From the very beginning I wondered if it was a bad idea to submit my work to non-paying markets. After a few attempts to "sell" my work my confidence level was pretty low. Then a writer friend suggested that I submit to a magazine for children's writers that had a wonderful reputation but didn't pay. My friend had submitted a manuscript and looked forward to seeing her work in print. I really needed to make some money but I was afraid that if I didn't get some success under my belt I might quit. I was doubting my abilities. So I took a deep breath and wrote an article about getting started called "Baby Steps". My article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Once Upon A Time. When I received my acceptance letter I burst into tears. "I'm a writer," I said drying my eyes and laughing at the same time.
Should you submit to a non-paying market? Why not? It could build your confidence as it did mine. It may get you noticed by an editor for some other publication and lead to paying work. It will give you some writing credits for your cover letter. It may be a great training ground for future writing and publication. Best of all, in my opinion, it means that your writing will get read.
Be discriminating. Check the content of the publication before you submit. Do you like the quality of the writing? Would you be proud to be associated with the publication? If the answer is yes, go ahead and submit your best work. Free isn't an excuse to relax your standards.
I know that not every writer is interested in making money from their writing, but I think most writers want to be read. Most children's writers have some message they want to give children. They have some purpose in writing for children other than riches. Getting their work read to, or by, children is uppermost in their hearts.
After a few successes you can move up to low-paying and then high-paying markets, all the while knowing a child somewhere is enjoying what you, a writer, have written!
Why would I do that? That's why!
(c)2005 Sharon A. Soffe