How many times have I written about the difficulty of the writing game? Too many to count; I am quite sure of that. Even so, I think it's a topic worth visiting again and again. Too many writers ask themselves Why bother? after they run into repeated problems.
I am often reminded of the woman who learned she had a talent for writing stories, loved writing and decided to quit her day job and write full time. She could, she reasoned, supplement the family income with the sales she'd make. She figured she'd be money ahead with no travel expense to go to a job elsewhere, no increased wardrobe purchases, no lunches purchased at a restaurant. It sounded perfectly plausible.
It didn't work out that way. Yes, she did have a talent for writing creative nonfiction, but all writers soon learn that the writing is only step one. Marketing what you've written is step two and it's a very big step. Where we send what we write is every bit as important as what we write. We need to find the best fit for what we write--whether it is fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or essays. I sometimes think that some writers have a marketing gift. They have what appears to be incredible luck in placing their work.
On pondering it further, I wouldn't deem it pure luck. Study market guides long enough and you're bound to come up with a reasonable plan as to where and how to submit your work. I didn't say read or scan the market guides. The word used is study. If you thought you were through with studying once you got out of school, think again.
Submitting to and being accepted more than once by a publication is gravy on top of plain mashed potatoes. When you sell your work multiple times to a publication, two positives come your way. The editor knows who you are and likes your work so gives serious consideration to all your submissions. It doesn't mean he/she will accept everything you send but probably a good portion. Second positive is that readers of that publication begin to recognize your work, too.
Another step on this road to a successful writing journey is keep the submission ferris wheel turning at all times. Don't submit two pieces of writing in March and then none until July. Be consistent in submitting. Get a rejection? Submit it somewhere else. If you've studied those marketing guides, you'll likely have a second and third place to submit to.
I was once told that 1 out of 12 submissions makes it. Where the man who gave those figures got his information, I'm not sure. But, he was a frequently published writer and he still got plenty of rejections. That figure was given me 20 years ago so that may have changed radically by now. The point is that we can expect a relatively small percentage of our submisions to make it.
Does it appear that writing is meant to defeat a writer rather than buoy him/her to great heights? It may make you wonder why in the world you're beating your head against the writing wall if it is this hard to become a widely published writer. Why bother?
We bother, and I include myself here, because we love to write. We bother because we have something to say. We bother because we may want to prove something to ourselves. We bother because we know that the more we write, the more we grow as a writer. We bother because we've had positive feedback from readers. We bother because we've had some encouraging rejections from editors. We bother because we've had enough acceptances to know that we are not a washout as a writer.
Now, aren't those enough reasons to stay on the writing journey? I think so. Just keep in mind that there is no express elevator. You move up one step at a time.