7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Erika Dreifus

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Erika Dreifus. Erika Dreifus is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories (Last Light Studio, Jan. 2011), largely by the experiences of her paternal grandparents, German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the late 1930s.
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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Erika Dreifus, author of QUIET AMERICANS) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

Erika is excited to give away a free book to one random commenter. Comment within one week; winners must live in Canada/US48 to receive the print book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you've won before. (Update: Deb won.) 

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Erika Dreifus is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories
(Last Light Studio, Jan. 2011), largely by the

experiences of her paternal grandparents,

German Jews who immigrated to
the United States in the
late 1930s.

Erika is donating portions of the proceeds

from sales to The Blue Card, which
supports US-based survivors of Nazi persecution.
See Erika's website here and her Twitter here.

1. You should stock up on Forever stamps. Yes, it's true that more and more literary journals are taking submissions via e-mail and through online submissions managers. But for those who still request manuscripts via "snail mail," SASEs are still required. And given how much time can elapse between your submitting a story (or essay or batch of poems) and a journal returning a response, it's entirely possible that postal rates will increase in the interim. Stay safe. Use Forever stamps!

2. By itself, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree itself is unlikely to net you a full-time, tenure-track teaching job in creative writing in a college or university. In most cases, you'll still need at least one published (preferably, traditionally-published, and critically-admired) book.

3. Your MFA thesis will not be your first published book—at least, not without some major revisions.

4. Not every story of yours that gets published will necessarily end up in your first collection. And that's OK.

5. Agents do not universally welcome short-story collections—especially if you don't have at least a partially-completed novel to submit to them as well.

6. The above notwithstanding, agents can make major contributions even if they don't take you on as a client. My own first collection, Quiet Americans, owes a great deal of whatever strengths it may possess to the especially generous editorial suggestions of agents Eric Simonoff and Julie Barer.

7. You don't need official permission to quote a line from a Nobel lecture as an epigraph to your book. But you will be charged a per word rate exponentially beyond anything you've ever earned when you seek permission to quote from a Nobel laureate's published fiction.

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consumer and trade magazines, contests and awards,
literary agents and more. At the WD Shop, you can find
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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

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Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
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