6 Tips to Get Published, Plus Thanks and Farewell, LSQ

It is with sadness that I must report I’m leaving this post at Luna Station Quarterly. I’m taking on new commitments and I must reconfigure the old ones.

In August 2013, LSQ became the first market to publish a work of my fiction – the short story “Shaka Bars.” This much-needed acceptance gave me the confidence to aggressively pursue publication of both my short fiction and art, so that I’m now Art Director for Strange Horizons and am launching sub-Q, a magazine for interactive fiction.

It’s been a treat and an education to watch LSQ grow. I’ve been impressed every step with Jennifer Parsons’s vision, tenacity, and cat-herding skills. Big things are already happening with LSQ, and it’s clear things will only get bigger.

As a parting gift, I’d like to leave you with everything I know about how to get published (it isn’t much, so it won’t take long):

1. Get a Job in Technology

I can’t stress this enough. I’ve had real jobs. Real jobs are hard. Avoid when possible.

2. Study, Practice, and Workshop

You think you know Strunk & White? I did, too. But I actually forgot everything. Anything I don’t use in a past week, my brain gets rid of so it can have room for survival skills. If you want to keep style in your brain, you must trick your brain by studying… a lot.

Put your work in front of other people. I’m a big fan of Scribophile – which offers most basic features for free. Posting, critiquing, and joining a couple of groups there improved my writing and connected me to a world of other writers. More than any other one thing, workshopping transformed my writing.

3. Heed Advice

Best book on storytelling I ever read? Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms. Yes, it’s dated and has lots of opinions about magician’s assistants’ legs. But it’s packed with good advice, including, and I paraphrase: put your work in front of several people. They may give you different and even wrong advice. But if they keep pointing to the same moment in your performance, then you know something in that moment’s not right.

Get criticism that makes you mad. Walk around the block. Use it. (Learn from it how to give better criticism.)

4. Be Happy With a B+

You can make yourself crazy trying to get something perfect. Let go of perfect. Write it, workshop it, rewrite it, submit it. If reworking something is draining your enthusiasm, set it aside.

I use The (Submission) Grinder for finding markets. Duotrope is cool, too, but it’s pay-to-play, and IMO there’s no cause to pay money until you’re making money.

5. Kill Deadlines On Sight

Know how long it takes you to do a thing, and set your schedule so you can do that thing by the deadline. Account for small life surprises and occasional binges of Dragon Age.

If you can’t give a full response to an email right away, ping back quickly to let the sender know you got it, you’re thinking about it, and (ideally) when they can expect a full response.

If you feel a deadline is going to pass you by, warn your client as soon as you can. Give everybody a chance to make accommodations.

6. If You Can’t Stand Rejection, Get More of It

There really does come a numbness once you’ve been punched in the face enough.

Some kind of mental pathology really helps here.

 

I hope this helps. Keep up the good work, and I hope to see you out in the world someday.

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