|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #69|
That was our reaction when reading fees first appeared.
For those unfamiliar with the practice, submission (aka "reading") fees are monies paid by contributors for publication consideration. They differ from contest entrance fees in that publication, not prizes, are the central purpose. Indeed, folding in a subscription with an entry fee is a laudable way to increase circulation. As for submission fees, if nothing else, they prove that Nobody Reads Poetry [without being paid to do so]. Would anything be sillier than a glossy like "Readers Digest" or "Golf World" charging its writers instead of paying them? Actually, yes, there would be: comparing thriving genres like fiction, general nonfiction or sports reporting to poetry.
1. For the individual contributor the cost is inconsequential. Thanks to the Internet, "a $3 reading fee is less [or little more] than it would cost" for stationery and postage. Does this token payment not serve the practical purpose of limiting the number of frivolous submissions?
2. Printing and mailing is costly, requiring that such venues be "externally funded". If their subscribers are writers rather than strictly readers (tanr), isn't it less like a commercial endeavor and more like a pot luck gathering or friendly poker game where everyone is asked to ante up? A backer is putting up more than 50% of the total cost, the Greens are doing all of the "grunt work", and these "contributors" balk at ponying up a measly $3?
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #45|
4. No one objects to entry fees, but the only significant difference between a contest and a magazine is that a contest must declare a winner (even if it's the best of a bad lot) whereas, in theory, if a magazine doesn't get enough quality submissions it doesn't have to publish anything. In light of what is being put out today, though, this is a distinction without a difference.
5. One final thought: We are talking about chopping down forests in order to print magazines for a population dominated by tree-huggers (not all of whom are squirrels). Think about that for a moment.
Coming Soon: "Love is a Weakness", Chapter 1
¹ - As you may know, we here at "Commercial Poetry" have a different mandate, medium and approach to aesthetics and education but when it comes to promotion there is no one we admire more than the Greens, Tim and Meghan.
² - For example, have a cash prize for whoever makes the best video using a poem in, say, the Summer 2016 edition. "No purchase necessary!"