I’ve had 4 of my short stories published now — I’m just at the start of my writing career.
I was first published nearly a year ago after pushing myself to write some short stories as I worked on my first novel (figured I might as well start getting my name out there). I tried writing about the most outlandish things in order to catch attention. A story about a hopelessly romantic giraffe and the blue kite that flies into his life. Another about an entrepreneurial vampire midget trying to market her frozen treats called, Bloodsicles.
All my premises were WAAAAAY out there!
Some were so absurd I’m sure they barely made sense to even a seasoned Hallucinologist (and those people spend a lot of time trying to make sense of things).
I figured that the best way to capture attention was by being unique, but I wasn’t sure if there really was a market for the fantastically absurd, so I started doing some internet research.
I discovered that people are dying to pay for stories! DYING!
My hopelessly romantic giraffe story – yeah, there’s a cult following of long necked lovers lurking in a zoo chat group. My entrepreneurial vampire midget story – yeah, small business tips in gothic settings are trending somewhere in Panama.
Okay, so I made some of that up, but the point is that I discovered that there’s a market for nearly anything, which was exciting! I spent a night or two’s worth of internet research and compiled a list of a dozen places that accepted quirky fantasy stories, then I bombarded them with submissions.
My first publication WITH PAY (muahaha!) was a story I wrote with the prompt of two words: RED ICE.
Somehow with those two words as my inspiration, I ended up creating a story about a man who bought a house on the edge of a volcano with the intent of hosting a suicidal dinner party for all his friends as it was erupting. Unfortunately the volcano erupts before his guests arrive, and he’s left lamenting over his daddy-problems with his mother over the phone while his robot servant fixes him a sandwich.
If that story isn’t crazy enough of a premise, I don’t know what is.
It took me 7 months to find a publisher that wanted to buy it. In the process, I was rejected 4 times. Even the paying publisher requested a lot of edits before he agreed to publish it.
The final review from the editors was that they enjoyed the weirdness of the situation. It was refreshing and fun to think about. It also brought up questions of what type of society would be okay with suicidal parties as commonplace—distant futures where people live through holograms? Weird aliens that have multiple lives? People that live hundreds of years and get bored with life? I got some really interesting comments from both the editors and readers after it was published.
The editors also liked that they could connect with the character on a more grounded level: his daddy issues, his condescending attitude towards his robot, the way his mother spoke to him.
Overall, the main reason it got published (according to the publisher), was that it was unique. It was something different, something refreshing, something that fit their audience. The other publishers rejected it because they didn’t feel their audiences would like it. If I had given up after my first rejections, I wouldn’t have been published.
So, how much did I get paid? A whopping $3.00.
But, that’s okay. It was the first time I got paid for something I wrote. It also gave me inspiration knowing that there really is a market for my work. I’ve since been published three more times and starting to get my name out there.
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