If you don’t want to read bad fiction/nonfiction/poetry, don’t edit a book/magazine/blog/journal. Bad writing is to the writing game what dirty teeth are to dentistry; it will happen all the time, the only that varies is the level of awfulness. Submission guidelines, genre specifications, and word counts should help you do your precious gatekeeping. If you need to rely on charging writers $30 to enter your chapbook contest in order to keep what you think are bad writers away, know these two things: having money has absolutely nothing to do with having writing chops and your fees, not to mention your bland gatekeeping excuse, are nothing but classism in action. I’ve also heard that charging writers is just a way to “reduce the workload for overworked editors.” Get the fuck outta here with that. You’re sitting in front a computer because you want to, not working in the mines. Don’t want to edit? Don’t be an editor. There’s a ton of jobs out there that need to get done that don’t involve the arduous task of having to deal with a huge slush pile.
Gabino Iglesias on submission fees.
On the one hand, this is basic Yog’s Law, but it’s Yog’s Law with the special corollary of, “Submission fees for literary opportunities disadvantage diverse voices–who are statistically more likely to be economically marginalized–and, thus, are a particular flavor of bullshit to add, particularly to anything claiming to want more diverse works.”
In other other words: kids, don’t pay to play.1
- At least for any context where you yourself don’t have full control over the end-to-end process. That is, modern-style self-publishing is a special exemption to Yog’s Law because it assumes two “yous”; one of you as the writer, one as the publisher. Publisher you spends the money, writer you collects it, and the two of you together have full control of the project. [↩]