Hashtag: In Defence of Visible Ink

There has been public backlash recently over the fact that Visible Ink charges writers a $6 fee when submitting to the magazine.

Charging writers to submit their work doesn’t sit well with the majority of people – at least, it doesn’t sit well with me.

After all, it would be considered madness to charge a group of plumbers for simply considering which one you would let fix your toilet.

However the reality is that a lot of this anger has been misdirected. Not all of it, but a lot.

Firstly, some context: Visible Ink is a creative writing anthology run by RMIT students.

It doesn’t have any major grants and it isn’t rolling around in cash (hello, they’re not News Ltd).

The editorial team doesn’t get paid, either.

On Wednesday, someone posted on their Facebook page:

“You can’t be serious asking poets to pay $6 just to submit to your august [sic] publication. It’s bullshit and will be subject to a boycott.”

In an ideal world, Visible Ink wouldn’t have to charge

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people to submit. No publication would.

But anyone who has a go at Visible Ink without first understanding what they’re about is missing the point.

Let’s get something straight: printing books and magazines costs money.

Either people don’t know this, or they’re in a serious state of denial. Managing a print budget is hard.

Trust me.

If you don’t like the fee, take your submission elsewhere.

It’s ironic that people are quick to have a go at Visible Ink, when the reality is that the culture of charging writers is widespread.

Verandah – Deakin University’s creative writing anthology – charges writers $10 to submit.

Island is a national literary journal based in Tasmania. They won’t accept your work unless you’re a subscriber (which costs $59.99 a year).

Meanwhile, Overland prioritises submissions by subscribers.

And let’s not forget that Meanjin charges for fiction and nonfiction submissions, too.

I’d like to see people tackling the wider issue of how to pay writers, rather than hating on a small publication that isn’t alone in charging for submissions.

Perhaps a good compromise would be to make it so that writers have to pre-order the magazine in order to submit.

That way, even if their work doesn’t get included they still get the product, guaranteeing an increase in sales.

What do you think?

Click here to read what Visible Ink has to say about the matter.

Broede Carmody


This is Broede’s last Hashtag post. He would like to thank Andrei, Dragana and Nathan for being intelligent and incredibly well-dressed at all times – as well as his Siamese fighting fish, Ampersand. If you’d like to write a blog for Catalyst next semester, get in touch with the editors. They won’t bite. Much.

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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