August 2, 2015

WRITING ADVICE: What Went RIGHT With “Technopred” (Aurora Wolf, May 2013) Guy Stewart #21

In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, Lin Oliver speak at a convention hosted by the Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, I have shared (with their permission) and applied the writing wisdom of Lin Oliver, Jack McDevitt, Nathan Bransford, Mike Duran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, SL Veihl, Bruce Bethke, and Julie Czerneda. Together they write in genres broad and deep, and have acted as agents, editors, publishers, columnists, and teachers. Since then, I figured I’ve got enough publications now that I can share some of the things I did “right” and I’m busy sharing that with you.

While I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it...neither do all of the professional writers above...someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. When I started this blog, that was NOT true, so I may have reached a point where my own advice is reasonably good. We shall see! Hemingway’s quote above will now remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales! As always, your comments are welcome!

What did I do right?

Here, I’m going to have to define “right”.

I love “Technopred”. I think the idea is sound (watch National Geographic’s “Raccoon Nation” online for free if you think the idea’s whacko!), and the writing is good. I tried to place this in every other market I could think of: ANALOG, Intergalactic Medicine Show, ASIMOV’s, Lightspeed, DSF, and BuzzyMag all turned it down cold. I’d done lots of waiting and I wanted to idea to be public.

So I moved to what I call my “second tier” markets. Aurora Wolf, Strange Horizons, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Words of Wonder, Fiction Vortex, Perihelion, Stupefying Stories, Giganotosaurus, and a few others were markets I didn’t read often, but still passed through them every once in a while.

Aurora Wolf was top of the list, so I shot the story off there and the editor responded quickly and enthusiastically: “Guy, You have an acceptance, as is, for "TechnoPred". I've never had any collisions with raccoons except when one helped me scare the pants off a bully at Boy Scout camp, long ago. I put a sticky bun under his sleeping bag. Naturally the raccoon took care of the evidence lol…And Ravens I see every day. I might even exchange a caw or two :) With this in mind - I cannot refuse :) your consideration.”

He paid promptly, albeit it was a token amount, but had it posted not long after. I got a comment from a reader, and while I don’t get to Aurora Wolf often, I do visit on occasion and the story is still there. I am proud that while I haven’t sold everything I’ve ever written – like Robert A. Heinlein says “In Grumbles From the Grave Heinlein tells the very nicely rounded story of writing and selling his first short story and how he's (understandably) proud of having sold everything he's ever written. However... It turns out that whilst this story is composed of mostly true elements that For Us, the Living was actually the first thing he wrote and he wasn't able to get it published - oh and that he did his level best to make sure it never came to light, even to the extent of burning his own copy of the manuscript.” – I’ve sold 10%. That’s since 1990! I haven’t broken it down more, though my percentage has been close to that each year.

So I suppose the things I learned are just reiterations of things I already know – that even Heinlein knew:

1.) You must write.

2.) You must finish what you write.

3.) You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.

4.) You must put the work on the market.

5.) You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

Writers today quibble about this and slam down on them. They seem to be unaware that while no one knows who they are, the rules they’re bashing are so well-known that if I asked someone at a SF convention “What are Heinlein’s rules for writing?” they might be able to tell me. If were to then ask, “What are ______ objections to Heinlein’s rules?” most of the people who answered the first would say, “Who?” to the second...

This is what went right with “TechnoPred”: I kept the work on the market until it sold.
Any thoughts?

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