I was a little surprised to read the other day about the demise of Viewshound.com. I wasn't surprised that they stopped doing what they were doing, but I was surprised by how quickly it all fell in upon itself. I figured someone doing something that ambitious would try to hang on a little longer.
But I'm sure it was daunting for the publishers. I know a lot of OSers blogged over there, and why wouldn't you? It had not only a big audience, but also the prospect of winning a nice prize every day. Open Salon with cash prizes. Why the hell not?
I'm sure they were flooded with submissions. They were publishing 20+ pieces a day. It had to be overwhelming. I'm sure there was no way they could attract enough advertisers to cover their labor costs, and they were paying out prize money every day.
I never submitted anything to Viewshound. They stated clearly that if they published my work, they owned my ass and any money they made from it was theirs, theirs, theirs.
Which, ultimately, was the problem. They were doing it just for the money. Viewshound might have paid you, but they never loved you. They didn't love writers. You should have known they didn't love writers when you saw the way your stories were announced: "Joe Blow just had their story published on Viewshound." I didn't know Joe was a "they."
For the better part of six months, we've been doing something different at Punchnel's.We've been creating and selecting small bits of content we love--stories, poems, memoirs, humor, photo essays, reviews, and other features--and publishing them five days a week. Every day, we post between one and four new pieces.
And we pay not one big prize for our favorite story of the day, but a little bit for every piece we publish.
Because we love writers, and we think they should be paid something for their work. Because we think it's validation that your writing is worth something. Because we don't want to add to the avalanche of content out there; we want to give you a couple of new things every day, twelve or fifteen things a week, we think you might love.
We certainly aren't publishing Punchnel's for the money. We've spent thousands of dollars putting out our literary webzine. The ad revenue we've brought in has not paid for one week's worth of content. Someday, maybe we'll turn a profit, and that will be great. But we're mostly doing it for the experience and to give ourselves a platform to say what we want to say and support the causes we want to support--which includes the cause of telling the world that writing and writers matter. And we've always promised that if we every make money, we'll pay writers more.
So...please read us and see if we're doing anything you like. If you think you're good enough, please submit to us. We may reject you, but that's because we have to reject 90% or more of everything we receive. We reject our best friends and our relatives every week. And we want to be a place where it's harder than easier to publish.
Because it matters. Writing matters, and writers matter. It's great to have a place where you can throw anything you want into the world and get an audience--OS is outstanding for that. We're trying to do something smaller and more selective, and we hope you like it.
PS: if you like Punchnel's, please like us on Facebook or sign up to receive email updates. It's the best way to keep up with what we're doing.
PPS: Watch for a noir flash fiction contest--we're announcing the details at the first of the year.