Two New Publications & Two New Markets

The first part of this month has been pretty damn decent. I’ve received one acceptance and I’ve published two pieces, both of which you can read for free online. I’m gonna talk about the publications first, and then I’ll give you some information that might actually be useful. 🙂

Publication #1:

Yesterday, The Molotov Cocktail published my flash story “Little Sister.” This another story that began life in a one-hour flash contest. It’s seen some minor revisions and polish, but the published versions is pretty close to what I jammed out in an hour four years ago. Anyway, you can read the story, plus two more excellent pieces of flash by Christina Dalcher and Alyssa Striplin by clicking the image below.

Publication #2:

The second publication is another flash horror story called “Reunion.” It was published by The Arcanist on December 1st. This is yet another story that started out as a one-hour flash exercise, and the published version is also very similar to the original mad-dash scribble. You can read this one by clicking on the image below.

 

Okay, now that my shameless self promotion is over, how about some useful info? Here are two new pro-paying speculative markets that have recently begun taking submissions for their first issues.

New Market 1: Factor Four Magazine 

Here’s what they want:

We publish flash fiction in the genres of speculative fiction, specifically science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, super hero, or any combination of these.  We are looking for stories that are engaging to our readers in such a short word count.  Please take note of these factors (pun intended) when submitting stories to us.

They’re accepting submissions up to 2,000 words but list a probable “sweet spot” of 500-1,500 words. They pay an impressive .08/word, and look like a very professional outfit, with a nice website and clear and thorough guidelines. Check out their submission guidelines.

New Market 2: Spectacle 

Here’s what they want:

Welcome to Spectacle! We’re a brand new magazine (yes, print) that covers the exciting world of speculative fiction, which is any story, saga, or tome that has some fantastic element. These genres include (but are not limited to) sci-fi, fantasy, alternate history, horror, apocalyptic, and weird fiction. We’re exploring limitless worlds with infinite possibilities.

This market accepts flash fiction up to 1,000 words and short stories up to 7,500 words. They also have a professional pay rate of $100.00 for flash fiction and $500.00 for short stories. That translates to around .10/word for most pieces, which is at the very top end of the pay scale for speculative markets. They also have a professional website and clear and simple submission guidelines. Here’s those submission guidelines.


Got any new publications of your own you’d like to share? Tell me about them in the comments.

Acceptance Rates: What are the Chances?

We all know that top-tier short story markets receive tons of submissions, likely hundreds every submission period, but how many of those submissions are actually accepted? Excellent question, and we have some data that can at least get us in the ballpark.

Since I’m primarily a horror writer, I’m going to give you stats on five markets (three pro and two semi-pro) that accept horror: Apex Magazine, Black Static, The Dark Magazine, Pseudopod, and Red Room Magazine. I’ve listed the acceptance rates for these markets below, pulling the data from Duotrope and The Submission Grinder and then taking an average. The numbers are fairly close between the two submission tracking services, but not always. Check out the disparity between the two for The Dark.

Market Tier Duotrope  Acceptance % Submission Grinder Acceptance % Average
Apex Magazine Pro 0.22% 0.28% 0.25%
Black Static Pro 1.36% 1.88% 1.62%
Pseudopod Pro 3.23% 3.42% 3.33%
The Dark Semi-Pro 0.90% 2.52% 1.71%
Red Room Magazine Semi-Pro 1.52%
*Please note these are ballpark figures based on the data at hand. Each market’s actual acceptance rate may be (and probably is) a bit higher or a bit lower than what I have here.

Apex Magazine is by far the toughest market to crack, with an acceptance rate somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 out of every 400 submissions. The others aren’t exactly a walk in the park, though your chances are slightly better. One other thing to consider is that Duotrope states the acceptance rates may actually be lower than what they have listed. That’s because folks are very good about reporting acceptances and, uh, less good about reporting rejections.

The only complete data I have is for Red Room Magazine. They actually published how many submissions they received (and accepted) during their last submission window (four months). The numbers look like this: 575 submissions received, 8 submissions accepted. That works out to a 1.52% acceptance rate, which puts Red Room Magazine in line with most pro and semi-pro markets. Other markets on my list, like Apex Magazine and The Dark Magazine, must receive at least this many submissions in the same period, and if I were a betting man, I’d wager they get a lot more. I have no data to back that up, just gut instinct based on their longevity and prestige in the spec-fic marketplace.

Of course, you can’t look at this as only a numbers game. If you had all the time in the world, you could send 400 submissions to Apex Magazine and still not get that one acceptance the numbers indicate. At the end of the day, this is still about putting a good story in front of the right editor at the right time.

But what can the numbers tell us? Well, it’s not all bad news. With acceptance rates this low, these magazines are certainly turning away some good stories, stories that might go on to publication elsewhere, even another pro market. The reasons for this are many: bad fit for the market, they just published a similar story, not quite up to snuff in the craft department, and so on. In other words, a rejection from one of these markets doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve written a bad story. Case in point, my story “Night Games” was rejected by three top-tier markets (one on this list) and eventually published by Pseudopod. So, when it comes to the low, low acceptance rates of these top-tier publishers, I’d offer you the same advice I tell myself: keep writing, keep working on your craft, and keep submitting.

[Edit] Just a quick note. I originally had only Duotrope statistics in this post, primarily because that’s the service I use. But a lot of folks use The Submission Grinder, and it was pointed out to me by a top-tier science fiction and fantasy magazine that there can be quite a disparity between the two services (their own numbers were very different). So I’ve gone back and added The Submission Grinder stats to the chart and taken an average. It’s not perfect, but it’s likely a bit closer than what I had.


Thoughts on acceptance rates? Experience with any of the markets I listed here? Tell me about it in the comments.

Submission Statement: November 2017

November was my most productive month of the year for short stories, maybe my most productive month ever. The reason? I finished some new stories and started sending them out, which led to a record number of submissions and a fair number of rejections. Let’s have a look.

November 2017 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 13
  • Rejections: 7
  • Other: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0

In 2018 I’d like to get closer to this month’s submission numbers on a regular basis. Thirteen submissions is a lot, but a monthly total of eight to ten seems doable. I’d also, you know, like a few more acceptances in 2018, but, hey, while I’m wishing for stuff, I’d like a pony, and a Red Ryder BB gun, and a million dollars. 🙂

Rejections

Seven rejections this month, three of which are for the same story.

Rejection 1: Submitted 10/15/17; Rejected 11/3/17

Thanks for considering XXX for your Reprint submission, “XXX.” 

Unfortunately we have decided not to accept it. 

We wish you the best of luck with your writing career and hope to see your name often (new stories, too!) in our slush pile. 

A higher-tier rejection from a pro flash fiction market. I’ve sent them eight pieces, both new works and reprints, but no dice yet. They’re one of the few markets open to reprints, and they also accept multiple submissions. That’s a winning combo, and I’ll definitely send them more stories in the future.

Rejection 2: Submitted 11/1/17; Rejected 11/7/17

Thank you for giving me a chance to read “XXX.” Unfortunately, this story didn’t quite grab me and I’m going to pass on it for XXX. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you’ll keep us in mind in the future. 

This was my first ever submission to one of the biggest science fiction and fantasy markets on the planet. I think this is a higher-tier rejection, but I’m not one-hundred-percent on that. The “keep us in mind in the future” or language like it is usually an indicator of a higher-tier for big markets, but some publishers include something like that in every rejection. Either way, it’s a nice form rejection.

Rejection 3: Submitted 10/30/17; Rejected 11/15/17

Thank you for submitting your story, “XXX”, to XXX. Unfortunately, we have decided not to publish it. To date, we have reviewed many strong stories that we did not take. Either the fit was wrong or we’d just taken tales with a similar theme or any of a half dozen other reasons.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve seen this rejection plenty. This is from a top-tier sci-fi market, and my lack of success here might have something to do with the type of stories I send them. Sure, I follow the guidelines and send what can be considered science fiction, but it’s usually horror/sci-fi, and the sci-fi elements are often secondary to the horror. This is, of course, rejectomancy at it’s finest, and like their letter states, my stories might have been (and probably were) rejected for “half a dozen other reasons.” I currently have a story under consideration here that is absolutely more sci-fi than horror, so we’ll see if I fare better with this submission. Tune in next month to find out.

Rejection 4: Submitted 11/17/17; Rejected 11/18/17

We have read your submission and unfortunately your story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now. While we regretfully cannot provide detailed feedback due to the volume of submissions, we thank you for your interest in our magazine and hope you continue to consider us in the future.

This is the first rejection for a brand new story from one of the more prestigious horror markets. I’ve sent this market a lot of my work, and they’re definitely one of my bucket-list publishers. I am somewhat heartened by the fact that my last three submissions, including this one, have resulted in higher-tier rejections. So, I might be getting closer. Have to keep trying to find out.

Rejection 5: Submitted 11/18/17; Rejected 11/20/17

Many thanks for sending “XXX”, but I’m sorry to say that it isn’t right for XXX. I wish you luck placing it elsewhere, and hope that you’ll send me something new soon. 

The second rejection for that new story I mentioned in the last rejection. I have a short list of top-tier horror markets I send every new story (if appropriate), and this is one of the publishers on that list. Despite the “hope you’ll send me something new” line, this is not a higher-tier rejection; it’s their standard form rejection. That’s not to say they don’t mean what they say, just that in this case, that language is not an indicator of a higher-tier rejection.

Rejection 6: Submitted 11/19/17; Rejected 11/24/17

Thank you for considering XXX for your story, “XXX.” 

Unfortunately, we have decided not to accept it. We wish you the best of luck finding a home for your story elsewhere. 

This is the standard form rejection for the publisher in rejection two (that one was a higher-tier). This is the first rejection for another new story, a flash piece. It’s currently under consideration with the publisher from rejection four.

Rejection 7: Submitted 11/20/17; Rejected 11/29/17

Thank you for submitting “XXX” to XXX. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, we don’t feel it is a good fit for us and we’re going to have to pass on it at this time.

This is the third rejection for that new story I mentioned in rejections four and five. This is another of my go-to publishers for new stories, and this is their standard form rejection. The story is out again for consideration with another market.


And that’s all I’ve got for November. How was your month?

Rejection Records Update

You may recall a recent post where I listed some of my favorite rejection achievements and records. These dubious accomplishments, however, are subject to change as I trudge ever forward in my quest for rejectomantic greatness. So, without further ado, here are two records that have recently fallen to new challengers.

Most Rejections before Publication: 18 and counting (old record: 17)

Yep, the old story has fallen to a new challenger, the much beleaguered “Story R,” whose plight is further detailed in this post. This story has received 18 rejections (and likely counting), but after a lengthy revision, I still have faith in the old boy. It’s currently out for submission. I’ll let you know when and if rejection #19 comes in.

Most Rejections by a Single Publication: 9 (old record: 3 tied at 8)

I’ve been sending out a lot of submissions lately, which means I’ve racked up a fair amount of rejections. One of my favorite top-tier horror magazines has recently pulled away from the pack with 9 total rejections (and another pulled into a three-way tie for second at 8). The silver lining here, though, is the last three rejections I’ve received from this market have been higher-tier, so maybe I’m getting closer. Fingers crossed.


Got any rejection records of your own? Tell me about them in comments.

The Common Form Rejection Revisited

One of the first posts on this blog was about the common form rejection. In the intervening two years and change, my thoughts have changed some, and I find I have more to say about what they usually mean.

First, as a refresher, what is a common form rejection? Well, it’s the basic, boilerplate communication you’re likely to get from most publishers when they decide not to publish your story. They come in all shapes and sizes but tend to use a lot of the same language and phrases. Here are some examples:

Common Form Rejection 1:

Thank you for submitting “XXX” to XXX. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite meet the needs of our podcast. 

Thanks for submitting, and best wishes for you and your work. 

This is a common form letter from a top-tier speculative market. It’s a nice professional letter and a pretty standard one as such things go. As an aside, this is one of my favorite markets, and they’re one of the first markets I send new stories to.

Common Form Rejection 2:

Thank you for your submission, but this doesn’t quite catch my interest.

Sometimes form rejection are short and to the point. I appreciate that. This letter says all that it needs to say. Brief is not the same as rude, and “does not catch my interest” is not the same thing as “bad story.” More on that second bit below.

Common Form Rejection 3:

Thank you for submitting your story, “XXX”, to XXX. Unfortunately, we have decided not to publish it. To date, we have reviewed many strong stories that we did not take. Either the fit was wrong or we’d just taken tales with a similar theme or any of a half dozen other reasons.

This one of my favorite form rejections because the last sentence is key if you’re going to submit your work. It might sound like the editor is trying to be nice or soften the blow, and, sure, there might be a little of that, but everything this editor said is also true. Strong stories ARE rejected for half a dozen or more reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the story.

The rejection above leads me to my point with all this. Getting a form rejection or even a couple of them does not mean the story is without merit. How do I know this? Well, every one of the rejections above is for a story I ended up selling. That doesn’t mean these editors were wrong for rejecting them (far from it and not my point at all). It does mean all those things the last rejection letter said are probably true: wrong fit, similar theme, or half a dozen other reasons.

When you get a form rejection, don’t read too much into it and don’t immediately jump to “bad story” as the reason for the rejection. Bad fit? Maybe. Send that story out again because it might be a perfect fit for the next market.


What are your thoughts on the common form rejection? Tell me about them in the comments.

One-Hour Flash: Fairy Bad Behavior

Time for another one-hour flash story. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, these are 1,000-word stories I wrote in one hour for a writing contest/exercise. I’ve done a lot of these exercises, and sometimes those stories go on to bigger and better things, like getting published. The others wind up here.

This is an urban fantasy story that centers around an agency called the BFA (the Bureau of Fae Affairs), which I’ve used in a bunch of stories. One of these days, I might try and write something more coherent with the BFA than a bunch of disconnected flash pieces. Until then, here’s “Fairy Bad Behavior.”


Fairy Bad Behavior 

“What’s next, Jenkins?” Sergeant Ivan Danforth asked as he and his partner threaded their way through the tangle of desks and moving bodies in the BFA command center.

Agent Ryan Jenkins glanced at his clipboard. “Let’s see,” he said scanning the list of names and charges. “Looks like a Mr. Koruk.”

“Troll?” Danforth asked.

“Nope. Ogre.”

“That’s a first for me,” Danforth said, his hand sliding down to the butt of the huge revolver at his hip. The S&W .500 was the biggest he could find, and it was a pain in the ass to carry. You couldn’t fit it under a coat, and even on your hip it was like dragging around a sack of lead shot. Still, he often found the gargantuan revolver wholly inadequate. “What’d he do?”

Jenkins grimaced. “Jesus. Ate three kids in West Seattle.”

Danforth sighed and shook his head. “What is with these fairy-tale motherfuckers and eating kids? Remember that witch last year? She barbecued eleven before we caught her. Then she acted like it was the most normal thing in the world to do.”

Jenkins nodded and offered his partner a tired smile. “Well, at least work at the good ‘ol Bureau of Fae Affairs is never boring.”

They had reached the far side of the office. It was completely clear of desks, its only feature a massive steel door set in the plain white wall. Two guards armed with oversized rifles of black steel and carbon fiber—Barrett M82s—stood in front of the door.

“Gentlemen,” Danforth said. “We’ve got an interview in room ten.”

One of the guards nodded and spun the steel wheel set in the door’s center and pulled. it open At nearly four feet thick it made most bank vaults look tiny in comparison. Beyond stretched a long, wide hallway constructed of concrete. More steel doors were set at various intervals along the hallway’s length. Some were human-sized, others towered fifteen feet high.

Jenkins and Danforth entered the tunnel and the door shut behind them. Their destination lay at the far end—one of the oversized holding cells. Outside the cell, they found two more guards armed with the same heavy rifles as the last two.

“He’s chained,” one of the guards said as the two BFA officers approached. “But keep your guard up; one smack from this asshole and you’d look like a bug on windshield.”

Danforth smiled and unsnapped the S&W 500 in its holster. “Don’t worry. This isn’t our first rodeo. Go ahead and open up.”

The door opened and they stepped into a cavernous room with concrete floors and walls. At the far end of the room, chained to the wall was Mr. Koruk, their suspect. He was smaller than Danforth had expected—only ten feet tall—but what he lacked in height he made up for in bulk. The ogre wore a pair of grubby trousers, and his bare upper torso gave the two BFA agents a good look at his barrel chest, massive round belly, and arms corded with great slabs of sinewy muscle.

The ogre sat on the floor near the wall, and he turned as they entered. His face was coarse and ugly, with a wide brow, drooping jowls, flabby lips, and a squashed nose the size of large potato in the center of the whole mess.

“Officers,” the ogre said and held up his manacled wrists. They were bolted to the wall with a length of titanium chain. “Can you explain this violation of my rights?” The ogre’s voice was a deep baritone with a slight Irish lilt.

Danforth sat down in one of the two chairs near the door, well out Mr. Koruk’s reach if he decided to get rowdy. Jenkins sat in the other.

“Rights, Mr. Koruk?” Danforth said. “The BFA has been quite clear with you and your kind on what we expect of our relocated guests. Eating school children is pretty much at the top of the list of behavior we’d like you to avoid.”

The ogre frowned. “What am I supposed to eat? I have certain, uh, dietary needs.”

“We know, Mr. Koruk,” Jenkins said. “The BFA has made suitable artificial alternatives available to all ogres, trolls, witches, and giants.”

The ogre grimaced and stuck out his tongue. “That stuff doesn’t taste right.”

Danforth leaned forward in his chair. “I don’t give a goddamn if it tastes like a troll’s hairy asshole. You can’t eat children, you gigantic sack of shit.”

The ogre shrugged. “Old habits are hard to break.”

“Here are your options, Mr. Koruk,” Jenkins said. “You can write and sign a full confession to the crime or we can send you back to Jotunheim and let the frost giants deal with you.”

The ogre blanched, his yellowish skin taking on the color of sour milk. “What? You can’t send me back to Jotunheim. I’ve got asylum.”

“You’ve got asylum as long as you don’t break any laws,” Danforth said. “And although it’s been a while since I checked the codes, I’m pretty sure grinding up eight-year-olds to make sausage is still against the fucking law.”

“So it’s a confession, a last meal, and the needle, or we turn you over to Thrym and let him and his boys deal with you,” Jenkins said, a thin smile playing across his lips. “I hear they still cut the blood eagle on defectors. That’s a nasty way to go.”

“I’ll do it,” the ogre said and slumped against the wall. “I’ll confess. Don’t send me back.”

“Excellent,” Danforth said and stood. “One of the guards will be in shortly with pen and paper and to get your final meal request.

Jenkins grinned. “I suggest the vegetarian option.”


Okay, so what’s wrong with this one? Well, like a lot of failed flash, this is basically the beginning of something longer. I like the characters and concepts it introduces, but it doesn’t feel like a complete story (because it isn’t). I spent way too much time in the intro, so there was no word count left for anything else. Thus, you get a rushed and, let’s face it, unsatisfying ending. Still, I had fun with the dialog, as I often do in these BFA stories, and maybe, just maybe, there’s the seed of a longer (and better) story in here.

If you’d like to check out the previous installments in the One-Hour Flash series, click the links below.

Close Encounters: The Shortlist Letter Revisited

There has been a definite theme to my submission endeavors in 2017. I’ve received more shortlist letters this year than I have in years prior. So, it got me thinking, how close am I actually getting when one of my stories is shortlisted? Well, a market that recently sent me a shortlist letter answered this question.

First, here’s the shortlist letter I mentioned above:

Thank you again for your submission. We really like this story and would like to add it to our short list, if that is okay with you. We will have the final decisions by July 1 at the latest. Let us know!

Nice, huh? They liked the story, which is always a good thing. The downside to a shortlist letter, of course, is it does get your hopes up, so if a rejection follows, it can sting more than usual. That’s because you know you got really close. Again, the questions is: how close? Well, this market told me in plain black and white because they actually published the stats for their last submission window. Take a look.

  • Total number of submissions: 575
  • Total shortlisted (fiction): 15
  • Total accepted (fiction): 8

Mine was one of the 15 stories shortlisted. My story was also one of the 7 stories ultimately rejected. That’s pretty damn close. Now, this is one market and one set of stats. It’s the very definition of sample size, but I think it’s probably ballpark for a decent-sized semi-pro market. In other words, I feel pretty good that my story was one of the 2.6% of submissions they seriously considered.

Yeah, shortlist rejections can be a little frustrating, because you KNOW you got close to publication. But there’s a silver lining. You also KNOW at least one editor had a positive reaction to your work. Since I’ve received more shortlist letters this year than in years past, I’ll hope that whole positive reaction thing is a general trend. 🙂


What’s your experience with the shortlist letter? Tell me about it in the comments.