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Writing: Love of the Craft
Selling Short Fiction — Is it Easy? : Page 2 of 2

Selling Short Fiction — Is it Easy?

continued from page 1

Third, professional publication gets your name out there, which is by far the most important of the three. Credibility helps you sell. Ms. Cameron perked up quite a bit when I told her about the short fiction sales. It makes a difference.

I met several writers at the Agents and Editors Conference who noted a resurgence of interest in anthologies, and short story writing in general. I love short fiction, and so I would love to believe it, but that is not my experience. In my weekly visits to Books-A-Million, I see lots and lots of novels. Not so anthologies. The ones that jump out are the tried and true, yearly best-of collections.

That said, if I didn't believe in the viability of the form, I would not have started a webzine that publishes it.

So now we know that we can publish a book of short stories. As Jeff Goldblum observes in Jurassic Park, we are often inclined to focus so sharply on whether or not we can do a thing that we don't stop to think about whether or not we should.

If you're in the same boat with the author of the above question — and a right big boat it is — you really shouldn't be thinking about publishing at all. Not yet, anyway.

You should think no further than your next word.

I know I've trotted out this old wheeze before, and I'll probably do it again. If my writing experience could be summed up in one phrase, it's this: publishing is not the be-all, end-all of your entire existence.

Sure, Dave, you might think. Easy for you to say. You've published umpty-ump short stories. You have a completed novel being reviewed by an agent. You're there. You've arrived.

But where have I arrived, exactly?

I'm standing in the middle of the road, and I can't see either end of it. That's writing. It's the journey.

We might look enviously at a writer like Stephen King and say, "now that's a guy who has arrived." I'd bet Mr. King would be the first to refute the idea. He just published Duma Key, and has several other books projected for publication over the next three years.

If he had truly arrived, there would be no more stories. Tales of the journey. We're all on it, no matter where we might be as writers.

It's a journey of belief, run principally on faith. Be happy about that. Faith is a mighty big engine. You need it. You need a rocket motor the size of Gibraltar to keep this kind of dream moving.

I've strayed a bit from the original question, but not that far. Yes, you can publish. Publish short stories in magazines. Then, after you have 1) a professional reputation and 2) legions of rabid fans, pitch your anthology to an agent. Do your research, and find out which ones accept anthologies. Or use your face-to-face novel pitch as an opening, like I did.

You can publish in any form you desire. But if you're thinking about publishing and you haven't finished your first story yet, the cart is verily before the horse. Switch 'em around. Your journey will proceed far more smoothly. •

© 2008 David Duggins. All rights reserved.

David DugginsDave Duggins, owner/creator of Voidgunner, is a creativity coach and writing mentor. More »