Sunday, July 31, 2011

Onwards And Upwards.

I know some people who wear their rejection slips like badges of honour. They brag about how many they received 'last year' and talk about how they're getting closer to 'making it'.

To an extent I think they are right. Being rejected lots and lots shows you're working, and subbing - and if you are starting to receive personalised ones over form ones, then it shows you're developing and getting that much closer.

But gathering piles of rejections doesn't necessarily mean much at all in and of itself.

There are a whole lot of writers who start by subbing straight to the top markets. They send everything they write to Asimov's and Analog, and therefore pile up mountains and mountains of slips. And so yes, they can claim to have gathered hundreds of rejections last year.

It doesn't mean they're about to start selling.

I'm not criticising them for doing that but it doesn't work for me. I know that I'm not at that level yet, and I have better things to do than have stories sitting at markets that won't yet buy my work, wasting both the editor's and my time.

If I'm not selling regularly at semi-pro markets, why would the pro markets grab my stuff over their regular contributors?

If I start playing football (and believe me, there are good and valid reasons why I write and don't kick footballs), I don't start by running down to Windy Hill and try to break into the Essendon team. What makes me think I'll get a spot alongside Jobe Watson, Paddy Ryder, David Hille and Angus Monfries?

No, like young Dyson Heppell, you play for the smaller country teams, working your way up until you're ready to speak to James Hird.

It seems to me that writing is one of the few places where lots of people try to start at the top. And I suppose it costs nothing to send your work there, and there is always the chance you'll sell something.  And by all means, if your writing is already at a professional standard then send it off to the big ones. I wish you well.

But if you're trunking pieces just because they didn't sell at the big markets (and I know of a few writers who do this), you may be depriving the world of some good, solid writing. I've found some of my favourite pieces in small press anthologies and magazines.

Me? I just know my abilities  and my level at the moment.  And that's firmly in the world of the small press. I'm not selling there as regularly as I'd like, but I am starting to make sales, and frequently getting personalised rejections.

But don't worry, the day I regularly send things off to Analog and Asimov's is approaching.

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