Sunday, January 31, 2016

Success is a dish best served any time!

No tool can be useful if you have not developed your skills as a craftsman first.  But once you've developed your craft and honed your skills, use every tool you can find to give you an edge.

The (Submission) Grinder is the best tool I have ever found to help writers publish.  Two months ago, I was a writer without a plan.  My afternoons were spent in coffee houses and libraries.  I wrote because I had to, because the need was so strong inside me that not doing it never occurred to me.  At first, I wrote for an audience of one, namely me.  Then I wrote for a few friends who expressed interest in my writing.  But the dream of publishing remained just that.

There has never been a book written that can tell you exactly what you need to do to publish your work.  Nothing.  It's a process, one you have to experience for yourself.  And every failure draws you one step closer to success.

I am proud to say I found success on Friday, or rather it found me, a story I have written called The Glass Slipper Entanglement, has been selected for publication in the magazine eFiction India, which is the leading online and print literary magazine in India.  It is a tremendous feeling of validation to be selected.

You can feel this as well!

The first thing you'll need is a tough skin.  Rejection is a constant.  Don't let it get you down.  If your name was Stephen King, the rejection letters would be less frequent.  But hey, he had oceans of rejections before catching his breaks.

The next thing you'll need to do is write all the time!  And read everything you can.  Writers not reading or writing become crazy people.

Finally, take a good piece of writing and submit it to every publication that accepts simultaneous submissions.  The best way I've found is by using The (Submission) Grinder.  You can track your submission's progress from beginning to end.  And the shear volume of markets is awesome. 

And the best part is it's free.

Don't give up.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The (Submission) Grinder!


So I know what you're thinking.  I already wrote about the (Submission) Grinder.

But I didn't fully understand what it was when I wrote that blog entry.  I thought it was just a great site to search for markets to submit.

But it is so much more than that.

One of the hardest things to remember when you're submitting absolutely everywhere, is well, where you've submitted.  Think about it, one kind of goes into a trance when one gets in the submission mode. It's sort of like stuffing envelopes. You don't count how many you've done, while you're doing it, you just keep stuffing till you can't bring yourself do it anymore. Then if someone were to ask you if you stuffed the envelopes for the city of Tuscaloosa, you wouldn't have a clue.  That's what happens to me when I'm submitting.

Well, I'm happy to say, The Grinder has done something about that.  It takes an extra step, but it's so worth it!

First you have to create a free account and login. Sounds easy, but believe me, unless someone tells you to do it, you might miss the need to like I did.

Then once you're logged in, you'll need to search for a journal and then submit to it. After you're done, go back to the market's page on Grinder.  On the page there is an option to "Log Submission," it's near the top and is a hyperlink and once you find it, click on it.  Now you can actually log your submission and edit it later.  It keeps track of the date you sent it, then when you get a confirmation and whether it was accepted or rejected.  You can log what you submitted (The specific story) and whether you submitted it through the mail or electronically.  It also allows you to enter the date that it was resolved (rejected or accepted).  And whether you got a form letter response or personally written one.  You can even write a note.

The site will even let you know if your submission has exceeded the normal response time for that market.

It is quite the tool.  Not only can you can use it to narrow down searches, but you can use it to keep track of the submissions you made for analyzing later on or so you have a contact list to let markets know when you've been published.  I don't know about you, but I like having a strategy for everything I do.  The Grinder is helping me formulate a strategy and a plan for submission.

And don't forget the best part, IT'S FREE!!!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

What's worse? Submitting or Rejection?

Honestly,  I can't decide.

I have spent the last week submitting a short story I wrote to different journals and the whole process is so tedious, I'd rather stuff envelopes for minimum wage.  First, you have to find a journal, then see if it accepts multiple submissions, because I'm not going to live forever and waiting three months to see if one journal is going to publish it isn't happening.  As far as I'm concerned, anyone who insists that 'no simultaneous submissions accepted' doesn't want submissions and might as well just close up shop.

But I digress.

After finding a journal that accepts simultaneous submissions, the hunt then begins for their submission page.  Then you have to decide what to do if they only accept email submissions? I mean, sites are much faster and convenient, but what if one of the email only sites is the one who'll publish you and no one else will?

It's all just awful.

But I suppose rejection letters aren't much fun either, though sadly I am getting used to them.

I don't know, I guess it's a coin toss.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

6 months and no posts and then two in as many days?

I found a great resource for young and old writers alike. It's a non-profit database called The Grinder. It's a site that has over 4200 markets to get your work published.  It's free, so therefore limited in its search features, but it's FREE!

After I've written a story that I think is worthy of publishing, I've gone through the arduous hours of submission.  Just like every other writer. This process is as much like driving nails through your skull as it is to anything else.

I, like most writers, know nothing about the publishing world. Most of us don't even know where to start. Heck, I'll bet most are like me and aren't sure what genre their stories should be categorized in.

Well, Grinder will not remove all the headaches associated with publishing, but it does streamline the process quite nicely.

I'll bet many of you reading this have gone to a literary journal and spent ten to twenty minutes trying to figure out how to submit your story for consideration.  I know I have done this more times than I'd care to admit. Whoever designed some of these journal's websites by the way should be looking for a new career.

Well, Grinder has links to the website's submission guidelines page.

Helpful right?

Yeah, I thought so too.

Grinder's advanced search feature, allows you to modify a search by: Genre, Story Subject, Snailmail/electronic, Story style, Length, and Minimum Pay Scale.

Which really helps narrow down your search.

Some of the sub-categories weren't as helpful as I'd have liked, but hey, IT WAS FREE!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Been awhile but I had an insight that I thought I'd share...

You know I just rewrote this first sentence.  I started with a cliche and that is never advisable.

So instead, let me say this to you all who are taking the time to read this. There is more to writing than just sitting down and carving out a story. Now some of you might be thinking I'm talking about outlining or revising or editing or some other crap.

But I'm not.

There is way more to being a writer than just writing.  First of all you have to read.  Like all the time!  Read as much as you can. Read magazines, short stories, novels, anything! The more you read the better. I like to keep two or three books going at a time.  That way if I get sick of one I can pick up another, this is why ebooks have changed my life.  I carry an entire library with me in the palm of my hand. I would recommend though that you at least keep a book going that is the same genre as what your writing.  I know it seems silly, but it keeps me in the mood.

But that's not all.

No, I don't just read and write, I also spend a great deal of time trying to get my work published.  I'm nobody after all.  I'm easy to overlook.  Let's say you're ready 150 short stories on a dead line, wouldn't you skim through and look for authors you enjoy?  It's only natural.  The next cut is to look for genre's you enjoy. So as an unpublished author, getting your work in front of a big audience is a challenge. So half the time I write, I stop the thing I love doing, to do the thing I like least.

Selling myself.

This is not easy and never has been for me.  I was the youngest and I was always pudgy.  So my confidence is not all that high.  And make no mistake, your stories are you.  They are your blood and they are your sweat and they are every bit your tears.  I think my stuff is good, some of it is even great.  But to sell that to another, I have to make them believe it and that is the greatest mystery of the publishing world.  There is no panacea.  Oh you can waste hundreds of dollars buying books that supposedly have a sure fire method to get published and in the local book stores, but none of them will get you there.  For every J.K Rowling who landed an agent with her third or fourth letter, there are an army of Stephen Kings who submitted thousands of stories only to have them soundly rejected.

But keep trying.  It's our only defense.  Remember, the publishers and the agents are burnt out workers just like you and me.  Remember, three people passed on Harry Potter!  You have to keep writing and keep submitting, it's the only thing you can do.  The only thing you have power over.

Which leads me to my last thing point I want to make.  Writing is relentless.  It's monotonous and it's tedious.  It is the very last thing you want to do after the day you had, but it's the only thing you can think about.  Writers have to write or they begin to drive themselves and the people they love crazy.

So save your marriage or relationship and spend a few hours writing every day.