Wendy Wagner has a great post of advice for new writers, where she discusses a very logical process for selecting markets to send your publications. It made me reflect on my own process, which is less logical and professional than her advice. So, new writers, don’t take this as advice. Take this as a window into my own process only.
First, I must admit that I very much enjoy writing to a specific topic. For that reason, I like anthologies and magazines with theme issues. I find it inspiring to have a topic and a deadline. I like topics that are going to require me to do some research — for example, regarding a particular time period, culture, science, or mythology. I like topics that are very specific. I’ve thought about why this is, and I think it’s because much of my formal training as a writer was as a poet, and I enjoyed writing to forms rather than free verse. Specificity is a constraint. Making something beautiful within a constraint, in my experience, leads me away from my most cliched thoughts and into something new.
Beyond that, I have a number of other factors.
I adore print. I’m still new enough as a writer that receiving a hard copy book or magazine with my name in it is a thrill beyond description. I want to touch it, and put it on my bookshelf. I like to be able to show it to my friends. Look! That’s me! You can show your friends an online credit, but it doesn’t have the same tangibility to me.
I am a sucker for an enticing cover. Cthulhurotica became my number one priority market when I saw the cover. It’s a proxy for me for the quality of the end product, and, again, a source of inspiration. The same is true for Historical Lovecraft. Of course, these were both also excellent examples of very specific and inspiring themes.
I like to be able to submit electronically. Probably just lazy here, but I work full-time and have multiple hobbies, so my time for writing-related activities is pretty limited. Electronic submission is delightfully efficient.
It really helps if your market is on Duotrope. I like to use their online tracking tools. It’s my dashboard.
I do want to get paid, but primarily because it tells me something about the competitiveness and professionalism of the market. I will submit to a token market if the theme inspires me. Most of my submissions are to semipro and pro markets. I’d really like one SFWA qualifying sale at some point. But, I’m probably less motivated by pro vs. semipro than folks who don’t have a full-time job that pays the bills.
If I’ve met the editors through twitter and other contexts, I am definitely more likely to submit. The primary reason is that I get a lot of pleasure from networking with other writers and editors. I have found that some markets put a lot of terrific energy into connecting their writers – with opportunities to introduce yourself to each other, and be part of an on-going e-mail or google group, for example. That’s a real value for me.
I think that’s it.
What inspires you?