Tag Archives: opportunity

#atozchallenge O is for Opportunity


by Lillian Csernica on April 17,  2019

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There’s a famous saying: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” That might have been true once, but today the Internet has brought the marketplace to the consumers. They don’t have to “beat a path” anywhere. It’s up to us as the sellers of our writing to get our work in front of the people who will buy it.

How do we do that? By making the most of every opportunity.

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Where are those opportunities? Market listings.

Duotrope — It’s possible to glean some information from this site without paying an annual subscription fee. Me, I have a subscription. Best money I ever spent. I credit this site with improving my acceptance rate.

The Submissions Grinder — This site is free. There is a lot of information available. Do be careful to follow through on the links and make sure you’ve got the latest submission requirements. Many markets, especially anthologies, have limited reading windows on very specific themes.

Remember what I said about building a writing community? That’s another crucial element in finding opportunity. The more writers we know, the more contacts we have in the writing world, the more likelier we are to hear about opportunities.

One day I was at the supermarket. I bumped into Deborah J. Ross, a well-known writer and editor who also lives in my part of the world. We’ve known each other for a while now, mostly meeting up at conventions. Deborah happened to be putting together a new anthology. She said she’d love to see a story from me. Holy cats! I thanked her and got to work right away. That story, The Katana Matrix, will appear in Citadels of Darkover.
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What happens if we can’t find an opportunity that matches what we have to offer?

We take it to the next level by finding ways to create our own opportunities.

Tailor stories we’ve already finished to suit the target market.

When I was in college, I took a fiction course and wrote the original version of Masquerade. The result landed about halfway between literary and genre fiction. Later, when I decided to start submitting the story, I rewrote it and cranked up certain aspects so the story fit into the horror genre. It first appeared in Midnight Zoo, then Karl Edward Wagner accepted it for my second appearance in The Year’s Best Horror Stories.

Push our limits by writing on a subject or in a genre where there are many opportunities.

I started out writing fantasy and horror. I switched to romance because it was easier to break into the novel market there and the money was better. The result? Ship of Dreams. That novel did earn out its advance, and it continues to bring in good royalties.

Ask questions, seek advice, beat the bushes in pursuit of potential opportunities.

Where do we start? Join online writing communities. Join the professional association that suits what you prefer to write. Go to the places where you will meet other writers, editors, and publishers. Conventions, seminars, lectures at the local library. Yes, attending the larger events can get expensive. We have to weigh the potential benefits against the cost. One good pitch session can save a lot of time and effort.

Remember: Be polite. Be considerate. Be grateful. Pass on the kindness to other writers who need help. This is how we grow our community, and how we keep ourselves in the minds of people in a position to alert us to opportunities that could make all the difference to our success.
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#blogchallenge: Fortune Cookie #16


by Lillian Csernica on May 16, 2018

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Today’s fortune says:

Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.

VICTORY IS SWEET

Regina sat in the highest room atop the marble tower on the Isle of the Turquoise Clouds. In honor of the coming moment, she wore midnight blue velvet, her river of black hair swept up and held in place with clusters of diamonds. On the desk before her lay two pieces of parchment. On one, a list topped by the word Temptation. On the other, a similar list topped by the word Opportunity. She contemplated the words written beneath Temptation, inked in the blood of a rare night bird. Words of power. Words of warning. Dangerous words. As such, all the more attractive.

Beneath Opportunity lay words written in ink made of water from the Sacred Spring of Seven Rainbows mixed with the crushed petals of the Sunrise Lotus, which blossomed only on the morning of the first day of the New Year. Fortune favored the prepared mind. Regina had made her preparations with the greatest care. The decision that lay before her could alter destinies beyond the scope of her imagination, perhaps even beyond the reach of her dreams.

The first full moon of Spring hung round and bright. The night-blooming flowers raised their faces in its silvery light, loosing their fragrances upon the evening breeze. The constellations graced the heavens with their sparkling patterns. Regina read the lists again, then bent her head. A nod, a bow, a gesture of surrender to the ineffable powers of Chance and Fate.

The hourglass ran empty. The moment of decision had arrived.

At the base of the tower, the ship’s bell rang three times. Regina rose from the desk, taking one list with her. She walked to the ivory lattice gates that opened onto a shaft running the length of the tower. Summoning a turquoise cloud, Regina descended to the ground floor. She raised one hand and the heavy oaken door swung inward.

Before her stood a creature that came up to her shoulder. It wore a white shirt, blue lederhosen, black shoes with shiny buckles, and one of those ridiculous Robin Hood-style hats that failed to hide the creature’s pointed ears. On one small hand rested an oblong box wrapped in scarlet silk. On the other hand rested another oblong box wrapped in silk the blue of a perfect summer sky.

“The red,” Regina said.

“You are certain?” The creature’s high, reedy voice sounded like crickets. “The penalty is the loss of our deliveries for the remainder of your lifetime.”

“Do not presume to instruct me. The next decision I make could cause you considerable pain.”

The creature bowed. “As you wish.”

Regina took the scarlet box and unwrapped the silk. To choose Temptation was to risk everything she’d learned, everything she’d built. To choose Opportunity meant running the same risk, but the reward was tremendous.

The silk fell away, baring a box made of sturdy brown paper. She opened the end flaps. A tube of mirror-bright silver slid out onto her palm. Inside lay twenty-four discs of the finest baked confection known to any living being.

“Well chosen,” the creature said. “Few can penetrate the logic of the double-bluff.” It stepped back and made Regina another bow. “Until next year.”

END

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Passion vs. Marketing


by Lillian Csernica on July 10, 2014

When I started writing I’d go nuts with a new idea.  I’d sit there with my pen and notebook or I’d be at the keyboard just going at it like lightning.  Some ideas were big enough to carry me along for days.  The characters just kept talking or fighting or having adventures.  The worlds kept opening up to me, demanding a record of all their details.  I’d end up with some really hot stuff, but a lot of it was middle, sometimes an ending.  I had to go back and figure out the whole story so I could fit this smokin’ hot piece of writing into it.

These days I’m a little more cautious.  I watch the sound and fury inside my head and think about it for a while.  Novel or short story?  One book or three?  One genre?  More than one?  I tend to evaluate my ideas in terms of marketability.  While this is a practical approach, it also takes some of the fun out of that first rush of inspiration.  I do think about the nuts and bolts such as plot and character.  Those can also be approached from a marketing standpoint first.  A lot of editors want to see POC characters, LGBT characters, and stories that speak to what happens in their lives.

If somebody asked me, “So where is the best place to start?” I’d have to say, “What do you want?  Where are you in your writing, and where do you want to go?”  When you have a new character that you’re all excited about, run with it.  Interview him or her.  Let that character talk to you and tell you the kind of stories your best friend might tell you at 3 a.m. after a long night and some hard times.  It doesn’t matter how much or how little of this material you use.

IT’S ALL WRITING, and WRITING IS GOOD.

Then there’s the other approach.  You’re watching the market listings.  You see a new anthology that wants stories about capturing endangered alien species for the Intergalactic Breeding Program.  It just so happens you wrote a paper on the rare Checkerboard Chameleon that is rumored to live out in the wilds of Madagascar.  Looks like you’ve got what you need to start building a submission for that market.

Hold it.

Step back for a minute.

Yes, you have serious knowledge about a rare species and its habitat.  Have you been to Madagascar yourself?  If you have, fabulous.  If you haven’t, you can probably work around that.  Do you have field experience going out and capturing live specimens?  If not, you’re probably going to want to talk to somebody who’s done it and knows the pitfalls.  Then you have to write the story, and rewrite it, and maybe have your expert look it over.  When the story is done, you send it off to the market and cross your fingers.  Your personal credentials will help, but the bottom line is the story.

All of this takes TIME.

What happens if that market rejects the story?  Here you have this custom-built piece of fiction that represents a whole lot of time and energy.  Are there any other markets out there where this story might stand a good chance of being accepted?

Now we have come full circle.  That is the magic question you want to ask yourself BEFORE you sink all that time and energy into writing the story.

If the answer is yes, there are at least five or six other markets where your story fits the guidelines, then go for it.  Be realistic.  Don’t stretch the boundaries of likelihood just because you’re all hot and bothered about this one story idea.

If the answer is no, fall back and rethink your approach.  There may be other markets where your expertise will give your odds a boost, and the story you come up with will have broader marketability potential.  Maximize your investment of time, energy, research, and submission duration.

Passion, inspiration, drive, are all important to the creative process.  Marketing strategy is crucial for business success.  Knowing how to walk the line between them takes experience.  The more you write, the more you submit your stories, the more you learn about yourself, your work, and the business of writing.

May your burning desire to write remain an eternal flame.

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