Mainstream publisher spotlight: The Sun
Publisher Spotlight: The Sun
(Image source: Pixabay image by kaboompics
Let’s talk about mainstream publishing. It may seem like a throw-back, now that we can all publish whatever we want, whenever we want, here on Steemit. Publishing on Steemit is so immediate! We don't have to deal with rejection, and in the process we can get paid a little something and grow the value of our accounts. Right?
As I said, let’s talk.
Steem blogging vs. mainstream publishing
I love Steemit, and I regularly blog on this platform, not only for the reasons stated above, but because it enables me to exercise my writing voice. I write short stories, micro-fiction stories (#fiftywords), and occasional writing workshop posts to help other writers.
In fact, I have Steemit to thank for helping me return to fiction writing after many years of being consumed by career and mom duties. (Thank you, Steemit! Hugs and hearts!)
But my plan to is begin also regularly publishing in mainstream markets. This has been a lifelong dream, and I simply haven't focused and gotten around to it. I feel strongly that my efforts here and my efforts to publish mainstream can co-exist and even fuel one another.
The fundamental differences, for me, are as follows.
Goals of Steemit publishing:
- Exercise my writing voice, while regularly producing and publishing fiction.
- Create quality connections with other serious writers for feedback and editorial support. (I really want to gush about this part because my one year on Steemit has been amazing for this alone. But I’m trying to write a succinct bullet list, here.)
- Write and polish short pieces (50-word micro-fiction stories and 750-1500 word short stories) intended for any audience, not just serious readers of serious fiction.
- Maintain regular activity to grow my Steemit account value and voting value.
Goals of mainstream publishing:
- Write, refine and polish my highest quality full-length short stories (1500-7000 words).
- Make it through the publishing gauntlet (the requisite submissions, rejections....) and publish in mainstream markets.
- Become a “name” in the publishing world and eventually (the big dream) have my work accepted in publications such as The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly.
Your ideals (and mileage) may vary. This is my approach, and how I view these two very distinctly different efforts.
And that brings us back to the actual topic at hand. This post is about a spotlight of just one publishing house: The Sun.
Spotlight on The Sun
This press has been around for many decades and has an enormous readership. And unlike many independent publishing houses, they pay. We’ll get to that.
The work they publish is described as “radically intimate and socially conscious.” I found the radically intimate attribute in my reading of one of their stories (below), but not the socially conscious. I say this because you shouldn’t feel that your work must make a socially conscious statement to consider submitting it to The Sun.
Here’s their brief description:
The Sun is a reader-supported ad-free magazine. We’ve been described in many ways: celebratory, fierce, unflinching, thoughtful, truthful, dark, darkly funny, tender. Contributors tell us that after their work reaches more than 70,000 engaged Sun readers, they often hear from old friends and new admirers.
I also love this quote from the editor and publisher, Sy Safransky:
“I’m looking for a writer who doesn’t know where her sentence is leading her; a writer who starts with her obsessions and whose heart is bursting with love; a writer sly enough to give the slip to her secret police, the ones with the power to condemn in the blink of an eye. It’s all right that she doesn’t know what she’s thinking until she writes it, as if the words already exist somewhere and draw her to them. She may not know how she got there, but she knows when she’s arrived.”
I don’t know that I can add any meaningful words here. I love the idea that they are looking for work that is fresh, inspiring, and unspoiled by some strict definition of style or genre.
You know this, but I’m going to say it anyway. To become a great writer, you must be a great reader.
Additionally, it is important to read sample works from publishers you are targeting. No one story will exemplify a publisher’s tastes in fiction, particularly if they are eclectic-minded like The Sun. But reading at least one or two stories from your target publication is absolutely critical in avoiding a time waste on your part and theirs.
The sample story from the Sun that I read is intriguing because it is written in a deep vernacular voice. This type of writing is not for the weak. Writing consistently in a southern voice, cockney, the voice of a Louisiana bateau operator, or any other very specific accent is very tough to do skillfully.
This writer achieved that. This story, to me, is spectacular.
Here’s the story: Took Us All Like We Was His.
As a bonus, here’s the sample story they provide next to the description of their pay rate: Wanderlust. (I have not read this one yet, so won’t comment.)
The Sun pays $300 to $2,000 for fiction. Nice.
If you publish a story in The Sun, they purchase one-time rights. All other rights revert to you upon publication.
What to do
To submit a story to The Sun, here’s what you need to do:
- Read one or two sample stories.
- Write a short story of any length up to 7,000 words.
- Edit your story.
- Set it aside. Let it breathe.
- Edit your story again.
- Get some eyes on it. Participate in a writing group that will tell you what you need to do to make your story truly awesome.
- Polish your story.
- When you really feel that your little masterpiece is as finely-tuned as you can make it, visit the Submit page on their website to follow instructions to submit your story. Do not submit your story at the same time to another publisher. They say it’s “strongly discouraged,” which means if you are trying to wow them, you don't want to do that.
Thanks so much for reading. And good luck! You are welcome to share your experience with mainstream publishing in the comments.