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 zappos.com
  • 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 news.google.com
  • 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.

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