The Benefits of Reprints

clonedcells

I recently received an acceptance note (hooray!) that one of my short stories was accepted by a literary journal as a reprint. I haven’t seen much discussion of reprinted works on here or social media, so I figured I’d post for the benefit of other authors who might not have given them much thought.

Expand Your Audience

Reprints are an excellent way to get your existing work in front of new readers. My short story “Yard Sharks” was originally published in a print-only lit mag. That means it had a relatively narrow audience. The literary journal that picked it up as a reprint is online, so it will now exist in a whole different medium; with the power to share it more easily. Reprints can breathe new life into an old story, and you never know who might read it.

Keep Up Author Momentum

We can’t always write new stuff. Life happens, and even the best of us get occasional writer’s block or just need time to recharge our creative batteries. Submitting existing work for reprint is a great way to keep your “author momentum” going, and “make your writing work for you” as a friend of mine said. It gives you a positive goal and something to talk to your readers about in those extended periods of downtime when you are either struggling with an idea or perhaps deep in the throes of revising a novel.

Validate Your Work

What’s better than having a publication accept your work? Having two publications accept it. Or three. Or five.

Publishing is a numbers game, and a networking game. There’s clout to be had when editors or outlets look at a piece that has been picked up multiple times. It implies quality, which might mean the difference between them giving you an opportunity versus a rejection.

Seeking Reprints

There are fewer literary journals and anthologies that accept reprints than don’t. Most places want previously unpublished works. That said, there are still a number across all genres that are willing to give good stories another home. Just be sure, as always, that you read submission guidelines carefully and that all your republication rights have effectively returned to you before you seek new pathways to reprint your work.

 

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The Active Word Checklist

Hot on the heels of “The Weak Word Checklist”, another great post by K.M. Allan with an “Active Word” checklist. Another one to bookmark for reference when you’re re-writing those drafts.

K.M. Allan

“Keep your prose active.” It’s one of the most well-known pieces of writing advice and one of the most frustrating.

Sometimes when writing, especially when you’re first starting out, you have no idea what words are making your prose non-active. You’re just writing, using the words that sound right.

It’s not until you see the difference creating an active voice makes to your story that you understand why it’s a tried-and-true recommendation. Take the following sentences, for example…

Non-Active: Sarah’s fingers fumbled in her skirt pocket, trying to reach for her cell phone.
Active: Sarah’s fingers fumbled in her skirt pocket for her cell phone.

Non-Active: The fire at the entrance had reached one of the glass doors and was turning it black.
Active: The fire at the entrance reached one of the glass doors, turning it black.

Non-Active: When her gaze crossed the entrance, she couldsee someone standing in the middle…

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The Weak Word Checklist

Another great post from K.M. Allan. This is a good resource to bookmark and re-use whenever you are editing a piece.

K.M. Allan

Not all words are created equal, and as a writer, you can devote many hours to finding the best perfect one.

While playing with word choice and re-writing sentences until you get them just right can help capture what you’re trying to invoke, a weak word can do the opposite.

But how do you know which exact words will pull the strength from your sentences? That’s a skill you’ll learn to develop as you grow as a writer. In the meantime, the following checklist is a good place to start.

The Rules

Use your Find/Search function to scour your MS for the following words.

  • If your sentence makes sense without the weak word – Delete it
  • If the weak word adds clarity – Keep it
  • If deleting the weak word makes the sentence better but confusing – Delete the word and rewrite the sentence

The Weak Word Checklist

Actually

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Writer versus Author

image of hedge maze

Is there a difference?

I was inspired by author K.M. Allan’s post ’10 Signs You’ve Upgraded To Being A Serious Writer’ and began thinking about all the ways people who write label themselves and one another, especially on the internet.

If you’re reading this, chances are you like to write. Maybe you fancy yourself a “writer”, an “author”, or an “aspiring writer”? How many times have you read the words “aspiring writer” on the internet this week?

The way writers self-identify is fascinating to me. The way literary circles and internet marketing use these words as labels and identifiers is even more interesting.

Let’s take a look

Writer

  • Someone who writes
  • Someone who writes for a living (novelist, journalist, blogger)
  • Someone who writes books (specifically)
  • Someone who wants to sound cool at parties

Author

  • Someone who writes
  • Someone who writes a lot
  • Someone who is the author of published book(s)
    • Traditionally or self-published? Take your pick
  • Someone who is a well-regarded and successful writer of books (upper-echelon, or possibly “mid-list author”)
  • Someone who wants to sound cool, and a bit pretentious, at parties
    • bonus points for claiming “auteur” status

Aspiring Writer

  • Someone who writes
  • Someone who fantasizes about writing
    • but maybe doesn’t write a lot?
  • Someone who writes and still has big dreams because the soul-crushing weight of a stack of rejection letters hasn’t demolished them yet
  • Someone who is the recipient of endless writing advice (of varying quality) on the internet
  • Someone who is the recipient of endless writer-focused product pitches (of varying quality) on the internet
  • Someone who is just trying to meet another someone at the party

I come from the old school thought that “Writer’s write, but authors get paid to do it.” I find it keeps me grounded and helps me remember that writing may be an art, but publishing is a business. However, I know many of you think otherwise.

There’s no lack of enthusiasm and encouragement these days for people who want to write, which is great.

That said, I have found the common thread among all writers/authors I know is their evolution was grounded in rejection, exposure to criticism, and continued perseverance. In other words, “you keep writing even when it gets tougher and less nice”.

What do you think? Is there true meaning behind the way writers label themselves with these terms, or is it all semantics?

What do you refer to yourself as when you’re at parties? For the record, I say “writer”.