An excellent post over at Jason Nahrung’s blog about putting a value on your work.
The thing is, who are those editors? What kind of benchmark are they setting? Is that anthology something I’m proud to have on my CV, or is it just a another centimetre of paper adding weight to the shelf?
It all comes down to what the writer wants. And how much they value their work.
I’m inclined to agree with Cat Sparks, who wrote earlier this year in WQ magazine that, for someone who wants to show they’re serious about their writing, one byline in one well-respected title is worth more than 20 in no-name nil-visibility publications.
Your CV — your bibliography — is an indicator of the kind of writer you are: quirky, top-shelf, developing, esoteric …
Personally, I think there is a tendency amongst writers just starting out (and I include myself in that category), to see any publication as a good thing, but I am not sure that is the case. There are a proliferation of small presses and ezines cropping up thanks to the accessibility of technology and low start up costs, and while there are many that are doing high quality work, there are some that are a little fly-by-night or churn out quantity over quality.
I look at some writers who I would consider at the same stage as me who have thirty or forty credits to their name, but in places that really have no footprint or audience and I wonder whether that actually means anything in the big picture. I want to be careful here, because I am genuinely happy to see others succeeding and I would never try and run down the achievements of others, so if that is their measure of success then more power to them. And, it could be that they have written that many stories of a high quality, and that their output is simply better than mine.
But, for me, I try and be very deliberate about where I submit my work. I have a list of markets, both Australian and foreign, that I want to crack because I think that they represent significant markers on the journey. I generally try not to submit to “4thelove” markets because I believe that a worker is worth his wages and that the work I put into a story deserves a reward, even if it is a contributor’s copy.
The times when i have submitted to “4theLove” or “token” markets have been when I believe that there is something about it that will develop my craft. For example, the “epocalypse at the end” anthology was not a high paying market, but the concept was so intriguing and the idea of collaborating so attractive, that I considered it well worth my time.
Of course, being more discerning about where you submit means more rejections, but that is fine. When you know that you were up against 200+ other submissions (or 1900 in one case!) it means that an acceptance carries a lot of weight when you sit back and evaluate how you are going.
At the end of the day, I am not writing to make money. But, I want every credit on my writing CV to be a another sign of progression in my writing career, and be something that I am genuinely proud of.