Tuesday, July 27

Publishing your work

I wrote this as post responses at Sharon Bakar's blog: Writing and publishing are two separate entities, and never let the thought of publishing tarnish your writing. If the reason you write fiction is for publication (works for hire are a different story, hear?), you’re likely to get disappointed. Publishing a story/novel is hard! But if you write for the love of it, because you have the urge to write, because you want to share your thoughts, your passion, you feel this undeniable elation every time you finish writing a story, especially if you think it’s good. But it doesn’t mean it’s any good. I know writers are artists, and most artists are fragile creatures. But toughen up. Grow a thick skin. Do not expect only praises, be prepared to be criticized. If you cannot accept criticism, you’ll never grow as a writer and as a person. Don’t let your mother criticize your work; she’s bound to say she loves it, just as she loves you no matter how screwed up you are. If you can get a Trusted Reader, you’re lucky. If not, join a group. With the advent of the internet, this cannot be any easier. Websites like Writing.com are littered with writers and enthusiasts, but bear in mind that there as many good ones as there are bad ones. Join groups that will help you, but be prepared to give as much as you receive. Don’t be so kiasu. Polish your work. Write more. Edit other people’s work, and you’ll learn to edit yours. Now, when you truly believe your work is publication worthy, look for markets that suit your needs. Again, Duotrope is truly a boon for writers. You don’t have to buy the thick, expensive market database. Always work your way from the top. Don’t settle for obscure, unknown markets. Start with professional markets; if they reject your story, work your way down (semi-pro, token payment, non-paying). This is important: DO NOT give a reason for publishers to reject your work. READ THE GUIDELINES carefully. FORMAT YOUR MANUSCRIPT well. Most of them will lead you to this link, but some will have their own preferences. WEED OUT THE TYPOS AND GRAMMATICAL ERRORS. First impressions play an important role. Choose your market, and please, protect your rights. If you think a market is not suitable for you, if the publisher is dodgy, you have the right to go somewhere else. You may regret not placing it there later, but always do what your heart feels is right. According to the U.S. Copyright stature*, works published after March 1, 1989 no longer require a formal copyright notice in order to receive copyright law protection. This protection is imposed automatically the moment the work is fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. In short, once you dictate, write it down, key it in, or type it out, you own the copyright. The length of protection for works created on and after January 1, 1978 is the life of the author plus 50 years. For works for hire, it's 75 years from the date of first publication, or 100 years from the date of creation, whichever comes first, unless the publisher agrees with a shorter term. Unfortunately, that's U.S. Copyright Protection. Those posted in the blogsphere, in countries other than the U.S., the protection may vary or not exist at all. Now, the author owns these rights: - The right to reproduce the work (copy, imitate, reproduce, duplicate, or transcribe). - The right to derivative works. - The right for distribution. - Public display right. - Public performance right. When a writer sells his story in exchange for money, copy of work, or exposure, he sells his rights depending on the terms of conditions, whether they’re distribution rights, dramatic, television and motion picture rights, electronic rights, and so on. When he agrees to the term and signs a binding contract, he is bound legally by that contract. If a publisher buys all distribution rights indefinitely, you still retain other rights, such as copying and imitating your own work, and publish it under a different title. You have to know your rights first. You have to read the fine prints of the contracts, and negotiate to protect your own rights. Okay, this is important: if publishers reject your work, it DOES NOT mean they’re rejecting you. They don’t even know you enough to care. Editors have a certain mindset about their readership. They have their own target audiences to cater to. Most of the time you get form rejections, which aren’t helpful at all. Sometimes, though, you get personal rejections telling you why your story is rejected. Pay attention to these. Otherwise, keep on finding other markets! The latest story I’ve sold had been rejected 5 or 6 times. I’ve just received a proof today for my perusal, and it looks good! It’s a print anthology, by the way. Good luck, and if anyone wants me to read and edit a short story, just email it to me. I don’t spare a writer’s feelings, though. Some of the members in my group even called me an obnoxious know-all, once (as if you guys don’t think the same). Hope this helps, and keep on writing! *Read the full article here.