Short Story Submission Sucks Spectacularly

rejection-and-how-to-deal-short stories

ALLITERATION. OH YEAH!!!

In the process of writing the word ‘submission’ seems highly apt. We as writers cower and fret over the quality of our writing, praying, wishing and hoping the dark editorial overlords will accept us for who we are, for what we have produced. In a way it is sadomasochistic, because depending on the publication and how highly they regard themselves, we are powerless once we agree to submit, like a dog rolling over at the feet of its master, desperate for a belly rub to acknowledge our presence.

Having found Rejectomancer’s tips on Cover Letters and related information highly useful I’m going on a kamikaze mission for the rest of the month, populating the submissions inbox of various publications in the desperate hope that one of them will accept me, like a comedian airing their soul in front of one person. Does one person even constitute an audience?! Before that happens however, there are various gripes I’d like to share with you:

  1. One one site of many they offer payment to the author for a short story – how noble. Three dollar submission fee. Or six bucks for three stories. $4 profit. WTF?
  2. We may take 3-4 months to reply. WTF?
  3. Buy our magazine so you know what we are looking for. WTF?

Firstly, paying to get rejected? No thanks. I’m not brain dead.

Secondly, 3-4 months (I’ve seen longer…)? If their turnaround is that slow, either they can’t read or they have the most inefficient selection process known to mankind.

Thirdly, we the writers are offering the goods here. No writing, no mag. It doesn’t work the other way around. So many publications use the dirty tactic of encouraging us to buy the mag. Again, I’m not an idiot. But you’ll appreciate what style of writing we like! Well that’s presumptious. The mag might be terrible, and there’s a good chance the writing isn’t compatible with what 90% of writers write. So again, there’s only one winner there. It’s a roundabout way of screwing the writer who they probably won’t publish anyway.

Additionally, the whole short story submission process just seems…messy. There’s annuals here, triannuals over there, quarterly’s up yonder. Just catching an acceptance period seems like an acheivement in itself. Then there’s the turnaround that is so slow it’s torturous and the only way to steel yourself, to have any resolve left after just one submission, is to keep sending stories out, the opposite of viral, one by one, hoping that in half a years time one of many publications might have had the decency to reject you in writing instead of leaving you out in the cold dead streets of Writersville.

Sounds like fun? It does doesn’t it? FUN. FUN! I’m convincing myself through repetition..

 

11 Comments

  1. I have sold quite a few short stories, and the most I ever made on one is $100.00. And only once was my story accepted on the first submission. It usually took 10 to 20 submissions to sell a story, and some I’ve yet to sell.
    Maybe a lot of people don’t know this, but the subscription rate for most magazines in the speculative fiction genre (which the majority of my short stories are) is small. And a lot are ezines that anyone can read for free. These magazines receive thousands of submissions that have to be read by a very small staff. Also, they can’t afford to pay what one’s writing is really worth; most just barely manage to stay afloat. It’s the publishing credits one is aiming for, not money–though that would be nice. I always follow their submission instructions to the letter. And I don’t buy their magazines just to know what they want; it’s spelled out clearly enough in their submission guidelines.
    You may already know about this site, but http://www.ralan.com is a good place to find listings for magazines under the umbrella term of speculative fiction.

    1. The rejection I expect.
      But the whole process seems so stagnant, and the writer, the content provider is generally put in the backseat, twiddling thumbs until an email of acceptance lands or doesn’t. There’s a frustration to it all. I’m not naive to it, I know what the process entails, but it just seems there could be a better way of doing it.

  2. I totally get what you’re saying and it’s reassuring that you feel the same as me. I’ve had a few short stories published but ironically ones I didn’t think were particularly good! It’s so subjective and I think (as Saffron said) that you just have to keep on going. My focus is to become more prolific and to send something out as soon as I feel it’s ready. Think we’ve signed up for one of the toughest professions on earth, but we can’t give up!

    1. Yeah. There are so many variables to consider. Genre, length, timing!, style, etc etc and then there’s the sluggish turnaround time which is my bigest gripe. But I’m moaning about things I can’t change 🙂

  3. While I agree that running around to various publications, slow replies, and facing rejection really sucks… we signed up for this! I’m learning what it’s like, and rejection never feels good, I know.

    But I hope you’re not going to stop submitting. We know not all mags/journals have submission fees, and we know we don’t really have to buy their stuff. I hope you’re not discouraged enough to quit. Keep writing! I wish you the best of luck!

    1. Thanks for your words.
      The post was really me just moaning and being cynical about the whole process despite the fact I know what it entails, a little like moaning about the sun in the middle of july. Essentially I was in rant mode! 🙂

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