Submission Fee: $100; Getting Published: Priceless?

Perhaps I’ve ignored this for a while because I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but writing is an expensive profession.  The physical materials–paper, pens, ink cartridges–are reasonable, but the money you have to shell out to get your work published makes a pretty significant dent in the bank account.  I’ve started keeping track of my expenses for tax purposes and it’s staggering to add up how much I’m actually spending on my writing.  In the last month alone:

New South submission fee: $2.50

The Madison Review submission fee: $2.00

Tiny Texas House Writing Contest fee: $50.00

Press 53 Annual Writing Contest: $17.00

Writer’s Digest YA Short Fiction Contest: 2 submissions at $20 each; $40

The Potential Chance of Getting Published: Priceless?

Everyone keeps arguing that “vanity publishing” and “self-publishing” is so expensive that it makes the practice ludicrous.  But, at this point, I feel that traditional publishing is just as expensive (except it’s sneaky so nobody realizes it) for the author and with less chance of it actually paying off.  With self-publishing, you’re published.  The End.  You paid the money and it happened.  But, with submissions and writing contests, you’re submitting money for no guarantee (not that author’s should have the right to pay publications money and expect to see their work in print; I totally believe in editorial review boards being selective).  From a personal financial point of view, is it worth it?  Will it ever pay off?

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3 thoughts on “Submission Fee: $100; Getting Published: Priceless?

  1. 1 Story A Week says:

    The publishing industry seems to be a bit like an old gentlemen’s club. You may have to do some favors for someone on the inside to invite you in, but once you do there is a great chance that the rest will invite you back from time to time. Self publishing is like being the waiter and hoping to work your way up. Two different approaches. Neither is wrong.

    • hannahkarena says:

      I would agree that the publishing industry is that way for jobs. It’s hard to get an interview unless you know somebody. And being a self-employed freelance editor or copywriter is kind of like being the waiter, working your way up to a full-time position. As for actually getting writing published, I would agree with your analogy…sometimes. I think some of the bigger, older, most-established publications are like an exclusive club and are kind of picky about your name (is it popular?) and where you come from (any other good credits?). But there are a lot of publications that purposely seek the underdog, the up-and-coming, undiscovered writer. And some publications have a policy of blind reading submissions. Even if you’re a waiter, if you’re skills are good enough, you’ll get noticed.

  2. lovethebadguy says:

    I guiltily admit that I shy away from literary magazines that require a reading fee, or which strongly suggest you subscribe to their $10 serial.

    Sure, it doesn’t sound like much, but as a lowly, poorly-paid uni student, all of that adds up!

    However, you are absolutely right; getting published would cast all thoughts of money from my mind. Perhaps it’s time a started a nest egg, solely for my submissions…
    😉

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