In Praise of Submission Fees

February 2, 2018 § 10 Comments


zz Nik book fest high resBy Nicole Walker

There is among controversies, a controversy that can divide liberal from progressive, intelligentsia from academic, diversity embracers from intersectionality champions. It is the great issue of of Submission fees, especially via Submittable. And I am here to claim my stake on the wrong side of this story because I just spent three hours sending three submissions to three different journals. First, I googled the magazines and saw, to my distress, that they wanted me to send them via mail. But instead of saying no no no no no, I said, OK. I have half an hour before I pick Max up. I can do this. So I looked at the guidelines. I had to back into the document because some of the journals needed page numbers on the upper right hand corner and some wanted my address and my email and some wanted blind and that was just three so I said, OK, no more than three. I fixed the documents. I pushed print. I went upstairs to my printer. Forty-eight pages of different documents covered the carpet. Thank god the submission guidelines had called for page numbers. I collected the pages into their constituent essay and put a staple into each of them. And then I thought, I should check the pages to make sure I have them all. So I checked the number of pages and their order and page 12 was missing on one and page 5 was between 9 and 10 so I unstapled and went back upstairs to find page 12. I found page 12. Resorted. Restapled. Then I remembered, I have to write cover letters. So I went back to the websites to find the addresses and opened some cover letters I wrote in 2015 the last time I tried this experiment. Then, I printed each cover letter and went upstairs to get the cover letters. I came back downstairs and remembered I needed Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes and where do I keep envelopes? Upstairs. I addressed those envelopes and then looked around for some big envelopes for the big essays and cover letters and SASE’s but couldn’t find any so I said, that’ll do and I went pick Max up from school to take him to a haircut and while we waited our turn we went into the crappiest Family Dollar that ever existed and wandered and wandered until I found 6 big envelopes for, guess how much, one dollar. Max got Cheetos (Flaming hot. I tried not to look) that cost $1.50. Then we went to the car to address the envelopes and stuff the envelopes. I put one cover letter in the wrong envelope so I had to unstick it and pull out the wrong cover letter and restuff that one and restick the other one and also use the little claspy thing for safety. Then we went in to get Max’s haircut which took an hour because Great Clips is apparently the new Aveda and the woman cut each of Max’s hairs one at a time so we were late to get Zoe and she had been waiting in the cold and was frozen and I felt bad but we still had to go to the post office. Max and Zoe waited in the car and I just walked in right after some guy with nine envelopes headed straight for the self service machine, and even if you are expert with the machine you have to answer 19 questions for each envelope to certify no you are not a terrorist and I waited and waited and kept checking the nice-people-will-serve-you-but-you-might-die-waiting line and realized I was going to die either way and the woman inside did not care nearly as much about what I was mailing as the machine did and she said that will be $4.03 cents and now it was almost five o’clock and traffic was bad and I had to call everyone who was driving a jerk which my kids hate because it just makes me look like the jerk but I am here to say please, poetry gods, please allow me to pay you $3.00 a submission for the rest of my life from the comfort of my chair and with the click of two buttons.
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Nicole Walker is the author of two forthcoming books, Sustainability: A Love Story and A Survival Guide for Life in the Ruins. Her previous books include Where the Tiny Things Are, EggMicrograms, Quench Your Thirst with Salt, and This Noisy Egg (only every third book has the word “egg” in its title)She also edited Bending Genre with Margot Singer. She’s nonfiction editor at Diagram and Associate Professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona where it rains like the Pacific Northwest, but only in July.

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§ 10 Responses to In Praise of Submission Fees

  • Lisa Roney says:

    Thank you so much for saying this. No matter how much hate mail you get about it, my love is big enough to outweigh it all.

  • Lisa Romeo says:

    I don’t love fees, but I look at them as part of marketing expenses, and a way to support the literary journal world I want to continue to exist. I also remember when the only choice was postal mail submissions, and the costs associated with that: you pay one way or another!

  • Yes. That’s it.

    My cover letter is stashed and easily updated or revised. I have my printer; large, business #10, and #9 envelopes; and computer all in the same room. I keep stamps by the front door. I visit the post office daily in a nearby town because there is no USPS delivery to my small community and everything must come to a P.O.Box and I know the employees well enough to joke with. There is never a line of more than one person ahead of me at theist office. I’ve sent many (dozens? hundreds?) hard-copy submissions.

    I prefer to pay the three dollars.

  • Good lord, bless you. I’ve been personally financially supporting a lit mag for a few years now, and I am not sure how much longer we can keep going without some revenue stream. I do not want to go the advertising route, so here I am.

    $3 seems reasonable to me. We had about 80 submissions in one recent period, and that would have covered one year of the Submittable platform, plus a nice sandwich.

    Thank you for the encouragement to revisit this issue. You make a compelling case.

  • I have zero problem supporting a journal through submissions fees. However, I recently paid a fee close to $30…submitted the wrong dox. asked for a resubmit and was declined( bad lit citizenship) then quickly rejected. The other two journals who got he same dox. were happy to accept a resubmit ( good lit citizenship) and both accepted my piece. Those journals had a three dollars submission fee.I also think it’s good literary citizenship to donate to your favorite journal once a year without being solicited.

  • equipsblog says:

    Funny and entertaining. I did not know where you were going with this when I first read it. You do have my sympathies.

  • […] I didn’t say in that response is more complex, and I think nicely described by In Praise of Submission Fees by Nicole Walker. Nichole’s op-ed appeared in Brevity magazine’s blog on February 2, […]

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