13. Getting Published: Trial by Fire

Page 8 of 9 | Your Work in Print | Manuscript Preparation | Will They Steal My Work? | Learning the Market | Submission |
| Taking Rejection | Taking Acceptance | Electronic Publication | Books & Agents |

What About Electronic Publication?
This is a new area, and you have to make your own judgment calls. In general, electronic publication is not yet held in the same esteem as print publication. That may change. There are now some well-respected editors working in the field of on-line publication, but whether any of those publications will survive over the long haul, it's too soon to know.

If you look, you'll find lots of ways to publish your work on line. You might find such an outlet attractive. But beware: publishing on line might reduce your chances of selling to a print publication. You will no longer be offering a print publisher first publication rights, and they might be less interested. So think hard about it. (Circulating your story among members of a workshop is not considered publication, by the way.)

Do I Need an Agent?

Short answer for short fiction: no.

Most agents work primarily or exclusively in book publishing. The role of an agent is to place books with the most appropriate publishers, to negotiate a contract once a book has been sold, and to collect earnings on behalf of the author. Most agents take a 15% commission from all money earned, though the range is 10%-20%.

If you're trying to sell your short fiction, you don't need an agent and most agents wouldn't be interested, anyway. Instead, just submit the work yourself. This will give you a chance to get your feet wet and build up a track record. The time to look for an agent is when you have a book you want to sell, preferably a finished book.

For sources on the role of agents and how to find one, see the Resources section.

Beware the Scams

Unfortunately, in recent years, a number of scam artists have appeared who prey on aspiring authors by promising them a chance at publication if only they will pay for "professional editing" beforehand. Many of these scam artists have operated in conjunction with phony "agents," who refer unsuspecting writers to them.

There are, indeed, legitimate fee-based editing services that some writers choose to use to help them polish up their work prior to submission. But if anyone tries to pressure you to use a particular editing "service" or promise publication if you use their service, steer clear.

For more information on this, see the SFWA Web site.

If you're serious about trying to be professionally published, please make use of the many educational resources available in your library and on-line to help writers.


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