Submission Statement: May 2020

Another month of submissions. Here’s a breakdown of my short story endeavors for May.

April 2020 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 11
  • Rejections: 4
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 2

Very good month. Eleven submissions in May gives me forty-three for the year and puts me back on track for my goal of one-hundred. Only four rejections, all form rejections. Two more acceptances, both flash, and both to pro-paying markets. I’ll talk about the two publications below.

Rejections

Four rejections this month.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 1
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 3
  • Personal Rejections: 0

Not much to report here. All the rejections were form letters, though three of them were upper-tier. The shortest took only seven days, the longest 135 days.

Acceptances

Two acceptances this month. I sold my flash fiction story “His Favorite Tune” to the Flame Tree Fiction newsletter, which is my third publication with Flame Tree, the first in the newsletter. I also sold my flash fiction story “Outdoor Space” to The Arcanist. Not counting contests, this is my fifth sale to The Arcanist. 

Publications

The first publication is my noirish supernatural crime short story “Reading the Room,” which was published at The Overcast, an audio market hosted by J. S. Arquin. You can listen to the story by clicking the link below.

Listen to “Reading the Room”

 

The second publication is my flash story “His Favorite Tune,” which was published in the Flame Tree Fiction newsletter. For now you have to be a subscriber to read the story, but they’ll post it on the main website soon, and I’ll be sure to point folks in that direction.


And that was May. Tell me about your month.

A Week of Writing: 5/18/20 to 5/24/20

One more week has come and gone. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

Today’s quote is from Jodi Picoult.

 “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page”

– Jodi Picoult

This, this right here, is what keeps me writing the first draft even though every fiber of my being screams THIS IS TERRIBLE. Because, like Jodi Picoult says, I can always edit a bad page. I can fix it in post. This is the only way I can write. If I try to make the first draft perfect–an impossible task anyway–I’ll never get anything done. I’ll be stuck in a kind perfectionist paralysis inimical to the creation of a first draft. So I chant to myself as I write: I can edit, I can fix it in post, I can make it better. JUST GET IT DOWN. That’s worked so far.

The Novel

Armed with a revised outline I got back on track with the Hell to Play last week. I wrote about 6,100 words total, and the manuscript now clocks in at nearly 35,000 words. I even like some of those words. I’m in the beginning of act two, and the last couple of chapters have been very dialogue heavy and maybe a tad too expositional. The dialogue, and especially the interplay between the two POV characters is kind of the heart of the book, but I may have gone overboard, as I am wont to do with dialogue. Still, that’s a second draft problem, and the stage is set this week to get into the meat of plot. I’m shooting, as always, for 10,000 words, but I’m letting this one breathe a bit (as hard as that may be), so if it’s 6,000 or 8,000 words and some reorganization and editing and whatnot, I’m a-okay with that.

Short Story Submissions

Another good week on the submission front.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

Three more subs last week brings me to 41 for the year and pretty much back on track for my goal of 100. I’ll probably add one or two more subs this week to really seal that particular deal. No acceptances this week, though I did get one yesterday, but I can’t talk about that until next week. The one rejection was a 135-day form letter, which are always a bit of a bummer, but such is the gig. The publication is a good one, and I’ll discuss that below.

Microfiction

I did write some vss365 microfiction last week. Exactly one. 🙂 Here it is.

5/21/20

For years we marveled at the planet’s rings from afar, a beautiful #silver halo around our future home. When the last remnants of humanity made it to the ringed planet, they found not ice or rock, but a graveyard of derelict ships encircling a dead but still hungry world.

Publications

Earlier this year, I sold a story to The Overcast, a supernatural noirish gangster piece called “Reading the Room.” If you’re unfamiliar with The Overcast, they’re a great audio market, and host and narrator J. S. Arquin does a simply stupendous job with the voices and narration. Anyway, click the link below if you’d like to listen to “Reading the Room”. If you stick around after the story is over, you get to hear me read a halting afterword about Texas Hold ‘Em poker and my writing process and stuff. 🙂

Listen to “Reading the Room”

Goals

Back on track with the novel, I’m aiming for more solid progress this week. Like I said above, something around 8,000 to 10,000 words would be great. I’d like to get a few more subs out this week as well. All that seems doable. 🙂


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 5/11/20 to 5/17/20

Another week of writing in the books. Here’s how it all went down.

Words to Write By

Today’s quote comes from Douglas Adams.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

– Douglas Adams

Last week, I stopped writing the first draft of Hell to Play and instead revised my outline. Douglas Adams’ quote kind of sums up why. I realized, as I was writing the first draft, and especially after I ended act one, that the novel I was writing was NOT the novel in my outline. I knew there was a subplot I needed to add, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. As a dedicated plotter, I sat down and figured out how the new story would go. I think (and hope) I have ended up where I needed to be.

The Novel

Well, I didn’t add a single word to the manuscript for Hell to Play last week. What I did do, however, was completely revise acts two and three of my outline. Revise might be understating. I rewrote the outline completely, adding in an entirely new subplot I think strengthens the conflict in the novel and provides key insight into the background and motivations of the principle characters. If we are keeping count of words, that two-thirds of an outline amounted to just over 6,000 words, so, you know, I was pretty busy. 🙂

Short Story Submissions

Pretty good week on the submission front.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Publications: 1
  • Shortlist: 0

Three submissions is solid, and that’s really the pace I’d like to set every week. I’m up to 38 for the year, and I’ll need another 6 or 7 before the end of May to stay on track for 100 subs. The rejections were from a writing contest, and I’d hoped one of the entries would place. I got close with one of them, but no dice. The acceptance is a good one (I mean, they’re all good), and I managed to place a story with the Flame Tree Fiction Newsletter. That’s my third sale to Flame Tree, and I’m very pleased to have a piece appear in their newsletter. The story will be posted on their website at some point, and I’ll be sure to point you in that direction when it’s free to read.

Microfiction

Normally I would post some of the microfiction I wrote as part of vss365. Thing is, I didn’t write any. 🙂 I’ll get back on the beam this week, though. In the meantime, here are three microfiction pieces I place with 50-Word Stories over the past year or so.

“Treed” –  3/7/19

“His True Name” – 4/24/19

“Dead Bugs” – 4/15/19

Goals

With a revised outline, I aim to start adding words to the manuscript for Hell to Play this week. I’m trying not to focus so much on how quickly I’m writing the first draft, which is tough for me, but I think it will result in a better book. As always, I need to get those story submission out. Shooting for three more submissions by the end of the week.


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 4/27/20 to 5/3/20

Another week of writing in the books. Let’s see how I did.

Words to Write By

Today’s quote comes from Andy Warhol.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done.

–Andy Warhol

It’s rare you find a quote that perfectly encapsulates your writing process, but this single sentence from Andy Warhol pretty much describes how I go about my first drafts. I just want to get the story on the page and not worry about making it perfect. Sure, I do occasionally go back and fill in plot holes or fix continuity errors while I’m writing the first draft, but I save most of the refining for the revision(s) after the first draft is done. The primary reason I do this is I find it overwhelming to try and make the story perfect (or at least better) while I’m writing it. It just spikes my anxiety and self-doubt to a degree that kills my productivity, so I don’t do it, and that helps me get from first word to last more-or-less painlessly.

The (New) Novel

More good progress on Hell to Play last week. I wrote just over 8,700 words for a total of 23,000 and change for the manuscript. I’m not hitting my 10,000 words a week like I usually do, but I’ve kind of made peace with that. There are just so many outside distractions right now–and one BIG one–that I’m happy to be making any decent progress at all. Maybe I’ll work back up to 10,000 a week, but at this point I’m looking at having a first draft in twelve weeks. I can absolutely live with that.

Short Story Submissions

Kind of a pathetic week for submissions.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

Exciting, huh? One submission. I haven’t even gotten a rejection in weeks. The one submission last week gives me 33 for the year, which means I need to pick up the pace in May if I want to hit 100 subs by the end of the year.

Microfiction

I missed a few days again last week, but I think what I did write came out pretty good. Here are the two best in my humble opinion. As always, if you want to read my microfiction in real time, follow me on Twitter @Aeryn_Rudel.

April 28th, 2020

Dying’s not so bad, but the #resurrection is a real shit sandwich. Each time I croak and return to life, there’s a new group of mortals convinced I’m the second coming. Sorry, folks, no messiah here. I’m just an accident-prone revenant, and this is my, uh, 94th(?) coming.

May 2nd, 2020

The ancient #ragpicker scavenged only the choicest bits. Castoff shreds that still held some magic, some life. He worked his finds into a shape dear to him but nearly forgotten. The final scrap was his tatterdemalion soul, and when he breathed his last, the child awoke.

Goals

Same as usual. Keep plugging away at the novel and get more submission out the door.


That was my week. How was yours?

Submission Statement: April 2020

Okay, let’s get accountable again. Here’s a breakdown of my submission endeavors for April.

April 2020 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 8
  • Rejections: 9
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 3

Pretty good month, really. I’m a tad off my pace of 100 subs for the year, but I hope to catch up in May. A fair amount of rejections, but there are some encouraging nos from new markets that tell me I should keep trying stories with them. Two acceptances in a month is always good, and the three publications is extra good.

Rejections

Nine rejections this month.

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

I’ve been shopping a new short story, and it’s gotten some pretty good feedback. That’s were some of the personal rejections come from. The others are from new markets (to me), and the response was encouraging. I’ll definitely submit to these markets again. The form rejections are your typical boilerplate nos from pro markets.

Spotlight Rejection

The spotlight rejection for last month is one that again illustrates why stories get rejected, even good ones.

Thank you very much for your submission, and we’re sorry for the delayed reply. 

That said, [story] is fascinating, and the end quite genius. However, and sadly, we’re already contracted several stories with a similar tone, so we’ll be passing on this at this time.

Thank you again, and we hope this finds a good home soon.

I’d call this a personal rejection, and they say some nice things about my story. The reason they give for the rejections is, I think, one that a lot of authors run into and never know about. My story was a sci-fi noir thriller type thing, which is not terribly uncommon, and it’s perfectly understandable that a market would want a diverse mix of tones and styles in an issue. Now, of course, I’m practicing a little rejectomancy here, but as usual, I think you should take editors at their word

Acceptances

Two acceptances this month. One from The Arcanist for my flash story “Liquid Courage” and one from 50-Word Stories for my micro “Dead Bugs.” My goal every month is to get at least one acceptance, and getting two is, well, uh, better than one. 🙂 I haven’t been skunked yet in 2020, and hopefully I can continue my streak into May.

Publications

The first publication is the flash story “Liquid Courage,” which you may have gleaned from the letter above took 4th place in The Arcanist’s Western Story Contest. You can read or listen to it below.

The next publication is a good old-fashioned print pub. I sold my story “The Back-Off” to On Spec Magazine back in October, and I received my contributor copies in the mail a few days ago. It’s a great looking magazine, full of excellent stories. If you’re into speculative fiction, give a thought to picking up an issue or a subscription to On Spec. Here’s the cover of the latest issue.

Finally, I finish up the month with a publication of my microfiction tale “Dead Bugs” over ay 50-Word Stories, which you can read right here.


And that was my April. Tell me about yours.

1 Publisher, 17 Submissions, 5 Letters

When you submit stories to publishers you can expect a wide variety of letters in response. You’ve got the various flavors of rejection letter (form, higher-tier, personal, etc.), informative notices like further-consideration and shortlist letters, and, of course, the king of all responses, the acceptance letter. I’ve showcased these letters on the blog before, but today I want to show you examples of all (well, most) of them from the same publisher. Yep, there’s a market I have submitted to 17 times, and I’m pretty sure I’ve received just about every possible response from them.

The secondary point to this post is to once again state, yes, some publishers do have various tiers of rejection letters, and you’ll see that below. Okay, let’s get started.

Letter #1: Common Form Rejection

Thank you so much for thinking of [publisher]. Unfortunately [story] is not quite what we’re looking for at the moment. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

This is a plain common form rejection. It contains all the usual verbiage and niceties, but doesn’t say anything other than “we’re not going to publish this story.” You’ll see virtually identical letters from a dozen other publishers. As usual, there’s nothing to be learned from a letter like this, so you just take it in stride and send the story somewhere else.

Letter #2: Higher-Tier Form Rejection

[Story] is a very good story, but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite match our needs for this spring and summer issues. I hope you find a good home for it elsewhere.

What sets this letter apart from the first rejection is specificity. “Very good story” and “spring and summer” issues tell me this story received more consideration than usual. When you get a letter like this, you should absolutely take the editor at their word. They did think it was a very good story, and it didn’t match the needs of their upcoming issues. That’s all they told me, so that’s all I inferred, and I promptly sent the story out again.

Letter #3: Further Consideration

[Story] has been accepted for further consideration. We will be letting you know before the end of October whether or not it has been accepted for publication. 

Pretty straightforward here. One of the things I really like about this publisher is how concise and specific they are. Their letters don’t muck about; they just tell you what’s up. This further consideration letter is a great example of that.

Letter #4: Final-Round Rejection

[Story] 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 rejection letter came after a further consideration letter, and though it’s a form letter, it’s a good one. You know you got close, and there’s likely nothing wrong with the story other than what they said: not a good fit at this time. The addition of “We hope you’ll consider sending us more of your stories in the future” just seals the deal that this is a better class of no.

Letter #5: Acceptance

I’m very pleased to let you know that [story] has been accepted for publication in the March issue of [publisher]. You should be receiving a contract shortly from [editor].

I’ll be reviewing each piece, so may have minor fixes for you to check. They should be ready for your review well before the issue is scheduled. You’ll also have an opportunity to review the story after upload, before it goes live. 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Ah, the good stuff. It took me eleven submissions to crack this publisher, so this was a gratifying acceptance. One thing you might notice is this is still basically a form letter. That’s not unusual, honestly. Some publishers have a boilerplate letter for acceptances because they need to impart a lot of information that really doesn’t change from author to author. For example, here they tell me when the story will be published, that I should expect a contract shorty and whom I should expect it from, plus they notify about any minor proofing that might take place. That’s all I really need from an acceptance letter. The editors expressed more personal thoughts on the story in subsequent emails.

Oh, one other thing I appreciate about this publisher is they told me in the subject line of the email the story was accepted. I always like that, and it’s nice opening up a response from a market and knowing it’s good news.

You might be thinking that I’m missing a personal rejection, and that’s true. If you squint, the higher-tier rejection might be considered a personal note, but I feel more comfortable calling it a higher-tier form letter.


So, what does this collection of letters tell us. Well, for one that some publishers do indeed send various types of rejections that hinge on how seriously they considered it for publication. Keep that in mind when you get that next rejections; it might tell you more than you think. Another thing to take away from this post is that form letters aren’t all bad. In fact, some of them convey good news and even the very best news. 🙂

50 Published Stories: What Have I Learned?

I recently sold my 50th story since I started submitting through Duotrope, and because I like stats and data I went back and looked at those 50 stories to see if I could glean any rejectomantic information. Turns out, there are some interesting tidbits to discuss. Now, one caveat: this list ONLY includes stories I’ve submitted through Duotrope and were subsequently published. It does not include any of my media tie-in or gaming fiction, as that’s a completely different animal. I’ll post the entire list of publications at the end of this post, but it’s long, and, well, kind of uninteresting, so we’ll get to the good stuff first.

Published Stories Total Subs Subs Before Acceptance
All Subs 50 232 4.64
Flash Fiction 36 130 3.61
Short Story 11 99 9.00
Microfiction 3 3 1.00

Quick explanation of the numbers above. The first column is the total number of stories published corresponding to that specific length. The second column is the total number of submissions sent for the stories in that category. The final column is how many subs it took, on average, for one of my accepted stories to, uh, well get accepted. Got it? Okay, let’s discuss.

If you look at all subs, it takes me on average about 5 submissions to get a story accepted, but those numbers are skewed because, well, the flash fiction is covering for the short stories. When I sell a piece of flash fiction, it only takes me around 4 submissions, but when I sell a short story it takes me more than twice that number. Microfiction is a small sample size and little more than an anomaly at the moment (though I do like my 1.000 batting average).

So am I just a better flash fiction writer? That’s entirely possible, but I think there may be some other reasons for the disparity in submissions between my flash fiction and longer works. Here are some theories.

  1. More opportunity. Many flash fiction publishers, at least the ones I submit to, publish year-round and frequently. There are quite a few publishers that put out a story a week and some even put out a story a day. In short, they need more stories, so your chances at publication are maybe a little better because of the need for material. That’s not to say these markets are publishing just any old thing, far from it (so says my pile of rejections from markets like Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online), but since they have more slots to fill, there’s maybe a tad less of the “even good stories get rejected” going on. That’s a lot different than say a short story market that published an issue three or four times a year (or less) that contains only six to ten stories per issue.
  2. More pro markets. All my short stories run through a gauntlet of professional markets that are tough to crack. So I tend to pile up rejections from places like The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and a bunch of others. It’s just a fact of life that when you’re submitting to the big markets. You’re gonna get rejected. A lot. Now, I am happy to report that six of my published short stories were sold to pro markets (either initially or in reprint) and the other five went to good semi-pro markets, so my perseverance paid off. But the point remains: I do seem to have to work harder to publish my shorts.
  3. Luck. Look, a lot of publication comes down to putting the right story in front of the right editor at the right time. Maybe I’m simply doing this more often with flash fiction. Additionally, I think I’ve identified some flash fiction publishers that dig my writing and who have published me multiple times, so chances of publication might be a little better with those markets. I haven’t found similar markets for my short stories (yet).

Of course all of the above is hardcore rejectomancy, but I’ve been doing this long enough I think there might be a few nuggets of truth here. I guess when I sell another fifty stories, I can run the numbers again and see if thing change in any meaningful way. 🙂


As promised (or threatened) here’s the entire list of my 50 published works. I’ve linked to the ones that are free to read online. One thing I should note is the number of submissions for each piece is the total number of sub before its FIRST acceptance. I’ve gone on to submit a number of these stories again as reprints with some acceptances and of course more rejections.

Title Type Subs
A Man of Many Hats 1
A Small Evil 8
At the Seams 8
Bear Necessity 1
Beyond the Block 1
Big Problems 1
Burning Man 9
Ditchers 4
Do Me a Favor 1
Far Shores and Ancient Graves 3
Liquid Courage 1
Little Sister 3
Masks 1
New Arrivals 3
Night Walk 1
Old as the Trees 3
Reunion 4
Scar 7
Second Bite 8
Shadow Can 1
Side Effects 1
Simulacra 2
The Father of Terror 1
The Food Bank 4
The Grove 1
The Inside People 3
The Rarest Cut 6
The Sitting Room 1
The Thing that Came With the Storm 2
Time Waits for One Man 2
Two Legs 6
What Kind of Hero 11
When the Lights Go On 11
Where They Belong 1
An Incident on Dover Street 6
Cowtown 3
Dead Bugs 1
Treed 1
His True Name 1
A Point of Honor 11
Bites 13
Caroline 13
Luck Be a Bullet 4
Night Games 7
One Last Spell, My Love 2
Paint-Eater 9
Paper Cut 16
Reading the Room 6
Scare Tactics 7
The Back-Off 11