Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #43

Another quick week. I feel like I got a ton of work done, both in the library and in writing, and I had an awesome weekend celebrating my BFF’s 30th birthday.  A whirlwind week to be sure.

Last Week:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
  • Read a short story

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope.
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
    • Yes! And then some. More on that below.
  • Read a short stor
    • Yep. I read a few out of Kameron Hurley’s new collection before I had to return it.

Weekly Word Count: 119

That’s more words than I expected since I was editing, but I feel good about the changes made. So good, in fact, that I kept revising until suddenly there were no chapters left to edit. I submitted the story to my preferred market for it last night!

Social activities took up the bulk of my weekend, which for once was exactly what I wanted. We sang karaoke, went to a pumpkin patch, and played video games with friends. It was a nice, relaxing fall weekend.

I’m not reading as much as I ought to these days, but I’ve been playing some video games and catching up on Letterkenny and the Great British Bake Off.

But, the big news, the news I’ve been skirting around this whole blog post is… The Cost of Rain has been ACCEPTED! I’ve signed the contract so now it’s just a waiting game until it’s published. I’ll have more details the closer we get to the publication date, I pinky promise.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Begin outlining/brainstorming for Nanowrimo
  • Read something!

Keeping it simple this week. I’m ahead of my goals for this month, writing-wise, so I have every excuse to take it a little easier this week. Besides, I can use this “down-time” to let my Nano project marinate and start coming together. I’ve built the playlist, which is always a great first step. Now to see where that takes me.

I read a graphic novel last night, and have two more I’m in various stages with. I’d like to get them each done this week, plus start my book club book and read at least one short story. I’m WAY behind on my reading goal, but that’s no excuse not to read as much as I can.

I’m battling some serious Dragon Age cravings right now, which is why I’m reading the graphic novels and eyeballing the novel tie-ins right now. I think another announcement about the next game will be coming out in the next month or so and I am so freaking excited it’s ridiculous. So I read things and wildly theorize and wait.

So, you know. Reading, writing, gaming, lather. rinse. repeat. I don’t know if I’ll be back on the blog this week. I don’t have a book review for you, but if I think of anything else to chat about, I’ll be here.

Til then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Let’s Talk About S…

Submissions! Duh. What did you think I was gonna say?

Maybe you saw the tweet that went viral lately, about the woman who made it her goal to get 100 rejection letters by the end of the year.  She’s having trouble reaching her goal because she keeps getting acceptances instead! Which is awesome! Good for her.

This year I also set a goal: submit two short stories for publication.  I set the bar low on purpose; it’s been almost five years since I last published anything, and I wanted to keep the pressure to a minimum. Which was smart of me since I’ve been low-key stressed about it this whole time. I’m pretty high anxiety, if you haven’t noticed, and trying to hold myself accountable for something as beyond my control as short story publishing is a recipe for disaster.

nervous kermit

Before I get into the nitty gritty of how this whole process is going for me personally, let’s talk about how I even decided where the hell to submit in the first place. It can be a daunting process. You have a story, you’re proud of it. You worked hard, brought it life, fostered it into the best you possibly could, and now you want to share it. But how?

There are some questions you’re going to need to ask yourself:

  • What is my story’s genre?
  • What length category does my story fit? Micro? Flash? Short? Novelette? Novella? You get the picture.
  • What pay-rate am I willing to accept? Pro? Semi-pro? Token?
  • How long am I willing to wait to hear back from a magazine?
  • How many attempts will I make before I call it quits?
  • Am I willing to revise per editor feedback?

There’s probably more questions that will come up as you move on in the submission process, but these are some good ones to have a prepared answer for before you even begin. Once you have a good grip on the above there are some resources to help you wade through the incredible ocean of publication options.

First and foremost is The Submission Grinder. This website has it all! Authors create a free account to track their submissions, and the website compiles the results into numbers other authors can use to make educated decisions about their own submission process.

This is the data on a magazine I am currently submitted to:

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.49.03 PM
The black dot is my submission.

The site also keeps track of all your personal submission stats. Where you’ve submitted, how long it was out, the outcome, if you received your pay or not, etc. You can search for markets (publishing lingo for magazines/sites/publishers, etc.,) based on genre, word count, whether they’re currently open for submissions or not, and their pay-rate.

Really, the only negative for The Submission Grinder is that it is only as accurate as the information it is provided. Not all authors use the site, so you never know if you’re really seeing the whole picture. But, it’s still a fantastic resource and it’s been my lifeline this year.

The second resource I use most is Ralan.com. This is a genre specific resource, a catalog of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror publications that is updated constantly. It’s been active since 1996(!) and though it definitely still hangs on to its early internet roots, it has been a really great way to find markets I might not have discovered otherwise.  There’s also pages for writing tips, links, and all kinds of related media. Markets are organized by pay-rate, and then alphabetically.

I would suggest Submittable next, mainly because a ton of publishers use this software to accept and organize their submissions. Make an account (it’s free!), and then start trawling through the Discovery page. That’s where markets have opened their submissions, and you might find an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Moksha is another submission management software/website that some publishers use. It’s very similar to Submittable, and chances are you’ll end up with account on both. Submittable is a little more author -friendly, whereas Moksha is publisher focused. You won’t make an account here until you try to submit to a publisher that uses it.

I’ll recommend a new resource to me: QueryTracker is a website that helps writers connect with agents. I haven’t used it much yet, mainly because I don’t have a novel ready to submit to an agent. There’s a free and a premium option, but since I’m not actively seeking an agent, I’m just using the free service. You can search for agents based on whether they’re open to queries, what they want to read, and where they are based out of.

A recent discovery of mine is a magazine called The Writer. I found it at my library, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. They have a classifieds section as well as a segment towards the end of each issue that lists upcoming conferences, publication opportunities, agents, and workshops. It’s a rotating theme, so each issue offers something different. Maybe it’s not as comprehensive as some of the websites listed above, but I think it’s worth recommending.

So, I have all these resources… how’s the submitting going?

Well. I think. Although it doesn’t always feel that way. Rejections sting, especially when the story makes it into the final round of consideration. Generally my stories are performing well, but not well enough to get that acceptance letter yet.

yearly submission data

I’ve submitted thirteen times this year so far, two currently pending, four personal rejections and seven form rejections. The Cost of Rain has made it to the final round of consideration twice, and Lifelike has done so once.

The Cost of Rain submission data
This is why The Submission Grinder is the literal best.

As you can see, different magazines have very different turnaround times. I think that’s been the biggest challenge for me, personally, because the waiting is just killer. I’ve been submitting since March and The Cost of Rain has only been out eight times. Lifelike‘s been out for submission since April and it’s only been to five markets!

Lifelike submission data

It had a really great run right out of the gate and made it to the final round, but just got eked out of acceptance. That was hard. That hurt, because there was so much hope. The longer it was out the better I felt my chances were, and therein is my biggest challenge with submitting.

No matter how good the charts and numbers look the odds of rejection are just as high, if not higher, than those of being accepted. There are no guarantees, the statistics only mean so much. Publishing is not an objective endeavor. Your story can be great, but if you don’t find the editor that feels that same way, it won’t matter. Storytelling and reading are subjective by nature. Taste and preferences will always play a role in the selection process.

This is why you hear stories about authors submitting manuscripts dozens and dozens of times. This is why you keep submitting until you don’t have any other options left. What do you do after that? Well, I don’t know yet, but I’ll be sure to tell you once I find out.

IMG_20180822_145654
It’s a datapad! I got it in a themed LootCrate and I have no regrets.

Thanks to The Submission Grinder I have a list of markets that I can send each story to. I wrote them down, and once I send them the story I cross them off the list. That way, if I get the dreaded rejection, I can pick another one and send it right away. No lingering, no pained searching for the next thing. Just open my Mass Effect themed notepad, pick a market, use The Submission Grinder to be sure they’re accepting submissions, and off the story goes.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

My biggest takeaways from this process so far are:

  • Submitting takes a long time
    • Very, very few magazines allow for simultaneous submissions. You have to submit to one market at a time and wait for their response. This sucks. Just keeping it real. But it’s the way of things right now, so be prepared to know what markets are open when so you can plan your submissions accordingly.
  • Rejections hurt, but they do get easier
    • Form rejections suck. Mainly because it’s a form rejection. Your story wasn’t selected, and it didn’t stand out enough for the editor to offer any personal commentary. Laaaame.
    • Personal rejections are good. I mean, they also suck. Like, the big one. It hurts more, because they usually include the editor saying how much they “liked the story, but…” I don’t want to read “but”. I want to read, “We’re happy to inform you…” But, personal rejections are good because they almost always tell you why they decided not to take the story. There’s an explanation of what scene didn’t quite work, or why the ending fell flat, or whatever the case may be. There’s constructive criticism and it’s helped me make subtle changes to address weaknesses in my stories I couldn’t recognize on my own. So, yeah, personal rejections suck, but they’re also good.
    • If you prepare yourself, have your handy-dandy notebook with markets to send to, submitting gets easier. You’re armed with a list of opportunities, of potential. Oh, this magazine didn’t want my story? Well, here’s a list of 15 more that might want it! Hooray! So, enjoy your pity party ice cream/popsicle/alcoholic beverage of choice while you pick the next market, and then get on with your day.
  • Every author you’ve read has been here and done this
    • Okay. Maybe not literally every author, there’s always those weirdos that make it big out of nowhere, but the vast majority had to duke it out over and over again with their short story submissions. They had to earn those professional sales and wage wars with themselves to keep fighting on. Don’t believe me? Check out the #ShareYourRejections thread on twitter. You’ll bSam J Miller rejectionse surprised at the rejections some authors have received! 
      This is just you slogging through the story you’ll tell to a whole generation of newbie writers some day. So believe in yourself already.

Submitting this year has been a HUGE learning process. I’ve worked really hard not only on editing my fiction into a level of polish that I believe will earn a professional sale, but in organizing myself in such a way that feels… professional. Submitting is teaching me the skills I need to keep writing and publishing, the skills I’ll need to turn this passion into a career. Skills like time management, setting and meeting personal deadlines, discipline, fortitude, and strong organization, virtually (my files), physically (my desk/papers), and mentally (navigating this crazy publishing world).

I hope my tips and transparency in this process are helpful for you. I’m learning my lessons and want to share, because maybe they’ll help you when you’re feeling low at the hands of your rejections. And maybe this post will help you move on to the next opportunity.

Good luck, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Status Report

Blogland,

I just wanted to give you a quick update.

The novel is coming along well. Just broke 12,000 words and am halfway through chapter 6. I’ve, roughly, outlined the entire thing and am very excited to keep plugging away.

I’ve gotten several responses to Fallen Star’s submission status, so far all rejections. Welcome to writing professionally.

I’m working a lot this week, and so between sleep, work, and writing I’m not doing much else.

Anyway, I’m about to go to work right now, so I’d better go get ready.

 

Thanks,

BZ

And Just Like That…

Blogland,

I’ve submitted Fallen Star to 15 magazines tonight. I’ve always held this story to higher standards than others, and so have been a bit ambitious with the quality of Journals I’ve sent to. I fully anticipate rejections from almost all of these magazines. And that’s ok. Some of them even say that they’ll provide feedback, which is AWESOME!

I also found this pretty neat journal called WIPS Journal. It stands for Works In Progress. They only publish novel excerpts or short stories intended for a collection. They accept up to 7,500 words which turned out to be perfect. My new story is at 7,297 words right now, and so I decided why the heck not?

Yes, it’s rough. And yes, it’s sort of a genre piece, which they claim to have no interest in. But, the worse they can say is ‘no’. Which will be fine, because it’s rough, and it’s sort of a genre piece.

Anyway, you never know what can happen, so why not try?

If you’re a writer ready to submit, here’s where you can find magazines with calls for submission.

Have a great night everyone! I’m sure I’ll be on again soon!

And wish me luck!

 

BZ

It’s That Time Again!

Blogland!

It’s spring… ish. And you know what that means! It’s time to get stories ready for submission!

Granted, I only have one story that’s ready for spring submission. The only other story I have, I’m aiming for fall submission date.

So, Fallen Star, my Department Chair’s favorite story of mine, is the last one left. The only of my completed stories to not be published. I’ve searched the internet tonight, looking for Journals and Magazines accepting submissions and have chosen 16 to submit to. Most will get back to me by late April or May, which is pretty good.

So tomorrow will be spent working, and then coming home to do any final tweaking, though the story has been ready to go for some time now. And then a couple hours of submitting, and keeping track of likely response times…

It’s always so exciting!

I also found a journal that publishes novel excerpts only. I think it’s a great idea, and might even send a few chapters from the Foxx novel… why not? The worst they can say is ‘no’, right?

Anyway, have a great night all. Hopefully you’ll hear from me soon.

 

BZ

Submission Time!

Blogland,

Just like last year, I’m sitting in a Starbucks editing stories for submission!

So far I’ve edited Fallen Star, and have submitted it to both Damselfly Press and Storm Cellar Quarterly. Wish me luck!

I just finished editing and retyping Wild Turkeys, but am going to have some friends read it before I submit it.

So all that’s left is You’ve Always Been Good at Crazy, which needs some careful tweaking, then it’s ready to go as well!

I’m excited to submit these stories! I’m ready to get them up to snuff and move on to new stories and the novel! It’s nice to know I have an arsenal of stories ready for submission, but to have an even larger repertoire of outlines and half finished pieces ready to complete!

Again, I’m really excited, and please wish me luck guys!

 

Thanks,

BZ

 

P.S. In case you guys didn’t notice, and want to read Fallen Star, I’ve removed it from the bog for the time being since it’s currently being considered for publication. If it is published I’ll post info of where to find it. And if it gets passed up, I’ll put it back in the blog!

Thanks again,

BZ