The Journal: Believe in Yourself

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Topic: Believe in Yourself
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

[I]f you are really writing from your creative voice, it just ain’t possible to control it or steer it.” Dean Wesley Smith

“[S]ince I never go into the writing with any idea what I am doing, I have been surprised every day what has appeared. And not questioning anything, just going for the ride and having fun.” Dean Wesley Smith

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Topic: Believe in Yourself

In “Of Interest” today, see James Scott Bell’s “How to Write Short Stories Worth Reading.” There are some interesting links in the post. There are also a lot of what I’ve come to call Bell’s Negatives. I’m not a fan. Hence this topic on believing in yourself, and on watching out for, and not taking on-board, subliminal negatives.

Of course, Mr. Bell maintains plausible deniability by dropping little subliminal hints rather than coming right out and saying how he feels. Today, he begins with the subliminal notion that short stories (or at least His short stories, and by extension Yours) aren’t worthy of the writer’s faith. The first negative is in the title of the post: “How to Write Short Stories Worth Reading” (emphasis mine).

Short stories “worth reading”? Seriously, whatever happened to “A writer is the worst judge of his or her own work”?

No writer is in a position to judge whether any story is “worth reading.” If you wrote it, it will be far more than “worth reading” to some readers and far less to others, with most readers falling somewhere in the middle: the story’s good and entertaining, but nothing to write home about.

There’s also this negative:

“A good short story can be a gateway for readers to discover you and your full-length books. So where can you publish? There are established venues, like Alfred Hitchcock and Analog. These can be hard to crack and take a long time to hear from.”

Me, shaking my head. Two negatives in this one.

1. A good novel can be a gateway for readers to discover you and your short stories too. Duh. Anything with your name on it can be a gateway to you and your other writing. And don’t even try handing me that stuff about short stories being easier to write. They take less time to write than a novella or novel. But they aren’t easier.

2. As for where can you publish, he recommends against venues like Hitchcock’s and Analog because… well sir, because they might have a long response time. Again, I’m shaking my head in utter disbelief that any successful writer actually said this. So what if response times are long? It isn’t like you have to sit by the mailbox (or email inbox), unable to do anything else (or any more writing) until the response comes. C’mon, man.

And in response to his own “So where can you publish?” Bell writes,

“Some authors, like yours truly, use Patreon. … Many more use sites like Wattpad, Medium, and Comaful. Heck, you can start your own blog just for short stories.”

Okay, that’s what we in the biz call an umyup. Um, yup, some authors use all of those. And others submit to Hitchcock’s or Ellery Queen’s or Analog et al and THEN go to Patreon or wherever else.

Bell continues: “Or why not go right to Kindle? Publish it in Kindle Select, price it at 99¢, and run a free promo every 90 days. Make sure you have links to your website and books in the back matter.” (I can almost hear him saying “It’s only a short story. It isn’t worth more than a buck.”) And he’s wrong.

Here, let me try to write some advice myself: “And after you’ve exhausted the traditional magazines that pay professional rates and your story’s been published there for several hundred dollars and the rights have been returned (usually 3 to 6 months after publication), THEN you can go to Patreon AND Wattpad, AND Medium, AND Comaful, AND your own blog, AND Amazon Kindle (but not Select, never Select), AND Kobo, AND B&N, AND all the other venues around the world.”

As an aside, I recommend using Draft2Digital as your aggregator. I personally upload to Amazon and D2D, then let D2D do all the rest.

And um, yup, you can do exactly the same thing with your story after you’ve exhausted the traditional magazines that pay professional rates and your story’s been turned down for publication by all of them. But why not try the major paying markets first? Believe in yourself a little.

Also, Mr. Bell doesn’t mention collections at all, or not that I noticed. After awhile I only skimmed.

But collections—when I’ve written 10 short stories, even if none are published in major magazines, I’ve created 13 publications with my name on them: 10 individual stories, two 5-story collections, and one 10-story collection. If any of the stories were published by major magazines as well, so much the better. Those are additional publications.

In yet another negative, Bell also suggests pricing your stories at 99 cents. Seriously? If that’s really what you think of yourself and the value of your work, maybe you should find something else to do. I price all my short stories (defined as 2000 to 7000 words) at $2.99 to take advantage of Amazon’s 70% royalty rate. Mr. Bell’s stories, priced at less than $2.99, are pulling-in only a 35% royalty. And he’s literally telling his readers (albeit again, subliminally) he himself believes his work is worth only 99 cents. What you believe your stories (your work) are worth is literally your choice.

Sorry to get so long winded, but Mr. Bell gave me a lot to play with. As you read his post, you might find even more negatives. For his sake, I hope he actually thinks more of himself and his work. And as for what he thinks of you and your work, that shouldn’t matter at all.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Update On Challenge” at

See “The Hat and Telling Details” at Some interesting and maybe helpful info.

See “How to Write Short Stories Worth Reading” at Short stories worth reading. Wow. Just wow.

See “Here’s What Can Happen When You Resolve to Write a Little Every Day” at I didn’t read this. I added it just in case it might appeal to you.

See “Rytr – AI Writing Assistant” at Interesting. And nope.

See “Who Really Murdered and Mutilated the Black Dahlia?” at

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.