The First Five Days — 20 Days of Submissions

Write, write, write...and then submitFive days ago, I challenged myself to submit a different creative endeavor to a new market every day for twenty days. Well, here on Day 5, I can say that everything is going … okay … so far. Actually, things are going quite well, but there were some bumps.

The biggest challenge has been identifying appropriate markets for the works (which at this point are all fiction — from flash length to short story length). I have a few go-to’s that I submit to on a regular basis, but not everything I have in the catalog is suitable for those. For doing research on writing markets and for tracking my submissions once I’ve submitted (an invaluable aid in this project — and in my regular submission schedule), I use Duotrope. On the Duotrope site, I can do searches based on the traits of individual stories, I can see what I’ve submitted to which market, and, of course, I can do research on each of the markets before I submit. The Duotrope site has pertinent information right there, but it also provides a link to the market’s website so I can go check submission specifics and read sample stories to make sure mine fit the style and tone of the market in question. Duotrope has some free sections, but I use the paid version, which is only $5/month — less if you pay several months at a time.

My second challenge is distraction, but not necessarily the kind you might think. Currently, my day job has me in a remote location with few options for extracurricular activities (though there was a Halloween party with ice cream). No, I get distracted when I’m researching markets. I may look at half a dozen in one sit-down and then when it comes time to match up a story with a market, I’ve forgotten which ones work best where. Easily fixed, though. I have a file on the computer now where I’m making a sort of calendar. When I come across a market that seems right for a particular story, then I plug both into the calendar for that day’s submission. This is also handy for the markets that have deadlines I need to meet, or which haven’t opened up yet but will soon. Also in this file are notations on potential back-up markets if at first they don’t succeed.

Now on to the specifics. What’s gone where? Let’s take a look:

Day 1: I sent a piece of dark fantasy, “The Coming of the Train,” to Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. This story has been finished for a while, but hasn’t gone out before. It was originally written during a writing challenge over at Shock Totem, the inspiration for several of pieces in the catalog currently waiting for a home, but has gone through a couple of iterations since then. The inspiration was a photo of a child, a tunnel, and some train tracks.

Day 2: A piece of darkly humorous supervillain flash fiction, “Arcturus Rex … Wants to Rule the World,” wended its way to Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. F&SF is top tier in the sci-fi/fantasy realm — top of the top tier, you could likely argue, and so chances are slim. But better to start at the top and work your way down through the markets than send a piece off to a ‘lower-tier’ market, have it immediately accepted, and then have no idea whether it could have aspired to true greatness. Okay, there’s a bit of hyperbole in there — different pieces for different markets, after all — but there’s a fair bit of truth, too. Don’t submit to a token-paying market without at least giving your work a shot at a paying/prestigious market. Over the years, I’ve sent many a story to F&SF. None have been printed yet. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop sending. I had already sent two pieces off to The Rag Literary Magazine before my transhumanist short story “The Human Argument” was purchased (it’s still on their front page — click the links to have a read). “Arcturus…” was inspired by a weekly writing challenge group I belong to on Facebook. Interestingly, I wanted to send this one to one of my go-to markets: Daily Science Fiction (See Day 5), but DSF has changed its guidelines and now doesn’t accept anything of more than 1500 words. “Arcturus…” clocks in at 3000, so THAT was a no-go-to (<–which I think is also a type of Japanese folk monster).

Day 3: I’d planned on sending off a sci-fi/fantasy poem for Day 3. Unfortunately, I didn’t have its most recent iteration on my computer, so I had to put that calendar dot on hold until my … ahem … executive assistant (everyone should have one) was able to hunt it down amidst mega-gigs of old emails and send it to me. Though the EA was swift, I still needed something for Day 3, so with a little shuffling, one of my more literary pieces, “This is about the Dead” got sent to The Missouri Review. Talk about top-tier. Also, they charge a processing fee if you submit online rather than via snail mail. Given my current, previously-mentioned remote location, I opted to pay the $3. “This is about the Dead” has a struggling artist, graffiti, and memories at its darkling heart.

Day 4: Ah, at last: “A Gothic Sci-Fi Steampunk Romance about the Apocalypse” was ready to be sent to PULP Literature. This poem has gone out to a couple of places and then suffered through my obsessive edits when it was rejected (un-placed?). It’s one of my favorites, about 700 words and covers all those things it says there in the title. The inspiration was an off-hand comment made by someone during a writing group discussion of genre. She said something like, “Or you could (ha ha) put all those genres together and write a story about THAT (ha ha).” I took it as a challenge and though I didn’t write a story then, the poem is, methinks, itching to become a novel.

Day 5: I love the Daily Science Fiction folk. They give us a website with a new story every day AND they pay professional rates (AND getting published here also counts toward the minimum publications required to join the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). They recently changed their guidelines, however, and now only accept works from 100 – 1500 words, so I’ve had to re-plan what I was going to send them. Fortunately, I had just the thing, a 1000-word piece called “Keys without Locks,” which was also born during a Shock Totem writing challenge (See Day 2 … I loves me some Shock Totem).

And that’s where things are at the moment. I’ll give you another update after Day 10. Meanwhile: Happy Halloween!

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