Literary Magazines are charging reading fees

All number of literary magazines are now charging money to read your writing, the fees are between $2 and $5 and I have spent $61 on reading fees this week. I have not left my house for days and my fingers hurt from typing “Dear Editor, here is an ambitious essay about shotguns” or “Dear Editor, here are four poems that I wrote last January when I had pneumonia and lost my senses of smell and taste”

Do we need more than one literary magazine? What if we had just one and only one literary magazine, and what if it were the size of a phone book from 1979? What if it put all its content online once a day for discerning internet readers, and then removed it to make room for the next issue? What I’m saying is that having one magazine would make the reading fees more manageable. I can’t predict the quality of One Big Magazine. I’m saying that instead of $61 I would have spent only between $2 and $5 this week. I would be high on the hog. I would probably go the store and buy a bag of candy and scatter it to the open hands of strangers with a carefree gluttony of spirit that I would one day like to experience but cannot, at this time, because of reading fees.

One thing that goes along with reading fees is each magazine’s “A note on the reading fee.” When I read these notes I am filled with chartreuse feelings of contempt and hostility. These are emotions that I am not accustomed to feeling in or around literary magazines. I do not want to read a note on the reading fee. I would rather read Notes from the Underground or even Postcards from the Edge. Here is a primitive word cloud I made from collected Notes on the Reading Fee

  • might be a pain / continued support / rest assured / new and exciting / subscribe!
  • designed for the folks who prefer to be published in print / spectacular / typical / expectations
  • nonprofit / nominal / connect / justified / committed
  • exposing / widest / vital / vibrant
  • must / costs
  • hardship

They get you by saying that the costs are equivalent to the costs of stamps and envelopes. But I have never spent $61 on stamps and envelopes. I find stamps and envelopes in the garbage or in my neighbors houses, where they are freely available.

Here are the things that I can no longer afford because of the reading fees I have just mentioned

  • A coffee mug that says “Worlds Greatest Writer”
  • A summer home in Montana that backs onto 61 acres of land enclosed by a rusty cattle fence, the thought of which puts a bad metal taste in my mouth and a sense of masculine pride in my heart
  • Ballet shoes from
  • A dog from the Humane Society
  • A two year subscription to the New England Review
  • A sandwich at Whole Foods
  • Old pieces of wood from behind the library
  • A subscription to
  • A realtor’s license

One of the magazines that charges a big reading fee does not reply to your submissions. Watch out for this one. They update the submission manager with the word “Pass.” This reminds me of an English lord who owns a fleet of soft-coated Wheaten terriers. They are spending my $10 on Wheaten terriers and wallpaper for their stately country homes.

Fortunately, a handful of the magazines that charged me a reading fee this week are “paying markets.” If one of them accepts my essay or my phlegmatic poems, I will make my money back and beat it straight to the candy shop. That is, unless it’s the one that only pays $50. Then I will still be $11 in the red. I will have to satisfy myself with videos of candy being hurled at strangers, if I can find them.


The reason I don’t know what to say when people ask “what are you writing” is that if I knew what I was writing I’d be home, writing, not talking to those people. I’d be home writing about the smell of the heat off radiators or the expression on horses faces or the color of the walls at Sears.

Dream: Someone who looks like Abe Vigoda opens a donut and book shop underneath the down ramp of a parking garage. The donuts are stale and waxy. They are the color of erasers. I grow competitive with him and force my adult children to stage an ouster. We get rid of the donuts, and the books, which amount to nothing more than travel guides and Daphne du Maurier paperbacks that are in bad shape. We put in a caged jaguarundi and a wrapping paper station for Christmas shoppers. But this is Venezuela. The shoppers could see a jaguarundi anywhere. We go out of business. We are trapped in the parking garage.

Proust Questionnaire

Your favorite virtue     Long term memory
Your favorite qualities in a man.      He is tired and hopeless and goes to the mall
Your favorite qualities in a woman.      I don’t know any women
Your chief characteristic      Unable to open packages of food that I buy at the grocery store
What you appreciate the most in your friends      They stopped asking me when I will have more children
Your main fault       I don’t post my missed connections in time
Your favourite occupation.       Fireman
Your idea of happiness       Fresh baguettes
Your idea of misery.       old baguettes
If not yourself, who would you be?       “Before departing for Samoa, Margaret Mead had a short affair with the linguist Edward Sapir”
Where would you like to live?       I dream of getting trapped in a parking garage every night
Your favourite colour and flower.       Yellow sorrel
The flower that I like.       Is this a trick
My favorite bird.        The potato bird
Your favorite prose authors.        Marcel Proust
Your favorite poets.        I love poetes
Your favorite heroes in fiction.        It’s too soon to decide
Your favorite heroines in fiction.        Friday
Your favorite painters and composers.        My favorite composer is the deaf one with the big hair      and the tall one with the big hands. Sorry ladies
Your favorite painters.        I can’t elieve this
Your heroes in real life.        My kids are my heroes in real life
Your favorite heroines in real life.        I have two daughters at my house
What characters in history do you most dislike.        Hitler, and all those nazis. Oh my god
Your heroines in World history        Hypatia
Your favorite food and drink.        There is so much food at my house. Olives
Your favorite names.        People keep calling me Jennifer against my wishes
What I hate the most.        Staying home from the mall
World history characters I hate the most        I can’t get the Fedex guy to just leave packages at the door. He rings to say hi but I’m not into this. His name is Josh
The military event I admire the most       Napoleon’s Russian Campaign by Phillipe-Paul de Ségur
The reform I admire the most       This has to be the Protestant Reformation
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with       A trace of charisma
How I wish to die        Eating at Olive Garden with my friends
What is your present state of mind.        Not very good, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I don’t like avocados anymore
For what fault have you most toleration?        Sleep in a pile of yogurt containers I don’t care
Your favorite motto.        You must change your life