So I am submitting my first short story, it has racked up two (going on three rejections ). How many rejections do you collect on a piece before you retire it from submissions?
I originally planed to just keep submitting it until I ran out of publications, but there are a lot of those.
So far I have followed the very valuable advise about sending out a manuscript to the next publication the same day you get the rejection from the last. It has done wonders because I don't have a chance to wallow in rejection.
So anyway, I was just curious what some of you thought on the question.
Far from being the expert here (although I certainly have my share of rejections. ).
In general, I would keep submitting as long as there's a market you think is right for the story.
After a certain number of rejections, it may be helpful to stop and look at the story again. I'm often amazed at what I can see after the passage of some time that I didn't see at first. Especially if you are lucky enough to get some feedback from one of those markets.
If, after reading the story again at some point you feel your skills have improved and the story is no longer representative of your abilities, then I'd consider retiring it.
Otherwise, if you still believe in the story after everybody else has turned it down, you can always e-publish it yourself. I'm considering doing that with a couple of mine later this year.
I second what tchern said. I recently sold a story that had been rejected seven times, and another that sold on the seventh submission. Keep submitting until you run out of markets.
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My sequence begins with the big three: Analog, Asimov's and F&SF. Then it goes to IGMS or another pro pub that is SFWA approved. The choice of this sequence is partly determined by what pieces are already out to where and response time. Then on to other pro pubs or a very respectable semi-pro.
I don't bother going lower than that. The reason I don't go lower, even if I know it's a good story, is that I may just decide to put it on my website as a free sample, or possibly publish it on Amazon. I haven't gotten to either of these steps yet, but will soon. And a publishing credit from a small press isn't something you mention when you're submitting to the big boys. You generally don't mention any credits that are more than a half step lower than the market you're submitting to.
And when you're submitting, remember that you can have a perfectly good story that just isn't marketable.
quote:If, after reading the story again at some point you feel your skills have improved and the story is no longer representative of your abilities, then I'd consider retiring it.
I agree completely with this.
BUT, if you believe in the story and really want to see it published (not by your own means) then just keep sending it. I've heard of people hitting after twenty or more subs. It's not all about the quality of the story, it's also about the tastes and needs of the editors and that can include timing.
quote:If you still genuinely believe in the story, keep submitting it until it sells.
I have a question regarding this. I find that with every story I've ever written there's a point when I feel like it's rubbish. I've heard other writers say, "A writer is poor judge of their own work."
Perhaps some can explain to me how you determine whether a story is worthy of this belief. I've been proceeding under the assumption that I'll keep submitting everything until I run out of pro markets because I can't tell good from bad if I wrote it.
Thinking your story is rubbish is normal. I'd say that this is where putting it out for critique can be quite valuable. If everyone is nitpicking different little things, you're probably fine. If everyone is hitting the same major points, the story probably has some fundamental problems.
Also, if you're getting personal rejections from pro pubs, you know it's a pretty good story. This doesn't count the few that give everyone a personal response, though they can be quite informative as well.
Last,you have to learn to believe in yourself and trust your instincts.
Here's a link that might help you. The link leads to the comments section of the Blog so you may have to scroll up a bit to get to the post. If you go down far enough with the comments you may find one from me.
quote:Last,you have to learn to believe in yourself and trust your instincts.
I agree completely with this. My instincts tell me that I'm a poor judge of my own work. Since all it costs is postage then I'm keeping it in the mail until I run out of pro places to send it.
I don't feel I have to even think about a story to keep mailing it. Once it's done it's just a file I keep mailing out until someone buys or I run out of places to send it. I believed in the story when I was writing it and that's enough for me. I try to make the next one better and not think about the last one any more than I have to. This is easier said than done.
Perhaps this is a mad way to go about submitting but it takes the emotion out of the process for me. I'd love to learn a better way of doing this.
[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited April 22, 2011).]
If you re-read a story of yours that was written a bit ago (more than yesterday, for example) and think it's rubbish still...well, I'd question an author who feels that way long-term about his/her own work. Sure, I doubt my abilities, I wonder if I measure up, but ultimately if I didn't LIKE what I wrote, I wouldn't write. Know what I mean? So that's what people mean when they say "you believe in your work." If *you* (THE READER, not you the writer!) like it...send it out, keep sending it out til it sells (or sell it yourself. I'm doing that with my short stories because, actually, my laziness extends to submitting my stories, and my impatience knows no boundaries - I hate waiting.)
Sure, sure, as writers we're "supposed" to think our work is rubbish, but peel that aside for a moment and look underneath. Do you still feel like it's rubbish when you read as a reader? Then perhaps something's wrong elsewhere in the writing process - maybe you're writing to try to do something that's not natural to you - writing for markets you think are salable, for instance, or in a "literary" style because you read you're supposed to or had a college professor who believed that was the only true form of literature, etc. If you write what you like, usually you like what you write....
OSC said in How to write SF&F (and I am paraphrasing, since the book is not in front of me) that an author has to be both his biggest fan and harshest critic. The trick is in the timing. You want to be a critic when your review and edit. You want to be your fan when it comes time to submit.
Like "genevive42" says, I start with the Big Three. But I also stop there---I've hashed this out several times before, but, ultimately, it comes down to one reason: online publication just doesn't "do it" for me. It's a long way from never saying I won't submit anything to online magazines, but right not, I'm not.
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I've never subbed to two of the "Big Three", and only subbed a couple of times to the other of that supposed hallowed triumvirate. The main reason is that two of them are virtually only SF, and for no terribly good reason - I grew up reading SF - I seem to produce almost entirely fantasy fiction). A subsidiary reason, though, is that when I lived abroad, and none of the "big three" took electronic subs, submitting to them was an awful lot of effort.
I've sold to five or six different pro-rate publications without bothering the Big Three, and there's plenty more I haven't managed to hit.
It's horses for courses,and of course every writer can do exactly as they wish, but I honestly think that anyone who is restricting themselves to only three of dozens of possible markets is not doing themselves any favours as regards their chances of publishing.
Have you shared your story with a few folks to get it critiqued? And have you followed through on people's comments and fixed any relevant issues they had with the story? If you've done all you can to make it the best you can make it (and I do NOT mean revising ad infinitem!), I would just keep going down the list, just send that sucker out. It won't do anything for you sitting in a drawer (or in this century, in a computer file...). At the very least I would send it to the applicable markets listed on the SFWA's site. If it doesn't get accepted by any of them, then maybe you can start thinking that it's just not meant to be, but you can also send it to smaller presses. I got around 15 rejections for one of my stories that I finally just submitted to a smaller press that didn't pay anything, and they published it. I didn't expect big money from that piece anyway, and it was nice to have people able to read it.
That was before the age of indie publishing, though. I guess you have even more options nowadays! But remember that just because you are getting rejections, that doesn't mean the story is no good. It could be as simple as the editor has a kazillion stories coming in, and it just was a bad month. Especially if you get a personal rejection, I see those almost as good as an acceptance! Don't give up, and good luck!
Also...two of the Big Three share a publisher and mailing addresses...I gather they're run independently as far as editorial content goes, but I often wonder, if I've submitted to one, if I've been in some way inspected by the other.
Either way, it makes me uneasy to mail something to one that's already been to the other.
Robert, Analog and Asimov's run 99% independently. Both Stan and Sheila have made it clear that they don't share editorial information. At most there might be a little small talk in the elevator, but they're not trading subs across desks or recommending stories to each other.
I can't find the link, but I've garnered most of this from an interview I saw with Stan Schmidt.
So I've heard...which lessens my unease but doesn't erase it. (And, given their current economic state, who's to say when the publisher might combine operations to save a few bucks?)
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I'll probably risk it...it's only time and money and, given my peculiarities, this is it.
Right now I have the unusual fact (for me) of two stories floating around out there. Both have been bounced by one of the Big Three and are at a second---but different seconds. Story One has been bounced by Market One and is at Market Two. Story Two has been bounced by Market Three and is at Market One. If Story One comes back from Market One before Story Two comes back from Market Two, I'll hold back, on the supposition that I shouldn't submit two stories to one market at the same time.
Complicated? Well, maybe if I'd'a used real names...
I have two out right now (started about 20 days apart).
Not sure who the "Big Three" are, but I compiled a list of 8 markets from SFWA. That list may get shorter because one is closed for submissions and the other has a heck of a long response time. So it may be six soon.
None of them like simultaneous submissions, so I will just cycle them through separately but I always start with my favorite market (and only magazine I read cover to cover).
Today one received its third rejection and is on its way out to a fourth Market. The other only has one rejection and is at a second market.
Once I get past these six markets, I will make a choice to find other markets with Duotrope or shelf them. I think I will continue with other markets as I feel persistent (right now).
Robert and Evoc hate to say this but both of you are just starting. I've had twenty plus stories out at once. Right now though it's dropped big time, maybe half a dozen. I keep forgetting to send things out, I'm out of the habit and it's hard to get back in. Of course not all of my markets are Pro some are to what I call almost pro and some are to markets that pay the same amount for every story, if I send in a shorter story the pay can be the same as pro for that story.
Anyway, I think there are others here who have sent as many as me or even more. That pro writer I referenced, Dean Wesley Smith, I believe has had thirty plus stories out at one time. When one comes back he sends it right back out. If he runs out of pro markets he keeps them until more come along or waits 'till someone wants a story for an Anthology and he sends in one of those that didn't sell. Now though he does have a bunch e- published. Stories that have sold once and I think some that have never sold but I'm not positive about that last.
Of course some of his pro markets are really pro...$1,000 to $3,000 a story but he also sends them to all we send ours too. Even he gets a whole lot more rejections than sells.
I know I am just getting started. And as I mentioned above. I follow the advise of sending it out as soon as I get one back. It keeps me from dwelling on the rejection and/or forgetting to send it out again.
I don't pretend to be an expert or anything. This year is the first I have done anything (as far as sending things out). Of course, before this year I never wrote short stories. So I only had novel length pieces written.
In any case, it was my rookie status that cause me to start this topic. So I can learn from those with far more rejections than I.
quote:Robert and Evoc hate to say this but both of you are just starting.
Think again. I submitted my first story in 1975. For about the first ten years, I always had at least three stories going around somewhere, many times a lot more. Then I had to make a living and my production dropped...and, since my foray into Internet Fan Fiction, up till this time it's been just one-at-a-time.
So as far as having lots of stories out there, I'm on the other end of it...