Last Updated March 12, 2020
If you’re an author out there submitting short stories, you should be aware of the things that the magazine Unfit and Unreal (via their portal Thinkerbeat Reader) are doing without your permission.
Here’s a screenshot from Feb 27 of the “honorable mentions” page where they publish the authors, titles, and ratings for some stories they’ve rejected.
(Yes, public. This page is visible to everyone, not only Thinkerbeat members.)
I tried yesterday to tell the editor that authors would see this practice as upsetting & predatory, so that he could quietly fix it. Unfortunately, he instead responded with a masterclass in professionalism.
Maybe some authors are willing to have their rejections named & rated. I certainly wouldn’t be, but that’s your choice to make. But it’s DEFINITELY not okay to share information about individual submissions without asking permission. None of the authors in my screenshot were aware of this until I told them.
If you’re considering submitting here, also keep in mind the Unfit / Unreal / Thinkerbeat practice of requiring a subscription to submit – a subscription which costs money after the first three months.1
Thanks to David Steffen of the Submission Grinder for doing the initial legwork of spotting the problem.
Updates and Developments
Edit 2/27: Please don’t try to track down the full list of names-and-ratings. It contains about 75 rows, and every one of them contains information that the submitter didn’t plan to tell the whole internet. Let’s respect their privacy. If you want to know whether your story is listed, let me know and I’ll check my screenshot.
Rest assured that Writer Beware has been notified and is investigating.
Update 3/01: The editor sent me a Paypal transfer that totaled $0.00 after fees. Perhaps this is a petty way of reminding me that I didn’t pay? Or an attempt to verify my email address? Who knows? There’s no note with the transfer. I have refunded it, to make clear that I have no financial relationship of any kind with him.
Update 3/12: The Science Fiction Writers of America have posted an official warning statement about Thinkerbeat and its magazines. Note that Daniel Scott White (the publisher of Thinkerbeat) also runs the online review magazine Phantaxis, according to Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware. Finally, Daniel Scott White continues to act like a jerk when people ask him to remove their stories.
Update 3/22: It looks like Thinkerbeat is now calling their rejections a “Thinkerbeat Award.” Not that they like your story enough to buy it, but they still want you to give them some free advertising by putting the image on their website. (A very Writers-Of-The-Future-like practice. Good to know that markets with a predatory approach to their writers are learning from each other. Sigh.)
- Supposedly they provide free subscriptions to authors who subscribe to their mailing list. Nevertheless, their website terms still say payment is required after 3 months. So it’s not clear whether Thinkerbeat is “mandatory mailing list” or “pay to submit,” but their official policy is clearly the latter, especially since their 3/04 update.