Donate to Narrative? Uh, no.

Thu 20 May 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | 3 Comments | Posted by: Gavin

God knows why I get Narrative magazine’s spam. I don’t remember signing up for it but that’s a common story online. And I haven’t unsubscribed as they are the original car-crash-good-lord-do-they-really-charge-writers magazine. Their model seems to be a weird hybrid of popular vs. unpopular kids with the first part being those who drank the koolaid, paid $20 to submit their story (No, really, $20.) and maybe have been published, but published or not have bought into the publishers’ idea. The unpopular are the great unwashed (me!) who think they’d be better to buy a six pack of beer and a couple of magazines with that $20. Yup.

So now they are spamming everyone on their list with a request for $10. Wow: spam that reads like spam! It’s . . . spam!

Why $10? Well,

$10 is not so much when you consider that Narrative publishes more fiction writers, poets, and artists than any other literary magazine—more than 300 authors and artists last year alone—and that we give our content away, free.

Ok. So:

  1. You want money because you published more authors (including all those dead authors who I am sure are right grateful to be published and their zombie selves will be at your door ready to receive their checks any day now) than anyone else. Um, congratulations.
    But, didn’t all those authors—and anyone else daft enough to pay—already give you $20? Do they get 2 chances in some crappy drawing you’re offering people who reply to your spamscam? Once they’ve paid $10, will you reel them in to higher levels? Ah, apropos of nothing at all I’d just like to reminisce about that great book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man.
    So, did Narrative count how many authors other magazines published? Did they query emails lists? (They didn’t query the CLMP email lists.) Did they, in fact, have a really really hard time coming up with reasons why anyone would send in their hard-earned cash?
  2. You want money because you “give our content away, free.” Um, no. That is wrong. If you give it away free you do not get to demand money. Nope.

Hmm, ok. Enough time wasted on this. They, apparently, “need you.” Right. All arts organizations always need supporters and they’re always hoping for more money. Hell, so are all companies, such as us at Small Beer Press. But if you have $10 to spare today, send it to Laurie J. Marks and her wife who’s getting a liver transplant, send it to Haiti, buy a subscription to One Story, go get a great lunch. Don’t give it to someone who’s asking you for money for something that’s “free.”


3 Responses to “Donate to Narrative? Uh, no.”

  1. Alan on May 20th, 2010 11:05 pm

    Hear, hear. Took the words out of my mouth.

  2. Brandon on May 22nd, 2010 10:05 am

    “If you give it away free you do not get to demand money. Nope.”

    Evidently you’re unfamiliar with PBS pledge drives? NPR? What about alternative weeklies? They’re free to you but subsidized by ad revenue. If that revenue dries up, do you want your favorite publications simply to close up shop? Which newspapers, magazines, or blogs do you value enough to support financially?

  3. Gavin on May 22nd, 2010 10:21 am

    Brandon, I didn’t phrase that correctly. How about, if you give it away free you can’t demand or expect payment? I am quite familiar with NPR/PBS pledge drives. (I’m also overly familiar with the NPR advertisers who seem to be unending, which influences my thinking during their pledge drives.) NPR/PBS make no bones about being listener supported so I support my local station—and then just this morning I was looking at the This American Life site where they’re asking for money so I’ll think about donating to them to support the show as I subscribe to the podcast.

    As for magazines, I subscribe to quite a few. I believe every dollar is a political act: who and what you choose to support every day with every dollar creates the world we live in. So I want independent stores, certain types of food, I like thrift stores for recycling clothes and so on. I think about pretty much everything I buy.

    Maybe it comes to the fact that I don’t believe in their business model which is based on charging writers to submit their stories. Maybe I am living in the past but that strikes me as nuts. I don’t mind writing competitions where writers receive a subscription or the winning book or something for their entry fee. But an entry fee to support a magazine? I admire their lateral thinking of how to raise revenue to put out a webzine, but it is not something I like, will emulate, or support.

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