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Knowing your Worth

SERIOUS RANT AHEAD: You know, I was cruisin' the web this morning, checking out fiction markets and such, when I came across a listing for a new webzine. It's a semi-pro zine, so I just scanned the guidelines for future reference, when I came across this line:

For now professional rates are not available. However, we will pay accepted stories $20.00 U.S. dollars for the rights to publication, along with the honor of being a published writer.

Um, the HONOR of being a published writer? Dude, the HONOR?

Am I just being hypercritical this morning, or does it strike anyone that any writer worth his salt isn't going to hand over the blood, sweat and tears of their latest work to someone who considers it an honor simply to be published? Maybe my ego is getting in the way here, but I'm offering a quality product for a fee. Considering the site only pays twenty dollars and has no reputation yet to offer as a significant recompense to the writer, it occurs to me that this particular editor has a henhouse full of hubris in a land where foxhunting is illegal.

You know, it just chaps is all. There are some markets out there where the pay is secondary. (Flytrap, Lone Star Stories and Ideomancer are markets that immediately come to mind.) But these magazines have a solid reputation of publishing quality work, and you get exposure to an audience that makes it a worthwhile deal.

Cuz' here's the thing:

Of everyone that tries to be a writer, five percent actually get published. (And I mean have an editor actually BUY the story.)

Of that five percent, maybe twenty percent sell more than one story.

Of that twenty percent, maybe ten percent actually make some money (and by money I mean sushi and beer change.)

Of that ten percent, maybe ten percent can actually make a living at it.

We work our asses off to be in the those top percentages, and in an INTERNATIONAL profession. You're not just competing with the best writers in your town, or state, but with then entire planet. It's not an HONOR to be a published writer. We earned it. It's bad enough that we're still being paid the same damned three cents a word that writers were being paid in the friggin' forties, but then some bozo comes along and tells me that it would be an HONOR to just be published. And oh yeah, here's twenty bucks.

Were we musicians, we'd be sitting in major orchestras. Were we painters, we'd be attending our openings.

But we're writers, so we get pennies per word and the HONOR of being published.


Damn, I am grumpy today.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.

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