February 26, 2005

submit already!

It's a funny thing. I have three short stories I feel are strong enough to send out to literary magazines. But do I? Um… well… let's see. I keep a record, I can tell you exactly.

I sent one story out to a few places December 4th.

December 2003, that is. Sent it out to other places February 6th 2004. Sent it out again, along with another story I'd written in the interim, August 2nd. Sent the second story one place last month.

Hot and heavy on the submission front? Not so much.

I like what happens when I send them out, too. Last month I got a rejection letter from Zoetrope that called the second story powerful. Also one from Indiana Review saying the first was seriously considered and asking me to submit again. Both were from that round of submissions this past summer.

Then why don't I send them out more? There are hundreds of small literary magazines out there. A number of them are quite good. If you don't submit, you don't get published. It's a simple algorithm. And yet I don't. When I think about doing it, it feels like a monumental task. Research magazines, print out the stories, put mailing envelopes together. Not a big deal if you do it once, send to one magazine. But if you send out the hundreds of envelopes it probably takes to get a "Yes, we'll take it" call in amongst all the "I really liked it but" letters (not to mention the inevitable form letter rejections), well, that's a lot of envelope licking. Part of the job, right? Part of what it takes to get published in this format, which can lend legitimacy to the writer and in theory make it easier for a book publisher to take you on. Even if it doesn't do that, though, wouldn't it be cool? To have a story published? In print? Flip through the pages, hold it in your hands, know strangers are discovering your words, responding to your creation, isn't that what it's all about?

And yet I don't submit and so can't be published.

Why the hell not?

Posted by Tamar at February 26, 2005 12:14 PM | TrackBack

It's a great question. Wish I had the answer for myself as well. Except with me it's book proposals and story ideas for magazines, not already-written fiction. Same deal. Same mental stumbling block.

I think it might do you good to have a group, or even a single buddy, to whom you are accountable in the sense of having to report what you have and have not done. It's easy to just let things go on and on and on if you're not accountable to anyone, if there's no hard-and-fast deadline that you feel you need to meet.

Posted by: Tiny Coconut at February 26, 2005 01:31 PM

There's this outfit called "Writer's Relief" that claims to do it all for you -- resesrching keeping the stuff in circulation,, mailing, la dee da -- for something like $20/mo.. If there were real money to made in this, they'd be due for an IPO soon,

Posted by: Chris at February 26, 2005 10:38 PM

Two routes to go:

1. Do your mental shutdown at the writing level, like me. You get exactly as many sales with far less effort. Or...

2. Self-stick envelopes.

Posted by: Otto Kitsinger at February 26, 2005 11:11 PM

I keep telling myself the same thing - I've never submitted any short story to a magazine. I'm more of a novel-writer, but I do have some short stories sitting around. And I know I need to publish some short stories in order to better my chances of ever having a novel published, but I never submit anything. I think it's partly due to laziness, and partly to do with fear of rejection. And I really need to remedy both those things :)

Posted by: Amanda at February 28, 2005 08:08 AM
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