Lawrence Dagstine: “400 Publishing Credits…”

 

“The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” 

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

 “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Lawrence Dagstine

Short Stories * Novelettes * Digital Stories

Magazines – Periodicals – Webzines – Anthologies – Kindle

Other New Entries: “The Dude” – Biography

Author’s Note: F. Scott Fitzgerald… The Great Gatsby… One of my ten favorite authors.

Lawrence Dagstine: “How to make $5000.00 from writing…”

*HOW TO MAKE FIVE-GRAND IN YOUR SPARE TIME FROM WRITING*

An Essay by Lawrence Dagstine

This conversation always seems to come up whenever my name is made in passing in certain industry circles, regarding that “Prolific Hack” Lawrence R. Dagstine.  This time it came via Facebook a few days ago by a person we’ll call Chubbs.  Congratulations, Chubbs, you are now a character in my upcoming, racially provocative, cyberpunk novella, MAURICE AND THE URBANITES.  All with good intentions, Chubbs; I won’t kill your character off.  If there’s one thing I’m known for, it’s helping other writers find markets for their work.  However, I think it is important that all housewives or househusbands, part-time tutors, teachers or students looking for extra cash, has-beens, wannabes, bohemians, panderers, starving artists, prose-driven lushes, pain-killer popping poet laureates, and yes, even young technical writers who need reminding pay heed.  Or if you’re smart, can program yourself to type methodically, but find yourself currently unemployed.  So let’s start this off right…

Publishing Clip/Magazine Tupperware No. 2 of 4 - Yes, I own four.

Hi, my name is Lawrence.  I’m a hack writer who made roughly $5000.00 in 2009 from the written word.  Cash.  Mojo.  Bling.  And I’m going to show you too how to make this kind of money over a 365-day period; have checks and payments coming in regularly in this tough economy; samples on how to get writing gigs and become a fiction writing machine in your spare time, and the difference between quantity and quality (in my opinion).  As a trench-writer since the late 90’s, with close to 400 magazine and webzine credits, and in this current market, this is how I perceive Quantity and Quality.

QUANTITY = The Possibility of Fast Money and Brief Popularity.

QUALITY = The Possibility of Immortality and Elegance of Prose.

Author’s Note: With the above, your mileage may vary.  But both can exhibit a certain level of professionalism.  I’ll also get to the novelist a bit more later on.  Everything I put down here in the meantime is from firsthand experience, acceptances, years of observation, and generally whatever else worked for me concerning the written word.

I think everybody pretty much knows by now that I submit to a LOT of half-cent to three-cent per word paying markets.  I often have a minimum of 20 to 40 different short stories and novelettes floating out there at any given time, and so should you; with reprints, once rights have reverted back to me, sometimes as many as 60 fiction markets.  There’s one short that I’ve sold over seven, eight times already.  These are often called “Trunk Stories”, stories which have already been published and are just sitting on your laptop, can be dusted off, and sold again after many years.  And I’m not including small non-fiction gigs, which rely mainly on published clips, actual “print” periodicals, or through connections/recommendations one might have through freelancing or journalism.  That’s a whole other ballgame.  If you want to make some kind of extra cash with short stories, you need to write plenty of them! Like one or two per week, then build up a hefty folder over time.  This is a must! It won’t be an overnight thing.  Oh yeah, and expect to get a boatload of rejections.  But I think every writer and his or her grandmother is aware that it comes with the territory.

At the same time, I truly believe that while the written word is the written word – by that, I mean whatever you manufacture from your keyboard – within short story writing and novel writing there exists two very different breeds of writer.  Two very different thought process patterns between both of them.  Even though, over time, it is essentially the hardworking novelist who will round up the most funds.  One is taught to submit to nothing but the highest paying markets, because there is this invisible rule, and everybody should adhere to it.  Because we should better ourselves.  Start at the top, work your way down.  Maybe go to Clarions or Borderlands or a similar writing workshop, and attend seminars where you can sit down with actual New York Times Bestselling Authors.  Excellent philosophy.  I’m for it one hundred percent! I’ve been told to submit to nothing but five-cent per word markets, otherwise throw your story away.  I’ve had writers tell me five cents is an insult and submit to only seven-to-ten-cent per word paying markets.  And there was the one old-schooler who said submit to only ten-cent markets (yeah, and out of the thousands upon thousands of genre writers, statistically we all know there’s a ton of those out there).  I wouldn’t dare say keep that piece sitting in a drawer, especially if you believe in it.  Submit it! Still, at the same time we can’t forget that some levels of writers do it for the sake of paying other bills, no matter how big or small that earning from writing may be: it might help you fill up your gas tank, it might help you afford air conditioning this summer, or even pay your mortgage or credit card.  For some the opportunity is out there (on both levels); for some, not in a million years because they might not know what to do or how to go about freelancing or how to utilize reprints or how to get into the “Writing Habit”.  Personally, I could give a damn about immortality.  I live in the Here and Now, therefore I must eat, think, and survive in the Here and Now.  That’s my philosophy.

Basically, have a secondary income coming in on a fairly repetitive basis.  Checks and Paypal payments flying in every week to two weeks.  The same way prolific novelists receive royalties by the quarter.  Two very different breeds of writer, in my opinion.

Example 1:

On one particular day in September 2009, I opened up my email to find seven paying acceptances in ONE DAY – nothing big, nothing exorbitant – and I’m not a full-time writer.  That’s my current record, by the way.  In December 2009 I had another four paying acceptances in ONE DAY.  That’s eleven paying short story acceptances right there.  In only two days out of 365.  Now, out of those eleven acceptances, who am I to say no to $25.00 checks, $50.00 checks, $75.00 checks, or even a $100.00 check, which might turn out to be a 2-cent per word story which just happens to equal a Benjamin Franklin? Especially if they’re rolling in constantly! Unless you’re already established, you never say no to Benjamin Franklin.  Benjamin is your friend; Grant ain’t so bad either.  A 2,000-word short story to a professional market equals the SAME hundred dollars.  Not to mention I can probably name three or four other prolific short story writers who have me beat with the numbers above.  And while Benjamin and Grant are your best friends, they can do more than just get your name and work out there.  In this current market and economy it can pay for things.

Here’s another example from December 2009.  The publication in the link below, which has been around eleven years, I often get acceptances from.  I’ve even helped improve their exposure and circulation a bit.  They pay me 1-cent per word for material.  The two accepted stories in this particular entry, to be released this year, are 6,000 words in length each.  That equals $120.00.  Over a period of twelve months, it adds up.

CLICK HERE: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2009/12/21/nova-science-fiction-spring-2010-eight-acceptances/

This recent story acceptance below is fairly long.  It took me one day to write this story.  The creative juices were flowing.  The check from it will pay for one gas bill.  Still, if you want to pay more than one bill, you need to have at least 40 different short stories floating out there for you.  When rejections come in, send the stories right back out.

CLICK HERE: https://lawrencedagstine.com/2010/02/10/aoifes-kiss-35-december-2010-12th-acceptance/

Once again, that $5000.00 was from part-time writing, not full-time.  This came from short fiction, short non-fiction, selling Dagstine mags and wares in Coney Island, small leads and gigs on places like Craigs List to resume writing (www.craigslist.com).  Let’s throw in a little off the books proofreading for people advertising simple jobs from foreign-speaking countries (e.g., gigs I had for Denmark and The Philippines).  You can charge these people a fee in the low hundreds just to edit their manuscripts or fill their technical and business writing needs.  Always charge less than what the Writer’s Market suggests for these jobs; work with your clients, they’ll use you again or recommend you to others.  That’s how resume writing fell into my lap.  It doesn’t matter where you come from: if you understand English, have Internet access, and enjoy typing, anybody can do this… ANYBODY CAN DO THIS! So what if it isn’t entirely fiction? Now I’m building up an entirely different kind of portfolio in the process, something I would never have done or thought of, say, five years ago.  I’ve written under such names as Lawrence Davis, Lawrence Roberts, Lawrence Hewitt, and in the science fiction arena, Lawrence Dagstine.  The list goes on.  I even wrote a porn story once under the name Nabudi Sun (this was for kicks).  Plus, the freedom of this also gives me the time to write more genre fiction, which I enjoy and grew up on.

SAMPLE FOREIGN / FREELANCE LINK: http://manila.craigslist.com.ph/wri/

You ever see that show, DEAL OR NO DEAL? Hosted by Howie Mandel? He comes out on stage rocking his baldy, a woman with a silver briefcase hollering and screaming at his side.  The audience is cheering on.  The woman is given the option to pick briefcases and go for a six-figure win.  Let’s pretend that the contestant is a writer, and that this game show scenario applies to writing.  Very rarely do people get that six-figures; shit, some times they don’t even score five.  Howie Mandel will call upstairs and one of the producers or whatever will make an offer.  It might be $6,000, $8,000, or $10,000… Do yourself a favor, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN! Don’t wait around for a half-million dollars.  Because, in traditional publishing, six-figures ain’t happening.  $10,000, sure, why not.  I can figure that.  Pay your bills and have fun with your peers.

Example 2:

You know, when you think about it, $5000.00 equals an advance on some novels, which might take you a year to write and then an additional 18 months to be released.  There’s no guarantee the book will sell, the agent you have will keep you or you will keep her, or that you’ll be the next big thing.  Your book may sit on a shelf for what seems like an eternity, or be sent back for a refund.  Or, in the end, have its cover torn off.

You have to remember, writing is a starving profession.  Freelancing is quick cash.  Thanks to it, I sell most of my works a minimum of three times each.  Thanks to it I have heat and hot water, a full refrigerator, electricity and gas, copays on prescriptions covered, clothes on my back, toilet paper to wipe my ass, diapers on my kid’s behind, and all other bills and necessities besides a rent firmly paid.

But, I understand.  Even though you realize that genre is a lottery, with one in every 10,000 to 20,000 truly making it BIG, you aspire to be that New York Times Bestselling writer.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Dreaming big is a part of life.  Sometimes those workshops or classes, however, are pricey.  With round-trip airfare, hotel and food, you could be talking $2000 just to attend! Freelancing, in the fashion mentioned above, can PAY FOR THAT PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOP… It can help you afford these writing camps in what is a truly reserved economy.

In the end, it’s all about enjoying what you do.  The storytelling aspect, and of course, entertaining your readers.  Listen, you don’t have to stay in this little shell your whole life because some organization has it hammered out that way or because people have inferiority complexes (such as Chubbs).  What good is a writer who ends up worm food from lack of finances? I think that at a certain point, you have to come out and set up your career the way you feel most comfortable with it.  Remember, only you are responsible for your own destiny.  Only you can carve out a niche for yourself, thus turning it into your own reality.

Until Next Time,

Lawrence Dagstine

Lawrence Dagstine: “The Writing Life…”

In the last few weeks I’ve had the honor of giving four different authors and artisans blurbs.  Blurbs help sell a work.  Or at least give it that little helpful “boost”.  It’s a nice feeling.  It isn’t the first time I’ve done it, and it probably won’t be the last.  The purpose of this post, however, is that a younger author contacted me concerning the number of print credits I have.  Which would be 350 at the moment (give or take a few; probably more, and I really don’t include stapled-up fanzines and all that).  I do need to sit down one of these days and fix up my webpage a bit, but when you live a high-octane life like I do, you’re lucky if you have time to get down a single paragraph in the period of a week.  Some weeks, of course, are much better than others.  Time is a major factor, and there are only 24 hours in a day.  Some writers are fast at what they do, but then they have that luxury.  Unfortunately, I do not.  Some churn out crap.  I try not.

With so many of these micro-presses self-publishing each other to each other these days, with eBooks officially taking center stage as we head into the second decade of the new millennium, and with magazines both large and small coming and going at the speed of an asteroid, it’s really hard to tell what or who will be in in the next twenty years.

This leads me back to my conversation with the younger feller.  Oh, but you have 350 publishing credits.  Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. Yeah, but that ought to get you some kind of book contract right on the spot.  Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. But you have a short story collection finally.  Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. Here I am, age 35, and I will tell you that this is only a tiny stepping stone for many other things to come in the fiction field.  Which, if you were not a stubborn bastard like me, you’d quit tomorrow.  Because only a mental case or a true agoraphobe would be involved in a game like this, especially in a generation where books are just not as important and attention spans are at an all-time low.  Come, let me slap you in advance.

I remember first getting into the written word when I was 21, making the transition from art, because I desired a little more.  I feel I came into this game late, because the entirety of my twenties was spent partying and traveling and experiencing life to the fullest.  I never really sat down and concentrated the way I do now in my later years.  Yes, the experience and reading paid off — that, along with the Vanity Press errors I made years back; yikes! — but even that means diddly squat when it comes down to a 20 to 80 dollar payday.  Newbies gladly sell their souls as if they were verb modifiers.  There are rumored to be at least 100,000 aspiring writers of genre fiction out there.  Now that’s a pretty round number for the ones that go on at it, so stand in line.   I may have all these appearances, a new collection, another on the way, but at the end of the day it’s just rocket fuel…

It’s safe to say that where the last three to five years were spent making short stories, the next three to five will be spent crafting novellas and novelettes.  What about that 200,000 word novel? Where’s that big epic book? Rocket fuel, my man.  Rocket fuel. Writing is a lifelong craft, and practice makes perfect.  Kind of the same way a store clerk eventually grows to supervising manager or maybe head foreman.  That’s just how it is, and that “is” often happens in old age.  Sometimes trenches are meant to be dug, tested, pioneered.  I would have to honestly say that I am not ready for that perfect 200,000 word novel — that serious book — for at least another ten good years.  Which is why right now I need the rocket fuel, and the small stuff, the paved road, to show me what I’m worth later in life.

Everybody wants to be the next big thing.  Look at yourself in the mirror and find your true self, and you’ll know that it doesn’t take words to breathe truth into who you are.  If somebody asked Lawrence Dagstine for a “How To” book on writing science fiction, I might recommend Orson Scott Card.  If somebody wanted a “How To” book on writing horror, I’d probably point you in the direction of Mort Castle.  Workshops and boot camps are fantastic; too bad I can’t leave the East Coast.  But if you really wanted the underbelly of the beast, the task of the artform at hand itself, then I’d recommend John Gardner.  As this gentleman in the link below has demonstrated so modestly.

Advice on Writing:

http://www.pobronson.com/index_advice_to_writers.htm

Simplicity and writing do not go hand in hand (Po Bronson knows), as should be the case with any creative endeavor.  There is the process of getting your thoughts down in so many hours per day.  There is the process of outlining and research.  You have tone and structure.  Dialogue and characterization.  Theme and summation.  Depth, motive, conflict.  Consistency and plotting (one of my weak points, I feel).  Beginning, middle, and end.  Showing and not telling.  Jeez, I could go on forever.  Or I could just go and write.  I can hear that young man harping now…  But Lawrence, when are you going to give us our Narnia? Eventually, my man.  Eventually…

Summertime will be approaching soon.  Many are probably wondering what the hell is the other purpose for this entry.  What is the purpose of anything? Well, I’ll be busy writing those lengthier works, the ones you anticipate, pimping, marketing, sipping on pina coladas and laying in the sun.  Things are going to slow down a bit.  Consider this an early draft for my departure from the public sphere.  I’m going to go live life and scream.  And I’m going to write, whether I get some invite or not.  Write.  Eat.  Sleep.  Sun.  Chocolate pudding, Rice Krispie treats, and banana cream pie.  Why? Because if you want the next generation Narnia, then I owe at least that much to you

With Love,

Mr. Lawrence Dagstine

P.S.: I, too, would probably work in a closet for some peace of mind…lmao.

Lawrence Dagstine: “Happy New Years 2009…!”

I’d like to wish all my readers, friends in the small press, friends outside of the small press, peers, family, editors and publishers, and whoever else I may have missed a very healthy, Happy New Year. 

HAPPY NEW YEARS

glassport

2009

From yours truly,

Lawrence R. Dagstine

Written Word Magazine, November 2008… (appearances)

The issue is a bit late, but my story DEPARTURE FLIGHT is currently up at The Written Word Magazine, Issue No. #15.  The Web-based publication is also connected with Rebel Dawn Creative Force and Masterpiece Comics. 

WRITTEN WORD ONLINE MAGAZINE #15 – November/December 2008

Written Word Magazine #15

Written Word Magazine #15

 www.writtenwordmag.com

Featuring work by: William Markly O’Neal, C.A. Ellis, Kate Smith, Christopher Hivner, Billy Wong, Lawrence Dagstine, Dudgeon, Byron D. Howell, Roger Haller, and Morgen Kirby.  Edited by Ace Masters and Barb McCaffrey.

Other New Entries: “Magazines”

Lawrence Dagstine: why I write short stories…

Many an aspiring author — and professional, too — has asked me over the past year why I write short stories.  Or, at the very least, why I choose to.  Naturally, it’s a field you won’t get rich from.  Matter of fact, if you happen to be one in that ten-thousand median author range to be on the lookout for, chances are you probably won’t even break the $5000 mark per year from all sources “writing-related”.   If you write novel-length genre works, major houses will usually yield print runs of 3000 copies.  Everybody wants a piece of the pie; the only thing is, there is no pie.  There are so many micro-presses these days that anybody can become a writer.  In most cases, this has screwed up the marketplace; I blame this slow literary death on technological globalization.

So what do we do to assure ourselves a cut and immortality? We annex and fan-club the profession.  This isn’t a terrible thing, but it’s all we’ve got right now until we come up with a better game plan, right? At the same time, I also believe we shouldn’t write for the masses because you never know what might work or what might not. 

October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine

October 1927 Copy of Short Stories Magazine

The writing game is the extra income game, but it’s also the poor man’s game.  Which brings me back to my original topic: why short stories? Hey, why not? Life is short, and you should get your voice heard no matter what the venue.  That’s my philosophy.  But rather than tell you what motivates me to write short stories, why I prefer it over the long form (not to say there isn’t anything in the works; that’s for another day), and why I still persist at it… Well, I decided to search the Internet for like-minded individuals.  People who prefer to write short stories, too.

The first is Bev Vincent (author of The Road to the Dark Tower).  Every once in a while I do find a little gem of a post over at Storyteller’s Unplugged.  Bev is always astute and charming in his posts, and with this particular blog entry, he practically took the words right out of my mouth.  Because these are my very same thoughts.  Along with that, I’ve provided a few other links on why it really doesn’t matter, why sometimes it does, and on how what I mentioned above is so true… Life being short, so just submit…

WHY WRITE SHORT STORIES by Bev Vincent (Storyteller’s Unplugged):

http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/why-write-short-stories

 HOW MUCH DOES WRITING PAY by Nut (The Writer’s Coin):

http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2008/09/04/how-much-does-writing-pay/

 MY WIFE IS RUINING MY DREAMS by Chris Cope (Life Files):

http://www.theindychannel.com/family/16557240/detail.html

Also, the last time I did a post of this nature I forgot to stress the importance of an editorial filter, and I didn’t focus enough on non-fiction writing.  My last rant was geared more toward genre, and I apologize for that.  However, in the same fashion, I’d rather you read “How” and “Why” I do it (and what’s to be had from it), from the likes of others, rather than myself.  And in their own words.

HOW TO WRITE FOR MAGAZINES by Jason Arnopp (Bloggery Pokery)

http://jasonarnopp.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-write-for-magazine.html

SMALL PRESS MAGAZINES: SHOULD YOU BOTHER? by Bruce Boston

(Sam’s Dot Publishing/Writing World.Com)

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/boston.shtml

THE AMATEUR vs. PROFESSIONAL MYTHOS

FREELANCE PROFESSIONAL WRITERS HATE AMATEUR WRITERS by Lance Winslow

http://ezinearticles.com/?Free-Lance-Professional-Writers-Hate-Amateur-Writers&id=227821

HOW WRITERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE SHORT STORY MARKET by Paul Turner 

http://www.articlesbase.com/writing-articles/how-writers-can-benefit-from-the-short-story-market-469055.html

WHAT MAKES A WRITER A PROFESSIONAL by Bruce Byfield

http://brucebyfield.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/what-makes-a-writer-a-professional/

INTERNET SMACKDOWN: THE AMATEUR VS. THE PROFESSIONAL by Tony Long

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/commentary/theluddite/2007/06/luddite_0621

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and submit that story.  As the professionals mentioned in the links above, these are the same exact reasons “Why” and “How” I do it.  And always remember, just because you’re not getting a piece of the pie, doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. 😉

Cheers.

Lawrence R. Dagstine