Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stabbed in Stanzas

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem
by Karen L. Newman

Remember the old Rogers and Hammerstein musical, HMS Pinafore? You know, the song the captain sings about things not as they appear to be? The principle of things not what they seem can also be applied to submission markets. Most people assume in this economy that payment is down, particularly in poor regions like Appalachia. Not true. I queried and discovered that an Appalachian magazine pays $0.25 a word for a Wit & Wisdom column as of May 2010. This isn’t a horror market, yet this spotlights the possibility of big money in unexpected places. There’s money in them thar hills and all you have to do is ask. Find your local magazine or any other publication and query. You have nothing to lose except boat loads of cash.
In publishing payment is sometimes hidden from the general public. For instance, big name authors are often paid more for their work in an anthology than an upcoming, talented writer’s story. A lot of those anthologies are invitation only. Those markets may open submissions to other authors, but they need to assume they’ll be paid less than the big named ones. The same principle can hold true for staff members of a magazine. Payment discrepancies can occur when big name authors and editors join the staff. You know those people are being paid more than you. Therefore, be wary of unpublished payments. If you need experience or enjoy what you’re doing, volunteer or accept being paid a pittance, just don’t stay too long.
Times are tough; life’s not fair – sayings that are annoying and often used to justify inequalities. However, publishers are sometimes forced to pay what they can to stay in business. Writers need to be aware of this and act according to where they are in their careers. Try to get the best deal you can. Make things aren’t as they appear work for you, not against you.

--Karen L. Newman