Secrets of getting published

Shh! Let me share with you the biggest secret for getting published. Are you listening? Alright, here it is: w r i t e! Got it? Good, because that’s all I’ve got.

Oh wait, maybe there’s another thing, I know you’d be able to work it out by yourself: be patient.

Let me share how I uncovered these (admittedly rather pathetic) pearls of wisdom. Almost nine months ago riding on the enthusiasm of a brand new year I created a whole bunch of short stories and entered them into competitions.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, my eagerness was rewarded with silence and over following months shrivelled with knock-backs.

In all honesty, I probably could have been more diligent in keeping track of which stories I entered where. It could have been a terrific spreadsheet with all sorts of useful information. A record I could have used for years to come…

But I didn’t because I know myself all too well. I’d spent hours looking at the darn sheet and colour code entries rather than write.

This is why Catchfire Press’s email a few months back saying they’d consider one of my stories for publication hit me by surprise. I had a moment of “Oh wow! Really?” followed by “Oh shit, which story was that?”.

After a few moments of rummaging through files I remembered submitting Dragonflies, a quirky tale set in tropical Darwincapturing a bit of the local flavour during the wet season. It is inspired by my brief time living and working in the top end of the Northern Territory.

Anyway, I was totally stoked to finally hear a “maybe” rather than a blunt “no” from a publisher. A few months later again I heard back from Catchfire Press with a clear “yes, we’d like to publish your story”.

Finally! One of my little pieces had made it into an anthology. It’s thrilling, exciting and also a little bit sobering as it reiterates what all writers know, but maybe don’t want to think about too much.

A) You have to keep writing no matter what

B) Getting published entails many tiny little baby steps

C) It takes a very, very long time

D) Timeframes, final decisions – they are not yours

Looking, understanding and living with these realities of traditional publishing it makes complete sense to me that writers choose to self-publish. What do you think? Have you contemplated this step?

On another note, Catchfire Press is celebrating the launch of said anthology Animal Encounters on 29 November in Newcastle. I’ll be travelling elsewhere at the time, but if you do attend tell me what I’ve missed out on, ok?