Things that make you go hmm….

Preteen’s language arts class (7th grade) is starting a publication unit. As part of the unit, everybody in the class will be submitting an article or story to a magazine for publication. The teacher told the students that some of her previous students were paid $50-1,000 for their work! I’d sure like to know what publication paid a seventh grader $1,000!

According to Preteen, the goal isn’t just to get published, but to get paid! And as a working writer, I’m all for passing on the message that an author should be paid for his/her work. But do we really want to be telling seventh graders they can get up to $1,000 for their work? Is that really a realistic look at the publishing industry? I’m all for inspiring kids to write and submit (if they’re ready!) and follow their dreams (when I do school visits, the whole theme of my presentation is “Don’t give up on your dreams!”), but part of making a dream come true is working toward it REALISTICALLY!

Is anybody out there getting $1,000 from a magazine these days??? Is anybody out there even getting half that??? Well, if you’re writing for the top adult magazines, yeah, you’re certainly getting that much. But if you’re writing for childrens magazines (and I don’t know which publications these kids are submitting to), you’re not making anywhere near that!

I’m also wondering whether this teacher is preparing her students for rejection? I hope so! Realistically, most of these kids are going to have their pieces rejected. Are they ready for that? I would hate to think she’s got a kid in her class who wants to be a writer more than anything…the kid submits his/her story…it’s rejected…and then he/she comes away thinking he/she is a bad writer who will never get anything published (especially if someone else in the class actually DOES sell something) so he/she never submits anything ever again.

BTW, there are only ten days left of school. They’re just starting this unit, so I don’t know when they’re planning on submitting these pieces. On the one hand, it’s good timing…no one’s going to hear anything by the end of the school year. So most kids will probably forget all about it over the summer. (Will the responses be sent to the kids’ homes or to the teacher?) But is that really enough time to write something, revise it, get some feedback on it, revise it some more, then send it out?

It’ll be interesting to see how this unit progresses. I wonder if the teacher is a published author herself? I’m assuming she knows something about the submission process to teach a unit like this.


One thought on “Things that make you go hmm….

  1. Twice I’ve been paid $1000 for an anthology short story, but those were both unusual cases, and that was out of some 30 plus short story sales–most of the rest of which have paid closer to 5 to 10 cents a word, for a couple hundred dollars apiece on average.

    One of the $1000 short stories actually earned out it’s advance. Which essentially means that out of 30-something short story sales, lightning managed to strike once. 🙂

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