What do I do?

Some of those cheering me on in my writing endeavors have expressed curiosity about how the whole ‘writing-process’ works, not specifically the writing itself but how a writer goes about submitting stories to magazines and so on.

Given that I’m a fairly obliging fellow I figured I’d add some illumination to the process and describe, what to me has become a fairly automatic process, to those who haven’t sent stories out previously.

The Market for the Story
I submit stories under one of the following two scenarios:

1. Writing a story for a specific market. I do this more often now, in that my stories are geared towards a couple publications that I am trying to ‘get into’. This means I am reading more of the magazines than I normally would and trying to get a better understanding of what is being accepted.
2. Finding a home for an existing story. Basically if I wrote a story just because I “loved the idea” or I had intended the story for another publication that rejected it I have to search for an appropriate market for the story.

This second scenario is actually a bit trickier, even though I imagine it is the default method for most writers. In this case I use a service like www.duotrope.com to find markets that meet my criteria (filtering by genre, word count, payment and so on). Once I have a sublist of potential markets I then go and do some reading… basically grabbing sample copies or if the markets are online reading several of their stories. Then I decide if I think my story is a right fit for the market.

If it is, I submit it.

The Cycle
Even after 20+ years I am a fledgling writer… the vast majority of my stories are still sent back to me rejected. So basically I write, I edit, I submit and then I get a rejection at which point I look for a new home for the story. Currently I have about thirty stories out in circulation and between each phase of novel writing (I spend most of my writing time on novels now) I add 3-4 more stories to my inventory.

A Sale
What happens when a story sells? This varies with each market but generally there’s an exchange of signatures on contracts and I write a brief bio to accompany the story. Sometimes there’s an edit phase (On Spec Magazine is especially good with providing a detailed edit and explaining why the edits happen). Sometimes there is not an edit phase and the story goes out the way I submitted it or the editor does a couple tweaks to the story without passing it back to me for approval. I haven’t ran into a problem with either scenario yet though I prefer having an edit phase.

Depending on the contract the rights to the stories I have had published revert to me (generally 6 months, sometimes a year). At this point I can try to sell the story a second time!
Few markets accept reprints and I’ve only had one actual reprint sale — A Thousand Faces reprinted my story ‘A Ragman’s Vow’ which originally appeared in On Spec Magazine. Douglas Smith has a great foreign market list which are useful places to send reprints.

I do try to add every story I’ve had published to AnthologyBuilder once the rights revert to me. And many of you have noticed that I have stories available in Kindle and Smashwords editions. This is basically me reprinting the stories myself, mostly as a learning exercise in case I ever start selling original content online (I am still undecided on this).

For those of you relatively new to this site, some links for you:
Latest Story in Print: ‘Stealing Death’ in Necrotic Tissue #13
Next story in Print: Should be ‘Summer Lover’ over at Shroud Magazine
My Amazon Reprints
My Smashwords Reprints

Related Posts

Where do I send Stories to?, Deadlines and Reading Periods, Novel. Is. Sent., When a story sells…

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Brent Knowles

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  • http://www.calebstorkey.net Caleb Storkey

    Brent- thanks for this. Found this from you leaving a comment on my blog and it’s great to get a feel for what you’re doing. I never really understood the novel writing process and it gives me a much better handle on it. Thank you for that! I think I may even be tempted a little bit later to try out one of your Kindle editions when I’ve a little more time! Small note- but I’d love the links I click on to go through to separate page if possible- I like to be able to refer to your blog whilst reading the content of the link you’ve provided. 

    Great to meet you and look forward to getting to know you more :)

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles


    Thanks for stopping by! Glad the post was useful and I’ll check into the link situation.

    Take care,