What Previously Published Means for Flash Fiction

Safe

 

by  Christina Dalcher

[Alternately titled: Previously published (or, don’t be as stupid as I was) ]

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the Letter S for Stupid and the Number 1 for All it takes is one website to lock you out.

Confused? I’ll explain.

You already know I write flash fiction. Some of it’s decent; some of it gets picked up by nice editors. I pen stuff, I submit it, and the nice editors look it over as long as I follow their submission guidelines.

And, in most cases, as long as whatever I’m submitting hasn’t been previously published.

Let’s talk about that term “previously published” for a moment. For a whole mess of people in the editing world, “previously published” refers to any work that has been made available to the public. Yes, your website counts. Yes, your friend’s website counts. Yes, that crappy online lit mag you submitted to because you were desperate for an acceptance counts.

It all counts. And once your work is up there in the ether, you’ll find at least 75% of flash fiction markets have locked their doors.

For example, take these numbers from Duotrope.

Format:
Minimum rate / Total # of markets / # of markets accepting reprints

Token / 240 / 57
Semi-pro / 154 / 28
Pro / 62 / 10

See those numbers? I could put up a fancy chart for you, but we’ll stick with the locked door analogy. Imagine your four-room apartment. Now imagine three of those rooms being locked. Highly un-fun (particularly if one of the locked rooms is the loo).

Which is where I might as well chuck one of my favourite bits of flash because I was incredibly stupid. And it doesn’t matter that I was incredibly stupid only once–once is all it freaking takes.

Wondering what I did? I’ll tell you: I posted something I wrote on someone else’s blog and the owner of that blog has absolutely zero interest in removing my words. Zero. No, I won’t tell you where to find my bit of writing (I don’t even consider it mine anymore), but it’s published and I can’t do a damned thing about it.

So, friends, the next time you send your hard work out–whether to a two-bit ezine, a fun little contest that gives you no publication points, or your ex-mother-in-law’s blog, remember this: when you hand over control of your writing, you’re locking doors and burning bridges and cooking yourself like a Christmas goose.

 

 

Guest post contributed by Christina Dalcher. Christina has a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Phonology and Phonetics. Check out more of her articles on her blog.


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7 thoughts on “What Previously Published Means for Flash Fiction”

  1. This is always a good thing to remember, but I’m curious why that blogger is refusing to remove it? Unless there was an agreement that you would lose your CC/copyright, that person is legally obligated to remove it if it’s requested.

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  2. Flash Fiction is one of my specialties and I know the struggle. Duotrope is a HUGE help, but I am often shocked to see how quick impatient writers give up after a rejection or two and just post their story on their blog. I did it in the early days, we all do, still gets to me though. THINK before you post writer friends, pleeeease! haha

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