Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fees, Business Models, Publishing, Oh My!

It may be worth a mention that when I set the submission fees for the print edition, I consulted with a marketing expert with more years of experience in his field than I've been alive. My initial thought was $5 across the board, and he balked at this. He urged us to go for $20, but I knew that was too high.

He offered his reasoning for this, which essentially entailed weeding out not-very-dedicated submitters, where the idea was to encourage a higher quality of submissions, and to let people know the print edition should be taken seriously. His line of reasoning is that people realize they get what they pay for, and having a fee on the higher end would provide the image of a higher quality publication.

Thinking about this, I considered the existing identity of the online journal, with an ackowledgement that any print edition would be associated with the online journal right out of the gate. We've always been free, and the only time a fee has been charged was for a competition for which, yes, there was a prize and print publication, with complimentary copies being awarded in tiers, from the Grand Prize winner through honorable mentions. But competitions are different from a standard print issue and therefore are based on a different model.

Updates that will be posted to the print submission guidelines are:

* That a complimentary issue is provided for all submitters
* Adjustment to the fees
* Removal of fees for reviews
* That published authors will receive compensation, TBD

I do take issue with Robert Swartwood saying that the business model is a bad decision. I am far from Narrative's greatest fan, but they are essentially doing the same thing. This doesn't make it right, but it doesn't make it wrong, either. Has it worked for them? Obviously, yes. That is neither to say that it would work for me, nor that our fee structure is based off of theirs. The reason I divulged how I came up with the fee structure in the first place was to show that it was not based off anything anyone else was doing, but by consulting with someone who knows what he's talking about, and by taking into consideration the current incarnations of the journal.

The bottom line is this: if you don't like the fees, don't submit to the journal. Soon they will look a lot friendlier, and then some other schmuck will likely come along and whine that we don't pay enough to our contributors... and the cycle goes on.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ignorance Breeds Contempt

Is Prick of the Spindle experiencing growing pains? Maybe. Since its inception in March 2007, the journal has come a long way. It went from being a fledgling online publication to becoming the first literary journal available as a Kindle magazine, and then to branching off into the print arm, Aqueous Books, which publishes novel- and novella-length works of fiction and nonfiction.

The journal's dedication to literature continues. In the interest of opening up yet another avenue for our readership, we recently launched submissions for a print edition, which is to be a biannual publication. We are charging submission fees, which will allow us to pay contributors and cover costs of printing.

However, not everyone is taking kindly to this. Check out this blog, courtesy of Robert Swartwood:

Thanks for the PR, Mr. Swartwood!

We are not greedy, but if we were, we wouldn't pay our contributors. The contributor compensation is TBA, because it really depends on how many submissions we receive, the cost of printing the issue (which will depend on how much content is included), and so on. Call them growing pains. This is a new venture, and with several print issues of the journal under our belts, we'll doubtless be able to provide a solid contributor compensation list. We do not receive financial support from any person or institution. And because we currently have a 501(c)(3) application pending, we are not yet able to apply for grants.

It may be worth noting that Prick of the Spindle editors are volunteers, and have been since the beginning. None of us receive any compensation, and the monthly web hosting fees (and any other associated costs) come from my very own (not very deep) pockets, and have from day one. To call any of us greedy is laughable, and just plain ignorant. We are not Narrative.

Please feel free to weigh in. What do you think are fair fees for submitting to a journal that will provide compensation? I recently read with interest several Facebook posts on this subject, and would love to hear your thoughts. We're not against listening to our readers--after all, we've dedicated the last four years to reading your work. What do you think?