I’ve been blogging regularly for almost a year now and it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I try to publish Wednesday/Saturday as a (frequently broken) rule. The discipline is healthy and often forces me to write late into the night or to try to jumpstart the creative process in order to get ideas for stories or articles.
I do, however, find that I am asking the following question of myself on a regular basis:
‘Should I be submitting this to a magazine or journal instead of publishing on my own site?’
It’s never been a question I am particularly comfortable with and I wanted to spend a couple of minutes examining why.
Publishing on my blog is easy. If I can summon the wherewithal to click on the right buttons on WordPress then I am guaranteed a publication. There is no fuss and no-one to tell me that it’s good but that it doesn’t quite feel right for their particular journal. What is more, I get almost instant feedback. I can (and do) watch my WordPress statistics obsessively. Each view feels like a victory, and each like and comment even more so. I’ve met fellow bloggers such as Nadine, Tom Burton, and whenmarsmetsaturn whose work I admire and whose opinion I value. We support each other’s writing and I look forward to their thoughts on my stories.
Blogging also has the advantage of being easily editable should a typo make its way into the final copy. I can remember my first acceptance for a literary magazine back in 2015. I ordered three copies (bookshelf, framed, one for mum) only to find that the work had been credited to a ‘Michael Richardson’. The editors were most apologetic and immediately changed the online version, but it did take the shine off the experience a bit.
There is something intensely satisfying when a journal responds positively to a submission. Somehow it feels like a rubber-stamped vindication of my hard work – the official letter of acceptance for Hogwarts rather than your parents’ assurances that you’ll get in. There’s the undeniable feeling that you have won something. Your work is the work that the editor wants in their publications because your work will help shift copies from the shelves. What an ego boost!
Also notable is the commercial benefit of having your work featured in an established magazine. Having a writer’s bio filled with prior acceptances shouldn’t influence editors when they assess your work, but the human experience suggests that it must. Editors want their journals to be taken seriously, and one of the ways by which they achieve this is by featuring authors whose work has been in magazines more highly regarded than theirs. So it is then that I include my previous acceptances in my writer’s bio, the equivalent of carrying around with me the severed heads of the enemies I’ve slain.
Unfortunately, what magazine submissions lack is exactly what blogging provides. I miss that instant feedback from readers when my writing goes outwith my immediate control. I know that the editor liked it, but what does the reader think? Is my story the one that gets flicked past on the way to something juicier? Also lacking is the control of my writing that I retain when blogging. I have a piece being considered for a website at present that’s been away since the end of November. Thanks to Submittable, I know that it’s been received, but not whether it’s been read, laughed at, mocked, or burned in some editor’s mind. It is a state of ennui that a writer simply doesn’t have to experience when blogging.
As a compromise, then, I try to keep both ends of the candle burning. I always try to have a piece away for consideration at a magazine and I usually have a post scheduled to go out on WordPress. They are different experiences and should be enjoyed as such. I imagine one as going to an awards ceremony like the Oscars – thrilling to get dressed up and walk down the red carpet, but not something you’d want to be doing every day of the week. Blogging, in my mind, is sitting down at your favourite table in the pub by the fire and flipping beer mats with your pals.
***Thanks for reading, folks. If any of you have a system for deciding what gets blogged and what gets submitted I’d be fascinated to hear!***