Lesson 10

The Beginning of a Writing Career

Short stories are a great way to be spotted by agents. If you make it into a large enough magazine, and an agent finds something powerful in your piece, you’ve got a very good chance of the editor contacting you to ask if it’s OK that they pass along your email to so-and-so agent.

Don’t rush and ruin your chances with an agent

When an agent contacts you, the first thing they’ll want to know is if you’ve been working on a novel and if they can see the first thirty pages. Remember Lesson #5 where I talked about the importance of waiting? It applies here more than ever. You’ve got a serious shot with an agent, why blow it by sending a raw draft of your manuscript because you’re worried they’ll forget you? They won’t. For one, you’ll already have their direct email, so when you follow up a few months later, your email will reach them — not their assistant, not their general submission box.

Agents respect writers with a realistic understanding of where their work is at, rather than someone who submits a half-baked piece and expects the agent to see through their rough draft to the shining potential behind their work. Take your time and work tirelessly on your novel for the next few months. Show them your best, OK?

What publishers can do with a short story

Publishers can be pretty picky when it comes to short story collections. Book publishers are in the mindset of selling books, so if you’ve got a few short stories that you’ve been working on, now would be a good time to start thinking about them thematically.

Book publishers want to be able to package a story collection in the same way they’d package a book—as a cohesive unit of interrelated material that provides the reader with a single and unique experience. So if you want to sell your book of short stories, you’ll want to keep a theme in mind as you’re crafting them.

And that’s it! Follow these ten little lessons, and I guarantee you’ll be well on your way to a successful writing career! If you ever need help with your short story or a novel, you can find my profile on Reedsy. I can’t wait to see what you create.


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