I know some excellent writers who write and write…and never submit. I’m going to start off by saying that this is totally acceptable. I’ll go back to that quilt analogy. You can make a quilt and never try to sell it. That doesn’t mean it’s not a gorgeous quilt. Sales are not the final arbiters of quality.
But if you want to earn any money, you’ve got to submit your work somewhere. You may simply ‘submit’ it directly to Smashwords and let the audience be the arbiters of your quality. Or you may go the ‘professional’ route and submit to pro magazines, book publishers, or agents.
The hard fact of submission is that you’re going to be rejected. If your quality is low, you’ll be rejected more frequently (even if only by reviewers on Amazon.) So for a lot of writers, taking that submission step is a truly difficult one.
I never considered submitting anywhere until about 2003. I finished my first novel and discovered I had NO CLUE how that would work. So that’s when I started to attend workshops, trying to figure out the whole publication process. Although the crit sessions weren’t about submission, the after-hours chats with other writers were invaluable in this realm.
So after talking to a lot of people, I decided to concentrate on short fiction for a while. Not everyone chooses this path, but in retrospect, it worked for me. Once I carved out time to write, I started submitting stories to magazines in Oct 2005. Luckily for me, my first story (The Stains of the Past) sold on its second submission. That gave me a touch of reassurance.
My second story (Touching the Dead) also sold on its second submission, to a pro market, although that one took 200 days. That was my first experience with the waiting. The endless waiting. It’s almost a worse facet of submission than the ultimate rejection.
In the meantime I trunked a pair of stories that I thought weren’t worthy. I began submitting story X, one that I love dearly, but have had trouble finding it a home. This story has been held over 500 days…twice! It bounces from market to market, sometimes being advanced and held for 100 days plus….other times gettting a form rejection. I will sell this story one day.
The point being that I’ve trunked some, sold some, and others have been endlessly submitted because they just haven’t found the right market yet. Some sold.
Unlike a lot of writers, I’m NOT prolific. I have yet to cross 100 submissions, even after 6.5 years of submitting. I’ve sent out a total of 19 shorts, 2 of which I trunked after a couple of submissions. (I just didn’t think they worked.) I have a few other stories that I haven’t bothered to complete. And I do have some that I’ve simply never submitted anywhere. I don’t think they’re right for the markets available for one reason or another–too long, too specific, too much baggage because they’re part of a series.
Yes, I do have submissions out right now. Will some of them get rejected? You bet.
But submitting has to be done if I want to get paid.
Next Week: Rejection and Rejectomancy