So, I just read a blog post by someone whining about the business. And, wow. She is doing everything wrong.
She was told by someone to take the non-paying markets off her "sold" resume, and interpreted that as the person trying to "bring her down." But that's because non-paying markets do not count for diddly-squat on a "sold stories" resume. Those weren't "sold"--they were given away. And the odds do indeed suck, especially if someone is trying to sell a 200,000-word doorstop fantasy, and it's their first novel. My advice would be to trunk that until selling something else with some success, and then pipe up and say "By the way, I've got this thing you might also be interested in." After all, if Brandon Sanderson was working on his 13th doorstop fantasy when he finally sold his sixth, what makes her so special? I have my doubts that she is the next Patrick Rothfuss, because no one is. Can it happen? Sure? Will it? Not bloody likely.
She goes on to whine about "nearly nonexistent" paying short story markets. Funny, I can think of eleven SF/F markets off the top of my head that pay professional rates of five cents a word or more, and probably twenty more that pay less than that but still pay. You don't "pay dues" or whatever BS they used
to feed you by getting published in small markets first; you sub to the big ones first and let them reject you before dropping your sights. Sometimes you even get feedback, even from places like Tor and F&SF. If you're not entering Writers of the Future on a quarterly basis, why not? If you're not subbing to F&SF and Tor and Strange Horizons and Analog and Asimov's... why not
? If all or most of your extant stories aren't sitting in editors' inboxes--WHY NOT
If you're not willing to keep slogging at it even when rejection after rejection after rejection hits your inbox, then this business--and it is a business--is not for you. It really does take ten years to become an overnight success, and that first million words? Is practice. If you're very good, you might get paid for some of them. Don't count on it. Those dues I mentioned up there? Your first million words
are your dues.
And I say this as someone who's been banging my head against professional markets since 2006, and who usually takes a submission hiatus in December. Fourteen of my stories are out. Three more will be by the end of the week. Never give up, never surrender, and keep up the psychotic persistence. That is the only
way to make it in this wacky, weird, sometimes awful business.