Writing as a Life or Adding to Life

I just finished reading a wonderful post article here >>>  4AM Writer – 5 Ways Failure is Good for You <<<.  Now, this post is not really so much about failure being good and I am not one to really tell you. See, I did a lot of research on “how” to publish a short story before I even tried to write it.  I learned what I could, then wrote a story and used my research to figure out who to send it to.  The result?  I sent it to three publishers and didn’t hear from 2 and the other one published it.  He also (Kevin is Great!) published 3 of my other short stories and I had 3 other shorts published by 2 publishers and one individual who was collecting flash fiction.  Her collection never got published, one of the other 2 publishers wanted the story, but the entire collection fell through, and one was online and I don’t think that link is even good anymore (funny as that one paid the best).  But Kevin G Bufton from the UK and I worked together for about 2 years and I loved working with him.  He has, since, quit being a publisher and has written his novel.  He told me I was like a “young Robert Bloc”.  I loved that!  Big compliment for a horror writer.

I have also published 2 more books on Kindle and 1 more under a pseudonym.  The kindle ones are not really counted in my “I have been published” statements because I published them myself and anyone can do that, so nix on that as counting.

The point being I really never went through that “fail” part of writing (at least, not yet).  I was published early and have enjoyed being able to say I am published.

I don’t remember the source, but I did read one person who stated that if you are going to write, first figure out why you are writing.  If you are writing just to write, then write – you are done.  If you are writing to be published, then do self-publishing – you are done.  If you are wanting to make money writing, then it is NOW a job and you have to learn how to work with others, change your stuff, etc…

I did the first two with not much problem.  Number 3 is still not true.  I have made some money, but the total is, probably, less than $200 for about 7-8 years of work.  Not a huge income.  However, I am happy, at present, because I have been selected and did receive monies for my works.  Therefore, I feel I am a successful writer w/o the huge income.

I read Stephen King’s “On Writing”.  This is a truly wonderful semi-autobiography and you should read it, in my opinion, if you are going to be a writer.  He is very honest, open, and compelling here.  I loved reading the book and it helped me understand where a lot of his ideas came from.  Just as one note:  King tells how his first novel, “Carrie”, was one he threw in the trash.  The next morning when he got up to write, there was a note from his wife, Tabitha (a writer in her own right), which was with the manuscript on his desk saying, “You should send this in”.  I believe he got an advance of about $125,000 from this book.  It started him on his way.

Myself, I write horror shorts that take a situation, twist it a bit, then tell a story, then add a twist at the end.  The best example I can think of is the show series “Black Mirror”.  Now, I hated the first episode or story, but after that, fabulous.  They do the same, though.  You are watching a show and enjoying it, then it turns really dark, then, at the end, it twists and isn’t at all what you were thinking.  Kinda like the old “Twilight Zone” or “Outer Limits”.

Anyway, that’s the way I love to write.  So, to get ideas, I think of a situation.  One was mermaids or sirens. I took the idea of luring boats to their doom, modernized it, had a group of twenty-somethings get taken in by it, then twisted it so the end left you just a bit hanging, but still finished the story.  I called it “Sirens of the Deep”, I believe, and it was my first published story.

And don’t think there aren’t mistakes in all of them.  Even that first story, after sending it in, I found a mistake in which I mixed up the names of two people and had a person who had been killed, up fighting as the wrong person.  I sent in a correction and Kevin sent it to the book makers, but they didn’t put it in and so the mistake lives on!  I have even found a mistake in a later story I published on Kindle, but you can go buy the book if you want to see (link on left here).

Finishing up, I just think that the best thing you can do to not give up and stop writing or trying to publish is to:

  1. Do your research.  Publishers are notorious for giving you very specific things they want when you send in the story, like font, word count, page numbers, title just so, etc… For a lot of them, if you miss one thing on this list, they toss your story, unread, into the trash pile.  They figure you can’t follow directions, then they don’t want to work with you.
  2. Write your story and edit it a couple of times.  Have someone or two someones read the story.  I have people read mine for two things:  some people read for grammar and others just to see how they like it.  It is hard to do both at the same time.  Don’t keep revising forever….just a few times, see that it’s decent or near-perfect to you, then send it in to your list or best choice of publishers.
  3. Make sure the publishers are fair and right for your story.  You wouldn’t go to the produce section of the grocery to get cheese.  Why send in a western story to a sci-fi magazine?  It is a waste of time and your money.
  4. Don’t pay someone to publish your story or book. They should pay you for the story.  They should get a commission for the book. Too many people out there take your $200-500 to read your story, give suggestions, and say they will publish it.  They should not charge you to publish the book unless  you are specifically paying a publishing house to do exactly that.  Send in the few pages and synopsis or whatever they ask for (no money) and wait to hear back.
  5. Don’t send your story or book to more than one publisher at a time unless the publishers allow that.
  6. Don’t give up any rights to the story or book until you have settled everything else and are comfortable with the contract.  There are publishers out there who will send you a contract and, in signing that contract, you have effectively given them the book to do with as they choose for a long time and you can’t send it anywhere else even if they never make a cent from it.  Also, make certain you are being paid fairly.  I had a hard time signing that first contract (e-contract, at that) and had to ask some questions and get answers. Kevin was great about it and it kept a good paper trail.
  7. Make sure you send yourself an electronic copy of the book (attachment) in several formats to that you can prove you were the first to write this story.  That is a valid copyright method for writers.  That time-stamped email will help if someone decides to copy your story or book and resell it as their own.

There are lots more, but I think this is a good start.  Enjoy your writing, enjoy your story, and don’t worry if you don’t get published right away.  Keep your options open, read a lot, do your research, and enjoy the process, most of all.

Namaste,

Scott

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Comments

  • Indira  On February 6, 2018 at 2:28 am

    Great post. Loved reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Sarah Potter Writes  On January 20, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    I love that book On Writing by Stephen King and have read it several times. Self-publishing hasn’t been a very edifying experience for me, so I’m not sure that I want to try it again. Okay, it was my only two novels for younger readers and I didn’t want a publisher signing me up and then finding myself stuck with writing MG and YA stuff. I prefer writing for adults, have had several near misses and lots of full MS reads from publishers and agents in the past, plus a couple of competition successess, so I will keep up the good fight and believe that one day I’ll come up with the novel that fits with what people want at that moment. So often it comes down to luck and timing, once you’ve reached a certain standard with your writing. What I keep telling myself is “see yourself as a professional writer for long enough, and eventually you’ll end up being paid as one” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Kate Johnston  On January 20, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Sounds like you were strategical/methodical right out of the writing gate. I believe this is the area where many writers stumble, me included. I was more focused on “writing to write” rather than “how to write and publish well.” I wouldn’t say that I wasted my time, because I did gain experience. But I learned some big lessons!

    Kudos to you on your wins!

    Liked by 1 person

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