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The Pyramid of Publishing Success

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  #1  
Old 04-07-2006, 01:25 AM
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Default The Pyramid of Publishing Success


This isn't my idea, and when I first was told it, I thought it was a little whacked - it's counter-intuitive in many ways, but makes a lot of sense. I always say you should aim high - this effectively does the same thing, but in a more structured way. This is for short fiction/articles, not novels.

1 Decide where you eventually want to place your work, when you can say you've 'made it'. Say, for example, the New Yorker. Top of the tree. Write "New Yorker" at the top of your page.

Visit their website, look at their links page, look for mentions of other mags they respect. Some will be slightly lower down the tree.

2 Pick 3 or 4 of these, and write them below New Yorker.

3 Visit their websites, pick 3 or 4 of the lesser mags that they read and respect. Write them down on the next line (You see the pyramid forming already?) and visit their sites.

4 Repeat the process until you get down to the lowly e-zines and non-paying print mags.

Now, assuming you're actually writing, and have a store of stories ready to roll, start submitting to the bottom line.

Yes, I can hear some bleating already - "But my story is too damn good for the Zarg webzine!" - but tough shit. This is where you have to realise that no story is ever too good. If you've written it already, you can write more and you can write better. If you don't think you can, then stop writing and repeat after me - "Would you like fries with that?"

Writing is an evolutionary process, and so is publication. If you're reasonably competent getting accepted in a few places on the bottom line will not be too hard. And with every story you write, you get a little better. And with every acceptance, a little more confident.

Once you have your first acceptance on the bottom line, follow that thread up to the next - one of the mags that reads and likes and respects the publication you're now accepted by. Submit to them, and now in your bio you can say you have something appearing in a mag they know about, and respect - if they respect the mag, they'll automatically have a slightly higher regard for you for being in it.

At the same time, keep writing and submitting to the other bottom liners, only moving up a row at a time as you get the acceptance, then moving on to the next mag(s) in the thread.

The idea is that as your bio and reptuation grow, as you submit further and further up the pyramid each editor will see in your bio a list of publications in mags he recognises. That gives you instant kudos. Your writing, of course, has to be up to the mark, but any extra advantage is all to the good.

And as you rise up the pyramid, your ability as a writer and your confidence will grow exponentially.

What's that? More bleating? "But I'll have to write hundreds of stories!" "It'll take forever!"

Here's the thing, kiddies - there's no short-cuts. The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. If you don't think you can handle it, step away from the keyboard, leave your writing pretensions behind and repeat after me "Can I supersize that for you?"

There are no guarantees of success, but a strategic approach and a willingness to work hard give you a 96% advantage over most other people who write.

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  #2  
Old 04-07-2006, 06:17 AM
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I've patterned my thoughts very similar to the pyramid idea. Whereas I am now in education as a more student on the path to taking an English Linguistics degree that will provide a higher level in my educational standards I don't expect to the degree to gain me the respect, work and print.

I call my system "Writing Credits" whereby everything you publish in the public domain (thats seen by many) published without fee in magazines, entered in competitions that wins any sort of prize or even mentions in other peoples work for editing and help gives you "writing credits" which is your C.V. for the future.

This pyramid scheme of being noticed in the long run through careful planning is the way to do things unless you are exceedingly lucky.
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Old 04-07-2006, 08:20 AM
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I send all my stories to Zarg webzine FIRST. I love that rag.
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Old 04-07-2006, 11:32 AM
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Mike, that is some great stuff. I have a place to send some of my old stuff now, and also send the shorter newer works. The steps help add credibility upon credibility. It will help sharpen those skills too.
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Old 04-09-2006, 10:54 AM
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The other thing I like about this sytem is that it forces one to acknowledge that you have a long, uphill road ahead of you, and many hundreds of thousands of words to write.

Too many people look for the quick fix and instant gratification - hence the success of PA, Lulu etc - but to excel, there are no short cuts. Just ink, sweat and tears.
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Old 04-09-2006, 02:02 PM
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This is an interesting system. It's a bit of a manly approach in that it's very systematic. I am curious - Is it original? Are you published, Mike? Do you write articles or short stories or novels or 'other'?
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Old 04-10-2006, 01:02 AM
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It's not an original idea, as I stated in my first paragraph. It was originated (I believe) by David Bulley, an exceptional short story writer.

I'm curious to know in what way the system is 'manly'! It's logical, and relies on networking; are those manly traits?

Yes, I'm published. There's a selection of my published stories on my website (see my signature). I have also published articles and interviews, including an interview with Michael Moorcock, and have edited a pro-rate paying literary magazine - www.nfg.ca - which unfortunately went to the wall a year ago.

We will be launching a new mag later this year. Look out for a call for submissions in a couple of months time.

Of course, none of that guarantees that I have any idea what I'm talking about, but it does mean my bullshit is polished!
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Old 04-10-2006, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C
I'm curious to know in what way the system is 'manly'! It's logical, and relies on networking; are those manly traits?
Men tend to approach things in a logical sytematic manner; straight on, concise and to the point. Women on the other hand are more likely to approach matters in a more intuitive, integrated, less organized fashion. Neither is better than the other as both have their advantages and disadvantages.

It's something I read in articles on psychology in parenting and noticed myself about how mothers and fathers parent their children differently and it appears to apply in other aspects of life as well. It is one of the things wrong with 'how to write' articles - everyone has a different approach and there is no One Right Way.

And congratulations on being a published author.
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Old 04-10-2006, 04:27 AM
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Thanks for the congrats, and the clarification. Certainly men and women approach problems in different ways, and I'd be the first to say that there is no right or wrong way. Using structured methodology works for some, the more intuitive way works for others.

I agree about the 'how to write' stuff. Everyone has to find their own way, and the ones who pontificate and say 'this is the way all things must be done' will, come the revolution, be first against the wall (assuming I'm on the winning side).
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Old 04-10-2006, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C
I agree about the 'how to write' stuff. Everyone has to find their own way, and the ones who pontificate and say 'this is the way all things must be done' will, come the revolution, be first against the wall (assuming I'm on the winning side).
LOL You must have sensed the presence of my altar to Douglas Adams
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Old 04-10-2006, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Radikalwomyn
LOL You must have sensed the presence of my altar to Douglas Adams
I have my own portable one; however, DA (genius though he was) wasn't the originator of the phrase.
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Old 04-10-2006, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C
I have my own portable one; however, DA (genius though he was) wasn't the originator of the phrase.
Do tell.
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Old 04-10-2006, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Radikalwomyn
Do tell.
I haave no idea, but it was a common saying in the UK in the early 70's (Ch was an icon, we all flirted with radical revolutionary socialism), which is why over here his use of it is funny in a referential kind of way.
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Old 04-10-2006, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike C
I haave no idea, but it was a common saying in the UK in the early 70's (Ch was an icon, we all flirted with radical revolutionary socialism), which is why over here his use of it is funny in a referential kind of way.
Oh - thats a nifty tidbit. I assumed it was a reference to the wall at which the revolutionaries were shot after the Paris Commune when I was reading up on it, but I suppose lining up revolutionaries to shoot them is not unique to France, eh?
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:57 PM
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great words, I have a similar system, though I have no goal to work down from I'm just working low. My only thing I don't like submitting to is e-zines. I don't mind not getting paid, I just want it in print..

I'm a snob what can I say
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Old 10-20-2006, 08:38 PM
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Annoying, but true and a good plan all around. It's a keeper...already downloaded it for future reference.

One question though...how does all this play out at the level of Publishers other than slickster zines et al...cuz I really couldn't give a shit about that particular kind of writing personally. But I would like to be able to convince a couple of hoitsy-toitsy publishers that my stuff is worth their time and energy...

Does the same scheme play out there as well? I am having a tough time envisioning it...

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Old 10-21-2006, 12:21 AM
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I like the idea of looking to see which mags a place likes and respects. If you can build up a pyramid like this, all well and good.

I'm reminded of someone I know on another forum who recently had a rejection in which the editor slammed his 'publishing' history for being full of low-level non-paying e-zines. The author had built up a collection of these, and the editor considered that they worked against him rather than for him.
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Old 10-21-2006, 10:52 AM
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The author had built up a collection of these, and the editor considered that they worked against him rather than for him.
rofl...that's just so typical. Well, I suppose that the whole idea is to work your way up the ladder and not expect too much until you're a little into the higher rungs anyway...

Although...I've about got my belly full of the smug-ass attitude of these dinosaur publishing outfits anyway. I am personally looking hard at self-publication and I think a lot more writers will be exploring this more in the future. The problem has always been distribution and marketing...both of which are very hard to achieve on your own dime/time. But there are a few new players out there who may be able to turn the tide on this for some of us at least. I suspect the whole industry may be moving more in this direction anyway. The old systems are defunct...the whole submission...waiting...rejection game has simply gone too far. Publishing houses rarely take chances on new talent anymore and busy people don't have time to cater to their economic paranoia anyway. Some of us are looking to alternatives and the more that go this way, the better it will all become.

edit: I think the system outlined above is a good system to begin in your 20's and expect it to take upwards to 10 years (or more) to really pay off. I don't think it's fair to jump to the conclusion that anyone who is avoiding its tenets is somehow lazy or unrealistic. Some of us have spent many years developing something worth writing about and now find ourselves in the ridiculous position of having to start from square one with the industry itself. The reality is that this just doesn't work for everybody. So it's a good plan...it may even be a failsafe plan...but it's extremely time-intensive and may not be the best plan for everybody.

m1thr0s

Last edited by m1thr0s; 10-21-2006 at 11:57 AM..
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Old 10-21-2006, 01:10 PM
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...thats a really good idea. I'll remember that, thanks
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Old 10-21-2006, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by m1thr0s View Post
I am personally looking hard at self-publication and I think a lot more writers will be exploring this more in the future.
I've heard that self-publishing can count against you, too. Of course, you do hear tales of people who've been picked up by an agent having self-published, and getting published for real, but these tend to be few and far between. To be honest, most self-published stuff that I've read is poor quality, which is hardly surprising when you consider that anyone can do it. If your writing is high enough quality, maybe you'd be better trying the traditional route. If it's not so high quality, well, like I said, anyone can self-publish. Maybe things will change in the future, but right now self-publishing seems like somewhere people go when they're not good enough to get published by more traditional means but they want to see their name on a cover. They achieve that, but make next to nothing off a small number of sales to friends and family. It sounds desperate to me. I think that's why a lot of people don't consider self-published to be published.

Not that I'm knocking those who've tried it.
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Old 10-21-2006, 01:37 PM
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...right now self-publishing seems like somewhere people go when they're not good enough to get published by more traditional means but they want to see their name on a cover.
I hear that a lot and it may even be true in many cases but I think that the real problem that I have encountered is that self-publishing outfits themselves are mostly pretty bogus and have nothing to offer good writers but a chance to learn an expensive lesson. This is unfortunate but I don't think it's the last word in self-publishing. I may be wrong of course...I am still exploring these options but there seem to be a very few players at least that might be worth taking a chance on. Lulu, in my view, is not among them...lol

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Old 10-22-2006, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
Decide where you eventually want to place your work, when you can say you've 'made it'. Say, for example, the New Yorker.
Out of curiosity, what are other big magazines to start with?

I am living way over there, does location matter?
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:19 PM
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Interesting, I think the pyramid of publishing would work, it takes alot of time and effort, but it's like eating an elephant, takes just one bite at a time. I have begun sending material to varied places and have had some things published, it is a very slow progression, but what the heck, I'm retired and writing is what I always wanted to do. It's a win, win for me. poetnurse
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Old 12-12-2008, 10:52 PM
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My question is the same as Cordatus'. "What other big-name publishers would you suggest looking into or trying this with?"

-Kate
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Old 12-13-2008, 11:30 PM
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Whichever ones you'd like to be published in, obviously. You still have to do your own research and set your own goals.
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:32 AM
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It seems like a good idea, but I have no idea what those bottom-level mags are or how to find them. Any suggestions?
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Old 08-24-2009, 08:32 AM
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Duotrope!

I always use it when looking for a market. Go for it, Mie!
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Old 10-13-2009, 11:26 PM
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I've found this to be simple and straight to the point:

1. Decide what to write about
2. Discover your readers
3. Dedicate time for writing
4. Design effectively
5. Designate a professional editor
6. Deal with a professional publisher
7. Distribute the book effectively

More to find at [link removed]

Last edited by HoiLei; 10-14-2009 at 06:14 PM..
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:07 PM
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A blog that pimps xLibris. *What a surprise from "Grace"

I should explain that xLibris (one of those *"pay us big bucks to get involved in a semi-publishing nightmare" places) pays commissions to people to run around the web pimping them. *They usually use false names.

"Grace" here did the 15 posts and then popped out a link to xLibris.

She is, basically, not a fellow writer but... and I don't think this particularly unkind, *pretending to be a friend in order to try to sign you up to get screwed so she can make a few bucks of it.

Last edited by HoiLei; 10-14-2009 at 06:14 PM.. Reason: language
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Old 12-18-2009, 03:36 PM
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Thank you Mike for sharing details of the pyramid concept - it's something that I would not have thought of, but is quite simple to follow (which is good for me!) and a logical approach.

I shall definitely give this a try.
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