As of now, I'm revising my first YA novel for the umpteenth time. In between revisions and pulling my hair out at work, I still like to dabble in poetry and short stories for children and adults.
My writing journey began in 2008. I had no fear. From day one, I plunged into submitting my work.
My first published piece was a poem I submitted to Parent:Wise Austin. When I read it now, I cringe. It wasn't very good, but I got paid $10! Woohoo! My next two pieces were puzzles for Highlights' Puzzlemania. I got two checks from them for $25 each! I thought, "Wow, I can get used to this!"
Since then, I've had a poem published for an e-zine for $5 and a flash fiction piece that was accepted and awaiting publication and payment of five British pounds.
I've had other pieces published: two children's stories on smories.com, two poems on SNM Horror e-zine, haikus on SoftWhispers, two poems for a now-defunct literary magazine, a poem on Roguezine, and a children's story in 31 More Nights of Halloween, a printed anthology. All for no monetary payment. In some cases, I didn't even receive a contributor's copy.
Don't get me wrong--after each and every acceptance, I did the Happy Dance. Acceptance is so crucial to my self-esteem, and every acceptance is a tid-bit of recognition letting me know I'm doing something right. But honestly? I'm getting tired of leaving a little bit of my blood on the page and only getting a pat on the back.
I've heard writers say that even if they never got paid, they'd still write. Well, my computer's hard drive is full of manuscripts awaiting completion, revision, and submission. I wrote them all without the promise of publication, and most of them will never be seen by an editor, let alone the general public. I wrote them because I needed to get them out of my head.
There are two schools of thought on paid acceptances. Some say that no author should work for free. (See 315 Million Reasons Why Writers Shouldn't Work For Free and Harlan Ellison Hates Cheap Writers) Others say that getting writing for free gives exposure. (See The Value of Free)
I say, "Whatever works for you, is great!" But from now on, I'll be searching Duotrope's database of 4445 listings for paying markets only.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you submit to non-paying publishers? Why or why not?