Thursday, May 07, 2009

What would you do for a Klondike Bar, or to sell a short story?

While egosurfing, I found my name mentioned in a 2007 discussion thread about writing short fiction for a living. In one of the posts, Michael D. Turner wrote:
[T]here are some things I'm probably not willing to do to sell stories for a living. I won't pass myself off as Black, Korean, Vietnamese, or some other ethnic or "racial" type. [...] I'd pass myself off as a women writer to sell romances, except I haven't developed the touch to write romances yet [...]

I have two different reactions to this, one from the creative side and one from the business side.

From the creative side: Isn't pretending to be something we're not a major part of writing fiction? I'm a middle-class white male but I've written stories featuring both genders, multiple sexual orientations, various ethnicities, a variety of socio-economic classes, a wide variety of occupations, and on and on and on. Writing only stories populated by people like me would be pretty damned boring.

From the business side: I've never pretended to be anyone other than who I am when dealing with editors, but I've had work published with bylines that were not my own. There is a long history of female writers using male pseudonyms (especially for science fiction) and male writers using female pseudonyms (especially for romance). This is a marketing tactic that I readily embrace. If the difference between an acceptance and a rejection is my byline, then I'll change my byline.

How about you? What are you willing--or not willing--to do to sell a short story?


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Everything you say makes perfect sense. That's why writers have multiple bylines.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Of course, sometimes when the editor wants a female writer, one has to prove it by picture or birth certifcate. Seen it done on more than one occassion.

And, my wife was turned down on a submission last summer because she wasn't "minority enough." The editor felt that being an American Indian wasn't being in a minority.

That didn't sit well with my wife--at all.