Dean Wesley Smith is the professional long-term fiction writer whom I consider my mentor. He’s made his living with his fiction for over 3o years and has well over 100 novels published through traditional publishers. This is back before traditional publishers lost their minds and made their contracts completely one-sided.
I emailed Dean about my most recent (at the time, back in November, 2014) short story, “Saving the Grenlow”:
“Seriously doubt I’m up to Asimovs or any of that yet, but I did just post (yesterday) my latest short story of the week, an SF piece a little under 3,000 words based on one of our assignments in the SF workshop. I think you might like it if you get time to drop by.”
“Wow, Sheila [Williams, editor] would be angry if she read that. How dare you pre-edit her magazine for her? And it clearly hasn’t sunk in yet for you that writers are the worst judges of their own work. You are going to need to learn that and stop devaluing your work with false judgements.”
So there you go. As some of you know, I don’t usually “devalue” my own work. That particular time, the groveling just snuck up on me, probably because I was talking with my mentor. But his “How dare you pre-edit her magazine for her?” really hit me. Duh. Don’t devalue your own work with false judgments. Seriously.
Topic of the Day: Traditional Publishing for Short Fiction
Don’t misread this. I would NEVER advocate going the traditional publishing route with novels, not the way traditional publishers’ contracts read right now. Don’t take my word for it. Check ’em out for yourself. And when you read the part that says your book belongs to the publishing company until it goes “out of print,” remember that “print” now includes ebooks, which literally NEVER go out of print. Be careful out there.
On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making a quick few hundred dollars on a short story BEFORE self-publishing it to Amazon and Smashwords, right?
If any of you would like to find traditional short story markets that pay professional rates, DWS and another person in a workshop with me suggested checking these sites:
Duotrope at http://duotrope.com
The Grinder at http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/
Also, look for some of the big annual short story anthologies, like the ‘Best Short stories of XYZ year” and some of the major genre annual anthologies. They’ll list the markets the stories came from, as well as a list of markets that were considered for inclusion.
The Pushcart Prize anthology also has great lists of nominated magazines, with addresses.
With short fiction, of course, you should always follow their guidelines. To not do so is an insult.
So there you have it. Believe in yourself. You believed in your story enough to write it, so submit it and see what happens. There’ll be plenty of time to self-publish to Smashwords and Amazon when rights revert to you after traditional publication. After you’ve pocketed that three hundre dollar check.
‘Til next time, happy writing!
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