W. P. Johnson

Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Give Me Your Money

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Pulp Modern III

Remember that goal I made for myself to get 2-3 stories published a month? The exact quote was, “…thirty stories in a year is only 2-3 stories a month. A tall order, sure, but not completely crazy.”


Oh the positive outlook of a someone who has yet to have his dreams stomped on and run over by a truck! Rejection is a wonderful thing. So is waiting to know if you’ll be rejected or not.

Since having made that goal I’ve only managed one new acceptance to a free anthology put out by some friends of mine. Have no worries though constant reader, I have been busy at the typewriter and have composed some pretty ghoulish stories, some of which I’m very proud of. But none of them have been accepted by anyone quite yet because, well, a lot of places I’ve been submitting to pay semi pro rates and, coincidentally, are tough to get into and have a pretty long response time. Which brings me to today’s particular blog entry which will no doubt rub a lot of people the wrong way or at the very least start a lively discussion that will quickly turn into name calling.

Today I want to talk about getting paid for your work. Or not getting paid. Your choice.

In light of having joined the Horror Writer’s Association as a supporting member, I quickly learned their opinion on the matter. I could write a long philosophical explanation on what they think as this is, I believe, a philosophical debate. After all, what is the purpose of art? And do we demean this purpose by demanding payment? Or do we demean ourselves by giving our art away? The answer is complicated and I’m not really interested in giving it, lest I bore you to tears.

However I do know how the HWA feels. In short, they think that a writer should be paid for their work and, furthermore, they have no respect or tolerance for any market that doesn’t pay. In shorter: these cats do not play games.

For example, when the free anthology put out by Solarcide is released (featuring my short story “Cold Heart”), I’m prohibited from promoting it on their message board for the simple fact that it’s a non-paying market. In fact, if I tried soliciting for submissions on behalf of Solarcide I’d get banned from the message board and possibly booted out of the HWA altogether.

Tough crowd. Sometimes I wonder though…

I remember years ago when I was happy to be published anywhere. My first acceptance to snmhorrormag had me jumping up and down and going ‘yippi!’ (ew, right?). These days though, when I look at a website that’s open to submissions and I see that their payment is a contributor copy or “payment in exposure” a snotty look crosses my face and I think awful things about them and their children. I think to myself, “how dare you pay me by just showing my story off. I might as well just post it here for people to see.” The more I think about it, it is an odd thing to ask someone to publish your work, isn’t it? Notwithstanding physical printed books, it seems kind of arbitrary to have it featured on some other stretch of internet real estate.

However it happened, it would seem that the HWA’s snobby attitude rubbed off on me (though they would contend that this is not snobby, and I would tend to agree). Not only has it effected how I look at non-paying markets, it’s made me scoff at other writers who proudly promote their list of publishing credits, only to find out that a good number of them were published for free and without payment. Worse still are the publishers that charge for their publications but don’t pay their writers.

And even more troubling are writers who publish their stories/novels on line for free with hopes that at some point this will lead to a contract. I mean, after all is said and done, can we at least agree that if you’re going to take yourself seriously as a writer the least you can do is request a token payment for all of your hard work? Lets face it, if you don’t think your work is worth paying for, why should anyone else?

It makes me wonder. Could I have 2-3 stories a month published if I just submitted them to anyone? I certainly write enough. Truth is, there are a few people that would do me the favor if I asked them to, Solarcide being one, many other blog spots and wordpresses being others. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “who the fuck do you think you are? You sound like an arrogant twat that needs to pull his head out of his ass. I work hard and am very proud to be featured at ‘insert free website here’. What makes think you’re too good to be paid in exposure or a contributor’s copy?”

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m well aware of how I sound right now. But just consider the idea that I’m not expressing a belief or an opinion, I’m expressing a feeling, an emotion that I’ve been experiencing recently. If I stand back and set my emotions aside the truth is I don’t think it’s wrong for someone to give their work away for exposure or a contributor’s copy. That’s their choice. I certainly don’t think it demeans all their hard work. I don’t even think I’m beyond submitting a story to a place if I respect what they do or if I’m friends with them. Thunderdome comes to mind, given their intention to someday be a paying market and the anthologies they’ve produced, which pay royalties to contributors. Truth is… if I have something I think they’d like, I might send it their way.

My submission to Solarcide was some payback. They’ve always been nice to me, said great things about my work, and published a story of mine when no one was really paying attention to me. Who knows, maybe someday they’ll be a paying market. But for now, they’re a place for new people to work their stuff out and for the occasional seasoned writer to share space with up and comers that will, no doubt, be selling their work in no time if they keep it up. And while I could’ve just given them a throwaway in light of the fact that I wouldn’t be getting paid for my work, I wrote something fresh and new and I made sure it was as good as any of the stories I’ve been submitting to pro markets. In short, I didn’t just toss them a bone. I made sure I took them as seriously as they take me. I think they know that too, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked me to submit something.

I’m happy to be there. I can’t wait for you to read the story. And don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime. But if you like what you read, do take a moment and maybe shell out a couple of dollars for something of mine that I was paid to write?

Which brings me to some announcements. First, Dark River Press is giving away their anthology until June 26th. So do go and download it and read my story “A Song For John”.

Second: Pulp Modern III is out. It’s pictured above and, speaking of getting paid for your work, I’ll be making royalties based on sales so shell out a couple of dollars. It features my zombie story “White Light, White Heat”, a yarn that takes the piss out of hipster culture and their zombie contingency plan. Imagine if The Walking Dead was crossbred with High Fidelity. I’m featured alongside some pretty heavy hitters and a lot of well published authors. In short, it’s an accomplishment I’m very proud of and, you’ll note, it was no easy task (read my previous entry on the editing process).

And last but not least: Solarcide. What is Solaride? Well, they’re a free online magazine that does interviews and publishes the occasional story, and they’re run by two guys I met way back when I did the Mark Vanderpool short story intensive back when the workshop was at Chuck Palahniuk’s fansite. They published my short story “The Last Round” and were kind enough to ask me to submit something for the upcoming anthology Nova Parade. The short story is titled “Cold Heart” and it’s one of my darkest yet. Faint of heart abandon all lunch which resides in your stomach, it’s a brutal story and if you don’t love horror you probably shouldn’t read it. I’ll be featured alongside some favorites of mine, such as Richard Thomas, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Nikki Guerlain to name but a few.

And yes, they have all had their work published for free. So have I. Want to make something of it?

Until then, here’s to be scary.