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What's the value in sub-pro markets?

 
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 174

I've been thinking about query letters recently and the rejection process. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems editors don't want a long list of sub-pro sales in your letter, especially if those sales are older. So, do sub-pro sales help get pro sales? If not, what's the point of selling for less?

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: SHM
2022 Q1: SHM, Q2 Waiting, Q3 WIP

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Topic starter Posted : August 22, 2021 12:02 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2786
Posted by: @babooher

I've been thinking about query letters recently and the rejection process. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems editors don't want a long list of sub-pro sales in your letter, especially if those sales are older. So, do sub-pro sales help get pro sales? If not, what's the point of selling for less?

What helps get pro sales are excellent stories, professionally executed. If you define pro as SFWA listed markets at 8 cents a word, there are many respectable markets not on the SFWA registry that pay 5-8 cents a word that have good readership and will pay you money to publish your work. Being published, being read, and getting paid a decent rate for your work is a goal of many writers. And the chance of a newer writer getting published in these publications is often better, as some pros only sub to SFWA qualified markets, leveling the playing field a little.

As for credits, if the publication is recognized, it can tell first readers your level of writing before they even begin to read (not that all look first at the cover letter, and some publications require blind reads). It can also tell an editor you’ve worked with others, and will likely act professionally with them if they choose to publish you. But citing obscure credits will not help, and may even mark you as amateur. Better to say you’re unpublished or say nothing at all in that case. Several editors actually say in their guidelines to note if you’re unpublished—they all enjoy discovering and publishing a writer for the first time. 

I did a Super Secret on this topic on the value of respectable sales. I also have an article published on the subject. Check that thread if you’d like more. Cheers!

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Posted : August 22, 2021 1:40 pm
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Silver Member
Posts: 370

Good question, Babooher.
Great response, Moon.
I wondered a similar thing when subbing to a sub-pro. If they accepted the story, it would give me like $10. Considering how long I put into the story... Still, I like the idea of being more widely read. And after I've submitted a story to any fitting pro markets it's eligible for, I'd rather have a few more people read my work (assuming I still believe it's a great story) than just have it go into retirement.  

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, R, HM
V39: HM, P

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Posted : August 22, 2021 6:20 pm
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 174

Thanks, Wulf Moon. That helped immensely.

 

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: SHM
2022 Q1: SHM, Q2 Waiting, Q3 WIP

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Topic starter Posted : August 22, 2021 6:38 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Álex Souza
(@alexvss)
Bronze Member
Posts: 61
Posted by: @babooher

I've been thinking about query letters recently and the rejection process. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems editors don't want a long list of sub-pro sales in your letter, especially if those sales are older. So, do sub-pro sales help get pro sales? If not, what's the point of selling for less?

Coincidentally enough, I was reading an article about that yesterday. It's called "Bad Credits Won't Help Get You Published" and it was written by the editors of PodCastle back in 2009, when Escape Artists only bought reprints. Basically, they said that some people would sell their stories to crappy magazines first, so they would "qualify" to submit there. And they saw that as a huge red flag. If your story appeared in a crappy magazine, there's a chance that it's, uh, a crappy story! I strongly recommend that you read the article. It's a little old, I know, but I think it's useful.

 

My take as a slush reader: we often receive stories from authors who claim to have been published by very strict magazines. When that happens, I'm like, "Wow, they appeared in Asimov's, Analog and F&SF, and now they want to be published here, in our humble semi-pro?!" Then I went on to read the story...and they're oftentimes very bad! That's a huge downer because it makes me think they've been lying on their cover letters, or, at least, they're not sending me their best.

 

It's like Wulf Moon said: a cover letter affects how the slush reader approaches a story. For better and for worse.

V38: Q3-R; Q4-HM
V39: Q1-R; Q2-N/A; Q3-P
Critters.org MPCx4
Slush reader for The Common Tongue Magazine.
Debut short-story "Invisible Bodies" published in HyphenPunk and reprinted in MetaStellar.

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Posted : August 23, 2021 7:31 am
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 174
Posted by: @writingdude

Couldn't you just say "previously published in multiple markets," or similar? Rather than boring them with the details, it still let's them know you have been taken seriously elsewhere, so maybe they would benefit from doing likewise.

That's interesting. A friend was worried about a cover letter mentioning a publication because of the publication's editor's political bent. He thought it might turn off other editors (guilt by association, I guess). So a comment like that could hide a multitude of "sins" while being accurate and truthful.

 

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: SHM
2022 Q1: SHM, Q2 Waiting, Q3 WIP

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Topic starter Posted : August 26, 2021 3:22 pm
Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Silver Member
Posts: 389

Interesting read on pro vs sub pro markets. My main goal is provide a great story to read. I never realized all the nuances to that.

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, HM, HM
V39: RWC, P

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Posted : August 26, 2021 4:29 pm
babooher
(@babooher)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 174

Ultimately, I'd say providing a great experience for the reader is the most important thing to focus on, but there is a business side to this as well.

2012 Q4: R
2016 Q3: SHM
2019 Q2: HM, Q3: HM
2020 Q2: HM, Q4: SHM
2021 Q1: HM, Q2: SF, Q3: SHM, Q4: SHM
2022 Q1: SHM, Q2 Waiting, Q3 WIP

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Topic starter Posted : August 26, 2021 4:50 pm
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