How was I supposed to know that something wasn’t right?

I joined a site called Spoiled Ink last month to help promote my novel. Just in the nick of time apparently. It seemed like a great idea for a writers’ network. Writers join and get to create a little ad for their most recent book. The ads appear randomly throughout the site. Members can submit short stories. They even publish a zine. All great stuff that allows writers to connect with an interested audience. And it was free.

Though I’m not much into short stories (writing or reading them), I was convinced to sign up by one of their editors who has been extremely helpful and kind to me.

They emailed me five days after I joined (via their network email so I didn’t receive it til yesterday when I logged in for the first time in weeks) to say that they were rolling out the next phase of their site which is — surprise — that the site will no longer be free. My free trial will be extended for 90 days (20 of which went by before I read the email) but after that the cost is $7/month. Or in their words, “for less than the price of a Grande Half-Caff Double-Pump Caramel Mocchiata.” As someone who doesn’t drink coffee (or anything that would cost more than $7 a cup) this means very little to me. I have to translate it into real terms. “For the cost of hosting my own site.” “For more than the price of a six-pack.” “For half a lapdance.” Or: “For more than twice the cost of a subscription to Playboy.”

Since it took me 20 days to login to Spoiled Ink to learn about the change, I know it isn’t worth my money. (In fairness, I was probably warned about the impending change in fees when I signed up.) It’s a shame. We’re all trying to make ends meet on the internet, but Spoiled Ink’s decision to “to exploit our strongest asset, the Writers’ Network” and start charging for membership as opposed to “plaster[ing] our site with banner ads for vanity publishers” is one that will lose them this writer and probably many others. If they could have covered costs with ads, I wish they would have taken that route. I can tell you what would happen if we tried to charge people to read and comment on NashvilleZine: it would die a quick death.