Sonora Review is pleased to announce two Free Online Submission Periods for the coming year, during the months of September and January. General submissions made through our online submissions manager during these months will be totally free of charge. General online submissions made outside of these periods will continue to have an attached $3 fee. Additionally, general submissions sent by post will be free year-round. Sonora Review will not distinguish between fee and non-fee submissions when considering pieces for publication.
Sonora Review plans to expand this online free period year after year, with the goal of being 100% fee-free for general submissions within the next 3 years.
In the interest of full transparency to you, our readers & our contributors, we’d like to take this opportunity to explain our existing fee system and why we are moving away from it.
Sonora Review has used general submission fees in the past as a way of decreasing the number of flatly inappropriate submissions received (e.g., whole novel manuscripts, 30,000+ word submissions, and all manner of other items our submission guidelines categorically exclude) and at times as a revenue stream to offset technology and print costs. A number of other journals have similar policies—for further context on this discussion, take a look at the thoughts of Brevity’s editorship here or The Missouri Review’s here and here.
These are legitimate operational strategies for a literary journal, especially for university-affiliated journals, who often face precarious funding situations and narrow margins. Sonora Review is run entirely by grad student volunteers. No one draws a salary, and it has often been necessary for staff to donate out-of-pocket to cover essential costs for the journal. Decreasing the number of flatly inappropriate submissions and subsidizing costs through fees has helped Sonora Review stay afloat and keep publishing as a print journal.
However, there are definite downsides to this fee system. Most importantly: it transfers the material burdens of the literary process onto authors. It’s not uncommon for a truly excellent piece of creative writing to get rejected by 5+ journals before it finds a home. Those fees add up over time, and this runs the risk of creating a chilling effect in which authors are unable to submit their work regularly and widely.
For this reason we believe that gradually transitioning back to a free submission model will better serve our readers, our contributors, our staff, and our journal.
We welcome questions and feedback on this change. Our editors can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Editors of Sonora Review