If Q was for queries and R was for rejections, then S is for sales!
My first "sale" was the first story I ever submitted to the first market I sent it to. A ridiculous situation. This was way back in 1995, before good online resources. I had a 1995 copy of Writer’s Market and I *used* that baby. The story was published by a small literary magazine that paid in contributor’s copies. I didn’t mind not being paid in cash-money because I was new to the game and figured that every little step was a step forward. And to some degree, it is. That story is even online. No, I’m not going to link to it here. If you’re curious, break out your google-fu.
In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a few rejections first. I had been a schooly, and an over-achiever when I put my mind to it. I had rarely, at that time, been told that my work was not good enough. The story had been workshopped in a writing class and polished up, but that’s part of the course work. That I got an A and that first story published confirmed that I was hot stuff! Except, not so much.
I knew rejections existed. I knew to expect them. I knew that you kept submitting, because that was what writers do. The reality of rejections didn’t hit me until some time in the future.
For me, a sale (publication in any form) is bittersweet. I hate to be a downer, but in the end it means only slightly more than a rejection. A sale means you did that one thing right and that agent/editor liked it enough to put some of their effort into it.That’s pretty cool, but it doesn’t mean that you are necessarily a better writer than you were yesterday. It certainly doesn’t mean that the next thing written will necessarily be good.