Submitting Stories

I don’t think I have the hang of this yet.

So far I write stories to the call. If the editor says “We went Lovecraftian fairy tales” then I think about it and sit down and write one just for that editor and send it off.   I don’t write stories and then look for places to submit them.  Finishing stories just for the sake of finishing them has never been my strong suit, but thinking of them as an ordered product helps.    If I know who the story is going to before I type the first word then I feel committed to it.

Problem is, so far all I have gotten are rejections.  Maybe the stories I write do have a home and it is just not the first place I sent it.  But I am not confident about sending my work to lots of people.  If the people I specifically wrote it for don’t want it, then why would anyone else?  This is why I have a collection already, several of those are stories that other people rejected.

This picture is relevant to the story I just finished.

But now that I am actually thinking about it only two are.  Three of them I wrote just for this collection.  The one many people say is best “Red, in Tooth and Claw” was never submitted anyplace and it is a really good story.

This is on my mind today because I just finished a story yesterday.  And I am going to be sending it to an editor/publisher that has turned me down twice now.   Every call she puts out is perfect.  I read it and I think “This is wonderful, I can do this!”.  Part of me knows it is sort of stupid to keep writing things for her.  But I really like all the stories that she has written and I feel like our work is similar, though different enough.  And hers is of course better, since she has been doing this a lot longer.

I am pretty sure she is going to turn me down again.  And this is new, up until today every story I have sent I felt was going to get accepted.  I think “oh, yeah, I got this one”.   But I don’t have any confidence in this story getting accepted, which is odd, as this story is really good.But should I send it to other places if it is rejected?  Should I send it to other places now?

How many markets do you submit stories to? How do you decide if a market is a good fit for your work?

7 thoughts on “Submitting Stories

  1. It’s an old adage that I think writers are probably tired as hell of hearing, but the more times you submit, the more chances you have of getting that acceptance you want! Publishing of any sort, in my limited experience, has been a world of subjective guidelines. I’ve been rejected for not adhering to standards of the call, despite the fact that my story blatantly displays those requisites. I’ve been rejected because someone simply hasn’t liked me. But the truth is, you’re going to find a home for those stories, because there will be a place they fit.

    I like calls for stories, because they narrow down my vision. I’ve turned short stories into novels before because I just wanted to say so much, so like you, I appreciate the chance to just go, “Okay, this is ALL I HAVE TO PUT INTO THIS.”

    Don’t you dare friggin’ give up! Just keep sending it; for every rejection you get, find another potential story or market you can submit it to. Someone out there sure as hell wants to read it, you just don’t know that yet, nor do they. But they’re out there!


    1. I have changed my strategy a little. I have enough stories done that I think are good now that I am reading calls for stories and if any of mine fit well I send them in. It is sort of fun to see my list of submissions going up, I am not however looking forward to the extra rejection letters. 🙂


  2. Not necessarily a direct answer, but it seems relevant. If you’re only submitting stories that are specifically called for, with specific guidelines, kind of by definition you’re competing with lots of other very similar pieces. And it seems to me that, kind of like a work day, if you put out a specific call for attendance, you’re going to get more responses than a general open-door policy. If you submit those same stories elsewhere, without a specific call for those stories, without the direct head-to-head competition, you may have better results.


    1. That makes sense and there is no harm in sending out stories as long as I am not doing it at random. I realize that part of the problem is fear of rejection. If I write a story that fits everything they ask for I feel like they is less chance they will reject me off hand. I found out a few days ago that is incorrect, sometimes you can write the perfect story and then the editor does not even open it. That made me decide to branch out more.


  3. Every one fears rejection. I know I do, and I’ve been rejected a lot. I try to remind myself if I don’t take the risk I’ll never know if my writing was good enough, or if my fear kept me form my goal. I also agree with Cameron, you may be putting yourself in a place where there’s just too much competition. Good Luck with you new strategy.


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