At the start of 2011 I decided to stop entering writing competitions that charge an entry fee. This added onto my decision in 2001 to not send manuscripts to publishing houses that also charge a fee (normally called a “reading fee”). Well, now I that it is 2013, I am increasing this to no longer use websites that charge a fee.
This is a little unfair, because I will pay something because I know websites cost money to host and run, and I do understand that. But a nominal amount, especially when there are thousands of users, will easily cover the costs.
So what this means is that some search sites for writing, some e-zines (that do not pay their writers; paying writers, again, makes it different), and at least one forum will no longer be on my list of resources.
For most authors, writing is not the most profitable of enterprises. To then hit these struggling artists with fees and charges for things that help them is, I think, a little unfair.
And this leads to agents. In Australia, it seems that most agents charge a fee to even read your work. A few don’t, but most do. Meanwhile, in the United States, members of the official agents society are forbidden by their charter from charging a reading fee. Now you would think that a country like the USA where there is a huge population and there are writers coming out the wazoo that agents would be more inclined to charge fees, to separate the wheat from the chaff. But, no, that is not how they work. Whereas in Australia, where there is a smaller population to take a smaller amount of writers from, charges are levied. Why? To stop people wasting their time? What time? They have all the time in the world. Considering how few Australian writers make it anywhere, what do these agents do for their money? And in the current world of international publishing, POD, e-publishing, etc, surely any agent worth their salt, if they have a book they think is any good, can sell it somehow.
I received an email and two letters this past week inviting me to enter writing competitions that I have entered in the past. Only one does not charge a fee; the other two do, and their paperwork indicates that numbers of entries have dropped, and at least one of them has said that if numbers don’t increase, this “avenue for writers” may be forced to shut down. Now, I have received a highly commended/honourable mention from all three, but I am not paying for a bit of paper. Further, the one that does not charge has a judge who I have come across before and she seems to like memoir/literature/depressing stories, so my work whenever she judges has no hope. Therefore I won’t be entering that one either. Why bother, taking what I think is a good story out of a potential paying market for a few months, when I know the judge will reject it?
I am struggling to find homes for a few of my novels that have received some very positive feedback (yes, I have found some new readers whose feedback is more honest than my old ones), but there is only so much one person can do, even when armed with the Internet, especially when fees and charges are increasing at every turn.
Maybe they only want well-off people to write? What interesting stories are there in lives of wealth and privilege?
Okay, end rant.