Get Published Not Exploited
by Kalamu ya Salaam

I don’t give up my copyright to anyone. Period.

I will do work for hire— in which case, the copyright is understood before hand to belong to the person/organization paying for the work. but that is a personal decision. As for as work I create and then send out, I DO NOT GIVE UP (NOR SELL) MY COPYRIGHT.

If a journal, book, magazine, ezine, whatever requires the full copyright in order to publish a poem, story, article, essay, etc. that is not a place you will see my work.

If you want your work to appear somewhere and they ask for copyright control, you should negotiate. there are various rights you can sell without giving up copyright.

While I do not expect to receive payment for each work I get published, I do not expect to pay to publish my work either.
I would rather directly support a publication with a subscription or donation or purchase, than pay a reading fee to have my work considered for general publication. This does not apply to contests, which is a form of gambling, i.e. you pay money to take a shot at winning.

When you give to your people and the causes you support, give your best.
Some of us make the mistake of sending shoddy work (work we don't care about or that is hastily put together) to publications when there is no fee involved.  If you care enough to be included in the publication, care enough to send your best work.

Additionally, if you are really serious, you surely don't want second rate work as part of your printed legacy.

Don't be suckered by offers to be a special editor, a special contributor, etc.
If you acquire ads, get five or six (or some specified number) of new subscribers, etc. All of that is bullshit.

If you have a bad experience with one person/organization, don't take it out on others.
There are a lot of shysters, hustlers, and borderline "evil people" in the publishing business. don't let experiences with those kinds of people, turn you off from dealing with others.

Don't ignore the new, the small, and the local.
Treat everyone as though they were well established, impressive and globally connected. A small publication with a circulation of five, may just include among their five readers one person for whom your work is a life changing experience. be serious about writing, about sharing your writing, and about working with people at whatever level they exist.

Don't be so eager to publish that you will do anything or fall for anything.
Moreover, if you have a question, ask questions. Question the publishers/editors at the publication. you can email me questions about anything you see on cyberdrum (or anything else for that matter). Don't ever be afraid or reluctant to ask questions.

There is nothing free in life.
Everything costs something (you may not pay for it personally, but everything costs something).


Kalamu ya Salaam is founder of Nommo Literary Society, a New Orleans-based, Black writer's workshop, and is also moderator of CyberDrum, a listserv of Black writers and diverse supporters of literature. To join CyberDrum or contact Kalamu, email him at