Jibber Jabber - Q1 - 29

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:26 am

Because for every Scott and Brad who wrote specifically to the contest, I read others who did that and ended up with the same results as always (yourself, for instance) or even worse. And I read people tell of how their successful entries were stories that weren't written for the contest. Heck, my Finalist was written before I really knew what the contest was, and I submitted it to Asimov's first. And my two HMs so far were both written a year before I even knew what the contest was. My Q4 is the first I wrote with the contest in mind; and about all I did differently with it was to move a bit of the speculative element up to paragraph one. (Without that, it could easily be mistaken for the wrong genre entirely.)

So my conclusion is that writing to the contest works for some people but not for others. And I think your results indicate that you're in "others".

Plus I think it's clear from your results elsewhere that you can write good work. I wonder -- and this is WILD SPECULATION, I may be completely off base -- if perhaps trying to write to the contest adds a stress factor that makes the writing more difficult for you. Maybe if you thought less about the contest, the story would come easier.

And much as I want to win this thing myself, I really do think it would be cool (and dramatic) if you were to win in your last eligibility!
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kyle
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby kyle » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:51 am

Wow, I turn my back, and this topic explodes!

For all of you stressing about getting rejections and what the contest's tastes are, I've recently had a story that was straight-out rejected here accepted by a well-respected semi-pro publication. I regret that I'm not comfortable posting details until the contract is signed, which will be in a couple of months, but my point remains that KD is completely right that this is a market like any other, with its own tastes and idiosyncrasies. If you still think it's a good story, keep it in circulation until it either sells or runs out of markets. You never know, and a pro-out is an honorable way to go.
wotf007

Oh, and Annie, I say go ahead and try writing to the contest's tastes. I've been straight-out rejected every time I've tried that approach, but even if that's the case for you, at least it's not another Honorable Mention, right?
wotf001

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Rebecca Birch
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby Rebecca Birch » Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:31 am

My body of evidence is, well, mostly non-existent, but I wrote both my HM and my Q4 entry without having read any of the anthologies. That said, now that I have read most of the last one, I'm feeling significantly less encouraged by the Q4 entry, which I'd been really excited about. It just really doesn't seem to match what I see in winners.

That said, I am still excited about the story. I think it's great. I just am fairly well convinced it is not going to succeed in this market. I have a feeling that utter crashing and burning would occur, however, if I tried to follow in the path of what I've seen, so I'm going to continue plugging away to my own drummer and, if it hits, WOO. If it doesn't, well, moving right along.

So, I guess I'm with Martin. Write what moves *you*. The worst you can do is pro out, which you're going to do anyways. wotf007
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby Strycher » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:44 am

izanobu wrote:
It's less a question of "will I have a story to submit one final time to the contest" and more a question of "do I bother trying to write a story FOR the contest". That's where I'm finding the lack of motivation. I've written two stories out of all my entries that I *knew* fit perfectly for WotF. Both got HMs.


Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:So my conclusion is that writing to the contest works for some people but not for others. And I think your results indicate that you're in "others".


I'm going to side with Martin on this. You've gathered a significant amount of data that points to the idea that when you write for this contest, you do not receive the desired results. Try writing something what you want to write. Write a story for yourself. Don't aim it at WotF.

You have already accepted that you won't win. You don't have anything, other than a day of writing, to loose by producing a new short story for the contest. Maybe if you're writing for yourself, and not stressing about being contest specific, it will be enjoyable enough to not seem like a lost day.

My one Semi-finalist was written for a workshop and an anthology, and while I had a feeling it would do well, I didn't write it specifically for the contest (if I had, I would have made it feel less like part of something larger, for example, and more finished on its own).


Did your critique specify that it was too open-ended for the contest? I think that acknowledging that the closest you've ever come to winning was with a story not written for WotF makes it fairly apparent that you shouldn't write a WotF specific story for your last entry. But you should submit! It won't hurt anything to try.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby Grayson Morris » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:56 pm

Annie will submit, guys. She's dedicated and she's definitely not a quitter, and she'll submit. Right now, I think she's just taking a little space to vent some frustration about how frigging hard she works, and how little it's paying off here at WOTF. Sometimes we all need to vent.

(Do correct me if I'm wrong, Annie.)

The contest doesn't recognize all the talent that comes through it with a win. In addition to the famous examples, look at Gwendolyn Clare: another excellent writer accepted at Asimov's and Clarkesworld, among others, who never made it into the finalist pool here. The contest isn't the ultimate litmus test for your fitness as a writer, by any means.

But d*mn, it sucks not to make it here. Annie has--and others have--been slogging away for a long time, and yes, she's going to make it as a writer, and yes, proing out is a good thing, etc and so forth. But sometimes we just need to say, "Crap, this sucks," and have folks say, "Yes, it does." Because, honestly, we can all relate, can't we? Won't we think it sucks if we pro out before winning? I dare say we will. Not because proing out is failure--hardly!--but because winning this thing would be amazing.
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby soulmirror » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:37 pm

And there is a whole spectrum (in theory) of "writing a story for the contest" I'd suppose.

I'm obviously not an example of WotF story success ... but throw enough spaghetti at the wall and something's gotta stick! (Oddly, maybe that works both spaghetti-as-advice, and spaghetti-as-story submissions)

I couldn't begin to sit down, psychoanalyze an editor or and anthology, and then write a story from scratch aimed at hitting some specific bull'e eye (obviously, if given a theme "write a dinosaur story for a dinosaur anthology" ... that's different)

I'd suppose you have to love the story as the starting point, and then all we can do is remember the fundamental contest rules. I didn't mean that anyone should (or that I myself could) write a story that just didn't work for them as artists ...

But for WOTF, certainly I've had to steer away from (or remove) what I considered mild sexuality, violence (but remembered how WOTF is sold to school libraries) and (here's the only time I ever felt like I was censoring myself) avoid entirely a story where a "cult" was one of the two settings (and not because of what I'd call a "cult" but from projecting that others would see it as a "cult" jab)

I always had to tone down my IOTF entries. wotf001 I'm a lurid gent, visually. But that said, one of my (finally) winning IOTF entries had a huge decapitated human head on a stake, and another had a woman about to be sacrificed luridly to a human-headed goat. wotf015 In retrospect ... holy cow, what was I thinking?! Would those have played well with school libraries?!

(On the other hand, artists probably don't worry as much there, because our entries won't appear in the book, they're just entries; I certainly had to tone down my first ideas for Patty's story -- because it offered some horrific opportunities for illustration)

I'm not just rambling, I'm babbling. I guess all I'm saying is ... If I'd had all the soooooo-close misses as several here have had, I'd sure keep entering until I nailed it, if not by cunning then by luck of the draw?

Because winning WOTF has to be one of the best career jump-starters around (as we've all discussed before!)
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby gower21 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:50 pm

Annie, you can rant all you want - it would suck to get acknowledgement of your talent and not win the contest. I'm with Martin - sounds like you have your answer on what stories to write to go beyond an hm

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby izanobu » Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:26 pm

Ha. Thanks guys. Yeah, I'm just venting. To put it as generally as I can (since my specific rant on the matter involves information that isn't public and it isn't nice to name names anyway)... I have seen first-hand the kinds of opportunities that open up for people who win this thing. And I have seen winners who just don't have the production ability (or the already finished products) to jump completely on such opportunities. So yes, some of it is looking over at someone else's cake and wishing that I was good enough to have a slice of that damn cake myself because my fork is bigger and I could eat it faster (okay, terrible imagery there... but hopefully the point gets across).

I do know that pro-ing out isn't such a terrible thing. I have a sheet of paper on the wall by my desk with the words "It never ends" on it. I've been adding publications to that sheet (got the idea from a story Dean told us) and now they climb almost down one edge. I know that I'll run out of room on that sheet someday (well, unless I just stop writing short fiction, but I like writing short fiction too much to ever really stop). I know I never thought I'd go from zero to SFWA-qualified in two years. Or have thousands of people out there reading novels I'd written. I've come a long way since Feb 4th, 2009 when I started this whole writing journey.

But I wanted to win the stupid contest. And I won't. So yeah, I'm a little sad that I'm about to lose my opportunity to beat my head against this wall. wotf004

(For what it's worth, the story that got a semi? While I didn't write it FOR the contest, I figured it stood a good shot of winning and wasn't at all surprised that it was a semi-finalist. I've read a lot of the anthologies, I've read a lot of winning stories-many BEFORE they won- and I do have a decent idea of what wins though there are always some surprises, of course. So I have a feel for the contest, I just can't seem to hit the dead center of the target.)

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby gower21 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:04 pm

Are you interested in writing a romance? The Golden Heart opens tons of opportunities too. And you'll still be eligible after you pro out here.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby izanobu » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:20 pm

I do write romance (under a different name), but the Golden Heart has an entry fee, doesn't it? And I'm not sure from reading the rules if self-published titles are allowed (as in, titles that are up online for sale already). I might have to do some more poking around.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby gower21 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:55 pm

It does have a fee. But it only take the first couple hundred entries in each category I think or something like that. Don't quote me. My goal next year is to write a novel that can be entered in one of the categories. Just like in this contest if you achieve finalist you are good. Finalist usually get offers from publishing companies. The 2009 winner in Paranormal (Darlynda Jones) got a 6 figure contract (3 or 4 book deal) from St Martins press after she won. I've been doing the same online writing workshops she did before she won. Lots of good stuff.

Don't know about self-published titles, either. Contacting the local RWA chapter group would answer all your questions though.

Can you pm me your romance name (Or post it here if you don't mind)? I'm a romance junky, would love to read one of your books!

I went over and lurked on your site, looking for your romance pen name, saw you will be on some panels...Man, I would love to sit in on the dark ages one (what people get right and wrong ect). I wanted to write a short story historical romance, but don't really feel prepared to write the era. Portland-- so close, yet too far away. Sigh.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby M.O.Muriel » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:05 pm

Annie has every right to vent her heart out here, and I totally understand it, because I was just there--albeit, she has more entries than myself wotf011 .

I am personally also one of those target-the-market people, but that is HARD to do, since the market is so subjective, just like K. D. said. WotF recognizes talent with all its placement tiers, but an actual win comes from that plus the slush editor's taste (then the other judges' tastes, here, after that), plus a sprinkling of luck.

And absolutely, there is a definite reason why WotF has such appeal: the sheer value of networking with the pros and fellow winners alike is worth it's weight in gold. I too shake my head at winners who come on with no plan--not sure if they entered merely to win something, or for the prestige, or what, and some don't do anything with the credential or launch their careers until later. But the few who don't seem to do much at all with it (or have a goal for the future) make their win seem like a wasted opertunity, which is frustrating as h-e-double-hocky-sticks to hard a$$, serious writers, of whom Annie is definitely one.

For me, winning the contest became an absolute priority when, on the novel side of things, going the traditional route five ways from Sunday was like banging my head up against a brick wall. Blame it on industry upheaval, blame it on a lack of marketing skills at the time, blame it on me learning the craft vs. what editors may or may not like by trial and error, blame it on unusual wotf017 visions (like oh, illustrating my own novels, which is HIGHLY looked down upon by the industry, unless you already have a megalithic platform), I have no idea. But the time spent writing, upping my craft, and soliciting to agents at least helped me learn. Still, it gets exhausting and frustrating beyond belief. And after beating around the bush for 11 years, IotF & WotF was my last big resort. I targeted it (starting in 2007). And when I finally stopped submitting novel excerpts and started taking a crack at short stories, I'd get the HMs and rejects, too, and set to reading in between the lines like a madwoman, to *figure out the formula.*

Well, there is no formula that I can see. Just a gut feeling that "X" story isn't cut out for WotF. "Y" story has winning elements and I hope it wins, because it's my best writing to date--not to mention its a good yarn and I'm dern proud of it. And "Z" story--man!--it just "feels" right all over; it really "feels" like an WotF story. Either way, when I "target" something, I may hone in like a heat-seaker missile, but I never, never, never write something I'm not passionate about or 100% fully engaged in. The instant you sacrifice even a modicum of your own engagement in a story and your passion to write it in pursuit of what an editor/market might or might not *possibly* like, you're selling yourself short. The moment you disengage, even for a second, for any perceived reason, that reflects in your writing.

(For the record, I've only read Vol. 27 and a few stories from Vol. 24. So when I say "targeting," I'm more comparing my rejects, with my HMs, with the few winning stories I've read, just to gauge K. D.'s possible taste).

My tips of musts for WotF: Have a high concept. Have a powerful theme. Don't skimp, not even just to "have something to submit;" write your very best, regardless of whether or not you think one entry is better or worse than others. Write emotionally/passionately vs. dry. Trust your gut (it's working on muscle memory of the storytelling elements you've learned, even subconsciously through reading, that work or not). And make 'em cry. wotf013 .

Annie, I'm doing a butt kicker: get that Q4 win!!! And if you pro out, remember all the biggies and prolific, hard working, successful writers who never either got or used WotF as a launching platform. The most successful authors, regardless of WotF, are the one who never gave up, NEVER took 'no' for an answer, and almost always had to make their own inroads.
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IotF - WINNER Q2, 2010, vol. 27 (2x Finalist)

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby izanobu » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:47 pm

Yeah, writing to target doesn't mean writing without passion. For me, at least, it means choosing an idea and story that better fits what I'm aiming at instead of say, writing this other idea that might not fit as well. WotF is so open in terms of content/subject that it isn't that difficult to pick an idea from ones I already have written down or partially developed. For me it is more a matter of taking the day and sitting down and saying "okay, today we're going to write THIS idea because of the ones I have, it best fits the contest". Having ideas I want to write has never been my problem (without hyperbole, I estimate the number of ideas or partial ideas for novels and short stories in my various notebooks at somewhere in the 3-4 hundred range, but it is too many to count at the moment and I'm sure I'd forget a file or a notebook or something since I write this stuff down everywhere).

I know which story I'd write for my Q4. I will probably even write it. (I even ran the idea past a former winner who agrees it will probably make a good WotF story) But I can almost promise it will get an HM, because that seems to be the target I'm good at hitting. That's all I'm saying. wotf008

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby WriteToLive » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:36 pm

I absolutely hate writing to a target. To me, it becomes more of "what will sell here" versus "what's right for the story." The last quarter I subbed to was a story I wrote that had a natural fit, but I thought it was my best work yet. But, only time will tell...
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby izanobu » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:56 pm

My point, Writetolive, which I clearly didn't state well enough, was not that you should think about "what fits market" at expense of "what fits the story." The point is that I, at least, like to pick the story that will fit the market. This does mean that you have to be good at having ideas and picking out which ones will work for what you want to accomplish.

A big part of writing short stories for money is selling to anthologies. Most of the long-term professionals I know who still write short fiction do so at the request of editors for invite-only anthologies and other specific projects. To do that, you have to be able to think about how a story will fit what you are aiming at. WotF is easier than writing for an anthology in some ways because you can have a wide pool of appropriate ideas, but in the end to hit the market you have to keep in mind some things about what you are doing. It's part of the business of writing. I look at it as another skill to learn, like pacing or the difference in plotting between a mystery and a romance, or deeper characterization, or any of the myriad other skills we have to learn if we want to consistently write books and stories that people can't put down. Learning to put together ideas and make something out of them that fits your needs is a skill, and one I clearly haven't mastered when it comes to WotF.

Which is, in the end, okay. Not every writer can sell to every market. While I've figured out how to get KD to consistently read my stories (which is why I don't worry about getting a straight rejection and I know I'll always get at least an HM), I've clearly not figured out how to write a story that will go the distance and make finalist. Maybe in time, with more practice and more chances, I'd get my skill up to that level. But pro-ing out means I am out of chances and no amount of practice is going to do it because, for this market and this editor, my time is done. I have one more story (maybe two, but I don't think Daily SF will sit on both the stories they just bought from me for more than 2-3 months, though they might...). That's what I'm lamenting. Not that I can't win, but that I am out of time to learn how to.

wotf008
(edited to add- actually, my Q4 might be a straight reject. It has an element that KD has said she hates, but I feel I did pretty originally, so it will depend on if she can get over her dislike of this particular commonly seen fantasy thing. I took a chance that she could. We'll see.)

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby Ember » Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:56 am

For those that haven't been over to KD's forum recently


Newbie question I know, but um, where is this?

It has an element that KD has said she hates


is this the kind of thing found on said forum?
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby s_c_baker » Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:16 am

KD's place on SFF.net (presumably what is being discussed): http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=outline&group=sff.writing.writersofthefuture Note that this is page 11/11.
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby WriteToLive » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:33 pm

I guess what I don't care for is "We like stories with X, Y, and Z" and then, when you put in X, Y, and Z into those stoires, you get a form rejection. You wonder if you did X, Y, and Z correctly, yes, but there are times when it doesn't work out that way. Others around here, if memory serves me correctly, have said though the market states they like X, Y, and Z, they are tired of reading it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a challenge. I think one of my best stories came out of Redstone's Identity Crisis Contest (My rejection came about a day or so before they announced the winner while Duotrope had most in the middle of the month). I'm hoping for something good for it in AE right now (29 days and counting).

However, my Q-4 had X, Y, and Z and was, imo, my best at that time (I was choking up when I wrote the ending). Yet, I get the "Dear Contestant" letter. -_-;

I guess what I believe is one of Heinlein's Rules. Don't rewrite if you don't agree with the editor's comments. But, I take it one step further. Don't limit yourself by what a publisher is looking for. Anthologies, yes, I can see some degree of needing to write to target. But, in other ways, I would say for open markets (Analog, Asimov, etc.), don't let their guidelines intimidate you into writing to the market.
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby s_c_baker » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:16 am

WriteToLive wrote:I guess what I don't care for is "We like stories with X, Y, and Z" and then, when you put in X, Y, and Z into those stoires, you get a form rejection. You wonder if you did X, Y, and Z correctly, yes, but there are times when it doesn't work out that way. Others around here, if memory serves me correctly, have said though the market states they like X, Y, and Z, they are tired of reading it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a challenge. I think one of my best stories came out of Redstone's Identity Crisis Contest (My rejection came about a day or so before they announced the winner while Duotrope had most in the middle of the month). I'm hoping for something good for it in AE right now (29 days and counting).

However, my Q-4 had X, Y, and Z and was, imo, my best at that time (I was choking up when I wrote the ending). Yet, I get the "Dear Contestant" letter. -_-;


Just because it has the elements an editor likes doesn't mean it's the best story for the magazine.

One way to look at this is that they've done you a favour by explicitly stating what they like to see. If you put what they like in the story and it still gets a form reject, you know that it's a good fit for the market, but perhaps not the best story they've got for other reasons. (As opposed to the market whose editor has a rabid phobia of unicorns, but never bothers to tell you, leaving you wondering why your story on unicorn baseball was rejected without comment.)

Put simply: It's one less variable in the form-rejection-guesswork-equation, which should make it easier to look at the story and figure out which of the other variables needs work. wotf007
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby katsincommand » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:21 pm

izanobu wrote:Ha. Thanks guys. Yeah, I'm just venting.


I was trying to be supportive in the tough-love kind of way, because I can't image you taking sympathy too well. Should I put on my cheerleading hat instead? I don't think Brad gave us any cheerleader smilies....

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby izanobu » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:45 pm

katsincommand wrote:
izanobu wrote:Ha. Thanks guys. Yeah, I'm just venting.


I was trying to be supportive in the tough-love kind of way, because I can't image you taking sympathy too well. Should I put on my cheerleading hat instead? I don't think Brad gave us any cheerleader smilies....

wotf045


Nooooo! The Day-star.... it BURNSSSSS. wotf034

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby WriteToLive » Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:39 pm

Are you sure it's not a moon.

Alec Guiness: That's no moon, that's a space station!

Uhh... wotf017
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby gwasch » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:41 am

My Q2 v.28 finalist keeps getting bumped from venues without making much noise at all. I'm disappointed but not surprised. I think I've got one or two more places I can send it before it's just dead in the water. (It's novella/ette sized, and I'm being snobby about not submitting to non-SFWA pubs.) At this rate I might just have to sigh and file it away for a collection or something.

I'm reading slush now for a university press journal and I have to take a day off when I get rejections, lest I take my frustration out on them. Haha.. but I would never.

Anyway, I feel like that story has fit the 'we like xyz' sections of these mags pretty well, and it's obviously not a total flop... but I've been getting back so little. At least KD liked it? XD

Anything I write I tend to write without considering an audience, though admittedly sometimes I make revisions to that end. At that point, though, it's easier to figure out what the heart and soul of the story is and what really won't harm it to recolor. Writing for yourself is fun, but we're not in a vaccuum. Half of being a storyteller is serving an audience. <3

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby wellsdesigned » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:27 am

gwasch wrote:Half of being a storyteller is serving an audience. <3


I think all of being a good storyteller is telling a good story and then you need to be or know someone who is a good marketer to find an audience. I have thus far had very limited success in the latter.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby M.O.Muriel » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:04 am

çc
wellsdesigned wrote:
gwasch wrote:Half of being a storyteller is serving an audience. <3


I think all of being a good storyteller is telling a good story and then you need to be or know someone who is a good marketer to find an audience. I have thus far had very limited success in the latter.


Okay, this bothers me. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the unfortunate reality is that you are your own best marketeer. Galaxy Press is a rarity with all the PR they lavish on you, along with all the support from the industry pros you recieve. Most publishing houses don't do this at all. It's up to you to make your product known and drum up interest in it. Even when you've got the backing of a major publisher.

I'm sure most of us wish we could all just sit in an office (or a coffee shop, or a dark alley somewhere, or whatever haunt induces those writerly juices to flow), and just write our hearts out, while we leave our entire marketing campaign to the agents and the PR staff at X, Y, or Z publishing house. But this is just not reality. The industry is in such upheaval right now, as a matter of fact, that a good handful of the contest judges are warning writers AWAY from agents, because of all the scams going on, even at reputable houses.

But even if you were to land a reputable agent, one who isn't green as summer grass no matter how well-meaning, one whom you don't have to prod along, or worship in order to stay at the forefront of their memory, or choose whether to micromanage and keep a fire lit under their butt or let procrastinate out of politeness for their 'space,' or, better, who actually gets you a nice deal on your project . . . well, it's still mostly up to you to market the sucker once its published. In fact, according to David Wolverton, many publishers out there sabotage what little marketing momentum you might have, in favor of promoting their big names! Oh, like darkening or washing out your cover, so it doesn't pop like the big names, thereby creating any real competition for them. Reality is like a vampire in our field of work: it bites: wotf016 wotf23

Look, most of us are disillusioned by mega successes like J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer, who really do have huge marketing campaigns. But that's like winning the lottery.

With book stores going out of business because of the economy and the rise of eBooks, publishers are more focused on their bottom-line than ever, and sh*T rolls down hill. The funny thing is that eBooks are on the rise, because authors are sick of being on the bottom of the 'pile.' And many are going into business for themselves. Forget the middleman! But as one who likes to diversify her portfolio, I try to keep all options on the table. I merely seek to keep myself afloat of the latest knowledge, and you guys should too wotf036 . . . . Which, is one of the great reasons for having this forum, and other writerly forums, and sticking together as a community of authors, sharing what knowledge we can with each other. RALLY!

The best thing aspiring authors should do is to look at authorship as having two separate but integral parts: the (fun) writing part, and the (not as fun) business and marketing part. Marketing means get yourself out there, join forums, try not to be as introverted, talk to people, build a website, collect beta readers and involve them so they spread the word too, market your first chapter around library groups and Boys and Girls Clubs if you are writing YA or younger, go to Cons and workshops if that's your thing and you have the money (personally, this is not for me on the whole), join FB, try to be as approchable as you can, and definitely enter this Contest wotf006 . Anything you can to drum up interest in your product.

I've had the fortunate experience of being interviewed at my local paper when I won IotF. In the past, the illustrators weren't involved too much in the marketing of the anthology (as far as a I know; oldsters, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!). And that is opening marketing opportunities for other projects now. But I also did the foot work and tracked down and visited all the B&Ns in my general area to set up book signings. Now, to my surprise, as an illustrator winner, vs. an author winner, I was basically told to go take a hike, even though it would have cost these stores no more than the sweat off their brows to set up a table. They could have even made some money and drummed up local interest in their stores. But I still tried. I also did some networking and was able to participate in a month-long art show at my local library. I gave the local paper my Press Release and gave them lots of stories surrounding my win, so they ended up publishing 4 separate stories in different affiliates of their paper. And now, people from all over town have been recognizing me . . . which is something I can now use to market my next big project (aside from WotF, Volume 28, hehe). I don't know if any of this will lead somewhere, but I have to try.

The point is that first, you need to figure out your goals: will you be satisfied with the glory of being published once, somewhere big? Or do you want to go career as a short story author and/or a novelist? Me? I'm novelist all the way. Then, you must recognize that you are your own best agent and marketeer. No one is going to do this better for you. Next, success is most often NOT over night. It takes time, and networking, and planning, and trial-and-error, and lining up your chess pieces, and making friends in the same field with which to share woes and sucesses, and hoping, and praying, and a little luck (all this on top of having a fabulous product, polished and ready to be published). More than luck, though, it takes drive. And in the face of everything, you must not give up, no matter how steep the incline or weighty your ball-and-chain is. There will be ample reasons to just give up, stark reality being the biggest, but if you do, well, then you won't be an author now, will you? wotf008
~M. O. Muriel
(Meghan)

WotF - WINNER, 2nd Place, Q3, 2011, vol. 28 (5x HM)
IotF - WINNER Q2, 2010, vol. 27 (2x Finalist)

Visit me on Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/meghan.muriel
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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby wellsdesigned » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:53 pm

The distinction I was trying to make was that the story itself isn't the marketing effort, that is to say writing stories that aim too much with marketing in mind will probably come across as formulaic. To me, marketing is a separate effort from storytelling which is splitting hairs on the original statement I quoted, but I wanted to say that marketing anything, including a story is an effort onto itself. Steve Jobs had some great technical innovation ideas, but he couldn't have made them what they are today if he didn't have a personal knack for marketing them.

Most writers today are either left in the cold to market for themselves, or they are blessed with the times that will allow them to market their stories for themselves. The ones felt left cold having to market stories more for themselves will be left behind the way Comadore computers was left behind by the more marketing savvy companies like Apple.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby madison » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:55 pm

gwasch wrote:My Q2 v.28 finalist keeps getting bumped from venues without making much noise at all. I'm disappointed but not surprised. I think I've got one or two more places I can send it before it's just dead in the water. (It's novella/ette sized, and I'm being snobby about not submitting to non-SFWA pubs.) At this rate I might just have to sigh and file it away for a collection or something.<3


My list of preferred markets begins with this contest, then encompasses all the SFWA markets. After that it goes to the best paying non-pro markets. And so forth.

I'm going to shop that puppy until someone takes it and build my "published" list from there. Why stop because your favs don't take it if it means you'll never see it pubbed?

One of my stories has been rewritten to such an extent I could probably rename it and start over from the top...but I think such tactic might be frowned upon so I haven't. I don't want to earn any bad juju if I can help it.

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby M.O.Muriel » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:32 pm

Don't worry, I'm responding specifically to the reply made to gwasch about half of being a storyteller is serving an audience. Because it's true. No matter how good a writer you are, if you're only writing for yourself and your tastes, that's awesome. You may or may not reach an audience that way, though. But "market savvy" comes from at least having a target market (reads 'audience') in mind, right from your very first pen stroke. Else why bother crafting a story in the first place?

(Realize that the catch 22 here is that the industry has things mind-bogglingly set up in a way that an author must please an agent to please an editor to please a critic to please a target audience, a course I truly DON'T agree with, as storytelling can really get lost in translation here. And oft times, if an author forgets that noise and honestly straight-targets their audience, they'll have a difficult time bypassing the agents and editors if they go traditional, and thereby have to resort to all of their own marketing just to get to the point in publishing where . . . they have to do more of their own marketing. All the greats seem to have had to go this way, anyway. It sucks. Like, you're not allowed to genuinely have your own original idea. You have to sell it all on your own, first, prove you can sell, and THEN the publishers come sniffing around. Not the other way around).

Coming back to my original point, though, I guess another way to put it is to say a person might have a genius idea, but unless that person can communicate that idea, or teach it, to others in a meaningful way, that idea is lost. The genius dies with the person who originally beheld it.

Stories are meant for people. By hook or by crook. Despite what the market is doing, or what others are saying. Somewhere, there is an audience, even if that audience it 2 people or a 2 million. Otherwise, it's just a slice of writing, not a story. To suggest that audience has no relivance to storytelling is missing a major part of the craft.
~M. O. Muriel
(Meghan)

WotF - WINNER, 2nd Place, Q3, 2011, vol. 28 (5x HM)
IotF - WINNER Q2, 2010, vol. 27 (2x Finalist)

Visit me on Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/meghan.muriel
The Land of OCKT: http://www.facebook.com/TheLandofOCKT

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby M.O.Muriel » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:42 pm

madison wrote:One of my stories has been rewritten to such an extent I could probably rename it and start over from the top...but I think such tactic might be frowned upon so I haven't. I don't want to earn any bad juju if I can help it.


LOL, Madison, you rock, girl! No worries. I have a novel that I basically learned the craft on--it was revised that much. And I mean something like 30+ drafts over 10 years, not the tweak-some-grammar type. I'm talking overhauls just shy of re-drafting.

All that muscle-memory now sums up 30+ drafts into maybe 2 or 3. Meaning, wotf001 , I can write a 130K novel to the same standards and skill level now in a year that I could in 10-11 years! BTW: that novel is just dandy. Ready to be published! So yes, if you believe in it, no fears. No bad juju. Treat it like a priceless old Victorian you've had to do a reno on; maybe no one would have opted for it before (too much work!), but boy! When they see what you've done to restore it . . . BINGO wotf007 .
~M. O. Muriel
(Meghan)

WotF - WINNER, 2nd Place, Q3, 2011, vol. 28 (5x HM)
IotF - WINNER Q2, 2010, vol. 27 (2x Finalist)

Visit me on Face Book: http://www.facebook.com/meghan.muriel
The Land of OCKT: http://www.facebook.com/TheLandofOCKT

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Re: Q1 Volume 29

Postby soulmirror » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:12 pm

It will be interesting, Meghan, to hear what different sorts of marketing you get from winning as a WRITER rather than as ILLUSTRATOR: same you, same high-energy Meghan ... but as a writer rather than an artist.

YOU'LL knock their socks off, either way! wotf008

I'd agree with the idea that writers have more traction interview-wise and publicity-wise .... But that may hit some folks as common sense, and to be expected? Illustrators get one page from a 40 page story, etc.

I agree with ya 100% Meghan that we can be our own best promoters and marketers, and for the reasons you lay out: WE CARE MORE about our own art and vision, and we need care about and promote only ourselves, with 100% of our time and energy.

Unless someone is ALREADY BIG ... no one else is going to put that time and energy into our careers or our art ... or allow us that level of creative FREEDOM.

It may be an under-used "muscle" for many of us creative souls.
Like you say, we'd mostly like to be left to ourselves to CREATE, not MARKET.

But anyone who has their act together enough to keep SUBMITTING ... probably already has that ability (tapped or untapped) to PROMOTE and MARKET too.
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'The only tyrant we accept in this world is the still voice within.' -Gandhi
IOTF:Winner Q1 vol.27 (3x Finalist); WOTF: HM x2


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