Before I start, I guess I have to make it clear I’ve no relationship, commercial, literary or other with Liberties Press, other than I follow Sean on Twitter.
So on with the diatribe, I’ve a few notions that are at least worth discussing.
To some folk, charging writers for MS submissions seems to be akin to dousing the shroud of Turin with lighter fluid and going full Jimi on it. I’ll not apologise for an alternate take on the whole thing.
A few years ago, I was in the habit of entering every literary competition going, with mixed results, mostly of the “finding out about the shortlists after stalking the judges on Twitter” sort of thing. I must have spent hundreds of bucks on this “Prize” and that “Award” Admittedly I did have a bit of luck too, but I came to the conclusion that throwing money at competitions was a sure way to bankrupt myself and an even surer way to wreck my already febrile mind.
Literary competitions seem to be multiplying exponentially. Entry fees vary, from €5 to €50 and beyond. If you’re lucky and you get shortlisted, you might get some feedback, though that is rare. If your entry doesn’t appeal to the arbitrary, subjective eye of the judge/s, then your money’s gone, end of.
(On a side issue, I do wonder what some of these competitions do with the profit after expenses. I’m sure they are all honourable and tax compliant, just like the impoverished but hopeful writers.)
Winning prizes or getting shortlisted are good and valid ways of getting your work noticed, but to my mind, the entry fees are as much a submission fee as the one introduced by Liberties. Discuss.
Right, second point… Slush Pile Hell
I am in awe of agents and publishers who wade through the Slush Pile, but these folk have to earn a buck like the rest of us. Surely even a modest fee, would be reasonable, to weed out the Slush. And before you yell, Arts Council Funded… I am. I might be blessed with a bursary from Merrion Square, but I am also a commercial concern, a business if you will. It is how I regard my craft.
I also live with an arts manager who runs a large, Arts Council funded organisation. If either of us decide to go on a three week bender and spend all the grant on fizzy wine and spa breaks, you can bet the folks in Merrion Square won’t be so munificent next year. We have a responsibility to use the money wisely, and in the case of organisations, to make sure deficits are not a common occurrence. In order to do that, the Arts Council funded organisations have to make money. They have to be commercial, a dirty word I know, but there you go.
I’ll wrap up with one more thing. I’ve a couple of novels knocking around, beta-read, redrafted, but still way off finishing on account of having to write the bread and butter stuff. Before I fire them off to an agent or publisher, I’ll be sure to get them read again and get some feedback, whether that’s from an editor I’ll pay or friends I’ll buy lunch for. Either way, I’ll be spending nigh on a hundred bucks anyway. At least the €100 I might shell out to Liberties will result in useful feedback from a professional in the literary biz and who knows, they might even like my ramblings enough to take me on… though I suspect they’d regret that decision soon enough.
So those are my musings. Having a contrary opinion doesn’t make me your enemy, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate your concerns, it’s simply a divergent take. Maybe it’s age or experience, cynicism or realism, but there you have it