Martin L. Shoemaker wrote:
hazlett wrote:If I can prove that I can sell a short story in this contest (or achieve any form of recognition - HM or better), I will then start submitting to the pro mags. Pending several sales there (a man can dream, right?), I will then take a stab at writing a longer-form work. The deadlines and quarterly submissions of the contest give me concrete objectives I can target, and keep me on track.
If that works for you, great! But I think you'd do better to submit to the pro markets now, and just see WotF as one of the pro markets.
I think treating any one market as a "quality bar" for all other markets misunderstands the way these markets work. Editors have different tastes and different needs. Markets have different tones and styles. Just because you don't strike the mark with K.D. doesn't mean you can't find a pro market where you'll sell.
I disagree with many on this site about waiting to win before one submits to other markets. While I agree that one shouldn't use the contest as a quality bar, I do think one has an objectively better chance of selling to other markets after winning the contest. Stories that would otherwise not get attention at a pro mag because an author is unknown, likely have a higher probability of being accepted once an author is "validated" by WOTF. I think this dynamic is even more important in an environment where there is a high level of subjectivity in decision-making. When two stories are roughly equal, editors may be more likely to go with the proven talent because it sells more magazines.
On the one hand, one very important difference between the WOTF contest and other markets is that it is a blind submission. Whether one is a proven or unproven author who has reliably sold short stories to other markets is immaterial to whether one wins. However, it is a critical element for other commercial markets.
On the other hand, most other markets will look at an author's track record. Remember, they are running businesses. While writing a great story is a critical component of selling magazines, publishing the works of well-known and established authors is also a key component because these authors have established followings who will buy a magazine simply because that author's name is on the cover. In some cases, these stories aren't even that good, but the author is well-known. An editor has to balance the two to ensure he or she runs a profitable magazine. I doubt any of them will admit this point, but they might not be in business if they only selected the "best" stories.
All things being equal, an established author has a much higher probability of selling an identical story to a pro market than an unestablished author. As such, being able to establish one's credibility with a WOTF win on one's cover letter improves one's chances of publishing a story immensely.
I don't intend to submit only to WOTF indefinitely. I think two years worth of attempts (8 submissions) is probably overkill, for instance. I just want to ensure that anything I submit to a pro-market (which seem to have rejection rates of 98%+) has the best chance of getting accepted.