A Moment I Should Stop To Savor: A Reprint Sale.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Last night, I signed a contract authorizing the reprint of one of my stories.  I signed it, went, “That’s nice,” and went back to writing my novel.
About half an hour later, I realized that the magazine I had signed the reprint contract for was one of my goals when I graduated Clarion in 2008.  I burned to be in that magazine.  And I wrote story after story, each time convinced this would be the one that got through, and piled up at least twenty rejections.
I remember staring at the page, thinking You’ll never make it.  You’ll never have a professional sale.  And if you do, you won’t have it there.
A novel seemed unattainable. Getting 3,500 words of mine into a magazine?  Seemed like the biggest challenge in the world.
And it was for me, back then.  I had to write for another four years, smashing my heart into the keyboard night after night, asking people to rip my stories to shreds so I could ruthlessly excise any part that did not function, before I eventually sold a story to them.  I worked so hard to get there.
That first professional story sale? I took the night off from writing. I poured myself a celebratory drink. I took Gini out to a dinner, I texted all my friends, I did a big post with photos showing my triumph.
Now?  Years later, I have my first novel out – and it’s done well, not breaking any sales records or anything, but it’s got some nice reviews and some people really excited about the sequel dropping in October.  And when I got an editor asking, “We were thinking we wanted a story from you, do you have anything we could reprint?” it was nice – very nice – but it was “Wow, that makes my evening,” not the sort of thing where I stop everything and tell Gini “We’re going out to dinner and getting a bottle of champagne, this deserves A Moment.”
That’s how publishing works. Sell a story? You haven’t gotten nominated for an award. Got nominated for an award?  You haven’t sold a novel. Sold a novel?  The reviews weren’t good.  You got good reviews? Well, it wasn’t a bestseller.  A bestseller? Well, it wasn’t a real bestseller, there’s no movie option….
You wonder why authors are so fucking neurotic.  It’s because the moment they climb the ladder, the rung beneath them ceases to exist.  There’s only the rungs above them, and they’re ridiculously high, and you may never get there.
This is always true of every rung.  Publishing’s a lot of skill and a lot of luck, but you can only control the one.  So you max out on skill and hope the dice roll your way.  Hell, I could submit a story to them now and still get it rejected for various reasons – maybe I wasn’t “on” that day when I wrote that story, maybe they just bought a similar one, maybe the tale doesn’t fit the image they’re trying to sell.  It’s still a struggle for me to sell a story.
But it is no longer an unattainable thing. It’s merely something that’s difficult.
And because of that, I am going to pause for a moment now and ponder this sale.  I’m going to consider the fact that, at least to some subset of professionals, “A Ferrett Steinmetz story” is a desirable genre.  That they’d sought me out to ask for this.  That this awesome magazine, which I’ll announce in time, will be reprinting a tale of mine – and it’s one of my favorites.
Ferrett of 2008 would never have imagined this happening.
Ferrett of 2015 is going to take a moment to be Ferrett of 2008, and break open a little bottle of champagne.
Or at least a root beer.  But this celebratory root beer will be savored.

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