Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 Checkpoint #1 -- Why I'm Slow to Submit

For my two-month checkpoint, I'd like to share some thoughts.

I am slow to submit stories to magazines. So far this year, I've only submitted twice. However, I may be okay with this. I've come to realize why it is I don't submit as much as I "should."

Let's talk about this.

When I started this blog eight years ago, I was all gung-ho about breaking into the business. I read up on what I was supposed to do, so that I could make sure to do it all right.

Part of this was to follow Ray Bradbury's persistence advice. Writing one story and submitting one story each week was the key to success. It worked for Bradbury, so it could work for me. I saw getting published in magazines as a rite of passage for those on their way to becoming established authors.

I tried it for a while, but all it seemed to do was to get me more rejections faster.

Then I saw a particular X-Files episode where the Smoking Man really wants to get published -- funny, right? After years of trying, he finally gets a hit. An obscure magazine decides to take one of his stories. He's so excited that he decides to quit his nefarious day job -- that is until he realizes the magazine changed the ending to fit their own purposes.

You can check out the clip here ...

But then, this also hit me: how many people actually read the magazines that I'm submitting to? There are a handful of sci-fi buffs who watch movies, TV shows, comics, books, blogs, etc. But what are they not reading? The short stories in sci-fi magazines!

I think that's it.

#1) The magazines are looking for specific stories and styles that fit their mold -- thus rejecting good stories while accepting others that might not be as good.

And #2) If my potential audience isn't even reading where I'm submitting, how exactly do I get to them?

If one thing, the pile of rejection letters I've received has toughened me up and taught me how to react like a professional, and how to understand the business concept of "no deal." Each rejection I receive has a little less sting in it.

However, the pile in total sends a strong message -- the 'zines aren't interested in my style. It becomes difficult to spend that 20 minutes putting together a package to send to a magazine, knowing it's just going to be rejected -- wasting both my time and theirs.

Then again, my sci-fi friend tells me, "It costs nothing to submit to a magazine. If you have the stories, go ahead and submit."

And then it hit me: it's not the submitting that's important, but rather it's the writing. It provides practice for writing bigger projects, and the stories can always be compiled into anthologies.

It's been a while since I've written a short story. That's where I need to be focusing my efforts. I can keep submitting to the 'zines and pile up the rejection letters -- but when the time comes, I'll end up self-publishing if I have to.

It's not recognition I need, but rather volume.

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