Right now, until I put the finishing touches on a few works in progress, I have five short stories in my submission rotation. Most of these stories have been around the block a few times with varying levels of success. Of course, none of them have been published yet, but the responses they have received are an interesting study on what you might expect when you begin submitting your work.
Here are the stories and the responses they’ve received to date.
|Title||Length||Genre||Form Rejections||Higher Tier Form Rejections||Personal Rejections||Short List|
|Fair Play||Short||Urban Fantasy||2|
|Set in Stone||Short||Urban Fantasy||8||1||4||2|
Here’s a quick summation of each story in the rotation and their performance so far.
After Birth: This is one of my few “extreme” horror stories, though I think it makes that definition by the skin of its teeth, mostly because of the premise more than the content. The responses I’ve received for this one have been good, and it is currently on the short list for one market and awaiting a final decision. Unlike many of my stories, I feel pretty confident about this one, and I think it’ll find a home soon.
Akuma: Fairly good responses so far for this one. The personal rejection included some very good feedback, and I’ll be revising the story soon. It might also get a title change in that revision.
Fair Play: This one is very new, and I’ve only submitted it twice. It’s gotten a couple of form rejection, but that’s a very small sample size, so it’ll be going out again.
Red Season: An older flash story that has received fairly good responses, making a short list and missing publication by an eyelash. It’s one of those stories that requires a pretty specific market, so I don’t submit it as often as I normally would.
Set in Stone: Ah, my lovable loser, and a story that is vying for the title of most-rejected. This story has gotten a lot of feedback, mostly praise, and has made two short lists. It feels a lot like the current rejection record-holder “Paper Cut,” which received sixteen rejections before it was published. Like I said, this story has received a lot of feedback, but most of it has been positive and nothing I could hang my hat on and say, “Ah, here’s what I need to revise.” Like “Paper Cut,” I think this story might be suffering from a rampaging case of right story, wrong market/editor. So, I’m gonna let it continue its historic run, and see if it can hit twenty rejections before all is said an done. After that, maybe I’ll overhaul it or self-publish.
To sum up, I think these stories illustrate the many different responses a story can receive and that rejections don’t always mean there’s something wrong with the story. If my story is making short lists and getting positive personal rejections in the vein of “good story but not right for us,” that’s an indication I need to keep sending it out. Perseverance is key to getting published, and you shouldn’t let three or four, or, hell, even sixteen rejections stop you from sending a story out until it finds a home. This is not to say that some stories don’t need to be revised along the way or even canned altogether, but I think it’s important to get a sizeable sample from multiple markets before you make that decision. In other words, you probably don’t need t go back to the drawing board after a couple of form rejections. What’s right for one publisher may be dead wrong for another.
How many stories are in your submission rotation? Tell me about it in the comments.