3 Underrated Skills That Will Boost Your Rate of Publication
Apart from writing consistently and being correct grammatically
The ultimate goal of every writer is to get published. Scratch that — the ultimate goal of every writer is to get paid for their writing. But getting published is on the road to that — you can probably get published without getting paid, but it is well nigh impossible to get paid without being published.
Although writing decently well and being grammatically correct are the sine qua non of being published, they are so obvious that they do not bear repetition. Instead, I wanted to share some of the lesser talked about tricks that have increased my rates of being published, curated, and otherwise seeing success with my writing, in the hopes that they help some of you out too.
1. Get as comfortable with editing up as you are with editing down
The conventional wisdom is to cut all the flab away from your writing, leaving behind a lean, tight, and concise masterpiece. But I like reading meandering pieces too. I love reading when a tangential thought overtakes the main plot, only for it to disappear gently some way down the road. Unresolved conflicts that I can chew on, long after I’m done with the book. And I cannot be the only one, right?
But it was only when my agent asked me to increase the length of my novel by a whopping 13000 words, to even be considered by the bigger publishers, that I polished this skill. After all, what can you add to a completed plot that can be worth 13000 words? My story was too tight for a sub-plot to slither in.
That’s when I started rewriting my book with all those unnecessary details that I love to read about. The random thoughts in the mind of my protagonist that don’t lead anywhere. The tiny details in the world (it is a science-fiction novel, so world-building was important) that have no consequences on the story. Undercurrents that are never explored. I didn’t add a single character or plot point.
And that exercise made a huge difference to the book. My world was much more fleshed out. My characters seemed more relatable. And my book could be pitched safely to all publishers for being within the 'desired' word count.
The point is, it is not always desirable to edit down. Editing up is an equally valuable skill, especially for pitching the same article/piece to multiple publications with different requirements. It is a desirable skill to tell the story in 3000 as well as 6000 words, without losing the essence in either.
2. Pitch big
Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome. Authors most of all. Time to flip it — introducing, the anti-imposter syndrome.
The anti-imposter syndrome requires you to assume that you are the best of the lot, the creme de la creme if you will. And where do the best authors get published? That is exactly where you need to pitch. Even if you don’t think your work doesn’t deserve the name. Even if you feel that the editors will secretly laugh at you. Even if you fear getting rejected. ESPECIALLY if you fear getting rejected.
I am the proud receiver of rejections from the biggest publications on and off Medium. It used to sting — quite a while back. Now, I consider a morning wasted if I am not opening up my mailbox to see what rejections have poured in. And it has worked. Tangible benefits include actually getting accepted into some of the biggest publications and getting curated.
But the more important benefits are intangible. I do not think twice before pitching to whichever publication I’ve taken a fancy to. Six digit follower counts do not bother me. I connect to the owners of these publications on LinkedIn and even Facebook. That has led to even more opportunities for me. Compare that to the very worst that could happen. It is just a rejection of your article or your pitch — not you as a person or an author. As Taylor Swift has so wisely said, shake it off.
3. Join groups for submission calls
There are countless groups now, on Facebook as well as on email and blogs, that do the hard work for you and list out all the possible submission calls. I have found these amazingly helpful for pitching my work simultaneously to many magazines. Plus, it helps to have reminders of when certain calls are opening or closing. Some of these blogs run themed articles for finding the right publication — no-fee submissions, publications that respond quickly, publications that provide feedback, etc.
Even if you have penned a novel, some of these resources help in finding agents as well as publishers (both agented and un-agented). They also give useful hints regarding what a particular agent/publisher is looking for. Some of these also list out other interesting things like grants, contests, fellowships, and even full-time jobs. As a brand new author, these have certainly helped me in reaching out to the right places at the right time.
If nothing else, some of the themed calls, calls for stories with certain words, sentences, and even titles, work as interesting prompts when inspiration is lacking.
Here is a small list I’ve put together, based on my favorite resources (this is not sponsored or affiliated in any manner, just resources I personally find useful):
- Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity
- Authors Publish Magazine
- Creative Writers Opportunities
- Chicken Soup for the Soul — they always have open calls for various themes. For example, some of the topics currently open are angels, cats, tough times, etc.
- Trish Hopkinson — A Selfish Poet
- Furious Fiction by Australian Writer’s Centre — a monthly prompt with cash prizes
Writing is just the first part of a long process — and arguably the simplest. I hope my tips are able to make the next part a bit more bearable.
Good luck and I hope to see your work soon!
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