1. ConstantlyResearching

    ConstantlyResearching New Member

    Dec 18, 2017
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    How do You Build Up a Portfolio of Work?

    Discussion in 'Marketing' started by ConstantlyResearching, Dec 26, 2017.


    I have been working on a novel for the last seven or so years. During that time have been lucky enough to have a mentor, who trained as a journalist, guiding me through the process. Whether or not it ever sees the light of day on a bookshelf is anyone's guess but I've read that any aspiring novelist should have something published before they try to get a book published.

    The road to building this portfolio, however, has led to a disagreement between my brother and I. I have considered writing short stories and attempt to get them published in (very) modest online publications and kind of go from there. My brother (who has studied has a degree in communications and is an infuriating know-it-all) thinks that I should build a blog and just post them on there.

    The problem is that I HAVE considered the blog option but research suggests that building up an audience for the blog of a fictional writer won't bring the attention you would need to put on a resume.

    I realize that the competition for short story writing is about the same or worse than trying to get a novel published. My main goal is not only to get experience but perhaps to prove to myself that this is what I'm supposed to be doing and that I do have some talent.

    I appreciate any advice anyone has to give. Thanks!



    P.S. If someone advises that I start with a blog I will, I just feel ready to take a bit of a risk. Even if I get rejected, if the editor tells me to keep trying that would be enough for me to try again.

    My short stories are critiqued many times over by my mentor, my brother, and my writer's group. I'll also most likely post them up in the critique section too because one can never be edited too much...lol
    CerebralEcstasy likes this.
  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Jul 7, 2016
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    Do you think you are any good? That is a serious question. I don't send my work to places people haven't heard of because, well, they don't pay, have few readers in comparison, and not many people have probably heard of them. So, how's that going to help anything? Also, journalist don't always make the best writers. If you read enough memoirs, some by journalist others not, you can often see this and it's not always the best thing. What you have is probably great, but you don't need to aim low. You do need to brace yourself for a ridiculous amount of rejection. You'll end up asking yourself how much more of it you can take before you ask yourself again if you think you are any good.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Mar 9, 2010
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    In recent thread here someone (was it @Tenderiser ? Apologies if not.) indicated that short story credits really don't put you ahead in getting a book published.

    In any case, a blog is unlikely to do you any good at all. It doesn't reflect that your work is at any level of quality, because the person judging the writer's work to be ready for publication is the writer.

    And with a blog, you're not just competing with writers, but with everybody who wants to sell or communicate anything.
    Tenderiser likes this.
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Aug 12, 2015
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    London, UK
    Yes, it could well have been me. Neither short story publications nor a blog are going to entice an agent/editor to take on your novel-length manuscript. If you enjoy writing short stories or maintaining a blog then go ahead - it won't hurt. But if you don't, then your time is better spent working on your novel/s.
  5. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    Publishing short stories might help garner some recognition and possibly assist in paving the path toward publication. However, being published in "(very) modest online publications" won't do much in that direction. You need to find publishing success in pro markets, ones that have a large readership and are very competitive to get published in. The stories would also have to be in the same or very similar genre to have any potential impact. Getting a SF story published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction won't do much if your novel is a mystery, thriller, or romance, for example.

    And getting short fiction published is no walk in the park/guarantee. It is very competitive, so time spent learning to write short stories, while there is some crossover, is not exactly the same as novel writing and may not benefit your writing career.

    Sure a blog can help some, but you have to spend time promoting the blog and maintaining it--providing content. Just posting a few stories won't do much. You'd have to drive traffic to it. It'd be similar to self-publishing them on Amazon or Smashwords, or Kobo, etc. and having them set for free, but doing nothing else. If people are not aware of their existence (just like the blog) nobody will read them.

    That said, a blog won't really do much to improve an editor's or an agent's opinion toward offering a contract or deciding to represent you. The real measure will be your completed novel (manuscript). Even if you have five thousand followers on your blog or have sold two or three short stories to pro markets/magazines, if the novel/story isn't up to par or what they're looking for, all of that won't matter.

    The good things about short stories, if you get them published, is that they will provide some income, some experience with the submission process and working with editors, a little knowledge about contracts, and things like that. It's always neat to be published, and have readers reading your work--and get paid for it (after all writing is work--you know that after seven years working on your novel).

    All that said, unless you have a passion for short stories or maintaining a blog (both endeavors take time and commitment), focus on finishing your novel. And once you have the first one done (and begin submitting it to agents/editors or whatever--if you have decided against the self-publishing route as a starting point), get working on the next novel. Agents and publishers are generally not interested in authors with only one novel in them.
  6. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

    Sep 17, 2017
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    Can we please stop with this? Neither do fiction writers. Journalists are writers, and good ones work just as hard at their craft of writing as good fiction writers. It's a different form of writing, with different needs and requirements than fiction, just as haiku has different needs and requirements, just as novels and short stories each have different needs and requirements, and academic writing has different needs and requirements. This is why Pulitzer has different categories.

    It's just a different form of communication, with different rules, and switching in either direction is not easy. Having swtiched back and forth between fiction and journalism, and guided many fiction and academic writers through writing journalistic pieces, I challenge anyone to try it, because it's humbling as hell.

    Back to the OP, a blog can't help you build a portfolio. The purpose of a blog, should you decide to start one, should be to build an audience and email list. But blogging well is a full-time job in itself, which takes time away from learning the craft of fiction writing and marketing your work. Plus, once something is posted on your blog, it's technically no longer "unpublished," so it's hard to find a market for those pieces. You end up doing double the work. Lastly, successful blogs with large audiences use a completely different writing structure, because people skim and the goal is to garner high search results.
  7. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

    Mar 21, 2012
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    Go out - into the world, involve in a literary scene, meet writers and publishers, be published in the small magazines, arthouse, I suppose - do readings, all that 'stand-up' - 'voice' or poetry. Odds are East Ham Books prints 500 copies, reviewed in Granta, 2nd book picked up by Penguin. I'm heading that ways pretty fast myself, it's exhilarating, although I forgot actually to be friendly enough, so 'go again' in a couple of months, eh.

    OR invest - the other lifestyle, the other kind of writer who writes and reads to himself mainly, enjoys painting his/her toy soldiers, cats, cats, endless 'agent enquiries' dispatched from the attic in great hope/smoke, more of an introvert's hobby, y'know, mad people, but enjoyable nonetheless.
    CerebralEcstasy and Cave Troll like this.
  8. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

    Sep 6, 2016
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    Blog, no... don't do it.
    My advice is to send your novel out as is, and see what kind of response you get.
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 1, 2016
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    East devon/somerset border

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