I sincerely understand when print journals ask for a reading fee of a few dollars. Print journals do not sell well, they have a staff, and some of the ones on the “best literary journals” get many more submissions than they can use. As well, if they are using submittable, the larger print journals have to pay a fee to use the service.
Submission fees can range from $1 to $10. I’ve seen some as high as $20 or $25 for a submission of a short story. I call bullshit.
I understand a reading fee of $5.00 or under. $10.00 is questionable. But then – more than that – No. No. And no.
Especially for an online literary journal run by one or two people. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to earn money. I am saying I don’t think they should be charging writers that much to read their fiction, poetry, or memoir.
There’s one website run by a single person – I won’t publically shame them – who has “contests” nearly every month. This person charges between $7.00 and $10.00 for each contest and offers minimal feedback; however, I have yet to see one print journal even though her copy says, winners will be published in the journal.
I have no idea how many people fall for that.
Research the journal carefully and ask yourself what you’re supporting. If you believe in what they are doing – then by all means pay the fee. Don’t pay a fee in desperation of being published. If you’re good, publication will come.