Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Pay's the Thing

Did anyone else's Mother ever use that phrase: Why buy the cow,...?
Can there be a more demeaning, degrading, hideous metaphor?
Still, if you apply the concept to writing...and take out the cow reference (please)
the idea has merit.

I want to talk about giving it away. :-) Your work, your work.

I know it's a great idea to have some free fiction available for promotional purposes. A downloadable short story on your web-site (check), a free serial in your blog... (don't get your hopes up,
I don't have the energy) These are both good ideas to drive sales on your published works.
BUT...

Sales are a good thing. We talked about this, money buys chocolate, chocolate is good.
So when submitting, and stalking that twisted road to publication... I say, get paid.

My favorite market search engine, Duotropes...(find it, use it, support it) ranks potential markets according to pay-scale--among other things. They start at N for no pay and rise up through: token, semi-pro, and pro payment. There are a lot of markets in the N class, and considerably fewer hovering around Pro. Makes perfect sense.

Where does the aspiring author begin? It seems like common sense to me. Aim high, start at the top and work your way down, right? So how come so many would-be paid authors shy away from submitting to paying markets? Is it a lack of confidence in their own work's value? Fear of that wretched creature--the rejection letter. (they really don't bite... well they do, but you get used to it.)

I mentioned the lists that I lurk on. In doing so, I've encountered way too many authors that are just posting their stories willy nilly all over the web...for free. I hope that they have exhausted all possible pay markets before hand, but I don't ever get that impression. We talked about first publication rights...give it away, and those are gone with the wind.

I'm not greedy. Let me say that I'd be more than happy to sell a story to a token market, or even have it published in a non-paying one once I'd exhausted all other options. A five dollar sale would give me as many shivers of delight as a large royalty sale, because sales, in truth, are about more than pay. They glow with the warmth of acceptance, validation... ( yes, I realize I need therapy) You get the point. Still, if I made that five dollar token sale without trying for a 4cents a word one, how would I know if the piece could have succeeded higher?

As for posting, posting, posting for free. Stop it.
I'm not kidding.

If what you seek is readers, feedback, suggestions, join a good crit group. Make sure it's one that requires a password (to save those bloody rights!) and, if you can't find one, start one. Have some fun with it, and when you're ready --scratch that, when the story's ready, it can't wait for you-- start submitting. Start at the top, for heaven's sake. It may be a longer fall, but there are more branches on the way down, if you snag at least one of them, life is good.

On to the chocolate,
Moo
Frances

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