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Monday, February 23, 2009

How Not To Sell Your Fiction

Since I haven't a clue how to actually sell fiction--considering that I haven't done so myself--I can at least talk about the reasons why you won't sell your work--assuming, of course, that selling your work is your intention.
How do you go about not selling your work? Well, these are some pretty good reasons:
  • You Don't Submit
    Pretty obvious, right? If you don't submit, you won't be published, unless by some freak accident some random editor sees some of your writing and comes to you. But we're talking some seriously absurd odds here--worse than anything NASA can come up with.
  • You Can't Take Criticism
    I've mentioned this before primarily because it's something I think is enormously important for any writer to be able to do. If you can't take criticism, you can't improve your craft. People who criticize your work aren't doing it to be mean (well, some of them might be, but good people aren't). The best way to improve is to pay attention to what others say about your work. What do they perceive to be weaknesses and strengths? You don't have to agree with all of it, but you wouldn't have let them read it if you didn't care about their opinions, right?
  • You Don't Follow Guidelines
    Editors don't put submission guidelines on their websites simply to torture new writers with the "complicated" nature of formatting, etc. No, editors put them up to make their lives easier. You're not the one reading hundreds or thousands of submissions for every publication. It's bad enough for the short story market and it's even worse for the novel market. Follow them. The last thing you want ruining your chances is your inability to double-space.
  • You Don't Write
    Duh. Do I even need to explain this one?
  • You Make Death Threats or Other Career-Sabotaging Things
    Remember the whole Kevin W. Reardon/Cole A. Adams thing? If you don't want to sell your work, I recommend sending death threats to editors. Guaranteed results. Just like with Mr. Reardon, who has, at this point, been put into every editor's book of folks to banish to the depths of writing obscurity--since I'm sure he won't be obscure in the realm of authorial conduct.
  • You Die
    Don't. It's generally a good idea to live. Otherwise someone else has to sell your work.  It doesn't count if someone else sells your work, because you're dead, and dead people don't generally care if they achieve fame post-mortem.
  • You Let Evil Wombats Store Your Work
    There's a reason why they're called evil wombats: they take unsuspecting writers' work, print it, delete it, and then shred it into tiny pieces right in front of you. I don't know why, that's just the way it is.  They're evil...and wombats.  That's a double whammy right there.
And there you have it.

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  1. Good points, especially about being able to take criticism and following guidelines. (I don't have any experience with Wombats, though). I'd also add "You can't write a grammatically correct sentence" to the list, as well as, "You don't check to see if the market you are submitting to is actually accepting submissions." (Although that last one is really a corollary of "You don't follow guidelines.")

  2. Evil wombats are everywhere! Glad you reminded us about them.

  3. Sheila: Thanks! That's a good addition (the grammar one). And I can't stand it when people don't follow guidelines...

    writtenwyrdd: Haha. The wombats are everywhere indeed!