Tag Archives: Frustrations

Non-fiction Article Sold…Again?

soldLast night I received notice from www.helium.com that another the same article was purchased again by a third-party publisher.

Same circumstances as before; subcontracted for pennies-on-the-dollar of the going rate for freelance articles. We’re talking payment so cheap, the article has sold TWICE and I still don’t meet the “minimum withdrawl” amount at Helium.

So although my work has proven profitable, to Helium in actuality and to two publishers in theory, I haven’t yet made a dime from it.

Still, it’s a thrill to know my work strikes a chord with people. Just a shame that even my marginal successes (so far) come from non-fiction!

The really good news is that I still own the copyright, and as many publishers as desire can buy the same article again, furthermore I can also still submit it to magazines on my own. (Just not for First North American Rights.)

The other cool thing is that this reminded me of a fiction story idea built around the same frustrations I express in this non-fiction piece.

Competing with peasants, competing with giants.

horror_normalLast entry, I vented some of the frustrations of more-amateur-than-amateur writers adding to the slushpiles where I also submit work.

There’s a certain sense of impending doom when one considers competing with the masses. When there’s enough competition, the fastest, cleverest, or brightest dog doesn’t necessarily emerge victorious. Sometimes he doesn’t emerge at all.

But that sense of overwhelming odds has its evil opposite. (Yes, in this case BOTH twins are evil.)

Any reader who receives my story is looking for the first reason to reject it so that s/he can move on to the next manuscript in the pile. That’s a given.

But if Stephen King approached the same editor with a story, s/he would drop everything to read it. Said editor’s attitude would be the polar opposite of what it is for new writers. For King, they’d be deliberately forgiving flaws while actively looking for positives. Same for Dean Koontz, or Chuck Palahnuik, or Orson Scott Card, etc.

This would be true even if my story was better than King’s. I’m an unknown, he’s a national bestseller.

How does one compete with such giants and remain sane? Some publishers/magazines advise you to compare your work to something similar so that they have an idea of your audience. But how pretentious is it to put on a cover letter, “This is similar to Dean Kootnz.” I can only picture the recipient rolling his eyes.

Not only has everything been done, it’s been done bigger, stronger, better, faster, and with an immediate readership. That’s the competition I face. Thousands of Davids, and dozens of Goliaths. And I have to beat them ALL.

That’s why less than 1% of novelists ever turn a profit.