More and more magazines and literary journals, as well as theatres, are asking for fees. I’ve been following this, not only with my mystery writing organizations, but now with playwrights.
JUST SAY NO PAYING FOR SUBMISSIONS
“Why Writers are Paying to get Published”
The Atlantic Magazine
Note: Since all writers, no matter what their genre are being met with the same probles, I have added playwrights in parenthesis. The article does not do this.
It’s fall, the time of year when literary journals open their doors for new submissions. Around the country, writers are polishing poems, short stories, and essays (and plays) in hopes of getting published in those small-but-competitive journals devoted to good writing (and theatres devoted to good plays). Though I’ve published short stories in the past, I’m not submitting any this year, and if things continue the way they have been, I may stop writing them altogether. The reason, in a nutshell, is reading fees—also called submission or service fees—which many literary journals (and now theatres) charge those who want to be considered for publication. Writers pay a fee that usually ranges from $2 to $5—but sometimes goes as high as $25—and in return, the journal will either (most likely) reject or accept their submission and publish it. Even in the lucky case that a piece is published (produced), most journals don’t pay writers (including playwrights) for their work, making it a net loss either way.
AUTHORS CALL TO ACTION
Authors call for boycott on non-paying festivals
Published January 15, 2016
Prominent writers including Linda Grant, Denise Mina, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon have responded to Philip Pullman’s protest over the Oxford Literary Festival’s failure to pay author fees by joining a call for publishers and fellow authors to boycott events with the same policy.
Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, has stepped down from his role as patron of the festival, saying it is a case of “simple justice” that authors should be paid for their appearances.
Now novelist and critic Amanda Craig has written an open letter to The Bookseller calling for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work without a fee. “For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us,” she wrote. “We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said No.”
Craig’s letter has attracted immediate support from many other authors, with Linda Grant, Louisa Young, Denise Mina, Francis Wheen, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon among those who have put their names to it. (Full letter below)
The fact that many literary festivals do not remunerate authors for appearances has been a long-running grievance among writers, with the Society of Authors currently campaigning on the issue and “working with them [festivals] to agree reasonable fees and best practice guidelines”, as chief executive Nicola Solomon told The Bookseller earlier this month.
Novelist Robert Harris yesterday tweeted a response to Pullman’s comments on his resignation, saying “So true! A few (insane) punters paid £50 for a front-row seat at my last event. I was given a mug, appropriately.”
If you’re a writer and want to add your signature to the petition, leave a comment on this piece.
Letter to The Bookseller:
Further to Philip Pullman’s resignation from the Oxford Literary Festival, we would like to call for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals that expect authors to work for free.
For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free – even though the public is paying in good faith to see us. We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels, and said No.
Perhaps playwrights can also fashion a similar letter, and send it to any theatre that asks for a fee.