Dear Miss Snark,
I have a question based on a discussion over at the Shocklines.com bulletin board that concerns paying versus non-paying markets.
In a nutshell, a new magazine publisher requests submissions from writers, but mentions that he pays only in a single copy of the issue and an "enhanced profile," whatever that means. This starts a debate about the value of non-paying markets and ends with the publisher abruptly announcing the "death" of the new magazine before it was ever begun!
My question is, if you are seeking an agent and all of your publishing credits are from non-paying "amateur" publications, does this impress an agent? Or do you look for publication in paying markets only?
Regardless of the old question of whether a writer should or shouldn't submit their work for "free," I'm just wondering if getting published in a market that pays nothing has any appeal for an agent when he or she reads a writer's resume.
Thanks so much for any information you could provide.
The problem here is not that this guy didn't pay but that he wasn't in business. As an agent, when I read your query letter and it says "I've been published in the "Snark Central Literary Gesundheit" all I do is google the SCLG to make sure it's not a figment of your imagination and to see if what it looks like. I don't pay much attention to the rate structure because I know a LOT of small literary journals that are labors of love don't pay much besides copies of the mag and a pub credit. Here's one that a reader sent me just today (thanks Kitty!) Getting paid isn't the point here. Having someone who is not your mom say your work doesn't suck is what reassures me.
Think of sending work to these lit mags as an internship. You aren't going to get paid much if anything but the experience is good on your resume. You don't want your entire career to be an internship so you'll want to move up the pay scale, but everyone needs to start somewhere.