Short Beasts is a publication of Text Literary Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. This is a review of our purposes in launching Short Beasts and our efforts toward being able to pay contributors.

Text+Lit’s Vision

From the start, we knew Short Beasts and Text+Lit would be of a high aesthetic quality, featuring excellent readability and, when possible, relevant visuals. We banked on authors wanting to have their stories read on a beautiful site, and on readers wishing to read a clean, clear, highly readable publication. Rather than adorning articles with irrelevant visuals, both Short Beasts and Text+Lit will be text-heavy sites. Here’s why:

Many visuals on websites lack direct relevance to the content they are supposed to support, which tends to cause confusion rather than helping concepts gel. We want to avoid that type of gratuitous imagery whose primary purpose is search engine appeal. First and foremost, our sites are focused on meaningful content, serving writers and readers. In short, we support people.

About Paying Contributors

As writers ourselves, we understand the need to be paid for articles. Writing is time and energy consuming. The effort and commitment required in writing articles and stories directly impacts one’s ability to eat and keep the lights on. Being published also impacts a writer’s ability to have longer works published, which also impacts life’s basic necessities.

Yet, the models for generating income from an online publication are unappealing because in every iteration they detract from the reader experience. For example, subscription tiers limit access to premium content, which penalizes readers with lesser budgets. That is not a path we are prepared to consider. Instead we are exploring other options.

We feel it is important to pay contributors, yet as a small volunteer nonprofit startup, it’s a difficult equation. The sooner we pay without first developing a compatible revenue stream, the shorter the lifespan of the publication. Yet, we intend to be in this for the long haul. As a result of this conundrum, we decided to first launch a sister publication in the form of a flash fiction literary magazine, Short Beasts.

Small flash sites often do not pay contributors, yet they also do not charge submission or reading fees. You could say the free submissions are a small manner of payment. There is a writer/publisher trade-off there that works. The time investment is less than with longer pieces. Writers get to be published without having to pay fees for it, and small publications can receive quality submissions.

With Short Beasts we could continue developing a model and method for paying Text+Lit contributors, while first publishing a high quality sister site. True to our vision, Short Beasts also embodies a thoroughly pleasurable reading experience.

Innovate and Share

Part of our mission is developing innovative publishing tools for authors and publishers alike that bridge the economic barrier to publishing.

Our first effort is focusing on a new submissions system, which we are successfully testing on Short Beasts. After much research, we landed on a solution of marrying two existing tools. While still in development, it is working well so far. Once we have tested it more, we intend to share the results for the benefit of the literary community.

Rather than charging submission or reading fees, we are hopeful that we can find a funding model that will help cover costs in the course of launching and publishing Text+Lit. Time will tell.

In the mean time, Short Beasts charges no submission or reading fees. We are currently open for submissions.