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.
- 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?
- 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.”
No, really. Here at Small Beer Press every time one of us editors pitches a book (or announces a new issue of LCRW) to the publisher we get a standard response: a $50,000 check. After ten years or so, it’s pretty routine by now. So why doesn’t this 2-Prius’s+a bag of chips payment filter down to the writers? I mean, sure, we give advances and royalties to our authors and LCRW contributors get a tiny payment as befits a tiny habit (we can give it up anytime, honest) but what about the rest of those 50 big ones?
Well, it’s a long story and exceedingly complicated….
But, luckily for us we don’t have to do the drudgery of explaining it all as editor Mark Reiter did all the work for us while trying to get Steve Almond to contribute a freebie to a book Mark and his co-editor received that paltry $50,000 for:
Yes, Richard Sandomir and I are sharing an advance of $50,000. That’s $25,000 each. Take away the 15% agency commission, it’s down to $21,250 each. I’m paying my assistant Emily Sklar an extra $5000 out of my pocket to handle the logistics (tracking down folks like you, for example). We’re delivering to Bloomsbury 100 brackets. We can’t pay some people and not others, but if we did offer payment-less than $500 would be pointless-to everyone, the math says we’d be in the red.
So just like Nick I looked at Bookscan:
Enlightened Bracketologist (2007)
lifetime sales 8,346
this week 0
and being nosy I look and see what else Mark has published—a book with Twyla Tharp and something about success (we know how to achieve that—don’t pass on the advance!) as well as maybe the (retitled) paperback edition:
The Final Four of Everything by Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir (2009)
lifetime sales 4,570
this week 13
It’s a pretty great model and we will be utilizing it in our upcoming Unicats! and the People Who Love Them. For which we’d be more than happy to read your submission, and, wait for it:
Now, the good news. Assuming that you don’t do anything with your contribution too far before our . . . pub date, you have all the rights to the material.
(via Kelly, via Nick)
Opening up new horizons to all writers is where we are at! We understand that just over the horizon is where dreams are made! We are down with your writerly ambitions! We understand, as we is writers ourselves.
And, so, having no interest in the bottom line, after all we are publishers and everyone in publishing is in it for the art not the money, we are announcing the formation of a new, er, imprint? Vanity press? Bold, New, Shiny, Revolutionary, Don’t Watch Our Hands, Lots of Small Type in the Contract, Type of Publishing:
We’re not interested in monetizing the slushpile, we’re interested in getting you to pay to publish it for our profit!*
- Let us help you get your book out to your real readership: your family and friends.
- See you book on bookshelves (if not in bookstores—see #1).
- For a mere $599 we will send you 5 copies of your book printed on our state of the art Print on Demand system. (Which sounds just like Lulu.com but isn’t, ok?) It will even have a color picture on the cover—with, and sit down because this is about to get awesome, Your Name Right There On the Cover!
- Our premium Marketing Fuss package includes faxes to people who don’t care as well as our ninja street team who will sneak your book into bookstores and, sometimes, even into the right section!
- In our super-premium “Booksellers” package—Usually $5 million, Today Only $2 million—we come to your town, open a bookshop, and stock your book. We will throw a launch party and have you do a reading and for a small additional fee we will throw in a couple of bottles of that sparkly Portuguese wine and some cubed cheese (which seem like such a good idea in the grocery store and look so sad on display) in the somewhat forlorn hope that people will come.
- Know nothing about publishing? Don’t worry, we’ll treat you right. Remember Yog’s Law and money. Then quickly forget it.
* This is an example of an unproofed sentence with a comma splice. If you pay for our Aspirational package (Usually $5,999, for this month only $1,995!) we will proof your book. Your unedited, uncopyedited, and unproofed sentences will become more like this:
We’re not interested in monetizing the slushpile. We’re interested in getting you to pay to publish it for our profit!*
* Or even this: We need to hit up the uninformed and rip them off before anyone else gets the idea.
And if Easymark isn’t for you, how about:
Because money, like beer, should always flow toward the writer. Unless we can get you to disgorge some first.
Here are some common questions we thought we’d answer ahead of time:
Is this program for me?
But I think my book could be a bestseller in this program.
Is this a vanity press?
Is this just a way to part the uninformed from their money?
Will my book sell? And if it does, will you publish it for reals?
No. Unless you buy a metric ton of it and sell it out the back of you car at flea markets. Which, as every writer knows, has in fact worked about three times in the last thirty years.
I have a lot of money and I want to write.
Hmm. Oddly enough those two things have nothing to do with one another.
Also, as to the latter: bum on the seat.
I don’t have quite as much money as that last questioner. Will you still publish my book?
Well, we have a super discount program where for $49 we read your manuscript and offer you more services for more money. How about that?
What is an “editorial review”?
One of our unpaid but enthusiastic interns will run spell chekc on your novel and recommend that you cut out most of the adverbs.
How will you publicize my book?
Well, it will be listed on our PaytoPlay website, not emailed to our email list, not mentioned on any of our websites, and not included in anything related to our press.
However, have you ever heard of “blogging”?
What price will my book be?
All our state of the art trade mass market paperback hardcovers are priced to sell at $22.89. You automatically get 5 free copies! (For the price of shipping.) In accordance with our publishing philosophy, author copies can be acquired at 200% of retail price. No royalty is paid on author copies.
Is this “the cynical use of a respected brand to legitimize a business model which has long been associated with predatory tactics, in the guise of inventing a shiny new business model for those brave enough to dream big. And pay through the nose, presumably“?
No! No. Er. Yes.
Will my book be a Small Beer Press book?
Are you daft? Of course not!