Friday, February 7, 2014

Heinlein's Rules: Insecure Writers Must Put It On the Market #IWSG

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs.

NOTE: This should have been published on 2/5/14. I was early last month, so being late this month just balances it out.

Scifi author Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers) provided his infamous five simple rules for becoming a professional writer. They all seem very simple and obvious, but every writer's insecurity will prevent them from doing at least one of these consistently. I'll be covering one of them each month for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Here they are, what they mean, and how you can follow them.

1. You Must Write
2. You Must Finish What You Start
3. You Must Refrain From Rewriting, Except To Editorial Order

4. You Must Put It On the Market - This step is probably the one I struggle with most right now. Back in the eighties and nineties, I used to submit my novels and short stories for sale with rugged determination. I submitted dozens of stories to every sci-fi publisher I could find on a monthly basis. I gathered a stack of rejection letters a foot high, and ended up with two stories published in magazines so small that one had a readership consisting entirely of the authors they published, and the other folded before it got around to publishing my story. I'd like to say I was one of those determined authors who kept on going, but I wasn't. Eventually, I gave up, and stopped submitting my writing to markets at the end of the nineties.

I have been thinking of trying to get back into traditional publishing, but times are different now. I no longer feel the need to go through publishers to have my work read. I think I'd be happy to just self-publish all my stories. On the other hand, it would be nice to have independent validation whether my writing is good or not as well as reach a wider audience. I haven’t submitted my fiction consistently to markets in twenty years. The last time I submitted a story was to Daily Science Fiction in November 2013, and never heard back. Before that, I submitted a story for the Machine of Death anthology back in 2011, and it was rejected. That’s about it. I've been inspired by the determination and success of Milo James Fowler to go back to my rigorous submission process, but I’d be lying if I said just the thought of sending out my work didn't fill me with insecurity.

 How do you overcome insecurity about submitting work for sale?

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