on the charging of submission fees

It’s a clock, not a moral compass, but it embodies today’s parable.

Imagine that you have a dream.  Imagine that your dream is to build a business based on selling apple pies.  You’ll buy your apples, you’ll rent or buy a kitchen and retail space, you’ll hire bakers and salespeople and deliverypeople, logo-designers, a pr firm, and you’ll arrange to purchase flour and butter and sugar and spice.

You’ll survey a whole slew of recipes, maybe even solicit them worldwide, and entice their creators with the notion that their recipes will form the foundation of your business. No, wait, you’ll charge them a fee to submit their recipes.  You’ll charge hundreds, maybe thousands of recipe-writers a fee for the privilege of having you read their recipes.  You won’t give them feedback on those recipes, your readers (because you don’t have the time to read thousands of recipes) might not even know how to read a recipe and imagine its execution but your choice will be based on those readers’ recommendations.  Then, you’ll choose seven or eight recipes.

Using the fees from those hundreds or thousands of submitters, you’ll start up your business.

And you won’t even pay the “winning” writers for their recipes, they should feel lucky that pies baked from their recipes will go out into the world.

Sound daft?  Read on.

I recently posted in a playwrights’ group that a local theater, Weathervane Playhouse, substitutes 10-minute plays for recipes and runs a festival based in large part on the fees of the losing playwrights.  You might say that it’s fair, since the winners also get to pay a fee, plus their lucky winnings include “donation” of their plays.

I called that activity “immoral,” and that word was challenged.  This post is my answer to that challenge.

Do you pay for a job interview?  Do actors, directors, designers pay to be considered for a production?  Would the production exist – EXIST – without the underlying play?

Immoral.  I stand by my word.


©2012 all rights reserved


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