Writing Report September 5, 2016

Almost every professional writer operates out of conflicting motives.  First off, there’s a desire -- no, a need to write:  We are called to The Work and we may not refuse without risking madness and ruin. We are not called to be successful, however.

To those lofty poets in their ivory towers freed from the necessity of earning their daily bread through any number of circumstances:  I N V U.

To the rest of us, we write because we can’t not write; but once having written, we seek to make a buck off it.[1]

If you’re a hired gun (i.e., work for hire), good for you, knock yo’ ugly ass out.

But if you’re writing on spec, when / where / how do you decide not just where to sell but if you should sell?

Backtrack a bit:  I’ve written about writing prompts in the past.  They’re great for sparking creativity, they’re fun, they’re fast, and God willin’ ‘n’ th’ crick don’t rise, you can get a good short-short story or fictoid out of it.

Last week the writing group I belonged to did a writing prompt exercise and I had a blast writing a short story based on 4 prompts.

You won’t see that story.  Ever.

Because as much fun as it was, I realized even as I was writing it that I was drawing heavily on not only stuff I’d written for my dark barbarian fantasy (roughly 2/3 transcribed to disc as I post this) but also movies such as Angel Heart and From Beyond by way of H.P. Lovecraft and more than a little Neil Gaimen as well.

Maybe the average reader wouldn’t see all the influences, but I sure did.  As enjoyable as the exercise was, I’m not about to let it loose on the world.

But other stories and fictoids?  Some of those I want to share with the world…

…and by “share” I mean “get paid for somehow”.

The problem is that there aren’t that many paying markets for short fiction anymore, especially short-short fiction under 1,000 words, and what few markets there are seem to be almost entirely genre oriented.

What to do with a story like War Trophy ?  There just ain’t dat many markets these days for WWII fiction, much less short-short WWII fiction.

I could waste a few hours looking up markets online, sending the story to them, waiting weeks / months / years for a reply, and garner maybe the princely sum of $83.20 if I’m super-super lucky or more likely $24.96 if I’m only garden variety lucky or more likely wait five years as one market after another rejects it for this reason or that and then be in exactly the same boat as I am today when I opt to simply post it online and let people read it for free.

Why?

Well, for exposure, of course!

But the difference here is that I get to determine what that exposure is, and nobody else is profiting off my story.

And truth be told, let me get enough of these pups under my belt, and they’ll be online in one easily downloadable-for-a-price anthology

So with no guarantee of even a high end payout, I really have precious little to lose by just short circuiting the submission process and posting the story online for all to read.

This does not hold true to all stories I write, however.

$100 seems to be the cut off point for me, at least mentally.  If I can’t clear $100 minimum, there’s really little point of going through the time consuming labor of submitting a story to market after market after market until it sells.

Might as well just slap it up there right now and garner some eyeballs for self-promotion.

Over $100 (especially multiples of $100) and I’m more willing to take time to circulate material in hopes of finding a buyer. [2]

I don’t bother submitting poetry anywhere; too rarefied a media for me even though I like writing it.  If I saw a call for cat poems of 8 verses or less and I just happened to have a cat poem of 8 verses or less in my files, maybe.

But go looking for poetry markets?  Nahhh

So, bottom line for Buzzy Boy: Non-genre work under 1,000 words and / or poetry?  You’ll see it here first, folks.  Genre short-shorts / fictoids?  Maybe a 50-50 chance I’ll opt to post them rather than waste time submitting them.  Genre short stories of 2,000+ words?  Definitely going to try to place them in paying markets and, failing that, maybe self-publish online for free / maybe self-publish for $$$.  Novels?  Self-publishing.

And for your patience in wading through this, a poem to enjoy: stairs to the stars

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[1]  Big Steve King has written on this topic in the past.  His words hold true to this day, but he was only criticizing writing for no other purpose than to earn a buck; once words are on the page (or in a file) then the business of selling them takes precedence.

[2]  But even there eventually ya sez enuff is enuff and you withdraw the story from circulation.

 

 

Alex Toth Knows Where (And Where Not) To Draw The Line

stairs to the stars