Saturday, June 23, 2007

pubbing for nothing and your lits for free

In the current issue of Poets and Writers: " After years of working for free, author Steve Almond offers a call to arms for all those creative writers who, desperate to see their work in print, accept publication as payment enough: If your talents are worth something, editors and agents who stand to gain from them owe you a share."

What do you think?

9 comments:

Clifford Garstang said...

Since I guess that article isn't online, I look forward to the arrival of my copy in the next few days. In the meantime I can say: easy enough for Steve Almond. I believe editors of small magazines who say they can't afford to pay "real world money" (to use Duotrope's expression) and every day there are magazines disappearing. Where will the money come from to pay us?

Maryanne Stahl said...

yeah, the article isn't online. sorry.

I believe Almond's point is not that writers should try to squeeze small mag editors, but should respect their work enough to ask for pay from those who do have some funds. writers are so used to working for free that they get taken advantage of. (his opening example is of an anthology whose editors got a 50K advance, presumably between them, but paid nothing to contributors.)

Mary Akers said...

I read it. I have mixed feelings when it comes to Steve Almond, so I confess that colors my perceptions here. I agree with his sentiments in theory, but the opening of his argument leaves me unimpressed. It seems to be something along the lines of, "Well I used to work for free, but now that I have a wife and family and expensive new house I suddenly realize how I've been getting screwed and now I think we should all be up in arms."

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Steve Almond himself aside, I do think writers should find ways to be more proactive about getting paid better for their content. Even though I understand how the publishing model works, technically, against the publisher in terms of liability and initial output, if you think about the royalties an author makes, for instance, on a work...say 10% or something, it's kind of insane!

Does Almond provide actual tips and or strategies?

Ginger said...

I long since became convinced writers are the sweatshop workers of publishing. After an avalanche of publishing successes (okay, nearly all small magazines), I decided to submit only my CNF to paying anthologies and consider my fiction a mostly private endeavor.

Maryanne Stahl said...

he doesn't really provide any strategies...

Liesl said...

So relentless, this quest to make art pay.

I guess one works on in hope that somehow, some day, there will be a way to be sustained financially by our art.

The muse is a fickle, demanding Beloved, but when s/he calls your name, do you have a choice about writing, or submitting? I don't know. This is a mystery.

Martin Heavisides said...

I'm relatively easy about publishing work free in cases where the publication itself is a labour of love--at the moment I'm doing that mainly with my blog--but it's self evident that writers often undersell their work in the rush to be published. Woody Guthrie was once told by a fundraising group, when he quoted them his fee for singing, "But it's a good cause." He replied "I don't sing for bad causes."

SusanD said...

Steve Almond is a very talented writer, but he's also a complete whore and fameho. Of course he's happy to tackle the issue of writers getting paid more, because he knows that it'll just stir up his name again. I think he's mostly a literary darling, and not as well known to those outside the circle, so his controversial subjects revolve around writer-themes.

That said, I'd take his paycheck, but I'd be really embarrassed cashing all the checks knowing the blatant whoring I'd done and knowing that I was getting paid based on my name and not on my work. But I'd cash the checks and enjoy the rewards anyhow! It's better than my miserable, poor existence where I barely get paid for my fiction or my controversy.

In other words, fuck Steve Almond. Fuck him twice because I'm so jealous of him I can't fucking STAND it. He's living the dream. If only we all could, Steve.