A juicy one from today's mailbag, folks:
Dear Writer Rejected:
Tupelo Press is charging $45 for submission / no contest.
I had to send this to you because this makes me feel sick, like throw-up sick. Like many other LROD readers, I've been shopping my book around for a few years, and I was going to send a submission to Tupelo this July because they previously had an open-submission period in that month.
So I went to their web site and what did I see? They now are accepting submission year round! Huzzah! Wait-there must be a catch. Aha- it now costs forty five dollars. That's a reading fee, not a contest fee. No guarantee of anyone actually being published. Tupelo makes it very clear that they don't have to do anything. Not one thing.
At least with contests there is a sort of agreement that writers are paying to create a pool and that the editors / judges will concentrate and read the works in that pool and declare a winner. This will force them to read and (at least) acknowledge the better works. Tupelo offers no such good faith.
"...Please keep in mind that this is not a contest. Manuscripts are not read anonymously. We hope to find manuscripts we love and want to publish, but understand, please, that Tupelo Press is under no obligation to publish any of the prose manuscripts submitted to us. Please also bear in mind that Tupelo Press accepts very few works of prose – no more than one or two per year. All manuscripts will be read and all decisions made by the editors of Tupelo Press only..."
The ridiculous thing about this all was that I seriously was considering doing it. In fact, if it was $25 (heck even $30), I probably would have ponied up the cash. That shows how badly I want to get published. But luckily, sanity prevailed. Forty five dollars is way beyond the pale. I contend that it's taking advantage of people. Forty five dollars is a good hour's wages. (In fact, I much quite a bit less than $45 an hour, so for me it's a few hours wages), and frankly I'm better off putting the money on the spin of roulette wheel, at least there I have like a 45% chance of getting red or black. Here (based on a few years experience) I probably have a 1% chance. (Tupelo freely admits that they only publish about two works of prose per year) Maybe less depending on the editor's tastes. So I'm supposed to spend about $50 (including postage) to get the same rejection experience that I can get for free elsewhere which is to say that someone will take a look at the first page (if they even get past the cover letter) and be like- "Hmm… not really what I want to publish this year" and then chuck my work into a bin (hopefully a recycling bin). $45 will probably buy 1-2 minutes of someone's time.
Imagine if an agent charged $45 to read your stuff. This happens from time to time, but those agents get slammed on the Preditors and Editors web site and wind up being shunned.
Please call these guys on this. It's an irresponsible approach to publishing that preys on the aspirations of struggling authors which is most of us.
No need to keep me anonymous by the way, I could care less if Tupelo knows who I am.