Explore the Dollhouse

Even though my current favorite show, Dollhouse, has been officially canceled1, the folks over at Smart Pop are running a Dollhouse Essay Contest.

We love Dollhouse. And we know from Buffy and Firefly that Joss Whedon fans are across-the-board smart, insightful, and involved.

So we’ve teamed up with Jane Espenson, Dollhouse writer and Mutant Enemy veteran, to put out an essay anthology on Dollhouse composed entirely of fan-written essays. Everyone, novice to seasoned writer, is eligible to enter; the only requirement is that you are fan of Dollhouse!

Write a great essay on Dollhouse, send it to us, and your essay could be published in a Smart Pop book edited by Jane.

I usually shy away from non-fiction but I might give this a shot. I’m a huge fan of Dollhouse (and of Joss Whedon in general) and I have very strong feelings about what Joss and team are trying to do with the show.

1There is a glimmer of hope that Fox will reconsider the decision to cancel the show, if the ratings for the last aired episodes makes a miraculous turnaround. One would hope they would learn their mistakes from Firefly and simply Trust In Joss.

Doing the Limbo – How low will you go?

Inspired by John Scalzi’s “In the Spirit of Pulps, and Paying Even Less“, there has been a slew of discussion on the topic of pay rates for authors (and I’m sure I’ve missed some). In short, John rails against markets paying minuscule per-word rates for fiction and defenders from both camps come out to add their side to the debate. Two posts in particular stand out to me, as an aspiring writer.

I think it’s easy for new authors to fall into the trap of submitting to smaller, lower-paying markets first, thinking that their odds of getting published are higher. When your confidence is low, you are statistically more likely to get an ego-boosting acceptance from non-paying and token markets. Duotrope’s list of most approachable markets backs that up: 52% are non-paying, 16% only pay occasionally, and 6% offer payments up to semi-pro rates (usually a flat rate per story). Two markets do pay professional rates but only accept twitter-length stories.

Bad Credits Will Not Help You Get Published, from Rachel Swirsky guest blogging on Jeff VanderMeer‘s blog, discusses why no credits are potentially better than credits from “bad” credits, from her experience as an editor and slush reader.

My friend Christie asked me what I thought about the debate a few days ago. I realized, upon reflection, that while logically I know to aim high, the temptation for easy approval is still there and that doesn’t fit with my goals.

Tobias Buckell‘s post on Writing neepery, while not exactly a watershed moment for me, did give me something very valuable to ponder. Setting a minimum rate per word that I’ll accept. Writing is just as much a business as publishing and both should be treated with seriousness. There are always exceptions to the rule; markets like Electric Velocipede and Hadley Rille Books are favorites of mine and I’ll submit to them regardless of rate if I have something that fits.

At some point, you need to ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve as a writer. If you’re simply looking to see your work in “print”, electronic or otherwise, then it really doesn’t matter where you submit. If, like myself, you want to make a career out of this writing thing and eventually make a living at it, then you need to value your work appropriately.