Stop Press: I am glad to say that on Friday 1 June 2012 Sally Heath rang me to tell me that «Meanjin» magazine in Melbourne had reconsidered their earlier decision not to pay contributors to its forthcoming 400-page anthology, and will now offer all contributors a small fee: the sum of $50 for each author. It’s not a lot, but it signifies a respect for authors’ rights. I have agreed to let my little poem appear there.
Now for «Quadrant»…
I’m a little concerned about the way «Meanjin» magazine in Melbourne, Australia, is going about publishing a 400-page anthology of the best submissions to the journal since it was founded in December 1940, in Brisbane, by Clem Christesen. The current editor, journalist Sally Heath, says:
In November 2012 MUP will publish a «Meanjin» anthology of poetry, essays, fiction, memoir and interviews from the journal’s extensive archives. It is an endeavor supported by Melbourne University via a Cultural Community Grant. We aim to produce a collection that is of interest to general readers as well as tertiary creative writing and communication students. We hope it will give a snapshot of excellent writing in Australia since the 1940s. We also believe it will contribute to the current debate about placing contemporary Australian literature in context. We hope we can add increased awareness of individual contributors and «Meanjin» to this discussion.
Unfortunately, they don’t intend to pay any of the contributors, and that’s what worries me. They pay for the paper and the binding and the printer and the warehousing, they pay the editor’s salary, they pay the rent. I wonder why they cannot pay the people who make the whole thing possible, the contributors.
Let’s look at the proposed anthology: presumably it will cost around $30 per copy, and let’s assume they sell two thousand overall: if we assume royalties at ten per cent of recommended retail price, that’s a minimum of six thousand dollars in royalties that the contributors will not be receiving.
The magazine enjoys a special Cultural Community Grant (for this anthology), financial support from Melbourne University Publishing who took over the magazine in 2003, sponsorship from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, from Arts Victoria, from the University of Melbourne, from Palgrave Macmillan (which belongs to the huge German publishing company Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck), the State Government of Victoria, the City of Melbourne, and grants from the Copyright Agency Limited.
And they can’t afford to pay the contributors.
At least they are asking permission to sell on the contributors’ work, which is more than they did when they flogged off every contribution to the magazine since 1940 to Informit, who are still profiting from that misappropriation of intellectual property.
They want one tiny little poem from me, for nothing. What do you think I should do?
Please see the Stop Press item at the head of this post.