Huzzah! I'm a published writer! Now what?
February 7, 2019 10:39 PM   Subscribe

I've been writing short stories and flash fiction on a blog for three years now. I've been published in several literary magazines. One of them even nominated me for the Pushcart Prize! What are my prospects from here?

I must confess that I never particularly expected to get this far in writing, so I don't really know what I can do with it.

The obvious answer seems to be "Write books!", and indeed, I am working on a short story compilation this year. Later, I might consider novels and suchlike.

But I was wondering if there are any other prospects for writers of fiction. I am asking for fiction strictly here because I've already written copy, news, and non-fiction extensively, so I'm already a little familiar with those. What I want is opportunities to tell stories.

One idea that sparks my interest is video games, as I am very passionate about them. But where does one get started as a writer for indie games?

What other options do I have to flaunt my skill as a writer of fiction?
posted by Senza Volto to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Congrats, if you're already nominated for a Pushcart that's pretty awesome. As far as ways to get noticed for interactive game storytelling, have you considered IFComp (the annual competition for interactive fiction) and the whole scene surrounding Twine?
posted by johngoren at 2:45 AM on February 8, 2019

@johngoren: No! I've heard of Twine, but never really dipped my toes into it. I'll look into this stuff pronto!
posted by Senza Volto at 3:32 AM on February 8, 2019

Teaching is the standard next move.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:29 AM on February 8, 2019


In my experience, novels are really the way to go career-wise. There simply isn't the market--or the money--in short stories anymore, particularly if your brand runs more literary and less "genre" (sci-fi, fantasy, where at least there are a number of professional-level paying markets). Because there's more of a market, it's much more of a possibility to get agented, and then sold to a major publisher, with a novel-length work of fiction.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:25 AM on February 8, 2019

Congratulations on your publications!

It is great that you are celebrating your accomplishments -- writing tends to involve so many rejections and disappointments that it's really wise to enjoy every positive moment.

That said... I wanted to warn you that a writing career isn't so much a marathon as a series of marathons. When I started out, I had the idea the my first publication would kick the door down, and then I'd be in a room with all the other published writers and everything would be easy from then on. Instead, it has been much more like this scene from a Pink Panther movie-- I keep bursting into rooms only to find myself on the outside again! My first short story was published in 1995, and it took me a decade to get from there to my first published book. And every book since then has been its own difficult journey.

I don't want to take away your totally appropriate joy over your accomplishments! I just want you to brace yourself for the next step, so you aren't caught as off guard as I was.

OK, with that (probably annoying!) warning out of the way, the next steps for most fiction writers go something like this:

• Keep writing and publishing short stories, if that's a genre that speaks to you.

• While you do that, write (and rewrite and rewrite) your first novel. Like PhoBWanKenobi says, it's unfortunately very difficult to get an agent for a book of short stories (unless you are already famous.)

• Start sending out queries to agents seeking representation for your first novel. This is when the short story publications may be helpful -- being able to mention them in your query letter will help it stand out a bit, and make you more likely to get a positive response.

• While you're waiting to hear back, start working on your next novel. If, by the time it's ready to send out, you still haven't gotten representation for your first novel, start querying your second novel-- and start working on your third.

• Repeat as necessary.
posted by yankeefog at 7:34 AM on February 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Add Under the Cover to your reading list for a behind-the-scenes look at doing the book thing. This will not deal with video games and other such things, obviously.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:48 AM on February 8, 2019

Also read Scratch: Writers, Money, the Art of Making a Living whether you're thinking of making your living writing or not. It's a collection of essays and interviews, so you get a lot of viewpoints.

Also, the magazine Poets and Writers can be helpful. Going to a writers' conference will help you connect with other writers, and that's invaluable. You may already know about these, but I bring them up just in case.

Re teaching: college teaching is super hard to get into, even with an MFA and a published novel. You may eventually be able to run workshops outside of an institution.

And congratulations on your publications and your Pushcart nomination!
posted by FencingGal at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the update on teaching. My info above is out of date!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:56 AM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you love writing short stories it's OK to write a collection and publish with an indie press or send to contests. There are brilliant indies. All the advice about novel, novel, novel: that's agent-speak, and it only has to do with the market and making money. That being said, if what you care about is making money--write a novel, preferably YA or one for book clubs. And, when you're agented, be prepared to jump when they say jump and not ask how high until you're in the air.

Basically, you're just at the beginning of this journey. Slow and steady wins the race. Keep writing what feels right to you. Just keep writing.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 9:17 PM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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