Small Steps to Big Success with Bardsy Anthologies

June 22, 2022: Contests, Publishing
To write more, better and
achieve the success you deserve:
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Take your first step by submitting to our anthology contest.

Very few writers publish their first short story in the New Yorker or land an agent for their debut novel on that initial query letter. Success, however you define it, just doesn’t happen overnight. You know that intellectually, even if you dream of a six-figure book deal or self-published memoir that rocks the world.
Instead, writing success is a product of many steps, in terms of both the craft itself and the quest for publication. Sometimes it’s difficult to know just where to start.
Even legendary literary figures have had to work their way up. William Faulkner had his first short story, “Landing in Luck,” published in an undergraduate university magazine, the Mississippian. Zora Neale Hurston’s initial piece, “John Redding Goes to Sea,” appeared in Stylus.
The writing world is bursting with opportunities to be published. Some of them are renowned publications, with acceptance rates only a hair above 0%. And while I always encourage writers to aim for their dream publications, low chances of acceptance can leave even the best among us feeling discouraged.
What you need is a foothold, a small-scale win that paves the way for bigger ones down the road.
In my blog last week, I mentioned the value of breaking a larger goal down into smaller, manageable tasks, as it pertains to writing a story. That same idea can be applied to your overall journey as a writer. A story published in one of our anthologies can be an excellent first step.
We publish every contest finalist’s story in our anthology. Bardsy may be the first step you need to succeed.
I spoke recently with one of our former contest winners, who told me exactly that. Author Beri Balistreri says she hadn’t been writing for a while when our Golden Pineapple contest came along. She entered it on a whim and won! That win motivated her to get back into the game, and she had several pieces published as a result. You must read her story, "Silence Is Golden (And Paradise)," here.

Become a Published Writer with Bardsy
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[On getting published:] I feel like a 1940s teenager at a Frank Sinatra concert!
— Katrina D. Miller

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It feels amazing to say you are a published writer—in fact, I still pinch myself! With our anthologies, it’s possible for you too. We pride ourselves on producing a collection of well-written stories with sharp prose and salient themes, but unlike the New Yorker or Ploughshares, we emphasize promise, not perfection.
We work diligently with the authors of the most promising stories submitted to our contests, to help them polish their work before we make any final decisions. And by the way, being able to work with an editor will be key to YOUR success regardless of where your work ends up.
You don’t have to submit a story that scores a 100% on our Publishability Index, in order to catch our eye, but don’t think we will be swept away by your genius in spite of typos and glaring grammar issues. Carelessness is universally off-putting in the publishing world. Just send us a great story, then make it even better if you are encouraged to do so. Always, always, always put in 110%.
Once you’re published with us, the benefits accrue in more ways than one. First, publication by a legitimate press helps to establish you as a writer. Make sure to include previous publication in Bardsy in your query or CV. This demonstrates that others have found merit in your work, which could help nudge an agent or editor into requesting a full manuscript.
Publication also helps you build your audience. With both print and ebook formats available, our anthologies provide an opportunity to grow your readership. Include links to your published work on your website (remember, if you’re an Elite member, we give you your own author website), and social media.
I know that writing can be a long, sometimes lonely process, where rejection grows like weeds. Publication is a tall glass of encouragement that can motivate you to keep going.

From a Short Story to a Novel
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A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.
― Lorrie Moore

Writing a novel can be scary. Writing a novel without having written a short story can be even scarier.
I encourage every aspiring novelist to write a short story first. This allows you to get a feel for the process of creating a story from beginning to end, with all the necessary elements.
Short stories provide a finite space, ideal for practicing your skills and honing your craft. You can write a story in a day, rather than months or years, and evaluate it to see how you can improve. As Alex Award and Shirley Jackson Award winner Kevin Wilson says:
I learned how to write by working in the short story form. It seemed an ideal way to figure out craft, because it offered great rewards without the soul-shattering grief of spending five years working on a novel that sucks. If I spent a month or two working on a story and it was bad, then I didn't feel like I'd ruined my life. So I wrote a lot of stories and tried to improve and, little by little, I did.
This advice is especially true of our current Character Anthology contest. The prompt is to write a short story that features a character worthy of a novel.
You could create, for example, a compelling narrative from a defining moment in their backstory, an out-of-character action that foreshadows a key conflict or an important or problematic relationship that constrains or empowers them.
Whichever direction you choose, you will be better positioned to write your novel once you’ve written a few thousand words focused on a compelling main character. When you’re ready to tackle your novel, you’ll hit the ground running.

The deadline for our Character Anthology contest is this Sunday, June 26. Take the first step to success and submit your story. Enter here.
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