Ever since I’ve been writing and submitting manuscripts to publishers, I’ve needed a way to keep track of those submissions. I’ve been around long enough that those first submissions went as a printed manuscript, inside a full-sized envelope, with postage on a slightly smaller envelope inside. To match the very physical nature of this, my tracking system also exploited the benefits of paper and ink. An accounting book, to be precise. And mostly pencil, since it lends itself to updates more readily than ink.
I’ve continued the practice into the present day. I’ve just come to the last page of my second book.
I do subscribe to Duotrope, which has a built-in tracking system for stories. That might be the way to go. But I do have another blank book all set. Starting next week, when my latest story will be ready to venture out into the wilds.
So, as well as tracking my word count this year, I’ve also tracked my number of submissions. Now, I do keep close track of where and when I’m submitting (it would be kind of silly not to), but this is the first time I’ve ever recorded the actual number as well.
So far this year I’ve made 100 submissions. That’s submissions of short-stories/ novelettes/ novellas to various markets. It doesn’t count items I’ve sent to indie/ self-publishing.
To be clear, though, I have completed a total of fourteen new pieces. All of those submitted. There have been some novels that have gone directly to indie, so I’m not counting those.
Getting to one hundred submissions means some of those fourteen, and some of last year’s stories (and a couple from the year before) are finding themselves resubmitted. This is pretty standard practice. One market rejects a story, off it goes to another. Repeat. Heinlein would say ‘repeat until sold’.
Of those fourteen, I’ve so far sold six. Not a huge number for me, but I’ll take it (of course). Pretty low ratio in terms of submissions: six percent, but not too bad in terms of stories completed.
I’ve made fifty-six story submissions to various magazines this year. This is the first year I’ve actually kept track and I’m kind of surprised. I knew I kept my stories out there, but I didn’t realize I was sending that many.
A few weeks back, when I’d made about forty submissions, I thought I’d post here when I hit fifty. Except that over the last few days I got a bunch of rejections and the number leapt. Some markets respond very quickly.
I didn’t write fifty-six stories. In fact I’ve only added four new stories to the mix this year. But anytime a story comes back, I send it off again to another market. I think this is fairly standard practice. I’ve heard of writers who make changes and edit on the basis of feedback, but I avoid that. Best to keep it moving to find the editor to which the story is most suited.
In that mix of statistics, I’ve had seven acceptances, and still have twenty-five stories under consideration.
Slowly I’m filtering stories out of the cycle as they age. I throw them to the wolves of Apple and Amazon and other retailers. On occasion readers find them. Even after all that time, I’m honored they find an audience.
I don’t know how the picture relates, but I kind of like it. Bugs crawling around fungi out at Totara Reserve (photo taken by me).
It’s worth sticking with it. I’ve lost count of the rejection slips I’ve received this year. Give me a second, I’ll go check…
… back now, thanks for waiting. It’s fifty-four. 54 rejections so far in 2012. That’s from around 25 stories out and circulating. I’ve had a few acceptances, but mostly for non-pay* or token pay anthologies/magazines. Most days when I get a rejection, the story goes out to another publisher the same day. I love these days of email submissions: so much easier than back in the dark ages of envelope, stamp, return envelope and postage, printed cover letter, fresh print of the ms because the last publisher crumpled their copy.
Why send it out again ever? Well, publishers have different opinions, different needs and different expectations. On occasion some particularly generous (ie who has the time?) editors give some feedback… and the feedback can be wildly different: the aspects of the story they found didn’t work will be entirely different. I also keep trying to remember that last of Heinlein’s rules – keep it on the market until it is sold.
The new acceptance is from a New Zealand literary magazine – Takahe – who’ve published stories of mine before. It will be nice to be in print again.
*Why take no money for a story? That’s kind of contradictory to good business sense, no? Well I guess part of it is my ego is still tangled up in there. Another part of it is that when I come to self-publish the story through Triple V as an ebook (and possibly print), then the rights revert to me immediately.
Not only did I learn I hadn’t placed in Writers of the Future, I got three other rejection slips in the mail. All form rejections. Still that means that those stories can all go out to other editors who might like them. So that’s what I did. Sent them out. Within an hour or so I had my list back up to twenty live submissions.
Then, as I sent off that last one, some good news. An acceptance. Yay. It is in a no-payment, no-copy anthology so it stokes just my ego, but by then it was in need of a little stoking.
And it got a little better too – with some new music accepted for release on Zenapolae. More on that in another post. Right now I’m getting back to writing the next story.
So while I’m busy writing (I’ve finished up the second novel, and completed a long short-story since I last posted), and tutoring (whew, almost at the end of round four) and, well, just life in general… I’m also busy submitting stories to magazines. Great news – I’ve had an acceptance (a sci-fi novella, coming out soon… more details on that to come). Yay.
Today, though, was one of those “oh, well” days. Three rejection letters. All form letters too. Along the lines of “Thank you for submitting but we regret that we cannot use your story at this time”. You know the kind of thing. So, I found some other magazines with current open submissions and sent those three off right away. Just because some editor doesn’t have space for my best, second best and third best stories, doesn’t mean someone else won’t.
Now, back to finishing up this last bit of tutoring, and writing the next story.
Well, waiting and writing, writing, writing. I have fourteen submissions out with publishers right now. I know for some writers that might be a pretty low number, but for me it’s up amongst the highest at any one time. I find I get both excited, and concerned. Excited that some of these stories that have been out for a while might be moving up from the slush pile to more senior editors (yay). Concerned that they maybe never arrived, or have been lost. I need to keep track of those enquiry times – some publications say enquire after a week (I don’t have any subs with those ones at the moment – their turnaround is pretty slick), some say wait ninety days before enquiring.
It’s hard not to be excited, and then always a little disappointing when it comes back after ninety days with a form rejection. Still, that means it can be live again with another market.