Friday, January 29, 2010

You’re Not as Good as You Think

If you’re a writer who’s still trying to crack into the professional markets or can’t sell a piece to specific markets that interest you, it’s likely that your writing isn’t as good as you think it is.

I used to believe that the reason I couldn’t get into certain markets was that I wasn’t writing the right kinds of stories or that I just didn’t have the right credentials or contacts. While there is a certain amount of truth to these reasons, they prevented me from taking a critical look at my writing in general.

There have been times when I’ve sent fantasy stories to markets that don’t publish fantasy (or don’t publish the kind of fantasy I tend to write), but when you read guidelines routinely and even subscribe to a few magazines, it’s pretty simple to learn about what gets published and what doesn’t. If you’re submitting genre/subgenre stories that match a market, don’t use this as an excuse.

As for having credentials to get published, I think this can be beneficial in getting noticed, but being published in the past is no guarantee for being published in the future. I’ve seen gripes from writers about certain markets that never seem to publish new writers. Certainly it can seem that way with professional markets, but the problem with professional markets is that your story is competing against stories from professional writers. It isn’t their credentials that get them the contracts; it’s their consistency in producing excellent work.

Finally, knowing editors might help you to get them to read your stories from start to finish, but I think that’s the most you could hope for. An editor isn’t going to put the reputation of his or her magazine at stake in order to grant a favor to a friend or acquaintance.

Rather than blame shifting, focus your efforts on improving your writing. Great writing will get noticed.

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