Tag Archive: submissions

The Long Wait

So here we are, the last day of November, and it’s been nearly four months since I submitted my story to the previously-mentioned contest.

In any ordinary situation, I’d be getting pretty nervous right about now.  Oh, wait.  I already am getting pretty nervous.  But it’s not an ordinary situation, per se.

For one, although I submitted this story near the beginning of August, the contest didn’t close until the end of September.  I was almost two months early.  But it’s not been two months since the contest closed.

Well, I have heard from several people who’ve submitted to this contest in the past that this is not a bad thing.  As a matter-of-fact, they tell me, the people who do not do so well in the contests are typically the first to hear back.  The longer the wait, they tell me, the more likely the result is a good one.  For values of “good”, at least, that include making it past the first round, it seems.

So, I’m in an interesting place.  On one hand, I feel very proud of my story, and very strongly that it’s a very good story.  (If you’ve been over to my Undiscovered Author blog and seen the short stories and flash pieces I’ve posted there, you may be familiar with my self-grading mechanism.  Most of the stories there grade a B or lower.  This story that I submitted, on my own, personal scale, ranks an A.  So far, it’s the only story I’ve completed that warrants that grade.)  And there’s this part of me that keeps trying to say: “See, no news is good news; this story is a really good one.  Every day you don’t hear back is a day closer to getting a really positive response.  Heck, this one could go all the way!”

But then there’s the cautiously optimistic side of me.  It tells me to be more humble and  more circumspect about my chances, not to get my hopes to far up.  “What if they lost your contact info, or you entered it wrong, and you’re already out but they can’t contact you to say so?” it asks.  “Yes,” it says, “This is a good story.  But is it great? You’ll probably make it to the semi-final round, and that’s it.  And hey, what more can you ask?  That’ll be a success in my book.”

Sigh.  And there’s  nothing for it but to wait.  And see.  And sometimes to hope.  Hey, each day that goes by is a day closer, right?  In the meantime, I’d love to say I was working on the next one.  But the present pressures of education and employment make that a difficult proposition.  I’ve got the ideas, and a general outline in place.  But I’ve done no substantive amount writing in the last month, and very little before that.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it still seems so very far off, yet.

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.

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.

Submission Complete

My fate is now in the hands of forces that are beyond the ken of mortal man.

Which means I have submitted my story.  It’s in the mail.  I now leave it in the hands of the editor.

So, here’s where I stand.  I’ve written a good story.  I really believe that.  What I don’t know for sure is whether it’s a really “great” story.  But it’s definitely very good.  I’m fairly confident that it’s an original take on the theme.

That said, there are hundreds of reasons that an editor might not want to buy my story.  I’m hopeful, even optimistic, about the chances of this story making a positive impression.  But I’m realistic.  I understand that it may take me a while to find the right home for this story.  I believe that the right home is my top choice market – to whom the story was sent over the weekend – but even so there’s a sizeable chance that I’m wrong about that.

The story actually went into the mail on Saturday evening.  Dear Wife dropped it off at the Post Office while she was out doing some grocery shopping.  I was at home with B.T. studying.

All that’s left to be said is: wish me luck!

On Writing and Deadlines

Several months ago, during the break between Fall and Spring semesters, I set out to revise a short story I had written a couple years earlier with the intention of improving it sufficiently that I then submit the revised story to a short story market. The idea was inspired by my Dear Wife, who saw how I was struggling and how important a creative outlet was for me. And she also understood that even if writing and getting published can be little more than a hobby for me (and that’s a big if, since it is still fully my goal not only to write and get published, but to make a meaningful amount of income therefrom; but I digress).

I quickly discovered, in that short time, that the story I had chosen to work on needed far more work than I had anticipated. In fact, I needed to wholly rewrite the story, saving only a handful of passages from the original draft, along with the basic idea and story. And that new draft needed still more work, and so on. But I still fully intended to submit this story to an editor for consideration. It would be the first time I had done so in many, many years – and the first time since I had more fully matured as a writer.

So, I set myself a deadline by which I would have both finished a worthy draft of the story and packaged it up and submitted it to the first story market on my list (the one with which I was most familiar and most sure the story fit with their publication). It was a deadline which I felt was far enough out into the future as to give me more than sufficient time to complete the story, but short enough to be considered a short-term and mildly aggressive goal, considering all the other time demands I had on me. That deadline was June 15, 2010.

That day is today.

And though I have finished what I consider a truly worthy draft of my story, I have not submitted it. I have not printed the story out nor packaged it in an envelope along with an industry-standard SASE.

I’m a little sad the deadline passed. It certainly was no intention of mine to allow it to do so unmet. And yet, I have fulfilled the bulk of what my deadline required: rewriting, editing, and revising a suitable draft of this story sufficient that I could say it was a very good story and worthy of publication. That was the hard part. And what stopped me, in the end, was the relatively easy part of actually sending that draft in.

What stopped me from meeting my deadline, ultimately, was a simple logistical problem. I was able to do many revisions and edits in spare moments of free time: during lunch breaks at work or in the fifteen or twenty minutes of free time before class on days when I arrived early. But the final step required that I print the entire 53-page (double-spaced) 12,100-word story, along with my coverletter, and put it in an envelope. This was not something so easily accomplished in “spare moments of free time” because I also needed access to a printer, and reams of paper, and an envelope or two.

That said, the goal itself is not dead simply because I let my own, self-imposed deadline pass me by. As soon as I’m able to spend a little time (with access to the necessary resources), I will definitely be printing this story out and submitting it. I’m proud of this story. It’s a good story, and I look forward to being able to tell you that it has been accepted by a publisher (whether the first publisher on my list, or one a few lines down, it doesn’t matter terribly much).

So, expect to hear more from me, soon!