Submissions: An Introspection

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Pen and Writer, Image Source: Shut Up and Write

Okay, I finally think that I have a system together to deal with submissions effectively.  It has taken me close to a year and half to develop this system so that it is effective (for me, at least), but I have refined and refined it over the past year and a half so that now I spend less time stressing over rejections and more time getting the work out and into the hands of markets.  I try my best to ascertain whether my story is appropriate for the market based on their guidelines and the stories that are on their websites/in the journals and/or magazines, but at the end of the day it is still a crapshoot as my taste in fiction apparently runs counter to “modern” (I would say, more nihilistic) sensibilities.  As a LibraryDella, a reader of this blog and librarian who has read my work, would tell you, some of my stories don’t end happily.  But, for the most part they do–LibraryDella just happened to read and respond to the batch that didn’t (sorry about that , LibraryDella! :)).  Anyway, today I wanted to talk about a little bit more about submissions to markets and my submission process.

Trailblazing New Markets
So, I use Duotrope to find new markets and to track the temporary opening and closing of submission periods throughout short fiction market (and novels once I start writing & submitting them).  Duotrope charges a yearly subscription, but I find that their service allows me to better track other submission opportunities (like anthologies, for instance) to help me publish more widely.  Their are other places to find markets–The Submissions Grinder–comes quickly to mind that are free, so please don’t feel that this post is an advertisement for Duotrope.  I just happen to like Duotrope’s layout, tracking services, etc., and it works best for my workflow.  I use Duotrope’s weekly newsletters to find out about new markets and opportunities for my stories.  From there, I try to figure out which markets my stories would be best suited to which markets and then submit.

8.88%
Currently, thanks to my Acceptances earlier this year and late last year, my Acceptance ratio is 8.88% (and Duotrope notes that this is above average).  I’m not bragging–I just want to point out how hard it is to write professionally and creatively.  A major league baseball player is considered successful hitting at .250-.350 range.  A creative writer, it seems, is “successful” at a much smaller range (just below 10%) according to Duotrope, at least.  So that’s on average, 1 in every 10 submissions, or in my case (approximately, 8 Acceptances out of every 100) as for me, my Acceptances tend to come in bunches–nothing for a long time (two or three years) and then 2 or 3 Acceptances in a fairly short order.

Persistence
The key is persistence.  I’ve come close a couple of times this year (2 stories short-listed, i.e., made it to the second-round of reviews), but they just didn’t make it for publication.  I will continue to submit them until they do.  I’d hoped that they would have both found homes in their respective markets, but they only thing that I can do is continue to try and submit the stories that are finished, write news stories to start the submission process all over again, and brainstorm new stories.  I just need to keep working and submitting.

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Potpourri

Just a little bit of everything (don’t worry–it’ll be bite-sized)

AMC 18 Chattanooga: Not happy.  They add a 6:15pm Imax 3D showing Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that’s all.  They seemed determined to squeeze every dollar they can out of the movie-goer in the name of profits as 6:15 is not a matinee and they don’t have to charge matinee prices, but the full Prime cost.  Looks like I’m not going to see Homecoming, after all.  AMC 18 Chattanooga may have just lost a customer as I refuse to give them anymore money just because they are a monopoly (only Imax 3D theater for popular movies in the city).  Competition (i.e., other Imax 3D theaters in the area) wouldn’t allow them to pull this type of stunt as customers would just go elsewhere.

*Note to all politicians (current and future): THIS is why monopolies are bad.  Capitalism ONLY works when there’s CHOICE in the marketplace.

174 Days and Counting: That’s how long a story of mine has been under consideration with a particular market that I’ve not submitted to before.  I personally consider 90 days to be my limit, but I recently saw where this particular market had responded to someone else’s submission in about the same time-frame (although it was an outlier), so I waited, but that has passed and still no response.  Queried them about it today.  If no response by August 1st (perhaps sooner), I’m withdrawing and moving on to the next market.  Personal comment (it is a short-story, not a novel.  It shouldn’t take half a year to make a decision on it).

The Heart of What Was Lost: Close to finishing this book. Not sure if I’m going to review it yet.  If I do, I’ll post it here or at Goodreads.com (or both).

 

The Writing Life: An Update

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Image Source: Really Deep Stuff

Before I start this blog entry, I’d like to say thanks to the bloggers who read (& liked) yesterday’s post).  It was really gratifying see that people really responded to it so much!

And now, on with today’s blog.  So, after last semester, I managed to have four stories out to markets that I was proud of and didn’t think needed major work (in terms of revision).    In other words, I had them in a state where I thought they were strong stories and marketable to markets that deal in Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I’ve got some news on them, so I thought I update you how where they stand currently.

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Image Source: Haiku Deck

HAWKEMOON: Just heard from this market today.  It is currently on the “maybe” list.  If it holds up well against the other stories that come in during the reading period, then it has a chance to be published.  This is actually very good news.  It’s sort of like going to a job with two Interview components and passing the first Interview.  If HawkeMoon passes the second “interview,” then it gets the” job” (to extend the metaphor).  It is also a lesson in persistence; this is the 10th story that I’ve submitted to them (they’ve actually seen my entire catalog except for Silence Will Fall & Citizen X), but this is the first time that I’ve gotten onto the “maybe” list!  Wahoo for small victories!  (I won’t name the market until they actually accept the piece, but fingers crossed that the “maybe” turns into a “yes!”)

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Image Source: Seriable.com

SILENCE WILL FALL: On this one, I actually wanted to revise it and did so last semester with the help of the MTSU Writing Center (where I also worked as a Consultant, in addition to teaching a Freshman English Class).  I knew that I wanted the ending to more closely match the ending of the dream that had originally inspired to the story, so I rewrote it and made sure (via the Writing Center) that it made sense and have started to submit it again.  It received a rejection letter (again just this morning), but I’m happy with the way the story ends, so I will continue to send it out until I find a market that likes it (see above about persistence).   Will be sending it to a new market this weekend.

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Image Source: Pinterest

I, MAGI: So this one went out to the market in January and I still haven’t heard about its fate.  According to Duotrope, it has been out for about 150 days.  The market is still replying to submissions, but I’m probably going to have to request an update for the story over the weekend.  Now, I’m patient (I’ve waited over 9 months for a response for one market before), but they do say to query if they’ve taken over 45 days to respond and  I would like to send I, Magi back out if they aren’t going to use it.  If they don’t respond, I’ll probably give them another 30 days and then move onto the next market.

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Image Source: Pinterest

HERE BE MONSTERS: The market for this one unexpectedly went on hiatus this week with my story still under consideration.  I’m usually pretty good about sensing a market’s imminent change in status (this is actually only the 2nd time this has happened to me in over a 132 total submissions tracked by Duotrope).  However, this one caught me off-guard.  There was nothing to indicate there was anything out of the ordinary happening, until I checked the listing on Duotrope and saw that the website was no longer functioning.  Alarm bells began ringing at that point and I hoped that it was just a temporary hiccup, but no, it looks like the market just didn’t have the resources to continue.  So, I’ll pick a new market and resubmit this story over the weekend.

So there you have it–a (mostly) complete update on the status of the four stories that I currently have out at the moment.  Lesson to take away = persistence, persistence, and more persistence.

One is Not Enough, But Five is Too Many

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Found listed on Quotesgram.com

TWO MARKETS–JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT

So, I received a rejection this week on Here Be Monsters.  It stung particularly hard–not because it was a rejection or what was said in the rejection letter.  I was able to compartmentalize and objectively take the rejection in the spirit it was given: to help improve my writing for that specific market.  No, what stung was that I wanted to send it right back out, but I didn’t have a market ready for it to go to at the time it was rejected.  I had to wait (the WORST thing for me when I get a rejection) in order to send it out again.  That’s when I discovered a flaw with my submission process.  One market isn’t enough (& leads to the situation I just found myself in with HBM) and five (5) markets is too many.  Trying to decide where the story should go next, what market is open, how long it takes, do I have another market ready if this comes back too quickly, will this be out too long to keep if from going to this new anthology?  Questions like that make it too difficult to try to have a reserve of markets available to submit to after a rejection.  So, I’m going with just two (2) markets per story.  I submit to one and then have a backup market ready to go if the story is rejected.  Once I move on to the second market, I’ll then find two (2) more markets to submit to if it is rejected that second time.  This way, I will (mostly) have a market ready to send a story to immediately and I won’t feel so stung by a rejection–kinda’ hard to obsess about a rejection when you’re already hopeful that the next market will see the potential in your story.  As the quote above indicates–“adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is specifically your own.”  I know obsessing about rejections doesn’t do me any good, so now I need to adapt a system that works for me and minimizes the time spent obsessing about a specific rejection when I should be getting the story back on the market.

WARLIGHT ACCEPTANCE (TENTATIVE)

This week hasn’t been all bad–I just found out that Carrol Fix, the editor behind the Visions series at Lillicat Publishers, has just ACCEPTED my short story entitled, WarLight!  It should be published in Visions VI: Galaxies!  It will be published fairly soon, the middle of November.  I’ll keep everyone posted on this exciting development and will blog about it again when the anthology is released.

CHILDE ROLAND ON SHORTLIST

Also, received an email letting me know that Childe Roland has been “shortlisted” for a market (that I will not name just yet).  Shortlisting means that it survived the first round of rejections and made it to the “short list” of potential stories.  This particular market will have a 2nd round of “voting” for stories and if it survives this test, it will be accepted for publication.  This is the 2nd story this year that has managed to make it to the shortlist (I, Magi made it earlier this year for a different market, but didn’t ultimately make the cut.)

So, I’m really concentrating hard on both the creative side of writing–I’ve finished two stories since summer, and on the business side of writing–refining my submission process and managing two publications (so far) this year!

Project Shadow Update

This will be a shorter post–work has interfered with both my personal life and writing life, and I’m struggling to catch up.

PROJECT SHADOW

I’ve completed the 1st scene (out of 3), but I plan on the 2nd scene being the longest.  I have a roadmap (loose outline) for the whole story, now I just have to find the time to write it as the deadline is looming (2/15/16).

I am off on President’s Day, but I’d really like to have it done by Friday (2/12) so that I can give it to my Beta readers.  Two scenes in one week, though, is a tough ask.  We’ll see what happens.

SUBMISSIONS

I’ve been more conscientious about submitting.  I’ve made a list of publishers/markets for the stories (about 5-8 markets) and I have ALL my stories out to 1 market at a time.  When any stories come back with a rejection (3 this week), I wait until Saturday night or Sunday night, look at the guidelines for the next market on the list, prep the submission, and send it.  When I run out of markets, I’ll simply make a list of 5-8 more.

I’m also trying to be more conscientious about following up with markets that have had my stories beyond their stated time.  I don’t want to pester the markets, but if they had it longer than a specified time and they say to ask, then I’m probably not going to wait until my buffer time (which was a long 120 days, or 4 months) before I inquire about it.)

DIANE DUANE – GAMES WIZARDS PLAY

Games Wizards Play

Finally, one of my favorite authors has released a new book this week.  It is called Games Wizards Play and it is Bk. 10 in her Young Wizards Series (which is my favorite series and one I discovered as a child).

Now this is book 10 in the series, so if you haven’t read any of the books, I would NOT advise you to start here.  Rather, start with book 1, So You Want To Be a Wizard.  It starts off quite a bit as a children’s/YA book, but “grows up” pretty quickly and the resolution and ending is one of the strongest that I’ve ever read.

Like all series, I like some books more than others, but I spent all of last year collecting copies of all 9 books to add to my classroom library.  This year, I think I’m going to try to collect them all for my own personal library–starting with this one!