My solarpunk vampire story just got accepted into an anthology that pays pro rates. “The Sun Also Rises in Space” will finally see the light of day (unlike the villain, Bojunk Bojanx, who has to hide from the light of day, even when surfing the stars).
The best part? The max word count for the anthology is eight-thousand words. At eight cents a word, that comes out to $640! The Sun Also Rises in Space is only 3,500 words right now, but that is OK because I have a whole other subplot I’ve been thinking up involving an insectoid alien duchess who wants to sabotage the big flare-surfing competition and get revenge on her former lover, Lester (who is also a vampire).
That is sure to get me another few thousand words, and if it still isn’t enough, I can go back in and remove any contractions, that’s sure to get me more words. (Oops! I meant to say, “that is” sure to get me more words), and I am sure there will be plenty of other passages where I can beef up the prose. I am going to be rich!
Obviously, this is not best practice for any author who wants to keep their contract, but you might be surprised how often writers decide to add to or change the plot of an accepted story, or purposely create word bloat in an attempt to milk a publisher for a few more dimes. This is tremendously unprofessional and a bad attitude to have towards the craft of writing.
A story shouldn’t be a cash grab for a quick buck. It should be art. (Or, at the very least, it should be good.)
If I want “The Sun Also Rises in Space” to be read, shared, reprinted, awarded a Stoker, and optioned for movie rights, the prose needs to be as tight as possible. Trying to make a few extra bucks now will cost me later when readers realize I don’t take my role as a writer seriously. I would hate it if one of my published stories ended up in front of Steven Spielberg and he didn’t finish it because it was poorly written.
This brings me to the next thing not to do after an acceptance:
Don’t argue with the editor.
This isn’t to say you can’t have a dialogue with the editor about the changes that they are requesting (please do!), just keep in mind that they are doing their best to help your work look as good as possible and represent their publication as best as possible. Unless they are requesting major revisions to the story, it will serve you well to approach the editorial phase of the publishing process with a spirit of goodwill and collaboration.
This approach has the added benefit of creating a connection between you and that editor, who will remember you as a delightful writer to work with. Editors and publishers hold the keys to your readership. If you are cantankerous, you might get your story published but find the door to future opportunities locked the next time you come knocking.