authors getting flat fees

Authors Making Wise Choices

It used to be there were not many choices for lgbt authors. And it wasn’t that long ago either. There were calls for submission for short story anthologies and we were paid a one time flat fee that ranged from fifty to sixty bucks, plus those two expected free copies. I’m twirling my finger as I write this. It was the same flat fee almost twenty years ago, and it’s still the same flat fee now. In some cases, small presses have even lowered that fee to twenty five dollars.

We did it because we loved what we were writing. We did it because the opportunities weren’t there to get our work published anywhere else. And we did it because it gave us publishing credits and fueled our fragile egos.

But things have changed. And they continue to change. We don’t have to sign contracts that are one-sided and we can take advantage of e-book royalties that e-publishers are offering. (The flat fees are lower with e-publishers, but there’s a chance to make it on the back end…which I prefer, and which also gives me the incentive to promote the anthology.)Or, we can self-publish and take our chances. I would imagine that an author could make at least fifty or sixty bucks self-publishing a short story on amazon and still have the possibility to make more in the future.

I’m not saying there are any set rules. All I’m saying is authors have to think like business people sometimes and they have to do what is right for them. And with the opportunities now, regarding digital sales, it’s only to the author’s advantage to try self-publishing instead of the “traditional” route where small presses pay one time flat fees.

And, frankly, there are still a few anthologies I submitted stories to where I never even received the flat author fee. The editor is responsible for paying the authors and some of these editors leave a lot to be desired. This was years ago, and I figured that if the editor needed the fifty bucks that badly I’d rather not pursue it. But it does sting. It’s like handing over your work for nothing, and without getting an ounce of respect in return.

Choose wisely before you sign any contracts with small “traditional” presses. And if you sign a contract that is only going to give you a flat fee and free copies, make sure it is a non-exclusive. This way, at the very least you can still submit your own work to an e-publisher down the line who is willing to pay royalties. Or you can self publish the same story or novel and make your own opportunities.