In 2005, when my fiction was starting to get published, I decided to leave no writing passion unfollowed. Pastimes for writers without direction is an exploration of all possible markets, including those that don't pay pro rates.
Fiction writers should send things to high paying markets first. This is drummed into us by those who have been in the business for a long, long while. High paying fiction markets don't actually pay all that much, financially speaking. If you're extremely lucky, you might get 10 cents per word rate. Highly doubtful, though. If you're professional, you'll be grateful to get 5 cents per word. A ton of markets offer token payments like $20. Most likely, you'll get rejected. After having been soundly rejected for a decade, I decided to aim wherever I could.
I went trolling through the low paying markets and found one that sounded awful but interesting.
Man's Story 2 was interested in action-packed stories about pretty girls in peril. This was a flashback to the men's adventure magazines of yesteryear (dubbed The Sweats). It had risque covers and a website that was crude, filled with typos, yet oddly effective. The market offered $25 for stories up to 4000 words long. It's not a good rate, but it was money. I giggled at the site, even as I wondered what I might write for such a market. I had and have a soft spot for pulpy adventure stories.
The story title "Chuck Cave and the Vanishing Vixen" came to me from nowhere, and I decided a title like that needed a story to go with it. I wrote one in a white heat, and then debated the whole "Should I send it into this market?" debate. The website was crude, the magazine was not exactly a big name. It was pretty much an unknown market, truth be told. And the website had some links that made me uncomfortable. "Crucified Women? Ugh." Was quickly followed by "What if my mom finds out!"
Enter a pseudonym. A sexless pseudonym: C. C. Blake. It could serve for romance, for thrillers, for anything really!
I sent my story in to that market under that pseudonym. Wouldn't you know it? The story sold. The editor loved it. That story returned to win a Story of the Year award from MS2. I got two paychecks for that story: $25 for the original publication and then another $100 for the reprint. Even better, the editor wanted more stories about this character Chuck Cave. Hell, he wanted more stories in general. Suddenly, I found myself in possession of a nom d' plume with steady work.
(To Be Continued)
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