Read the fine print.
I know as a writer that sometimes things can get a bit desperate. I know that sometimes it seems like I’ll never see my name in print. Fortunately, I love what I do. But I see many online sites that feed on the desperate. I’m not talking about the obvious shysters that are easily recognizable, I’m talking about those who look professional and even credible.
I just got done reading a submission guideline for a publication that offered a payment of $5-$20 for stories from 3,000 up to 20,000 words. That’s not great in itself, but they demanded that those unlucky authors sign away exclusive worldwide rights for two years!
$20 for two years! That’s not just insulting, it’s borderline criminal.
I don’t know how long other authors take to write their stories, but I don’t have a lot of time to work on them. With the available time I have it could take me a week to a month to create a 20,000 word story. And then I go into edit mode, followed by more edit mode, followed by sudden death edit mode, followed by ‘I suck as an author’ edit mode. Until I’m done, I’ve put dozens if not hundreds of man-hours into making my story the best it can be. Locking my work up for two years for the paltry sum of $20 just ain’t happening.
I realize this makes me look like a selfish SOB, but I have a terrible problem. I like to eat and so does my family. I understand that sometimes it’s necessary to get my name out there by submitting to markets that can’t or don’t pay, but that’s not the same as saying ‘I’m going to pay you a paltry sum just to make it legal to do whatever I want to with your story. ‘
If I placed an ad in the paper for someone to come dig ditches for me but told them I could only pay them $20 for two years of work and while working for me they couldn’t work for anyone else, I don’t imagine I’d get too many applicants.
Bottom line, always read the submission guidelines … always.