One sure sign that the world will end this year is that Open Salon seems poised to perish, and that some of its writers are begging for the chance to pay good money to keep it alive.
Call me old-fashioned, but writers – real writers – do not pay to be published. From time immemorial, writers have submitted their work to publishers. If the publishers agreed to publish it, they sent the writer money, or at least something of value. (Little magazines, for example, sometimes send, in lieu of cash, a few copies of the magazine in which your work appears.)
You can bet that when God, some four thousand years ago, finished writing the Old Testament, and submitted it to the Jewish Publication Society, it was with the understanding that JPS would either advance him a few shekels or he would peddle his manuscript – consisting of hundreds of blocks of engraved granite – elsewhere. JPS wisely agreed to publish the work and pay for it, and the deal has worked out well for both sides. At last tally, everyone who ever lived has bought at least one Bible, and the accumulated royalties are now approaching seven quadrillion shekels. JPS still is trying to figure out how to deliver payment to the author.
Not long after the Bible was written, I entered journalism, and the newspaper that employed me agreed to pay me $18.30 a day to write articles. Even back then, this was not considered a generous salary, but it was within the range approved by the Newspaper Guild, of which I automatically became a member. Later I would get raises, but that is neither here nor there. The point is that I was paid for every day that I spent as a hired journalist during the more than forty years that followed.
I also got paid for writing free-lance articles and books. On one occasion I received only $50 for an article – my personal nadir – and on another I got paid in the $1,000-plus range. I received multiple thousands of dollars in advance for writing books. None of this was done for free, and by God (to bring Him in again), I never paid a publisher to publish me.
Times have changed, and today we have publishing venues such as Open Salon, which don’t actually charge you to publish your work, but they don’t pay you either. I have decided to play along with this scenario, not feeling that I have much choice, although I don’t like it. (See my previous discussion of this issue at http://open.salon.com/blog/artlouis/2011/08/01/lets_boycott_open_salon_until_they_pay_us)
Now, as the planet Niburu – or is it Mungo? – hastens toward its rendezvous with earth on December 21, we have OS writers suggesting that we all dig into our pockets and buy OS and turn it into a non-profit organization. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy OS, but how are we going to get our money back, especially if it operates as a non-profit?
Others have suggested that we all pay management a monthly fee -- $10 is commonly suggested – to retain the privilege of writing for OS. Folks, it’s bad enough that we don’t get paid, but for us to be required to pay???? That would be the worst evolutionary development in the history of publishing, and I would hope it would be a brief and final one. Giddyup, Niburu, your hour has come round at last.