One could argue that I, at last, wrote something good enough to get paid. Since one of the accepted stories was one I’d already submitted before and had turned down, that would be half true. I’m convinced that what happened is I finally found the right niche for them. Instead of trying to pound my square peg into a round hole, I exerted patience and waited to send them in to publishers that were looking for that kind of story. That way, when the ball came to home plate I hit it out of the park. The pay wasn’t great but I’m a pro now.
I’d read when I started this that most writers still keep their day job. If you’re determined to write short fiction for a living you’ll likely lose your house because the money isn’t that abundant. You have to be really good to get into Clarkesworld or The New Yorker and what writer is prolific enough, or good enough, to hammer out that kind of stuff and keep the lights on? No, I don’t plan to quit my job just yet. What I’m going to do is keep writing, force myself to finish one of the longer works I have (books, ya’ll) mumbling in the backwater of my documents file and shop around for the person most likely to take them home.
If a romance publisher tells you they don’t accept science fiction, don’t send them a romance about a woman who meets a man from outer space. There are places looking for just that kind of thing. Go to the bookstore and browse the racks for who’s printing what, then go online and hunt for publishing houses taking manuscript queries from writers without an agent. Duotrope is supposed to be a good place to start looking. If you’re lucky enough to have an agent, that’s their job.
Join writer’s groups or form one of your own if there isn’t one in your hometown. There are some good ones on social media, too. Often members post places looking for submissions. The more you submit, the more likely you are to get accepted. Keep sending in stuff that won’t pay such as literary journals, though some of those do pay as much as $100. Most don’t pay because they’re running on a shoestring or put out by colleges. Once you get a few publications under your belt you can add that to your cover letter. You’re more likely to get published if you already have been, just as I’ve heard it’s easier to find a job when you already have one.
Don’t just look for magazine or anthology publishers, either. You could get accepted, as I did, by a You Tube audio channel. I also got hired to do a script for an ad. There’s more than one kind of writer but you won’t get your name out there if you never send anything to the right place. Do your research, and for crying out loud, read and believe what they tell you they want. As the saying goes, Submit,wait, fail, submit, wait, fail, submit….