Tag Archive: short story market


Submission 2.0

So, I finally did it.  I resubmitted my current story to a new market.

I don’t know why I took so long to submit the story.  Initially, it was for lack of a 9 x 12 envelope to stuff the thing in.  But then, Dear Wife and I bought a package of 9 x 12 envelopes.  Why didn’t I send it in, then?  I had all the parts: a printed copy of my story in the appropriate format, a cover page, everything was ready but to address and stamp the envelope.  Then, more than a week ago, I discovered that the market I was planning to submit to had decided to allow electronic submissions!  So, I almost immediately started filling out the online submission form.  And yet, I stalled at the last stage: uploading the story and clicking submit.

Chalk it up to fear, I guess.  What if my story’s not good enough?  What if it gets rejected (a second time)?  What if, what if, what if… Well… What if it does?

I’ve ruminated on that, before.  At twelve thousand words, this isn’t just a “short” short story.  It’s a novelette.  And the market for novelettes, no matter what the genre, is very small.  There just aren’t many places I can try to sell this tale.

So, if it does fail in this market, I’ll keep looking.  There may be some place left out there that I’m not yet aware of.  In the mean time, I keep writing.  (And hopefully, as I keep writing, I manage to keep it a bit shorter so I can target more markets.)

So, I finally uploaded the story, and I clicked submit.

The good thing about the market to which I just submitted is that it’s actually a prestigious contest (again, I won’t name names) that is only open to authors who are unpublished at professional levels.  That means that my story is going up against not established authors with name recognition and selling power – a hurdle I cannot hope to overcome – but against other authors who are my real peers: new, unpublished authors.  This will allow my story to rise or fall on its own merits.

And the feedback I’ll get here – even if I get no personal feedback – will tell me whether the story is really any good after all.  If I don’t get far in the contest, I’ll know it’s because my story failed to appeal.   If it does well, even if it doesn’t win, I’ll know I’m on the right track.  And, frankly, that gives me a clue as to whether I need to go back to the drawing board and continue honing my skills, or whether I’m actually a half-decent writer.

Now, only time will tell.  Lots of time.  I don’t expect to hear a response from this market for several months, since the contest doesn’t even close for several months.

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Quick Response

So, there’s good news and bad news and more good news, with regards to the short story I submitted last week.

First, the good news: I received a response from the publisher to which I submitted my story.  That’s a pretty impressive response time.  I didn’t expect an answer, one way or the other, for another week at best.

The bad news, though, is one you can probably guess: the story was rejected for publication.  This comes as no surprise.  Although the market to which I had submitted was one that I knew best (having been a long-time reader of that magazine) and thus one which I felt this story was well-suited (not because I read the magazine, but because I feel the story is similar in tone to other stories published in that magazine), I also knew that this top-tier market was one that is notoriously difficult to break into.  They have very high standards, and they receive a lot of submissions.

The other good news is not really so much good news as it is positive spin.  The response was not merely a form rejection.  It’s a short, polite, and professional reply, for which I’m appreciative.  On Jay Lake’s Hierarchy of Editorial Responses, I believe this counts as a “neutral rejection”, which is second-from-the-bottom (a better response, in other words, than a rejection with a negative comment).  But, as I said, it was politely written, and ended with a wish of good luck in finding the story a home, which had an ameliorating effect.

What remains, now, is to take the story, dust it back off, and find someone else to submit it to.  Luckily I have another market picked out.  For this one, though, I expect a much longer wait time for a response, because the market in question is actually a contest (one with a fairly prestigious history), so I wouldn’t expect a reply until the contest close date was over.  In some ways, getting this first rejection may have been the better option, because this story might be particularly well-suited to the needs of this contest.

If the story does not do well at the contest, then it’s back to the drawing board.  Generally, you dust yourself off and move on, but it will take some thinking before I can submit to another market after this contest.  That’s because the story in question is a sliver over 12,000 words long – novela length, by SFWA standards – but there are relatively few markets for fantasy fiction that accept works of that length ( can count those I know of on one hand), and roughly zero paying markets will accept a serialized novela.  So, even though the story is quite good (in my opinion, of course), the chances of it seeing the light of day diminish rapidly with each rejection.

One lesson, of course: write shorter stories.  Easier said than done.  I like the complex interplay of themes (it’s how I roll), and the shorter the story, the less you can do in that regard.  The corollary: maybe I should be a novelist instead.

Oh, wait.