I picked up Playing the Short Game by Douglas Smith and I’ve already read it twice. Despite the fact that there’s a vast number of books on writing, I’ve not really found many on selling short fiction in modern markets. What this book offers is a valuable resource on the methods of publishing short fiction at the professional level in modern markets as well as information on licensing and relicensing your works, cover letter creation, and how to leverage your short fiction career into a novel career. Douglas Smith has an encouraging and conversational tone that I enjoyed and as one of the more prolific modern short fiction authors out there, his experience is invaluable.
One of the most important things this book taught me was to not sell myself short. Many times I’ll polish up a short story and be rather proud of it and sell it to a semi-pro magazine. Now there’s nothing wrong with semi-pro magazines and I have sold things to these venues before, but I never really try to give the ‘big dogs’ of the industry a chance. I often feel like I shouldn’t even try because who gets into those magazines anyway, right? Well, this book really has shown me how writing short fiction in today’s world is a numbers game more than anything else, that is, writing quality stories and getting as many out in front of editors as possible. It sounds like obvious advice, yet I really hadn’t been following it too well. Often times I would send something out and wait for it instead of immediately beginning work on another piece. My mindset has shifted quite a bit and now I am aiming high from here on out. By the end of the year, I want to place a story in a professionally paying science fiction or fantasy magazine. It’s worth a shot.
Check out Douglas Smith’s Playing the Short Game if you have an interest in writing and selling short fiction at the professional level. This is a book that I’ll have close to my writing desk for a long time.