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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