Aquifer strikes back

Or something like that. Remember that online magazine who kindly offered me and other IFComp authors to publish their work for a small fee?

It’s been months and I had not received or expected any reply to my last email [url]]. Just a couple of days ago, I was totally surprised to get another email, from another professor at the same university/working for the same review, apparently wanting to set the record straight on “a few points in your email that simply aren’t true.”

It’s the same kind of sanctimonious passive-aggressive stuff, and puts more than a few words in my mouth, making me says, among other things, what a couple of articles in some American media I have never heard of have written, what some blogger has said about editors, and that “everything should be handed” to her students.

Personally I find it quite amusing that some academic has so much time on her hands that she feels the need to write to some random writer on the other side on the world and rant about Things That Make Her Mad. Goodness knows I have done improbable things for the sake of procrastination, but this one I find impressive.

Feast your eyes.

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So i’m new to this from the point of view that I don’t know who Aquifer are/is, also “vanity presses” ?? What are they?

This seems like one heck of an academic rant.

I’m using this as an excuse to learn a little more about the IF scene outside of the UK, this rant seemed like a great starting point! :smiley:

I think it’s super disingenuous to imply that the Atlantic charging for ads is the same as a magazine charging its writers. Everyone knows that advertising and editorial are completely different.

Trying to give the publisher the benenfit of the doubt: Perhaps they simply mean that they have a lot of costs (like advertising) that they need to recover.

The submission fee seems to be a sort of lottery ticket for exposure to an audience. Is it worth it? I don’t know. Is the lottery conducted fairly? I don’t know. Mostly, I stay away from lotteries, preferring sure things.

Was also wondering if the submission fee guarantees that the piece is read by the editor and constructive feedback given? If so that seems like a bargain regardless of whether the piece is accepted.

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I confess to having a bit more sympathy for the author of this email than I think Victor intended me to. I don’t read it as all that passive-aggressive. Maybe I’m being overly generous, but it feels to me as though she’s less putting words in Victor’s mouth as such than she’s trying to address what she knows is an ongoing public conversation, including some people / venues / speakers not part of the immediate email chain. So she mentions their arguments in order to deal with them as part of that conversation.

And I can easily imagine that hosting and other seemingly “small” costs could add up to a not-actually-trivial set of expenses associated with running this publication: an amount of money that would be negligible to any company, but would be irritatingly much to take out of an individual person’s pocket. The loss of a $10K grant could be a pretty big deal, if it means that suddenly those costs fall on the editor in person.

To be clear, I’m not arguing that one should submit there, or that the charge-to-submit model is a great solution, since it places the burden of support on people who are already putting work and emotional courage on the line, and who may be extremely broke. I don’t know the Aquifer people at all and have no personal stake in what they do or how they’re perceived by the IF community. This may have been a frustrating letter to get, and it might or might not have been politic for her to write, and I’m not sure what the ideal economic solution is for supporting artists in training or the curators/editors who help them get there. (Basic Income, possibly, but that’s not a switch an individual academic can choose to flip.)

But. I can sympathize with her frustration that people don’t always recognize what is being done by the magazine – the curation, the editorial time, the server costs, etc. “Here’s a thing I created: please judge it, give me productive feedback; determine whether your audience will like it; if they would, help me present it to them.” That’s not a small request, especially in aggregate. It’s a request for skill, judgment, tact, and time.

Perhaps the cost of that labor should indeed be borne by someone other than the writers – I do pretty much think that would be preferable – but it is labor and it does have value. And I get why the contrary implication might really bother the letter-sender.

Reading more into this, including the links that Victor provides at the very beginning, I don’t think this is a scam. I have to be honest I don’t even think there are moral or ethical issues here! They are providing in essence a promotional service, you pay them to make your content available to a wider audience than presumably you can reach of your own accord.

If you have a piece of work that you want a wider audience to reach then why not pay someone or some company to push it out there for you. Alternatively if you don’t like the sound of it then just plain don’t use it.

I don’t see a major issue here, then again I have a track record on this forum of posting something like this and receiving a thorough bashing so no doubt i’ll be getting some more of that now! :slight_smile: