Unpaid/Royalty-only Writing Markets

“Give me your stories,” they said.soitbegins
“We’ll give you exposure,” they said.
What I say is crap on that.

Who else works for exposure?
Tradespeople don’t. Doctors don’t.
Plumbers sure as hell don’t work on the premise of free labour if you show your pipes to all your friends, do they?
Doctors getting you to share your scars all over the Internet in exchange for free surgery?
I don’t think so.

Unpaid markets benefit one side of the equation, and only one side.
The publisher.

I hear all the time about the wonderful gift of exposure, but let’s face it, unless you have some name authors in the anthology, the only exposure you’re likely to get is to the other writers and their friends and family.  There are a million for-the-love (FTL) markets out there, with more springing up every single day. These days, anyone can publish through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Createspace (CS). You don’t even need to register as a business, although many of these fly-by-night outfits do so to try and make themselves appear more legitimate.

Fuck that shit. Just fuck it. nope

Yeah, many of these LLCs and sole-operators are decent people who really believe in what they are trying to do. Sure, they are giving upcoming and emerging authors a chance to get their work out there.

Sure, the world of publishing is hard to get a foot in.
Sure, FTL markets seem the way to start off. A way to get your work out and to build up a fan base. A way to validate all your hard work, and to be able to say “Hey look! I’m a published author.”

Well, guess what? Anyone can do that.
I’m not saying that all FTL markets are shite. Just that most of the ones I’ve seen are shite.
And you know why they’re shite?

Because anyone can create them, trained and experienced or totally new to the publishing world.
ANYONE can start up a Blogspot or WordPress or Wix site (all free, of course) and call themselves a publisher.
And they don’t have to risk a goddamn cent to do so.

Let’s break them down, economically, shall we?

10406557_699987173407352_4173397671221668235_nWebsite/blog = no cost
Facebook page/Twitter account = no cost
Microsoft paint/online graphic design tool (to create ugly logo/banner) = no cost
Authors willing to work for exposure or royalty shares = no cost
No editing/editing by founder (no experience or training) = no cost
No proofing/proofing by founder (no experience or training) = no cost
Cover design by founder or their sibling/partner (no training or experience) = no cost
Upload badly-designed Word document interior to KDP/Smashwords/CS = no cost
Spam all the social media book groups = no cost

Risk = nothing

See the problem here?
Well, that’s not all, folks.
You might say that it’s worth it for the exposure writers get.


Let’s look at what a writer DOES get from this.

All their hard work gets no reward except being published, most likely in ebook form, and maybe in print.
That’s good, right?


All of a sudden that story is no longer an original. It’s only valid for reprint markets.
Many of the better anthologies (paid ones) don’t want reprints, and even if they do, they pay MUCH less for them.

So… the publisher gets free stuff, and the writer gets exposed to about twenty or thirty people.

So, what else is in it for the publisher? Surely there’s more, isn’t there?

Yep. There’s more.

Remember what writers are like. We all love to see our shit in print.
We love to have a few copies of anything we appear in on our shelves.
Boasting material.
Bragging rights.
“Yeah… that book there? I’m IN that.” Struts over to the shelves and pulls it out.

So, the usual crap deal with FTL and royalty-only anthologies is that the writer gets a free e-book copy of the volume.
“Wow!” you say. “That’s cool.”

Well, the truth is, no it’s not. They cost the publisher nothing to send out. Another layer of no-cost for the publisher.
Another layer of false legitimacy for the publisher.

Print copies is where it’s really at. Writers want hardcopies. And they usually buy them.
From the publisher.
The same publisher who isn’t paying the writers.

So, the writers are now, instead of getting paid, actually PAYING the publisher to get their stories published.
Likely at least two or three copies.

mathI could do the maths, but I hate numbers, so suffice it to say that 20-30 writers, each buying at least two books, means the publisher has now sold 40-60 books. At likely $15-$20 each.
They may have made five bucks a book, so there’s $200-$300 right there.
From the WRITERS.
The people who should have been paid, but instead are paying.

If you say “well, the publisher is giving each writer one print book,” then that’s something, but I betcha that most, if not all, of the writers will still go on and buy two or three books on top of that. Presents for family and friends.

So… let’s look at this so far.
Writers = out of pocket around $50-60 to have their story published.
Publishers = average profit of $250 AND the beginning of a company. If they do this often enough, they have a bit of an income stream.
I’ve seen publishers like this put out 100 anthos a year. They get authors to move in and act as editors, putting together the antho and having their name on the cover as editor.
All for free, of course, because God forbid anyone but the publisher making a cent out of the whole thing.

In the end, the writer gets little to no promotion, somewhat out of pocket, and a few badly-edited books with crappy cover art.stop
I think I’d rather die of exposure than be subjected to this type of exposure.

To me, it seems way too much like vanity publishing.
Writers PAYING to be published.
I guess that’s because it’s exactly what it is, thinly disguised as some crap where the publisher says “You should be doing it for the love of writing.”
Yeah, fuck that.
What about the love of building a reputation instead of tearing it down in crappy anthologies.

What about that?

Next post, I take a look at royalty-only stuff, which is just as bad.
For now, check out my mate Alan Baxter’s take on that shit:


Warning of piracy in France

Warning to any and all writers who’ve had a story published in France.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) has launched a doubtful venture reminiscent of the one Google tried to launch a few years ago. They’ve decided that if a book published in the 20th century is out of print, they have a right to publish it as an ebook and reap the profits (a pittance is due to the original publisher, and, oh, yeah, to the author, too). Despite the protests of French writers, the thing has been launched this week, with the creation of a website featuring a database of approx. 60,000 books liable to get the pirate ebook treatment (State approved, that is) unless the author or legal representative files a formal complaint.
Yeah, you say, but this is only for French writers, right?
They’ve done such a botched job listing the books they feel they can steal that they’ve included anthologies edited by French editors but featuring British and American writers.
A case in point: “De sang et d’encre“, edited by Léa Silhol and published by Naturellement in 1999 (the publisher has gone bankrupt since). With stories by Neil Gaiman, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Lawrence Schimel, Brian Stableford, Brian Lumley, Charles de Lint, S. P. Somtow, Brian Hodge, Nancy Kilpatrick, Nancy Holder, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Freda Warrington, Bob Weinberg.
Writers, check out the site and contact your agent to put a stop to this act of piracy.
You have six months to act.

More info here (French): http://relire.bnf.fr/projet-relire-cadre-legal

~Courtesy of Scott M. Goriscak

Bendigo Writers Festival 2012

Well, the inaugural Bendigo Writers Festival is nigh. Three days of speakers, panels, booklaunches, literature, poetry, music and art.
I’m speaking on Saturday, a half-hour ‘hot seat’ interview about Hammered, my memoir. On Sunday, I’m hosting a panel consisting of award-winning authors Brett McBean and Lucy Sussex, as well as Cam Oliver–scriptwriter, producer and filmmaker who has collaborated with Greg McLean on Wolf Creek (and its upcoming sequel).

Held, as I said, over three days, the festival has a great venue in The Capital Theatre in Bendigo.

The Capital Theatre

The Capital Theatre in View Street is the home of the Bendigo Writers Festival. Originally a Masonic Hall, it dates back to the 1870s and is a grand and ornate building, right in the heart of the cultural precinct, and next door to the much-admired Bendigo Art Gallery. The main theatre will host keynote events on each day of the festival, while panel sessions and spotlight interviews will take place in the Bendigo Bank theatre and next door in the Fire Station. The La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre’s theatrette will also host sessions and workshops, with a special event to be held in the Bendigo Art Gallery as well.

Some wonderful guests make for a potentially wonderful weekend.

Ita Buttrose

Ita is unrivalled in the world of publishing. Her career as a journalist and then ground-breaking editor was recently immortalised in a TV mini series Paper Giants and now she will put her own perspective on her influential and extraordinary life with her memoir, A Passionate Life.

Leigh Hobbs

Just say Horrible Harriet, or Mr Chicken and, of course, Old Tom, and generations of young readers will laugh and tell you their favourite episode in one of Leigh Hobbs’ fabulous picture books. One of Australia’s best-loved and most successful writer-illustrators, Leigh is also one of the most outlandish, inventive and entertaining.

Ian Jones

A long career in Australian TV and fondly remembered for his writing and directing work on the iconic Homicice, Matlock Police, The Sullivansand mini series Against the Wind, it is Ian’s authority and passion for all things Ned Kelly that brings him to the festival. His successful reference books include the best seller Ned Kelly: A Short Life and The Fatal Friendship: Ned Kelly, Aaron Sherritt and Joe Byrne.

Margo Lanagan

Described as bold, inventive and filled with mystery, Margo’s new bookSea Hearts is a strange, beautiful story based on the selkie myth, the sea people who haunt the imaginations of coastal peoples. Margo will talk about fantasy, and how to set the imagination free as well as how love and romance makes writing live and breathe.

Alex Miller

Alex Miller has been short listed for the Miles Franklin Award seven times and won twice. He creates books that sing about the nature of the landscape, and the dangerous and essential power of love. His new novel, Autumn Laing, was inspired by his interest in the Heide circle of painters and in particular Sunday Reed.

Katherine Thomson

Katherine Thomson has written plays, produced by Sydney Theatre Company, Magpie Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company and Griffin. Diving for Pearls, will be staged in Bendigo during the festival. She will be presenting on Australian theatre, sharing her memories and hopes for live theatre as a contemporary entertainment.

Don Watson

Don has written three books on Australian history and spent several years writting political satire for the actor Max Gillies and political speeches for Premier John Cain and PM Paul Keating. Don is also a screenwriter of several feature films, including The Man Who Sued God, starring Billy Connolly and Judy Davis. Don will give us the first glimpse of his new book, The Book of the Bush.

Alexis Wright

A Miles Franklin winner and a land rights activist from the Gulf of Carpentaria, Alexis first wrote Plains of Promise and followed with the internationally renowned Carpentaria. Alexis has also published a collection of writings about the land rights movement and the Grog Wars – alcohol restrictions in Tennant Creek.

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith is a past winner of the Age Short Story Competition, and her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the Age, Griffith REVIEW, Island, Imago and the England Review. Sydney founded and co-ordinates the Victorian Mentoring Service for Writers. She has just released her first book, a harrowing memoir about parental abuse and the path to escape.

Lucy Sussex

Lucy Sussex is a prolific writer, editor, reviewer and literature teacher. Her fiction ranges form sci-fi and horror to crime and detective fiction. She has also edited collections of crime and science fiction, and is an expert in early Australian women crime writers.

Paul D Carter

Paul D Carter was born in Melbourne and spent much of his youth going to Collingwood Football matches with his Dad and brother, Marcus. In 2001, Paul completed a Bachelor of Arts with honours from Deakin University and, in 2008 completed a PhD while writing Eleven Seasons which won this year’s Vogel’s Award. Paul grew up in Melbourne in the 1980s and has a keen interest in modern Australian history.

Dennis O’Keeffe

Dennis O’Keeffe graduated from Monash University in 1999, with a diploma specialising in Australian Folklife Studies) However; his greatest education has been his twenty years involvement at the forefront of the Australian Folk Movement. His craft of story-telling has evolved through continuous performances of our wonderful Australian traditional songs and his uncanny ability to compose unique songs pertaining to the tradition. He recently publishing Waltzing Matilda, the secret history of Australia’s favourite song.

Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong is a Melbourne writer, who taught Russian literature and culture at the University of Melbourne. Her book about Clem Christesen, the creator of the literary magazine Meanjin, was shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year, and she went on to write many books, including The French Tutor, The Novel of Adultery and, her latest, War and Peace and Sonya, about Tolstoy’s life told from his wife’s perspective. She is also a passionate advocate of the art of reviewing, and will speak about the role of the critic at the Bendigo Writers Festival.

Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh is a world-renowned cricket writer and also an authority on business and culture. He won the John Curtin Prize for Journalism in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in 2006 for an essay about the Google phenomenon. His books include Mystery Spinner (about Jack Iverson), Asbestos House (about the James Hardie company), The Racket: How Abortion became Legal in Australia, and his new one, The Office, a social history.

Hanifa Deen

Hanifa Deen is an award-winning Australian author who writes narrative nonfiction and lives in Melbourne. She now works full-time as a writer, which she sees as the perfect medium for a woman with an irreverent tongue, a maverick Muslim perspective on life, and a passion to subvert stereotypes. Her books include The Jihad Seminar, Broken Bangles and Ali Abdul vs the King, about Muslims and the White Australia Policy.

Professor Kevin Brophy

Professor Kevin Brophy is a poet and novelist. He has had eleven books published. From 1980 to 1994 he edited the small press literary journal Going Down Swinging. His poems and essays have been widely anthologised and his book, Creativity, was shortlisted for the NSW Premiers Nonfiction Literary Award in 1999. He was awarded the Martha Richardson Medal for poetry in 2005. He was co-winner of the Calibre Prize for an outstanding essay in 2009. His books include Patterns of Creativity and a new book of prose poems, Radar, published in August.

Lisa Lang

Lisa lang was co-winner of the Vogel Literary Award in 2009, for her novel, Utopia Man, based on the life of Edward Cole, who created Cole’s Book Arcade in late-19th century Melbourne. She first wrote a biography of Cole “Chasing the Rainbow” and was subsequently selected in the Australian Society of Authors mentorship program.

Emilie Zoey Baker

Emilie Zoey Baker is a published award winning poet and slam champion. She has performed her poetry all around the world and is a state coordinator for the Australian Poetry Slam. She is also the winner of the Berlin International Slam as part of the 2010 Berlin International Literature Festival. She is co-cordinater of the Liner Notesspoken word tributes to classic albums. She has featured at Women Of Letters, Ted, The Sydney Writers Festival, The Melbourne International Arts Festival, as well as the Bowery in NYC and The Green Mill in Chicago. She also coordinated The Super Poets, who travel into schools exciting and delighting kids about the joys of writing and performing poetry, and developed the first state teen team poetry slam called OutLoud.

Tony Birch

Tony Birch was born in inner-city Melbourne, into a large family of Aboriginal, West Indian and Irish descent. His upbringing was challenging and difficult, and much of this is captured in his remarkable debut, the semi-autobiographical Shadowboxing.

An alter boy and exceptional student at his local Catholic primary school, in adolescence, Birch went ‘off the rails’ as a teenager. He was expelled from two high schools for fighting and found trouble with the police for the same reason. Although somewhat adrift following his expulsions, he remained a voracious reader – once, when he was arrested by police, all they found when they patted him down was a copy of Camus’ The Outsider, which remains his favourite book.

Returning to night school to complete his studies, Birch met his mentor, Anne Misson, whose credo was very simple: ‘You’ll be great, but only if you work your arse off.’ Birch still lives by this and applies it to everything including his passion for running, which is where his writing is created and shaped.

Birch’s work is widely read and loved including by those who might normally avoid books, particularly teenage boys. Through his outreach work, he visits many schools to speak to students, and takes particular pleasure in returning to the two schools that expelled him, as both of his previous books are on the syllabus.

Janine Burke

Janine Burke is the award-winning author of books of art history, biography and fiction. Between 1977 and 1982, she lectured in art history at the Victorian College of the Arts before resigning to write full time. She has degrees in art history from the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and Deakin University. She has written extensively on the Heide Circle, including Joy Hester, Dear Sun: The Letters of Joy Hester and Sunday Reed andThe Eye of the Beholder: Albert Tucker’s Photographs. Australian Gothic, her acclaimed biography of Tucker and the final book in the Heide quartet, The Heart Garden.
She has lectured extensively on art, curated exhibitions, written for newspapers and journals and acted as a consultant to films and documentaries.

Arnold Zable

Arnold Zable is one of Australia’s best-loved storytellers. He was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and grew up in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton. He has travelled and lived in the USA, India, Papua New Guinea, Europe, Southeast Asia and China, and now lives in Melbourne with his wife and son.

Arnold is the award-winning and highly acclaimed author of the memoir Jewels and Ashes (1991) and the bestselling Café Scheherazade (2001), which was recently adapted for the stage. His other books includeThe Fig Tree (2002), Scraps of Heaven (2004) and Sea of Many Returns (2008) and the recent collection of true stories Violin Lessons (2011), which takes the reader on an intimate journey into the lives of people Arnold has met on travels over the last forty years.

Arnold is president of the International PEN, Melbourne, and is a human rights advocate. Formerly a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, he speaks and writes with passion about memory and history, displacement and community. His writing has appeared in the Age,Sydney Morning Herald, Monthly and a range of journals.