Crap Opportunity

Fact: a proper publisher (book, magazine et al) will NOT charge you to publish your work. It’s the other way round.

Yes, there are a good number of very good mags and e-zines who don’t pay, but you are getting readership, credits to put on your CV etc.
It’s a nice (and rare) thing to be asked to contribute to a magazine. So when I received an email from First Edition magazine earlier asking me to do just that I was chuffed (I thought it may have had something to do with the story I sent them in July – it wasn’t and I’ve since withdrawn it).
And then I read on.
And was not chuffed. I was angry and pretty bloody insulted.
They weren’t asking me to contribute. They were giving me the ‘opportunity’ to have my short story published online as part of their downloadable e-book content.
Customers would pay a nominal fee (based on word count), which sounded okay. 
And then:
And all I’d have to do is send them the work. They’d edit it, convert it into their electronic format and pay for distribution (what distribution???) etc
Cost. Me.
As I said, proper publishers do not charge writers to publish their work.
So what’s going on here? I thought First Edition was a great idea. A print mag for new writers. Sold on the High Street as far as I remember.
I’ve just checked their guidelines.
They don’t pay contributors (aside from a non-specific cash prize to the best in a category).
The do sell advertising space.
And now they’re charging to people to publish something which, as far as I can understand, doesn’t have to pass any sort of editorial scrutiny.
Where’s the money going, First Edition? And why the sudden change?
I’m going to email a copy of this to First Edition and offer them the opportunity to explain themselves. I hope they’ve made a very silly mistake because if they’ve not, it’s a pretty cynical exercise in exploiting the new writers they originally claimed to be supporting.

21 Comments on “Crap Opportunity

  1.  by  Susan

    Thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention. Charging someone to have their work published is not on. Not only do First Edition reek of vanity publishing, they're being downright dishonest in not being clear as to the nature of their venture. Disguising themselves as a legitimate "journal" is perfidious. Shame on First Edition.

  2.  by  Jane Smith

    Nik, this really doesn't look good to me. I have no reason to believe that they're being intentionally malicous: it's probable that they don't realise the full implications of this. But either way, it's just not right and I hope that they come to their senses soon.

  3.  by  Nicola Morgan

    Yes, too many people don't realise the "full implications" of this. And that means they don't understand "how publishing rreally works", which is why Jane's blog has a perfect title. And they certainly don't understand how authors work, or survive, and therefore how literature works and survives. People are welcome to get their lovely words into print however they like, but I always want them to do it with eyes wide open. You've just opened them.

  4.  by  Cathy

    I have had a poem published in First Edition. I submitted it knowing I wouldn't be paid, but it was a poem I'd written on my OU CW course and I knew it wasn't good enough to find a home elsewhere, so I was reasonably happy with that just to get another publishing credit.I was less impressed when I got another email a few months later offering to publish the same poem. I exchanged friendly emails with the editor and am willing to accept this was a genuine error.But I would NEVER pay them to publish my work. I suspect that perhaps they are not selling enough issues or bringing in enough ad revenue to cover their costs. It is after all still a very new mag and of the issues I have seen the quality of submissions is variable.

  5.  by  Jenzarina

    Hi Nik, I really hope they reply to your blog. I was published in First Edition last month and was chuffed about it (no pay except for the 'winner' each month but a printed writing credit).They offered me the chance to sign up for the e-book thing too but because I was in the first wave I didn't have to pay, and get 75% of any royalties. That sounded fine to me.I would like to know their explanation. £25 sounds like a lot – I can't imagine I'd get that much back. How many people would actually download a paid-for short story?Jen

  6.  by  Anonymous

    interesting comments indeed – though I would like to point out that:a) Magazines and books don't print themselves, someone has to actually pay for them eventually…b) First Edition have published MANY authors FREE of charge, whilst other publications insist on a £10 fee JUST TO SUBMIT their work.c) They are offering 75% to the author – something I don't think you will find anywhere from anyone.d) They have many readers around the world, both of the website and magazine, and are trying to do something different to help promote new and upcoming authors. I hardly think £25 is a huge amount.e) Vanity publishing now outstrips traditional publishing, especially in the current economic climate, as there are too many 'big guns' taking the lions share of author's money – something we as authors have worked so hard to create.f) It is a shame that, by the look of the comments, most haven't even seen the magazine – then you would see what it is they produce and distribute.Having had several books published myself over the past twenty years, I DO know publishing and can honestly see the change that is coming regarding e-books and the importance of finding smaller publishers and those who are willing to 'take a chance' on people who would not normally be given one. Anyway, it would be a real shame if you didn't publish this comment and like all fellow authors I wish you the best of luck for the future!

  7.  by  Ann

    This is just a Bad Thing. So basically they charge customers to download, and writers to upload…Ann

  8.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    I havent seen this publication. So can't judge the quality of their content. But I checked out names at random from their contents pages… and there are a huge number of unknowns. Now that's not a bad thing, unless the unknowns are simply all paying to be published… then this is just another vanity publication and ought to come out as such, surely? If that is openly known, and the writers are all aware, and happy to pay to see their name in print (or on a download) then I guess that fine. But if it IS simply another vanity press, then it is NOT a publishing credit worth anything at all on a CV. In fact, it would be a negative to even mention it.

  9.  by  Nik Perring

    Thanks all.Just to clarify: as far as I know the people who've been in the print mag HAVEN'T paid. The last thing I'd want to do would be to discredit anyone. I have friends who've been in there who, like Jenz and Cathy are good writers – and whose work has been chosen over mine. This paying for your work to be published, as far as I know, is a recent thing and only seems to apply to the eBook stuff – and that's what I've taken issue with.Nik

  10.  by  SueG

    Yep, sounds like a scam to me. It really is terrible how people play on the insecurities of new writers in this way. Terrible. But really, no one should ever pay to have their work "published" (unless they are knowingly self-publishing). It's bad enough we don't get paid for our work very often, but this is ridiculous.

  11.  by  Cathy

    Nik, I can confirm that I did not pay anything to have my poem published in First Edition magazine. I wouldn't have submitted had that been the set up, as I value my work too much to pay to have it vanity published (yes, even my dodgy poetry!)

  12.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    Ah – got the wrong end of the stick there, Nik. Apologies. I read two instances I thought, of those who had had work acepted, and then were asked to pay – forget the medium offered. Its that seeming cynicism that got me.Maybe its just a case of the magazine overstretching itself, and needing funds… in which case they are going about it in an extremely dubious way, guaranteed to bring them into disrepute… viz this thread.

  13.  by  Jenzarina

    Just to clarify: First Edition only prints work by emerging writers (read into that what you will). It has been well reviewed, which is why I submitted a story. You don't pay to enter, I think I subbed online so I didn't even pay postage! Each edition one writer with the best story gets £100. The readership seems pretty wide. It isn't a vanity publication. I can't imagine WH Smiths and Borders would stock it if it was poor quality and didn't sell.BUT I'd like to know why they want writers to pay for the e-publication of their book! Surely the outlay for digital books is minimal?Jen

  14.  by  Vanessa Gebbie

    My bad research, apologies. According to its owner/editor on facebook posts, the magazine has been selling tens of thousands each issue. Fantastic. So why the need to demand money to publish its writers in an e-mag?

  15.  by  Jane Smith

    Jenzarina wrote, "BUT I'd like to know why they want writers to pay for the e-publication of their book! Surely the outlay for digital books is minimal?"There's no print-run to pay for: but if you want to produce a good digital edition, in which the text flows well and is properly formatted, then you still need to pay for typesetting and design EVEN on a book which is primarily text. And this costs.However, there's no point in paying for good typesetting for a book which falls short of good editorial standards. And with little or no editorial selection in place, and books being published only if the writers are prepared to pay for it, then I can see no guarantee of quality in the books published under this scheme.

  16.  by  Nik Perring

    Thanks again everyone. I'll reply properly tomorrow (when I'm hopefully not still feeling rubbish with a bug). But Anonymous,usually I don't publish comments from people who don't include their name but I will make an exception here. I'm not attacking anyone, I was just insulted as someone who writes for a living was given the opportunity to pay to have their work published. That didn't, and doesn't, sit right with me.You say: "b) First Edition have published MANY authors FREE of charge, whilst other publications insist on a £10 fee JUST TO SUBMIT their work."Well, why wouldn't they?? You say that like it makes them special or different! EVERY publication I've been in or subbed to haven't charged me for the privilege. Why would they need to? If you're someone who's been in the industry as long as you say I really don't see how, or why, you'd think that not charging was something different and the way legitimate business was done.I really hope that your time in the industry hasn't been solely with dealing with places that need you to pay before they read your stuff, because, honestly, that's not how the industry, as I know it, works.Did your publishers charge you to read your submissions or proposals?For someone who I'm assuming is a professional author (ie earning money/a living from their writing) what you said struck me as being very odd.Nik

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