process, Publications

Submission Blues

TLDR: I have feelings about submitting stories for publication.

I have submitted two short stories for publication in the past two weeks.

This process has all the anxiety of online dating mixed with interviewing for a job.

I submitted the first story to a publisher that accepts work up to 1500 words long, but prefers work under 1000 words. Mine is 1200. Am I a fool for even trying there? I have to wait a month to hear back.

The second story is 8100 words long. Publisher after publisher accepts work up to 6000 words, 7500 words at most. One even stated that above 8000 words, it’s no longer considered a short story. Will no one look at my darling?

Then there are all the publisher preferences: we want fantasy, we want horror, we want near future.

My stories don’t qualify.

We don’t want gritty post-apocalypse.

But mine’s different! I swear!

Once I find a publication that accepts the appropriate word length and sub-genre, I have to check if they are currently open to submissions.

Closed. Closed. Closed indefinitely. Opens again in October. I finally find one that is open four weeks per year and just opened, and is a match! But am I willing to swipe right?

I’m picky too. I’d like to submit to a SFWA-qualifying publication. I’d like some sort of prestige. I also have the (possibly misguided) belief that payment is some measure of prestige. I want my 6 cents per word, or, if I dare to dream, 8 cents. I don’t want to settle for 2 cents.

Then I scold myself, aren’t readers more important than money?

Yes, yes. Of course.

So finally my two latest children are all dressed up. Their shoes are tied, their lunches packed. I don’t know if I’m sending them to their first day of school, or a year abroad, or I’m some sort of terrible, overbearing parent readying them for Prom with dates I carefully selected for them myself. Perhaps there is a more obvious analogy that I’m missing.

What ever their destination, my children go. I watch from the window, proud and anxious, wondering if I’ve done all I can for them.


3 thoughts on “Submission Blues”

  1. You got this. First of all, you’ve already conquered the publication beast, and these are just more feathers in your cap and more great chances for readers to be exposed to your great stories. (For the record, totally worth pursuing.)

    Secondly, and more importantly, you’ve already succeeded by writing it in the first place. You’ve done the whole “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” thing and written the pieces. So many don’t even get this far. What would it feel like to detach from the outcome? To still strive and do your best, but to not give it so much meaning? Yes, this is hard. I’m struggling with it. But I think it’s a worthwhile thought experiment at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to pursue more without getting caught up in the chase. You’re right though. And I DO celebrate the submissions and rejections. “Finishing” is a more nebulous affair. Is a story ever really done? I keep seeing opportunities for improvement in these stories. I make the improvements, hoping some combination of polish and fit will work for the next publisher. Thank you so much for the encouragement.


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