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Hunger Mountain

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I was on the Hunger Mountain submission site today and noticed they now require a fee to submit. $3.00 for fiction and poetry.
#1 - August 21, 2011, 08:00 AM
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I would never pay a fee to submit - it reminds me of the contest "reading fees". They should be grateful that authors submit the results of their creativity and hard work to their publication, not seeking ways to monopolize on it. I can't see that policy lasting too long.
#2 - August 21, 2011, 09:41 AM

Hi all,

I'm not only a writer and blueboards lurker (sticking my head out from my shell to say hello) but also the assistant editor of the children's/YA lit section at Hunger Mountain. Talia is correct that there's now a $3 fee to submit to Hunger Mountain if you don't subscribe to the print journal. Like you guys, I was curious about the rationale behind this decision, so I checked with our managing editor, Miciah Bay Gault. Here's her explanation of the new fee--I hope it will address any concerns you might have, but please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Thanks!
Caroline Carlson

From Miciah:
Quote
Our staff at Hunger Mountain is made up entirely of writers, and we all understand and appreciate the hard work our fellow writers put into each manuscript they send out for publication. We’re not trying to capitalize on a writer’s desire to be published. Instead we’re trying to ensure the health and longevity of our magazine---so that we can continue to showcase the work of emerging writers.
 
We’re very lucky in that we receive a ton of support (both financial and otherwise) from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Not all literary journals are so lucky. But even with the support from VCFA, we need to explore every reasonable source of revenue in order to continue to 1)pay the writers we publish 2)produce a print journal 3)update and maintain our website 4)offer electronic submissions for writers
 
This $3.00 fee will raise a small bit of revenue for Hunger Mountain, and will cover—only in very small part—the costs I’ve listed. Writers would pay roughly $3.00 for paper and ink, envelopes, and postage fees if they were sending a manuscript via surface mail. In submitting electronically to Hunger Mountain, the writer pays no more than they would submitting through surface mail, and we raise a small amount of revenue to keep our journal healthy, all while keeping “green” by saving paper, ink, and fuel (for postal service vehicles.)
 
Believe me: we aren’t getting rich from charging a $3.00 fee. Hunger Mountain has one paid staff member. The rest of the work is taken on by a team of dedicated volunteers. It’s in many ways a labor of love. We love publishing work by emerging authors. We love when agents contact us looking to get in touch with these new writers we showcase. We love this sense that we’ve helped launch a writing career! The writers who submit their work are very important to us. We couldn’t publish a journal without them; much of what we print come directly from the “slush” pile. We sincerely hope this $3.00 fee won’t discourage writers from sending their work to us.
#3 - August 22, 2011, 07:59 AM

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I'm sorry, but I think this sets a very bad precedent.  I'm sure you're having a hard time surviving, but READERS need to support a journal such as yours.  If writers are supporting it, in any form, then it's a case of subsidy publishing.  Period.
#4 - October 01, 2011, 11:54 AM
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Thank you, Betsy, for responding.

This situation has been nagging at me.  Miciah's explanation seemed logical, so I was trying to figure out why it still felt so wrong to me.

This was especially true, because several months ago I was researching a fairly new book publisher, trying to decide if I wanted to submit to them.  On another writers' forum, I found a thread where a lot of writers had lambasted this publisher because they had been charging $3 to submit.  The publisher had used the same argument that Hunger Mountain is using--i.e., writers would pay $3 to send a submission via land mail (especially since this publisher was in Canada), so charging $3 for an email submission was not costing the writers any extra.  None of the writers on that thread were buying this as a legitimate argument.  At the time I was considering this publisher, it no longer charged for submissions, so I guess they realized it wasn't an acceptable thing to do.

So... I had been trying to figure out why it was considered so wrong for that publisher to charge, but Hunger Mountain thought it was okay for them to charge.
#5 - October 02, 2011, 08:02 PM

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I'd like to chime in and say that as wrong as it sounds, it's pretty standard for literary magazines.   With limited subscribers (unlikely to sell to the general population the way glossy mags and kids mags do) this is how they stay afloat.  Because we've all been trained to to be wary of paying to be read (scam agents, vanity presses, etc) we have a knee jerk. But places like Hunger Mountain are really non-profits, not businesses... and they exist for us, not for general readers.

For better and for worse.
#6 - October 02, 2011, 10:13 PM

Hi again, all,

Thanks for keeping up the discussion. Betsy and Ev, I'm sorry that the decision still doesn't sit well with you. I'm not sure there's anything I or the other Hunger Mountain staffers can say that would change your mind, but I hope you'll still keep reading the magazine online.

Taking off my editor hat for a minute... Laurel is right that a small submission fee is pretty standard for literary magazines, and I think that's one reason why I feel ok with the new fee. I write poetry (for adults) as well as middle grade fiction, and I've submitted my poetry to a few journals in the past. Nearly all of those journals asked for a few dollars along with my submission, and while I wasn't particularly excited to pay the $3 or so, I felt ok about it because I knew that I was helping a publication I enjoyed do good work I believed in. In my mind, I wasn't paying as a writer so that I could be published (and none of those journals actually published me, anyway!); I was paying as a reader and a member of the greater writing community, supporting a small organization that I cared about.

I can certainly understand, though, that not everyone is comfortable with this. I think that while small submission fees are relatively common in the "writing for adults" lit mag world, they're very uncommon in the children's literature world. One of my favorite things about Hunger Mountain is that it publishes children's and YA literature along with "adult" fiction and poetry, but that does mean that it caters to a diverse group of writers, many of whom have very different expectations about how literary magazines should work.

I hope that writers who feel comfortable supporting the work Hunger Mountain is doing will continue submitting their work to us, because I know we have gotten some absolutely brilliant pieces from Blueboards members in the past. We do love you guys, and we hope you'll keep writing and submitting.
#7 - October 03, 2011, 07:55 AM

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Taking off my editor hat for a minute... Laurel is right that a small submission fee is pretty standard for literary magazines, and I think that's one reason why I feel ok with the new fee. I write poetry (for adults) as well as middle grade fiction, and I've submitted my poetry to a few journals in the past. Nearly all of those journals asked for a few dollars along with my submission, and while I wasn't particularly excited to pay the $3 or so, I felt ok about it because I knew that I was helping a publication I enjoyed do good work I believed in. In my mind, I wasn't paying as a writer so that I could be published (and none of those journals actually published me, anyway!); I was paying as a reader and a member of the greater writing community, supporting a small organization that I cared about.

Belated response, but I come from the world of MFA poetry. The only fees I've ever paid was for contests. Reading fees for journals is neither "pretty standard" or "standard" and I'm fairly disappointed to see it being billed as such. The magazines that do charge for *online* submissions--Ploughshares and Subtropics are two--are typically free for snail mail submitters.

I think the practice sets a very bad precedent. Of course magazines will charge writers if they can get away with it, but that doesn't mean writers should accept it. There are too many places that will take our submissions for free--and pay us to publish them!
#8 - October 12, 2011, 03:18 PM

There are too many places that will take our submissions for free--and pay us to publish them!

Hi Phoebe,

Just to clarify--Hunger Mountain does pay the authors it publishes.

Thanks,
Caroline
#9 - October 12, 2011, 05:27 PM

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Hi Phoebe,

Just to clarify--Hunger Mountain does pay the authors it publishes.

Thanks,
Caroline

Right. Minus the three dollars you charge to submit. While the vast majority of submitters make nothing in return.

There are a lot of things a market can do to make a reading fee like this (and, though you try to draw a distinction, it is very literally a reading fee--there's no way to be read without paying it) okay. Allowing submitters to send snail mail submissions for free is one. Free reading periods are another. But the practice as it's executed with Hunger Mountain isn't standard even within the literary world, and it's not right to present it as such.
#10 - October 13, 2011, 07:18 PM

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