Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pay to Play: Yay or Nay?

Okay, sohere we go.

Pardon me while I step up on my soapbox.

I don't pay to play. My publisher wants to drop 50 dollars? I'm all for it. But I don't pay to play, Mind you, I'm not in the romance Writers, either. Not because I don't admire the organization but because, let's be fair here, I'm not exactly known as a romance writer.

I understand the concept and I'm not nearly as bothered by it as a lot of people are, but in this case I'm not bothered because it's the RWA. They set up their rules and I'm fine with that. If I were a member I probably still wouldn't pay but you can bet I'd encourage my publisher.

But why Jim?

Well, first, I can think of better ways to spend 50 dollars. It's just me paying the bills here and at the present moment I have under five dollars to my name.  I'm waiting on several checks. Rent was due. That means I'm not going out for pizza until payday. in the meantime the bills are paid so it's not a worry.

Fifty dollars to get nominated. Plus 5 copies of my book in the hopes that SOMEONE might notice me? Let's look at what Jeffe said here. The organization made upward of 100,000 dollars off the contest this year. if that's from entry fees, damn! More power to them. If that's from entry fees that means 2,000 plus entries. So the likelihood that my book will get noticed in there is slim to none unless there are substantially more than five judges.

I don't know the mechanics of the RWA. I've been a judge for the International Thriller Writers and for the Australian Horror Writers. I read a LOT of books in both cases. Enjoyed the heck out of it, too and learned about several writers I now follow. It was a win-win.

I imagine I MIGHT consider paying for an RWA nomination, if I wrote romances, but again, probably not.

However the chances that I would are 100,000 times better than that I would ever enter a writing contest where I had to pay a reading fee. I recently saw a contest online that offered the following prize (used dubiously here): Publication in an online magazine and $50.00 for being n the publication. Each entry (and you could enter multiple times) was $10.00. I believe second prize was a PDF of the magazine for free.

If 100 people signed up, the magazine was going to make $1,000.00 and have to pay out a total of $50.00 plus a couple of free digital downloads.

Yeah. No.

I do not pay to sell a story. I sell a story. I aim for professional rates. Sometimes, rarely, I'll let one go for less and if its for a charity I admire I'll gleefully write a story for free. But i do not pay for the privilege of being published. Ever.

I do not pay agents a reading fee.

I do not pay editors a reading fee.

I do not pay contests a reading fee.

I think in all cases its a matter of professionalism and when I say contests I mean contests to get published. The RWA wants to charge a fee? Honestly, the cost of postage for the books and the machinations can be a bit of a pain. More power to them. the cost the awards show for the RWA is vast. never been but I've heard they put on one hell of a convention with many, many benefits to the organization's members,. That's what t5hey use the money for and I'm fine with that.

If SFWA or HWA required a $50.00 fee and put on as amazing a convention, I could probably be convinced to foot that sort of fee. They don't, therefore I won't.

So the answer for me is Nay. It has nothing to do with sneering down at anyone. The RWA doesn't do my sort of books (Meaning the ones I write) and I'll just have to stick to a system where I only get nominated on my merits.

I don't get nominated very much, now that I think about it.

I have formally been allowed to announce that I'm working with Sideshow Collectibles on their original series THE COURT OF THE DEAD. 

It's some damned pretty work and properly macabre. My first story revolves around the character of Kier, Death's valkyrie and a few other characters. I'll keep you posted when I know exactly what is happening with the work and when and how it will be available.

Keep smiling,



  1. That's a really good answer, Jim. And yes - RWA caps at 2,000 entries, though the various subgenres break out differently, with some receiving vastly more entries than others. Hard to say if the $50 is worth it, though so far my publishers footed the bill for the books, which is something!

  2. Now, see, if publishers like the notion, I'm just fine with that. A friend of mine just got an "offer" to buy a review. I won;t do that either. Sounds a bit shady to me. ;)