For many poets, getting their work published is a labor of love, not money. Writer’s Relief found this article on the literary magazine Plowshares’ blog that explores why literary journals do not (and perhaps should not) pay writers for the privilege of publishing their work:
Online publications have proven especially meaningful as the literary community evolves within online spaces. Magazines with free, shareable content…enable writers and readers to circulate new voices in a way they can’t with a print publication. As a result, I’ve heard countless poets say they’d rather have their work published online nowadays. “That’s where the readers are,” reports Stephanie Burt in the New Yorker. “Ander Monson’s quirky journal DIAGRAM (poetry, essays, and actual diagrams) reported forty thousand unique visitors per month in 2014.”
But new publishers, operating with virtually unlimited space to publish, also run the risk of taking more than they provide.
Read the rest of the essay here.
Contributors should be paid for their work. If you can’t afford to pay them, you shouldn’t be running any kind of journal. There are people who write as a hobby and get a kick out of seeing their work in print. However, many of us want to be writers, and that means being paid for the time and effort we’ve put into our job. Writing is not easy. So when magazines say “Sorry, we can’t afford to pay anyone because we don’t get paid,” it comes across as unprofessional and careless. You don’t get paid? Why are you doing this then? For the love of story? That’s beautiful. But some of us are doing it for love and to help ourselves financially. It’s amazing where art is considered something that you do “for the love of”, but any other work, career, job, effort is expected to receive compensation. Is it because most of the work put into writing is in one’s mind? It’s an emotional and intellectual effort that most can’t see on a timestamp, therefore it doesn’t deserve compensation of any amount? My biggest advice to writers who want to be writers and not just say “I’ve been published for the thrill of saying I’ve been published” is to not submit your work to any publication who doesn’t pay you. They are upfront about it usually. If they don’t mention payment at all, they don’t pay. Move on. Do not give them your work. They can’t afford to pay you, you can’t afford to hand over something you’ve worked on for months an months.