East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A new magazine, and a dead end


They tell me I am weird.
A new magazine is being launched in my country.
They seek stories (no genre specified, but that’s all right), up to 15.000 characters – which is more or less 3000 words.
And I am always looking for new markets, so… why not?
They are willing to read our stories, they say, but they don’t mention any payment. So I ask what rate they are paying.
The answer arrives pretty fast…

We do not have funds to pay for the stories.

But they will sell the magazine.
Of course the money will go to cover printing expenses.
There’s no mention of a digital version, but they do talk about “friendly bookstores” – meaning they’ll handle the distribution through personal contacts.

But apparently that’s all right because “they are just beginning.”

taking-the-pain-out-of-payThey tell me I’m weird.
But I still can’t figure out while I should give my story for free so that someone else will be able to sell it. I can’t figure out why anyone should do it.
But, apparently, I’m weird.

There are two problems, here.
Three, if you are one of those weirdos that hope to pay their bills by writing.

The first problem is that if you start giving away your stuff for free, nobody will ever pay you. Why should they?
And of course it’s perfectly all right to donate stories to charity projects or other friendly initiatives – but give your story free for somebody else to sell it and keep the profit? Why?

The second problem is, a publisher that asks you to work for free has no respect for your work, and will do nothing to improve, expose, divulge and sell your work.
Why should they?
Why spend money on the editing of a story that came for free?
Why invest on an illustration?
Why publicize it?
They can just take it and throw it on the street and see if it walks.
Should the story sell, every cent of it is a return.
Should it be a disaster, who cares? It didn’t cost a cent.

But, hey, I’m weird.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

6 thoughts on “A new magazine, and a dead end

  1. What a bunch of MotherF%&#*rs!!

    You know, it’s one thing if you’re not writing for a living, and maybe this is a chance to get something published, or if it’s a fanzine of some sort and you know they’re not going to be stuffing their pockets with cash. Otherwise, the only thing that’s weird is that they think everybody who writes for a living (or to supplement their income) is really that stupid.


    • The line between amateurs and pros is getting blurred these days – on one hand anybody can go to Amazon and publish, and let the readers decide.
      On the other, here in my country, paying the writer is something that is happening less and less. It’s the “amateurization” of a whole field.


  2. When you come right down to it, professionalism — hard work and experience and seeking professional editors who will criticise your work, battling your way through the old fashioned slush piles — is one of the main things that makes good writing. Talent, sure, but a good honest hack, like Shakespeare or John D. MacDonald, can set out to entertain without ceasing to do it in his own voice. Rats and hyenas who want your work for free, though, are not likely to care about its quality too much! They may not even be able to recognize quality or its lack! I’m with Davide.


    • The problem is, as quality no longer is of importance to the publishers (because they get the stuff for free, so it’s OK anyway), the public is fed low-quality or no-quality drivel, and they lose their ability to perceive quality.


  3. The main difference between self-publishing and selling through an established medium (as I see it) is that you get more exposure/advertising. That way you have a better chance of developing name recognition. Trying to promote yourself, as I’m sure you can attest, is not easy. While the internet, with FB, Blogs, forums (oops, I’m showing my age with that one) gives you a chance for developing some level of name recognition, it’s still an uphill battle.

    Getting a story into a magazine, print or online, or into book of short stories from a known publisher is just a better push for a writer.


    • I agree completely.
      Publishers build recognition – but again, I want a publisher or a magazine that’s known for its quality standards, not for its anything goes attitude.
      Payment once again becomes a critical factor.
      And yes, self-promotion is hard 😥
      But here we go…


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