One of my favorite things to talk about on this blog is my most-rejected story. It’s a battered and beleaguered urban fantasy tale that has endured more close-but-no-cigars, shortlists, market closures, and of course plain old form rejections than any other story I’ve ever written or submitted. Of course, it may be time to take the hint and trunk or self-publish the piece, but before we get into that, here’s the story’s report card.
- Submissions: 27
- Rejections: 24
- Withdrawals: 3
- Personal Rejections: 8
- Short Lists: 3
- First Submission: 9/20/14 (rejected 9/25/14)
- Last Submission: 3/4/19 (rejected 4/1/19)
So, yeah, this story has been around the block a time or two or, you know, twenty-seven. It’s piled up the rejections, but what’s kept me going is the fact it keeps getting good feedback and the occasional shortlist. It’s also seen a bit of bad luck. Two of the withdrawals came about because the market in question closed down. One of those markets had the story shortlisted at the time.
It may be I’m blind to the story’s faults at this point or just stubborn about them. I have listened to the feedback I’ve received, though, and said feedback comes in two stages: prior to a substantial rewrite and after. Much of the feedback before the rewrite mentions how the story feels like a prelude to something longer. I took that to heart and expanded the tale, adding a bit more world-building and character background. The second stage of feedback is the more general close-but-no-cigar stuff. Basically, praise for the story (especially the overall concept), but still a no.
I think the rewrite improved the piece, but obviously not enough to get it accepted. For score-keeping purposes, four of the personal rejections and two short lists came before the rewrite and four personal rejections and one short list came after. So, pretty even there.
The real problem here is this story has gone to twenty-seven different markets, and I’m running out of places to send it. Now, I wait for fledgling fantasy markets or anthologies to pop up on Duotrope before I send the story out again.
Back to the original premise of this post. Should I trunk, self-publish, or stick to my guns and keep firing the story out there? Let’s look closer at those options.
- Trunk/Rewrite: Some of the feedback I’ve received indicated I might have a good idea in the wrong story. Or a good idea that needs more than a short story to tell properly. So maybe not a trunk story but one that needs to be something much longer, like a novelette.
- Self-Publish: Now that I have a good venue to pursue self-publishing (Curious Fictions) this option is more attractive. In fact, I could do something like I outlined under the trunk option, turn this into a longer piece, and serialize it. That could be fun.
- Keep Submitting: I’m sure some of you are shaking your head that I would even consider this after twenty-four rejections. I hear you. I really do. Buuuuuut, I know authors who have placed a story after this many rejections and more, and I personally placed one after sixteen rejections. That’s anecdotal, sure, but it does give me hope, and, hey, one-third of the rejections on this story were of the personal variety and had nice things to say about the piece.
Ultimately, I’m still on the fence about this story. Though, if pressed, I’d say I’m leaning toward a combo of rewrite and self-publish.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.