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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » The Pro Decision

   
Author Topic: The Pro Decision
Foste
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After a prolonged bout with full blown depression I am back on track and decided that from now on I should only to pro publications.

A lot of things happened that got me thinking. I got a few token publications as it is and upon serious rumination I came to the conclusion that I should get more serious about my writing. It's not that I have a disparaging opinion of semi pro or token publications - far from it. I read many of 'em.

However I do think that a serious amount of effort could divert my mind from dark thoughts... And trying to go full pro on the mags seems like a start to keep myself occupied.

Anyone else had similar thoughts?

[ November 22, 2011, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: Foste ]

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C@R3Y
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That's definitely the way to think about it. I have decided to go pro since I got my first two short stories published, both in non-paying e-zines. I am submitting few stories to token and semi-pro, but I have just jumped, pretty much, straight to pro, and so far I have gotten a few rejections, as well as two personal rejections.

Right now, I am in a bit of a depressed state myself, but I am trying to keep my chin up.

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Foste
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The bout with depression, which honestly is still a full blown battle, has nothing to do with writing. Personal stuff.

But I think trying to go pro could help me calm my mind and give me something to do.

And of course lots of writing always helps to keep yourself occupied, eh? [Wink]

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extrinsic
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An encouragement worth considering: The more a writer submits to a particualr market, the more their screeners might learn how to read, interpret, and understand the writer's works, intents, and meanings; the more slightly likely they might acquiesce to publish. Though it's still in any frank analysis a story's merits outweighing its shortcomings that get it published.
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C@R3Y
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Well, at least one of us isn't depressed about writing right now. Lol. Though I try not to be.

Yes, writing does, however, keep your mind occupied.
I agree with that. It always helps me out when I'm feeling down, but then there are times when it is the cause of my upset mood.

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Bent Tree
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I had a very similar experience, but mine may have bordered on something more serious. I quit writing once I got a descent amount of momentum going. That is to say, I had a few token publications, an HM in WOTF, and an acceptance into a literary contest anthology. In retrospect, it seems like a fear of success. This sent me into a dark place in which, I could not write at all. It has been almost two years now since I have been a part of Hatrack on a regular basis and have written anything.

Personal issues have a lot to do with it also, but writing IS a good outlet for that energy. I have harnessed it to create dark characters, diabolical plots, and simply as an insight into the human condition which benefits our writing.

My advice, use it in a creative way.

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Bent Tree
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Well, to stay on topic, I don't want to waste my time writing for anything but pro-rate publication. So to me that means. I put my best foot forward, listen to feedback and grow wherever I can to make the story the best it can be. I have many stories left to die because they lack an element or two that makes them right for publication.
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Osiris
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I've recently fallen off the writing wagon myself, and haven't written anything in about a month now.

Depression is a nasty thing, and I've suffered from seasonal affective disorder for many years. Last year, it wasn't bad enough to stop me from writing, but this year it is. I'm in the process of dealing with it, though, and am certain I'll get back on that horse again.

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Robert Nowall
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I sent a few things to "semi-pro" publications, but I kinda lost interest in circulating stories around to them. The markets just didn't seem as interesting as the pros. Yeah, I got a couple stories published that way...I liked that well enough, I suppose.

I think this colors my perception of the online market, though...they remind me too much of the semi-pros...

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genevive42
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I take the top down approach on submitting. I start with Analog and Asimov's (if the story's appropriate for them) and then go to SFWA approved pro pubs, then any pro pub. After that, I'll consider a reputable semi-pro if I happen to have something that fits an anthology or there just aren't a lot of places to send a particular story. A lot of my stuff ends up in the 10k range, so it's already a limited market.

I won't go below good semi-pro. I'd rather give the story away for free on my website. Next year I plan to renovate the website, offer some free short stories and e-pub any unpublishable (but good) novelettes.

Just because something's not easily publishable in the current market doesn't mean it's not good.

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extrinsic
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I'm not partial to pro or semi-pro or nonpaying markets when it comes to submitting short work. The money is a boon, okay, but soon spent and gone like ashes in a gale. Publication by a discerning house or digest with a respectable reputation and an approving audience following, that's for me.

Besides, lower tier markets need quality product as much as top tier markets, at least product quality commensurate with their standing and ambitions. "Discovering" a new author might very well be the boost some markets need to further their ascendance.

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philocinemas
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I went through this a month-or-so ago, myself. I have been in a very unpleasant place, emotionally, since June. Problems with my employer have been the primary cause. My work requires extensive paperwork and I often end up doing it at home over the weekends. I had even planned to find some job outside of my profession that wouldn't require paperwork. However, I decided to simply change my situation.

(Edited)

Regarding writing, it is all very similar. Many of us are experiencing the same thing. We see what is out there in pro markets, and often feel that our own stuff is just as good if not better. It is frustrating, as well as depressing, when we receive rejection after rejection. It is also depressing when we want to write but feel the pressures of "real life" hindering our efforts. I think that much of it comes from feeling a lack of control.

(Edited)
I hope you are successful and sell, but I suspect there are many factors, other than story quality, which editors consider. (Edited) I wish you success!

(Edited to remove all unsolicited advice, regarding both depression and writing - I apologize if what I wrote offended anyone.)

Foste, I am glad you are seeking help. Best wishes with going pro! I am sure it is only a matter of time. [Smile]

[ November 23, 2011, 06:39 AM: Message edited by: philocinemas ]

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Teraen
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As long as we're giving out unsolicited advice, I'd recommended that you speak with a doctor. If you already have, good for you - I hope things are looking up. If you haven't seen a doctor, don't put it off: Brain biology is pretty complex stuff and there is no reason to be a victim of your own neurotransmitters rebelling against you.

About the writing, I also have my eyes on pro - meaning it isn't just my eventual goal, its the only place where I want to publish. My first target is WOTF contest. Anything that fails there has 3 main pro places I have in mind I'll send to... possibly more if I think of any that are pro that would be good matches. But I actually am trying to avoid submitting to less-than-pro venues. First off all, getting too many things published disqualifies me from WOTF, and I'd like to have a crack at that. Secondly, as an ego thing, I don't really want my work to be published if it isn't good enough for pro. Its a way to keep me improving.

Thirdly, and most importantly, my uber-goal is to write my novel. And I am waiting to work real hard on that until I feel ready as an author to give it the attention I think it needs. Writing other stuff isn't as important to me, even if it got published. In short, I am trying to focus on that and only spitting out short stories when I get a good idea that needs an escape hatch from my mind - and that I think could add a feather to my cap based on their probability of placing in WOTF...

Everything else I think I could write is simply going on a word document under "Ideers for future stories" so I can get to them later. I think I need to do this personally, because if I don't focus on the main project I am passionate about, I won't really write at all. Part of it is that I lack the discipline to sit down regularly and crunch something out, and part of it is that I have other priorities that I need to do and I can't justify taking the time to write without doing those first... so writing my main project is what keeps me honest about it.

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MartinV
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Hope everything works out for you, Foste. Been having my own problems this year so I can understand the state you're in. At the moment my biggest concern is being too lazy for my own liking.
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redux
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Foste - I am glad to know that you feel you're back on track after being depressed. Like Teraen suggested, please speak to someone if you haven't done so already, preferably a doctor - but I suppose all of us on Hatrack will do when in a pinch [Smile]


On a side note, I recommend reading "Live to Write Another Day" by Holly Lisle. She's had a very healthy writing career and she has a fair number of articles on her website that are quite helpful or simply downright interesting reads.

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snapper
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*Editing out joke because, for some reason, I thought Foste was an Aussie.*

There is a theory that some publishes look down on writers who sold only semi-pro and less. It was considered that it was an indication that the writer wasn't going to get any better. Bah, I say.

It is true professional credits speak louder than non-pro but you have to ask what is the reason why you write? Too get rich? Go buy a lottery ticket. Career change? Get used to eating Ramien noodles.

If you write for pleasure, and want to share your pleasure with others, than submit it to the places where you will most likely share your joy with others who will appreciate it. (Usually that best place is a big time pro [Razz] )

If you wish to go pro only, get ready for heartache. I'm not saying that because I don't think your writing is good enough, I'm saying that because there is a lot of writers that are good enough who are submitting (and getting rejected 99.9% of the time) to those same magazines. You could get lucky and hit paydirt on your first or second shot, or you could submit for year on end and get nothing but standard rejections everytime.

Slushreaders for pro listed sights have said they'll often see the same writers names. They pull for them but always have to pass. All those poor souls ever get are standard rejections back. What else can you do when they get hundreds of submissions a month for a handful of spots?

The point is you could be so close and never know it. Why paint yourself in such a corner? Submit to the big guys first than work your way down. Just remember the competition is tough and will be even for teh smaller paying places. A lot of those writers who have sold pro still try those places too.

Keep at it, Foste. Perseverance has its own rewards. I have a couple of printed anthologies with my stories in them. They paid a penny a word but it is a warm feeling when you can pick a book and see your work in it.

[ November 26, 2011, 01:13 PM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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Foste
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Whoa, I never expected you guys to become suddenly worried. Thanks.

To everyone who suggested that I see a doctor:

I am currently in therapy. I go once a week and my therapist is constantly chivvying me into pulling my self together. She does show empathy when I need it, but it's not the classical cartoon sketch therapy - lying down and weeping while a bearded psychologist is taking notes. You know, the whole nine yards. I am not taking any medication at the moment and I don't intend to. It's not that I am being recalcitrant, there is no need yet.

Snapper - Funny that you mention it, I eat ramen all the time. Man, one session of therapy costs as much as 50 cup noodles! Chicken flavor. Yum.

Thank you all for the kind advice. It's good to know that I got a place in the internet where I belong. [Smile]

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Merlion-Emrys
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I've been a weensy bit worried for a bit, since I came (mostly) out of my hiatus, and then you disappeared.

Email me and let me know how things are, to whatever extent you're comfortable with.

As far as the submission bit, I mostly agree with my Lovely Assistant, genevive. The top-down approach is good...but if a story gets rejected by all the appropriate pro-rate markets, I see no reason not to submit it to others as well, especially the highly-respected semi-pros (Abyss and Apex, ASIM, Ideomancer, etc) and even reputable token markets. I'm probably going to be a little more careful and discerning about submissions due to my recent bad experiences, but overall I'd rather get paid $10 for a story and get it published than put it up myself and probably have few people outside of my writing community see it.


quote:
Secondly, as an ego thing, I don't really want my work to be published if it isn't good enough for pro.
I don't believe there is any such thing as "not good enough for pro." Partially because the "quality" of a creative work is 97% a matter of opinion anyway, and partly because in my reading, I find just as much material I enjoy in "token" markets as I do in professional ones...and in fact, I'd say a larger percentage of stories I don't like are in professional or other highly thought-of publications. What editors buy is based on 1) what they like and 2) what fits their vision of their publication. No more and no less.


Likewise, when I write, I'm not "writing for"...anything really. I'm trying to tell each story as its full self. Then I try to get it published with the widest readership and the most money possible.

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Crank
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I donít enjoy the knowledge that Iím not the only one here who deals with varying degrees of clinical depression, but there is derivable encouragement in bearing witness to those who have not allowed it to stop their dream and their passion of writing.

Iím only part of the way back to my usual writing / Hatrack activity, and Iím hardly out of the depression woods yet, but allow me to offer to Foste (and everyone else) a realization of mine: stay strong, and be good to you by getting whatever assistance will lead to defeating depression in your life forever. And, if that assistance includes writing more, all the better.

S!

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Bent Tree
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quote:
I donít enjoy the knowledge that Iím not the only one here who deals with varying degrees of clinical depression, but there is derivable encouragement in bearing witness to those who have not allowed it to stop their dream and their passion of writing.
Crank, Don't you realize that we are all genius which is why we are all so depressed.
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Crank
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quote:
Crank, Don't you realize that we are all genius which is why we are all so depressed.
I've always suspected as much. [Big Grin]

S!

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snapper
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Hey. I'm not sad at all. Just what are you saying anyway, BT?
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Uley Bone
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Just thought to add a few bits of my own to this, only to say that the best that is likely to be said about pubs that the editor is not likely to be aware will give them an indication that you thought about being a writer for longer than a minute. I doubt that they would consider it a slight so much, as in the end I think it still comes down to the story.

In the pro markets, the competition is more fierce, so I do not know as I would rest my own happiness on that note. I definitely am not going to let it make any decisions for me on whether I continue to write or not. The real question is not really about your mood as if you are ready, both in your own writing, and the over and above details that don't seem to have all that much to do with writing. Going into that arena depressed is likely to be a hard sell, which isn't to say that it can't be done.

That kind of happy ending don't play out without a lot of hard work and drive, which depression is not known to embolden those particular characteristics. If you quit writing, that is not on anyone else but you. The same could be said for a successful writing career, I suspect. Writing is not easy, getting published is a whole other skill set-- breaking into the major, high end markets is not a coin toss.

If you are ready for the work, and to keep working until you have accomplished the FIRST goal along the line; and then get ready to do it all over again-- not to mention that you have the story to take to that market with you, there is absolutely nothing wrong in taking a shot at pitching the idea to a major publisher. What you do may/may not make it happen, which brings you to the question of what do you do next.

There is not anyone who can make you want to write, no more than anyone can stop you from continuing. I am not going to paint a rosy picture about what could happen, especially in as I have not read a word you have written (not yet leastwise).

I do not feel so poorly stood-by with the small pubs as you seem to. They not only have accepted something I have written from time to time as they lent me some time to hone my craft and meander my way through some of the right dance steps toward that maybe-someday. I can admit I am not ready, which in no way is to speak for you and how well prepared you are yourself.

That's the apples. Your mood, unless it puts some drive behind you write and work your buns into a higher gear, are the oranges. I am definitely not looking to discourage you in any of your writing endeavors, anymore than I would encourage what you are feeling at the moment. Taking a break is alright, even quitting writing altogether is fine... unless, of course, some part of that particular statement bugs you.

I wish I had some better answers for you, but these are the only answers I know at the moment. Well, aside from you have come this far, and it really doesn't cost you anything to keep moving in the direction that you had originally intended. Rather than allowing the mood to rule the roost, I'd consider looking through your writing and picking what you feel is the best of the lot, tinker it around and get it ready for someone to look at. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if Avon or Doubleday picks up the tab for it, or if some lesser known entity in the publishing industry pays you what they can. If you feel the story has the juice, market it fast, hard and heavy.

At the end of the day, it is still about the story, it just takes some action on your part to get it read-- the publisher, not so much. I, myself, prefer the freedom many of the smaller publishers allow, and I am a tad lazy in this regard. But if this is what you want to happen, figure out how to make it work and then do the work yourself. If folk can read and enjoyed the story matters-- which is to say that they are aware it exists and the other point is obvious.

That means, in the end, what happens is up to you. I have only three words for you left at this point, which I may understand is hard to believe, but here they are-- ready, set, go!

Uley

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
breaking into the major, high end markets is not a coin toss.
Well...actually...it kind of is. Or rather, it's a thing ruled entirely by taste and opinion, which in this case amounts to mostly the same thing.

The professional magazines each receive many hundreds of submissions each month. They only actually publish a few, certainly no more than a couple of dozen of those each month, most considerably less. Now some can be written off at once because of silly stuff...improper formatting etc. But for the most part...heck many editors will even tell you they wish they could publish a large portion of what they receive, but they can't.

So, in the end, they publish the stuff that they like best. And that is essentially random...basically a coin toss. Oh you can maybe get some tiny idea of their preferences by reading the magazine or from the few that give personal rejections, but unless you are a mind-reader there is really no way to know.

That's why it's not really about "being ready" its mostly about perseverance. Keep writing, and keep submitting...that's really the only aspect of it we, as writers, have any control over.


Now, I don't have a problem with the idea of being more comfortable starting out "at the bottom" so to speak...that was largely what I did. However, there is a certain logic to the top-down approach...if you can get a significant amount of money and notoriety for a story, why not try that first? The submission process is the same (in fact if anything, many of the high-end markets are now using very easy, streamlined submission systems) and if you're rejected well there's always...everything else.

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Brad R Torgersen
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A few years ago, I made the decision to limit my submissions to only those markets paying what SFWA considers to be professional rate. I have never regretted it.

It is possible that the competition at the semi-pro or token level may be less than it is at the pro level, but the questions remain: what bar do you measure your ability against? What kind of publication is going to bring you the kind of satisfaction and financial compensation you think you deserve?

I was rejected by Analog magazine dozens of times. Before I finally sold to that market. Now, I'm on the cover. It can be done. You just have to be willing to work at it and learn from your failures and not settle.

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Wordcaster
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@Foste,

Good to hear from ya. If it's any consolation, I have stories on my hard drive that will never see the light of day bc they were rejected by and only by pro-paying magazines.

Are you still working on your fantasy novel? I'm still revising the upper MG fantasy novel I wrote, but it is in sorry shape right now. I have periods where I am down on myself and can't write, so I can't imagine your struggles. Hopefully you can get in a groove and pound that novel out. You have talent, so stay with it.

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