Good news! Today I sold my first story! When I got the acceptance e-mail, I freaked out, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’m not at all ashamed to say that there was much screeching, dancing, and waving of arms that went on. When you succeed at something, you should celebrate, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is a huge step for me and I am so grateful and thankful for my friends and family who helped, and to God who gave me my passion and talent. Look at “My Writing” tab to stay up to date on where/when my stories will be available. The many things that came together to create this success leads me to write about my second tip for beginning writers:
Becoming-A-Writer Tip #2: Know your market.
Before you can sell or publish anything, you first have to know your market. For traditional publishing this means knowing who is publishing, what they want, and what the guidelines are. For self publishing you need to know what is in demand and how to package, sell, and promote your work. Of course, these are only the basics of what you need to know, but lets start at the beginning and go from there.
In order to know these things, you COULD spend a bunch of time googling magazines and publishers, and generally exhausting yourself. Or, you could invest 15$ in a copy of the most recent version of Writer’s Market. Feel free to pick up a copy on Amazon right now, it will be a huge step in preparing you to be a professional writer. I’ll even give you a link: BUY WRITER’S MARKET. Now, why am I promoting the Writer’s Market books? Well, because I bought one, read it, subscribed to their website, searched for publishers, found a magazine, submitted my work based on the guidelines/advice Writer’s Market provided, and have now sold my first story, all in the space of about 3 months. Bam! Whoosh! Pow! What do you know, it really works….
(Disclaimer: I’ve been told to expect months, even years of rejection slips before getting accepted. I suspect this one acceptance might be a fluke, but in any case DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED if your first, or second, or hundredth submission is rejected. Learn from them, improve your craft, but don’t give up.)
Writer’s Market is written by professional writers for professional writers in order to write professionally and sell your work. If you’re looking for a place to get started, start with Writer’s Market. I also recommend subscribing to their website, which offers a much more expanded database of publishers/magazines, as well as an online organizer for all your submissions, more how-to articles, and lots of other random goodies. It’s a reasonable price, I got a 1-year subscription for 40$. That’s basically not eating at McDonalds one day a month for a year.
Writer’s Market also has some branch-off books that are specifically for the poetry market, novel/short-story market, children’s books market, and so on. Do your research and invest in what will be most useful. I suggest starting out with the main book, because it has a lot of good information about being a professional writer in general regardless of your market. You need to know those things.
Now, a note here: all this is assuming that you CAN write and HAVE WRITTEN something already. If you’ve never put pen to paper and got all Cs and Ds in your creative writing class in school, this information won’t do you much good. If you are at that point, ignore all this, go read read read read good writers and take some writing classes to get your writing up to par with the basic standards of good writing. How do you know if you’re good or not? Get HONEST feedback from a variety of people (not just family). When I started getting serious about writing professionally about a year ago, I’d already been reading and writing for almost two decades, and always did very well in my writing classes, so I had a sound foundation to build on. I also already had some stories written, (and ideas in my Idea Notebook, remember Tip #1) so once I learned my market, I had something to work with. My point: don’t get so carried away with researching markets that you forget to write well. I’ll talk more on this in my next post.
Check out my beginner Becoming-A-Writer Tips here:
#1: Take notes
#2: Know Your Market
#3 A: Read Read Read!
#3 B: Write Write Write!
My How to Advance Your Writing Career Series:
In addition to Writer’s Market, which should be your starting point, there are also a myriad of great blogs and how-tos online. Here are some really useful one’s I’ve come across that got me started, and that I think you’ll find helpful.
(good advice on submitting work, also check out the main website, good info on literary magazines that you need to know to submit)
(Michael A. Stackpole’s blog, good info about the market and sound advice on various topics of being a professional writer)
(Author Barry Eisler’s website, great resource from who’s done it all)
(Excellent blog with a lot of really heavy, specific, and real-life examples about the market of writing. Look through his present and past posts and get ready to take notes…wow, that rhymed) http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/01/author-barry-eisler-and-literary-agent.html