Am I a professional writer now?

Being a writer is a weird and winding journey, with a lot of arbitrary milestones. You might think you become a professional writer the first time you are paid for writing down words. But when that happens, you discover the words “real” and “professional” and “writer” have layers upon layers of meaning to your neurotic soul.

  • Is it the first acceptance? But what if it’s from a market who’s considered amateur at best (or a con artist at worst) on Absolute Write? What if it’s unpaid, or token payment?
  • Is it when you see your words in a real book? HA! What’s a “real” book? An eBook you produced? A trade paperback put out by a small press? A commercial paperback? Hard-cover?
  • Is it when you first receive payment? Or when you earn enough to support yourself with writing? Is it when you finish your first novel, or when you finish the first novel worth reading?

There’s a lot qualifying your responses with “Yes, I’m published, but it’s not a big New York publisher.” Or “Sure, I got an acceptance, but it’s not a paying publication.” Or “Yeah, I’ve gotten some royalty checks, but I still have a day job.”

(Yes, I know. My “day job” is also writing, albeit advertising and web copy. I TOLD YOU I WAS NEUROTIC.)

I’ve been paid for my writing since I got out of high school. Since then, I’ve racked up quite a few of those arbitrary milestones. This week, I knocked down another one.

Today, my story “The Reason We Can’t Have Nice Things” is featured on Daily Science Fiction. It’s a short, (hopefully) funny story about the relationship problems inherent in being a monster hunter. You should go check it out.

Aside from being a storehouse of addictively-good short stories, Daily Science Fiction is a SFWA-qualifying “pro market.”  That means that the Science Fiction Writers of America has declared it a professional-grade market.

According to the book Let’s Write a Short Story, the acceptance rate for DSF is about 3%. To put that into perspective, Daily Science Fiction’s acceptance rate is half the acceptance rate of Harvard.

When I read that, I think my brain shorted out for a moment.

For a very short story, it’s a very big deal to me, because I have no room left to qualify it. Daily Science Fiction is a pro status publication as deemed by the official arbiter of “what’s a legit, pro status publication?”

So, in honor of this milestone, I give you this:



  1. ·

    Ha ha ha! I have a friend who can STILL do the Carlton after all these years! Every few years we all meet up and make him do it again. 🙂 Congrats on your GINORMOUS achievement! That’s wonderful!


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