When I was submitting stories back in the early internet days, I remember payment was scarce. For paying markets you generally needed to submit the old fashioned way by postal mail.
Gradually, online paying markets started to emerge. It was great. And now there are all kinds of markets online where you can make money off of your short fiction. You submit online, it’s printed online. It’s a wonderful thing.
But more and more I stumble upon online magazines that ask for a submission fee. They say it’s for the cost of printing stories, getting readers, etc. It might be a nominal amount, a few bucks or so.
No. Just no.
That’s not how this works. If a magazine is charging writers for submissions, then they have a flawed business model.
This is how it is supposed to work. Struggling writer puts in his time and effort, works up some courage, sends off his work. He either gets acceptance and receives payment for his hard work, or he gets rejected, sucks it up, and submits the story elsewhere.
On the magazine end. Magazine reads through pile of submissions, finds the best stories that fit their model, publishes them. They make money through sales, ads, donations, Kickstarter, whatever.
Can you imagine having to pay to submit a resume to a company looking to hire you? “Oh, but our human resources department needs to spend time interviewing and hiring people, and that costs the company money.”
For some reason “literary fiction” markets seem to be the biggest culprits for this reading fee. What absolute balls to charge fees for a market that is generally low-paying compared to genre fiction.
Money flows to the writer, as the saying goes. Always. No exceptions. Never pay a reading fee.
Fortunately, there are enough markets without submission fees. Ignore the ones with fees, submit to all the others. The magazines without fees will attract the best writers and survive, as it should be.