Friday, October 29, 2021

More on pub credits

Color me surprised when I received notification yesterday that my short story will be published in an online literary magazine. My new question is: I've been querying a new novel (novel one was a bust) and have a few queries out. Is this new little "credit" something that warrants an "addendum" to the query already sent? (Is there even any graceful way to do that?) Or is the publication simply something to include on all future queries?

(Original question)
Do agents care about short story publications? I've settled on the notion it makes no difference whatsoever if there's a blurb in the end (i.e.,"I have a short story published in Buttonweezer Literary Mag" or "I won the $12 Carkoon literary contest in 1989"), as it only matters whether or not what is being submitted at that moment in time is up to snuff and saleable, and the rest is, by and large, unnecessary. 

However, credentials and whatnot are asked for. Is a short-story publishing credit considered a worthy item of note? Or best left in the drawer in which it currently resides, cozy and unread?

Publication credits are GREAT and you should include them in your query. (don't email this good news to agents who already have your query.)

It affirms that your work is publishable.

(I see more than a few queries where this is not the case.)

And of course, it also means that the Buttonweezer Literary Mag's readers might remember your awesomeness and be more likely to buy your book.

There's no downside on including lit mag pub credits.

You can shoot yourself in the foot by listing things that really are NOTpub credits: Carkoon Literary Contests lead the list!

But also: writing conference contests; honorable mention in almost any kind of contest; faux contests that are run by people who make their money from entry fees and every book ends up a winner of some kind.

If I haven't heard of a contest, I google it.

If you're trying to pad your pub credits, don't.

They're nice to have but not essential.

What's essential: tell me about a story I want to read.

Any questions?


Steve Forti said...

I assume it only really helps if the stories are in paying markets, yes? Obviously popular, professional rate ones would help more, but is there much ding if they're the low paying or token paying ones?

Colin Smith said...

In my limited experience with getting shorts published in mags, I would say that any paying market is better than a freebee "You get paid in exposure!" (Reminder: A mag that can't afford to pay a writer probably can't give you the exposure you'd need to make it worth the effort it took to write the story.) If an editor was willing to part with money for your work, even if it's only a token amount, take that to the bank with a smile.

I can't speak for agents since I'm not one, but my impression is the bigger the mag, the bigger the market, the more impressive the credit. However, it is REALLY tough getting published in the big markets. The Atlantic, The New Yorker, even Ellery Queen can have you waiting up to (or more than) 8 or 9 months for feedback. And the chance of your excellent story making the cut is still extremely slim since you're competing with hundreds of other hopefuls, including already-published authors. I think agents appreciate this, so I would include any publishing credit--even non-paying ones. If your query attracts her attention, I think she would want to read your shorts without caring if you were compensated for your work. She might not know, ask, or care. If I understand the agent mindset, I think she'll care if the stories are good enough to confirm her decision to request a full.

Question for Janet:
Is it appropriate to include links to stories published in digital mags to save the agent the time looking them up? I would think so, but, again, I'm not the agent here. 😀

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I realized this year that I've had around 30 short fiction acceptances/publications (this is prints and reprints), and I do now mention that in my query letter. Previous, I just mentioned 3 specific market names, either pro or ones that had a story I'm particularly proud of.

I also often link to my blog, which has a "How to contact me/where to find my writing" tab; I feel like otherwise linking to stories in the query itself might be a bit much. I'm not an agent, I could be wrong!

Colin Smith said...

(BTW, Jennifer is a short story machine. Give her 10 minutes in the bathroom and she'll come out with a short story written on toilet paper. It'll be darned good, too. 😉 So she knows of what she speaks in this area.)

Leslie said...

I admire (and am a bit jealous of) Jennifer's output!

I like the idea of linking to a blog where there's a list of links to your published work. I have a website, not a blog, with a page of links to my articles.

Some are no longer available online from the original sites, so I always keep PDF copies (made from the original sites) of each article. That way, if the original link dies, I can just upload the PDF and change the link.

Links in a query letter can be tricky. Some agents are cool with clicking on unknown links, others will not. And a few have filters set to autodelete emails with links from unknown people

C. Dan Castro said...

What if I just got a story accepted by a known magazine? Can I include in my query something like…”I also enjoy writing mysteries, and I just had my latest short story accepted for publication in KNOWN MYSTERY MAGAZINE.”

Of course, with the story having just been accepted, the actual printed magazine won’t be out until sometime in 2022. Can it be used as a credit today?

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations, OP!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oh wow, Colin, Thank you! I wasn't trying to be braggy, I promise.

C. Dan Castro you can always do the tried and true "my work has appeared in THIS MAGAZINE and THIS ONE, and is forthcoming in KNOWN MYSTERY MAGAZINE" in the bio-y portion of your query!

Disclaimer: all of my advice might be terrible, it's just what I've done in queries. And, as noted, I am still querying so interpret that as you will!

John Davis Frain said...

Congratulations, Jennifer. That is super impressive.

I remember Janet talking about someone, this is maybe a year or so ago, who had submitted something every day for a month. That is also impressive, and I think I'm going to make that a goal of mine in 2022. I don't remember who it was, which shames me, so if you're out there let us know.

My latest submission to AHMM took 9 months for a rejection. Tough to submit every day for a month if publications take 9 months to get back to you.

Carry on. Have a good weekend of writing.

AJ Blythe said...

Colin, my understanding is there shouldn't be any links in a query because it risks the query ending up in the spam folder.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Okay my last comment on this post, I know 3 is pushing it!

John Davis Frain that was Michael Seese that Janet talked about, submitting something every day for a month. Because Janet talked about it, I did it too for a couple of years. It does require a lot of material to submit, and/or markets that are pretty quick responders! Thankfully, in SFFH, there are several markets who are very fast (The Dark, Clarkesworld, Apex, F&SF) if you aren't held for further consideration.