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Payment Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

How to sell your writing in thirteen weeks.

by
Sarah Hoyt

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October 5, 2013 - 9:00 am
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Put your Story Teller's Bowl out. Who knows what might fall in it?

Put your Storyteller’s Bowl out. Who knows what might fall in it?

So, you want to sell your writing?  No?  You don’t?  Wait… why not?

Oh, art, you say, and you don’t wish to sell out.  I see.  But see, where I come from compliments are easy – and cheap – but when people dig into their pocket and take the approximate price of a chicken or a six-pack of decent beer and lay it out for my novel, THEN I know I’m appreciated.

Writing – or any form of storytelling, really – is a two-way communication.  At least it is if it’s working right.  It might seem to you that you’re just standing on the corner, rattling off the story to an unresponsive audience, but if you’re doing it right, it’s just not that way.  (And realizing this was the difference between being an amateur and starting to sell my stories at pro level.)  That beautiful metaphor you just crafted with your amazing word skills goes for nothing if it doesn’t evoke a mood or a feeling in your reader.

It might seem to you that the ultimate product of the storyteller’s craft is the words that appear on the page of that are spoken out into the crowd.  This is not true.  The words are just the tools you use to bring your art about.  Calling them the product of your art would be like calling pastel sticks the product of the artist’s craft.  The result of the artist’s efforts with the pastel is a completed portrait or scene.  And the result of your craft with words is the emotions the reader/listener feels.  If you’re doing it right, you’ll evoke just the right emotions and take your reader on a ride through comedy or tragedy to catharsis and either an escape from the everyday or – ideally, though few of us attain it – a return to the everyday equipped with tools to face real life emotions in a new way.

When a traditional storyteller is doing this, it is not unusual to have a begging bowl at his or her feet.  The storyteller can tell how well the emotions are being invoked in the public by how fast that rain of coins hits the begging bowl.

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Top Rated Comments   
I agree wholeheartedly. I mean, in what other language could you express the notion of utter repulsion simply using the phrase, "I wouldn't touch that with Bea Authur's dick".
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (10)
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In reply to Hilarity Ensues:
In Quebec, you would be ritually strangled ... "je ne SAID quois"? Maudit...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It might seem to you that the ultimate product of the storyteller’s craft is the words that appear on the page of that are spoken out into the crowd." I suspect that if that sentence (?) reflects your writing skills, you are overpaid...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey, my first ever check for a short story arrived today! Grantville Gazette #48.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Heh. Pournelle describes the first storyteller:
It was a dark and stormy night.
The battle was over, the winners gathered around their camp fire, eating.
A shadowy figure appeared at the rim of the light and said:
Fill my mug with mead and my plate with meat and
I will tell you a story about a bull and a virgin.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fear, fear of rejection, fear of hard work, fear of lack of creativity, and lthe fear of admitting that you are afraid.......Squeak.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I recall publishing a two or three articles in trade pubs. I did it for the glory--no terms--and exposure, since I was, in effect, advertising our agency's presence, at least, and by inference, our expertise.
Nevertheless, it was a powerful ego boost. Somebody thought enough of what I had to say to their readers that they spent their money--ink and paper and editing time--to put it out there.
Next pub actually paid me. Doubled the ego boost.
Can't get enough of that.
But, with one exception, I am now a mercenary. Paid my dues.
Which is all kind of silly, since my income was $250 three years ago, but other matters intervened. Getting back to it. A drug.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope people appreciate the gift that those of us who are born in English-speaking countries have been given. Ours is a language so rich, so varied and so capable of finding the right words to express the most infinitesimal kinds of human experience that all other languages - save, perhaps, for the unspoken language of the eyes - simply pale in comparison. It's our language, our English language, that has given us our heritage. It's what makes others envious.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mmmmm ... I don't know ... there is an expressive je ne said quois in the French I studied in school ... mais, peut etre it was the professor rather than the material ...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
― James Nicoll

You actually reinforce artghost's point. "Je ne sais quois" may be a string of French words, but it is part of the English language, with a meaning distinct from the literal translation of the words.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree wholeheartedly. I mean, in what other language could you express the notion of utter repulsion simply using the phrase, "I wouldn't touch that with Bea Authur's dick".
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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