Tags:
  1. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9

    Starting out

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Mish, Jun 12, 2019 at 7:27 AM.

    Hi Everyone,

    I am an amateur science fiction, short story writer and I am pretty new to this experience. I'm interested in your advice on best strategy a new writer should adopt in today's writing market to become successful. I am interested in answering questions below:

    - What strategy should a new writer adopt in today's market?
    - What platforms are best to use? (for critique/review, editing, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, publicity etc.)
    - Which people should be influenced?
    - What is the best way to grow the amount of readers and a following?
    - Focus on publication of short stories in various publications, (higher volume) which can later be published as a collection or focus instead on novels? (higher quality, lower volume)

    I am looking forward to your feedback!

    Mish
     
    Alan Aspie likes this.
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,948
    Likes Received:
    11,810
    I think you need to spend some time refining your terms and setting your goals more precisely. The first one that jumps out at me as needing some attention is "successful". Do you mean commercially successful? How do you define that? And is it ALL you want or do you also want to be able to write exactly what you want, in exactly the way you want to? Are you willing to settle for "more-or-less" what and how you want to write? Or are you willing to sacrifice your personal interests in the name of commercial success? Do you also want critical success/respect (as more than just a marketing tool)? etc.

    I'd also want to unpack the idea of a "new writer" a bit. What other skills/connections/resources might this writer have? Is the writer brand new to writing, or has she at least written lots of unpublished stuff?

    It's really hard to answer these questions in generalities, because there are so many individual variables at play.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 12:23 PM
    Thundair, Mish and jannert like this.
  3. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Hi BayView,

    Thank you for taking the time to write a response for me. I appreciate it.

    Your questions made me pause and think for a moment.

    So in summary. How do I define success? I think of it in tiers.

    Tier 3

    Become good at writing. Write stories that resonate, with myself first and foremost and then with others. Also, write stories that matter. I've been writing for some time, for myself, as a hobby and I think I am getting better at it. I think I am ready to take it to the next level and see whether my stories resonate with others. There is nothing else I aim to achieve in this tier.

    Tier 2

    Build a following. Hopefully of readers who like my work. I'm interested in communicating ideas for discussion and I am interested to see what discussions my ideas will generate. There is nothing else I aim to achieve in this tier.

    Tier 1

    Become successful on the market. Despite the fact, this is probably far fetched. But stranger things in life have happened. I do not wish to sacrifice my personal interests to achieve success. I have firm ideas of what I want to write and which relevant topics to explore. Is that enough to become popular? I don't know.

    I'd like to know what tools I will need to achieve any, some or all of the above.

    To answer your other question. I have written a dozen unpublished short stories or so. Apart from some people I know with web and editorial skills, I posses no other resources. But willing to explore and invest.
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,220
    Likes Received:
    2,312
    Short story writing is one of the hardest things to take on. Even publishing big places doesn't mean you get any sort of following. Prepare for years of rejections and hundreds of tries. Read as much as you can. And be flexible when it comes to what and how you write. You can learn a lot from that. Some people say it's harder to sell short stories than novels. A lot of that probably comes down to where you are publishing or trying to publish each of these things. And even publishing in great places, it is unlikely that discussions will form around your work. As hard as it is to publish, it's easy to be forgotten by the time the next issue comes out. I think you need to be able and willing to sacrifice quite a bit to be a successful short story writer. Time, life, and adjusting as necessary what the market wants. Writing a good story is not enough. Writing a hundred good stories might not even be enough. Put your should on the page and expect form rejections. If you can stand all that, maybe you'll get lucky. But that doesn't mean it will be any easier to do it again and again. It's hard and ruthless. But it's not impossible. And always remember what you will write is always going to be better than what you have written. Get a subscription to duotrope and pay attention to market trends. That doesn't mean you can't write what you want, but when you want success you have to want to write stories that sell. This is way harder than it should be, but that's just how it is. If you're fine publishing places that no one or very few people have heard of, it can still be hard. But maybe that's success for you. Not that long ago I was on a panel for successful short story writers. And no one knows who I am or cares. I've very rarely sold short stories. That, to some who pay for panelist to come speak, is considered successful. I like to day dream about fame and fortune, but I read and write way more than I do that. There's nothing put hard work and studying the market. No shortcuts that I know of. Just start reading the best publications and sending them your work. It does come easier to some people than others. Maybe you will have an easier time than me. But, for me, it does continue to become a struggle.
     
    Mish likes this.
  5. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    488
    @deadrats As a writer, would it kill you to use some paragraphs occasionally?!
     
    Alan Aspie likes this.
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,220
    Likes Received:
    2,312
    Sorry, but I don't know what you're talking about. If you have a problem with my posts, feel free to hit the ignore button. I'm really not in the mood to have my responses criticized.
     
  7. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    488
    Jeez... You could see the irony in the post and laugh or respond bitterly, as you have.
     
  8. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    488
    Hi Mish,
    For my two cents, you've answered your own question in Tier 3:
    Become good at writing. Write stories that resonate, with myself first and foremost and then with others.


    The rest is kind of moot until you have the first part down, so this is probably where your focus should be.

    All the best
    NC
     
    Mish likes this.
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,220
    Likes Received:
    2,312
    You're the one who found it necessary to call me out on something stupid when I was only trying to give a thoughtful response. Whatever, good luck on selling your short stories. But I think I probably have a lot more knowledge when it comes to this than you. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother.
     
  10. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    488
    There’s a huge difference between ‘calling someone out’ and making a slightly ironic comment. You chose to receive it that because in your own words ‘you’re not in the mood’. My comment had a point, whatever message you are attempting to convey can be easily lost, or at least diluted in an ugly wall of text.
    I’m not the OP by the way, nor am I selling short stories so your assertions of superiority are misplaced.

    I apologise for offending you. Happy to continue this discussion via pm or I’ll likely be getting a warning or ban.
     
    Alan Aspie likes this.
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    11,595
    Likes Received:
    13,259
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    :stop:

    Both of you calm down - we aren't interested in refereeing a slanging match, and the Op who is also new to the forum doesn't want his thread hijacked in to one. Nor are we interested in a 'I'm better than you because' debate ... you are both adults, act like it

     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019 at 9:05 AM
    matwoolf, Mish and Maverick_nc like this.
  12. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Hi deadrats,

    Thank you for your time and your thoughtful response. I appreciate it!

    I am okay with rejection, I see it as part of the process. Writing after all is all about the journey, not the destination. I am happy for now to concentrate on the top two tiers; becoming a better writer and building a following, the rest I will worry about later. (although any stepping stone advice on that bit will also be appreciated)

    So then, how do you build a good following? Where do you find ten thousand readers eager to read your next piece for free? What are the tools of the trade here?

    On a more personal note, what has worked for you so far? How have you monetised your work and experience?
     
  13. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Hi Maverick_nc,

    Thank you for your time and your thought provoking response. I appreciate it!

    Do you think there might be a chance for a writer to dare to attempt all three tiers? I.e. work on becoming a good writer, while at the same time build a following AND also look for ways to monetise their work? I know it's a "have your cake and eat it too, living on the edge" type of stuff. But, perhaps there is a possibility?

    What has worked for you? I am interested to know your story.
     
  14. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2019
    Messages:
    464
    Likes Received:
    488
    Hi Mish,
    I'm sure there is chance for a writer to attempt all 3, but my advice here is unsubstantiated. I'm an amateur. Deadrats claims to have experience selling short stories so hopefully they can offer you better advice in this regard.

    I have built a (reasonably) healthy following on my blog and social media but NOT as a writer. So any tips I give would be generalised and not directly relevant to promoting yourself as a writer.
    That said, I think the point is still valid regarding first honing your craft. Promoting work that isn't polished could be detrimental, if not immediately then in the longer term.
    There could be an angle where you share your journey into becoming a writer with the audience, it could be interesting... but also fraught with difficulty.

    All the best with your writing goals!
     
    Mish and Lifeline like this.
  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,948
    Likes Received:
    11,810
    I'm not sure it's useful/effective to try to build a following before getting published. I mean, to some extent, it's impossible - the word "publication" means making your work available to the public, and it would be VERY difficult to convince readers to follow someone whose work they haven't read. So you're probably going to be looking at some form of publication... possibly posting your work on various sites, or whatever... but in my experience there's a very limited number of readers who will follow you from a free site to a paid publication.

    So if you're focused on refining your craft, I'd focus on refining your craft. That doesn't mean you don't post stuff for people to see, but you do it with the intention of getting feedback that helps you write better, not with the intention of convincing them you're a writer worth following. At this point, you may NOT be worth following, if your writing isn't strong yet. Does that make sense? Trying to build a following by offering them not-your-best product probably won't work.

    Once you get your writing to a point that it's publishable, that's when you start building a following, I'd say. And you do it through publishing your stories in the publications with the best reputations and highest circulations possible. (As I understand the short story process--I focus on novels, so I can't offer first-hand advice about shorts. Or about SF/F, really.)
     
    Mish, Lifeline, jannert and 1 other person like this.
  16. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,624
    Likes Received:
    2,285
    Location:
    Australia
    This whole line of questioning concerns me. Yes, the landscape has changed, but there isn't a magic bullet or checklist for success. Writing is extremely competitive and demand is far outstripped by supply. You need to ask yourself, what makes you good enough to deserve a following? What makes your work worth reading instead of the rest? It all boils down to quality.
     
    Mish and jannert like this.
  17. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    1,900
    Develop your writing, topics and originality to the level where potential buyers seek possibilities to buy your next book.
     
    Mish likes this.
  18. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Thank you Maverick_nc for your wishes. I appreciate it!

    I agree with your advice and I take it on board.

    What kind of blog do you run?
     
  19. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Hi BayView,

    Thank you for your advice once again. So what sites would you recommend for a new writer to publish on to attract reader's attention? Which publications in your opinion are the most reputable?

    I am interested in refining my craft and will dedicate considerable effort to that effect. That's one of the reasons I joined this forum, for feedback, discussion of ideas, critique and refinement of my writing style. It's just, I would like to do something else in interim to promote my work as well. As that bit can take some time. I see your point though about waiting until the craft bit is sorted and refined.
     
  20. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Hi Selbbin,

    Thank you for your thought provoking response. I will think about what makes me good enough to deserve a following more carefully.

    Just out of curiosity, what did you find concerning about my questions?
     
  21. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Hi Alan Aspie,

    Thank you for your advice. I appreciate it!

    I can see a theme developing here. Most advice seems heavily weighted towards the development of the writing skills and craft as the highest priority.

    Well, I will take this on board and head on and I look forward to seeing everyone's feedback on my work once my obligatory two week probation has ended.
     
  22. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,624
    Likes Received:
    2,285
    Location:
    Australia
    My main concern is the possible belief there are actually solid answers to any of the questions. When the reality is even doing all of them well is no guarantee of success. But I admit it would help, if supported by the right product. But as others have suggested, you gain a following for your work, so make that first. All the marketing comes later.
     
    Alan Aspie and Mish like this.
  23. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2018
    Messages:
    1,773
    Likes Received:
    1,900
    Originality + how you handle it is my point.

    Some fiction writers are good with complex plots but characters are two dimensional cardboard dummies. If they have something original, they can succeed.

    Some writers are excellent with complex and interesting characters but plots are poor. If they have something original, they can succeed.

    Think about P.G. Vodehouse... Poor plots. Fun subplots. Excellent characters. Worldwide success for decades.

    You can have poor areas and you can lack some skills if and only if your stories have some fascinating originality and you have very strong areas.
     
    Mish likes this.
  24. Mish

    Mish New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    9
    Thank you Alan Aspie,

    Good point! I wonder if my writing is original. I guess we will find out after the first batch of reviews of my work on this forum.
     
    Alan Aspie likes this.
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,948
    Likes Received:
    11,810
    I know there are some great SF/F magazines still running - I think it's one of the better genres for short story writers, really. But, of course, there are a lot of SF/F writers vying for spaces, so it can be very competitive.

    Honestly, in terms of finding an audience while you're honing your craft, I'd recommend looking at fanfiction. Again, this is not with the intention of building readers for a career in publishing original fiction... it's just trying to get readers to give you some feedback and help you build your skills. If your writing is even half-way decent, you can probably get some people to read your fanfic, and while most of the responses won't be too useful in terms of critique, some will be.

    But I sense you're looking to fastforward the process. And there's certainly nothing wrong with submitting early stories to the SF/F magazines - You could check out the lists produced by the SFWA (places like: https://www.sfwa.org/2019/06/sfwa-market-report-for-june-2/) - these publications aren't officially endorsed by the SFWA (or me!) but it's a start. You could also do some valuable reading at their blog - they've got a section dedicated to the craft, but also one for the business of writing, and you might enjoy that? (http://www.sfwa.org/category/business-of-writing/). They're a great organization, and SF/F is such a huge genre that looking for genre-specific advice probably makes sense.

    If you enjoy the efforts at promotion, then by all means, carry on. But I think for some writers it becomes a distraction from the main work of actually producing something worth promoting, so I'd warn against that.
     
    Mish likes this.

Share This Page