We have a lot of book writers on WordPress–all in various stages of book writin’: thinking about writing a book, actually writing one, talking about writing one, with several finished manuscripts, publishing a first book, many published books on the shelf.
What I hear very little about on WordPress is publishing smaller pieces before the book is finished. Maybe because I started as a poet, this has always been my route.
Poems are arguably the smallest genre of writing, so it made sense to send a few out into the world and see how they fare. Eventually, I had enough poems written and published to pull them together into a manuscript, but it didn’t occur to me that it was time for a book. I had to be reminded about it by a mentor.
When I branched out into writing creative nonfiction, my goal from the beginning was to produce a book. The writers on WordPress and the writers in the memoir-writing classes I’ve taken have been as focused on The Book as I have been.
But my opinion is that it’s just as important to write smaller pieces or to take chapters or smaller portions of the book-in-progress and revise into stand-alones. These pieces can be submitted to magazines and journals. Maybe you are thinking, “Well, I am writing a novel, so there is no way to send out part of this baby!” I searched Duotrope (search site for writing submissions) for “novel excerpts” and over 100 places are accepting submissions of novel excerpts currently. Once you weed through them, you might find only a dozen are a good fit, but hey, maybe that’s 12 more than you realized were out there!
What I am trying to do is figure out what kind of market is best for each short piece and then revise each one until it sparkles before sending it out to editors of the “right fits.”
I try to think of my short works as canaries in the coal mine of the literary world. Either they make it or they don’t.
Here is some great advice given by the character Christmas Eve in the Tony award-winning musical Avenue Q:
Do you submit your writing in less-than-book-length form?