For the past ten years, I’ve been willing to give my work to non-paying markets. It’s called paying your dues. It’s put me with some really good editors: Anthony Neil Smith at the original Plots With Guns, Gerald So and Kevin Burton Smith at Thrilling Detective (who eventually started paying), and even an anthology edited by Jochem Vandersteen, a long-time fan of Kepler.
But there comes a time when you have to ask if it’s worth it to give it way. At what point is it no longer enough to write for the credit? I have been paid. Thrilling Detective, Futures, Spinetingler, and the anthology West Coast Crime Wave all paid. That last one paid nicely.
And yet for crime fiction, there are really only four paying markets: Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Spinetingler, and All Due Respect. Beyond that, you need an anthology credit, and those, even when they don’t pay, almost always require an editor invite.
As ebooks have gone mainstream and made self-publishing respectable (since it doesn’t cost you the amount of a Bouchercon trip to get into print now), we have the option of putting out short stories or groups of short stories cheaply and easily accessible.
So I’ve decided, with two exceptions, no longer submitting to non-paying markets. If I’m going to be a professional, that implies I want to be paid.
I’m not sure why I didn’t reach this decision years ago. I do know the recent link to a Harlan Ellison rant about not giving it away caught my attention. It’s certainly not that I regret placing my work where I did. It just seems to be time to ask for compensation for my time. Why shouldn’t a writer ask for that?