sabato 2 giugno 2018

Quick Publishing Tip: Don’t Bury Your Gold


For those of you who are submitting short stories or novels for publication, I offer you this quick tip: Don’t bury your gold.*

The harsh truth is that most magazines, agents, and editors receive so many submissions that they rarely read past the first paragraph (of a short story) or page (of a novel) before they begin to make a decision. And if you don’t show them something they want to see within that time, they may not finish your story at all. So don’t bury the good stuff!

I often see stories where the writer “hides” their best stuff in the middle of the story. This can happen on a story-level when the writer doesn’t reveal the “hook” of the story until five pages in. It can also happen on a style or skill level when the writer doesn’t show their best writing until the middle or end of the story.

This strategy might work for writing that you share with your friends or family, but if you want to get the attention of an overworked, underpaid, stressed out editor or agent who has already read 50 stories that day, open with your gold, don’t keep it buried in the middle where they might not even see it!

As a first reader for literary magazines who is often in the position of reading through tons of submissions in a day, I can not stress this enough. Editors are much more likely to overlook weak or uninteresting writing halfway through a story that had a strong beginning than they are to keep reading a story that has a weak start. Show us what you’ve got, and show us right away. Hope this helps!

*If you are working on a story right now, please please please don’t let this advice get in the way of your creative process. As with any publishing advice, I recommend that writers make these kinds of changes to their story in the later stages of writing, after it’s done or almost done, rather than obsessing about them while doing early drafts or outlines. That will only lead to writer’s block!

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