Days 16-20: 20 Days of Submissions

Write, write, write...and then submitThe End is Nigh!

Here we are at the end of my self-imposed 20 Days of Submissions. If you’ve been following this thread, then you know what that is. Otherwise, click the link and catch up on the fun. Today is Day 20!

Fun? Well, yeah, sorta. Okay, maybe not fun-fun. Over the course of the last 20 days, there have been several days where I would much rather have been doing something else — anything else — other than researching markets, properly formatting stories for those markets, and sending stories off to those markets. You’d think it wouldn’t take all that long, right? The stories are written, a basic outline for a cover letter is right there for the copy-and-pasting, and all that’s left is to attach a file and off it goes. Like, half an hour after breakfast ought to cover it, right?

Well, as we’ve seen , it doesn’t always work out that way. There haven’t been more than one or two submission days where most of my submission process hasn’t involved a couple of hours of research on markets — trying to pair a story up with potentials on Duotrope and then going to the websites to look at the latest submission guidelines and then looking for samples to see what the tone is like — and then another hour of double checking format and prepping the cover letter and arguing with my internet connection. True, there were also a couple of days where it was easy as clicking on the Submittable link and uploading a story. But those were far more rare than you might think over the course of 20 submissions.

Anyway, how’d I do? Let’s find out:

Day 16: Busy day. I spent most of my day trying to figure out where to simultaneously submit my two more ‘literary’ pieces, since that was an option. In the end, though, I still couldn’t find a target market I was happy with, so I switched gears and chose to send out “One Night During the Apocalypse,” instead — yet another piece inspired by a Shock Totem flash fiction prompt (and vaguely based on an incident where a roommate dropped my $250-to-replace Subaru Outback keys into a storm water runoff grate). You may recall that I submitted a story called “Of Fathers and Unicorns” (nee “Of Tweens and Unicorns” nee “Unicorns”) to Metaphorosis on Day 15, which I’d also sent out on Day 9. Well, I got a response back today. Metaphorosis, though, gives authors a quick-and-dirty review of submitted pieces if you ask. I asked. Here’s what I got back:

“We made our decision by the: end

– Prose: 3

– Thing you might consider:

This was ironic and mildly amusing, but too detached to be interesting; I wasn’t engaged by the narrator. Overall, it just wasn’t as fun as it was meant to be. The moral is delivered quite bluntly, and could do with more subtlety.”

Nice of them to do this–and helpful. This confirms what I had already suspected about the piece — it’s very much in Fairy Tale style and that distances the reader from it a bit. I even wrote: “re-sub, or finally admit that this story’s tone doesn’t work?” However, I do still hope I can find a home for it as is, where the tone fits the publication. As to the last point, about the moral being there in your face … well, I’d done that deliberately, but the point was well taken and after looking it over some, I changed that section a bit to make it a wee more subtle.

Day 17: I debated between two stories today — a mad scientist piece and a down-and-dirty post-apocalyptic romp with a slightly-mutated post-poc family. In the end, I decided to go with a quirky semi-Bizzaro short story about love: “This Heart in a Box.” Where to? Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. Why not? It’s a bit lyrical. Crossed fingers.

Day 18: Okay, here we go with “Of Fathers and Unicorns” again. This time to a magazine called Capricious out of New Zealand that likes sci-fi, fantasy, and hedgehogs. Alas, there are no hedgehogs in the story. There is an even better market for this story, I think, but they have themed issues and they haven’t released the 2017 themes yet, so if Capricious doesn’t take it, “Of Fathers…” will go on hiatus until that magazine has a theme that fits. My plan for the day was also to work on a submission package for one of my novels. That ended up not happening, alas.

Day 19: “This Heart in a Box” was rejected by F&SF (not a huge surprise) and so it goes into an immediate turnaround and heads off to the horror magazine Black Static. We shall see what we shall see, as a friend of mine says all the frickin’ time.

Day 20: What we found was a rejection even as I typed the above. Fast turnaround, but what looks like a personal rejection (has the name of the piece in it and invites me to submit more, anyway). I like the look of Black Static, so I’ll definitely be tailoring some pieces toward publication there. This rejection comes late in the day, but also late in the day on a day I chose not to send anything out. This is not the same as meaning I didn’t work on submissions today. I considered sending the aforementioned post-apocalyptic mutant family farce”Girl Trouble” (with it’s new title, “Welcome to the Squish”) to Grimdark magazine, but it needs to go through a vetting still. There are some questionable aspects to the story and I’m not sure I want it to go out like it is.  And that’s the last of the stories I have in the queue that are ready to go save one … and I want to send that one to a top-tier/top-pay first. I’d also halfway planned on sending off a query packet to an agent about one of my novel-length works, but the research/prep work on that was going to take too long to accomplish in the time I had available today. So, that means no … Ah, but you know what? I do have a story I can send out. The one I just got back. Metaphorosis prefers that authors submit no more than 5 stories per month. This would be #2 … I’ll be right back … alrightie then–I just made that happen.

So, in the end, did I succeed? Technically, according to my own rules, no. There were two days when I didn’t send out anything. But even if not a single story gets accepted anywhere, I’ll still call this project an overall success for what I’ve learned from it. Okay, now let’s see what the numbers look like.

20 Days of Submissions Breakdown

Total Submissions: 19

Unique Pieces submitted: 14

Total Unique Markets Approached: 16

Rejections: 6

Withdrawals: 1

# Pending: 12

Acceptances: 0 (so far)

Lessons learned: Quite a few, actually. Most concerning time management. This 20 Days of Submissions thing was a good exercise to get me submitting on a regular basis, but I went about it in a rather clunky fashion. In the near future, I’ll be sitting down and mapping out the submission plan for each of my unpublished (but publishable) stories — find several markets for each and then order the list in my order-of-preference, then send off a rejected piece to a new market as soon as it comes back (and is edited, if need be, based on comments). This time was mostly a rush each day to find a good (decent) fit for each story the day I was trying to submit it. That promotes sloppiness.

The next lesson is one of tailoring. The stories I wrote, I wrote because I had an idea for them, of course — usually a prompt from some fiction workshop or another, but not always. However, during these 20 days, I’ve found several markets I like a lot, and though I found pieces that sorta fit their style, there’s no reason not to write a story specifically for that particular market. I’ll be using the magazines themselves as my ‘prompts.’

I’m looking forward to writing … and submitting. How about you?


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