August 2, 2020

Payment: What Do You Think?

Tomorrow, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m., a wonderful story will be published. I know you’ll love this new fairy tale by Melissa Yuan-Innes.

But in the meantime, I’d like some opinions, and I hope you’ll give them below, even after Melissa’s story is posted. Read both!

This post is about payment to writers. Right now, EC costs me about $4,000 out of pocket per year. That mostly includes paying writers, plus a lot of other smaller costs. I enjoy what I do here, so I’m not going to whine, but I did want some feedback on what you think is fair payment to writers.

The rates I have currently: $100 for stories and $50 for nonfiction are actually pretty high—not pro rates, but not bad. Many places pay nothing. Some pay token amounts. Over the years, I’ve paid anywhere from $10 to $200 for works. I am on the side of paying, because I can, and because I think I should. I do not, however, look askance at publishers who pay very little or not at all. If that’s what it takes to keep a market open, I say go for it! There’s room for all of us.

The current pay, noted above, will probably not be in place in 2021. Fiction will no longer be prioritized in terms of pay. I will probably be paying the same amount out each month: $200, perhaps even a bit more, but the pay will be a flat $50 per work—that’s for a poem or a story or a nonfiction post. To keep the payment rate fair, I’m cutting back on word count: poems can be any length, but stories or nonfiction will be between 750 and 1,000. This way I’m not actually lowering the per-word rate (or not much). 

I want to bring poetry back, period. I miss it. And, I’ve come to the decision that poems should not be paid less. How do I know it doesn’t take as much time to get a poem right as it does to write a flash fairy tale? Poetry should not be the unloved stepchild, financially.

Also, although I cannot understand why, people have not been sending in many nonfiction submissions. I get a lot of fiction. Tons. The competition this month is fierce. But nonfiction? Very few. I have, however, been delighted with what I have gotten. The quality has been high. Also, nonfiction gets a lot of traffic. The exception is the angel card readings, which are ending. The numbers don’t support the effort.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Nonfiction is just as important to me as fiction, so the pay will reflect that in 2021. 

The final reason why I’m going for four works at $50 each is so I can have a new work per week. The site traffic really stays up when new works come on a weekly basis.

So, questions:

1) What do you think of the proposed 2021 pay structure and the attendant length requirements?

2) What do you think of fiction vs. nonfiction? Do you even have a preference?

3) It looks like EC’s going to need a crowdfunding campaign. Would you be willing to give a one-time gift? A monthly gift? What do you think of the whole crowdfunding thing?

Finally, and this is just an idea: What do you think of EC adding a small press component, specializing in fairy tale anthologies? IF I did this, and it’s a big if, I wouldn’t start it until 2022, but it would take a lot of planning.

I look forward to some comments below.


The image is a Vogue cover of a woman reading, by Helen Dryden.


Kelly Jarvis said...

I think your proposed pay structure makes sense! Fiction, poetry, and non-fiction should be compensated equally, and I like the idea of publishing one new piece each week. I enjoy reading fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, though fiction and poetry are closest to my heart.If you publish something new each week you may be able to include an extra story or poem each month without sacrificing the non-fiction pieces. I think the people who regularly read Enchanted Conversation would be happy to give; you could offer one time donations or monthly donations to fit different abilities to offer support. Looking forward to reading tomorrow's story!

Melissa Yuan-Innes said...

Hi Kate,
Super looking forward to publication day tomorrow!

I know that many of us love writing fairy tales and have few professional or semi-professional markets because most SF markets have such a high fantasy to science fiction ratio that the deck is always stacked against publication of fantasy stories, let alone fairy tails.

Payment is tough. I understand having a fixed budget and wanting to pay poetry and non-fiction fairly too.

So, no easy answers, but for me, I generally don’t submit to non-payment or token markets. So in 2021, I’d submit more poetry and non-fiction and look for another market for my fairly tale stories.

Is crowdfunding an option, so it’s not such a burden on you, but all writers also get paid a fair amount?

In any case, I really appreciate the time and love and $4000 you put into this every year. Thank you so much for providing a beloved space for many voices.

Katew said...

Thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful reply! It’s really helpful!

Katew said...

So do you see the $50 for flash fiction as a barrier for you? I think that’s what you are saying, and I want to know, because I don’t want to lose good writers.

Lorraine Schein said...

As a poet and flash writer, I'm happy to see poetry paid at an equal rate and so glad you are including it again. It would also give EC the ability to publish a group of stories or poems, as you have in the past--I enjoy reading a variety of work. I don't consider the rate token, it is more like semi-pro.
Maybe if you somehow emphasized nonfiction in more literary submission listings that you also want nonfiction you would get more, but people know EC as a fiction market most. I don't know much about crowdfunding, but making it an option would be good--with maybe rewards. I recall you did anthologies in the past (I have one!)--would they be similar? A poetry and/or flash anthology would be interesting.

Katew said...

Yes, the anthologies would be similar to what I’ve done in the past, if I do a press. And I’d love to include flash fiction and poems in collections!
I think a year of flash fairy tales would be fun. And I do think $50 is fair for flash fiction. Yes, it is semi pro pay. Not token. The word count is slashed to flash in my proposal, making it in the same category I’m currently paying.

AMOffenwanger said...

As far as I'm concerned, the current pay rate is quite generous; having the pay for fiction reduced to half but having more of it published makes a lot of sense to me. I was even quite happy with old (pre-2019) pay rate, which was lower yet but had a higher chance of acceptance because there were more pieces being published (was it ten every other month?).
As for why there is so much more fiction than non-fiction, I'm not at all surprised. As a writer of both I know that they are very different kinds of writing. There are lots of fiction writers who are looking for a market for their pieces, but a non-fiction writer often creates their own market through a blog or something similar. Unlike with fiction, I rarely write one-off pieces of non-fiction that I finish and then look to find a market for; I write my articles for a specific, themed submission (i.e. I have something to say about the given topic), or else I post it on my blog - so I hardly ever have a piece of non-fiction sitting around that's "looking for a home", as it were. All of which is the exact opposite to how I write fiction.
I agree with Lorraine that EC is known primarily as a fiction market, not a journal of fairy tale research; I've always seen the non-fiction articles on EC as supplementary to its primary goal, which is to publish high-quality new fairy tale stories.

Katew said...

This is very helpful feedback. And the point of offering more space for more writers is part of why I’m rethinking everything.

Debby Zigenis-Lowery said...

I was one of your Donkeyskin poets.
I think your proposed payment schedule seems very fair, especially considering the shorter word lengths for the the fiction and non-fiction. You are correct in that revision and editing of poetry does take an equal amount of time as it does these prose lengths. I write both fiction and poetry, so I know.
I, too, love the nonfiction pieces you post. (I especially loved this last one about spinning and spindles!) I hope you continue to get such great submissions

Katew said...

Me too! And I loved the spindle piece as well. I remember your poem. I’ll use it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. It’s a great poem.

Teika Marija said...

First, I want to say thank you, Kate, for your time, energy and financial input. As someone who runs a small press publishing poetry, fiction and non-fiction (including fairy tale anthologies) I know how much of a labour of love it all is.

Second, I think your proposed pay scheme sounds fair. The only thing that would sadden me a little is not being able to submit longer pieces of fiction, because a good fairy tale reworking sometimes does need a longer word count. But I do see that shorter pieces online are good for time-strapped readers. However, perhaps these could be included in future anthologies...?

Lastly, I would contribute to a crowdfunding campaign for a book if the book appeared to be to my liking. Or a one-off gift to help with the press would be manageable. The only thing that I personally find hard is contributing to something regularly because our personal family finances are always so up-and-down.

Funnily enough, in my experience of running a press, I always got lots of poetry and fiction submissions (of varying qualities) but non-fiction submissions were fewer but higher in quality. As a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction myself, I do invest a lot more time in my non-fiction because I feel I really need to do my research properly for a decent essay, but once I get the seed of an idea for a short story or poem it can write itself quite quickly. Anyway, hope this helps!

Kate said...

This is so helpful! Your experience and advice give me a better perspective on things. As for longer stories, I feel certain that I would have the occasional contest for long stories.

Melissa Yuan-Innes said...

On reflection, it's a barrier in that I'd have trouble telling a full story in that length, but fair in that you're keeping it at a minimum of 5 cents/word.
And it's good to open it up to poetry and pay a higher non-fiction rate.
Thanks for asking.

Ellie a.Goss said...

I agree with the majority, equal pay for any of the contributions. I enjoy reading all genres proposed so no issue from me.
I would be more inclined to support the anthology or press options, in either contribution if selected but also as a customer, having already purchased several of the other books edited by you.
I don't really know much about crowd sourcing, beyond you propose a project, set levels of what can be achieved at each $value and set goal total, but I have followed a few sites of interest via patreon.

Katew said...

Thanks for the feedback, Ellie. A small press in 2022 remains a very real possibility. I think, based on the comments here and private reactions from EC fans, that keeping the pay equal and going with $50 across the board is an idea that allows for more writers and people support it.