Saturday, January 28, 2006

BCers Still Doing Well

Went to watch my little soccer team today, away to the side in second place and they won 2-1, yeehah!

Came back to two more BC hits, one paper, one web, taking us to 27 for 2006 so far

Four First Prizes, a Second, a Third, a HR and 5 Finals ($1,075 earned)

Competition Hits

Highlands & Islands Short Story Competition
Dame Throckmorton
Night Train
Seventh Quark
Adult Short Story of the Year at Killie

Aesthetica (print)
Leaf Poetry (print)
QWF (print)

Outsider Ink
Thieves Jargon
Wild Violet
Scorched Earth
Green Silk
BBC Radio

A few BCers are aiming high and on long lead times, other are new, eager for small publications. It's tough after that first flurry of successes to raise your sights and take the much reduced hit-rate, but all good, improving writers have to do this.

It seems to me pretty much pointless to be aiming at comps and winning $1,000 then a year later aiming at comps where the prize is so tiny (or non-existent) that there will be no serious competition. A recent competition had a china mug as its first prize. Would we expect serious writers in it, or decent writers sending their best stories?

I agree with the writer who wrote on this a few months ago on a beginner site: (I'm paraphrasing)

I'm coming to the conclusion that spending time subbing to little known ezines and so on is an utter waste of time, after the first few acceptances. We should see the writing on the wall, stop, aim higher. Nothing that doesn't pay, for example, or no comps with a prize under a couple of hundred pounds. I think it has to do with self respect, hasn't it?

(AK) I can't agree with the "no pay" point. I was thrilled to get an acceptance from Archipelago. Just a glance at the contributors explains why. If Raymond Carver could publish without payment, I think I can too.

But there is another worry and that is, do low-level hits work against a writer or could they?

The writer above wondered the same. She asked what if you're marginal at a good place and they Google your name. If they see strings of hits at poorly-edited start-up zines full of beginner work, they might think perhaps they don't want to be associated...

(AK again) I know I have been guilty of letting some stuff go out too easily and not landing at the highest level it can achieve. I get carried away sometimes, especially if Boot Camp is on a push to get work out. That can be costly. I had two stories turned down at small mags paying $40 a story. Those stories went on to win big prizes and earn (so far) $4,300 between them. Now tell me, were the subs to the smaller places a mistake, or not?

It's normal for newbies to aim low, and that's fine, but soon they have to aim higher. What is awful is to settle for the level that's easy, the level where you place without effort. I see that far too often. Sometimes you'll see writers actually lowering the level of their target subs "just for numbers" or for a feeble, transient, trivial boost.

Racking up hits easily means you are aiming too low. A mix of targets, but always (at least with the first 1-2-3 subs) a little hopeful, stretching is a good idea. If your hit-rate is better than 1 in 3, chances are you are subbing too low or sleeping with the editor.


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