Tag Archives: writing

You say “Exposure” like it’s a Dirty Word

To make a living as a writer is near impossible and it’s not because publishers are tyrants bent on stealing your words for filthy lucre. It’s simply economics. And to stand firm on the “pay the damned writer” side of the current “should writers get paid?” argument shows a general lack of common sense. I understand where this has come from, so before you bring up Harlan Ellison and Wil Wheaton, let’s establish that we all agree that a company that is turning over consistent profit on the strength of the creative content they publish should pay the people who have created that content.

Every writer needs to draw a line for themselves.

Every publisher needs to do the same.  

As a writer, if I want to get paid for every piece of my creative output that gets published, then I need to seek out the publishers and lit journals that pay their contributors in cold, hard cash. These markets will have higher circulations and lower acceptance rates, and my writing, as well as my projected public self, will need to be professional-level all the time. In the process, I will eschew the vast majority of online journals and many of the well-established university-affiliated journals. If, however, I understand that exposure won’t pay the rent but that’s okay, then I have a much broader marketplace to work within. Sometimes I will get paid. Sometimes I won’t. I maintain control of what markets I want to support. I can submit to a free online journal just as easily as I can throw a middle finger at Ploughshares. Point being: not all paying markets are advantageous and not all non-paying markets are scrubs. In any event, the decision is wholly the writer’s. I have to decide what is best for me and my goals as a writer, and choose where I submit accordingly.

As a publisher, I have to decide if I can pay for the content that I’m asking for and adjust my publications accordingly. This is something that I have recently struggled with, but to maintain the integrity of the company, decisions had to be made. In the case of RoguePoetry Review, the decision has been made to switch it from a print only book to a free online magazine. The driving reason behind the decision? We could not afford to pay for the content, so we should not be selling the content. So that is our line. We pay our writers for single author collections. We are paying the writers and cover artist in Don’t Open Till Doomsday.

Let’s see if we can straighten this all out now. A writer who gets paid is not necessarily a better writer than one who doesn’t. A market that pays is not necessarily a better market than one that doesn’t. It’s all about where you–be you writer or publisher–draw your lines and what your goals are. So can we stop with the condescension? Can we try supporting our literary communities instead?

For the Sake of Future Improvement…

We currently have an open Kickstarter Campaign for pre-sales of our Poem In Your Pocket project. The campaign is failing and that is okay, but we would like to take this opportunity to learn. With that in mind, would you please give us honest feedback as to why you would not order this poetry collection. We appreciate your opinion; it will help us going forward.

Thank you for taking the time!

…About Six Months…

I’m not a blogger. I do not know how to write a blog that will somehow capture an audience with wit and charm and possibly some profound insight. But I do know that PunksWritePoemsPress has existed for just about six months now and I’ve never felt more proud or accomplished regarding any personal achievements than I do right now.
Sure, the “wildest dreams” scenario hasn’t played out…yet! You haven’t seen my face all glossy and smooth on the cover of some indie publishing magazine, nor on one for savvy entrepreneurs. Our first title – This Is Not a Movement –  has done well and I am happy to have been a part of making it a real book, printed on the screams of many a felled tree, but it will not get mention in conversations of breakthrough titles in poetry for 2015. (Side note: Is that a conversation that anyone actually has? If it is, we should all make a pact right now that if we overhear/are part of/read a conversation about the breakthrough titles in poetry for 2015, we will interject/say/comment that any such conversation that does not include This Is Not a Movement is a waste of everyone’s time. Can we agree to that? I won’t make you take a blood oath or even spit-shake. We can just agree to the TINaM Pact and use the trusted old honor system. Side note over.)
The point is: I love that book and will consider it a success even if it never sells another copy. Even if it never makes it into the aforementioned conversations about breakthrough poetry titles. Even if you think it is a mess. It is a success because publishing that title and founding this indie Press on the back of it means that we get to do more of it.
We get to read and publish Janelle Rainer’s Two Cups of Tomatoes. It is a beautiful collection of poems that hint at the larger stories beyond the words on the page.
We got to read hundreds of submissions for RoguePoetry and are extremely proud to publish the selections we’ve chosen. It is a strange mix of styles and perspectives, and that is how we like it.
So there it is…halfway through our first year and I’m happy. Now go read a post from a better blogger while I go do my publishing thing.