Submission Rotation – May 2017

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
After Birth Short Horror 4 2 2 2
Akuma Short Horror 3 2 1  
Fair Play Short Urban Fantasy 2      
Red Season Flash Horror 5 1   1
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.

6 Comments on “Submission Rotation – May 2017

  1. I won’t go into all of my submissions, but I’ll talk about a story I’ve been trying to get published since late March. It’s called “Long Lost,” and it’s been rejected six times. Except for one personal (which didn’t offer any useful feedback and is only considered personal because he mentioned the name of a character), they’ve all been forms. I think the problem is I’ve been sending them to the wrong markets, even though I got recommendations from friends. Maybe the markets I’ve been sending them to are just too fickle.

  2. Your record keeping is so unlike mine, Aeryn, that the questions you pose often have me digging into my files to see what I can learn about myself.

    I have 29 original stories under submission:
    18 first submission
    7 second submission
    3 third submission
    1 fourth submission
    1 sixteenth submission

    That last one is my outlier. The rejections frustrate me. I’ve received several comments from editors indicating they don’t like the ending, and I’m uncertain if they don’t like it because it’s downbeat or because I haven’t set it up properly. I’m running out of potential markets, so if it doesn’t sell soon I’ll have to trunk it or revise it.

    • Hah! Well, I come from an accounting background, so detailed record-keeping and over-analysis is just in my blood. 🙂

      Looks like you’re in a similar position with your story as I am with “Set in Stone.” The tough thing is, for me, is that I’m not really getting any concrete feedback from the editors. They’re either short-listing it then eventually passing on it with no explanation other than “We liked this a lot but have decided to pass on it.” Or it’s getting personal rejections in the vein of good story, not for us, what else you got? So, in other words, not a lot of clear direction from the rejections.

      That said, one of my beta-readers (Hey, Chet!) thinks the story needs to be fleshed out a bit. Maybe he’s right. 🙂

  3. Another interesting post. Thanks!
    I’m wondering what you generally do when…a story reaches 20 rejections or so? You hint that you overhaul/self-publish. Would love to see a future post on that specific aspect. When do you decide a story isn’t going to make it and what do you do with it then???

    • Well, I’ve never had a story hit 20 rejections, but “Set in Stone” may be the first. 😉

      As for what to do in that case, I’m not sure, honestly. I’ll certainly consider a hefty revision, but I like the story enough and I’ve received enough positive responses that I wouldn’t trunk it . . . probably. 🙂

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