Path To Publication: When Gods Walk

I recently had a story published with Radon Journal called “When Gods Walk”, and I thought it might be interesting to detail this story’s journey toward publication. It’s one of those pieces that’s been all over the place and, I think, it’s submission record illustrates the unpredictable nature of the publishing industry and one of the most important concepts for new authors to embrace: good stories get rejected, too.

Let’s start with the raw numbers. Below is a table featuring the date, market tier, time on submission, and result for each submission of “When Gods Walk.”

Submission Sub Date Market Tier Days Out Result
1 2/19/2021 Pro 22 Final-Round Personal Rejection
2 3/14/2021 Pro 18 Form Rejection
3 4/1/2021 Pro 61 Form Rejection
4 6/1/2021 Pro 4 Personal Rejection
5 6/4/2021 Pro 3 Form Rejection
6 6/12/2021 Pro 101 Form Rejection
7 9/22/2021 Semi-Pro 101 Withdrawal
8 1/1/2022 Semi-Pro 17 Form Rejection
9 1/18/2022 Semi-Pro 43 Form Rejection
10 3/4/2022 Pro 46 Form Rejection
11 4/20/2022 Semi-Pro 4 Form Rejection
12 5/17/2022 Semi-Pro 11 Personal Rejection
13 1/17/2023 Semi-Pro 44 Acceptance

The submission journey for “When Gods Walk” started out with a bang. That first rejection was from Flash Fiction Online, and though it didn’t make the final cut, getting that far gave me the confidence to keep sending the story out. I mean, every time that’s happened with FFO, I went on to sell the story elsewhere in short order. This time, well, that wasn’t the case.

Riding high on my almost from FFO, my next five submissions were all to pro markets. The personal rejection was another close-but-no-cigar, so that convinced me to keep submitting. Unfortunately, none of these submission panned out, and I sent the story to its first semi-pro market soon after . . . which folded after holding my submission for over three months. After that, I let the story sit for a while before sending it to two more semi-pro markets, where it was rejected, and then to another pro market where it was also rejected. I tried one more pro market roughly a year ago, got close, got rejected, and then took it as a sign that the story was probably not gonna sell.

Fast forward to eight months later when I was thinking about stories I could send to Radon Journal that might fit their dystopian/transhumanist/anarchist themes. I dug “When Gods Walk” out of the trunk, found that it’s subject matter might be a good fit, and fired it off. They liked it, and it was lucky number submission thirteen for the win!

So, what can we learn from the submission journey of “When Gods Walk”?

  1. It’s all about the right fit. As you can see, there were pro markets that liked the story enough to seriously consider it for publication and semi-pro markets that rejected it in a couple of days. That right fit can come down to editorial taste, what the market has recently published, and a dozen other things you have zero control over.
  2. Even good stories get rejected. Good is, of course, subjective, but I think “When Gods Walk” qualifies. Your mileage my vary, of course, but it got good feedback, almost rejections, and then, finally, a publication, which is enough for me to say it’s probably a decent story. So, why do good stories get rejected? See point number one.
  3. Keep Going. If you have a story that’s getting those close-but-no-cigar rejections (but without any actionable feedback), keep sending it out. It’s likely a matter of fit, and the right market is probably out there.

If you’d like to read “When Gods Walk” along with a whole bunch of other excellent stories and poems, check out Radon Journal #4, which is free to read online.

Issue 4 Cover Art.png

2 Comments on “Path To Publication: When Gods Walk

  1. I love seeing this story’s journey. Thanks for sharing, Aeryn. I believe I’ll go knock the computer dusk off some of my stories and get them back out there.

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