You must put your story on the market

We’re back to the “simple”, no duh, universal truths of Heinlein’s rules. The thing about writing rules is that I don’t generally have a rules-following mindset. So, when someone says “show, don’t tell.” I’m like…okay, but…

Heinlein’s rules on the other hand? Four of the Five, I simply do not see how you break. The one that you CAN break, frankly, I think is the best writing advice I have ever received.

What about #4?

This is the one I struggle with the most by far. Let’s examine a little about how my process works.

  • Write the book. If you’ve heard of “cycling”, that’s pretty much what the process of writing my stories looks like. If you haven’t…in summary, I write until I get stuck. Take a short break. Jump back and read what I just wrote adding depth, correct a typo or two…but most importantly reading…by the time I have reached the white page, I have momentum and I plow forward until I get stuck. Repeat. I also do the jump back and read until the white page, when I start a new day’s writing.  Okay, that’s more than I wanted to say on the subject…
  • At the end, I turn on spell check. Make those fixes.
  • Hand the story over to my reader.
  • The next day after finishing one story I start the next. This is one of my self-imposed “rules”.
  • When the reader’s comments come back, I make the fixes I agree with. Generally, I agree with most of them, because she knows what I’m looking for and she does a good job at it. This doesn’t take much time, usually an hour or so.
  • Send to copy-editor. Continue writing the next story.
  • Fix copy-editor’s mark-ups. I’m not going to lie, these usually number in the 100s. But they are simple fixes. Almost all typos.
  • After I’ve done this fix, I format the interiors of ebook and paperback.
  • Create covers (honestly some of the covers stuff goes on throughout the entire process, but I have to have the interior format to be able to complete the paperback cover)
  • Submit to KDP and Ingram Spark for publication

I’m sure I’m missing something in there, but that’s pretty much it.

To follow Heinlein’s rule #4, I either submit to traditional publishers (or I guess agents, though it must land on an editor’s desk to follow the rule).  Or I self-publish.  The process above is for self-publishing.

What I dislike about this is that I spend far too much time in critical thinking in these steps after the Write the Book step. I enjoy the covers work, until I get to the getting Ingram Spark to accept my paperback cover portion of it. But, for the most part I hate spending that much time outside of the fun of creating.

And because of that there is a lag between each step, when I must drop the writing and address the “getting this shit ready for market” part of the process.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I don’t participate in the ritualistic chant of “Writing is Hard.” However, I will confess that I find Heinlein Rules #4 difficult.

All the above, speaks to process.

There is also the psychology of it. This is the point where you release it to the world of editors or readers. I think some writers struggle with this more than others. It took some courage for me the first time, but it’s gotten easier. I think seeing this Rule helps.  There’s no arguing the logic of it. You cannot sell what sits on your desk. As a result, I don’t think much of my issues with Heinlein’s #4 are psychological… I just don’t enjoy the process between writing and publishing.  So I procrastinate…

Here is the result of my adherence to Heinlein’s Rule #4:

Everything is Broken


North County Girl



booth branding business buy
Photo by Pixabay on

6 thoughts on “You must put your story on the market

  1. It’s funny…I never thought this would be a problem until I got past the first three rules being the problem. I wrote six short stories last month and three are currently on the market (already having racked up several rejections). The other three are pending WMG’s Anthology workshop for which I wrote them. It’s still stings a little when I get the rejections, but with each one, the shell gets a little sturdier and the sting is down from weeks to days to hours. 🙂


  2. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Rule 4 is the one I am focusing on this year. I’m failing it a lot. Hope I get better throughout the year.


    1. Hi Topaz, out of curiosity do you struggle with “letting it go” to the wild (readers/editors), or like me…is it despising all the fiddly bits between “The End” and submit/publish?


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