Selling your fiction

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


7 comments on “Selling your fiction

  1. Patty:

    Great advice. I know too many people who love to write…want to publish their work, but will not submit it anywhere. These tips should motivate someone to go for it.

    Take care,

    Nora Weston

    • People fear rejection and think it’s personal. I think people hold too much hope that their material will be accepted, and therefore rejection is more painful. People see rejection as a rejection of their enitre body of writing, rather than of just story.

  2. Rut roh. You’ve been peeking on my hard drive at the folder called “to be finished”, haven’t you?


    Great post, even if it did make me squirm. 🙂

  3. Thanks for this post. I just started writing my first novel some weeks ago, so I cannot say I have any experience on that area, but in all areas in my life where I have experience and worked in I always thought that rejection is just what you get until you get acceptance.

    Really. Usually I count the no’s and when I get a ‘yes’ I say: “Now I know how many NOs it takes to get to that YES”. And next time I’m eager to get that amount of NOs again, because the more I get, the closer I am to that YES.

    Another thing, I rely on negatives to get me further. When someone tells me I’m not good enough I always add in my mind YET, and do more research, study everything I can, and find ways to improve my work and try again.

    I really think that’s the same way in everything in life. Not just keep submitting your job applications or your novel, but keep finding ways to be better in what you know and what you have with each application and/or submission.

    Thanks again Patty, and congratulations on your luck and perseverance.


  4. Pingback: Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Canival – December ‘09 InkyBlots Edition | InkyBlots

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