A post prompted by a comment on last week’s post. It feels a bit smug, because I’ve been on a selling spree. The advice below, though, is going to be pretty basic:
How do you sell your fiction?
1. Finish it. You’d be amazed how many novels or stories are started and never finished.
2. Workshop it. If you’re still writing in your attic and have never shown your writing to anyone, it’s high time you did. It may well save you a lot of heartache and embarrassment. Don’t show your fiction to your family, show it to a bunch of strangers calling themselves writers.
3. Edit it. Rip the plot apart, turn it upside down and inside out. Work on your writing style. Polish, have people read it and polish it again. Rinse and repeat.
4. Submit it. You’d also be amazed how much work is never submitted. Writers get discouraged after one or two rejections and let novels and stories languish. This year I’ve made 120 submissions for both novels and short stories.
5. Expect rejection for the simple reason that most magazines, agents and publishers have a 99% rejection rate. Celebrate rejection. Turn it into a race with your writer friends (who can get the most rejections in a year?). Every rejection represents a submission. It was my aim to get 100 rejections in 2009, and I turned my adventures into a blog post series.
6. Keep submitting no matter what. The nature of acceptance is fickle and very subjective. Up until mid-October, I hadn’t sold a single thing. Since then, I’ve sold six short stories and a novel. If this hadn’t happened, I would have set the same target for next year.
7. Submitting is crapshoot. Any magazine or publisher which publishes the type of fiction I’m trying to sell is fair game. I look at their range, at online material. If they publish speculative fiction, I send it.
7a. Consider the marketability of your fiction. Does a market ask for fiction with, for example, strong female characters, gay or lesbian characters, a romance thread, horror? Do you have something that might possibly suit that market? Could you, for example, adapt a novel so you could peddle it to the plethora of small presses that specialise in horror?
8. There are many other venues to sell a short story than the big-name magazines. There many other venues to sell a novel than getting an agent and hoping for a bite from the big publishers. Try all avenues. Submit, submit, submit.
If you don’t submit, you will never be published