The Bring-and-Braai, Crowdfunding, Preditors and Editors, and a reading fee

Two authors raised a very pertinent point about the post I reblogged, that magazine trying to start up.

The mag charges a (very small) reading fee for submissions, in order to fund the whole effect.  Instantly, scamming comes to mind (what if they take my fee, “lose” my submission and never publish the mag?  Or what if they already have everything together that they want to publish and are now tricking hopefuls into funding these others?)

However, I’d say that is thinking like a South African, not like an idealist.  What if the whole effort is honest, they are honestly looking for great submissions (which I know our authors are capable of producing), they really don’t have $2000 to throw into a risky venture with a high-gloss, high quality print run?

In that case it would be interesting to hear how my readers would suggest they go about raising the funds without charging that reading fee.

I have seen a number of great web zines in the past decade or so, but what one can never really determine is this:  Do they pay their authors for submissions?  (I crit-edited for one for a while, but I didn’t “charge” anything for that.)  Do they ever break even?  Do they make money?  Or is it all a labour of love, keeping some little old lady (or some enthusiastic young professional) busy over a number of years before falling flat because the latter runs out of fuut?

Please offer your feedback in the comments if you are so inclined.  🙂


8 thoughts on “The Bring-and-Braai, Crowdfunding, Preditors and Editors, and a reading fee

  1. A friend of mind started an e-zine with voluntary contributions because she also wanted a voice. I helped her with the editing for a while – she did the layout, etc. It was aimed at women and women’s issues, but not in a traditional feminist way, but rather around health, fashion, work and generally getting through life as a busy woman, wife, professional, etc. She ended up chucking it in – her voice was lost and those who contributed were tied up in self-promotion and resented being edited. And some of the writing was plain awful and needed editing. She ended up chucking it up because contributors resented being edited and she felt she’d “lost” her voice and people were not respectful of her original vision. She made nothing from it and was doing it in her spare time when she wasn’t being a mom, partner, running her print and design businesses. I think it’s a tough thing and there do need to be some boundaries and or “costs”. Not sure what the answer is – perhaps its a balance between the two.

    • I have often felt the urge to start a magazine, in fact ever since, as a teenager, I was on the editorial team of our “Student Paper” (black-and-white, hand-drawn sketches, hand-written or typed poetry, photocopied on the Xerox machine in the teachers’ room and stapled in the middle :-D. It was fun!!) But what holds me back every time is that self-discipline – a magazine is not like writing stories, which one can do at random when the muse bites you. A magazine is a job. You have to keep on doing it and bring it out on time, because you’ve set a standard. People don’t always realize this when they set out. So I salute your friend for stamina and vision and self-discipline. Also, I know how she feels about people not wanting to be edited who need it. It is disillusioning when a project like that collapses because the contributors have too much ego. 😦

      She didn’t charge for any of it, right? That means that precious time during which she could have been doing something else, was given to this project and it didn’t give enough back to her to survive.

    • Yes, there is huge discipline in a magazine or regular newsletter, something people often don’t think about that. When I used to do a newsletter associated with my consulting (day job), it was, from the very start, ad hoc, i.e. when I had something to say. I learned that from a friend who had started a newsletter and it became a major issue to find enough bits to be able to do something substantive every four weeks. You are so right: it is a job and sometimes totally thankless. That said, I find that even my blog also requires discipline and it’s a good thing because it does force me to “get out of myself” a bit, in a manner of speaking.

      Back to my friend. No, she charged for none of it; with hindsight, she may well do it differently. And she may do it again, who knows, as this was the second time she started a mag. Quite a gal, she is.

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