Yesterday John Scalzi posted an article* about Black Matrix Publishing, LLC, a new publisher launching a series of four genre zines. I call them ‘zines’ because that appears to be what they are based on the level of pay, which as Mr. Scalzi points out is a paltry 1/5 of a cent per word. Scalzi urges writers to not submit anything to this market until they pay a reasonable rate.
I’m not sure who he’s talking to. All writers, or pro writers? Scalzi is a pro. The people who read Locus (where he found the banner to Black Matrix) are largely pros. No pro should accept that rate, that is certain. I think they’re aiming rather high by advertising there, but they may have been targeting readers like me, (and yes, I am a Locus subscriber,) not Scalzi.
I am not a pro. I am unpublished. And I have half a dozen stories I’m considering trunking right now because they are not selling to the pro and semi-pro markets. Black Matrix’s zines certainly wouldn’t be the only markets out there paying a ‘token’ rate. Duotrope is full of them. Are we supposed to boycott all zines?
I don’t know. I don’t see why I would do that. If I were Scalzi, sure. But I’m not. I’m Yant, and right now Yant is nobody. What would I lose? First North American Serial Rights to a story that wasn’t selling anywhere else anyway?
We all have to start somewhere. Am I hurting myself in some way that I can’t identify by seeing if I can start there?
Honestly I waffle on this all the time. I go back and forth between wanting to submit them until I simply run out of markets, to giving up on that and posting them here on the site, to giving up even on that and just trunking them. I change my mind almost weekly on this. There is part of me that just wants someone I trust to tell me what to do.
I suspect that most pros would tell me to shut up and keep submitting**, and while those stories are out, write the next thing.
** Eventually they will end up at places like Black Matrix.