So, you want to be a fiction writer? I commend you for that. It’s a brave new world out there, and fiction writers are a big part of it. Before you step into the deep end of the pool, there are a few things you might not know about the fiction world. It’s not quite as welcoming as you might think…
Understanding the Fiction Writer Market
What is fiction? Fiction is simply something that is made up… imaginary. These days everyone and his brother wants to be a fiction writer. And why shouldn’t they? Since the development of the word processor twenty-five years ago, anyone who has fingers to peck a keyboard with can be a fiction writer. All they have to do is type it, send it off and take their chances.
The other thing that gives new hope to anyone who wants to write is the internet. The internet opened the world to huge communities of people submitting journals, opinions and more fiction novel than you can shake a stick at. Because of all this, we are experiencing choppy waters in the fiction market.
On one end of the market you have endless literary journals that seem to exist only for the benefit of the people who wrote them. Most of these people are brand new writers who are testing the waters of the
literary field. To do this, they look for feedback which will help them to justify their literary existence.
At the other end of the market you have the “subsidized literary and American University” journals. Most of these are written by stuffy educated people who have been overly criticized because of the tight group they have squeezed themselves into. So, where do you fit in?
Breaking out of your shell
What does all this mean? If you are a fiction writer who is trying to gain a foothold in todays market, there is a rough road ahead. The biggest problem is that there really doesn’t seem to be a lot of ground in between. Nonetheless, fiction writers today develop quickly. They have countless resources at their fingertips. Short-story writers develop very quickly and rise to the intermediate level by taking writing courses or receiving good reviews from peers in communities that are highly respected.
These writers, ironically, are encouraged by their budding success and they gain confidence in themselves as the hone their skills. As they continuously work and grow, they search for ways to grow further only to find out that they have now outgrown the very market they strived to get into.
Sinking into the abys
So where does that leave our fiction writer and their ever-growing group? Should they subdue the fires of their burning ambitions and move backwards? Maybe they should keep on writing their best stuff and submitting to journals and whatever media they can find, waiting years and years for their best stories to find a home in some obscure text. Not very appealing.
The reason that it takes so long for fiction writers to break through is because, according to independent magazine editors, is because magazines depend on their subscribers. The majority of those subscribers are the fiction writers themselves, and it the stories become more challenging, the magazine will lose its subscriptions.
With these facts at hand, the gloomy outlook for aspiring fiction writers is a ceiling of warm, bland, forgettable writing that will never make a mark anywhere. The writers can take more courses and rise up once again, just to slide back into the dismal abys of mediocrity again. Wow… I am even depressing myself.
Where is the hope?
Let’s take a look at the problem. The place to start is in the actual writing communities that allow these disgruntled writers to voice their concerns and complaints, share their individual experiences and allows them to vent. Writers need to demand more from their own peers and force them to make a change.
One of the best places to do this is through magazines, where the forum for comments is much faster than other feedback venues. These comment venues are helping online communities raise the standard for short fiction articles published online, since the writers now have an added venue. There are many
places to see the work of these writers all over the web.
Another bright light is the fact that Literary Editors are being forced to up their game. If they want their publications to stand out from the masses, they need to acknowledge the need for more diversity. This is not just to give in to writers, but to show them the possibilities of what genuine great fiction can and should be.
Right now, more than ever, people are looking to the internet for entertainment and education. No longer is it a bad thing to read on the screen instead of picking up a book. Everywhere you look, genuine readers are coming out of the woodwork. Finally, editors are able to reach those sought-after audiences for which they have been longing for.
You need a magnet to find a needle in a haystack
One ray of hope is that online magazines must outline their own back yard by identifying the specific niche and publish only the best fiction that falls in their area. This might seem narrow minded, but now there is a way to sift through the thousands and thousands of literary pieces found on the web. This
thins out the competition a bit and gives a fighting chance to the little guy.
Fiction writers are always looking for affirmation, and the best way for them to get it is by being published. By sticking to the niche that they are used too, they can hold their own place in the literary world. With the endless number of new fiction writers in the world today, you should push that door of opportunity open as far as you can and set up camp there. If you don’t, someone else will.
The bottom line is this: There is a quickly evolving place for short fiction in the literary world today. It’s not an easy arena to get into, and it is dog eat dog. You can leave your mark on the world, but you had better bring your “A” game. Remember, the next generation of hungry, aspiring fiction writers will be here soon, and if you aren’t serious, they will run right over you. Until next time… happy writing…