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End of Year News (December 2017)

Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:57 am by Adrian

(It's been one year since I made a news thread, oops)

Merry Christmas/Festivus/whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate!

2017 was a pretty busy year IRL for most of us - according to forum statistics, our busiest month was in June with 1671 total posts, meaning our post rate has been a little …

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Forum Bug

Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Adrian

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

Due to the lateness at this time, it might be a while before the glitch can be remedied, because despite my best efforts and as far as I can tell, everything seems to be working fine admin-side. It may have …

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Discord News/Update Test

Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:35 am by Adrian

Just a news, update test. Trying to get this thing to work.

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So You Have a Story....

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So You Have a Story....

Post by Omni on Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:41 pm

I have been away from these forums for quite some time now, so I figured I'd start my return off by sharing some of the things I've learned in my time away.

First, a disclaimer: this guide is primarily directed to writers of genre fiction, AKA speculative fiction, AKA fantasy and sci-fi, since that's the majority of what gets written on this forum. Further, this guide doesn't go into self-publishing, for a variety of reasons, foremost among them the fact that WritingBookworm is a far greater authority in that sphere than I am.

With that out of the way, let's proceed.

Introduction

If you're on this forum, chances are that at some point or another you've thought about publishing your fiction. For some of you, this is likely an idle fancy, while others have already taken steps to see that dream realized. This guide is for people between those two extremes: those who are serious about someday seeing their work in print, but don't quite know how to go about it.

Most people, when they think about publishing, think about publishing novels. After all, novels make up the majority of our own consumption of books, both off the shelves and remade into movies, television shows, and games. While some authors do publish novels exclusively, and some authors do get their first publications with novels, this is relatively uncommon. A novel represents a large investment for a publisher, making them less inclined to take risks on new names in the industry. Thus, many people start off by publishing short stories. Not only does this allow them to begin building publication credits in a (somewhat) easier branch of the industry, it gives them time to refine their craft as they work on their short stories. Furthermore, selling a short story is, logistically, significantly easier than selling a novel. To sell a novel, you'll generally first need an agent--most publishing houses won't take unsolicited submissions anymore, so you need an agent to even get in the door--and then you need to actually sell the novel, which is a chore in and of itself. For short stories, the process is much easier: you simply submit your story to a magazine, or what people in the business call a market.

Finding a Market

Finding a market is one of the hardest parts of publication. There are numerous vanity publishers and other scam organizations that will happily part you from your money, leaving you with a hollow, meaningless publication and one less story to submit. Finding a reputable market is therefore vital. Fortunately, there are a number of tools out there to help you sort good markets from bad. My personal favorite is the SFWA list of qualifying markets.

The SFWA, or Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, is a professional organization for writers of cowboy erotica exactly what you'd think based on the name. To gain membership, one must have a certain number of publications to their name, and the SFWA maintains a list of short fiction markets that can be used to qualify for membership. Every single one of these magazines is one of the most reputable in its category, and many have won prestigious awards such as the Hugo. These are, in short, the markets you want to sell to.

Of particular interest to many on this forum will be Cicada Magazine; as a market specifically for YA fiction, not only does Cicada publish the sort of work that many forumites enjoy, but it also specifically encourages submissions from teen writers, of whom I believe we have a fair number. Also of note is the Writers of the Future contest. Writers of the Future is a contest for writers with few to no publications to their name, and exists specifically to give them their first big break in publishing. A number of successful writers have been discovered through Writers of the Future; the most famous in recent memory is Patrick Rothfuss.

Submitting a Story

The most important step for submitting a story is to read the instructions on a market's "Submissions" or "Writer's Guidelines" page and follow them to the letter. This is vital. These magazines do not want to publish your story; they receive thousand of submissions, out of which they will ultimately choose one in a hundred, if that. Therefore, they will be looking for any reason not to consider your story, and a failure to follow directions counts. With that out of the way, there are a number of handy general tips to keep in mind.

First, as sad as it is to say, don't post your stories here if you plan to submit them. Most markets buy first publication rights, meaning that the story cannot have appeared anywhere else, including on these forums. Don't worry about not having anything to post here, however; you undoubtedly will. Furthermore, this site remains a great place for fan fiction, since chances are your market can't legally publish that anyway.

Second, unless specifically instructed otherwise, make sure that your story is in standard manuscript format. This will make you look professional, and therefore less likely to have written garbage. If your story is formatted poorly, the people you submitted it to likely won't even read the first page.

Third, don't send the same story to multiple markets at once. This is called simultaneous submission, and it's a bad idea. Most markets don't like it; after all, what if they both want to buy your story? It causes them a lot of headache, and if they catch you doing it, they'll be far less inclined to publish you in the future.

Finally, be sure to include a good cover letter if one is asked for. This will be your first impression, so make it count. There are as many schools of thought on what makes a good cover letter as there are people writing cover letters, but for short stories, I favor a minimalist approach. As was mentioned, short fiction markets receive an overwhelming number of submissions, and you are, at the end of the day, probably unimportant to them. They'll be more impressed by maturity and respect for their time than any amount of grandstanding. You can read a good guide to writing simple cover letters here.

So, what next?

Wait a few weeks for your rejection letter.

Getting published is hard; if it wasn't, everybody would probably do it. But as it is, your story is far more likely to get rejected than it is to be bought. So, what do you do then?

Why, you send it out again, of course! Keep revising and sending your story until absolutely everyone has rejected it. Then send out the next one. The real key to publication is perseverance. Eventually, your work will reach the point at which someone, somewhere, decides it's worth publishing. In the meantime, post your rejected stories here, to show off your improvement and get critique on where you went wrong. Keep working. Keep writing. You can do it.

Glossary



Market- A publisher you sell fiction to.

Simultaneous Submission- Sending the same story to more than one market at once. Do not do this.

Multiple Submission- Sending more than one story to the same market at once. Make sure to follow the market's rules on this.

Trunk Story- A story that nobody is willing to buy; perfect for posting here for review.
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Re: So You Have a Story....

Post by Sal on Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:17 pm

Thank you for this guide! I'm positive it'll help all of those who want to get books published/want to pursue a career in publishing! Smile

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Re: So You Have a Story....

Post by Neela on Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:37 pm

This is awesome Omni! Especially because we've got some people here trying to get a book self-published! It's a little longer than a short story but I'm sure this will help nonetheless!

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