How Much is Enough?

My social network circles are buzzing over this blog entry by Mandy DeGeit. You can read the whole thing, because it’s funny and sad and anger-inducing, but basically she submitted a story (for publication with no payment) which was accepted, then modified (a lot) without her knowledge before hitting the press. She contacted the editor/publisher and basically was old to eff off. The guy sounds like a real winner, and judging from the comments on Mandy’s blog, he has quite a history of said behaviour.

Her experience is exactly why I stayed away from any publisher who wasn’t willing to pay in actual money for my writing. I’ve always figured that if I was going to publish something for no money, I could do it myself. I also thought that payment was a good sign that the company was leaning toward legitimacy. I’m not writing to get rich, but I’m certainly adverse to sending my writing to someone else so they can make money off of it, even if it’s very little money for a small/micro press.

I’ve heard advice from a lot of pro writers to submit to the highest paying market first, and then work your way down until you run out of places to submit to. I haven’t submitted anything in a while (because my output was low and there was nothing I felt was good enough to submit), but I went a different way. I looked at semi-pro placements, but mostly because I was writing stories which I thought would fit those particular anthologies. Sure, I could have tried for more money, but I was eager to see my name in print and those were anthologies where I thought I had a pretty good shot. Both have been with the same publisher, and though the rates were only semi-pro, I have no major complaints. I’ve gotten exactly what I expected to get out of both my contracts, which is all anyone can ask for.

So how much is enough for payment? I think some payment is always the bottom line. Now that I’ve got a bit more experience, and I think I’m writing better stories, I may try for better markets in the future. I have one story I’m almost ready to take another stab at, and spent the night brainstorming for a novel. We’ll see how that goes.

I hope Mandy finds the success she’s looking for. I also hope the publisher/editor in question gets well and truly dragged through the mud of the Internet.

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