Sometimes I write a poem or a short story and I know it won’t make a dime. But that’s fine. There are lots of online publications out there that will take the work and use it. So, I submit it to them and let them run with it. In the end, the publication goes on my CV and the work gets a “Published” indicator in my spreadsheet of things I’ve written.
The ideal situation, however, is to sell a work. But sometimes all I can hope for is a bit of exposure. It doesn’t mean I’ll never make any money from the piece, but it does limit the amount I will make. Still, once I’ve got enough pieces out there, I can always parle those publications (both paid and unpaid) when I elect to sell a volume of collected works.
But there are two central rules which I try to follow in submitting writing for publication:
1. Never pay to play.
2. Make sure to sell at least one out of every three submissions.
Once I have more of a name, rule 2 will change to one out of every two, then it will become “Only sell, never give” in due course. And by this, I also mean in-kind compensation as a form of selling as well as token payment.
The thing about exposure is that the artist can’t live on it. However, if you’re willing to engage in the long haul, exposure does mean something when you’re ready to sell a collection.