Disguising Payments Hurts Writers


Literary journals don’t always pay contributors. But unpaid contributions are less of a problem for writers than literary journals that conceal their pay rates. Allison Williams, over at The Review Review, takes a look at how some publications handle the issue. She points out that the issue of non-payment might be fine for some writers, but the obfuscation of whether or not a market pays is a problem for everyone:

It’s perfectly in keeping with being a writer—even a “literary” writer—to want to be paid. Before “amateur” meant “unskilled,” it meant “one pursuing an occupation for the love of doing it.” Artists often move between the amateur and professional worlds, choosing some projects for cash, some for prestige, some for creative challenges. I love writing. I love it a lot. And I would write whether I got paid or not. But one of the ways to get better at writing is to make it my job, so that I can afford to spend more time doing it. I can’t pay for Scrivener, computer repair, or office space with the warm glow of achievement. For many writers, whether or not a journal pays is a primary consideration when determining where to send our work.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →