The Rejectomancer’s Grimoire: Fiona’s Flawless Formatting

The next entry in the Rejectomancer’s Grimoire is an eminently useful but potential dangerous spell called Fiona’s flawless formatting. Responsible rejectomancers who use this bit of literary legerdemain need never fear a formatting error. Less responsible use of the spell, however, may incur dire editorial wrath. (If you’re wondering what all this rejectomancer stuff is, start here.)


Fiona’s Flawless Formatting

1st-level literary legerdemain

Casting Time: 1 minute

Range: Touch or Email

Components: Verbal, Material

Duration: One submission

You cast this spell on one short story manuscript. The spell affects up to 5,000 words. Any editor reading the manuscript must attempt a Wisdom save. On a failure, the editor sees their preferred formatting style regardless of how the manuscript is actually formatted. An editor who makes the Wisdom save sees through the illusion, and you suffer an automatic form rejection and 2d8 psychic damage.

Fiona’s flawless formatting can be enhanced by following the guidelines and using the editor’s preferred formatting. In this case, the glamour prevents the editor from seeing any minor formatting mistakes with no Wisdom save.

The material component for this spell are the words “standard manuscript format” typed in Courier, Times New Roman, and Arial, then printed. The printed page is consumed in a fiery burst on completion of the spell.


Always use the enhanced version of this spell. Most editors will overlook small, honest formatting errors, but probably won’t react favorably to submissions or authors who flagrantly disregard formatting guidelines.

Looking for more rare and wondrous rejectomancer powers? Links below.

Weeks of Writing: 6/28/11 to 7/11/11

Catching up on the last couple of weeks. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from Agatha Christie.

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.

– Agatha Christie

I definitely get story ideas when I’m doing housework, but the place where the ideas really get hopping for me is the gym. Well, exercise in general. I don’t know why, but if I’m sweating, I’m coming up with ideas. Ultimately, I think Agatha Christie is hinting at the fact that sitting down at your computer (or typewriter in her case) and saying “I will now come up with ideas for a story or novel” is now how it works for most writers. The ideas come when you’re not weighed down by the pressure of MUST CREATE. I think what doing the dishes and working out have in common is they both don’t require you to really think about the task. Your body knows what to do and just handles shit while your brain is free to wander and ponder. I really like this quote because it lets me tell myself I’m not doing housework to procrastinate revising my novel, I’m doing RESEARCH, goddamn it. 🙂

Short Story Submissions

Not the best the start to July, but I got on the board.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0
  • Pending: 10
  • 2021 Total Subs: 56

I need 63 submission by end of July to stay on pace, and I’m currently sitting at 56. Seven more shouldn’t be too hard to pull off. The only rejection in the last couple of weeks was another close-but-no-cigar personal rejection that tells me a) I need to keep submitting that story (which I did) and b) I need to keep submitting to this market (in the works).

The Novella

The last couple of weeks were pretty busy with house guests and other general life stuff, but I did manage to add another 3,000 words to Effectively Wild, pushing it over the 15,000-word mark. I think it should end up in the 20,000 to 25,000-word range when all is said and done. I’d really like to finish that first draft this week. We’ll see how that goes.

Night Walk

My flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths features 40 of my best stories. You can pick up a copy of your very own in print or eBook by clicking the cover below.

For an inside peek into the anthology and its stories, check out the Night Walk Wednesday feature right here on the blog. I’ll give you all the juicy rejectomancy stats on individual stories from the collection.

Goals

Work on the novella, send out more submissions, do some marketing for Night Walk.


Those were my weeks. How were yours?

The Rejectomancer’s Grimoire: Revise Rejection

This is the first in a series of posts that will explore the strange and wondrous powers available to rejectomancers. If you’re unfamiliar with the path of the rejectomancer, just click this link and get acquainted. Like the rejectomancer “class” they’re designed for, the spells in the Rejectomancer’s Grimoire are a) based loosely on a popular roleplaying game and b) just for fun, not at all serious, and especially not designed to be balanced or usable or any of that jazz. So, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the first rejectomancer spell, a minor transmutation known as revise rejection.


Revise Rejection

1st-level rejectomancy

Casting Time: 1 minute

Range: Email

Components: Verbal

Duration: Until you read the rejection again

You cast this spell on one rejection email. The spell improves the rejection one step. A form letter becomes a higher-tier form letter, a higher-tier form letter becomes a personal rejection, and so on. The spell lasts until you read the rejection again, at which point it reverts to its true form. The verbal component for this spell requires you to chant a positive affirmation such as “it’s only one editor’s opinion” or “everyone gets rejected” while casting.

Some rejectomancers believe revise rejection is not a rejectomancy spell at all, but an enchantment that fools the rejectomancer into believing their rejection is better than it actually is. There is great debate among even the mightiest rejectomancers on this point.


Pretty sure I’ve cast this spell for reals a couple times, and, yeah, it might be more rejectomantic chicanery than actual magic. 🙂

Anyway, let me know what you think of revise rejection. I’ll likely tinker with the format of these things as I go on, but I had fun combining my past and present passions into one admittedly silly combo. 🙂

Submission Statement: June 2021

Halfway through 2021 and here’s how I’m doing.

June 2021 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 11
  • Rejections: 7
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 3
  • Further Consideration: 1

Eleven submissions is pretty damn good, and I’m up to 54 for the year. That’s an average of 9 per month, and a pace of 108 for the year. So all that’s looking pretty good. My measly 8% acceptance rate for the year is, uh, not so awesome, but there’s still time to work on that. Seven rejections in June, an acceptance, a trio of publications, and even a shortlist letter made the month pretty eventful or at least full of variety.

Rejections

Seven rejections this month.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 4
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 2
  • Personal Rejections: 1

June included the usual bevy of form rejections, plus a couple of upper-tier no’s and a very nice personal close-but-no-cigar. I’m sitting on 48 rejections for the year, so I’m averaging exactly 8 per month. That’s fine; I’d just like a few more acceptances to even things out a bit. As I’ve mentioned (complained) in previous posts, 2021 is turning out to be a bit of a down year for me in the ol’ publishing department. I did publish a collection of flash fiction, NIGHT WALK, which has certainly softened the blow some, but I’m struggling more than usual to get individual stories published. The reasons for this are both mysterious and multitudinous, and maybe there’s a blog post in there once I figure out what’s happening (one culprit is A LOT of shortlists).

Publications

Three publication in June. I had a couple of flash pieces published at Wyldblood Press and Flash Point SF and another Rejectomancy article over at Dark Matter Magazine. You can read all three by clicking the links below.

“Rhymes with Dead” at Wyldblood Press

“Giving Up the Ghost” at Flash Point SF

“The Blessed Event or What To Expect When You’re Accepted” at Dark Matter Magazine


And that was my month. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 6/21/21 to 6/27/21

Last week of June, folks. Let’s see how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

~ Barbara Kingsolver

I think as authors we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what people want. Be it editors or agents or readers, it’s almost impossible not to attempt to mold yourself and your writing into something that meets the expectation of folks reading your work. I’ve been doing that too much lately instead of writing what I’m passionate about, what I actually enjoy writing. I’ve been telling myself things like, “you’ve written about that too much” or “no one wants to read that subject/theme/genre”. So I’m throwing caution to the wind and writing something that, well, feels goofy as hell, but it’s about something I enjoy, it’s about something that resonates with me, and I’m having fun doing it. My hope is that all those feelings translate to the page and anyone who reads it feels them too. I think that’s a damn good goal.

Short Story Submissions

Yet another decent week of submissions.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0
  • Pending: 6
  • 2021 Total Subs: 53

My goal for June was 54 submissions, and I’m at 53. Not bad. I have a couple more days to send out one more, and that shouldn’t be hard. No rejections or acceptances last week, but I did have a publication, which I’ll talk about more below.

The Novella

I added another 4,000 words to Effectively Wild, pushing it up over 12,000 words total. I’d really like to finish it this week, but I’m having house guests for the first time in, uh, well, you know, so that might be difficult. Still, if I can squeak out another 4,000 words, that would be cool. I’m really enjoying how the novella is shaping up, and dare I say it, I think it’s pretty good. I’m getting the same kind of vibes I got when I wrote “Night Games”, and these two works definitely share DNA. When the novella is done, I’ll have to figure out how to sell it, and that’ll likely result in a blog post or two. 🙂

Publications

My flash fiction story “Giving Up the Ghost” was published at Flash Point SF last week on National Flash Fiction Day. It’s one of my favorites, and I think one of the better flash pieces I’ve written in some time. Give it a read by clicking the link below.

READ “Giving Up the Ghost”

Night Walk

My flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths features 40 of my best stories. You can pick up a copy of your very own in print or eBook by clicking the cover below.

For an inside peek into the anthology and its stories, check out the Night Walk Wednesday feature right here on the blog. I’ll give you all the juicy rejectomancy stats on individual stories from the collection.

Goals

Work on the novella, send out more submissions, side-eye the novel that been waiting for revisions for three months.


That was my week. How was yours?

Acceptance Rates: A 10-Year Review

It’s been awhile since I did an acceptance rate post (2019 my post history tells me), and now that Duotrope has some additional accounting tools, I can figure those numbers more accurately than ever. (All you have to do is hit a button, and Duotrope gives you all the numbers). So let’s take a look at my acceptance rates over the last ten years and see what it tells us about where I’ve been and maybe where I’m going.

I started tracking my submissions religiously out at Duotrope in 2012. I did have short story submissions before 2012, but they were few and far between and, more importantly, none of them resulted in an acceptance. I also had a few poetry sales back in the late 90s, but since the markets that published my poems went extinct before the turn of the millennia, I’m not gonna count them either. Also, these numbers don’t include any of my media-tie in work. My acceptance rates would look a whole lot better if they did. 🙂

My first couple of years can best be described as tentative, and my submissions were both infrequent and unsuccessful. Interesting side note. I subbed eight distinct stories in 2012 and 2013. I went on to publish four of them in 2014 and 2015. Three others I collected in my flash fiction anthology NIGHT WALK, and the last one . . . well, there’s a reason it’s still collecting dust on my hard drive.

The next three years, from 2014 to 2016 were years of improvement, and the number of submissions I sent steadily increased each year. My acceptance percentage improved as well (with a little blip in 2015), and I managed a fairly impressive 21% in 2016. In these three years, I saw my first publications with markets that would go on to publish my multiple times. For example, you’ll find my first stories with The Molotov Cocktail and The Arcanist in here.

The following year I often just refer to as “the bad year”.. I sent more submissions than ever before in 2017, but for the life of me, I couldn’t BUY an acceptance. I also call this the year of the shortlist because I have never gotten so close to publication so many times without, you know, an actual acceptance. I think it was something like eight close but no cigars, and if I could have converted just half of those, it would have pushed me into a respectable 12% acceptance rate. Oh, well, that’s just how it goes, and the silver lining is that I sold a lot of those shortlisted stories in the following year.

The next three years were universally good. From 2018 to 2020, I sent nearly three hundred submissions and netted a bunch of acceptances. My acceptance percentage reached it’s peak in 2020 at nearly 22%. I’ll take that number every year, thank you very much. The reason for these successful years comes down to a lot of factors. Certainly, my work has improved, but I’ve also gotten better at the submissions game and found a number of markets that like my work and have published me multiple times. That all adds up to more acceptances. I mean, that’s what I thought anyway . . .

And that brings us to 2021, which is shaping up to be a repeat of 2017. Like that fateful year, there has been a veritable plague of shortlists that ultimately became rejections. There’s still a lot of 2021 left, so I might turn it around. I did go on a tear in the second half of 2020 that pulled that year from mediocre to best ever. Maybe I can turn 2021 from train wreck to tolerable.

My all time numbers are about where I want them. My goal is to maintain a 15% acceptance rate, and before the start of the year I was above that. My 2021 numbers are pulling my career average down a bit, but, as I said above, there’s still time to recover.

One point of clarification. No response includes withdrawals, which, in my case, generally happen because of no response from the publisher.


And there you have it, the most accurate look I can give you at my submissions stats in the last ten years. These numbers may differ to some extent from older versions of this post from my admittedly flawed methodology, but not too much. No more than a percentage point here and there. So wish me luck in turning 2021 around, and, please, feel free to share your own past and present acceptance rates in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 6/14/21 to 6/20/21

Three weeks of June gone by. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from Anthony Trollope.

A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.

– Anthony Trollope

I like this quote because, well, it’s how I write. Now this is not to say it’s the only way to write or the best way, but I think what Anthony Trollope is getting at here is that if you can commit to 1,000 words a day or even 500 on your novel or story or whatever, it quickly adds up and removes the need (and maybe the stress) of blasting out huge chunks of prose at once. That said, if Herculean efforts work for you, who am I to argue? (Or Anthony Trollope, for that matter.) Anyway, I can pretty reliably get at least 1,000 words down on something most days. When I’m drafting a novel, that can creep up to 2,000 or even 3,000. Now those aren’t blow-your-socks of daily numbers, but if you keep at it, one day you’ll look up and realize you’ve written a 90,000-word first draft in under three months. That ain’t bad.

Short Story Submissions

Another solid week of submissions.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0
  • Pending: 6
  • 2021 Total Subs: 51

I’m on a nice steady pace with submissions lately. Two more last week gave me 51 for the year, and I sent one yesterday that brings my total to 52. My goal is to end June with 54 submissions for an average of 9 per month. I only need to put out two more in the next 8 days to do that. I think I can manage it. I won’t lie, it’s been a disappointing year thus far for acceptances, especially compared to last year where I managed more than an acceptance per month. There are always a lot of factors that go into this, and a lot of it has to do with timing, which markets are currently accepting subs, and, of course, the stories I’ve been writing. Thing is, I certainly don’t think the quality of my work has declined. If anything, I’d say it’s improved over the last year. The number of markets that are looking for the kind of fiction I write, on the other hand, well, that might be a different story. 🙂

Media Tie-In

Last week I completed the contract for Privateer Press and sent of the invoice for the work. Always nice to put a big project like that to bed. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities to write in the Warcaster setting in the future. I really liked the epic thousand-world sci-fi combined with elements of steampunk fantasy. Good stuff.

The Novella

I had hoped to add 4,000 words to Effectively Wild last week, but I only managed 2,000. I did add another 1,000 yesterday, though, and the novella currently sits at 9,000 words. I think I’ve hit the halfway point, so my guess is  it’ll be somewhere in the 20,000-word range when all is said and done. I’d like to get over 12,000 words this week, then finish the first draft next week.

Night Walk

My flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths features 40 of my best stories. You can pick up a copy of your very own in print or eBook by clicking the cover below.

For an inside peek into the anthology and its stories, check out the Night Walk Wednesday feature right here on the blog. I’ll give you all the juicy rejectomancy stats on individual stories from the collection.

Goals

Work on the novella, and send out more submissions.


That was my week. How was yours?

One-Hour Flash: My Hero

Been a while since I’ve done one of these, but this is another story I wrote in an hour based on a visual prompt. Many of these prompted one-hour stories go on to publication, and others, like this one, well, don’t. So instead of letting the piece collect dust on my hard drive, I’m gonna inflict, er, I mean share it with all of you. That said, this one is a bit different than the others. More on that after the story.

Here’s “My Hero”


My Hero

Azazel shook the file folder at Baal and pounded his fist on the elder demon’s desk. “I am not doing this.”

“Like you have a choice.” Baal laughed and propped his feet on his desk. He wore the body of an older male human, a perfect fit for the gaudy high-rise offices currently housing the Infernal Bureaucracy’s earthly headquarters.

“Save a bunch of orphans? Come on. What will . . .  what will the others think?” Azazel said, pleading.

Baal took his feet down and leaned forward. “We have credible intel that one of those little bastards might grow up to be you-know-who. So, yes, you will go to that orphanage and make sure it does not burn down. Understood?”

Azazel groaned. “I’ll never live this down.”

“Is that understood?” The room grew dark as Baal’s anger literally devoured the light.

“Yes, Lord Baal,” Azazel said, and blew out a resigned sigh. “His dark will be done.”

The darkness receded and Baal smiled. His presence in his host’s body had rotted all the man’s teeth, and Azazel was treated to the sight of blackened stubs and decayed gums. “Good. Now get to work.”

#

Saint Laurent’s Home for Wayward Children sat on the corner of Union and Third, a stately three-story stone building that had once been a church. Azazel’s skin began to itch within three blocks of the place. It stood on holy ground, which meant most of his demonic powers would be nullified.

The file said the fire was arson–Hell’s Department of Oracular Pronouncements was usually right about these things–so Azazel came prepared with a revolver stuffed into his coat pocket. If he killed the firebug before the blaze started, he could get back to proper demon work.

The fire would start at 2:45 a.m. on the third floor in a maintenance closet. Azazel checked his watch–2:30. Plenty of time. He went to the back of the building and found a fire door ajar beneath the pooled shadows of an overhang. The security light above the door had been disabled.

“Damnation,” Azazel said under his breath. The fire-starter was already in the building. He drew his pistol and hurried inside. The pain of actually standing on holy ground hit him like a tidal wave and buckled his knees. He double over, gagging, and trying to breathe. The pain subsided, but he had to invest considerable demonic mojo to make that happen. That kind of thing was sure to burn out his human vessel. He could already feel the meat rotting around him.

Beyond the fire door were stairs, and Azazel climbed them until he reached the third floor. That door was also open.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Azazel stepped out into a wide corridor. It was dark but he spotted the soft glow of fire light beneath a closed door at the end of the hall. He sprinted toward it, the smell of gasoline filling his nostrils.

Pistol in hand, Azazel opened the door and saw a tall figure standing over a pile of rags in a utility closet, a tiny spear of flame from a Bic lighter turning mops and brooms into flickering, man-like forms.

“Put that away, asshole,” Azazel said and thumbed back the hammer on his revolver.

The figure turned, his handsome features pinched with pain. “I can’t do it,” he said. The voice was musical . . . heavenly.

Azazel wasn’t the only one on the job tonight. “Hey, man, then don’t. Make both our lives easier.”

“I must,” the angel said. Tears of blood leaked down his chiseled features. “There is an eighty percent chance the enemy, the great evil, is one of these children.”

“That high, huh? Our people only put it at sixty-four percent.”

“Sixty-four?” the angel said.

“Yeah, hardly worth it to burn up a bunch of rug rats on less than two-to-one odds, right?” Azazel said.

The angel’s eyes narrowed. “Then why are you here?”

“The job, same as you,” Azazel said. He lowered his gun, but the angel still had his lighter flicked and ready. “What’s your name?”

“Nuriel,” the angel replied. “You?”

“Azazel. I don’t think you and I have, uh, crossed swords before, so to speak, so let’s keep this nice and civilized.”

Nuriel seemed to relax some. “What do you have in mind?”

“What say we get out of here, get ourselves a drink, and, I don’t know, relive the good times? We were both angels once, right? That way you get to not torch a bunch of orphans, and I get to stay in the good graces of my bosses.”

The angel brows furrowed. He was desperate for an out, and that little lapse of attention was what Azazel had been waiting for. The angel took his thumb off the lighter, and the little flame snuffed out. Azazel snapped the pistol up and fired, point blank, catching the angel–well, his host, anyway–square in the forehead. Blood and brains splattered the brooms and mops.

Freed from his human host, the angel exploded outward in wave of blinding light. Azazel shrunk away from the heavenly sunburst, but no angel or demon can remain on the earthly realm without a human body, and the light winked out as the angel was yanked back into heaven.

Azazel breathed a sigh of relief, then heard people stirring on the floor. The gunshot would have woken the entire building. He shoved the gun in his pocket and hurried down the stairs and out into the night.

Job done.

#

The next morning, Baal stormed into Azazel’s office before he could finish his first cup of coffee. The elder demon slapped the morning paper on Azazel’s desk. The front page read: Mysterious Hero Slays Would-Be Arsonist at Local Orphanage.

“Oh, no,” Azazel whispered, horrified.

Baal grinned, black, toothless, and gummy. “My hero.”


Usually, after these failed one-hour stories, I tell you what’s wrong with them. In this case, I actually think “My Hero” is a pretty solid story. Not earthshattering or anything, but it’s got a full arc, and I think it’s pretty entertaining. So why am I not submitting it (anymore)? Well, because I’ve written too many stories like it, and the markets I’d send it to have already published a story of mine a lot like this. The point is that sometimes you can get stuck in a rut with your work and end up writing stories that are just kinda samey. On their own, in a vacuum, they might be fine, but if you’ve already published a bunch like them, it’s gonna make selling another one more difficult. For me, writing about wisecracking demons is like breathing. It’s easy and comes naturally, but I’ve gone to that well, especially with flash fiction, too many times. So, I’ll put it here, and maybe it’ll end up in another flash collection down the line.

Want to see more failed flash? Check out the previous installments in the One-Hour Flash series.

A Week of Writing: 6/7/21 to 6/13/21

Another week walks into the sunset. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from Louise Brown.

I could write an entertaining novel about rejection slips, but I fear it would be overly long.

–Louise Brown

Ain’t that the truth? I am currently sitting on 463 rejections. Some ballpark math tells me the word count of my average rejection is about 100 words. So I might not have the novel that Louise Brown has (yet), but I’ve got a longish novella of rejections. All joking aside, I think most writers who make some kind of career out of this probably have a novel’s worth of we’re gonna pass’s and not for us’s. It comes with the territory, and if you keep all your rejections like I do, you can look back at the novel of no’s and see where you’ve been, how you’ve grown, and maybe even take a little pride in how you’ve endured.

Short Story Submissions

A solid week of submissions.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 1
  • Pending: 6
  • 2021 Total Subs: 49

Two more submissions last week keeps me on a good pace for the month and my yearly goal of 100 subs. I’d like to end the month with 54 total submissions (for an average of 9 per month), and I’m in good shape to do that. The two rejections were both of the form variety, one being higher-tier and a bit of a heartbreaker, but that’s the way it goes. I have a lot of faith in that story, so out it went again. I had a newish flash fiction piece shortlisted, but it’ll be a while before I find out if it’s accepted or not.

Media Tie-In

Pretty much finished my commission work for Privateer Press in their Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika setting. Last week, I accomplished my goal of writing the five 1,000-word vignettes I owed. Four have been approved, and I expect to hear about the last one soon. It was nice to dip my toe back in that pool and work with some old friends from my Privateer Press days. I really like the setting, and hopefully I’ll get to write in it a bit more in the future. Completing this job let me hit a nice milestone. It put me over the 300 mark for total fiction credits. Not too bad.

The Novella

My focus last week was on completing my commission work, so I didn’t get much done on Effectively Wild. It still sits at around 6,000 words. I did, however, do some research on where I might submit it, and found some interesting possibilities. I might talk more about that in an upcoming blog post. This week, I’d like to hit an even 10,000 words on the novella.

Night Walk

My flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths features 40 of my best stories. You can pick up a copy of your very own in print or eBook by clicking the cover below.

For an inside peek into the anthology and its stories, check out the Night Walk Wednesday feature right here on the blog. I’ll give you all the juicy rejectomancy stats on individual stories from the collection.

Goals

Work on the novella, and, as always, send out more submissions.


That was my week. How was yours?

100 Submissions Per Year: Why I Do It

I’m a goal-oriented person, and I like to set fairly difficult goals for myself. One of those goals is 100 short story submissions per year, which I’ve been aiming at it for the last five years straight. Let me tell you a little about why I set this challenge for myself and its benefits and potential drawbacks. Like any goal, this one is not one-size-fits-all, but it works for me, and maybe it’ll works for you too. 😉

First, the numbers. You’ll need to send roughly 8 submissions per month to hit 100 in a year. I generally find it easier to approach this challenge on a monthly basis, but you could take it week by week as well. There, you’d be looking at 2 submissions per week. Depending on how much you write and, more importantly, what length of fiction, these numbers may seem entirely doable or utterly impossible. Since my submissions are roughly 75 percent flash, this falls squarely into the difficult but doable category for me.

So what does 100 submissions do for me? Three things.

  1. Keeps me writing. In order to hit 100 submissions, I have to have a lot of stories to submit. This is especially true since I don’t send a lot of simultaneous submissions. So I’m constantly writing to keep up with my submission goals. As I mentioned, I write tons of flash fiction, which helps me produce a lot. That said, my short stories take me a little longer to sell, and make up a fair number of my overall submissions in a year.
  2. More acceptances. The more you write, the more you’ll submit, and the more you’ll end up publishing. My acceptance percentage is somewhere between 15 and 20 percent (depending on the year). So, if I send 50 submissions, I should end up publishing between 7 and 10 stories. If I send 100 subs, then it should be between 15 and 20. That follows, at least for me, and my two biggest acceptance years are also my two biggest submission years. As I’ve said many times before, I could dial in my submission targeting a bit and potentially increase those numbers, but I still hold to the idea that more subs equals more publications.
  3. Experience. A tertiary reason to be sure, but I have learned a lot about writing, publishing, and submitting simply because I do it so much. The engine driving that experience is the 100 submission goal. I’ve seen just about every kind of response you can get from a publisher and my breadth of submission knowledge is wide and varied. This knowledge allows me to better strategize my own submissions and confidently give advice to others (like I’m doing right now).

This is not to sat there are no drawbacks to 100 submissions per year. There are, and let me tell you about them.

  1. Lots of rejections. Even in my best years, where I’ve managed a lot of acceptances, the number of rejections I received is pretty staggering. For example, if I’m getting a 15 percent acceptance rate, then I can expect at least 85 rejections in a year where I send 100 submissions. That means there are going to be long rejection streaks, days where I receive two, three, or more rejection at once, and all kinds of disappointing almosts and close-but-no-cigars. That’s not to say you can’t learn something from all that rejection, but, yeah, it can be disheartening.
  2. Haphazard submissions. The 100-submission goal is motivating, and it keeps me writing and submitting, but as a goal-driven person, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. The goal is not simply to submit. It’s to write and submit good work to the right publishers. Sometimes, especially if I’m falling behind on my goal, I can bee tempted to submit stories that maybe aren’t ready. I’ve done less of this of late, but looking back at previous years, there were definitely some stories sent out before they were ripe just so I could keep my numbers up.

To sum up, the 100-submission goal works for me, and though there are a few drawbacks, it’s definitely a net positive. Now, I’ve only managed to actually hit 100 submissions once, but I find the goal itself usually gets me into the 70s or 80s at a minimum, and that’s pretty good production. This year, I’m doing well, and on pace to hit my goal. We’ll see if I can keep that up.

Do you have a submission goal that keeps you motivated? I’d love to heat about it in the comments.

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