Always have a Plan B
Hey all, I sold a flash, The Break to Brain Harvest: An Almanac of Bad Ass Speculative Fiction (and who could resist a name like that? You know you want to read it). The Break will appear in the March 27th edition of Brain Harvest.
I got lucky, sending the right story to the right place. But what if it hadn’t sold? Which brings me to this week’s theme, Writing Pitfalls.
You wrote a story. Let’s call it Werewolves VS Cowboys*.
You polished up the first draft. Sicced your critique group on it. Hosed it down and polished it up again. Researched markets, picked the most appropriate one for a tale of vicious lycanthropy in the wild wild west, wrote an appropriate cover letter, and sent it off.
How are those laurels you’re resting on? Pretty comfy the first week or two, right? How about weeks three and four? Getting kind of itchy, anxious? Don’t know why?
Here’s the reality: you’re probably not going to sell Werewolves VS Cowboys to the first market you send it to. Even if it’s the best thing you’ve ever written, it might not be what the editor is looking for. Maybe he just bought The Werewolves of Yuma from Big Name Author. Maybe your story is 5,000 words and he just doesn’t have space for anything over 3k. Maybe he is weary of werewolves and hates westerns (he sounds overworked, poor guy. Maybe he needs a drink).
So, you need a Plan B. And a Plan C, D, E, F, G, and maybe an H (although if you get down to H, you probably need to accept the story is flawed, stuff it in your file cabinet, and go work on something else).
Because when you get that rejection note in the mail, what do you do? Flop into your bed with a pint of Chunky Monkey** bemoaning your non-success?
No. Put down the spoon and listen.
The day you get rejected from Market A is the day that you turn around and send that story out to Appropriate Market B. Because the day you sent Werewolves VS Cowboys to Market A is ALSO the day you made a list of where to send it next. If you have a story out on sub and don’t know where it’s going next, do yourself a favor and go make a list RIGHT NOW.
You stand a much better chance of selling your fiction if you:
1. Always assume rejection.
2. Always plan ahead.
*I kind of want to write that story now.
**I prefer Half Baked for all my wallowing needs.