We’re at that part in the story where the hero moves up to the championship bout, gets his face smashed in and has to nurse his wounds over a beer. Then some scrappy bartender says “keep your head up kid” and gives a speech worthy of Oscar night and suddenly, the hero is back in the gym or punching pig carcasses in a freezer.
Since last year was a bit of a train wreck, I’ve had to adjust my strategy for the year. No bartender wisdom was involved (though a bit of beer may have passed these lips.) So far, things are looking up. I’ve received two acceptances (details as soon as I get them!) and won a contest (won it at the end of last year, but I’m counting it for 2014…at least my bank account is.) Five stories are pending response and I’ve got another one I need to locate a home for, but I’m confident that will happen.
How the did I turn things around so quickly you may ask?
Last year, I was hyper-focused on breaking into the big leagues. I didn’t want to sell myself short. I didn’t want to accept anything less than what I felt my stories were worth. By the end of the year, and with many months of waiting between responses, I hadn’t gotten anywhere.
I didn’t actually expect to make one pro sale after another. Even with a great story, I knew the odds of breaking into those markets were slim and my strategy has always been to try the Pro Markets first, then work my way down. However, as I began to contemplate self-publishing, I realized what a disservice I was doing to my platform by repeatedly dropping my stories into months-long slush piles with little chance of success.
Short story sales isn’t so much about the money. 5 cents a word? Even if you could crank out and sell 10k words a week, you’d barely eek a living. True, the pro sales come with better recognition and even a few perks (like being able to sit at the big boy table at SFWA) but they are, even for incredibly talented and experienced writers, tough to make.
But now that I have forged ahead on my self-publishing journey, I’ve got bigger concerns on my mind, chief of which is marketing. I can focus on pro markets, places where my skill level might not be just yet, and roll the dice on their below one percent acceptance rate OR I can drop back down to the semi-pros and actually get some “A”s in my column.
And that’s what I did. My last two acceptances are at smaller, online venues that pay only slightly above token payments. However, here’s what I get out of the deal – my name, my bio, a link back here, gets circulated. A new audience gets a sample of my writing. It all feeds into the real “bread and butter” of this operation.
Will I keep shooting for the stars? Absolutely. I still want to be a “professional” writer and recognized as such. But no way will I let another year slip by with minimal sales, letting my platform wilt and shrivel. This whole self-publishing thing is going to be all about momentum, and I need to build a lot of it in the next 4-5 months. Expect to see more of my stories available for this year and keep an eye on this space for details about my upcoming novel, Collateral Damage.
Be right back, think I have to run some stairs or something. No way am I standing in a freezer and beating meat though.
Yes, I did just write that. Yes, it was groan-worthy. Hey, I’m a semi-pro – what did you expect?