ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
This month we lost another outlet for writers of short fiction and poetry. Pithy Pages has closed their doors. Writers, of course, need readers but unless readers support the writers by buying their works, contributing to their continued efforts, and commenting on their blog pages, then the accomplished writers will be driven to other ways of communication of will give up their efforts entirely. The publishers at Pithy Pages have gracefully allowed me to reprint their final comments on their short-lived project.
From the Publishers of Pithy Pages For Erudite Readers
This is our last issue and quite frankly we think it is unfortunate. We have had a wonderful time reading the many, many stories submitted by a wide range of authors. One of the most difficult things any publisher must do is select a few stories for publication from the many received. The authors we have published have proven to be as gracious as they are talented, making our relationships with them both pleasurable and satisfying.
The fact that we have enjoyed our foray into the publishing world begs the question: Why are we ending our publication? The quick and easy answer is that our publishers and editors are talented writers and avid readers, but lousy business people. The longer answer is a bit more complicated.
In their role as authors, our staff members are constantly writing and submitting their works to a variety of venues for publication. When a publisher accepts their work, they would like to be paid a decent rate.
Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer publishers who will (or can) pay a good rate, making competition among authors fierce for the few spots available. Why is that so?
Publishers too, would like to be paid for their time and effort. To do this each publisher must decide to work as a profit or non-profit company. Pithy Pages chose the former because our publishers believe that the literary public, rather than government or some wealthy foundation, should support the publication of the short fiction they read or write. That being said, there are two ways to generate revenue from a publication: subscription fees and/or advertising. We tried both with dismal results. It turns out that there is more interest in writing short fiction than in reading it. It seems that the only people left to support the publication of short fiction are the authors working in the genre. Unfortunately, short fiction authors are under the incorrect assumption that people are lining up to read their work … They should be (it is really, really good) but they’re not, preferring the latest full-length novel (now showing as a movie).
Without direct and active intervention of the writers of short fiction the genre will continue to be a quaint, underpaid, and unappreciated art form. We, therefore, offer the following solution. Every author and aspiring author of short fiction should set aside ten dollars a week to support the publications of short fiction. When this is done, publishers will be able to sell enough subscriptions to stay in business and to continue to offer a decent payday for those authors selected. When those same authors encourage their friends and family to subscribe or advertise in short fiction publications, pay to authors will increase … as will the number of publications. Eventually, short fiction will rebound as a genre to everyone’s benefit.
One good thing has come out of our experience with publishing. Our staff has vowed to subscribe to the magazines they submit items to. … not because they think they will necessarily be published, but because they understand that the health of the short fiction publication market must be maintained or our genre will go the way of the dodo bird. We hope that you will consider taking the same pledge. Together we can keep short fiction alive and viable as a reading and writing choice.
The Publishers and Editors of Pithy Pages For Erudite Readers