How To Support The Literary Community

Written by Caitlin Jans | July 14, 2016

Here at Authors Publish we take a strong stance against submission fees. It is part of our guiding principles.

Last summer published an article called The Shame List.  This article was about presses who only read submissions for a fee. Now poetry presses have charged poets for a long time and you can read why here, but it is starting to affect other genres now, even young adult.

The reaction to the Shame List was mostly positive, but several readers wrote in that we were not supporting the literary community by publishing this article. I would like to make it clear that we very much support the literary community.

In fact, as individuals my husband and I subscribe to a number of literary journals, we regularly buy new books, we submit our work to journals, we attend readings, we have a little free library, we use our local public library, we donate to our library, and we run Authors Publish.

I just don’t think paying submission fees supports the literary community in the right way. Because it encourages literary journals to attract writers who pay the fees, not readers to read their work. Most authors want to publish their work so others can read it. The submission fee system does not encourage that.

Paying reading fees encourages more literary journals to charge reading fees. It does not encourage the reading of work.

Below I have written about a number of ways you can support a healthy literary community.

Now if you already do some of these suggestions – great! If you don’t, try and do three this month and go from there. If you want to write books and you want people to read those books, the health of the literary community is vital to you. Some of these options are free, some have a price tag attached.

Subscribe

This is important to literary journals and presses that you support.  Most people know you can subscribe to literary journals, but don’t know that you can do the same with small presses. You can. It is one of the best ways to support small publishing and it is very exciting to find new books in your mailbox all the time. You can also save a lot of money by subscribing. The average small press subscription saves you at least $25 dollars off the cover price.

Buy Books

Buy books. Specifically, buy books that are not massive bestsellers that you can obtain easily from your library. Buy books at small bookstores or Powell’s online, not the ever present Amazon. I personally struggle with this one because Amazon is so convenient. But it is so important. Small bookstores support authors with events. Buy books that your friends publish. Buy books from small publishers.

Use your library

I pick up most of the bestseller books that I read at the library. Most of them I will only read once anyways. I also attend library book sales that help support the library. It also is a very economical way to buy books. Most books cost a dollar (or less) at library sales.

Read

I don’t think this point needs in further explanation, or argumentation, but if you think it does, this article is for you.

Read Literary Journals

There are thousands of literary journals online that publish quality writing you can read for free. I found most of my favorite poems and most of my favorite poets by reading literary journals.

Attend Readings

Literary events like open mics and readings are happening all the time in cities and small towns all around the world. It can be hard to find one to attend if you have never been, but libraries and bookstores are a good place to start. Readings are a great way to support authors. They are also free to attend for the most part.

Recommend

Recommend good literary journals and good books to friends.

Share

Share your books and literary journals with friends. I have bought a lot of books I have enjoyed borrowing from friends. Share the links of literary journals and short stories you have enjoyed online.

Donate

Donate extra books to good organizations. Donate money to pro literacy organizations.

Have another suggestion for supporting literary communities? Email us at support@authorspublish.com