Submission Spotlight: Payday

On this installment of Submission Spotlight we’re going to talk about what happens after the blessed event of an acceptance and it’s time for you to get paid. Sounds simple, right? It usually is, but there are some things to be aware of before the money hits your bank account. As always, you should read all the guidelines before you submit a story, and how a market will pay you is part of those guidelines. (If you’re looking for a breakdown on the levels of payment–from token to pro–I cover that in another post.)

1) Have the right account. The method by which a market will pay you is, uh, pretty important, and you need to have the right type of account set up so the publisher can quickly and effortlessly transfer the money to you. That’ll usually look like this:

We pay a flat $50 USD rate for stories. We use PayPal to process all of our payments.

Whatever your feelings are about PayPal, if you want to get paid for your work, you’re gonna need an account. I’m not saying all publishers only pay through PayPal. Some will happily send you a check if you like, but a large majority either only pay or prefer to pay with PayPal. So, set up that account, friends.

2) Dollars: Not just for Americans! If you live in the United States, and you send out a lot of submissions, at some point you’re likely to send them to markets outside of your home country. I send a fair amount of subs to Canadian and Australian publishers, for example, and I’ll often see this in the submission guidelines:

Pay rates are as follows and in Canadian dollars:

Yep, Canadian dollars. But it might also be:

[Publisher] pays between A$20 and A$60 per 1000 words.

Right, that’s Australian dollars. You might also see these two currencies as CAD or AUD. Of course, if you submit to publishers in the UK, you might see GBP offered for payment. So what do all these currency differences mean to your submission? Not much, really, until it comes time to be paid. You need to understand that when a publisher says they’re going to pay you $200.00 CAD what shows up in your PayPal account is going to be $152.00 USD (based on current exchange rates). If you’re lucky enough to get paid in GBP, then you’d end up with $264.00 USD. PayPal will make the currency conversion for you (and charge you a small fee for the service), but just be aware of the those exchange rates so you’re not surprised on payday.

Yes, there are other countries that use dollars, and besides the two I listed above, you might see the New Zealand dollar (NZD), but it’s not nearly as common in my experience. But, hey, if you’ve been paid in Fijian or Hong Kong dollars for stories, let me know. 🙂

3) When do I get paid? Okay, so you’ve scored an acceptance, and you’re already doing the per-word multiplication, but when do you actually get the money? That can vary by publisher, and unlike many of the things I talk about in these articles, that information isn’t always in the submission guidelines. It’s often in the contract a publisher sends after an acceptance. That said, it is likely to be one of the following:

Payment is 8-12 cents per word on acceptance.

This sounds like you get an acceptance and you get paid, right? Not quite. In my experience, it means you get an acceptance, you get and sign the contract, and then you get paid (often immediately after the publisher receives the signed contract). I find about half the publishers I submit to do it this way. The others do something like this:

We pay 6 cents/word for original fiction up to 6,000 words on publication.

In this case, payment is made after the story is published. How long after the story is published depends on the publisher. Sometimes it’s right away, and sometimes publishers may include additional language such as “payment will be made within 90 days of publication.” Again, this information might not be in the guidelines but in the contract. It’s fairly common for a publisher to make payment this way, and it’s just something to be aware of, especially if you’re expecting a quick cash infusion to your PayPal account after an acceptance.


These are some of the issues you might run into with regards to payment in publisher guidelines. As with everything else, there shouldn’t be any surprised come payday because you read the guidelines carefully and completely, right? Of course, this one does come with the caveat that pertinent payment info isn’t always in the guidelines. So, if you’d like to be surprised when the contract states payment will be made within six months of publication, I’ll allow it. 🙂

Seen anything else of note in the guidelines when it comes to getting paid? Tell me about in the comments.

If you’d like to check out the other posts in the Submission Spotlight series, just click the links below.

Submission Statement: October 2019

Finally getting one of these out in a timely manner. Here are my submission endeavors (and results) from October.

October 2019 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 6
  • Rejections: 8
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 1

I’m still behind on my goal to reach 100 subs for the year. I’m sitting at 69 at the moment, which means I need to slam out 15 subs in November and December to hit 100. I think that’s pretty unlikely at this point, and I’ll end up somewhere in the high eighties (maybe). With 14 acceptances, I’m still within striking distance of last year’s number of 19, so it’d be nice to hit or exceed that, even if I don’t reach 100 total subs.

Rejections

Eight rejections this month.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 5
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 2
  • Personal Rejections: 1
  • No-Response Rejection: 1

Mostly form rejection in October, with one rare no-response rejection. The personal rejection was a shortlist rejection and is worth taking a look at. See below:

Spotlight Rejection

This is one of those useful rejections that can sometimes highlight the idea that “good stories get rejected too.”

Dear Aeryn,

[story title] made it through to our final round of consideration, but unfortunately it was not a good fit for us at this time.  We wish you the best of luck in finding a home for it elsewhere.

Thank you for thinking of us at [publisher]. We hope you’ll consider sending us more of your stories in the future.

This was a shortlist rejection, the story’s third. I know this one will eventually get published, but I just have to find the right fit. I know “right fit” can seem like a platitude, but I think it is one of the most common reason stories get rejected, especially good ones. It could be a wrong fit for the issue, the market, or they’ve simply published something similar recently. Hell, it could also be that you’re good story was passed over for better ones. Sometimes the competition is fierce. So, if you get a shortlist rejection like this, send that story out again right away (I did).

Acceptances

One acceptance this month, and it was a good one. Here’s the acceptance letter. You’ll note I’m revealing the publisher here. That’s simply because I asked and received permission from the publisher to announce the sale.

Thank you for sending us “The Back-Off”. The editors were impressed with the story, and we are pleased to offer to purchase the rights to use your work in an upcoming issue of On Spec Magazine. If the work is still available, kindly let us know with a brief note to [email address].

You will be sent a standard contract offer in due course, and we’ll let you know the next steps in the process.

I’ll be straight with you. I didn’t expect this acceptance. I mean, I don’t usually expect an acceptance, but there are certainly times when I feel I’ve got a better shot than other. Here, I thought I had no shot. And that, friends, is why you should never, ever, ever self-reject, no matter how much you think a market won’t be interested in your work. Send it anyway because you never know. Anyway, this story had been rejected a fair amount, but it kept getting these nice personal rejections. The problem generally was the story wasn’t horror enough for the horror markets or fantasy enough for the fantasy markets, so I finally got wise and sent it somewhere that published speculative fiction in a broad sense. That, uh, worked. 🙂

Publications

One publication this month from one of my favorite markets, The Arcanist. The story, “Small Evil,” took second place in their Monster Flash contest, and you can read (or listen to) it below:


And that was my October. Tell me about yours.

Acceptomancy?

I assume you’re all quite familiar with the term rejectomancy (or at least how I interpret it). I’ve spent years and a slightly embarrassing number of blog posts talking about what rejections mean, but what about acceptances? What if we turned our overly optimistic, high-powered literary microscopes on the yeses rather than the nos? Is acceptomancy a thing? Let’s talk about it.

Sure, if you get an acceptance for a story, then, uh, that market likes that story. Two points for Captain Obvious, right? But let’s dive deeper. What else can an acceptance tell you? Here’s three things they’ve told me.

  1. It’s often about timing. This is one of the best things about an acceptance. If you have a story that’s been rejected a bunch, and you finally get that acceptance, it validates the theory that publishing is all about right story + right market/editor + right time. I’ve had multiple pieces published after double digit rejections, some at pro markets, and I often haven’t changed a thing about the story. These acceptances have taught me to hang in there on a story even if it doesn’t land the first, second, or, um, the sixteenth try.
  2. Oh, so that’s what they want. I recently cracked a market after they’d rejected me ten times in a row. I sent them flash fiction, short stories, horror stories, fantasy stories, the works. Then, after ten nos I got a surprise yes on a story I didn’t think had a chance in hell. Of course I was thrilled to get the yes, but I also wanted to publish again with this market, so I took a very close look at the story they accepted, noting the style and tone, and sent them more of the same. I haven’t received another acceptance from them, but the next three rejections where either personal or short list rejections (I’d only received form letters before). Yeah, it’s kind of obvious, but an acceptance tells you pretty much exactly the kind of story the market wants, a discovery made even more profound after a bunch of rejections.
  3. Maybe this idea isn’t total shit. My most recent acceptance is an important one. It not only hits the first two points I mentioned, but it was one of the more validating acceptances I’ve received in a while. You see, I’ve been writing a lot of genre mashups, mostly a mix of horror, urban fantasy, and crime/noir stuff. I’d been getting really positive rejections on these stories, but they were all “not quite right for us.” They were either too horror for the fantasy markets or two fantasy for the horror markets. I started to think maybe this combo of genre, style, and tone was a dead end. Then I got an acceptance for one of those stories from a very tough market. I was shocked, eccastatic, sure, but shocked. So, sometimes an acceptance can be validating for more than “Hey, I’m good enough to get published.” It can be validating for “Hey, this crazy genre/style mashup might actually be marketable.”

Thoughts on acceptomancy? What have acceptances revealed to you? Tell me about it in the comments.

The Rejection Reversal with Michael Bracken

The accomplished and prolific Michael Bracken reached out to me recently to share a type of publisher response he’d never received before. If Michael Bracken, award-winning author of over 1,200 short stories and several novels, has never seen it, it’s probably pretty unique, right? Anyway, Michael gave me permission to blog about this rare occurrence, so let’s take a look at the letter he received.

Dear Michael,

Re: [story title]

We reluctantly rejected your story because we couldn’t find a place for it; however we liked it very much indeed, and have now created a place for this story in [our next issue], if it’s still available. Please let us know if that suits you.

Sincerely,

[editor’s name]

[publication name]

Michael said he received a rejection from this publisher about six weeks before he received the letter above, which is essentially an acceptance. Pretty cool, huh? Kind of a rejection reversal. If you follow my blog, you’ve heard me go on and on about how editors reject good stories for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the story or the writing. This is a sterling example. Michael’s story was originally rejected not because the editors didn’t like it, not because it wasn’t a good story, but simply because it wasn’t a good fit for the issue they were putting together. That story obviously resonated with the editors, so they made room for it in their next issue, reached out to Michael, and he’ll add this one to his impressive list of short story publications.

I’m not gonna hold my breath that any of my recent rejections will suddenly turn into acceptances, but it’s inspiring to know these things happen, and that good stories do eventually find a home–sometimes with the same markets that rejected them! 🙂


Michael Bracken is the author of several books and more than 1,200 short stories. Learn more at www.CrimeFictionWriter.com and follow his blog at CrimeFictionWriter.blogspot.com.

Submission Statement: June 2018

June was another active month that kept me well ahead of pace for my goal of 100 submissions for the year. Here’s the down and dirty.

June 2018 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 12
  • Rejections: 10
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 1
  • Other: 1

Twelve submissions is great, and I ended the month with 72 total for the year (and an average of exactly twelve per month). A couple of the rejections stung a bit, only because I thought I had a good shot at an acceptance on at least one of them. Still, I did get an acceptance from a market I haven’t submitted to before, so that’s always good. The publication is for a story accepted in May, and the “other” is a withdrawal letter.

Rejections

Ten rejections, which is about average for my submission output at this point. Here’s how the rejections breakdown.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 5
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 2
  • Personal Rejections: 3

Half the rejection were upper-tier form or personal rejections, and there was one short list rejection and a couple of close-but-no-cigars. I really wanted an acceptance for that short-listed story because it was for a fairly prestigious anthology, and I thought my story was a nice fit for the theme. But that’s the way these things go, and editors have to make tough decisions when they’re filling those final slots. This is one of those stories that’s gotten close a couple of times, so I think it’ll find a home in the near future.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how long it took for each market to read and reject the story.

Rejection Date Sent Date Received Days Out
Rejection 1 8-Apr-18 1-Jun-18 54
Rejection 2 11-May-18 1-Jun-18 21
Rejection 3 10-Jun-18 14-Jun-18 4
Rejection 4 17-Jun-18 18-Jun-18 1
Rejection 5 11-May-18 21-Jun-18 41
Rejection 6 26-Apr-18 24-Jun-18 59
Rejection 7 25-Jan-18 25-Jun-18 151
Rejection 8 25-Jun-18 26-Jun-18 1
Rejection 9 26-Jun-18 27-Jun-18 1
Rejection 10 27-Jun-18 29-Jun-18 1

Pretty standard rejection times for these markets, though some were a bit speedier than usual. The longest wait was 151 days, and that’s because the story was short listed. In that case, the publisher sent a short list letter to inform authors the wait time could be longer than usual as they made final decisions.

Other

The “other” this month was another withdrawal letter.

Dear Editors,

I submitted my short story [story title] to [publisher] on [date]. I sent a submission status query on [date]. At this time, I would like to withdraw the story from consideration. 

Best, 

Aeryn Rudel

This is an example of one of my basic withdrawal letters. Like all queries and withdrawals, be professional and simply state the facts.

Acceptances

One acceptance for the month, from a market I haven’t subbed to before (but almost certainly will again).

Many thanks again for your story, we both really enjoyed it and would like to publish it at [publisher]. Attached is a copy of our standard contract for you to fill in, sign, and return.

In my experience, most acceptance letters read like a very welcome type of form letter. I think this is because they are the opening salvo in a longer communication between editor and writer. Yes, you should always respond to acceptance letters. 🙂 Additional communications of a much more individual nature always follow, revolving around the contract, any necessary edits to the story, when the story might be published, etc.

More on this acceptance as it nears publication.

Publication

One publication in June. My story “The Inside People” was published by Ellipsis Zine. You can read it by clicking the link below.

“The Inside People”


And that was my June. Tell me about yours.

New Author Starter Kit – Acceptance Prep

Last week, I listed six things you need before you send out those first submissions in New Author Starter Kit – Submission Prep. Today, I’ve put together a few things you’ll need when one of those submissions is accepted for publication. From (much) experience I know rejections are a lot more common, but, hey, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be prepared for an acceptance. Here are four things you might need for the blessed event.

1) PayPal account. When you sell a story, one of the best parts is getting paid for that story. Many publishers prefer to pay through PayPal and some won’t pay any other way but PayPal. Often times a publisher will ask for your PayPal address in the acceptance email. So get an account. It’s free and easy to set up.

2) Author bio. Often a publisher will ask you to include a short author bio in the cover letter for your submission. If they don’t, they’ll almost certainly ask you for one upon acceptance of a story. They’ll usually give a max word count somewhere between 50 and 100 words, though the shorter end of that spectrum seems to be more common. It’s a good idea to have a short author bio of around 50 words ready to go. Here’s one of mine as an example:

Aeryn Rudel is a writer from Seattle, Washington. His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press, and his short fiction has appeared in The Arcanist, Havok, and Pseudopod, among others. He occasionally offers dubious advice on writing and rejection (mostly rejection) at www.rejectomancy.com or on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

Of course, if you’re just starting out, you may not have publications to list, but there are lots of different things you can put in a bio. For more info about building a short author bio, check out Submission Protocol: Short Author Bio.

3) Author photo. Not every publisher asks for this, but it’s common enough I think you should have one on hand. That said, often times publishers will give you the option of not including an author photo if you don’t want to. IN my opinion, an author photo should conform to the following guidelines:

  • Format: A hi-res jpeg or TIF file. Personally, I think a head shot works best for the type of author photos that appear in magazines, but you could do a wider shot with you sitting at a desk, standing against a wall, and so on. Both color or black and white are acceptable. My preference is black and white, but that’s just me.
  • Expression: Depending on what genre of fiction you write this can vary, but my rule of thumb is to try to look like someone people might want to talk to. For me that’s usually a smile, but go with whatever makes you comfortable.
  • Professional: Basically, not a selfie. You don’t need to drop a bunch of cash on professional head shots if you’re just starting out, but I’ll bet you know someone who knows their way around a camera. Have that person take your photo against a neutral background or somewhere, you know, writerly.

4) Model contract. I mentioned this one in submission prep, but I’m gonna mention it again. When you get an acceptance, you should get a contract detailing what rights the publisher is acquiring to your work. Read the contract thoroughly and then compare it to something like the SFWA model contract, which is a fantastic indicator of industry standards. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your contract if something feels wrong. This is your work; make sure it’s protected.


Like the submission prep list, this doesn’t cover everything a publisher might ask for, but these are the most common in my experience. Did I leave anything off? Let me know in the comments.

Submission Statement: April 2018

Although not as good as March, April was a solid month that featured a little but of everything. Lots of submissions, some rejections, an acceptance, and a few other bits and pieces.

April 2018 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 13
  • Rejections: 10
  • Acceptances: 3
  • Publications: 2

Thirteen submissions in April, and that’s very good production. It more than keeps me on pace for my goal of one hundred submissions for the year. I’m currently at forty-eight, so almost half-way there with eight months to go.

Rejections

Ten rejections in on the high side, but I’ve been consistently sending out submissions, so more rejections just comes with that particular territory. Here’s how the rejections break down.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 4
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 5
  • Personal Rejections: 1

Mostly “good” rejections in April, and I think the stories I have out there are pretty strong and will find a home eventually. Here are some of the highlight rejections for the month.

Highlight Rejection 1: Sent 2/18/2018; Rejected 4/8/2018

Thanks for submitting [story title] but I’m going to pass on it. It’s nicely written and I enjoyed reading it, but overall it didn’t quite win me over, I’m afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way. I look forward to seeing your next submission.

This is a higher-tier rejection from one of the premier science fiction markets. This was my first submission to this publisher, and though I would have loved an acceptance, a higher-tier rejection is not too bad right out of the gate. I’ll definitely submit to them again during their next submission window.

Highlight Rejection 2: Sent 3/24/2018; Rejected 4/30/2018

Thank you for sending us [story title]. We appreciate your taking the time to send it in for our consideration. The editors have read the story but feel that it will not be a good fit for our publication. We wish you luck with placing it elsewhere. 

Please send something new when we reopen to new submissions.

Another higher-tier rejection from a new market (for me). Again, I will definitely submit here again when they reopen to submissions.

Highlight Rejection 3: Sent 6/24/2017; Rejected 4/30/2018

Thank you again for allowing us to consider your story, but it’s not a match for [anthology title].

Your story made it to the final round. It was ranked among the best of the best. We had thousands of submissions from writers all over the world. Even some of our favorites, like your story, didn’t make it through.

Most of the time we don’t move forward with a story because it’s similar to another story in a different word slot. We’re striving for a diversity of sub-genres, writing styles and plot lines, in addition to stories of different lengths.

So that’s the bad news: Your story wasn’t selected for [anthology title]. The good news is that there will be many more opportunities to submit to [publisher] in the future. Even though your work was not selected, you are a talented writer. We hope you will consider submitting to our future editions. 

And the heart-breaker. This is a personal rejection from a horror anthology I submitted to last year. Now, I knew this was going to be a long wait because I checked Duotrope for their last anthology and saw it was taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 250+ days for a response. But they were open to simultaneous submissions, and I submitted a reprint, so, basically, I was fine with the long wait. That said, to wait 310 days and get so close is disappointing, but that’s part of the gig, and I certainly don’t hold that against the publisher (I knew what I was getting into). I do appreciate the very nice rejection letter the editors sent, and I will submit work to their future anthologies.

Acceptances

Thought not the record-breaking month I experienced in March, any month with an acceptance is a good month in my book.

Acceptance 1: Sent 1/18/2018; Accepted 4/22/2018

I am delighted to inform you that we would like to publish your story ’Scare Tactics’ in our Lost Souls Short Story Anthology. 

Since I’ve already announced this acceptance pretty much everywhere, I’m fine naming names here. When the Lost Souls anthology is released in September, I’ll let you all know. There is more to this acceptance letter, but it’s just the contract and legal stuff standard with any publication.

Publications

Two publications this month, both repeat customers. 🙂

Publication 1: “New Arrivals” in Havok

My story “New Arrivals” was published in the April issue of Havok magazine. This is my second publication with Havok, and you can check out that story and bunch of other great flash pieces by clicking the link below.

Publication 2: “The Food Bank” in The Arcanist

My third publication with The Arcanist, “The Food Bank” is a post-apocalyptic flash piece. You can read the whole thing by clicking the praying mantis below.


 

And that’s April. How was yours?