His two major points were:
- You’re a professional so you should be paid that way
- The only way you’ll improve your craft is to keep writing and rewriting until a pro-paying market picks you up.
I completely understand where he’s coming from, and agree in principle, but I disagree with his idea that you should only submit to pro-paying markets. Especially if you’re a newer writing with little or no publications under your belt.
Allow me to use pro-wrestling analogy. When a guy decides to go into pro-wrestling, he doesn’t walk up to WWE and get a tryout match. He starts at the training camps and indy leagues, sometimes spending years working for next to nothing in front of 25 people to gain experience and hone his craft. Eventually, if he’s good enough, he’ll catch someone’s eye in the big leagues and get that tryout.
I use the wrestling comparison because that’s what I know, but I’m sure it’s the same in acting, sports, and even the news business. You have to “pay your dues” as they say.
In creative writing, there are countless opportunities to “pay your dues” when you first get started. The small press is huge. There are literally thousands of token or semi-professional publications out there looking to give unknown writers a chance. In small press markets, there is plenty of opportunity to write, collect rejection slips, and continue to improve until you make some sales. I really believe this is the best way to start. With smaller markets, you can generally expect a higher acceptance rate, a higher probability or receiving personal feedback, and quicker turn-around time.
When you’re a new writer, remember that you’re not writing for money. You’re learning the craft and getting used to the submission process. Try everything, but focus more on markets where you think your story will fit. Take some time and build small bio of token payers and maybe even a few semi-pro markets. Continue to improve and build your confidence, and then when you’re ready, start trying some of the professional paying publications.