The Writer’s Market is to aspiring writers what seed catalogs are to aspiring gardeners-something to drool over and think about and have long, usually unrealistic, fantasies about. I bought my first Writer’s Market when I was in high school, submitted my first short stories and poems as quickly as I could roll them out of my old manual typewriter. What a lovely sound those keys made as they slapped the paper. I miss that once in a while. I soon moved up to an electric typewriter. I still refer to the Return key and get blank stares from people who have never seen a typewriter. The return key now says Enter.
Back in the day, I collected a lot of rejection slips. As always, those first few rejects were standard issue preprinted ones saying nice things like Not What We Are Looking For At This Time. I soon moved up to Good Luck Placing This Elsewhere and finally hit the big time of rejects with hand written notes offering suggestions for improvements and telling me they were looking forward to my next story.
That, of course, is when I stopped writing and submitting short stories-or anything else. It was that whole life got in the way kind of thing. Or so I like to tell myself. I really didn’t know that the handwritten notes were a good sign, to me they were just one more rejection. I wrote a lot of stories back then, all sci-fi and horror. Most of them were not too good, but one or two were solid bits of writing-that might have been published if I had just polished them a bit more.
So flash forward a couple of decades or so and here I am, flipping through the pages of Writer’s Market and once more having dreams of being published. The good old days of making a living from writing short stories are pretty much gone, but it is still possible to make a bit of money. Writing is a hard way to make a living, unless you happen to be one of those rare few with a Bestseller. Or maybe a Screenwriter-even optioning a script and never having it made into a film can be a pretty good payday.
The listings are fun to read and the often very, very serious business of entertaining and informing people is just daunting as it ever was. Just because I can bang out a few hundred words without breaking too much of a sweat doesn’t mean I can crank out publishable content that someone will want to buy. I’d like to think that I can.
The Writer’s Market has thousands of listings for every kind of writing and it also has several articles in the front that tell you such things as how to format a manuscript and how to write a query letter that might actually get a positive response. It tells you things like a screenplay sells for $50,000 to $100,000 and that book reviews pay $25 to $900.
Hmm, movie novelisation pays $3,000 to $15,000-how hard can that be?