It seems that Larry has issues. This time his issue is with my the idea of writers paying to submit to Issue #0 of NextRead Magazine.

He’s highlighted two of the terms and conditions:

  • You need to have pre-bought the magazine in order to submit a short story (the magazine will be sent to submission email on launch).
  • Submissions will be the authors own work. No collaborations.
  • The short story have not appeared elsewhere, even in a modified form.
  • Electronic only in .doc, docx, .rtf or .txt formats
  • Word limit is  5000 or less
  • Short Stories that do not meet the theme will not be considered
  • Unless genuine error no refunds will be made.
  • Multiple submissions are allowed but each submission will require a pre-purchase of NextRead Magazine
  • By submitting you are giving NextSomething via NextRead.co.uk exclusive online use until 1st September 2010. After that date all rights except continual use in issue in which the story appeared revert back to the author.

It’s there in the About bit:

NextRead Magazine is a themed bi-monthly short story magazine contributed to by its readers. Each magazine with contain  six to eight short stories on a given theme. It’s an electronic magazine published and supplied in both PDF & ebook (epub) formats.

I’ll say it again: NextRead Magazine is a themed bi-monthly short story magazine contributed to by its readers.

Larry feels that asking anyone interesting in submitting to also buy the magazine in which they appear is flawed. That ‘the submissions page makes me wonder why any “true” writers (yes, this is a potential landmine, but I’m sticking with this phrasing) would want to submit to a magazine that has the [requirements listed above].

Let’s deal with this one first:

  • Multiple submissions are allowed but each submission will require a pre-purchase of NextRead Magazine

It now reads:

  • Multiple submissions are allowed but for easy admin they have to submitted at the same time on the same online form. Sorry.

I’ve swapped it because I couldn’t see that many people wanting to submit multiple themed stories and had only set up the submission form for a single file – I was uncomfortable with the idea of multiple payments but the simple solution didn’t hit me until after Larry’s post this morning. So the form now allows multiple uploads. Simple.

What I’ve spent the day thinking about off and on is whether to change the premise from contributed to by its readers to something else.

Seeing as Larry and others like Adam and Joe who have left comments here and here I thought I’d give some idea of my thinking and money does come into it but it is at the bottom of the list.

I have writerly ambitions and have been writing on and off for 13 years and in my little fantasy of being a published writer I know which agents list I’d like to be on, which editor I’d like to be edited by, which publisher I want to appear in and which publicist I want to promote me.

Actually that’s a lie I’d be happy to published by more than one of the above but not at any cost. Is it arrogance or naivety on my part to be selective about where I’d like to see my work appear?

Probably both but I’d have reached my goal if that happened and I’d be over the moon.

Now lets look at magazine and small publishers. Both have pride in what they do and do it for the love and not for the money. If I wanted money I’d go into selling p0rn.

What I want is a magazine to be proud of and I want to attract writers that want to appear in my magazine. I want writers who enjoy short stories for themselves and would happily read a great selection of them. So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?

I’m not really interested in writers that are out to make NextRead Magazine market sale #64 and see it as a another sale on their list.

I want contributions who have thought about the theme and put time and effort into making the best story they can especially for it rather than pulling something off the shelf that might do and why not send it cause there is an open submission and it’s not going to cost me anything is it? And it doesn’t matter if it’s not really what they’ve asked for does it?

So yes I am saying if you think NextRead Magazine is worth appearing in then you it’s also worth buying. I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions and I know it’s going to put people off.

But as I said I’m doing this for people that want to read excellence in short fiction and in exchange for looking at a submission a writer should be more than happy to buy a copy to read when it’s done.

The payment for the is a form of ownership and taking pride in where you want your work to appear rather than a form of vanity press.

I will ultimately be choosing the stories that appear but I’m got lots of offers to help and I’m going to rope in a few people to read a short list of submissions before deciding what to include as I want to make sure that they are the best selection I can make.

I did think about making it a free magazine and not paying anything for submissions as it would have no external funding but I’d like those that appear to receive some sort of reimbursement and acknowledgement of their work even if it is a token.

I could spend my time chasing advertising and sponsorship but I have no idea of how many readers it might get and how much would be reasonable to suggest as rates.

I could fund it myself for the start and recoup everything from sales, which I was going to do, but it goes back to wanting to have submissions that have been thought about and as I said asking writers to commit to the publication is my preferred solution.

Let’s get to the M word.  Money. Yes asking for payment with submissions is going to be in money. I’m thinking that it might attract 50  submissions. So that’s £75 pure profit because I’m a one man band and as it’s my project I shouldn’t make money from desperate writers. Wrong.

That’s £75 toward my ideal £20 per writer that I want to pay the readers.The money I want to give the proof reader, the illustrator and those that help me edit.  The money for fees from paypal, e-junkie, yourmailinglistprovider and hopefully I’ll have some money left over so that I can pay more to writers next time and spend money on more promotion.

I guess I am spreading the risks and limiting my outlays. As people have said to me you’ll loose money.

As I feel right now I’m going to give this up as a bad idea cause the pride I’d have in seeing 6 new stories in the world for people to enjoy is outweighed by the hassle I seem to be getting.

I’m open to any comments on the above.

28 Thoughts on “Magazine: Challenges, Changes and Feedback Needed

  1. Anonymous on March 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm said:

    my two cents.
    When I looked at expanding the short fiction on Un:Bound from the occasional short story I could blag off writers or the occasional holiday story I could talk friends into donating, someone very wise, who has edited anthologies and such professionally, pointed out that if you don’t pay something you cannot maintain any kind of quality in the submissions.
    The nextread model is a form of profit sharing. There is a small fee to receive the magazine, this means that the handful of stories selected can receive a token payment. If it becomes popular then the payments will increase in line (I assume) eventually, when it is a selling wildly, hitting a professional payment rate.
    Semi pro and pro writers will understand this. People who are submitting to mags and starting out will submit to showcase their work. Some better known authors may submit to support the mag, the token payment more than covering the cost of submitting. The idea of a magazine where the readers submit is novel and I like it, but that means you have to commit to the reading side too.
    This all seems entirely reasonable to me. I am unsure why anyone takes issue with this or feels unclear about it. If you aren’t interest in being part of it, don’t be, if you are, for less than a starbucks coffee you get the magazine, if you are one of the lucky submissions, you also get a little cash and you get published.

  2. Anonymous on March 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm said:

    my two cents.
    When I looked at expanding the short fiction on Un:Bound from the occasional short story I could blag off writers or the occasional holiday story I could talk friends into donating, someone very wise, who has edited anthologies and such professionally, pointed out that if you don’t pay something you cannot maintain any kind of quality in the submissions.
    The nextread model is a form of profit sharing. There is a small fee to receive the magazine, this means that the handful of stories selected can receive a token payment. If it becomes popular then the payments will increase in line (I assume) eventually, when it is a selling wildly, hitting a professional payment rate.
    Semi pro and pro writers will understand this. People who are submitting to mags and starting out will submit to showcase their work. Some better known authors may submit to support the mag, the token payment more than covering the cost of submitting. The idea of a magazine where the readers submit is novel and I like it, but that means you have to commit to the reading side too.
    This all seems entirely reasonable to me. I am unsure why anyone takes issue with this or feels unclear about it. If you aren’t interest in being part of it, don’t be, if you are, for less than a starbucks coffee you get the magazine, if you are one of the lucky submissions, you also get a little cash and you get published.

  3. I commented on your earlier post today so I’m not going to repeat what I said there.

    For me it’s pretty simple. Follow Yog’s Law. Money flows toward the writer, not away from them. Follow it, and everyone is happy. Breach it, and people won’t like it.

    So if a writer submits a story and pays the £1.50 fee to submit, this doesn’t gaurantee publication? So it’s not even pay-for-print/vanity, it’s actually a little worse than that, it’s pay-for-consideration?

    I think you’re looking at it backwards. You want to pay writers for their stories – excellent. But £20 per writer is a hell of a lot. Make it £5 or something. You want to pay for editing, proofing, etc? That’s your choice, but the funds from this should come from sales of the successful issue, not from the vanity fee you’re charging the writers. If the magazine is good, people will buy it. If people buy it, you’ll get your money.

    In fact, look at it just in terms of scale:

    Each magazine has 6-8 stories. Let’s average it to 7. At £1.50 per submission, you get £10.50. That’s not counting payments for all submissions, including the ones that were not accepted. Actually I think you need to clarify this point pretty quickly!

    So you’ve made £10.50 from the contributors. Say you sell ten copies of the first issue. That gets you £15.

    But if the magazine takes off, you might sell 300 copies, netting £450. From your seven contributors, you’ve still only made £10.50. The difference is so great that the contribution fee is pretty meaningless.

    Going back to the submission fee, if you were considering a charge of £1.50 for every single submission, accepted or not, then I think you’re in pretty dangerous water. Say you hit that 300 sales mark. Because the magazine is popular, if you are (at that point) receiving say 100 story submissions, and charging for all 100, that’s a large sum of money. If you thought the reaction was bad now, just wait until that day comes.

    Personally I think a short fiction magazine as you describe (electronic, £1.50 per download, themed stories) is great, but you’ve got to rethink the submission fee. At the moment you’re looking at it as a contributor supporting the magazine. It’s not really. You’re just charging them a fee. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just” £1.50 for this, or the £8,000 a big vanity press charges for a “publishing package”.

  4. I commented on your earlier post today so I’m not going to repeat what I said there.

    For me it’s pretty simple. Follow Yog’s Law. Money flows toward the writer, not away from them. Follow it, and everyone is happy. Breach it, and people won’t like it.

    So if a writer submits a story and pays the £1.50 fee to submit, this doesn’t gaurantee publication? So it’s not even pay-for-print/vanity, it’s actually a little worse than that, it’s pay-for-consideration?

    I think you’re looking at it backwards. You want to pay writers for their stories – excellent. But £20 per writer is a hell of a lot. Make it £5 or something. You want to pay for editing, proofing, etc? That’s your choice, but the funds from this should come from sales of the successful issue, not from the vanity fee you’re charging the writers. If the magazine is good, people will buy it. If people buy it, you’ll get your money.

    In fact, look at it just in terms of scale:

    Each magazine has 6-8 stories. Let’s average it to 7. At £1.50 per submission, you get £10.50. That’s not counting payments for all submissions, including the ones that were not accepted. Actually I think you need to clarify this point pretty quickly!

    So you’ve made £10.50 from the contributors. Say you sell ten copies of the first issue. That gets you £15.

    But if the magazine takes off, you might sell 300 copies, netting £450. From your seven contributors, you’ve still only made £10.50. The difference is so great that the contribution fee is pretty meaningless.

    Going back to the submission fee, if you were considering a charge of £1.50 for every single submission, accepted or not, then I think you’re in pretty dangerous water. Say you hit that 300 sales mark. Because the magazine is popular, if you are (at that point) receiving say 100 story submissions, and charging for all 100, that’s a large sum of money. If you thought the reaction was bad now, just wait until that day comes.

    Personally I think a short fiction magazine as you describe (electronic, £1.50 per download, themed stories) is great, but you’ve got to rethink the submission fee. At the moment you’re looking at it as a contributor supporting the magazine. It’s not really. You’re just charging them a fee. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just” £1.50 for this, or the £8,000 a big vanity press charges for a “publishing package”.

  5. *Wades in and probably sounds harsher than he means to be*

    “Is it arrogance or naivety on my part to be selective about where I’d like to see my work appear?” Like you’d have the choice! You should be chuffed no matter what you achieve and where, because the probabilities and odds are for most people that they won’t get anything published. You’ll be rejected time and time again, and if you’re lucky, and strike at the right place at the right time, you’ll be published. But you don’t choose a thing.

    “So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?” This is a dangerous route, because irrespective of what you think, a sale to the mag will be interpreted as “oh, they only got published because they paid for it”. It’s a tainted “jobs for the boys” sale, and you can’t control that bit.

    “I’m not really interested in writers that are out to make NextRead Magazine market sale #64 and see it as a another sale on their list.” All sales on the list are thought of with respect, by writers, and encouraging them to shell out a quid won’t make any difference to their affection for it. I’m not sure why this is an issue?

    “I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions” You won’t put off the most desperate and talentless souls with a quid barrier to entry. Look at those who self-publish. In fact, you’re putting off many good writers by making them pay for the chance to submit, so you’ll probably have a good proportion of submissions from the “more determined” of the vanity published writers.

    “The payment for the is a form of ownership and taking pride in where you want your work to appear rather than a form of vanity press.” By paying money for your story to be published? You’re fucking over the most basic rule of publishing, and that is: money flows towards the writer.

    Don’t take the criticism to be personal – welcome to the industry. It’s tough. It’s a hassle and a ball-ache for everyone involved. People don’t make progress in it by being half-arsed.

    Quality writers will want to know how much they are being paid. They’re not charities. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere yet, but I might be being blind.
    And there are loads of ways to fund this magazine. Advertising, sponsorship, even http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/by/recommended?tag=writing

    Anyway – ultimately, I think the set-up and submissions system isn’t beneficial for anyone, but the concept is a good one. Even if you choose to make people pay – go for it. It’s your magazine, not mine or anyone else’s. Just throwing in my thoughts…

  6. *Wades in and probably sounds harsher than he means to be*

    “Is it arrogance or naivety on my part to be selective about where I’d like to see my work appear?” Like you’d have the choice! You should be chuffed no matter what you achieve and where, because the probabilities and odds are for most people that they won’t get anything published. You’ll be rejected time and time again, and if you’re lucky, and strike at the right place at the right time, you’ll be published. But you don’t choose a thing.

    “So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?” This is a dangerous route, because irrespective of what you think, a sale to the mag will be interpreted as “oh, they only got published because they paid for it”. It’s a tainted “jobs for the boys” sale, and you can’t control that bit.

    “I’m not really interested in writers that are out to make NextRead Magazine market sale #64 and see it as a another sale on their list.” All sales on the list are thought of with respect, by writers, and encouraging them to shell out a quid won’t make any difference to their affection for it. I’m not sure why this is an issue?

    “I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions” You won’t put off the most desperate and talentless souls with a quid barrier to entry. Look at those who self-publish. In fact, you’re putting off many good writers by making them pay for the chance to submit, so you’ll probably have a good proportion of submissions from the “more determined” of the vanity published writers.

    “The payment for the is a form of ownership and taking pride in where you want your work to appear rather than a form of vanity press.” By paying money for your story to be published? You’re fucking over the most basic rule of publishing, and that is: money flows towards the writer.

    Don’t take the criticism to be personal – welcome to the industry. It’s tough. It’s a hassle and a ball-ache for everyone involved. People don’t make progress in it by being half-arsed.

    Quality writers will want to know how much they are being paid. They’re not charities. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere yet, but I might be being blind.
    And there are loads of ways to fund this magazine. Advertising, sponsorship, even http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/by/recommended?tag=writing

    Anyway – ultimately, I think the set-up and submissions system isn’t beneficial for anyone, but the concept is a good one. Even if you choose to make people pay – go for it. It’s your magazine, not mine or anyone else’s. Just throwing in my thoughts…

  7. I don’t see what’s wrong with paying to see your work come out. Seriously. In the age of teh Internets, with everyone and their brother able to say whatever the heck they wish on their blogs and social network pages, it is nice to see someone setting up a wicket at the entrance. I agree: there is a sense of pride, of ownership, of control even, in being able to participate in the creation of an outlet for one’s creativity, especially if one is not writing for a living.
    Let’s face it. Everyone and their brother wants to be a writer, and one of the main reasons this is, IMO, is because all of us who share that desire think we have something to say. The only problem with that is when we think that what we have to say is so important that other people should pay for the privilege.No offense, but if you think about it for a minute, that’s really… pretentious.
    It also means that you have no responsibility towards the medium that publishes your work, because you are, in a sense, doing them a favour: now they care about what you’ve written enough to pay for it, it’s their business to make sure everyone gets it since it is the next big thing.
    I admire and respect the people who commit themselves to the writer’s craft, because it really is a lot harder and less rewarding than most people who think they’d like to be writers think it is. I further believe that those people come out of the process a lot more humble about what being “a writer” entails. I don’t see how charging a token fee to ensure an outlet for writing to exist is so offensive, especially when, every day more and more, the actual content of what we’re reading is worth so little in terms of what we can get for it. I really hope I have time to make a submission to support your effort, because I honestly believe that you’re on the right path here.

  8. I don’t see what’s wrong with paying to see your work come out. Seriously. In the age of teh Internets, with everyone and their brother able to say whatever the heck they wish on their blogs and social network pages, it is nice to see someone setting up a wicket at the entrance. I agree: there is a sense of pride, of ownership, of control even, in being able to participate in the creation of an outlet for one’s creativity, especially if one is not writing for a living.
    Let’s face it. Everyone and their brother wants to be a writer, and one of the main reasons this is, IMO, is because all of us who share that desire think we have something to say. The only problem with that is when we think that what we have to say is so important that other people should pay for the privilege.No offense, but if you think about it for a minute, that’s really… pretentious.
    It also means that you have no responsibility towards the medium that publishes your work, because you are, in a sense, doing them a favour: now they care about what you’ve written enough to pay for it, it’s their business to make sure everyone gets it since it is the next big thing.
    I admire and respect the people who commit themselves to the writer’s craft, because it really is a lot harder and less rewarding than most people who think they’d like to be writers think it is. I further believe that those people come out of the process a lot more humble about what being “a writer” entails. I don’t see how charging a token fee to ensure an outlet for writing to exist is so offensive, especially when, every day more and more, the actual content of what we’re reading is worth so little in terms of what we can get for it. I really hope I have time to make a submission to support your effort, because I honestly believe that you’re on the right path here.

  9. While I think it’s both brave and commendable of you to put together a magazine, I’ll have to agree with Mark Charan Newton. Money should flow to the writer.

    I also stronlgy agree with your sentiment that the writer submitting to a magazine should have an interest in that magazine. And for a magazine that’s already published I think enyone submitting that is not actually a reader is an idiot. Of course one should know ones market, no matter what business you’re in.

    Of course this is a bit difficult when you’re putting together the first issue of a magazine. I wish you’d used your not inconsiderable online prescense to invite people to write for the first issue. If you did, I think the magazine would be up and running from issue one. And you would have avoided all this.

    I don’t think you’re doing this out of anything but the best intentions, and I wish you luck with your magazine, and hope it will be a succesful one.

  10. While I think it’s both brave and commendable of you to put together a magazine, I’ll have to agree with Mark Charan Newton. Money should flow to the writer.

    I also stronlgy agree with your sentiment that the writer submitting to a magazine should have an interest in that magazine. And for a magazine that’s already published I think enyone submitting that is not actually a reader is an idiot. Of course one should know ones market, no matter what business you’re in.

    Of course this is a bit difficult when you’re putting together the first issue of a magazine. I wish you’d used your not inconsiderable online prescense to invite people to write for the first issue. If you did, I think the magazine would be up and running from issue one. And you would have avoided all this.

    I don’t think you’re doing this out of anything but the best intentions, and I wish you luck with your magazine, and hope it will be a succesful one.

  11. I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions and I know it’s going to put people off.

    It will (quite rightly) put people off and the people it will put off are the very people you want to attract. You are after “excellence” but you will be lucky to get competence. Any serious writer is going to submit to serious markets, the only people who will submit are people who have no chance of making a real sale. As such, yes, it does become a form of vanity publishing.

    Putting that aside though, you are still being much too ambitious. You are giving writers six weeks to write stories to your brief and you are expecting to publish 6-8 stories. You want excellence from that? Even the professional magazines can’t manage that.

  12. I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions and I know it’s going to put people off.

    It will (quite rightly) put people off and the people it will put off are the very people you want to attract. You are after “excellence” but you will be lucky to get competence. Any serious writer is going to submit to serious markets, the only people who will submit are people who have no chance of making a real sale. As such, yes, it does become a form of vanity publishing.

    Putting that aside though, you are still being much too ambitious. You are giving writers six weeks to write stories to your brief and you are expecting to publish 6-8 stories. You want excellence from that? Even the professional magazines can’t manage that.

  13. Anonymous on March 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm said:

    I think I have mixed feelings about this. To produce a reader-generated short-story publication is a fantastic idea, though, and I’m sure I’d be interested in certain issues, depending on the theme. There are a couple of things I would consider, though…

    1. To have one person control the content might not work. It’s a big responsibility, and will take up a LOT of your time. You will probably come to resent it, which will reduce the likelihood of it being a long-term thing. (This I have experience with – from both my Masters in Journalism, to my own magazine/rag that I produced for a few years.) I would recommend a panel of readers, who would double as the editors/proof-readers/etc., and ideally would work for free.

    2. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to charge writers to submit (especially if you’re considering paying them for inclusions), and certainly not to receive an issue they are featured in – every publication I know of, gives a free copy with inclusions (this even includes my own experience with academic journals, which cost an arm-and-a-leg per issue).

    3. Mark CN’s comments seemed pretty reasonable. I certainly agree with him about authors not being charities. Authors should be paid a little for their work, and not have to pay for anything that they get published. They should, however, consider the publication they are submitting to, and recognise that not all of them have the budgets of The New Yorker or others that feature fiction. Therefore, even a nominal fee should be welcomed.

    4. To return to the issue of paying for submissions… Well, why not? If someone is being paid (even a little) for anything included in the magazine, then it’s sort of like getting a refund of your submission fee as well as payment. If Gavin needs to read copious numbers of short stories (some of which WILL be crap – the combined laws of nature and amateur-short-story-writers suggest that many will likely be utterly unreadable), then £1.50 for his time to read it isn’t too excessive. It is, however, unusual.

    5. Mauricio’s comments: Well, yes, now that everyone can publish any old thing on the internet, it does mean there’s a lot of dross out there. But then, if someone is in opposition to paying to get something published in any NextRead magazine (regardless of the size of the fee), then they might just choose to do it themselves for free on the “Internets”. My main response to his comments: Writers wanting to be paid for their work is anything but pretentious – do you work for free? Didn’t think so. This, incidentally, also goes to my comments about Gavin making a couple of quid for his time – I have no problem with this. But, as he says himself, the money would go to pay the authors. Again, completely for that.

    I guess my main recommendation would be: share the burden. Consider the editorial board (or whatever you want to call it) the ones who do it because they love it, and want to make this a reality, and pay the writer.

    If I had the opportunity or time to write a short story to submit here, I would happily do so. £1.50 isn’t a huge amount (certainly less than I paid to apply to Journalism school, undergrad, or PhD), so I suppose I wouldn’t have a problem paying it. I don’t think many people would – they would probably all assume they would be getting it back through inclusion-payment…

  14. Anonymous on March 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm said:

    I think I have mixed feelings about this. To produce a reader-generated short-story publication is a fantastic idea, though, and I’m sure I’d be interested in certain issues, depending on the theme. There are a couple of things I would consider, though…

    1. To have one person control the content might not work. It’s a big responsibility, and will take up a LOT of your time. You will probably come to resent it, which will reduce the likelihood of it being a long-term thing. (This I have experience with – from both my Masters in Journalism, to my own magazine/rag that I produced for a few years.) I would recommend a panel of readers, who would double as the editors/proof-readers/etc., and ideally would work for free.

    2. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to charge writers to submit (especially if you’re considering paying them for inclusions), and certainly not to receive an issue they are featured in – every publication I know of, gives a free copy with inclusions (this even includes my own experience with academic journals, which cost an arm-and-a-leg per issue).

    3. Mark CN’s comments seemed pretty reasonable. I certainly agree with him about authors not being charities. Authors should be paid a little for their work, and not have to pay for anything that they get published. They should, however, consider the publication they are submitting to, and recognise that not all of them have the budgets of The New Yorker or others that feature fiction. Therefore, even a nominal fee should be welcomed.

    4. To return to the issue of paying for submissions… Well, why not? If someone is being paid (even a little) for anything included in the magazine, then it’s sort of like getting a refund of your submission fee as well as payment. If Gavin needs to read copious numbers of short stories (some of which WILL be crap – the combined laws of nature and amateur-short-story-writers suggest that many will likely be utterly unreadable), then £1.50 for his time to read it isn’t too excessive. It is, however, unusual.

    5. Mauricio’s comments: Well, yes, now that everyone can publish any old thing on the internet, it does mean there’s a lot of dross out there. But then, if someone is in opposition to paying to get something published in any NextRead magazine (regardless of the size of the fee), then they might just choose to do it themselves for free on the “Internets”. My main response to his comments: Writers wanting to be paid for their work is anything but pretentious – do you work for free? Didn’t think so. This, incidentally, also goes to my comments about Gavin making a couple of quid for his time – I have no problem with this. But, as he says himself, the money would go to pay the authors. Again, completely for that.

    I guess my main recommendation would be: share the burden. Consider the editorial board (or whatever you want to call it) the ones who do it because they love it, and want to make this a reality, and pay the writer.

    If I had the opportunity or time to write a short story to submit here, I would happily do so. £1.50 isn’t a huge amount (certainly less than I paid to apply to Journalism school, undergrad, or PhD), so I suppose I wouldn’t have a problem paying it. I don’t think many people would – they would probably all assume they would be getting it back through inclusion-payment…

  15. hagelrat on March 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm said:

    my two cents.
    When I looked at expanding the short fiction on Un:Bound from the occasional short story I could blag off writers or the occasional holiday story I could talk friends into donating, someone very wise, who has edited anthologies and such professionally, pointed out that if you don't pay something you cannot maintain any kind of quality in the submissions.
    The nextread model is a form of profit sharing. There is a small fee to receive the magazine, this means that the handful of stories selected can receive a token payment. If it becomes popular then the payments will increase in line (I assume) eventually, when it is a selling wildly, hitting a professional payment rate.
    Semi pro and pro writers will understand this. People who are submitting to mags and starting out will submit to showcase their work. Some better known authors may submit to support the mag, the token payment more than covering the cost of submitting. The idea of a magazine where the readers submit is novel and I like it, but that means you have to commit to the reading side too.
    This all seems entirely reasonable to me. I am unsure why anyone takes issue with this or feels unclear about it. If you aren't interest in being part of it, don't be, if you are, for less than a starbucks coffee you get the magazine, if you are one of the lucky submissions, you also get a little cash and you get published.

  16. Gav,

    I appreciate the changes you made to the submission process (i.e., not charging a fee / making the writer buy the magazine). I think that was the right thing to do.

    I also agree pretty much completely with everything Mark said.

    And to address this: What I want is a magazine to be proud of and I want to attract writers that want to appear in my magazine. I want writers who enjoy short stories for themselves and would happily read a great selection of them. So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?

    Yes. It is.

  17. Gav,

    I appreciate the changes you made to the submission process (i.e., not charging a fee / making the writer buy the magazine). I think that was the right thing to do.

    I also agree pretty much completely with everything Mark said.

    And to address this: What I want is a magazine to be proud of and I want to attract writers that want to appear in my magazine. I want writers who enjoy short stories for themselves and would happily read a great selection of them. So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?

    Yes. It is.

  18. I commented on your earlier post today so I'm not going to repeat what I said there.

    For me it's pretty simple. Follow Yog's Law. Money flows toward the writer, not away from them. Follow it, and everyone is happy. Breach it, and people won't like it.

    So if a writer submits a story and pays the £1.50 fee to submit, this doesn't gaurantee publication? So it's not even pay-for-print/vanity, it's actually a little worse than that, it's pay-for-consideration?

    I think you're looking at it backwards. You want to pay writers for their stories – excellent. But £20 per writer is a hell of a lot. Make it £5 or something. You want to pay for editing, proofing, etc? That's your choice, but the funds from this should come from sales of the successful issue, not from the vanity fee you're charging the writers. If the magazine is good, people will buy it. If people buy it, you'll get your money.

    In fact, look at it just in terms of scale:

    Each magazine has 6-8 stories. Let's average it to 7. At £1.50 per submission, you get £10.50. That's not counting payments for all submissions, including the ones that were not accepted. Actually I think you need to clarify this point pretty quickly!

    So you've made £10.50 from the contributors. Say you sell ten copies of the first issue. That gets you £15.

    But if the magazine takes off, you might sell 300 copies, netting £450. From your seven contributors, you've still only made £10.50. The difference is so great that the contribution fee is pretty meaningless.

    Going back to the submission fee, if you were considering a charge of £1.50 for every single submission, accepted or not, then I think you're in pretty dangerous water. Say you hit that 300 sales mark. Because the magazine is popular, if you are (at that point) receiving say 100 story submissions, and charging for all 100, that's a large sum of money. If you thought the reaction was bad now, just wait until that day comes.

    Personally I think a short fiction magazine as you describe (electronic, £1.50 per download, themed stories) is great, but you've got to rethink the submission fee. At the moment you're looking at it as a contributor supporting the magazine. It's not really. You're just charging them a fee. It doesn't matter if it's “just” £1.50 for this, or the £8,000 a big vanity press charges for a “publishing package”.

  19. *Wades in and probably sounds harsher than he means to be*

    “Is it arrogance or naivety on my part to be selective about where I’d like to see my work appear?” Like you'd have the choice! You should be chuffed no matter what you achieve and where, because the probabilities and odds are for most people that they won't get anything published. You'll be rejected time and time again, and if you're lucky, and strike at the right place at the right time, you'll be published. But you don't choose a thing.

    “So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?” This is a dangerous route, because irrespective of what you think, a sale to the mag will be interpreted as “oh, they only got published because they paid for it”. It's a tainted “jobs for the boys” sale, and you can't control that bit.

    “I’m not really interested in writers that are out to make NextRead Magazine market sale #64 and see it as a another sale on their list.” All sales on the list are thought of with respect, by writers, and encouraging them to shell out a quid won't make any difference to their affection for it. I'm not sure why this is an issue?

    “I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions” You won't put off the most desperate and talentless souls with a quid barrier to entry. Look at those who self-publish. In fact, you're putting off many good writers by making them pay for the chance to submit, so you'll probably have a good proportion of submissions from the “more determined” of the vanity published writers.

    “The payment for the is a form of ownership and taking pride in where you want your work to appear rather than a form of vanity press.” By paying money for your story to be published? You're fucking over the most basic rule of publishing, and that is: money flows towards the writer.

    Don't take the criticism to be personal – welcome to the industry. It's tough. It's a hassle and a ball-ache for everyone involved. People don't make progress in it by being half-arsed.

    Quality writers will want to know how much they are being paid. They're not charities. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere yet, but I might be being blind.
    And there are loads of ways to fund this magazine. Advertising, sponsorship, even http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/by/recommen

    Anyway – ultimately, I think the set-up and submissions system isn't beneficial for anyone, but the concept is a good one. Even if you choose to make people pay – go for it. It's your magazine, not mine or anyone else's. Just throwing in my thoughts…

  20. I don't see what's wrong with paying to see your work come out. Seriously. In the age of teh Internets, with everyone and their brother able to say whatever the heck they wish on their blogs and social network pages, it is nice to see someone setting up a wicket at the entrance. I agree: there is a sense of pride, of ownership, of control even, in being able to participate in the creation of an outlet for one's creativity, especially if one is not writing for a living.
    Let's face it. Everyone and their brother wants to be a writer, and one of the main reasons this is, IMO, is because all of us who share that desire think we have something to say. The only problem with that is when we think that what we have to say is so important that other people should pay for the privilege.No offense, but if you think about it for a minute, that's really… pretentious.
    It also means that you have no responsibility towards the medium that publishes your work, because you are, in a sense, doing them a favour: now they care about what you've written enough to pay for it, it's their business to make sure everyone gets it since it is the next big thing.
    I admire and respect the people who commit themselves to the writer's craft, because it really is a lot harder and less rewarding than most people who think they'd like to be writers think it is. I further believe that those people come out of the process a lot more humble about what being “a writer” entails. I don't see how charging a token fee to ensure an outlet for writing to exist is so offensive, especially when, every day more and more, the actual content of what we're reading is worth so little in terms of what we can get for it. I really hope I have time to make a submission to support your effort, because I honestly believe that you're on the right path here.

  21. While I think it's both brave and commendable of you to put together a magazine, I'll have to agree with Mark Charan Newton. Money should flow to the writer.

    I also stronlgy agree with your sentiment that the writer submitting to a magazine should have an interest in that magazine. And for a magazine that's already published I think enyone submitting that is not actually a reader is an idiot. Of course one should know ones market, no matter what business you're in.

    Of course this is a bit difficult when you're putting together the first issue of a magazine. I wish you'd used your not inconsiderable online prescense to invite people to write for the first issue. If you did, I think the magazine would be up and running from issue one. And you would have avoided all this.

    I don't think you're doing this out of anything but the best intentions, and I wish you luck with your magazine, and hope it will be a succesful one.

  22. I’m probably foolish in thinking that this might improve the quality of the submissions and I know it’s going to put people off.

    It will (quite rightly) put people off and the people it will put off are the very people you want to attract. You are after “excellence” but you will be lucky to get competence. Any serious writer is going to submit to serious markets, the only people who will submit are people who have no chance of making a real sale. As such, yes, it does become a form of vanity publishing.

    Putting that aside though, you are still being much too ambitious. You are giving writers six weeks to write stories to your brief and you are expecting to publish 6-8 stories. You want excellence from that? Even the professional magazines can't manage that.

  23. Anonymous on March 3, 2010 at 2:39 am said:

    I was going to make a comment, but apparently you changed things in a newer post. So, any complaints I have are now irrelevant…

  24. Anonymous on March 3, 2010 at 2:39 am said:

    I was going to make a comment, but apparently you changed things in a newer post. So, any complaints I have are now irrelevant…

  25. stefanfergus on March 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm said:

    I think I have mixed feelings about this. To produce a reader-generated short-story publication is a fantastic idea, though, and I’m sure I’d be interested in certain issues, depending on the theme. There are a couple of things I would consider, though…

    1. To have one person control the content might not work. It's a big responsibility, and will take up a LOT of your time. You will probably come to resent it, which will reduce the likelihood of it being a long-term thing. (This I have experience with – from both my Masters in Journalism, to my own magazine/rag that I produced for a few years.) I would recommend a panel of readers, who would double as the editors/proof-readers/etc., and ideally would work for free.

    2. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to charge writers to submit (especially if you’re considering paying them for inclusions), and certainly not to receive an issue they are featured in – every publication I know of, gives a free copy with inclusions (this even includes my own experience with academic journals, which cost an arm-and-a-leg per issue).

    3. Mark CN’s comments seemed pretty reasonable. I certainly agree with him about authors not being charities. Authors should be paid a little for their work, and not have to pay for anything that they get published. They should, however, consider the publication they are submitting to, and recognise that not all of them have the budgets of The New Yorker or others that feature fiction. Therefore, even a nominal fee should be welcomed.

    4. To return to the issue of paying for submissions… Well, why not? If someone is being paid (even a little) for anything included in the magazine, then it’s sort of like getting a refund of your submission fee as well as payment. If Gavin needs to read copious numbers of short stories (some of which WILL be crap – the combined laws of nature and amateur-short-story-writers suggest that many will likely be utterly unreadable), then £1.50 for his time to read it isn’t too excessive. It is, however, unusual.

    5. Mauricio’s comments: Well, yes, now that everyone can publish any old thing on the internet, it does mean there’s a lot of dross out there. But then, if someone is in opposition to paying to get something published in any NextRead magazine (regardless of the size of the fee), then they might just choose to do it themselves for free on the “Internets”. My main response to his comments: Writers wanting to be paid for their work is anything but pretentious – do you work for free? Didn’t think so. This, incidentally, also goes to my comments about Gavin making a couple of quid for his time – I have no problem with this. But, as he says himself, the money would go to pay the authors. Again, completely for that.

    I guess my main recommendation would be: share the burden. Consider the editorial board (or whatever you want to call it) the ones who do it because they love it, and want to make this a reality, and pay the writer.

    If I had the opportunity or time to write a short story to submit here, I would happily do so. £1.50 isn’t a huge amount (certainly less than I paid to apply to Journalism school, undergrad, or PhD), so I suppose I wouldn’t have a problem paying it. I don’t think many people would – they would probably all assume they would be getting it back through inclusion-payment…

  26. Gav,

    I appreciate the changes you made to the submission process (i.e., not charging a fee / making the writer buy the magazine). I think that was the right thing to do.

    I also agree pretty much completely with everything Mark said.

    And to address this: What I want is a magazine to be proud of and I want to attract writers that want to appear in my magazine. I want writers who enjoy short stories for themselves and would happily read a great selection of them. So is it such a leap asking them to make that commitment to the publication ins some way before they submit to it?

    Yes. It is.

  27. shaunduke on March 3, 2010 at 2:39 am said:

    I was going to make a comment, but apparently you changed things in a newer post. So, any complaints I have are now irrelevant…

  28. Pingback: Book-o-sphere Round–up: 7 March Edition – NextRead

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