Something just hit me. I'm trying to get some short stories published, and I'm getting rejection after rejection, and usually of the form letter variety. Could it be that I'm aiming for the big-name publishers while ignoring the smaller magazines?
In a recent post, I moaned about all my rejections and how an unnamed fellow aspiring writer, who not only got one of his favorite stories published, but also received over 15 "warm" rejections. And wouldn't you know it? That very same unnamed writer wrote in the comments! This writer is none other than Milo James Fowler of Write1Sub1 fame.
Then when I saw a recent post from another Write1Sub1 friend, I noticed a pattern. The magazines that are publishing their stuff are the smaller magazines. Of course! It's starting to make sense.
Bigger magazines are going to publish the big names. Yes, I know that they claim to champion the cause of discovering new talent, but they have bills to pay. If a magazine has five slots to fill for an issue, and there are five well written big name stories available, what do you think they're going to pick? Yes--the ones that are not written by anyone named Mel.
And who am I currently targeting? I'm going for at least the lowest level of membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America. If I can sell one story to one of their qualified publishers, I can then become an Associate member, and then become more likely to sell my upcoming novels.
But here--take a look at the published stories of Milo James Fowler. He has a lot of credits, but so far, only one qualifies for SFWA membership: "Tomorrow's Dawn" published October 2011 by Daily Science Fiction.
Getting published is kind of like those role playing games, where you start off as a little runt. If you were to fight a really big monster, you'd die in one stroke. So, you build up experience. You get the bigger guns and the heavier armor. You gain hit points. Then the next time you see that big monster, you kill it in one stroke.
Milo published 25 stories before he hit that first big one a couple of months ago. Is that what I must do as well?
So, where do I begin? I'm sure there are plenty of vanity publishers that will publish just about anything. I don't want to go that low. I want the publisher to at least like my work and choose to include it in a carefully put together issue. I suppose a good place to start is to study the magazines listed by Milo and my other Write1Sub1 friends, and cross reference with Duotrope.
The moral of the story? If I really want to be discovered, I must go to where new talent is really discovered: the small magazines!