Brought to my attention via Nanette at e-zine, Narrative Magazine, a terrific online literary journal, has decided to start charging a $20.00 reading or submission fee for unsolicited work. Follow the links to a discussion at the Poets & Writers Speakeasy forum (you'll have to sign up, though it's free) where the pros and cons are being aired. It's an important issue since this may of course start a trend in publishing. We finally broke the ridiculous "no simultaneous submissions" restriction–though some still believe in it and try to hold the writers to it, unaware that most either don't send in stuff to them anymore or lie through their teeth about yep, honest, you're the only place I've sent this to because you're the greatest.
Bottom line? Do the poor unpublished masses want to "bail out" the lit mags? I'm not sure how I feel, having been editor and publisher and paying out of my own pocket for two magazines before; I understand the need for funding, though not a huge amount should be needed since contests should more than take care of themselves and there still are subscribers and for online stuff, the website is not all that expensive to maintain.
And what's with the "unsolicited" being charged; another jab at the poor and middle class level writers whilst the wealthy (you know, those same names you see over and over and over in the lit mags–though I can't blame the editors for wanting to keep the quality high) are not only not charged, but requested to submit for free.
I don't know, but with the thousands of submissions that each journal claims to receive every year, $20 per shot should produce more than a quality magazine–online or book form–and then some. Am I willing, with two, maybe three stories a year to spend $20 to each of the top twenty to fifty (out of nearly 3,000!) per story to just let them read it without a tad of comment other than "Pass?" I doubt it. It's near enough to vanity publishing that I'd rather my friends and family throw the files down the hole with the dirt of my grave.