The 21st century is far beyond the stereotypical vision of a bunch of good hearted, altruistic people pitchin’ in and raisin’ that barn. Expertise is required. Time is required. Computers cost money. There are overhead expenses in every organization, even those staffed by volunteers. I think you should charge a couple of dollars to read submissions. As a nonprofit, or a nonprofit-want-to-be you have to make hard choices in order to demonstrate you can create a funding stream. So often public charities are afraid to charge fees for some of their services. Media, print or otherwise is in a state of flux now, changing and rearranging, we have to hold onto the quality that is Brevity. Someone has to pay for those costs. Dinty, I would rather you spent your time reading our work than trying to fundraise. Charge the fees.

  • Gina Betcher says:

    forgive my typos (oh my land).

  • T says:

    Why not charge undergrads who are submitting for an assignment since that seems to be what’s causing the time constraints for the editorial staff?

  • Andrea says:

    When you consider the cost of a Coke from a vending machine, this doesn’t seem like too much of a hardship.

  • Barbara says:

    While I’m not thrilled about the idea of having to pay for submissions, I agree that charging a minimal submission fee is appropriate for Brevity. I, too, have been poor enough that $1-2 made the difference between dinner or nothing, but given Brevity’s business model (readers pay nothing to access the magazine; online submitters pay no postage, printing or materials costs), a submission fee is not inappropriate. Better that than more ads or having to pay to read the magazine.

  • Laurie Lynn Drummond says:

    My initial reaction to your question about charging reading fees was no. After reading through all the responses here and thinking about this a great deal, I still say no.

    I say no, knowing how extremely small your staff is.

    I say no, understanding that you receive hundreds of submissions each month that are inappropriate for Brevity, that are poorly written, that have been submitted for a course requirement or extra credit.

    I say no, understanding that you haven’t posed this question lightly.

    I say no, even though I think $2.00 or $3.00 is, as others have pointed out, the equivalent cost of mailing off a submission to a print journal.

    Don’t charge a reading fee. Charge a subscription fee. I would gladly pay $10.00 a year to read Brevity. The work you publish and the time you put in creating a beautiful online journal that is committed to publishing new writers’ work along with established writers’ work is worth every penny.

    And with those pennies, you pay your writers.

  • Dinah Lenney says:

    Gee, Dinty, you’re good to ask — another indication of your devotion to your writers and readers –seems to me, submission fees will provide incentive/insurance for the rest of us to follow your example. And c’mon — three bucks — yes, of course, you must, you should.

  • Will says:

    I’d pay a modest sum to help cover costs if I thought I had a chance of being published.

    I’d be less encouraged to pay if I thought I were simply subsidising the publication of a somewhat closed shop of writers who only occasionally let in someone new.

    In general, I do not favour the idea of paid submissions. Too much gets shut out. Hold contests, find other means of raising funds.

    Reading submissions is what editors do. I am a book editor; at least Brevity’s submissions are ahem brief.

    And if the problem is that college instructors are piling your slush pile with rubbish, tell them to stop, and make this clear in your submission guidelines. Instructors tend to be fairly law-abiding. Perhaps they can get their students to create an anthology of their own writing instead?

    I’ve been an instructor too, and I always task my creative writing students on submitting work in order for them to engage with the realities of publishing and readerships. But that assignment includes 1. selecting a suitable piece, 2. revising that work until it’s publishable, 3. researching viable homes for the piece and 4. producing a rationale for that submission. Some of them even get published!

    • Will says:

      PS Oops, pressed Submit too soon. I don’t mean that Brevity seems like a closed shop. These are just my thoughts on paying for submissions in general.

  • The mags whose submission fees irritate me are those for whom fees are a primary source of income, basis of the business plan (think Narrative, which charges, what, $20? and the carrot is the possibility that your piece will appear alongside X-big-name writer, who did NOT pay a reading fee, i’d bet tons).

    I’d love to see you guys pay writers. Remember your first paycheck for a piece of writing? Didn’t matter how much or little it was, you immediately felt like a writer, right? Sure, charge us. And then pay a little bit. Pay those volunteers too. That all sounds fun.

    • Amy Holman says:

      Yes, I remember. $10 for a poem in The Hawaii Review. I took it up to the teller to deposit it instead of using the ATM.

  • Dear Dinty and all,

    The rule of thumb I was given some years back: Money should never flow away from authors. Authors should not pay, even though they might not get paid (and receive only a copy of the publication as payment).

    I understand what everyone else says about postage. I’m old enough to remember when there were no online magazines or journals, when I had no choice but to make trips to the post office (my exercise – which I sorely miss!) in the bitter cold or the humid heat in the hopes that something would get published.

    Charge only for special things, like contests. Other pubs. seem to get away with that.

    Money should never flow away from the author, I think.

  • Barbara Moe says:

    I see the need and think it’s okay.

  • Ann Smith says:

    If the vote comes down on the side of charging, despite the administrivia which would follow, please consider potential contributors outside the US and arrange for a way in which the payment could be made without slipping US dollar bills into an envelope. Paypal…

  • Alex says:

    I can not believe the professorial requirements you mentioned. Charge. Everyone else does.

    • Tricia says:

      Alex, you say everyone else does. Umm, not. I very small handful against zillions who don’t.

      • Nancy says:

        I agree. It puzzles me when I see people saying that everyone else charges. I submit regularly — to places like The Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast. They don’t charge and neither do most of the journals in that category. In fact, I’ve never paid a submission fee except for contests — it’s never come up. (As for Narrative, their fee is robbery, if you look at who they publish.) That said, I don’t read those other journals for free, whereas I do read Brevity for free. Which is why I think some kind of fee is reasonable — whether it’s a subscription fee or a small submission fee.

  • Paul Kellermann says:

    Writers who came of age prior to the email era understand the necessity of spending a few dollars to submit our work. To this day, I can’t break the habit of hording uncanceled stamps to use for submissions and return postage. I appreciate the convenience of electronic submissions and see no reason why publishers shouldn’t charge a nominal submission fee. Five dollars seems reasonable. If this nominal fee dissuades some from submitting work that’s inappropriate for Brevity, that’s a bonus.

  • Janelle Masters says:

    Dirty,

    I still remember the fabulous feeling I had when I got your e-mail reply to my first submission to Brevity, “Talking after Love”. I began to grow in my understanding of being a “writer”.

    I think culture needs to support culture. I would gladly pay a small submission fee for the purpose you give of establishing non-profit status and paying authors a small fee.

    I am not in favor of ads.
    Thanks for all you do.

  • Sarah Einstein says:

    This is thorny. Having read every reply posted before my own, and the original post, I have to say that this feels like the one and only situation in which charging for submissions feels like a reasonable solution. I understand everyone’s objections, but I feel confident that the folk at Brevity have considered all possible solutions and this is simply the only one that will accomplish the goal.

    It’s a regrettable step to have to take, but in light of the fact that people are REQUIRING first year students to submit to you (which is just unfathomable to me!), it seems like a necessary deterrent.

    I love the work of my first semester freshmen students. It’s full of beautiful stories about lives that are far more interesting than the writers themselves realize. But it is seldom written well enough to belong on the pages of Brevity; sometimes, it is not written well enough to get more than a C from this notoriously generous Freshman Comp instructor.

    Sarah, who will dig through the couch and find the two or three bucks the next time she has something worth sending along…

  • kate hopper says:

    Dinty, thanks for asking for our input. I totally support Brevity charging a small submission fee if this means the journal will be around for years to come and contributors will be paid an honorarium.

    I use Brevity pieces all the time in my teaching, and I wouldn’t be able to do this if my students had to pay a fee in order to access the material. I think it’s important to keep it free and accessible to readers. It makes much more sense to charge for submitting.

    Brevity is such a gem, and I’d hate to see it disappear. Charge us. It won’t stop me from submitting.

    Thanks for all your wonderful work!

    Kate

  • I think your proposal is more than fair. We need to support the magazines that may or may not publish us. I, for one, am with you on this proposal.

    Mary

  • Jeneva says:

    My first reaction was to be disheartened–I, too, am somewhat tired of the endless fees. But putting it in the context of postage makes sense. The only thing I don’t like so much about the way this has been presented is as a way to pay the authors. Not that that wouldn’t be a good thing–but it comes across a little Ponzi-scheme-esque. How about having a small fee, but also encouraging people to contribute to the journal, and, with a larger contribution, giving a code that allows free submissions for a certain period of time?

    Also, to those who knocked online as not as good as print–online submissions are up almost forever. You can post and forward links and get more readers for your work. How many people actually see anything published in the lit print journals? Not that many. You have to buy a copy, go to an academic library, or have someone mail you one–or be a subscriber. Eventually, your print publication exists only on a shelf in your personal library.

    • Tonya says:

      True– but it’s not reliant on electricity or the interwebs. It’s not “virtual” but “literal.” And sure, it’s up forever. Or at least until the zombies take over. Then, my work’s gone forever.

  • Wouldn’t it be easier to contact the instructors who are forcing their students to submit to Brevity and tell them to stop?

    I’ve never paid to submit my work and hopefully never will. On the other hand, if you could establish your nonprofit status and pay writers…

  • Erika D. says:

    It seems that pretty much everyone here is a fan of *Brevity*, as indeed I am. We all admire the dedicated work that makes it possible–work from the contributors *and* the staff. And we all realize that it was brave and generous to invite our input.

    Still…I’m a little surprised to see as much support for adding the fee as I’m seeing in these comments. And I’m very, very glad that Dinty posted his clarification, because the original idea of instituting this fee–even if it might go to starting to pay contributors–seemed at least slightly punitive: All of us who struggle over our writing and routinely read the journal (including its submission guidelines, which we take pains to follow), would be effectively penalized because of others’ bad behavior. (Those of us who have also worked diligently to properly school our own writing students in the submissions process might feel this even more acutely.)

    Like some others, I’m not at all convinced that “many” journals are charging submission fees outside of contests. Certainly, not many online journals are. *Narrative* is a big exception, but I don’t submit there outside the fee-free periods. As for the above-mentioned *Missouri Review* (a print journal I’ve subscribed to for years), I’ve submitted electronically there and happily paid the fee–for a 10,000+-word short story (not a 750-word essay) that would have easily cost me the submission fee in paper, toner, and postage (not to mention the time spent hiking over to the post office, which I still had the option to do–submitting electronically was a choice, not a requirement). Plus, had my story been accepted, I would have been paid $30/printed page. I think these nuances are worth keeping in mind.

    If (the) two main issues we’re really interested in focusing on are 1) paying writers and 2) reducing the pressures/workload of the staff, I’d ask a couple of questions.

    Why not advertising? And what about turning to the organizations currently promoted via image on the *Brevity* homepage (the Ohio University English department and Creative Nonfiction)? What are their relationships to *Brevity*? As an Ohio University professor, Dinty does, one hopes, receive some “credit” toward teaching/research/service requirements through his work on this journal (hopefully, a nice chunk of release time). Are there any other forms of support–financial or other–that can be provided? Is it really incumbent on submitters to subsidize the journal? And if so, is this going to be something we should anticipate at other quality online journals (I’m sure we all know more than a few)?

    Lots to think about….

    • Erika D. says:

      More than “a couple of” questions, I see now!😉

    • brevity says:

      Further clarification:

      Creative Nonfiction lets us piggyback on their web-hosting space. That saves us about $50-100 per year, and we are very very grateful. But there is no other financial connection.

      Ohio University does not give me release time. Lately (just these past two years) the department has granted a few hours a week of one graduate student’s time to help with reading.

      Out of pocket, I pay about $40 a year just to keep the domain name and other web-related wheels turning. I pay for any advertising or promotion (which has been minimal.) Plus, I “volunteer” about twenty hours per month to keep the enterprise moving along. That is my choice, of course. No one is forcing me to do it.

      I don’t envision the financial stream ever being near enough to compensate the editors, so for now, I’m only asking to 1) pay the writers, and 2) perhaps staunch the flow of entirely frivolous submissions.

      No one is imagining a profit here.

      This discussion is fascinating and helpful. Thanks to all.

      • Renee E. D'Aoust says:

        Dinty —

        I recognize that Brevity is not asking to pay volunteer editors, but I am somewhat surprised by the emphasis in these discussions on paying writers before paying the volunteers who keep Brevity running — or, at least, paying for all costs of this endeavor before paying editors, readers, or writers. My question: if editors and readers are all volunteer, why shouldn’t writers be all volunteer, too? I personally would prefer that readers and editors receive at least a few tasty treats before I receive a dime. With a yummy treat in the mouth, readers are often more receptive, yes? Or at least some transportation money. And at least, I would like to cover Brevity’s costs with submission fees. And, to repeat, I am willing to pay a submission fee. After reading these fascinating posts, I would like to suggest a five dollar fee instead of two or three. Thanks much, again, for asking our opinions.

      • Cal says:

        Yes, a fascinating discussion. A few quick points:

        1) I’m a bit worried that Brevity will be charging a fee to read one 750 word essay (and one not simultaneously submitted, if you are sticking to your traditional guidelines). The other magazines that charge a fee–The Missouri Review, Meridian, American Short Fiction, etc.–at least have a bigger word count.

        2) Between this & the Tin House buzz we’re on our way toward a *dangerous* trend in contemporary literary publishing. Brevity publishes emerging writers next to established authors, the latter of which, I assume, are sometimes the result of solicitations (would Sherman Alexie really pay to submit, as another commenter said…). Literary magazines have always been a rather closed economic system, but we’re really tightening the belt here.

        3) You’ve at least acknowledged that the tone of your initial post was a bit pejorative (or at least misspoken). Dinty, you are a well established and respected author–one who many younger writers of non-fiction likely look up to. Nobody needs to apologize for the strain of being an editor (or any other strains of life), but it does seem rather disingenuous to lump all creative writing instructors together. You likely know after the first paragraph if an essay is worth reading for consideration.

        4) Contrast this with the Crab Creek Review’s editor’s perspective on submissions:

        http://ofkells.blogspot.com/2010/07/request-what-are-your-pet-peeves-as.html

        A bit more welcoming, wouldn’t you say?

  • KKF says:

    Back when we mailed subs (last year?), that cost $2-3. So when online subs hit the scene with a charge, I didn’t mind because I was spending that anyway.

    Snail mail is more time consuming. Printing. Post Office. Envelopes. With online it’s much easier to click “send.” I imagine this increases the number of subs. A fee to offset the office work seems fair.

    One consideration: should Brevity charge less than The Missouri Review, given that the essays are shorter? With poems, I believe most places let you submit a few at the same time. When I pay TMR three bones I’m hoping they might take my 15-20 page story.

    • Amy Holman says:

      When you pay money to mail something through the U.S. Postal Service, the money goes to them. When you e-mail a submission to a magazine, ostensibly for free, often you are paying a fee to access the Internet. This makes sense. If a magazine decides to print the submissions of writers to read them, that’s a decision on the part of the editors. The work could be read onscreen. The cost of paper and ink, and the pollution caused by its use and demand is eliminated when writing is submitted and read electronically. The office is neater. There’s nothing to send back or recycle. If you charge a fee to read the really long stories at Missouri Review because it costs you in ink and paper, you are telling me that you are not adapting well to this new system of electronic submissions. Tell me instead that longer stories must be submitted by post because it’s easier on your eyes. If you have an online magazine that posts three page essays only, you should take the hit to your wallet–or change purse.

  • Susan Bono says:

    As a small press publisher myself, I sympathize. The dream is to grow in readership and reputation, but what happens when your system can no longer sustain growth? I’m not against charging a submission fee, esp. one this small. Let’s remember, starving artists often spend as much on a cup of coffee. However, I would hope that this would actually solve your problem. Becoming non-profit and paying your authors–GREAT! But will that dampen the flow sufficiently, or in the right way?

    There is a price for everything. No matter what you end up deciding, a major change is necessary. I’m sure the world will come to accept whatever course you take. Just know that it can’t be the same old Brevity. Good luck and do what needs to be done.

  • Tim Sullivan says:

    Yes, charge the fee, as long as you can keep it to a few bucks. The purposes for which you will use the money are worthwhile; and the motivation, i.e. to cut down frivolous, mass submissions, is entirely legit.

  • Fiasco says:

    I’d pay $3. That’s fair. Other mags charge this. Retribution, in the chance I’m published, would be nice.

  • I think a $2 or $3 reading fee is entirely justified, and compensates Brevity’s readers for their time (I’ve read for contests and for lit mags, and it’s a ton of work.) I don’t intend to present myself as elitist, and assume that Brevity doesn’t intend to be elitist, either, but writing is a profession. Let’s be professional. BTW, it’s kind of presumptuous for those professors to make that assignment without clearing it with any magazine first.

  • My instinct is in favor of a small charge, mainly to kill off the “submit to Brevity” assignments. Query – if you made a $2 charge, could you afford to pay some nominal sum, e.g. $5 or $10, for accepted stories?

  • Ben Winderman says:

    I respect the struggle this must be. I’d say try the fee – I don’t mind paying to submit (It’s only twice a year) – It makes me more certain that I must believe in my work. I’d be willing to pay $5.00 if it would deter nonsense submissions and allow the editors to focus on the original mission that this publication was founded upon.

    Thanks

  • Jerry Eckert says:

    Absolutely. But make it $10, not the 2-3 you mentioned.
    And can’t you find a way to appeal to the unthinking college profs who clot up your inbox? Put in your submission guidelines that you do not respond to material developed and submitted primarily as a course assignment, or some other careful wording.

  • Jane says:

    I am wrapping up a graduate-level prose writing course, and just two nights ago we were advised that money should never flow away from writers. I understand your dilemma. However, if this charge truly comes about because of college-required submissions, surely there must be a better way to nip this in the bud. There are higher ed trade magazines, listservs, etc. that may prove a good vehicle for the fine folks at Brevity to get the word out that this kind of activity is neither appreciated nor cost effective. (Do you know who the culprits are?) We’ve also been taught that 10% of prose is good, 90% is garbage. It seems to me you should be used to weeding out the bad from the good, so I guess I don’t understand why this comes as a surprise, especially to an online journal.

    Charging a fee seems like a knee-jerk reaction. If you explore other avenues of communicating your true concern to the parties involved and that fails, then I might be okay with it. Until then, it feels kind of cheap to me.

    • Jane says:

      ps–don’t reply to these sorts of email submissions. Judging from your examples in your bulletin, they don’t deserve a response, and I think you can simply delete them in good conscience.

    • Erika D. says:

      This is a *great* idea, Jane. I can already think of two bloggers (one for Inside Higher Ed and one for the Chronicle) who might be quite willing to take this on, either on their own or through an interview-type piece with Dinty. (And I haven’t even had my morning coffee yet!)

  • Marsha says:

    Yes, I absolutely support the idea of a $2-$3 submission fee if it can be managed online. I am baffled at the outrage over the idea when one considers the high caliber of both visual and textual content that is offered for FREE with each issue of Brevity. Are readers so naive to think that quality like this is produced out of thin air, with no expenses? As another poster aptly stated, culture supports culture. I say go for it.

  • Tim Gray says:

    Sure, go ahead and charge $3 per submission. You could have just implemented the fee with the brief explanation of the necessity. Writers would understand, and given the popularity of Brevity, you could still continue to include the best submissions you find. And it might satisfy your need for some kind of boundary against the undeserving.

    The troubling thing is that there is something ungracious about the extended reason. A veiled complaint of being too popular. Sounds a little defensive. Every publication outlet receives inappropriate submissions, and just because Brevity tries for a specific kind of high quality doesn’t exempt it from this phenomenon.

    Enjoy the popularity and that so many people are interested. Today’s “my professor made me do this” could be tomorrow’s Eggers. Longshot but you never know.

  • I’m with the gut responses of I don’t want to pay to have my work read, ESPECIALLY if the publication involves no payment.

    This was fascinating to read.

  • erin says:

    usually i would be a little put off with the idea of charging, but i think two-three dollars is incredibly reasonable. you’ve got my approval.

  • I think that $2 to $3 is a reasonable amount to charge.

  • Rebekah says:

    Please charge me. Although I generally have no money, I would gladly give up my bus fair if I felt that my piece was worth sharing.

    It deeply concerns me that some creative writing programs think submitting work is a 101 kind of topic.

  • Dianne says:

    I see contests charge for submission and either someone pays it and enters…or. they. don’t.

    I am not a professional writer (yet), but I don’t think $2 or $3, even $5 would be too much to pay to submit to a quality on-line magazine like Brevity.

    I do think it is wrong for college professors to require their students to submit and I think that these professors should be addressed by Brevity. Perhaps colleges should pay an automatic yearly fee to Brevity equal to the estimated amount of fee-per-student each college required to submit. Better yet, require these professors to volunteer at Brevity for two weeks and I think the problem would soon resolve itself.

    I took a Personal Essay on-line writing course earlier this year and our instructor gave us all the Brevity website and encouraged us all to read the essays only as something to aspire to.

    I was (and still am) delighted by the essays and if, one day, I learn to write a concise essay with a clear message, I will gladly pay a fee to submit it to Brevity.

  • Rachelle says:

    If you know the colleges and/or professors that are adding submission to Brevity as a syllabus assignment, why don’t you just contact them and explain why they need to remove it? The few times I see publications that charge a reading fee, I usually assume they are not legitimate.

    As for people saying that sending a paper submission adds up to about $3 anyway, they are missing the fact that many magazines are already accepting e-mailed queries and/or manuscripts. Some of them prefer e-mail instead of paper. So really, we can often submit for almost free, besides the general cost of Internet connection and electricity to run the computer, I guess.

    I don’t mind paying a fee when I can see it’s going into a nice prize pool in a contest or when it also buys me a subscription to the journal. But I don’t think I would pay $3 for you to read my submission. I would simply take it elsewhere.

  • Arnold Perrin says:

    A submission that begins “My submission sucks, but my professor…” requires no more time wasted in reading it. Just delete.

    The only justification for a submission charge is in a contest where there is a chance of winning some prize money

  • Jill Kandel says:

    You have an audience that wants to read and promote Brevity! So make the most of it.Instead of charging your followers, how about a once a year student submission special. Requirement would be to read and follow submission guidelines. Imagine that! Make it teacher friendly with sample cover letter etc. You might limit the number of submissions per teacher/class. Let the class vote on and chose their best to submit. It could be a winning combination.

  • Bill Gurnon says:

    Sure, it was nice not having to pay a fee but, I don’t see $2 or $3 as a huge obstacle. Think of it as the price of a coffee whilst your working on your next submission.
    Cheers!

    • Nancy says:

      And yet the submissions really add up. It’s not about $2 or $3, but multiples of that. It is difficult even for the best works to find a home. I was at a writers conference a couple of years ago where a speaker — a fiction writer whose novel had just made a big splash — advised the attendees to submit to 40 – 45 places simultaneously. The alternative is to wait months for each response while years go by. EACH piece must go through this process until the writer is quite well established. (She herself was still doing this, after having learned the hard way by submitting a short story to one or two journals at a time only to hit the jackpot on her 46th submission.) That’s what it takes in this saturated market. I have accepted the fact that I rarely get paid for my work; I’ve been grateful just to be published. I’m not sure, after reading and thinking about these posts, and despite what I’ve said earlier, that I’ll be able to make the leap to paying someone to look at my work. Because if Brevity jumps on this fee-to-read bandwagon (if it is yet a bandwagon), other journals are likely to follow.

  • Sarah Einstein says:

    Dinty,

    This is a little random, but you mentioned establishing Brevity’s nonprofit status. Are you looking to make Brevity a free-standing nonprofit, or to fold it into OU’s nonprofity goodness? (I’m sure you’ve had lots of offers, but if you’re going the independent 501(c)3 route, I’d be happy to help. Kind of old hat at that.)

    peace!

    S

  • Fran says:

    This sounds so much like what corporate america does. There is a problem, but instead of going to the source, EVERYONE has to pay for the mistake. My advice seems like common sense; go or write to the school(s) and let them know what is going on… they probably have no idea. Also, talking to the head of the colleges will help them understand and adjust accordinging. No one wants to see people go out of business but if they can see what they have done, without permission, and the pain it is causing, they will likely take it off the “requirement” list. Please take all the comments with you!

  • Loren Rhoads says:

    I don’t understand why Brevity is considering penalizing all writers for the sins of some teachers. How do those teachers track whether their students submitted to Brevity? If they require an acceptance or rejection note, wouldn’t it be simpler, cheaper, and save the slush readers’ time to simply not acknowledge work that isn’t appropriate? Delete it and move on.

    Like other writers above, I balk at the submission fee. I only consider submission fees if there is a possibility of payment greater than the fee, or if I receive a subscription to a magazine I would subscribe to anyway. If Brevity is planning to publish a bound copy of the year’s best or something, I could conscience a fee which would go toward that.

    Otherwise, my $3 simply goes for Brevity’s slush readers’ convenience.

  • RONALD K. BURKE, Ph.D. says:

    Go ahead and charge It’s okay with me. This is just another example of the far-readching affect of the financial mess created by the unamusing “perps.”

  • Larry Motschenbacher says:

    As a brand new Brevity reader, I would enjoy having having an annual “Best of Brevity” paperback, as the perfect book of quick reads to carry for those ‘in-between and just waiting’ moments.

    I assume your authors should be more than agreeable to havinging their works included in a such publication. And I would be more than agreeable to buy such a book. And all of us would know the profits would go to support the on-line Brevity in a most non-profit manner?

    I have no idea what that might cost or how many others are out here who would be as interested as I in such a book. However I feel sure that you and your authors might have these answers.

    Note: if this already exists, please just post a link for getting a copy.

  • Kristy says:

    I haven’t read all the above replies, so might be repeating. But it seems that the main problem here is inappropriate submissions, which could be handled, I think, by contacting the professors who are requiring these submissions of their students. Even something as simple as an email directing them to this site would hopefully admonish these professors for using a literary magazine as a teaching tool (which, as evidenced by the attitude of the students, is clearly not working anyways). While the professors might have the best of intentions here in encouraging students to publish, they need to take responsibility for the repercussions of their actions and realize it is having adverse effects. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could charge the professor a reading cover fee, per student?🙂
    This leads me to think that charging a fee ends up punishing those who did not cause the problem.

  • Gwendolyn Scott says:

    Paying for submissions is like paying for an agent. I don’t want to pay and then not be published. I paid for one submission, and I didn’t submit again.

    Gwen

  • My advice is not to charge fees. Yes, you have some nuisance submissions. Maybe rethink reading periods. First, 99% of writers cannot make a decent living at their craft without a primary (or more) jobs. Charging fees makes writing more and more of a game for those with means. What about the poor (& talented)? Charging a fee on all to pay a few (who get published) is not ethical. What about the famous writer who submits work without paying a fee? Unfair. If reading unsolicited work is a chore, then close off all unsolicited work, or it’s time to close up shop.

  • Nancy Geyer says:

    I don’t know if this has happened to anyone else but my position on this has reversed in the last 24 hours. This is from reading the comments and letting it all marinate. To require a fee would be to set up a ponzi scheme — I don’t see any way out of this short of having a free submission period too. Personally I’d rather see Brevity charge $5 for a yearly subscription. Who knows — that may bring in more money than reading fees. For those of us who submit to Brevity, we may well be spending the same amount of money either way. But there is a huge difference in perception. I would not feel conflicted paying a low fee for a subscription to an online journal whereas each time I paid a reading fee (if I were willing) I’d question the rightness of it.

  • justine says:

    I get it: it’s just a couple bucks. And ultimately, I will do whatever you tell me.

    How about a dollar?
    “I’d buy that for a dollar.”

    Hey, the delights of my own writing profession have awarded me with my finally qualifying for something–food stamps.

    I’m really broke. It feels so hopeless to do this as it is and it only gets worse. Etcetera, etcetera. Buzzkill and so forth. In other words, can’t I just pay a dollar? Compromise?

  • jane says:

    I think a more transparent way to generate funds would be to host an online fundraiser. I’d donate some bucks; judging from the responses, I think others would, too. If you used PayPal, I’d definitely be down with financially supporting one of my favorite online magazines, not only as a writer, but as a reader.

  • Jennifer Lunden says:

    Um, I think I can get behind paying a $2 submission fee online, but it would be helpful to write a good explanation (like the one above) that writers can read to understand why the fee. Whenever I am asked to pay a fee, I am a little put out, a little offended. But this explanation helps. Also, the first time I had to pay a fee for an online submission, I did realize that I had to pay a “fee” for mailed submissions, as well, in postage, paper, envelopes and ink. So there you have it.

  • Have the school’s been notified that this is problematic for the magazine? And are these student submissions the only reason for the fee? Or are you trying to weed out a larger base of “inappropriate submissions”?

  • Charlotte Jones says:

    Dear Dinty Moore,

    Thank you for letting your readers and writers weigh in on the issue of whether you should charge for submissions. I do not have an MFA, but an MBA, so I’d like to comment on your business issues.
    1. I think charging for submissions is the first step in sliding down the slippery slope of becoming a vanity press, or being perceived as one. People are used to paying for the arts they enjoy whether it be the ballet, a book, or play, so why not consider a modest subscription fee? And I’m a firm believer in people being paid for their work. As writers, we are giving it away more and more and we only hurt ourselves by doing so. Imagine if dancers had to pay to perform and the public got to see them for free? This doesn’t make sense. It would be wonderful if Brevity could reach the financial goals of paying its writers – both readers and writers would benefit. For those who say they used to spend $2-$3 on postage, so there is no difference in paying a reading fee, I say they are completely forgetting the value of their time invested in writing a story. The “cost” to submit a story is much greater.

    2. Brevity is going to become a 501-3c, so why not make pleas to both readers AND writers for tax-deductible donations? Writers should not have to carry the load alone. I’d feel a lot better about donating to keep an excellent magazine in business, than I would about paying a reading fee which strikes me as essentially the same as buying a lottery ticket – “maybe I’ll get lucky and “win” publication.” I donate regularly to Duotrope’s to keep their content “free.” I’d be happy to make a donation to Brevity. My bet is on average, you’d take in more through a donation concept than with a $3 reading fee. It’s in the best interest of both readers and writers to help keep your wonderful magazine in business.

    3. As for your slush pile, I have a few suggestions. If someone can’t write a professional-sounding cover letter, I would assume his/her story wasn’t worth even a scan, so I’d hit delete and move on. You could consider changing your submission calendar to read only when schools aren’t in session, for example, “Brevity only accepts submissions in December and June,” thus thwarting the class requirement to submit to you. And I, for one, would be happy to volunteer my time on occasion as a slush-pile reader so your staff is not so buried under. I’ll bet some other people on this blog might be willing to lend a helping hand, too.

    Hope this helps. Thanks again for letting us comment.

  • Tim Elhajj says:

    When I was in rehab in the Bronx, I had a friend who had AIDS. He was slender, blonde and bald. Because he was an artist and dying, his treatment job was to paint a mural in the auditorium where we all gathered. He would hide crazy wonderful things in his paintings, like a Medusa head where all the snakes were penises, or he’d wait until everyone was seated, and then say in falsetto, “Has anyone seen my kneepads?” One Saturday afternoon he took me into Manhattan to see an exhibit at the Met. I balked at the cost: Ten dollars! Nobody has money in rehab. But he insisted. Said it would be good for our souls and offered to treat. When we got to the ticket window, he slid a single worn one dollar bill under the glass and said, “Two please.”

    The miracle of the suggested donation! I’ve got the same policy others have mentioned about paying to get someone to read my writing, but I probably wouldn’t mind making a donation. Of course, this won’t address the class assignment problem. Howard Junker, editor of Zyzzyva, recently wrote about a similar problem on the Zyzzyva blog. He even posted the response he got from the guilty teacher who had made the class assignment. The teacher had no idea her assignment would be viewed negatively. She seems to have done it because she thought so highly of the magazine in the first place. She also makes a credible argument for why the experience might have benefited her students. Of course, we don’t know why the teachers making the Brevity assignments are behaving this way because they haven’t weighed in yet. But I’m guessing there’s no animosity toward the staff at Brevity. Perhaps this very discussion might even dissuade future assignments?

  • I worry that charging a reading fee (in addition to the other detractors listed) will not actually solve the problem you’re having. Perhaps there’s some other technological solution that would help you to sort through the slush. (I’m imagining a fantasy-wiki-sort of system where submitters themselves help you separate the wheat from the chaff). Maybe there are better warnings you can give on your submission page that will alert writers to the criteria. At any rate, I applaud you opening the discussion to your readers before making such a drastic change.

  • Christin says:

    Yes. But please accept cheques from US accounts to keep it simple… And accept mail

  • Molly Gaudry says:

    How about instead of charging a reading fee for an online submission you just adopt the old-school policy of only accepting snail-mail submissions? Isn’t it more effort to print, stuff, stamp, and mail than it is to click a “Pay Now” button?

  • jm says:

    wow. weird. that bordlines on harrassment! I think the appropriate response would be to ask the offending colleges to take you off their syllabi. you will change the character of your publication if you start charging. plus the accounting, paypal, etc. not even sure it’s worth it. if they persist, publish the college & instructor’s email, and we can swamp them with an endless parade of pranks and placebos.

  • David Huddle says:

    I’m in favor of charging the fee. We’re seeing literary journals and university presses threatened and going under. Literary publishing is generally under assault and suffering diminishment everywhere. I want to see Brevity thrive!

  • Lauren says:

    Just wanted to clarify something from my comment on the article page, after reading so many ‘reactions’ to instructor-encouragement: I have never required anyone submit to Brevity or any other publication when their work was not worthy. I only encourage my students to read online (and print) journals as frequently as possible to stay on top of what is current in the literary world. The idea of submitting is appropriate for some of them who need a bit of motivation to take their work to the next level. Sometimes impending grades do little to push from better to best; you can’t get much better than an ‘A’, but publication is quite exciting to any of us, let alone an undergrad. I do think it’s important for students to be part of that world and to be paying attention to it, rather than merely reading from anthologies and dead people! I believe a fee is reasonable (does not mean I didn’t frown when i first saw it mentioned!) if it will help the longevity of the publication. I do agree with those who have said it will keep good writing out. It’s true. In the days that I had only a sad pickle or two floating in a jar in an empty fridge, I was definitely not submitting anywhere with a fee. But I also believe in fair wages/operation budgets etc., and as a grossly-underpaid adjunct instructor, I understand needing to institute a fee. It will be what it will be, Brevity, but thanks for asking, and good luck with the reactions…

  • ALMA says:

    I believe it to be one of the best bargains in publishing, and I think those professors should be assigned to write an essay on why they think it is of value to require students to submit to a particular publication, are they instructors whose on work was rejected so hope to get a gleeful revenge by spamming Brevity with their student submissions, which the students are clearly not taking seriously. Too bad Brevity couldn’t just charge a lump fee to the professors for the students, I’m thinking $500 might help instructors decide how valuable. As it is, instructors, or any writer not willing to ante up a couple bucks, both instructors and writers are saying their time and resources are worth more than the fine volunteers of Brevity, whom we should ALL be grateful do volunteer their time. As previous commenter note, the email submission already saves on postage, paper, ink (and manufacturers think A LOT $$$ of their cartridges I’m sure everyone has noticed). Plus, factor in paper jams, collating, reprints, and the transportation costs of getting to the post office (gas, subway/bus fares, cab fare). Go for the fee Brevity! It is nominal, as you say, $3 is affordable for someone who is serious about their writing. It’s less than a latte. Wishing you luck with the transition and thank each volunteer for commitment to keeping literary possiblities alive and kickin.

    • Amy Holman says:

      I want to acknowledge something big Dinty has done with Brevity. By starting Brevity and asking for mini and micro essays with a more visual expression of experience, instead of opinion, he has tested a new sub-genre of creative or literary nonfiction. The writers seriously submitting and the writers published with Brevity have established this sub-genre. That’s a marvelous contribution.

      Yes, I’m still critical of charging a submission fee. I can’t seem to get the right restraint to write that concise essay but the essays published in Brevity continue to inspire my writing in other ways. I re-iterate that I’d be happy to contribute money for a subscription, or even a reader donation.

  • Vicki Hudson says:

    Absolutely no. So, because community college instructors are inappropriately directing students to submit, you want to discipline everyone by charging a fee for submissions? Why don’t you put into your submission guidelines that Brevity submission is not appropriate as a class requirement. Send a letter of complaint to the department head of the infringing schools. Issue a policy that no forced submissions will be accepted regardless of quality of the work. Send a bill to the offending schools’ English departments for the outsourcing of evaluation of student work by their instructors.

    But make everyone else pay now to submit work, no.

  • catie james says:

    While I hate to see fee-charging occur, I agree with all preceding comments citing the no-cost convenience of e-mail submission. If a $1 – $2 fee weeds out those who aren’t serious about contributing and helps BREVITY overall, I’m willing to pay the price.

  • Dawn. says:

    No. Charging a submission fee, no matter what amount, will not solve the problems you’re dealing with. Charging a submission fee, no matter what amount, will discourage writers who are working-class/poor from submitting.

    Before you say, “but it’s only $3,” think about how many working class/poor individuals don’t even have bank accounts. 25.6% of Americans either have no bank account at all, or they have “non-traditional” bank accounts, aka they rely on payday lenders, “check-cashers,” and pawn shops. That’s almost 30 million people. The most common reason? Lack of funds. I am one of those people (a “non-traditional”) and I am a writer. (one of the several articles online/in print that has discussed this issue: http://firefinance.blogspot.com/2009/12/cash-check-without-bank-account.html)

    I also find a certain trend that comes along with these “submission fees?” discussions insulting: the assumption that online submission are easy. “Just the click of a mouse!” It smacks of “these kids today, no respect!” What a presumptuous refrain. I was born in 1987, so I never experienced the print-only submission era, but I know damn well that submitting to a literary journal isn’t easy. I spend ample time reading the journal, taking care to review their submission guidelines several times, editing my piece as best I can, and if cover letters are required, fashioning a brief and appropriate cover letter. Any writer who doesn’t do that isn’t serious. Period. Personally, my heart starts pounding seconds before I hit “submit,” and only speeds up after I press the button. For me, submitting is both an emotionally exhausting and exhilarating process that takes multiple hours. It’s not just a “click of the mouse,” thank you very much.

    I am constantly in awe of all the hours of work editors put in. I am not trying to exalt the writer’s work above the editor’s. I am just saying that submission fees will not solve any of your problems. They will cause more. In a perfect world, we would all get paid and we would all have fabulous apartments/townhomes/country estates.

    • Dawn. says:

      P.S. Several people in this massive thread have made valuable suggestions that could help Brevity generate revenue without imposing mandatory submission fees. I’m all about alternatives.🙂

    • Tricia says:

      I agree, Dawn. And your description of the time, research, and emotions involved are so spot on that I can’t help but know you’ll do quite well in the writing/publishing arena.

    • Tonya says:

      Ah, but so many of your MFA types are middle class people who don’t understand true poverty. Nor do they want to. They go, “Oh, two bucks! That’s nothing!” Little do they realize that for a frugal family that two bucks is a meal. Nor do they care that others can’t afford it.

      I know. I went to an MFA program and dealt with the privileged folks who had a dentist dad and doctor mom who paid all their bills while I went 80K into debt for degree I probably won’t be able to use.

      Yes, I’m bitter. Not least of all because I had to work at what were essentially sweat shop wages while borrowing 20K a year to get a degree and now journals are looking to have me pay to submit with no thought to the hardship it puts on the truly poor.

  • Brainiac #1 says:

    I still believe my answer is the smartest answer of all the above comments. I’d tell you it, but you’ll to pay me $2 or $3 first.

  • Johnnienoname says:

    Let’s for a second look at this from the contributor’s POV.

    Sure, one $3 dollar fee is not too much. But suppose every journal took to this practice. From my own experience submitting literary fiction, I can say that, as an MFA-less nobody, it has taken me anywhere from six to sixty-eight submissions to place each published story. So, looking at the dollar amounts, on the low side $18 for a publication isn’t too bad, I suppose — if you believe there is no inherent immorality in charging writers to print their work ( which, I, by the way, don’t) — but then on the high side we’ve got, let’s see now, $204. And that’s just for one story. Most of us have many stories circulating at any one time.

    I can’t speak for others, but at these rates I cannot afford to be a writer. Sure from the POV of the journal it makes a bit of sense. But from the POV of a struggling writer who, if this practice is widely adapted and accepted, will soon have to pay out monstrous amounts per publication, publications for which, I might add, there is generally little to no pay, this is beyond crazy.

    Taking into account the whole picture — not just that of a single frustrated editor –fee-charging is very selfish on the part of the journals.

  • Dinty,

    I love the idea of charging for submissions, and I think it’s an obvious and easy way to keep out people who are completely unserious without imposing an undue burden on most potential contributors. A $1 reading fee (or two or three dollar fee) is easy to pay.

    On a related note, check out what happened in DC when the city started taxing plastic bags at the grocery stores. http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2010/03/bag-elasticity/

    Yglesias calls this concept “the psychological power of zero”; in this instance, giving people a reason to weed out their own submissions seems like a fine idea, particularly if the reading fee is quite low.

  • martin says:

    I think a small reading fee is perfectly right and appropriate. Anyone who works for themselves has to invest in their tools and whatever else they might need to accomplish the goals of their profession. Why should writers be any different? Steinbeck sold his geese because he had a singular drive to write. He chose his vision over other needs, even very real and demanding ones.

    How wonderful that all artists be celebrated and our world built to elevate the greatest writers with a guarantee that personal hardship need not be a concern. The same thinkers, builders, sailors and candlestick makers. For anyone, pursuing any dream of worth to the collective. But this is not the case.

    We have to pay our way. We can write for free. We can blog for free. With time, commitment and hard work we can generate audience for free. We can even publish ourselves on paper, print on demand, for free. Presumably, by not following these routes, by using publications like Brevity, there is something else to be gained, a different opportunity: getting the right audience to eventually create opportunities for being paid, perhaps? In that case, one has to invest. Or remain an amateur, an unpaid, undiscovered genius. It is a choice.

    • Johnnienoname says:

      Sure, we should pay for our tools, our pens, paper, little notebooks, recording devices, computers, printers, internet access, paper, etc. That’s fair. Those are tools. Publication is not a tool.

      As far as the example of builders, sailors, candlestick makers goes, no other tradesman, to my knowledge, pays money to get into the game. For example, builders don’t have to pay fees to bid on jobs. The blueprints — which are quite expensive by the way — are given freely. That’s just a cost of doing business that the architect and ultimately the final customer must eat.

      As far as this being an opportunity, while that may be true, I would bet that very few writers, if any, ever make any kind of meaningful income from their writing in journals — few get discovered, and fewer still build a market willing to pay for their work in any sustainable way. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s rare.

      If personal hardship should be no concern on the part of writers, why then should it be removed when it comes to publishers. It seems we already have a very top down hierarchal system, where the writers must submit to the will of the editors and agents and publishers, if changes are to be made to my mind they should go in the direction of the writer — labor not management.

  • martin says:

    Johnnie

    When I say tools with reference to submission/reading fees, I suppose I mean marketing. The point I was trying to make was that any freelance work is about more than just being given work, opportunities, a place in the market. You have to invest. ‘Getting into the game’ will include costs other than capital, like marketing, association membership, tendering fees. Isn’t submitting to Brevity a marketing strategy? Otherwise, as I said before, you could just write a blog.

    I agree few writers, no matter how gifted, make any money. The same is probably true of most small publishers. And there is labour in publishing as well as writing.

    What I’m trying to say is, it is a symbiotic relationship – or was. Self publishing is a viable option now, free, easy and perfectly respectable. If you want to involve a publisher, you have to ask why. And then, once you’ve come to a good reason for that, ask if it’s worth paying for. Every publisher, every publication, every fee is different. A small reading fee for Brevity seems reasonable to me.

    • poetry2go says:

      Martin,

      You pay for your trade within reason. Johnnienoname is right that publishing is not one unless, as you point out, it is self-publishing. A good lesson is in learning how to write for free on blogs and how to write for pay at magazines.

      The ease of low cost web publication means editors can post the work of risky writers and new genres. Income is unencumbered by costly print expenses when selling a product, such as a magazine issue or subscription.

      Writers should make livings off their work. Easy web access can hinder that when an author is unpaid and the work is always available. Payment in copies of the issue or online archiving may have gone too far, but the fees to read work represents bad business. Instead, focus on marketing and publicity (free) and promotion (paid advertising), and make income from sales, backers, and grants. The wrong submissions will always come, editors will tire, and neither should interfere with responsibility to pay for good material.

      We should as a writing community invest more in each other, advocate for fairness, and buy the magazines and books that are produced. We will learn more about editorial interests, we will be supportive of our peers, and we will be inspired by the imaginations and craft of others. That’s where our money can be well spent for our trade.

      We must balance the paying and non-paying jobs to make a living and expand our community. Nonfiction writers have had it easy because the large magazines will buy their articles, interviews and essays. Why do they now accept being pushed to the fringe like poets and story writers?

      I’m not laying this all on the feet of Dinty, whose magazine will probably get some donations in the coming weeks, instead just trying to drag some writers out of the fringe and into the fray for the good fight and the good living.

  • […] Brevity is the soul of wit; and now they might charge for it. […]

  • Helen Pizzey says:

    Hi, just a quick view from me and sorry I haven’t been able to read through all the comments on the subject.

    I’m from England and have absolutely no problem with the idea of a nominal fee. Your reasoning sounds highly, well, reasonable, and I most certainly recognise both the fiscal and administrative costs incurred by the vast amounts of submissions necessarily welcomed and received.

    However, since a major source of the difficulty seems to lie with some inrresponsible colleges, in effect, abusing the system, I would have thought a stern word in THEIR ear might also not go amiss. They are setting their students up for disaster if they teach them to show such disregard for both their own work and that of the editors of the publications they are exhorting them to use as “experience”.

    The levying of a fee will make sure that the writer at least esteems his/her work highly enough to be considered to be “worth it”!

    Best regards,

    Helen Pizzey
    Dorset, England

  • beth says:

    Fascinating discussion. Thanks, Dinty, for opening this up. At qarrtsiluni, Dave and I put in so much time we’ve lost track of it. Our guests editors (3 of 4 issues per year) also give a great deal of time. At Brevity, the idea of paying authors is a bit more conceivable than it is for us, because we publish so many authors with each (3-month-long) theme. I doubt we’ll ever be able to pay our authors, or compensate ourselves, but we made the choice to run an annual contest (with a reading fee) and to sell print editions. Our goal is breaking even, and being able to offer honoraria to the contest judge, copies of the journal to editors and cover artists, and of the chapbook to all who submit manuscripts. And the last thing we want to do is spend even more of our time filing tax forms and applying for a shrinking pool of grants. It’s crucial for us to maintain enough positive energy to be able to respond personally to those who submit and – yes – even make personal comments about the work when appropriate.

    Having been involved with non-profit arts organizations for 30+ years, on both sides of the artist/arts administration fence, as well as being a self-employed designer, I’ve observed that most people simply don’t understand either the time or financial realities required to keep these institutions running, and this always creates tension.

    It’s been heartening to read comments here that show a lot of empathy for both sides. As the realities of publishing undergo radical change, both writers and publishers need to maintain flexibility and try to believe in the good will that’s at the core of what we do together. Nobody knows how it’s going to shake out, but in poetry especially, it’s up to us to keep talking and trying various models that keep putting good work in front of readers, and that continue to encourage both the writers who are creating for little or nothing, and the people who are doing the love-labor of journal publication.

  • Henry says:

    I have published twenty or so pieces in the last three years but I have also received 91 consecutive rejection slips over the last six months (does this never end?). Do I really want to pay, say, three dollars per submission, $270.00 or more total to be eventually accepted into a lit mag that nobody will read anyway? Hmm…Food for thought…

  • […] I read this and then I read this, and then as we know there is the Tin House thing and Brevity isconsidering a reading fee to help fund honorariums and, perhaps, dissuade inappropriate submissions, which is […]

  • Johnnienoname says:

    Martin,

    “You have to invest. ‘Getting into the game’ will include costs other than capital, like marketing, association membership, tendering fees. Isn’t submitting to Brevity a marketing strategy?”

    You are probably right about this. But I don’t want to be marketing. If I wanted to be marketing I would have gotten into marketing or something similar. I want to write. But it appears that that is no longer enough. It seems to me that writers should be writing, and agents and publishers and mags should be doing the marketing, after all they are running the business end of this enterprise. No? What, exactly, are they there for at this point? (If not careful, they will go the way of the record companies.)

    Writing is hard enough.

    A this point, I don’t expect to make any money from my fiction. I just don’t want to have to pay to have it printed, or to get people to read it. Because of this emphasis on marketing, I, like many others, will likely do a quiet fade away.

    Oh, and I don’t see reading fees as being much different than vanity publishing, either way it is paying to be published.

  • Brent Winter says:

    I say yes to the nominal reading fee. Make it easily and securely payable online via credit card or PayPal or what have you, and go ahead and make it $3 instead of $2 to stave off the inevitable inflation-driven increase that will have to happen eventually. The endeavor of writing for publication has always required access to resources, and it always will. Here’s a relevant quote from poet and songwriter Patti Smith, in the July 2005 issue of The Sun: “Artists who whine because they need a grant and the government doesn’t help them–well, tough shit. I had the same problem. I worked in a bookstore for seven years to make money to buy art supplies. And that was fine. I don’t think artists should ever expect anything from anybody. For the artist, sacrifice and hardship are a part of the process.”

  • Tory says:

    Nancy’s comment about the fairness of the policy as a subsidy is a really interesting consideration that hadn’t occurred to me. But I recently had a piece accepted and I don’t have an MFA, I have a Master’s in Public Health. I’ve never been published in a literary journal. So the proposed policy might represent a subsidy but not one whose structure is de facto discriminatory based on a writer’s credentials. It clearly discriminates against anyone without $3 and you might think about allowing requests for fee exemption. But I suspect that among would-be submitters it’s not about coming up with a few dollars it’s about deciding to use it for this particular purpose. Dinty hopes that the fee would reduce the number of inappropriate submissions, and a lot of people here are arguing that in any case it might reduce the number of good ones. Why not define indicators of success in these terms, then institute the policy on a trial basis? You can always change it back…

  • Tara Lindis says:

    Having taught college writing classes and reading those essays, I feel for you. Yes, charge three dollars for a submission or three dollars for a year’s worth of submissions and take some percentage of that to the bar for the drinks you earned reading those dreadful essays and cover letters.
    I agree with David above about writing letters to the college departments as well. Those professors should be ashamed of themselves and those students should be submitting instead to the literary magazine sponsored by their universities (which most colleges -even community colleges- and universities have) as that’s what those journals are there for.
    And yes, the life of a writer is difficult and not financially rewarding and yes, it’s a profession that is getting harder, not easier. There’s not much to do about it but to get on with it.
    I love Brevity, and am grateful I get to read it for free, and if someday Brevity accepted my work – even if I had to pay three dollars for the privilege – I’d dance on my rooftop. You guys are a quality journal and a benchmark on any writer’s vita.

  • Lené says:

    Thank you for offering your rationale related to submission fees. It changed the way I initially perceived the idea. I trust you will do what is best for your journal, which is ultimately best for the writers you publish.

    Appreciating the difficulty of your circumstance and the effort you have put forth to consider our thoughts,
    Lené

  • All comments to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s inappropriate to expect Brevity staff to sift through valid and invalid responses alike in order to bring to us the kind of pithy writing we’ve grown to expect. If it should take $10.00 per submission (hyperbole)to keep the nuts from deluging your site with trash, do it.

  • Beth Blevins says:

    Yes, absolutely, you should charge writers to submit to your magazine if you’re a nonprofit organization. In fact, I realized I should have charged writers to submit to my “a very small magazine” after it was nearly over and said so in the last issue of the magazine (see http://sites.google.com/site/averysmallmag/ ). Towards the end I was getting too much inappropriate, bad and/or gross writing and it was taking all my energy to just stuff submissions back into their envelopes. But instead of charging a submission fee, I would have presented it as “buy a subscription to submit.” Perhaps you could present it as a donation or a subscription, as well–though with an online magazine that’s now entirely free, I’m not sure how you’d do it…

    • Amy Holman says:

      Paying for publication in subscription or reading fee form would make it a club publication, at best, or a subsidy/vanity press publication, at worst. When I edited A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers for Poets & Writers, that kind of publication credit would not have been acceptable for listing. That book was very helpful to a lot of people who paid writers to give readings and teach workshops. They relied on the screen the Directory offered to find writers publishing legitimately. The landscape is changing–folding under the sea?–but thhe best advice has always been to pay the writers you wish to publish, not to expect them to pay you. Get a backer to pay you–a grant, sales from publications. Subscriptions and donations should be optional.

      • Beth Blevins says:

        Perhaps I should have been more specific. I wanted people to actually read the magazine before submitting and the only way I thought I could have gotten them to do it would have been to require a subscription and/or to pay for a sample copy. All listings for the magazine said that we sought satire or short, quirky/fun writing and we often got long prose pieces about incest, depression, etc. I also wanted to discourage submissions because we were getting far too many and I was the only person reading them–this while I worked almost full-time, had a young kid, and wanted to do some writing myself. (It was astonishing how many writers would pay 2-3 dollars in postage to send their submissions to me, along with a SASE, but not spring for a $1 sample issue; the $1 would have been more wisely invested). The other answer to this, of course, would have been not to accept unsolicited submissions. Not sure if Brevity should consider this route though…

  • Nan says:

    Charging a small fee sounds like a good solution, and the amount you’re proposing is quite reasonable.

    • christinelsteele says:

      I disagree with those saying that charging a small fee will discourage good writing from coming in.

      Writers who are serious about their work and seeing it in a journal (online or print) that they respect will not be put off by a nominal reading fee, whether or not they receive pay or “copies.” Brevity is not a “vanity” press, and those reading it and those submitting know (or should know) that their $2 buck reading fee is no guarantee that they are getting published. Also, unlike what Tonya said, Brevity is not a blog. It is like a museum exhibit that is curated. I look forward to reading each new Brevity because I know that every single piece has been carefully chosen and is going to be incredibly well written and pack a punch like no other. I have discovered some great writing in Brevity. I might even call it haunting. (Kyle Minor’s “Suspended” comes to mind.)

      If Tonya or others have a problem paying a fee to submit to something that is in her words “is the same format as a blog” then don’t submit. You see, the thing with blogs is anyone can have one and it costs nothing to publish your own work on one. So you always have that option.

      And while it sounds like Dinty has already addressed the issue of inappropriate submissions with the source – those schools and writing instructors who obviously aren’t doing their jobs enough in telling their students to do their homework before submitting anything anywhere – and that has not helped improve the situation, then perhaps the small reading fee will discourage those half-assed submissions.

      I have submitted one or two carefully chosen pieces to Brevity (none published – yet) and a small reading fee would not prevent me from doing so in the future. And I am by definition a poor, working writer (journalist) with many unpaid student loans – MFA and undergrad. I don’t submit often, and I don’t like to pay a fee, but when I have something that I think is the right fit for a publication and the fee is reasonable, I will polish it until it shines and gladly pay that fee in hopes of winning that contest or honorarium or just seeing my piece published in a quality publication. Don’t confuse “reading fee” with “vanity press.”

      I’ve heard it said over and over again, “It’s better to publish well than frequently.”

      I would rather have a piece published in Brevity than some unknown rag of a lesser quality.

      And I think having a small window of time with no reading fee – perhaps the month of August – will still give those completely unable to pay the fee an opportunity to submit for free.

      • Amy Holman says:

        Christine,

        By this reasoning, you should also want to pay a fee when you submit any of your writing to every newspaper and magazine editor, right? It should never discourage you to pay. People here are not confusing reading fees with vanity press, rather reminding Dinty that the vanity press charges the writer to be published rather than pay him/her. We have noticed that reading fees have become prevalent in publishing with regard to contests, and we don’t want it to pervade general submission. Everyone who has argued against the fees likes reading Brevity. Paying to read this quality is fine, paying to supply this quality is not.

  • […] the litmag world lately: Mississippi Review‘s future is unclear. Brevity considers charging a submission fee. And The Paris Review has begun “unaccepting” some poems.==========My friend Deonne […]

  • Allen Smith says:

    I am quite happy to pay US$2.00. The only problem is how does one do this from the Republic of Ireland? Is it possible to do this by electronic banking systems?

  • paul morris says:

    Three thoughts. The first is about the cost of submitting work to literary magazines. When I was a young man, I attached stamps to envelopes in order to mail each submission and to help receive my ms. back with a rejection note. The cost of stamps, envelopes and photocopying was simply part of the cost of doing business. Paying Brevity two or three dollar would become part of doing business.

    My second comment is about inappropriate submissions. Anyone who has read for a lit mag will find the oddest things in the submission pile. I’ve seen church hymns, hand-scribbled diary entries, grocery lists and limericks–all inappropriate for the literary focus of the magazine. Will charging a submission fee stop inappropriate submissions? No, but it will reduce it.

    My final note is that Brevity can do whatever they want. Those who don’t want to submit (because of the fee) should follow that impulse.

  • Chris Battle says:

    Yes, charge. As a former editor, I know the challenge you face. It’s tough enough to work through serious submissions. The only thing I would urge is that if you do this, make it easy to pay online. One of the ways many journals attempt to cut down on submissions to force contributors to print out their pieces, put them in SASEs and send it off … and maybe you hear back in six to twelve months and maybe you don’t. The cost isn’t the problem; it’s navigating a process that belongs in the Nineties.

  • […] to create hybrid models to keep themselves afloat. I followed an interesting conversation at Brevity last summer about the notion of charging authors to submit work; Ploughshares charges […]

  • Just to follow-up: As of January 2012, we are paying all of our writers $45 per published essay.

    • Davina says:

      Good that you now do. I draw the line at paying a fee to submit to a mag (online or not) that won’t pay me if my work gets accepted.

      Two points though:

      1. Writer is willing to pay for the chance to be considered for publication in a good quality mag like yours. Payment system is powered by a near-monopoly that refuses payment from writer’s country for no fault of hers. So, consider adding alternative payment systems other than the present one you use.

      2. Writers are paying to be read by editors here. Why are readers not paying to read the work editors curate from the writers who paid to be read in the first place? Why are they still reading good stuff free here? If we go with the museum analogy someone used up there, don’t most museums charge a nominal admittance fee? Think about it.

      Finally, a question. Don’t know if you’ve already answered this, but I’m curious: what has been the impact of introducing a submission fee on your submissions flow — more work or less in general? And what about the inappropriates, what has changed? Really just curious — no gotcha agenda.

  • Marcia says:

    I make my living as a writer and editor. This isn’t a hobby or a school project for me. Whether it’s $3 or $30, I am insulted by a request that I pay to have my work considered. Literary magazines can justify it however they like, but it is akin to asking a job applicant to pay for sending his resume to you.

    So the two problems for literary magazines are too many submissions and not enough readers. Charging for submissions may not solve the first problem. (In fact, it could make it worse. Missouri Review saw an increase in submissions once they started charging for them.) And it does nothing to address the second and more important problem. Low readership is the problem I want to see literary magazines addressing instead of making writers feel guilty for wanting to have their work read.

    It is not a simple switch from paying the post office and the stationery store to paying you. Electronic submissions save the writer and the literary magazine time and money. They are more efficient on both ends. Sadly, all a reading fee may accomplish is establishing a pay-for-play precedent.

  • Marianna Berthelots says:

    A propos, en matière d’académicien, ll semblerait que le brillant libraire Monsieur Collard, qui tient la librairie Griffe Noire, envisage de postuler pour devenir à l’Académie .. Je trouve que ça offrirait un 2nd élan à l’institution, foi de Saint Maurien. Non?

  • Susan Kirk says:

    I don’t have a real issue with paying the fee. I just did. I am concerned though about what seems to be an insidious metamorphosis within the writing/publishing industry. There seems to be less paying markets and more writers. More books being written about writing because there is no money in ‘being’ a writer? More publishers trying to make a living off of the generosity of writers who are also avid readers. They pay to read via subscriptions and sometimes receive very litte or no payment for writing. More writers becoming teachers to show people how to write and become successful financially, which is not always a reality. In short is everyone trying to get rich at the expense of the hard graft of the writer?

  • sarahlearichards says:

    Reblogged this on Nobody Doesn't Like Sarah Lea.

  • […] Should Brevity Charge for Submissions? – Brevity, July 2010 – “…The reason is simple: inappropriate submissions.” […]

  • […] When Brevity started charging a submission fee, they explained their rationale behind it in a detailed post. […]

  • […] ANOTHER one that charges three dollars to submit. It’s not the money – it’s the […]

  • […] charges a small reading fee for every submission. Their rationale for doing this is laid out here. To my mind, this seems like a solid explanation. Time was when reading fees were anathema to […]

  • rpharris says:

    Another restricted club. Another clique. Another pocket picked. Your name is mud.

  • […] further context on this discussion, take a look at the thoughts of Brevity’s editorship here or The Missouri Review’s here and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Should Brevity Charge for Submissions? at BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

meta

%d bloggers like this: