Monday, 4 February 2013

Guest post by Laura Marcus

I have a lovely guest post for you today, by Laura Marcus on how she made her first womag sale and how she's terrified it'll be her last (it won't, as long as she keeps writing and submitting!)

Laura's a journalist and has made her money from writing for years, but has only recently branched out into the world of fiction. It took her a while to get her first hit - just shows how difficult writing stories for the womags is, that even seasoned professional writers find it hard to get an acceptance! 

Many thanks to Laura for this article which I hope you will find inspirational. I love hearing about the stories behind the stories as it were, so if anyone else fancies writing a guest post about what inspired them to start writing or write a particular story, please get in touch via the Contact Me page above. (Sadly I can't pay for guest posts.)

OK, enough waffle from me. Over to Laura, and please do go out and buy Fiction Feast this month so you can read Laura's story. 


First sale - but one-hit wonder fears

This week the first short story I sold appears in the latest issue of Take a Break Fiction Feast. It’s a story about a woman who cures her panic attacks after watching a programme about the making of Apollo 13 - the film, not the actual space mission!

The idea came to me as I was watching this programme. Something Flight Commander Jim Lovell said struck a chord with me. I thought at the time, “I can use that! It’s a great piece of advice.” I even wrote it down. Then I thought, no, I can do more with this. There’s a story there.
So I wrote it, very quickly, and sent it to Woman’s Weekly as that was the magazine I was mostly targetting at the time. I’d decided at the beginning of last year, 2012, to start writing short stories in the hope that I’d be able to find a new income stream alongside my journalism and PR “comms” work. You can make a living as a writer even in this vicious economic climate. But you need to diversify. 

I wrote one story a week starting last January but only at weekends as I wasn’t sure I could make money from it so didn’t want to use weekdays. By the end of May, most of them had come back. I’d only sent out about 11 but was disappointed not to have sold any. I don’t have a lot of time to pursue new markets. It wasn’t working, I thought, so may as well give up. 

Writing short stories is great fun and hugely enjoyable. But I’m a lifelong hack. I write for money. I’m not interested in just writing for myself. Yet when my astronaut story came back, and with no feedback, I was a little crushed. I liked that story. A lot. I’ve always been a bit of a space nut, having grown up in the 60s and remembering the first Moon landing. So I contacted Sue Moorcroft who I knew did critiques for writers. I don’t belong to a writers’ group - don’t have time to critique other people’s stuff. I wanted to know if this story could be rescued.

Back it came from Sue with just a few suggested changes. Cut the length. Cut the number of characters, put the two lead people in the room together, not on the phone as I originally had, and make sure the heroine solves the problem. Don’t let someone else solve it.

I did all this and resubbed it, this time to Take a Break. 

Meanwhile the rest of my stories had all come back. So I decided to stop trying. The astronaut tale - which had originally been called Don’t Panic - was the last story I had out there. I’d forgotten about it in fact. So when I got an email from Norah McGrath, fiction editor on Take a Break, saying she wanted to buy it, I was stunned! But I also felt a little justified; kind of, I KNEW it was a good story.

You can see for yourselves as it goes on sale Thursday February 7th. Meanwhile I’ve returned to writing short stories, determined this won’t be a one-off; that I won’t be a one-hit wonder. I need to prove to myself that this wasn’t just a lucky fluke. And for that, I need more sales. And for that, I need to write more. Lots more! So I armed myself with Della Galton’s How to Write and Sell Short Storiesand went back to work on my fiction.

This work is like climbing a glass mountain. In the rain. You can’t ever stop for a rest. You have to keep on going. If you can write, believe in yourself and you get good advice - and you’re prepared to ask for, and take, direction - you too can make it as a published author. Tenacity in the face of zero encouragement from editors is what marks out those who get there from those who fall by the wayside. I nearly let myself fall. But Jim Lovell didn’t fall, nor does the heroine in my story and nor will I. Nor should you.

41 comments:

Karen said...

I love reading posts like this, and it really does show that perseverance pays off!

Well done Laura, I'm looking forward to reading your story :o)

Wendy's Writing said...

It's great you didn't give up. I started writing last year too, sold my first in August and then dreaded not selling any more. Five months and twelve short story sales later, I too have a story in this week's fiction Feast alongside yours. The moral is - don't give up!

Claire Baxter said...

Congratulations on your first sale, Laura, and may it be the first of many.

Old Kitty said...

Huge congratulations Laura!! Well done you!! Your first but most definitely not your last! Yay! Take care
x

Laura Marcus said...

Thanks very much for the comments and the kind encouragement. And I look forward to sharing space with you this Thursday Wendy!

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Rena George said...

Well done, Laura. May your success continue.

Geraldine Ryan said...

This was a lovely heartwarming post! here's to many more sales, Laura!

Sheila Cornelius said...

Well done. I made my first sale to The Weekly News a few days ago, after subscribing for about a year and studying the stories. I hope to crack 'Take a Break' next.

Geraldine Ryan said...

Yay, Sheila!

Laura Marcus said...

Nice one Sheila! Cheers Rena. And ta Geraldine. Odd seeing your name congratulating me because I really love your stories.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Laura! HEre's to this being the start of regular sales!

Sam

Patsy said...

It definitely pays to be persistent.

Congratulations on you first sale, Laura.

Frances Garrood said...

What a lovely, honest piece! Well done, Laura.

I remember after I sold my first story thinking hey! This is a doddle! I sent two more off, and back they came. It was some time before I really got going. I still miss Woman's Realm, who bought nearly all of my stuff. Does anyone else remember lovely Sally Sheringham? And does anyone know where she is now? I've tried to find her, but failed so far.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Laura! A space-inspired story - will definitely have to read that :-)
And keep going, won't you?

Penny Alexander

TracyFells said...

Well done Laura! With this sale under your belt then it's time to look at the other stories again. Revisit and revise and send out again! I've found different mags have different tastes. A story rejected by one can often be bought by another. This happened to me with a reject from TAB, then retweaked and bought by PF. Recycle, recycle, recycle before you bin anything - in fact never bin anything!!

Della Galton said...

Hi Laura, very inspiring, and yes you're so right, it's about being prepared to revise and see what's working and look at a story with what I call, 'better eyes'. Well done. Inspiring.

Maria said...

Thank you for sharing Laura, and congratulations on your first sale.

Romance Book Haven said...

Congratulations on your first sale, Laura and wishing you all the best! Hope many more sales are in the future for you!

Nas

Anonymous said...

Well done Laura - I'll keep an eye out for your story. Wow - wish I could write a story a week, it takes me forever...

Laura Marcus said...

Oh thanks for that anon. I thought a story a week was a pretty poor output compared to most! And thanks other anon upthread - yes, space inspired is pretty unusual isn't it! Bit of sci-fi fan though not hugely so.

Thanks everyone for the comments. It's very heartening. I've never blogged before and felt a bit naked... now if I do get more success, think I'll start a short story blog on my website. As well as the diet one I've just begun.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Laura! I can still remember getting the magazine with my first story in it and just sitting reading it, admiring the illustration, approving the title-change and the tagline, checking each subbed word ... it was fabulous! Years on, I still get as excited at seeing my work in print - just a little less intense about it! Today I'm sitting here working on a re-write asked for by a magazine - storyline sorted, now I need to cut to length. So it still takes work, but soon you'll find that the changes Sue Moorcroft could identify will come naturally to you. Enjoy writing.

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Nina said...

Hi Laura

Loved your post and am looking forward to reading your story. Congratulations on your sale and may it be the first of many!

Nina xx

Laura Marcus said...

Story is out today. They've called it Ground Control to Mum. Love it!

And fascinating seeing what changes they've made. No need to say your character had gone into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water - just put the glass in her hand!

Sue Blackburn said...

How very inspiring. Thank you so much Laura. I'm off to get TAB now! :o)

Laura Marcus said...

Thanks Sue.

JANE SANDERSON said...

Congratulations! sooo pleased for you. I am still trying to get my short stories published, (4 out at the moment)and I am constantly learning how to write better. You are an inspiration to people like me. I look forward to reading the story-will buy Fiction Feast today.

Laura Marcus said...

Thank you very much Jane and best of luck with your own endeavours. Just keep keeping on!

Cathos said...

Well done - I shall buy Fiction Feast and look forward to reading it. I've not had one published in FF since March last year and still trying to crack WW - so your perseverance is fantastic as I think that's what I'm sometimes lacking!

womagwriter said...

I read Laura's story today. Very unusual - I can see why TAB bought it! Well done.

Laura Marcus said...

Awwwww.... thanks womagwriter!

Need to do another unusual one now though. And another. No pressure - ha!

Hong Samnang said...

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Hong Samnang said...

Messi targetkan banyak Trofi
Messi targetkan banyak Trofi, - Tujuan utama Messi di Barcelona adalah memenangkan semua trofi. Dan dia mengaku Kami siap melakukannya. Apalagi menjalani musim yang positif sebelum Piala Dunia. Peraih Ballon D'Or ini pun menanggapi santai omongan mantan pemain Brasil Zico. Sebelumnya Zico menyebut bahwa Messi adalah pemain terhebat yang tak akan pernah mengangkat trofi Piala Dunia.

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Hong Samnang said...


Hasil tunamen ATP dan WTA di Wimbledon
Hasil tunamen ATP dan WTA di Wimbledon , - Berita olahraga, Berikut hasil lengkap pertandingan hari ke-12 turnamen ATP dan WTA 2013 Wimbledon pada Sabtu seperti dilaporkan AFP (x menunjukkan pemain unggulan):

Tunggal putri

Final
Marion Bartoli (Prancis x15) mengalahkan Sabine Lisicki (Jerman x23) 6-1, 6-4


Ganda putra
Final
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (AS/AS x1) mengalahkan Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo (Kroasia/Brazil x12) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

Ganda putri
Final
Su-Wei Hsieh/Peng Shuai (TaipehE/China x8) mengalahkan Ashleigh Barty/Casey Dellacqua (Australia/Australia x12) 7-6 (7/1), 6-1


Tunggal putri junior
Final
Belinda Bencic (Swiss x1) mengalahkan Taylor Townsend (AS x5) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
Berita ini dikutip agen judi online terpercaya indo11.com

Rock ky said...

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Som Bol said...

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rith thear said...

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Andreas Ratih said...

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Sumber : www.indo11.com

Eko Dinda said...

Erick Thohir Dikabarkan Incar 75% Saham Inter
Agen Bola indo11.com melaporkan berita, Milan - Rumor pembelian saham Inter Milan oleh Erick Thohir terus menggelinding. Isu terbaru menyebutkan pengusaha Indonesia itu akan membeli sampai 75 persen saham Nerazzurri.

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Sumber : www.indo11.com

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Inter Dapatkan Campagnaro dan Andreolli
Agen Bola indo11.com melaporkan berita, Milan - Inter Milan memulai aktivitas transfernya di musim panas ini dengan mendatangkan Hugo Campagnaro dan Marco Andreolli. Tak ada uang yang dikeluarkan untuk transfer karena keduanya didapat dengan cuma-cuma.

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"FC Internazionale dengan ini mengumumkan kedatangan Marco Andreolli dan Hugo Campagnaro. Kedua pemain bertahan itu menandatangani kontrak bersama Inter berturut-turut sampai 2017 dan 2015," demikian pernyataan resmi La Beneamata.

Campagnaro, yang berpaspor Argentina, sebelumnya memperkuat Napoli selama empat tahun. Pindah ke Inter membuat dia akan bergabung lagi dengan pelatih Walter Mazzarri.seperti dikutip dari Indo Eleven
Sumber : www.indo11.com