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Heinlein's 5-th rule

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V. R. Lassmann
(@vrlass)
Posts: 56
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 

Hey guys I am just wandering about Heinlein's 5-th rule (‘You must keep it on the market until sold.’). 
In the internets i found a set of kinda exclusive rules and I am trying to make sense of it:

  • If you have never been published the bar goes up when you submit
  • If you publish in small magazines people in the big places might assume you have low bar for yourself
  • Heinlein's 5-th
  • Wulf Moon’s : SUPER SECRET #37: Aim Your Baby Kraken at a Ship it Can Take Down!

Is it better to debut in semipro or pile my stories until i finally make it with the pro?

Does Heinlein's 5-th only apply for people who are already published/ is it outdated because back than every magazine was a pro?

 
Posted : October 11, 2022 7:14 am
Pegeen reacted
(@reigheena)
Posts: 80
Bronze Star Member
 

On this topic, Mary Robinette Kowal once shared that one of her first pieces was sold to a semi-pro magazine. She then kept submitting there out of a sense of loyalty. Then an editor at a pro magazine read one of those stories and said "I would have bought that if you sent it to me." 

Wulf Moon is the only person I have ever seen advocate against starting at the top of magazines for this exact reason - you never know when you'll get lucky. 

A pro author can be confident that they'll sell a story within a dozen submissions. Newer authors can (and do!) run out of markets to submit to. Everyone's got a different level where it is no longer worth it to submit stories - whether the pay rate drops too low, or the magazine doesn't get enough circulation, or it's been too long and the writer has leveled up since, making the story look bad in comparison to what they are writing now. So my interpretation of Heilein's rule is to keep the story on submission until you hit that bar where it is no longer worth it. The next market may be the one who wants to share it. 

As far as a writing resume goes, I've never heard of someone being turned down because they have only published in semi-pro or less markets. It's all about the story, and pro markets are always happy to find a pro-debut. 

v 29 : - HM - -
v 30 : - - - -
v 31 : - - - HM
v 32 : - HM - HM
v 33 : R HM R SHM
v 34 : SHM SHM HM R
v 35 : HM R R R
v 36 : - R R R
v 37 : - - - HM
v 38 : - - - HM
v 39 : HM - - R

My published works

 
Posted : October 11, 2022 11:10 am
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Posts: 413
Gold Member
 

My understanding of the point behind Heinlein’s fifth rule is to never give up until either you sell it or until there literally isn’t a market left to send it to. 

@wulfmoon addressed this in his article “Aim Your Baby Kraken At A Ship It Can Take Down” by noting that most beginning writers quit too soon. Rejection hurts. They need that validation that they can write things that people want to buy and read and that validation is hard to find at the upper-tier markets because they’re competing with powerhouse names. So his recommendation to the new writer was to initially aim a bit lower. Once that validation comes and that first story is published, then the new writer is motivated to reach higher. Now when a rejection comes, they can point to that first sale and say ‘I can do this and that’s the proof’ and they’ll weather the storm of rejections and send their stories back out—following Heinlein’s fifth rule.

My first sale was to DreamForge, a semipro magazine. That confidence boost was incredible. It took another six months of rejections before my next story was picked up by pro magazine. I think I racked up about 50 rejections in that period, and some of them really stung. But I kept writing and submitting with the firm knowledge that, yes, I really could do this writing thing and I had the proof in front of me.

Winner, Volume 39, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Place
Subscribe to The Lost Bard's Letter at www.davidhankins.com
Published Stories:
"A Properly Spiced Gingerbread" - Critters Best Magical Realism Story of 2022
"The Last Quest of Corbin the Coward"
"Reassessed Value" - Tangent Online 2022 Recommended Reading List
”Hell’s Bureaucracy”
Coming Soon:
"Felix and the Flamingo" in Murderbirds!
"Another Day on the Orbital Ranch" in DreamForge Magazine

 
Posted : October 12, 2022 6:23 am
Pegeen, Dustin Adams, Wulf Moon and 3 people reacted
(@reigheena)
Posts: 80
Bronze Star Member
 
Posted by: @lost_bard

@wulfmoon addressed this in his article “Aim Your Baby Kraken At A Ship It Can Take Down” by noting that most beginning writers quit too soon. Rejection hurts. They need that validation that they can write things that people want to buy and read and that validation is hard to find at the upper-tier markets because they’re competing with powerhouse names.

If this is the way your mind works, go ahead and use this method. However, I have found that rejections from pro markets don't sting because I EXPECT to get rejected. I even look forward to the rejections from Beneath Ceaseless Skies because they're always personalized. It's the rejections from markets I've previously done well in (V35Q2 I submitted a revised HM, and got an R), or markets that are bottom tier that sting (when someone won't even pay you 1 cent per word for a story 😥 ).

v 29 : - HM - -
v 30 : - - - -
v 31 : - - - HM
v 32 : - HM - HM
v 33 : R HM R SHM
v 34 : SHM SHM HM R
v 35 : HM R R R
v 36 : - R R R
v 37 : - - - HM
v 38 : - - - HM
v 39 : HM - - R

My published works

 
Posted : October 13, 2022 7:29 am
pdblake reacted
(@wulfmoon)
Posts: 2930
Platinum Plus Moderator
 
Posted by: @vrlass

Hey guys I am just wandering about Heinlein's 5-th rule (‘You must keep it on the market until sold.’). 
In the internets i found a set of kinda exclusive rules and I am trying to make sense of it:

  • If you have never been published the bar goes up when you submit
  • If you publish in small magazines people in the big places might assume you have low bar for yourself
  • Heinlein's 5-th
  • Wulf Moon’s : SUPER SECRET #37: Aim Your Baby Kraken at a Ship it Can Take Down!

Is it better to debut in semipro or pile my stories until i finally make it with the pro?

Does Heinlein's 5-th only apply for people who are already published/ is it outdated because back than every magazine was a pro?

As Obi-Wan said to Luke: “You must do what you feel is right, of course.” Smile /p>

Super Secret #37 offers an alternative to the traditional marketing advice, for unpublished or emerging writers. Does it work? David Hankins just told you the advice worked for him. The Wulf Pack, my writing group, is filled with formerly unpublished and emerging writers following this philosophy to their success.

Here’s just one example. I challenged the Wulf Pack to target a pro-rate but non-SFWA approved open-call anthology. Fresh, original stories they could have sent off to top magazines, like some had formerly done for years. Instead, we targeted a publication where I knew they wouldn’t be competing against top names in the industry.

The result? Eight got accepted, were paid eight cents a word, and are now holding a physical book with their story in it. Many had been writing for years and submitting to top markets and had never had a sale; all were amateur writers. Now, they are professionally paid published writers, and have a decent credit they can list in their cover letters. And a huge ego boost to keep them writing.

They can also list these sales in scholarship applications to such prestigious writing seminars as Superstars. Which, I might add, David Hankins was able to do, and was awarded the new Farland Endowment worth several thousand dollars. Without a body of published work which led up to his WotF win, it’s not a hard leap to believe David’s chances at winning this scholarship would have been lower. He was able to provide proof he was legit, even though he did not have top market sales, except for Writers of the Future.

Making your first sale is important. So is selling to respectable markets that may not be SFWA qualified, but will give you a body of work prestigious publishers will notice. It’s working for dozens of writers in my group. 

The logic is there. I do have ample proof in my writers that it works. Doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. You simply decide if you think it will work for you.

All the best to your writing.

Wulf Moon

 

 

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Posted : October 13, 2022 11:01 am
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