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Bold New Changes at The Western Online

By Matthew Pizzolato

First of all, I'd like to express my gratitude to each and every one of the writers and artists who have contributed work to The Western Online and each of the readers who have visited the site. Without each of you, The Western Online wouldn't exist.

I started the site because I noticed as a writer looking for places to submit my Western stories that there wasn't much of a market for Western fiction. The site has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, so I want to thank everyone that has helped spread the word about The Western Online on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or any other social network medium, or by word of mouth.

As part of our two year anniversary celebration, we have added some new sections to the site, updated the existing sections with a lot of new content, and done a slight redesign of our main page.

However, the most significant change is that The Western Online is now a token market. What that means is that from this point forward we offer flat token payments: $5.00 per story regardless of the length and $3.00 per piece of artwork or article. Our submission guidelines have been altered to reflect these changes, so I'd ask that you review them before submitting any work.

Another big change is that in addition to short stories, we now publish novellas if they can be serialized into stories less than 5,000 words a piece. However, the payment terms are a bit different for novellas. Instead of paying $5.00 for an entire novella, we pay $5.00 for each story segment that we publish. For example, if you submit a novella that we serialize into five stories, you will be paid $5.00 for each story, for a total of $25. For more details, check our guidelines.

You may have noticed that we have launched an online store through where we will earn a percentage of the sales called The Western Online Mercantile. The reason for that is simple. I have long considered ways to get the site to generate money so that I could pay our contributors. The reason we are launching the Mercantile now in conjunction to becoming a token market instead of having done it previously is because I didn't feel right making money from the site when contributors are sending their work for free.

All proceeds from the store will be funneled back into the site to help us pay our contributors. We have also installed Paypal donation buttons on every page of the site. Every little bit helps, so help support The Western Online!

As the site begins to generate money our rates will increase. It is my goal for The Western Online to be able to pay professional rates. Being a token market is a small step forward, but it is a necessary one if the site is to continue to grow. For now, we are a token market because I am paying our contributors myself. I have set some money aside to run the site with, but I couldn't afford to pay professional rates out of my own pocket right now.

If the site doesn't generate enough to cover expenses and the money runs out, rest assured that we will not close the site down. The Mercantile will close and we will go back to being a "for the love" market that doesn't offer payment. I hope that doesn't happen, but that is the contingency for which we are prepared.

The future of The Western Online remains bright. We are planning to hold a short story contest very soon. There are also plans to continue the Jud Nelson comic strip with a new story when Vengeance Trail comes to an end. With the rise of the ebook and digital publishing, we are considering an ebook anthology of sorts. However that will probably be in 2012 and terms will be negotiated with the writers we select.

If you have any ideas, suggestions or comments feel free to express them in the section below or send us an email at We'd love to hear from you.


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